Week 7 was a rough one for injuries. Many fantasy-relevant players left games early for a variety of physical issues. That adds to what has already been a frustrating fantasy season through the first month and a half. It also means that once again, we're looking for elevated weekly production in places that we may not have expected coming into the year. That, dear reader, is why you are here. To peruse a list of names who could help you, followed by a brief explanation as to why. I thank you for coming to do the former and hope you're willing to stay and do the latter.
Anyway, here are some names.
If you started Carr last week, you didn’t get much in the way of fantasy production. That’s because the Raiders didn’t need much from him. Josh Jacobs did the heavy lifting with the Raiders defense chipping in with a score of its own. That’s been the formula for Las Vegas’ offense over the past few games. While it doesn’t figure to change dramatically this week, there could be room for Carr to operate in addition to Jacobs.
Last season, the Saints defense was one we avoided in fantasy where possible. This season, New Orleans hasn’t been nearly as stout. Its defense ranks second-to-last in the NFL and has allowed 30-plus points in three straight games. During that stretch, Geno Smith, Joe Burrow, and Kyler Murray have all posted weekly top-10 finishes. Missing Marshon Lattimore is certainly an issue for the New Orleans defense, but it’s not the only one. A fringe QB1 weekly finish could be on tap for Carr.
Let's face it, we must pay attention to the Giants. They’re 6-1 and playing good football. Saquon Barkley has easily been Big Blue’s headliner but Jones is holding his own. That’s an impressive feat on a roster that has few real threats among its pass catchers. Jones has succeeded by reminding us that he can be a Konami code quarterback as well as limiting the turnovers that have made him a liability.
Jones takes that positive energy to Seattle against a Seahawks defense that we’ve unashamedly targeted for most of the season. Over the past month, the ‘Hawks have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. However, they haven’t been quite the pushover in recent weeks. Since Week 4, only Justin Herbert has topped 15 fantasy points -- and much of that came late with the Chargers in catch-up mode. Kyler Murray rushed for 100 yards against Seattle in Week 6, so Jones’ rushing ability could keep his sleeper potential afloat.
Might as well get this out of the way up front. I was wrong about Edwards in Week 7. Just returning from injury, I assumed the Ravens would take it slow with him. I assumed Kenyan Drake would still be the lead back for a tasty matchup against the Browns. Though Edwards didn’t dominate the snap share, he did lead with 23 plays. More importantly, he had 17 total opportunities, including 16 carries. It was evident that Baltimore was intent on getting him the ball.
This week, the Ravens take a trip to Tampa where things are dire for the Buccaneers. What was once a fearsome defense has been shredded on the ground the last few weeks. The Bucs gave up 173 rushing yards to a Panthers offense that didn’t have Christian McCaffrey. It was the third time in four weeks Tampa allowed more than 150 rushing yards to an opponent. That’s reason for optimism for the newly minted lead back in a run-heavy offense. Edwards has RB2 potential for the remainder of the season.
Mostert's takeover of the Dolphins backfield was completed a few weeks ago. Now he’s just showing off. The veteran runner tied a career high with five targets in last week’s win over Pittsburgh. If Mike McDaniel is going to integrate Mostert into Miami’s passing game, Chase Edmonds might want to bring a seat cushion to help himself get comfortable on the bench.
We’ll see how much that commitment extends this week against the Lions. Don’t be fooled by the Lions holding the Cowboys relatively in check last week. This is still one of the worst defenses in the league. With Mostert averaging 4.5 yards per tote this year, he’s a fish that could cause problems for the cats.
After Christian McCaffrey was traded to San Francisco, it seemed like the answer to “which Panthers RB should you add?” was “neither." In the end, the real answer turned out to be “both." D’Onta Foreman went over 100 yards on the ground last week against Tampa Bay, but it was Hubbard who looked like Carolina’s lead runner. He took most of the work in the early part of the game, when the score was still relatively close. The numbers swung toward Foreman, who took over in the fourth quarter -- in part because Hubbard left with an ankle injury.
If Hubbard is healthy for Week 8, he should again see a nice workload in a game that figures to be close throughout. Atlanta has been decent against the run, though a couple of two-headed attacks in New Orleans and Cleveland have had success. Where Hubbard could shine this week is as a pass-catcher. The Falcons have allowed the third-most receiving yards to the position. Hubbard isn’t McCaffrey, but he doesn’t have to be. If he can catch the ball in space, there are plays to be made and fantasy points to be had.
Hello there, D.J. Moore. We never expected to see you in this column this year. That’s because we began the year thinking you were going to be a solid WR2 with occasional WR1 weeks. Then the stench of the Panthers offense filled our noses and we wondered if 2022 would be a lost season. That dread was only heightened when Carolina traded away Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson. But maybe that -- and a change at quarterback -- will work out in your favor. Last week, you posted season highs in receptions, yards and fantasy points. Huzzah!
Without Anderson and McCaffrey, there aren’t many consistent pass-catchers left in the offense. Now there’s a quarterback in P.J. Walker, who looks more interested in pushing the ball downfield. That’s not something we saw with Baker Mayfield under center. Combine that with a Falcons secondary that has allowed 12 wide receivers to post at least five receptions and/or 60 receiving yards and Moore has a good chance to back up his Week 7 production.
When Gesicki admitted before the season that he was kinda learning how to play tight end, I figured that was a wrap for his fantasy value in 2022. And for the most part, that’s been true. Apart from a couple of good matchups, the Dolphins tight end has been unstartable. He has just one game with more than 45 receiving yards. If he doesn’t find the end zone, his floor is scary low.
This is a week that could see things work in his favor. Miami’s passing game is more formidable now that Tua Tagovailoa is back. But the biggest reason to believe in Gesicki this week? Yeah, it’s because he’s playing the Lions. Detroit still features one of the NFL’s softest defenses and has been vulnerable to tight ends. Opposing quarterbacks have completed 75% of their attempts to tight ends against Detroit with four touchdowns and a passer rating of 120.9. You have to pick and choose your spots with Gesicki, but this looks like one of them.
Last week, Johnson was in this column, and he scored a pair of touchdowns against the Cardinals. That might make it feel like we’re chasing the points with the Saints tight end this week. In reality, the conditions that allowed Johnson to put up a good number last week are still in place in Week 8. Adam Trautman missed practice in the first half of the week and again looks unlikely to suit up against the Raiders. That leaves Johnson as New Orleans' starting tight end yet again. Yeah, I don’t count Taysom Hill as a tight end. Just a guy who has that designation on the roster. That’s not meant as an insult. Merely an observation.
This week, the Saints host the Raiders, who have consistently struggled against tight ends. Las Vegas is allowing the fourth-most points per game to the position. Much of that is owed to being attacked by tight ends heavily in the red zone. No team has faced more tight end red-zone targets this year. That lines up well with Johnson’s usage. Only Alvin Kamara has been targeted more inside the opposing 20-yard line this year. It might not be another two-touchdown day for Johnson, but there are opportunities to be seized.
Yes, we’ve been excited about the Lions offense. It wasn’t that many weeks ago that it was the top-scoring unit in the NFL. But it’s also worth noting that a lot of those points came with the team playing from behind. That means defenses have done a good job of putting the Lions in a hole. That’s what happens when you turn the ball over as much as Detroit has. Only six teams have more giveaways than the Lions and all but one (Rams) have played more games.
Not long ago, Miami’s defense was a unit that we avoided in fantasy. This year, not so much. But the Dolphins are coming off a run of seven sacks in their past three games and snagged three interceptions last week against Kenny Pickett and the Steelers. With Jared Goff returning to the form that ultimately led to his departure from Los Angeles, the Dolphins could be in line for a decent fantasy score.
When this game was on the schedule, it looked like a potential Carson Wentz revenge game against Matt Ryan, the man who replaced him in Indianapolis. Instead, through A Series of Unfortunate Events, we end up with Sam Ehlinger versus Taylor Heinicke. Not exactly a promo-worthy matchup. But it could be a stream-worthy one.
In 17 career games as a starter, Heinicke has thrown 22 touchdown passes versus 19 interceptions. He’s also been sacked 41 times in that span. This year’s Commander offensive line isn’t likely to do him any favors. Washington has surrendered 24 sacks this season -- only the Bengals and Bears have given up more. (Coincidentally, the Colts have also allowed 24 sacks this year. Though I wouldn’t feel quite as confident about streaming Washington’s defense.) The Commanders aren’t the highest scoring outfit, so running with Indy’s defense feels like a sneaky good option.
Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who is realizing that carving a pumpkin is harder than he remembered. Send him your Halloween hijinksor fantasy football questions on Twitter @MarcasG or TikTok at marcasgrant.