Fantasy Recap: Week 8 Early Slate 1

  • Final score: Broncos 21, Jaguars 17 (Broncos covered +1, U 40.5)


    Key Postgame Stories

    The plane aisle high knees worked! Russell Wilson’s transatlantic flight routine translated into finally snapping the Broncos’ four-game slide, even if it was his fourth-straight game of less than 15 fantasy points. Denver’s skill positions continue to be a bit of a fantasy desert with no back in their committee topping 46 yards rushing and their leading wideout in Jerry Jeudy only recording 63 yards receiving. Even the Broncos’ stout D/ST has now put up three straight single-digit efforts despite some pretty juicy opportunities of late against Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson. That could get even worse with the latest rumors postgame from NBC Sports suggesting that DE Bradley Chubb could be AFC East-bound to either the Jets or Dolphins.


    On the Jags’ side, their fifth-straight loss had few highlights outside of their top performer below. A strong early start to the season has somewhat masked the fact that second-year QB Trevor Lawrence has continued to stall in his development. The former first-overall pick has graded out so poorly season-to-date that among current starters, PFF only has Zach Wilson and Mac Jones with lower overall grades. Doug Pederson was never going to be the singular answer to reigniting fantasy value among this roster, but unfortunately Lawrence is starting to look more like Carson Wentz for Pederson than people may want to admit.


    Top Performers


    RB Travis Etienne (24-156-1 rushing, 3-6-0 receiving, 23.7 total fantasy points)

    The first game of the post-James Robinson era for Etienne went pretty much as expected. Despite his team failing to top 17 total points for the third time in four weeks, Etienne put the entire team on his back in accounting for exactly half of their total yards from scrimmage. It’s encouraging to see him finish as RB6 on an overall underwhelming offense, and there are plenty of green run matchups for him coming up including the Chiefs (Week 10, seventh-worst) and Lions (Week 13, second-worst). JaMycal Hasty was sprinkled in with seven touches of his own, but Etienne played nearly 80% of total offensive snaps and won’t have much in his way to get RB1 volume the rest of the way.


    TE Greg Dulcich (4-87-0, five targets, 10.7 total fantasy points)

    Rookies aren’t supposed to be reliable fantasy assets, let alone rookie tight ends. And yet, that’s now three straight games in which the rookie from UCLA has produced at least 8.1 fantasy points and finished top-12 at the scarce position. The 16% target share against the Jags isn’t ideal, but again this is very much a beggars-can’t-be-choosers position in fantasy where the 87 receiving yards feels like winning the football lotto in a week without Travis Kelce or Gerald Everett. Unfortunately for fantasy managers who have lucked out with Dulcich, he’s on bye in Week 9, but when he’s back there won’t be a red-highlighted defensive matchup until the fantasy playoffs.


    Biggest Busts


    WR Courtland Sutton (1-13-0 receiving, four targets, 1.8 total fantasy points)

    It’s pretty sobering to think that this past offseason, many (myself included) considered Wilson’s offensive weaponry going from Seattle to Denver would be at worst a lateral move. Despite looking like the lead-dog in this passing game over the first month of the season while averaging 13.2 fantasy points, Sutton has started to bottom out with less than four points in three straight games. He has certainly seen the field enough to produce serviceable numbers as he was tied with Jerry Jeudy with 34 routes run (97% of Wilson’s dropbacks) and played 95% of total offensive snaps. However, his 16 targets during this three-game slump comes out to just a 16% target share. It’s no coincidence that over this period is when we’ve seen Wilson gain comfort with Dulcich and Jeudy (25% target share over same period). Sutton is a risky flex play barring some injury that would push him back up on the target totem pole.


    WR Christian Kirk (3-40-0 receiving, seven targets, 5.5 total fantasy points)

    I mentioned in my preview for this game that while Kirk was luckily avoiding the lockdown coverage of Patrick Surtain II, slot corner K’Waun Williams was no slouch either and was considered a big loss for the 49ers secondary when he departed this past offseason for Denver in free agency. That warning was solidified in the closing moments of this game, which was sealed by an athletic, diving interception by Williams on a ball intended for Kirk. The 22% target share is digestible, but the stunted growth of Lawrence has made Kirk’s fantasy path extremely uneven. There is some room for optimism as the Jags have finally gotten over the steep hill lately having faced top-three pass defenses in three-straight games. They now have bottom-10 pass defenses in four of their next five, but that’s still not enough to return Kirk to his early-season form, he’ll be entrenched on fantasy benches for playoff teams.


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    Final score: Saints 24, Raiders 0 (Saints covered +1.5, U 48.5)

    Key Postgame Stories

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