Week 8 Fantasy Football Booms and Busts: Should we be worried about Lamar, Big Ben? – Yahoo Sports

Posted: November 2, 2020 at 1:55 am


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Every Baltimore-Pittsburgh game is a rock fight, a 15-round slugfest. It might be the best rivalry in the NFL today. So it was no surprise that Sundays match went down to the wire, a 28-24 escape for the Steelers.

But can either team feel great about its offense right now?

Before we get into the nuts, bolts, and the reasons for concern, well concede that this game had some box-score juice. Four of Pittsburghs five primary skill players had solid games only an injured Diontae Johnson was quiet. J.K. Dobbins (15-113-0) and Gus Edwards (16-87-1) were snappy on the ground. Pittsburghs defense was menacing, physical, intimidating.

But quarterbacks are the driver of offenses, and neither Lamar Jackson nor Ben Roethlisberger covered himself in glory Sunday.

Start with Jackson, who had one of the messiest starts of his career. He threw two interceptions one of them a gift pick-six to the Steelers and also lost two fumbles, though the second one came at the end of a fourth-down rush that fell short of the sticks. No one will fault him for the extra effort on a do-or-die play, but Jackson nonetheless struggled with his accuracy and decision-making all afternoon. He wasnt close to his 2019 MVP form.

Even Jacksons running was somewhat muted a whopping 16 carries only managed 65 yards (he did have a touchdown run wiped out by a holding penalty). And the Steelers probably gave him the most physical game hes had as a pro.

Baltimore still looks like a playoff lock at 5-2, but it was strange to see the Ravens this disjointed after a bye week. And make no mistake, theres some frustration in the locker room. Marquise Brown had just two targets (one of them a short touchdown) and isnt thrilled about his role.

Heres where wed embed the Brown tweet from after the game, but its since been deleted. About 30 minutes after the match finished, Browns verified Twitter account wondered: Whats the point of having souljas when you never use them (Never!!). Im not here to critique Brown for the comment; I actually agree with his observation.

And I certainly understand the frustration; Brown seems to get open most weeks, but Jackson has missed him a handful of times in previous games. Mark Andrews (3-32-0, six targets) has also been a mild disappointment.

Baltimore OC Greg Roman will continue to use Jackson proactively as a runner, but Baltimore cant be happy at the physical punishment the QB received Sunday. This wasnt a day filled with sliding and ducking out of bounds. Jacksons work was often in the trenches, not to mention the hits he absorbed in the pocket. Pittsburgh sacked him four times against a modest 28 pass attempts.

Nothing came easy for Lamar Jackson against the Steelers. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

At least the absence of Mark Ingram likely to be multiple weeks tidied up the Ravens backfield. Dobbins had a smash game in his first extensive action, the only high-profile rookie back who clicked in the early slate. Edwards is a pounding interior runner who regularly breaks through first contact. Theyre fun to watch, and playable if this rushing game stays at this width.

Harbaugh and Roman are excellent coaches, and the Baltimore schedule is a daisy in December (start with the Cowboys, Week 13). But the November gauntlet could be a meat grinder Indianapolis, New England (Bill Belichick still matters), Tennessee, the Pittsburgh rematch. Nothing will be free against that slate.

It might sound silly to preach understanding on the Pittsburgh sideline after all, these guys are 7-0, the NFLs only undefeated team. The defense looks like the AFCs best, and the Steelers own the answer key when it comes to drafting receivers. Theres so much to like here.

Story continues

But does Roethlisberger look crisp to you? He hasnt been awful, but this hasnt been peak Roethlisberger, either. He looks like a 38-year-old quarterback.

Roethlisberger scored a win last week at Tennessee despite a meager 5.5 YPA. Sunday was the same story Pittsburgh wins, despite modest passing success (5.7 YPA). Big Ben at least protected the ball (no turnovers) and was only sacked twice, but youre living right when you sneak a win despite a 236-yard deficit in total offense. The pick-six skews the game flow, but Baltimore still ran 29 more snaps in this game.

Perhaps you saw Roethlisberger rubbing his elbow on the sideline. The Steelers are doing all they can to limit his pocket exposure lots of short drops, lots of defined, quick throws and the big plays havent been common lately. Only one of Sundays completions went for over 20 yards.

I wouldnt go as far as to say Pittsburgh is hiding Roethlisberger. But are they managing him, or asking him to manage the game? That feels right. At least the Pittsburgh schedule looks fun Dallas, Cincinnati, and Jacksonville are next up on the runaway, about as favorable as it gets.

I dont want to act like the rookie running-back class has been a total bust. Dobbins, as mentioned above, had a strong day. Zack Moss was effective (14-81-2) in Buffalos uneven afternoon, sneaking past a New England defense thats down all sorts of personnel. If you pushed play with those guys, youll sleep well tonight.

But the big tickets from the 2020 backfield class continue to disappoint. Looking at you, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, DAndre Swift and Jonathan Taylor.

The Taylor slog is the biggest shocker. The Colts have a super offensive line and Frank Reich is a coach we like. And the Week 8 matchup against Detroit was favorable, a mediocre run-stopping opponent. Alas, Taylor had just 22 yards on 11 carries. Meanwhile, Jordan Wilkins (20-89-1) moved the pile on the ground, and Nyheim Hines had two nifty touchdown catches.

How soon is now, Jonathan Taylor?

CEH has been effective in some games this year, but he was back to MEH in the romp over the hapless Jets (nine touches, 31 yards). To be fair, the Jets defense often prioritizes the run over the pass, and thats what happened here Patrick Mahomes (five touchdowns) threw over them all day.

Swift has to win over his coaching staff more than anything. He only received nine touches Sunday, though they were for just 23 total yards. Adrian Peterson had his usual ineffective day five carries, seven yards while Kerryon Johnson stole a touchdown catch. Im still willing to bet on Swift long-term.Not a bad trade target, as those deadlines close in.

Apparently I overestimated how much vengeance there is in LeVeon Bell. He was not a big factor against the Jets. An underreported story in Kansas City: the offensive line has taken a step back, in part due to injury.

A week after the glorious comeback win over Cincinnati, the Browns offense crash-landed again, scoring just six points against the Raiders. Success has many parents, and so does failure; Cleveland had mental mistakes, dropped passes, missed assignments, even a missed field goal (a constant wind didnt help). Baker Mayfield didnt play well, but it wasnt all his fault. Scoring just six points against the No. 31 DVOA defense is an embarrassment.

Bill Belichick did a MacGyver job, almost stealing a win at Buffalo. But the Patriots didnt trust Cam Newton in the game plan; on third and long, the team often called for give-up runs or conservative passing short of the sticks. There was also a fourth-and-short punt from plus territory. Ironically, it was Newtons late-game fumble that secured the defeat, when the Patriots already were in field-goal range for a tie, and closing in on a winning touchdown. Its starting to look like Newton could be a one-and-done Patriot.

At least the Patriots have found something with Jakobi Meyers, who has 118 receiving yards the last two weeks. He also snagged a two-point conversion Sunday. Those arent Randy Moss numbers, but New England will take what it can get. It makes you wonder why Meyers wasn't playing much in the first five games; we're not talking about the Greatest Show on Turf here. All of New England's primary wideouts Sunday were undrafted free agents.

Maybe Justin Herbert would go No. 1 overall if the NFL redrafted the 2020 class (he makes 3-4 oh my god throws every week), but Joe Burrow would be considered at No. 1, and would fall no later than No. 2. Hes the genuine article. Despite a patchwork offensive line (thats probably substandard when in full health), Burrow moves the ball almost every week and has covered every game but one. Id ride with him anytime.

Say this for the Dolphins, they play their butts off for Brian Flores. Hes rebuilt that culture in the blink of an eye. Tua Tagovailoa was mostly hidden Sunday; the Dolphins defense confused Jared Goff (5.8 YPA, four turnovers) and won the game on that side of the ball. Miami had two return touchdowns (one on defense, one on special teams), which is how you win despite just eight first downs and 145 yards of offense (the Rams had 31 and 471, respectively). Los Angeles gets a bye at a good time; Seattle, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and Arizona call after that.

Are we sure Jimmy Garoppolo is healthy? Are we sure hes good? Jimmy G. was erratic for three quarters at Seattle a historically bad pass defense and then hobbled to the locker room. Nick Mullens piled up 238 yards and two touchdowns in garbage time, production thats hard to take at face value. But you wonder if Kyle Shanahan is temped to try something new, even if its merely a way to keep a dinged Garoppolo out of harms way.

Mike Zimmer finally got the game he wanted; 30 Dalvin Cook rushing attempts, 14 Kirk Cousins passes. Of course Cook made it easy with 163 rushing yards and three touchdowns; he also had a 50-yard touchdown catch and scamper, the only stat-padding Cousins got all day. Maybe Minnesotas no-show against Atlanta was misleading; the Vikings did give Seattle all it could handle the previous week. The schedule opens up nicely: Lions, Bears, Cowboys, Panthers, Jaguars.

Corey Davis is in the catbird seat; every Tennessee opponent is petrified of A.J. Brown, and Davis gets a playable market share every week. But this is a case where the secondary target needs the alpha; if Brown gets hurt again, I suspect opponents would be able to contain Davis.

Scouting is hard, even when a player is in your own building. The Lions spent a year with Travis Fulgham and weren't impressed. Green Bay kicked the tires but cut him this summer. Even the Eagles cut Fulgham before this year, with the eye of stashing him on the practice squad. He's been Philly's most consistent skill player for a month, capable of winning on the outside and commanding a healthy market share. I don't care who comes back for the Eagles, Fulgham seems here to stay.

Nick Foles probably played just well enough to keep his job. But 6.6 YPA isnt good enough, and if you factor in the five sacks, Chicago gained just 5.06 yards per dropback. I suspect we could see Mitch Trubisky start again this year.

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Week 8 Fantasy Football Booms and Busts: Should we be worried about Lamar, Big Ben? - Yahoo Sports

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