Week 8 fantasy football highs and lows

Week 8 of the fantasy football season featured plenty of notable performances. What should we make of them? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft are here with analysis on the biggest performers — and duds — of the week.

Cooper Kupp dominates in London

Kupp produced a monster stat line in the win over the Bengals, catching 7-of-10 targets for a career-high 220 yards and a touchdown. The gadget play was slick. Lot of moving parts there that led to a 65-yard touchdown pass to Kupp after the ball changed hands multiple times. And Kupp also exploited the matchups all day against a poor Cincinnati defense. The Bengals are zone-heavy team, and the windows were there for quarterback Jared Goff.

With a team-high 10 targets on Sunday, and 18 in his last two games, Kupp is developing into a consistent high-volume target for Goff. Middle-of-the-field throws, isolation routes, play-action concepts and boot schemes which get the ball to Kupp in the open field. He should be locked-in as a WR1 when the Rams come back from the bye with a Week 10 matchup versus the Steelers. — Bowen

Latavius Murray fills in nicely for Alvin Kamara

Murray’s 36.7 PPR fantasy points, driven by career highs in targets (12) and receptions (9), set a new personal best. In games missed by either Dalvin Cook or Kamara during Murray’s tenure with the Vikings (2017-18) and Saints (2019), Murray has now averaged 15.8 PPR fantasy points, affirming his status as one of the game’s most critical handcuffs. Murray’s receiving contributions are what should catch your eye: He’s 14-of-18 catching his targets while filling in for the injured Kamara the past two weeks, and now has a healthy Drew Brees under center.

Consider Murray a plug-and-play RB1 in any future Kamara absences, and make sure to get him rostered if you’re in any of the 27.1% of ESPN leagues in which he remains available. — Cockcroft

I agree, Tristan. It’s a combination of Sean Payton’s ability to scheme up any coverage look, plus Murray’s underrated pass-catching skills. The touchdown catch on Sunday? New Orleans ran-off the top of the coverage to create an underneath matchup for Murray on an option route. Sell the break and separate on a high-percentage ball for Drew Brees. Like you said, Murray has the make-up of an RB1 in this system when Kamara is out. — Bowen

Time to be worried about Zach Ertz?

As I’ve said before, the Eagles lack team speed at the wide receiver position without DeSean Jackson on the field. But the answer there — in addition to using Miles Sanders in the pass game — is to feature more 12 personnel (1RB, 2TE) with Ertz and Dallas Goedert. There are your matchup guys with then formation flexibility to move around. However, with Goedert grabbing a touchdown for the second straight game, Ertz caught just 2-of-4 targets for 20 yards in Sunday’s win over the Bills. And he’s only hauled in 4-of-10 targets for 58 yards in his last two games.

Given the recent dip in volume, plus a season resume that includes only one touchdown catch, Ertz is sliding down the board into the lower-tier TE1 discussion for an Eagles team that is still trying to create consistency as a passing offense. — Bowen

This is the first time since Weeks 5-8 of the 2016 season (a four-week span) that Ertz has been held beneath 10 PPR fantasy points. Yes, the Bills are a tough matchup for a tight end, but Matt’s right about Ertz’s volume having declined. — Cockcroft

David Montgomery shoulders the load

After the Bears ran the ball a total of just seven times in Week 7, the rookie out of Iowa State posted season-highs with 27 carries for 135 yards rushing, plus a red zone score in the loss to the Chargers. And I felt that touchdown number could have climbed even higher if Bears head coach Matt Nagy didn’t roll out his 7-on-7 playbook inside the 10-yard line on Sunday. Too much window dressing there in critical field position. Bring the big boys on the field and hand the ball off, coach.

However, given the noticeable limitations with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky as a pocket thrower, could we have finally reached the point in the season where Montgomery’s talent is utilized on a consistent week-to-week basis in Chicago’s offense? I have to believe Nagy sees the benefits here of creating run-pass balance to keep his quarterback out of adverse situations, while also boosting the volume for a rook who can handle a heavy-workload as an RB2 in your lineup. — Bowen

David Montgomery was most of Chicago’s offense on Sunday. Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Quick hitters

Saquon Barkley: Barkley scored 28.3 PPR fantasy points in his second game since recovering from a high ankle sprain, giving him 479.2 through his first 21 career games. Since 1950, only Edgerrin James (486.6) had more through that many games. It was also Barkley’s 14th career game with at least 20 points, which is the most by any running back through the first 21 games of a career. — Cockcroft

Drew Brees: Brees looked like the Brees of old in his return from thumb surgery, scoring 24.9 fantasy points. That helped him extend his NFL record for 20-point fantasy games, his 108th such performance. — Cockcroft

Mike Evans: Evans scored 42.8 PPR fantasy points against the Titans, who entered the week the third-toughest schedule-adjusted matchup for an opposing wide receiver. That gives Evans the two best single-game fantasy scores of his entire career in 2019, joining his 45.0 points in Week 3. He now has a pair of games with 40-plus points, and a pair of games with fewer than five points, in his seven games played to date. It’s only the 11th time since 1950 that any wide receiver has had multiple such games of each in a season. — Cockcroft

Atlanta Falcons defense: This Falcons secondary? I have questions. Where is the pre-snap communication or the accountability when it comes to alignment and assignment? You simply can’t blow coverages in this league with the ball in the red zone. And we saw it happen twice on Russell Wilson touchdown throws to rookie D.K. Metcalf. Those were layups. Up next for this Falcons unit after the bye week? Brees and the Saints — in the dome. — Bowen

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