There were six teams on bye in Week 8, but that doesn’t mean the NFL was short of action.
In possibly the game of the year so far, the Seattle Seahawks outlasted the Houston Texans 41-38. Deshaun Watson went toe-to-toe with Russell Wilson in a game that featured huge days for a handful of players.
Watson made history Sunday by becoming the first quarterback in the league in the Super Bowl era to pass for more than 400 yards, throw four touchdowns and rush for more than 50 yards in a game. He also became the rookie with the most touchdown passes (19) through his first seven games. Watson had the most productive day of the week, 469 total yards, including 67 yards rushing. He was helped in large part by DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.
Hopkins led all receivers this week with 224 yards, including a screen pass he took 72 yards for a score. Fuller had the first big play of the game, getting behind the Seahawks’ secondary for a 59-yard touchdown early in the first quarter. The play turned out to be a sign of things to come. Fuller caught a second touchdown in the second quarter, bringing his league-leading total to seven, though he’s played in just four games. He has just 13 catches on the season. You call that efficiency.
The only way the Texans lost the game was due to the few mistakes Watson made, he had three interceptions, and the stellar play of Wilson. Wilson finished with 452 yards and four touchdown passes, including the game-winning score to Jimmy Graham with less than a minute to play. Wilson also rushed for 30 yards and threw just one interception.
Graham gained just 39 yards receiving, but two of his four catches went for touchdowns. Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett also came up big for Wilson. Richardson had six catches for 105 yards and two scores while Lockett led the Seahawks with 121 yards receiving on six catches.
The wide receiver that led the league in Week 8 was JuJu Smith-Schuster. The rookie kind of called his shot on Twitter when he said, “everybody loves me now, but these same people won’t start me in fantasy on Sunday.” He made those people regret their decision by catching seven passes for 193 yards and a 97-yard touchdown, a Steelers’ record. Smith-Schuster is making a lot of people forget who Martavis Bryant is.
As far as the best running back performances go, a couple of familiar names led the way. Ezekiel Elliott and LeSean McCoy were both fantastic. McCoy rushed 27 times for 151 yards and a touchdown while catching six passes for 22 yards. Elliott had season highs in rushes (33) and rushing yards (150) while scoring two touchdowns. He’s getting in a groove at just the right time to help the Cowboys get back into the NFC East race, but may come to a halt after Monday’s court ruling.
The reason Elliott got so many carries was the weather was pretty dreadful in Landover, Md. Rain had the Cowboys content to control the clock once they had the lead, leaving Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant owners up a creek without a paddle.
Prescott had his worst fantasy week of the season, throwing for just 143 yards and no touchdowns. It was the first time this season that he didn’t account for at least one touchdown. Bryant suffered from the game script alongside Prescott, catching four passes for just 39 yards.
Brandin Cooks, another receiver who had a bad week, continues to frustrate owners with his inconsistent play. He caught five passes for 26 yards, despite Tom Brady having a solid day.
A surprising disappointment was Nelson Agholor who had a great matchup against the 49ers. He caught just three passes for 26 yards. Despite Agholor’s poor performance, Carson Wentz still had a good day by throwing for 211 yards and two scores. Alshon Jeffery was the wideout that had success for the Eagles Sunday. He caught just two passes, but for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Other top receivers were Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Marvin Jones and Adam Thielen. Jones had six receptions for 128 yards. Thielen had 98 yards receiving and a touchdown in the Vikings win in London.
Also playing for the Vikings, Jerick McKinnon found success running and receiving. He had 50 yards rushing and a touchdown while catching six passes for 72 yards. In that same backfield, Latavius Murray didn’t fare as well. The encouraging sign is that he had 20 touches, but he gained just 47 total yards.
Week 8’s other top rushers were Melvin Gordon, Lamar Miller and Isaiah Crowell. Gordon rushed just 14 times for 132 yards and a touchdown. Miller got the most touches in the Texans’ backfield, a bit of a surprise given that D’Onta Foreman seemed to be getting more action. Miller rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown while catching three passes for 19 yards and another score. Crowell scored for the first time this season as he rushed for 64 yards and caught four passes for 54 yards.
The Bears, Browns, Chargers, Vikings, Patriots and Steelers are off in Week 9. Here are some waiver wire suggestions to help you survive the week without Gordon, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Tom Brady and Jordan Howard.
Top waiver wire picks
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: With Martavis Bryant on the outs, Smith-Schuster is in a great position to contribute. He could also be available since the Steelers are on bye in Week 9.
Alex Collins, RB, Ravens: 18 rushes, 113 yards in Thursday’s win.
Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks: 6 rec., 105 yards, 2TDs.
Jack Doyle, TE, Colts: 12 rec., 121 yards, TD. He’s still available in a lot of leagues and he’s been heavily targeted since the Week 5 bye.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins: 9 rec., 123 yards. I thought he would be a lot better, but he’s starting to get more targets as Terrelle Pryor continues to disappoint.
Quality defenses on bye in Week 8: Sometimes owners have to drop good defenses in order to field a full lineup. Check the wire for the Rams and Jaguars defenses, which were off this week.
Robby Anderson, WR, Jets: 6 rec., 104 yards, TD. He’s riding three straight solid outings.