There is a real possibility that something very special will happen this week. Two things must happen
- Titan QB Ryan Tannehill suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter of last week’s game and left the game with a walking boot. He will probably play again this week.
- Broncos QB Russell Wilson would have tried to play last week with a partially torn hamstring, but Brett Rypien took off. With a game in London next week and a Week 9 bye, Wilson is unlikely to return until Week 10.
If those two things happen — Tannehill and Rypien both start this week — and we avoid any random injuries in practice, we could very well have the first week of the season where every NFL team starts the same quarterback who started in the previous game. The Patriots throw a wrench in that idea. Last week they apparently planned use both McJones and Bailey Zappe. They haven’t announced a starter for next week and it’s impossible to know Bill Belichick’s mind. But if one of them plays next week, I’ll consider it a win for “the NFL going a week without any team changing QBs due to injury.”
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Week 8 D/ST projections
There are only two goodbye teams this week – Kansas City and the Chargers. The lack of two powerful offenses is bad news for a lot of fantastic attacking teams, but we weren’t starting defenses against them anyway. As a result, it’s turning out to be a pretty good week for streaming, with 10 full squads I’d feel good about starting, including a couple that are listed in less than 10% of the leagues. List numbers are from Yahoo. You can find me on Twitter.
|The level Start with confidence|
|The level Always a good choice|
|The level Surely you can find something better|
- DAL versus CHI: The performance of the Patriots DST last week against Justin Fields and the Bears are a perfect upper-tier case study that a sack-prone quarterback can provide. The Bears put up 33 points on the board (in part because they had three interceptions), which is usually a disaster for the opposing defense. However, Fields threw a pickaxe and critically took four sacks. As a result, this “worst-case scenario” for the Patriots DST was 5 actual points. When it’s your floor, you’re well placed. This week is even better – the Cowboys have one of the best defenses in the league and an offense that probably won’t give the Bears three more possessions.
- ISP versus PIT: Speaking of top 5 defenses facing error-prone offenses, Steelers QB Kenny Picket threw three interceptions last week, and now he has to visit the possibly Super Bowl related Eagles.
- JAC versus THE: Russell Wilson seems to be sitting another week, which means we’ll have another week of Brett Rypien in London. Rypien was nil last week, leading the team by just one touchdown and one field goal. He also only had one turnover and one sack. That’s the kind of performance I expect from the Broncos with Rypien — not many of the kind of mistakes that can make for a huge day for the opposing defense, but not many easier points. The Jags are a good game this week, but maybe with a limited upside.
- NOPE @ NYJ: Since Zach Wilson started leaving for the Jets in Week 4, the team is 4-0. This happened despite Wilson himself only having two touchdowns the entire time. Last week’s win over the Broncos came with just 16 points. The Jets could definitely win again thanks to New England’s offensive issues, but I don’t expect it to be pretty. Wilson is likely to take a lot of sacks, which should provide a high floor like we saw for New England last week, with the potential for a lot more.
- ATL versus SELF: A few weeks ago we were talking about a potential battle between Mayfield Baker and Sam Darnold for the Panther’s starting QB job once both were healthy. As it turns out, PJ Walker played well enough in their absence to keep the job. That probably says more about Mayfield than Walker, because it’s not like Walker was amazing. In his three starts, the team averaged just under 16 points per game. What he did was avoid turnovers, and especially avoid sacks (he didn’t take more than 2 in a game). For fantasy defenses, it’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, you’re not worried about him blowing up for 40 points like Mayfield Baker is likely to do on occasion, but you also can’t expect a lot of points in terms of sacks and turnovers.
- BUF versus GB: Imagine if I had told you, two years ago, that we would have a game where the Packers are projected for only 18.5 points, and the opposing defense is a good play in fantasy. You would have thought: “I knew how to write Jordan love was a mistake!” But it’s not Joran Love – Aaron Rodgers is just bad now. Rodgers is still far from being a low-level QB, but he has yet to have more than two passing touchdowns in a game. He’s unlikely to give up multiple turnovers, but 3 or more sacks is a real possibility against the best defense in the league. If you drafted the bills, you probably expected to have to bench them this week, but I don’t think you should. If you can handle pitching them against the Vikings and Bengals later, you’ll probably be able to roll with the Bills all season.
- SEA versus NYG: Like the Jets, the Giants won with an offense that’s just OK. 21 points is a reasonable projection for them, but I’d be tempted to take it. The real reason to start a defense against Daniel Jones is the bags. He doesn’t do it every game, but 4 or 5 sacks are commonplace for Jones, and that can make up for a good number of points from a fantastic DST standpoint.
- TEN @ NEW: Davis Mills is here to stay in Houston. This is good news for us streamers. He’s not the worst QB in the league, but he’s interception-prone enough to be interesting, and 3-sack games happen regularly. Tennessee’s defense is average – nothing to write home about enough, but definitely good enough to start in a game like this.
- INDIANA versus HAS BEEN: Last week was the first of what will probably be four weeks of Taylor Heinicke start at the place of the injured Carson Wentz. He did well, but it was against a pretty awful Packers team. The Colts’ above-average defense is a big improvement over Green Bay, and Heinicke has a habit of taking a lot of sacks and throwing almost as many interceptions as touchdowns.
- SF @ LAR: Matthew StaffordPerformance this season comes in two varieties: 5+ sacks against big defenses and just 1 sack against below average defenses. The 49ers are one of those great defenses – when Stafford faced them in Week 4, he took seven massive sacks and turned the ball over twice.
- NEW versus TEN: That’s an honorable mention. Ryan Tannehill is struggling with an ankle injury he suffered during part of the fourth quarter last week. He’ll probably play next week, but if he doesn’t, the Texans will become a more attractive start against Malik Willis. That rank at 11 reflects where I have Houston if Tannehill is playing – serviceable in a pinch, but you can surely find something better.
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Jacob Herlin is a data scientist for FantasyPros. To learn more about Jacob, consult his archives and follow him @jacoblawherlin.