Five fantasy stars of Week 8

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Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner breaks away from Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett for a touchdown in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

It was once again a bad week for fantasy owners, given only a handful of players had an amazing week. Sure, there were some good performances, but overall the fantasy point totals were rather lackluster. Take a look at who were the best of the bunch.

Running back James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers: 32 points standard, 38.2 points PPR

Le’Veon Bell who? After announcing that he would be returning to the team Week 7, Bell was a no show. Therefore, Conner was back in action for the Steelers’ Week 8 contest vs. the Cleveland Browns, and he continued to dominate. He rushed 24 times, his highest total since Week 1, for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught five passes for a solid 66 yards, making it the first time this season that he recorded over 200 scrimmage yards in a single game.

It’s anyone’s guess as to when Bell will return to the Steelers, and there’s a very real possibility that he might not even play this season. As long as he is sitting at home, Conner is an easy RB1, and due to his performance, many people are speculating that even if Bell does return Conner will retain the starting job. Through the first seven games of this season, Conner has 922 total yards and nine touchdowns, beating Bell’s 898 total yards and four touchdowns through the first seven games of last season. However, it doesn’t change the fact that Conner is easily the RB1 with the least job security, so if you can make a trade for another high-end RB1 who has more job security, do it.

Running back Todd Gurley II, Los Angeles Rams: 27 points standard, 33.5 points PPR

Gurley was once again a stud on Sunday, as he shouldered the load for the Rams in their 29-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers. He rushed 25 times for 114 yards, and also caught six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. It could have easily been two touchdowns, as in the final minute of the game Gurley had a wide-open lane to the end zone but decided to go down to ice the game instead and make sure the Packers didn’t get it back, angering fantasy owners and gamblers everywhere.

What else is left to say about Gurley? He’s simply the best running back in the NFL. He leads the league in scrimmage yards with 1,151 and in rushing/receiving touchdowns with 15, all through just eight games. He’s on pace for 30 touchdowns, which would be the second most ever behind just 2006 LaDainian Tomlinson. Gurley has been better than great, he’s been historic, so for those who are lucky enough to own him, cherish him, you might never get a fantasy player as good as him again.

Honorable Mentions: Marlon Mack, Joe Mixon

Quarterback Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans: 30 points standard, 31 points PPR

After a terrible start to the season, Watson has managed to lead the Texans to now five-straight victories and sole possession of first place in the AFC South. This week was perhaps his best game yet. He completely dismantled the Miami Dolphins, throwing for 239 yards and five touchdowns. While the yardage total is nothing too crazy, his astonishing five scores put him over the top.

Watson has been up and down in fantasy this year and was coming off back flat-out terrible fantasy performances before this explosion. However, he has still managed to remain in the top-10 for quarterbacks, currently sitting at No.7 in ESPN fantasy rankings. With a game against the beatable Broncos next week and then a relatively easy schedule following their bye, Watson should be a safe fantasy play every week going forward.

Quarterback Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: 27 points standard, 28 points PPR

Newton is making his first appearance on this list this season and did so in typical Cam fashion. He did throw for a respectable 219 yards and two touchdowns in the Panthers 36-21 win over the Ravens, he did a good amount of his fantasy damage through the run game. Cam rushed 10 times, for 51 yards and a touchdown, adding up to 11.1 points just on the ground.

Newton has had at least 20 points in all but two games this season and hasn’t really had a bad week, with his lowest point total just 15 in standard and 16.4 in PPR. When a quarterback has the passing and running ability that Cam does, it almost always adds up to a top-5 fantasy player, and this season is no different. His pure consistency should keep him in fantasy lineups every week, regardless of the matchup.

Honorable Mentions: Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr

Wide Receiver Marvin Jones Jr, Detroit Lions: 23 points standard, 30.7 points PPR

Jones was the best of a poor group of receivers this week, as his point totals were the highest in both formats. If not for lack of standout players from other positions, he probably would not even have made the list. Alas, here we are. He wasn’t bad by any means, seven passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns, but usually this would be more of an honorable mentions day, not a star day.

However, Jones’ fantasy stock just got a huge boost, as before the trade deadline on Tuesday the Detroit Lions traded Golden Tate to the Eagles. Tate greatly outpaced Jones in receptions to 44 to 26, so now he and fellow receiver Kenny Golladay should see a large increase in production. Expect Golladay to take over the WR1 duties, but it will should be a pretty even split. Jones is probably a safe WR2 play now in fantasy, however depending on the matchup he could be downgraded to WR3 or FLEX, and in some cases, like Week 3 vs. the Rams, not starter caliber.

Honorable Mentions: Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans

Bonus: Fitzmagic!

Fitzmagic is back! After replacing a struggling Jameis Winston late in the third quarter, Ryan Fitzpatrick rallied the Buccaneers back from and 18-point deficit to tie the game, only to have the Bengals kick a game winning field goal as time expired. Nevertheless, Fitz still put up 18 points in standard and 19.6 points in PPR, not bad for just over a quarter of work. He was also once again named the starting quarterback in Tampa Bay, so he could be worth picking back up. However, with Winston still there he likely has little room for error, so just keep your eye on the quarterback situation there if owning either of the two QBs.


Jorge Eckardt is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at jorge.eckardt@uconn.edu.

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