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2023 Fantasy Football: Takeaways from Every Week 8 Game

Royce Freeman Los Angeles Rams
Photo: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The article below details one need-to-know takeaway from each NFL Week 8 contest, aimed at providing readers with immediately actionable fantasy football information. Resolutions to unresolved preseason backfield battles populate this week’s edition. 

Top 3 Takeaways

Stafford Injures Thumb, Backfield Shoulders Offense

Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford twice injured his throwing-hand thumb and was eventually forced from the team’s blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys. No. 2 QB Brett Rypien is likely to start in Week 9 at Green Bay. Los Angeles is on bye in Week 10.

Nos. 1 and 2 RBs Darrell Henderson Jr. and Royce Freeman accounted for 129 of the offense’s 296 yards from scrimmage. Henderson Jr. operated as the clear-cut lead back in Week 7 but played less inefficiently than Freeman. Henderson Jr. again led the way as a rusher and receiver but Freeman is playing more efficiently while quietly taking over the passing-down and red zone roles. 

The table reflects the Rams' Week 8 running back usage and results.

LAR RBs in Week 8 Darrell Henderson Jr. Royce Freeman
Rush Att. - Yards - TD 12 - 31 - 0  9 - 44 - 1
Routes - Rec/Tgt - Yards - TD 14 - 3/3 - 54 - 0 16 - 0/0 - 0 - 0
3rd/4th-&-Long Snaps 5 6
2-Min. Drill Snaps 3 7
Green Zone Snaps 2 1
Red Zone Snaps 4 5

Both players likely will be featured against the Packers in Week 9. Green Bay’s 4.1 yards allowed per rushing attempt rank No. 20 and its 132 yards rushing per game rank No. 28. 

Cousins Ruptures Achilles Tendon

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon rupture against the Green Bay Packers and was replaced by rookie QB Jaren Hall. Hall is likely to start in Week 9 but journeyman QB Nick Mullens is eligible to return from injured reserve in Week 10. 

Hall was a capable dual-threat quarterback at Brigham Young and could return QB2 fantasy value if allowed to remain the starter. No. 1 WR Justin Jefferson is also eligible to return from IR in Week 10.

>>READ: Fantasy Advice after Cousins' Injury/Levis' Breakout

Levis Shines in Debut, Heinicke Replaces Ridder

Tennessee Titans second-round rookie QB Will Levis totaled 238 yards passing, four touchdowns passing, zero interceptions and 11 yards rushing on seven rushing attempts in his NFL debut. His 130.5 NFL passer rating ranks No. 5 on the week. Tennessee will face a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that just lost three-time first-team All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (Week 8 hamstring strain) in Week 9.

Atlanta Falcons No. 2 QB Taylor Heinicke replaced Desmond Ridder after halftime, totaling 175 yards passing and one touchdown on 21 passing attempts. Heinicke added 14 yards rushing on two carries. His 8.3 yards passing per attempt average was a significant improvement on Ridder’s 5.9. It is unclear which player will start in Week 9. Heinicke would be a QB2 streamer against the Vikings.

Atlanta No. 1 WR Drake London notably suffered a groin strain. His Week 9 status is likewise uncertain.

Remaining Storylines

Bills Show Pass-Catching Depth

Buffalo Bills TE Dalton Kincaid (2.06 yards per route run (YPRR) and 16.50 points per reception (PPR) per game) and No. 3 WR Khalil Shakir (2.40 YPRR and 11.35 PPR points per game) assumed full-time passing-game roles over the last two weeks. Their involvement is reinforced with No. 2 TE Dawson Knox landing on injured reserve before Week 8's kickoff.

Panthers' Mingo More Involved

Carolina Panthers rookie WR Jonathan Mingo promisingly posted two career-highs (62 yards receiving and 80.0 percent catch rate) after the team's Week 7 bye. Post-bye rookie involvement is crucial for wide receivers as it typically reflects the coaching staff’s rest-of-season plans. His five targets finished second behind WR Adam Thielen’s 11.

Start RBs vs. Colts' Depleted Defense

The Indianapolis Colts had a top-12 run defense (3.7 yards rushing per attempt) in Weeks 1-6. However, the unit has surrendered 4.7 yards per attempt over the past two weeks, after losing Nos. 1 and 2 NTs Grover Stewart (performance-enhancing drugs suspension) and Eric Johnson (ankle) in Week 7. Zaire Franklin, whose 72 tackles in Weeks 1-7 lead all NFL linebackers, played through a knee injury suffered early in the Colts' Week 8 loss to the New Orleans Saints

Patriots' Douglas Primed For Featured Role

Rookie WR Demario Douglas’ 13 targets in Weeks 7-8 lead all New England Patriots wide receivers, and Nos. 1 and 2 WRs Kendrick Bourne (MCL sprain) and DeVante Parker (concussion) suffered Week 8 injuries. Douglas is PPR WR4/flex-viable against the Washington Commanders’ soft secondary in Week 9.

Jets' Wilson Returns to WR1 Status

New York Jets WR Garrett Wilson is the WR12 (17.30 PPR points per game) over the team’s past two games (Weeks 6-8), averaging 7.5 receptions, 12.5 targets and 95 yards receiving. He can be trusted to have WR1 value in Week 9 against a Los Angeles Chargers defense allowing 15.1 yards per wide receiver reception, the third most in the NFL. 

Trubisky Replaces Injured Pickett

Pittsburgh Steelers No. 2 QB Mitchell Trubisky replaced Kenny Pickett early in the second half after Pickett sustained a first-half rib injury. Trubisky's willingness to throw downfield is counterbalanced by his poor accuracy. Quarterbacks average 2.2 games missed due to rib injuries, per Doctor of Physical Therapy Adam Hutchison’s Injury Report. Pittsburgh faces the Titans’ lacking secondary in Week 9.

Howell Sets Career Highs

Commanders QB Sam Howell threw for career-highs in yards (397) and touchdowns passing (four), adding one interception and 11 yards rushing on three attempts. Washington’s high-volume passing offense coupled with Howell’s reckless play-making style keeps him on the volatile QB1 streaming radar. 

Seahawks Have Backfield Timeshare

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll handled RB Kenneth Walker’s calf strain responsibly, limiting him to eight rushing attempts and 11 routes run. No. 2 RB Zach Charbonnet efficiently averaged 10.6 yards rushing per attempt on five attempts and caught both of his targets for 11 yards receiving while also managing a recent hamstring strain. Fantasy managers should expect the coaching staff to continue treating the situation conservatively, as these issues tend to linger for more than one week.

Cardinals' McBride Enjoys Career Day

Arizona Cardinals TE Trey McBride broke out with career highs in targets (14), receptions (10) and yards receiving (95) while scoring his second NFL touchdown. Veteran TE Zach Ertz was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week, removing the progress-blocker from McBride’s path. McBride is a must-add waiver wire target with high-end TE1 weekly upside upon QB Kyler Murray’s return from ACL reconstruction. 

Broncos' Williams Proves He's Back

Denver Broncos No. 1 RB Javonte Williams totaled a career-high 27 rushing attempts and scored for the first time this season on a 4-yard reception, erasing all workload-related concerns about his surgically reconstructed knee. Williams has yet to steal the passing-down role from No. 2 RB Samaje Perine, but each player ran eight routes and Williams owned 100 percent of the green zone snaps. 

Bengals WR Iosivas Worth Watching

Cincinnati Bengals 6-foot-3, 200-pound rookie wide receiver Andrei Iosivas has scored touchdowns in consecutive games while earning targets at a 22.2 percent per-route rate. Iosivas remains trapped in a minuscule role but fantasy managers with bench space to spare should monitor his short-term involvement, with an eye toward Cincinnati’s welcoming Weeks 12-17 slate. No. 3 WR Tyler Boyd is averaging just 0.91 YPRR despite No. 2 WR Tee Higgins playing through a Week 4 ribs fracture. 

Chargers' Johnston On Waiver Wire Radar

Los Angeles Chargers rookie WR Quentin Johnston, who had been underwhelming thus far, turned in the first efficient performance of his career, averaging 2.00 YPRR while catching five of six targets for 50 yards. His six targets trailed only WR Keenan Allen (10) and RB Austin Ekeler (eight).