Week 8 Fantasy Football Surprise Sensations

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Chances are you were pretty a pretty happy fantasy football owner if you started many of the major players. Drew Brees returned to action after recovering from thumb surgery and impressed mightily. Among wide receivers and running backs, players with 100 percent ownership rates such as Aaron Jones, Christian McCaffrey, Michael Thomas, and Mike Evans were among the top performers in Week 8. But then there are those that probably didn’t help your fantasy team who made an impact. This weekly column is about their exploits.

Note: all references to ownership percentage numbers are based on data from Yahoo Sports leagues.

Week 8 Fantasy Football Surprise Sensations

Matt Schaub

Atlanta Falcons fans have been used to seeing a man named Matt start at quarterback over the last decade. But on Sunday, it wasn’t Matt Ryan. The team ruled their long-time signal-caller out due to an ankle injury. In doing so, it ended a consecutive start streak dating back to the 2009 season. In his place was long-time journeyman Schaub which probably didn’t inspire much confidence out of the fans against the Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. That became readily apparent when Seattle took a 24-0 lead into halftime. And even though a great deal of his production came in garbage time, Schaub did manage 21.40 fantasy points and the final 27-20 scoreline was respectable. Among quarterbacks who registered a minimum of 20 points, his ownership rate of one percent was by far the lowest. Don’t expect that number to climb, though. The struggling Falcons are on a bye this coming week.

Darius Slayton

Most of the running backs who scored big in Week 8 fantasy football were the usual suspects. So we’ll feature two wide receivers in this article. First up is Slayton who made the most of his two catches on Sunday. Both resulted in touchdowns in the New York Giants‘ narrow 31-26 loss to the Detroit Lions. In the end, he finished with 19 points in PPR leagues which probably didn’t enrage those who started Golden Tate too much as he tallied eight catches for 85 yards which gave him 16.5 PPR points. And if Evan Engram was your tight end, you didn’t complain much either as he also enjoyed a fairly productive outing at Ford Field. Nevertheless, only four percent of Yahoo leagues had Slayton on their roster. But he’s a risky waiver wire add in Week 9 as the Giants are facing the Dallas Cowboys who are giving up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts.

Chris Conley

Gardner Minshew mania is beginning to envelop Duval. The Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback is holding down the fort reasonably well in relief of the injured Nick Foles. In Sunday’s win over the hapless New York Jets, Minshew totaled 279 yards passing and threw three touchdowns. One of those tosses was to Conley who was the Jags leading receiver in terms of yardage. In fact, he and JuJu Smith-Schuster finished with the exact same stats with 103 yards and a single score. But Conley’s three percent ownership rate in Yahoo leagues is significantly smaller than Smith-Schuster’s which comes in at 99 percent. He might be worth considering if you’re looking to play the waiver wire with Jacksonville’s Week 9 opponent, the Houston Texans, giving up the second-most points to wide receivers.

Ryan Griffin

Did Griffin help your fantasy team in Week 8? For those in Yahoo leagues, the answer is a resounding no as his ownership rate stood at zero percent. Yet the seventh-year tight end, in his first year with the New York Jets, was the highest-scoring tight end in Week 8. He caught both of Sam Darnold‘s touchdown passes against the Jaguars. And he essentially functioned as one of the few bright spots for Darnold. He continued to see ghosts in throwing three interceptions in the 29-15 loss. It really doesn’t come as a surprise that nobody had any faith in Griffin balling out on Sunday. Prior to Week 8, he accumulated just 19.6 PPR fantasy points. But in Jacksonville, he equaled that and then some with 24.60. The Jets are back in Florida this coming Sunday with a game against the Miami Dolphins in what will be a veritable pillow fight between two of the league’s worst teams. Some owners might let impulsiveness get the best of them and add Griffin via the waiver wire. But buyer beware. The Dolphins aren’t giving up very many fantasy points to tight ends this year.

Cody Parkey

You can’t fault the fantasy community for discounting Parkey. We’re all pretty familiar with his missed field goal against the Philadelphia Eagles last season which cost the Chicago Bears a win in the wild-card round. Plus, he only joined the Tennessee Titans on October 9 after they cut Cairo Santos in the wake of him going 0/4 on field goals in a 14-7 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 5. So him having a one percent ownership rate heading into Sunday’s clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t come as much of a surprise. But, in a way, he was the difference in Tennessee coming away with a 27-23 win. He was perfect on the day, converting three extra points and two field goals including a long of 51 yards. Only Dan Bailey and the ageless wonder Adam Vinatieri finished with more fantasy points. Seeing athletes respond to adversity is one of the reasons we love sports. So, hopefully, Parkey can make the most of this opportunity.

Detroit Lions Defense

This probably goes down as the least surprising of our surprise sensations this week. The Lions defense/special teams was on the rosters of 14 percent of Yahoo fantasy players, the highest mark among those discussed here. But among units whose fantasy point total ran into double digits in Week 8, the Lions had the lowest ownership percentage. Plus, they totaled -4 fantasy points in a 42-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 7. But against the New York Giants on Sunday, the unit got off to a blistering start with Devon Kennard returning a fumble for a touchdown to put the Lions up 7-0 in the third quarter. And they also sacked rookie quarterback Daniel Jones three times. That said, Jones had a pretty impressive outing. He went 28/41 and threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in the narrow 31-26 defeat. With regard to Detroit’s defense/special teams, I wouldn’t expect their ownership rate to increase too much. They go on the road in Week 9 to face an Oakland Raiders squad who’s conceding the fourth-fewest fantasy points to team defenses.

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