There was no sleeping in Seattle on Sunday afternoon.
The Houston Texans-Seattle Seahawks game — that’s right, a single game — was the source of most of the Week 8 fantasy football excitement. A 41-38, seesaw affair, the contest resulted in (through the 4 p.m. ET game block): The top two fantasy scores by quarterbacks, the top three scores by wide receivers, and the No. 2 score by a tight end. Here’s hoping you had a piece of the action in that game, because many of the week’s winners surely will!
As we do each week, we recap the week’s winners and losers from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks of the week’s best and worst.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks: What a game. Wilson led his Seahawks to a 41-38 victory on the strength of a 48-yard completion to Paul Richardson as well as an 18-yard touchdown pbad to Jimmy Graham with 21 seconds remaining in regulation, resulting in a whopping, quarterback-leading 35.08 fantasy points for the signal-caller. It was the 10th time in Wilson’s six-year, 87-game NFL career that he has scored at least 30, which tied him for eighth all-time at the position, and the fifth time he has scored at least 35, which tied him for third behind only Peyton Manning (6) and Cam Newton (6). Wilson was the fifth most-started quarterback in ESPN leagues in Week 8, active in 71.8 percent, but his recent performance should really earn him universal, every-week starter status.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans: Though his game ended in heartbreak — he was Wilson’s opponent, and after Wilson’s go-ahead touchdown with 21 seconds remaining in regulation, Watson threw a game-ending interception on the second play of the subsequent drive — the rookie’s performance deserves hearty applause. Watson scored 32.78 fantasy points, second only to Wilson among quarterbacks (through the 4 p.m. ET games). That gave Watson 168.86 fantasy points for the season through seven games, the most by any quarterback through that many contests since at least 1950. In fact, only Eric Dickerson (200.5) and Marcus Allen (174.38) had more using PPR scoring through their first seven career games among players at any position during that time span, and Dickerson (176.5) was the only one with more using non-PPR scoring. Watson also now has three games of at least 30 fantasy points in his past four, his three helping him join Cam Newton (4) and Robert Griffin III (3) as the only rookie quarterbacks since 1950 with at least that many such efforts. Watson was started in just 37.8 percent of ESPN leagues, 13th highest at the position, that number low because of fantasy owners’ fear of the “tough” Seahawks matchup, but this firms him up as a matchup-proof pbader.
Will Fuller V, WR, Texans: Take your pick from either of the Texans’ top wide receivers, because either could be hailed the week’s bigger winner, but Fuller gets the nod first because he was only 34.1 percent started in ESPN leagues to DeAndre Hopkins’ 90.2 percent, and Fuller’s performance continued a remarkable string of success for the second-year player. Fuller caught two touchdown pbades and five pbades overall on eight targets, resulting in 29.5 PPR and 24.5 non-PPR fantasy points. It gave him a streak of four consecutive games with a touchdown to begin his season, for a total of seven touchdowns on only 13 total catches and 22 total targets. To highlight how rare it is for a receiver to enjoy such a high rate of touchdown success, consider that only one player since at least 1938 — seasonal reception numbers become sketchier further back than that — has managed fewer catches in a season with at least seven touchdown receptions: Mike Sellers, who turned seven of his 12 receptions into scores for the 2005 Washington Redskins. In addition, Sellers is the only player since 1992, the earliest year for which we have target data, who had fewer targets (16) in a season with at least seven receiving scores. Fuller’s big-play ability is a huge boon to the aggressive Watson, and while Fuller’s touchdown success is sure to regress to the mean in coming weeks, Watson maximizes Fuller’s weekly upside and the team has a pretty favorable remaining schedule, beginning with an excellent matchup with the Indianapolis Colts in Week 9.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: He enjoyed the week’s highest score, at least through the 4 p.m. ET games, with 36.4 PPR and 28.4 non-PPR fantasy points. Amazingly, neither threatened his personal bests (44.8 and 35.8, in 2014 Week 13), and in fact Hopkins’ PPR score was only his third best in 71 career games. Still, it marked his fourth consecutive game with a touchdown, and it put him on pace for 337.4 PPR and 234.5 non-PPR fantasy points, which would shatter his previous career highs of 331.1 and 220.1, set in 2015.
Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks: Well, few people saw that coming, evidenced by the fact that he was active in a mere 5.05 percent of ESPN leagues on Sunday. Richardson broke through for a career-high 28.5 PPR fantasy points, fueled by two touchdowns as well as a remarkable 48-yard catch on the game-winning drive. It was a performance that warrants close attention, as he played a Seahawks wide receiver-leading 56 snaps, per Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke, and was targeted seven times. Doug Baldwin might remain the Seahawks’ clear No. 1 wide receiver, but Richardson is creeping up on him and could again benefit in Week 9, should Baldwin be shadowed by Josh Norman.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts: Your 1 p.m. ET game block leader in fantasy points was … Jack Doyle?! Believe it, as the Colts’ starting tight end managed 30.1 using PPR scoring, easily eclipsing his previous career high (22.8, set in 2016 Week 7). Doyle was started in 20.6 percent of ESPN leagues, his highest rate since Week 3’s 42.0 percent.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills: Captain Consistency was at it again on Sunday. McCoy scored 29.3 PPR fantasy points, giving him a seventh consecutive double-digit score to begin the season. It was the 104th double-digit performance in his nine-year, 124-game NFL career, the 43rd game worth 20-plus and the 21st game worth 25-plus. What’s more, he averaged 5.6 yards per carry, an encouraging sign considering he entered the week with a mere 3.4 average this season, well beneath his 4.6 career mark in the category. McCoy remains one of the most reliable running backs in the game, and his schedule during the next six weeks is a dream: @NYJ, NO, @LAC, @KC, NE, IND.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: In what was only his second career start, Smith-Schuster made the most of his expanded opportunity as a result of Martavis Bryant’s (coach’s decision) inactive designation, scoring a career-high 32.3 PPR fantasy points. Smith-Schuster got right into the action with a 41-yard reception on the Steelers’ first offensive play, added a 97-yard touchdown reception that wound up the difference in the game, and tied for the team lead with 10 targets. It could signal Smith-Schuster’s arrival as the team’s No. 2 receiver alongside Antonio Brown, elevating him to matchups-capable WR3 status. The rookie was started in 14.9 percent of ESPN leagues, a significant increase from his sub-2-percent rates of each of the first seven games of his career.
Robby Anderson, WR. New York Jets: He set a new career high with 22.5 PPR fantasy points, catching all six of his targets in the process. Anderson was started in 16.3 percent of ESPN leagues, his highest rate in any of his 24 career games. With matchups against the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers the next two weeks, Anderson could have upcoming WR3 value.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings: For the fourth time in his past nine regular-season games, McKinnon exceeded the 20-point PPR fantasy plateau, his 26.2 in fact falling just four-tenths of a point shy of his personal best set three weeks ago (26.6, Week 5). It was quite the rebound for the running back, who struggled to the tune of 8.7 points in Week 7. McKinnon, who was started in 71.3 percent of ESPN leagues on Sunday morning, has now averaged 21.6 PPR fantasy points and 19.8 touches in his past four games. Latavius Murray, by comparison, has averaged 8.5 and 17.0 during that same time span. Incidentally, McKinnon’s score fell fewer than two points shy of setting a new running back record for a game played in London, and his 26.2 rank third, behind only LaDainian Tomlinson’s 28.0 in 2008 Week 8 and Matt Forte’s 26.3 in 2011 Week 7.
Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles: Though four other tight ends from the 1 p.m. ET game block managed to outscore him, Ertz’s 13.4 PPR fantasy points gave him an eighth consecutive game in double digits to begin the season. He’s only the third tight end since 1960 to score in double digits in each of his team’s first eight games, joining Kellen Winslow, who scored in each of the Cleveland Browns’ first 11 in 2007, and Ozzie Newsome, who scored in each of the Browns’ first 10 in 1981.
DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders: The winner of the Raiders’ running back-by-committee battle on Sunday, a game Marshawn Lynch missed due to suspension, was Washington, whose 20.8 PPR fantasy points easily exceeded Jalen Richard’s 8.6. Washington outpaced Richard in terms of both total touches (14-10) and starting percentage in ESPN leagues (27.0 to 18.0 percent), but it’s unclear whether his performance will be enough to earn him a larger role when Lynch returns to action in Week 9. Washington is still worth keeping stashed in PPR formats, where his 27 targets in eight games gives him a chance at helping teams out of the flex spot in a pinch.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins: For the first time all season, Crowder managed a double-digit fantasy point total, his 22.5 using PPR scoring easily his best all year and in fact just 3.2 shy of his career best (25.7, 2016 Week 8). It was a performance that reminded of his 2016 breakthrough, as he was targeted 13 times and had nine catches. Crowder is suddenly looking like the Redskins’ de facto No. 1 wide receiver, and while his sluggish start to the season makes him difficult to trust as anything more than a matchups-dependent WR3, he’ll face a Seahawks defense in Week 9 that struggled mightily against the Texans’ talented wideouts on Sunday.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks: For the fifth consecutive game, Graham managed a double-digit fantasy point total, his 19.9 using PPR scoring on Sunday representing his best single-week effort in 2017. He also caught the game-winning touchdown, yet another thing that might quash rumors that he’s on the trade block as he plays out the final year of his contract.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys: While we continue to await word about his suspension, Elliott continues to put forth elite fantasy point totals, his 26.4 using PPR scoring his latest masterpiece. That gave him 480.4 through his first 22 career games, which is the sixth most by any player through that many career contests since 1950, trailing only Edgerrin James (528.4), Dickerson (494.6), Odell Beckham Jr. (492.6), Allen (489.1) and Billy Sims (482.4).
Terrelle Pryor Sr., WR, Redskins: His season has been immensely disappointing, but nothing — literally — can top his Week 8 fantasy output. Pryor was shut out on the fantasy score card on one target, only the fifth time in his 41 career games he has been held scoreless or worse and second time in his 20 career starts he has done that. The number of teams rostering and starting him plummeted entering Week 8, dipping to 74.1 and 16.4 percent, and it’s looking like it’s time to move on in 10- and 12-team formats.
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers: An AC joint sprain in his right shoulder caused him to chip in only limited practices on Wednesday and Thursday, but Winston put in a full Friday session and was cleared to play on Sunday. Unfortunately, his performance hinted he played at less than full strength, as he scored 3.70 fantasy points, his worst single-game score in any of the 38 career games in which he played at least 50 snaps — he had 2.44 in Week 6, when he played 15 snaps before leaving with the same injury, the only time he scored worse or played fewer snaps. Winston next faces the New Orleans Saints, once a great matchup for a quarterback but now a defense that has limited opposing quarterbacks to a combined 50.64 fantasy points in its past five games.
Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings: Where McKinnon succeeded, Murray disappointed, converting his 19 carries and 20 total touches into just 5.7 PPR fantasy points on Sunday. With it, Murray has now averaged 3.2 yards per carry this season, a significant drop-off from his 4.1 career mark. He might soon begin to see his opportunities dwindle, and he’s highly unlikely to be started again in as many as the 46.7 percent of ESPN leagues that he was on Sunday.
Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers: Much more than 1.1 non-PPR and 3.1 PPR fantasy points was expected from Henry on Sunday, considering he entered the week riding a streak of three straight double-digit PPR performances, during which he played 56 (Week 5), 54 (Week 6) and 44 snaps (Week 7). Henry was started in 68.6 percent of ESPN leagues, sixth-highest among tight ends.
Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers: Entering Week 8, no team had allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than the Buccaneers, who had surrendered an average of 44.4 per game. Funchess was unfortunately unable to capitalize, turning his six targets into 3.1 PPR fantasy points, his worst single-game score all season. Though his 50.3 percent start rate in ESPN leagues paled in comparison to Kelvin Benjamin’s 76.0 percent, that still made Funchess one of the 25 most-started wide receivers of the week. Benjamin had 12.9 PPR fantasy points on seven targets, the third consecutive week he scored more between the two.
Mike Gillislee, RB, New England Patriots: For the sixth consecutive week, Gillislee was held beneath six fantasy points, his 3.4 giving him a grand total of 22.1 during that time span. Worse yet, Dion Lewis received the team’s only rushing attempt within 10 yards of the goal line, and Tom Brady targeted Rob Gronkowski on the team’s only play within three yards of the goal line, confirming that Gillislee is no longer the first read when the team is in scoring position. Gillislee, who is owned in 76.0 percent of ESPN leagues, can be freely dropped in 10-team formats.
Pierre Garcon, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Though a neck injury that cost him most of the game’s second half contributed, Garcon’s 3.7 PPR fantasy points on four targets was a rather disappointing outcome considering the strength of his matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was easily the worst single-game score in his eight games this season. Garcon’s status — his was a neck injury apparently suffered when he collided with Eagles coach Ken Flajole late in the second quarter — will need to be closely monitored heading into Week 9.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: After he set a career high in fantasy points in Week 7, Prescott was a heavily started quarterback on Sunday, his 77.9 percent rate fourth highest at his position. Unfortunately, he let his many owners down, posting 7.32 fantasy points, the third-lowest total in any of his 23 career games. Josh Norman’s return to action diminished the appeal of Prescott’s matchup, but it was most frustrating to see Prescott manage just 16 yards on three rushing attempts. He should rebound in Week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls, RBs, Seahawks: While the Texans squeezed 22.3 PPR fantasy points out of Lamar Miller in a game that leaned more pbad-heavy, the Seahawks couldn’t get anything out of their top two running backs on Sunday. Lacy and Rawls each received four carries, and they totaled minus-0.1 fantasy points, with Lacy posting zero and Rawls minus-1 yards. Rawls’ performance was most disconcerting, as in addition to the poor numbers, he absorbed a chop block penalty that negated a Paul Richardson touchdown. It’s unclear in which direction the Seahawks will go with their backfield in Week 9, as third-stringer J.D. McKissic managed just 12 total yards on five touches of his own, but none of these players can be trusted in fantasy leagues.