As we do each Sunday right here, 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.
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders: Overtime helped him pad his fantasy statistics — he gained an additional 10, thanks in large part to a game-winning, 41-yard touchdown pass — but Carr’s 35 nevertheless count, and earned him the top spot on the leaderboard (through Sunday). That also set a new career high for the third-year player, who now has 156 fantasy points for the season, putting him on pace for a season-ending 312. If Carr can maintain that pace, he’d enjoy a second consecutive season of at least a 50-fantasy-point increase to begin his career.
In addition, 312 fantasy points would give Carr the seventh-best season by any quarterback aged 25 or younger.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals: In his first “fully healthy” game of 2016 — he played 76 of 88 offensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke, that 86.4 percentage right in line with his 86.9 percent in his 13 games played in 2015 — Eifert managed 16 fantasy points, his fourth-best single-game effort of his career. In the process, he matched his career high for receptions (9) and had a career-high 12 targets. Most encouraging for his going-forward value, Eifert had only one red zone target out of those 12, which he converted for a touchdown, supporting his hefty usage in all situations. He’s now 13-for-23 converting red zone targets into scores in his career.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: No Randall Cobb or Ty Montgomery? No problem. Though Rodgers fell short in leading his Packers to a comeback victory on Sunday, he padded the fantasy stat sheet with a 33-point effort that represented his season high and his best individual performance since 2015 Week 3 (34). He did it by distributing touchdown passes to three different wide receivers, Jordy Nelson (15 fantasy points), Jeff Janis (9) and Trevor Davis (8), while delivering a team-high 12 completed passes to Davante Adams.
For Rodgers, it was the 14th time in his career that he scored at least 30 fantasy points. Only seven players in history have had more: LaDainian Tomlinson (20), Drew Brees (19), Marshall Faulk (18), Jim Brown (17), Tom Brady (16), Steve Young (16) and George Blanda (15).
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: Ho-hum, another big Brady game. His 29 fantasy points matched Blake Bortles’ Thursday output for third among quarterbacks (through Sunday), though his game was plenty prettier to watch.
Brady now has 102 fantasy points in four games, putting him on pace for a season-ending 306, which would easily shatter the single-season record for a player aged 39 or older, currently held by Brett Favre (274 in 2009, age 40). This was also the third time that Brady has managed at least 25 fantasy points since celebrating his 39th birthday, tying him with Favre and Warren Moon for the most at that age or older. Extending Brady’s 25-point-game accomplishments to the entirety of a career, he now has 39, which ranks third on the all-time list behind Brees (46) and Peyton Manning (43).
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers: Talk about a matchup-busting performance, Stewart scored 21 fantasy points against the Arizona Cardinals, who entering Week 8 had afforded the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (11.1). In fact, Stewart’s total was the second most against that defense behind only LeSean McCoy’s 23 (2016 Week 3) since the beginning of last season. This also marked only the second time in Stewart’s career that he had managed consecutive games with at least 20 fantasy points — he also did it in 2009 Weeks 15-16 — and he did it facing two polar-extreme matchups with a bye sandwiched in between, as Stewart’s 20 in Week 6 came against a New Orleans Saints defense that, entering Week 8, had allowed the most fantasy points per game to running backs (25.2).
Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: His 23 fantasy points paced all wide receivers (through Sunday), and unlike the aforementioned Carr, Cooper scored the majority of his points during regulation, adding only two during overtime on a 20-yard reception. Though the second-year player might seem somewhat frustrating to own, he has actually been one of the most productive players at his position this season, moving into sixth place with 90 fantasy points, one behind teammate Michael Crabtree (who had 10 of his own on Sunday).
Cooper is now on pace for a season-ending 180 fantasy points, which would represent a 47-point increase upon his 2015 rookie-year total (133).
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: With 16 fantasy points, Gronkowski captured a share of the tight-end lead (through Sunday
), and it gave him three consecutive games with at least 15 fantasy points. That tied his longest previous streak in his career, accomplished in 2011 Weeks 9-11.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: Another week, another productive fantasy score for Ryan, whose 23 points gave him a position-leading six games within the week’s top 10 scoring quarterbacks. It also gave him 175 fantasy points for the season, putting him on pace for a season-ending 350. If that holds, Ryan would enjoy the 12th campaign in history with at least that many, and he’d become only the ninth different quarterback to have ever reached that plateau, joining Brady, Brees, Daunte Culpepper, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Cam Newton, Rodgers and Steve Young.
Rodgers, by the way, is on pace for an impressive 334 fantasy points of his own.
J.J. Nelson, WR, Cardinals: Could a new star be rising in Arizona? Nelson’s 19 fantasy points fell shy of the wide receiver lead in Week 8, but they were still far more than anyone expected, as he was started in 0.4 percent of ESPN leagues. With eight receptions, he doubled his previous personal best in the category, resulting in 27 PPR fantasy points that helped him set a new career high. In standard-scoring terms, his 19 fantasy points fell short of the 20 he posted in 2015 Week 11. Still, they came on the heels of an encouraging, eight-point Week 7 performance, making Nelson one of the more intriguing pickups heading into Week 9.
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions: For the third time in six (healthy) games this season, Riddick managed at least 18 standard and 25 PPR fantasy points; in this one he managed 18 and 26. Those three games represent his three best single-week efforts of his career to date, out of 50 overall NFL contests.
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: It was the fumble that caused a fantasy frenzy. On a first-and-10 play, 6:56 into the first quarter, Ingram lost a fumble on a 2-yard gain that resulted in a Seattle Seahawks defensive touchdown (Earl Thomas’ score on the recovery). From there, Ingram didn’t again touch the football, as Tim Hightower took 26 and Daniel Lasco five of the next 31 rushing attempts en route to ruining many a day for Ingram’s owners in the 81.2 percent of ESPN leagues in which he was starting. Ingram’s final minus-2 fantasy point tally represented the worst in his 69-game NFL career, the first time he had been held beneath four fantasy points in a single game, in fact, since the beginning of the 2015 season.
What’s more, Ingram’s owners had to be particularly frustrated watching Hightower perform so poorly in goal-line situations, a role to which Ingram is better suited. On Sunday, Hightower handled five rushing attempts and one receiving target within three yards of the Seahawks’ end zone, and he failed to convert a touchdown on any of them (one was a 2-yard gain at the 3-yard line, the other five were for no gain or for a loss). Since 2001, the only other player to total at least six such opportunities without scoring a touchdown on any of them was LaDainian Tomlinson (0-for-6, 2009 Week 7).
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: This was an uncharacteristically poor day for Olsen, who is known for his weekly consistency. He was held to just one fantasy point, and two in PPR scoring, representing his worst individual game using both of those numbers since 2015 Week 1 (also 1 and 2). More importantly for future matchups analysis, however, this further underscored how exceptionally well the Cardinals have been defending opposing tight ends this season, as they entered Week 8 limiting the position to the fewest fantasy points per game (2.1).
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: The most-started wide receiver in ESPN fantasy leagues in Week 8 — he was active in 99.8 percent — Jones managed just two points on his five targets on Sunday, marking the third time this season that he has been held to that few. Remarkably, Jones still holds the position lead in fantasy points for the season (105, one more than A.J. Green), but he has taken quite the inconsistent route getting there. In this one, a brief absence for a leg/ankle injury contributed, and he saw only one target in the final 36 minutes of the game, perhaps a product of his injury. The Packers also focused quite a bit of defensive attention upon him, in particular assigning LaDarius Gunter to cover him for a good number of snaps.
James White, RB, Patriots: Most everyone on the Patriots’ roster enjoyed a productive fantasy day … but not White, who was held to a mere two standard-league and four PPR points. He was started in 54.2 percent of ESPN leagues.
Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: An injury greatly limited what was a disappointing day — he didn’t return after halftime due to a concussion — but Ware wasn’t performing especially well before exiting, letting down his owners in the 94.1 percent of leagues in which he was started. He tallied just three fantasy points, and five in PPR scoring, as he averaged just 2.7 yards on his seven carries. With Jamaal Charles (knee) also ailing, the Chiefs could be in a tough spot at running back entering Week 9, as Charcandrick West scored just five fantasy points in their absences.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Continuing with the injury theme, Hilton exited Sunday’s game for at least a few series with a hamstring issue, though his two fantasy points on six targets while he was in the game was rather disappointing to his owners in the 97.7 percent of leagues in which he was started. It was his worst output so far in 2016, and his least since 2015 Week 15 (2), as Donte Moncrief (10 fantasy points) was the Colts’ fantasy wide receiver standout in Week 8.
Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets: Normally a six-point fantasy day wouldn’t typically be classified as a poor performance, but in this case, that Marshall managed that few, as well as only 10 using PPR scoring, was a real letdown for owners who made him the seventh most-started wide receiver of Week 8 (94.8 percent of leagues). Marshall has now been held to single-digit fantasy points in three consecutive games, the first time that has happened since 2014 Weeks 12-14.
Tyrell Williams, WR, San Diego Chargers: Chalk his bad game up to the matchup, but Williams was started in 21.6 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 8, so the impact of his zero-point fantasy effort was surely felt. He was the most-started Chargers wide receiver, yet he didn’t manage to capture a single one of that group’s 17 combined fantasy points (Travis Benjamin 10, Dontrelle Inman 7).