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Week 8 of the NFL slate produced two of the biggest fantasy performances by QBs in recent memory, and it happened in a single game. Drew Brees, NO, threw for 505 yards and seven TDs, while his counterpart across the field, Eli Manning, NYG, aired out for 350 yards and six TDs.
The big day for Brees was so big that he outscored Manning in fantasy points by a full 15 points in standard leagues - 62 to 47. Not that you'd hear Manning's owners complaining, since getting 47 points from your QB will go pretty far toward winning you the week.
If you are hoping these guys can do it again, it seems highly unlikely. The Saints beat the Giants 52-49 in a game that defined the word "shootout," and that probably says more about the respective defenses than where the QBs are headed. Looking back over this season, Brees has been a yardage monster as usual, but was average about one TD and almost one INT per game coming into last week. Manning has had a couple very good games, but has been pretty inconsistent, and going into last week was not finding the end zone as often as we expected this year.
While shootouts are fun (at least in football), massacres are not. Week 8 may be remembered less for the two stellar QB outings we witnessed than for the carnage that also took place: At least four star players went down with injuries, including LeVeon Bell, RB, PIT; Steve Smith, WR, BAL; Keenan Allen, WR, SD; and Matt Forte, RB, CHI. Local fans may breathe a sigh of relief that Forte should be back soon, but both Bell and Smith are lost for the year. Meanwhile, Reggie Bush, RB, SF may have suffered a serious injury in what was expected to be his first week this year as a fantasy factor, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, NYJ, who has played himself into at least having bye week fantasy value, went down as well.
It's turning into one of those seasons when it pays to draft the handcuff to your best fantasy players. Who knew Bears rookie RB Jeremy Langford would prove to have at least some short-term fantasy value this year?
Week 8 Winners
QB: Derek Carr, OAK.
Brees and Manning clearly stole the show, but it's worth highlighting the effort of the young, emerging star. Carr threw for 333 yards and four TDs last week, and has an impressive 15 TDs to three INTs ratio. He was worth every penny as a late-round backup pick.
RB: Todd Gurley, STL.
In each of his first four career games, Gurley has run for no fewer than 128 yards. I would say he looks like Adrian Peterson in his prime, but he actually looks better than that. I don't know if Gurley is really this good or defenses are making the mistake of not taking him seriously because he's a rookie coming off a serious injury. What's certain is he is looking like the No. 1 or No. 2 overall fantasy draft pick next year.
WR: Odell Beckham, Jr, NYG.
His sophomore campaign has not been quite as good as we expected, but his QB's big week sure helped. OBJ had eight catches for 130 yards and three TDs in Week 8, and could be poised for another big game against TAM this week.
TE: Benjamin Watson, NO.
I noted a few weeks ago that Brees had rediscovered the art of throwing to his TEs, and Watson, like OBJ, benefited from a historic fantasy output by his QB, with 147 yards receiving and a TD. Watson suddenly is a very hot fantasy commodity. Kudos if you picked him up after his initial breakout game back in Week 6.
Week 8 Losers
QB: Aaron Rodgers, GB.
Never expected to see his name in this category, but a hugely embarrassing Week 8 stat line of 77 yards passing with no TDs amounts to a career-worst in fantasy value. Rodgers had a great 15:2 TDs to INTs ratio coming into this one, but also has had only one game of more than 300 yards passing. In Week 8, he ran into the stifling Denver defense. Things don't get much better this week against Carolina.
RB: Justin Forsett, RB, BAL.
This one wasn't exactly terrible, as he collected 69 yards, but virtually everyone was expecting him to tear into a lousy San Diego defense for at least 100 yards rushing and a TD or two. Forsett was a borderline first round draft value who for the most part has not delivered on that promise, though he's still probably more RB-1 than RB-2.
WR: Emmanuel Sanders, DEN.
Despite the troubles Peyton Manning has been having, Sanders had been having a really good season in which he hadn't collected fewer than 65 yards in any week. That changed in Week 8, when he caught only two balls for 22 yards even though Manning managed to rediscover himself with 340 yards passing.
TE: Martellus Bennett, CHI.
After three straight games seeing more than 10 targets, he only had five targets in Week 9, catching three passes for 32 yards. The decline in looks coincides roughly with the return of Alshon Jeffery at WR, but it's not like the Bears are loaded with pass-catching talent.
Big Play of the Week: Dez Bryant, WR, DAL, returns to action this week, and even though Dallas remains without starting QB Tony Romo, Bryant adds a dimension that Dallas has been lacking, and could find ways to beat the Philadelphia secondary.
* Sporting News likes Langford among the sleeper RBs to make an impact in a very thin Week 9 group.
* CBS Sports likes Jay Cutler against that poor San Diego defense (you need to dig deep in this link, but it's there).
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.