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Week 8 - Puff, Puff, Pass

Welcome to Week 8 friends! Instead of your usual intro, it’s time for new flava in ya ear, Craig Mack style. The fantasy season is half over and it feels like yesterday we were hyping up Diontae Johnson so bad you had to reach in the 7th round to grab him. His teammate, Chase “Mapletron” Claypool, was barely a thought in this vaunted rookie WR draft class. How is your team(s) doing? Have you ripped all your hair out, mourning injury after injury, or have you escaped unscathed into the upper echelon of fantasy success? We all need help from time to time and that’s why Josh ‘Smokey-Hell’ Nelson (host of The Smoke Show and co-host of The Jet Sweep Show ) is here to let you know who to start (Puff) and who to sit (Pass).


Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles)

Yes, Wentz at times this season has been performing like the doo-doo emoji this season, but you know what can cure that? A must-win division game against the terrible Dallas Cowboys. Did you know that Wentz is tied for 2nd in red zone rushing TDs, along with Ezekiel Elliott, Josh Jacobs, Kyler Murray and Cam Newton?! Since Week 3, he has been averaging 35.2 rushing yards per game, providing a weekly safe floor and since the Eagles have been nearly as terrible as the Cowboys, Wentz has been forced into a lot of “garbage time” production. Add to that, the fact that the Eagle’s 2020 first round WR Jalen Reagor is set to return this week, and I foresee a bludgeoning in Dallas’ future. My prediction is 300 passing yards, 2 passing TDs and a short 5-7 yard rushing TD.

Verdict - PUFF

Derek Carr (Las Vegas Raiders)

Yes, Derek freaking Carr (get over it Jimmy). Carr is currently sitting in the top 10 in red zone passing TDs and out of those 10 players, he has the 3rd highest completion percentage inside the 20-yard line. The Raiders were soundly thrashed last week by the Buccaneers who are a top 8 defense and do not allow many passing yards or passing TDs. But they face Cleveland this week, who allowed rookie Joe Burrow to have an absolute monster day against them last week (which I happened to call fairly accurately last week in Puff, Puff, Pass). Carr has been connecting well with Agholor, who has gone three games in a row with a TD, and the skill position group in Vegas is sneakily underrated. I’m not expecting a blowout performance, but I think Carr finishes as a top 5 QB this week.

Verdict - PUFF

Cam Newton (New England Patriots)

After starting the fantasy season on fire, Cam has cooled off considerably since contracting Covid-19. His 23. 8 fantasy points per game during the first three weeks of the season has dropped in his last three games to 9.16. Covid-19 affects people differently with regards to the severity of the symptoms and it’s lingering effects, and that could explain Newton’s past performances but what’s Edelman’s excuse? The skill position players in New England are a large factor into why I’m fading Superman this week. When Cam is healthy, he can be a top 5 fantasy option. Cam is simply not healthy. Reluctant fade for me this week.

Verdict - PASS

Running Backs

Jonathon Taylor (Indianapolis Colts)

A buzzword kicking around the fantasy football Twittersphere this week was “post bye rookie bump” which sounds like some boring SEO-themed mad lib, but a lot of it was directed at Jonathan Taylor. Bye weeks, especially early ones, allow a coaching staff to break down a rookie’s progress, correct mistakes and set new expectations with increased responsibilities in the offense. Back in Wisconsin, Taylor was an absolute bell cow, putting up historic college numbers with three straight seasons of 2,000+ yards from scrimmage. We know he can handle a big workload and the talent is obviously there. I hope y’all have some shares of JT already, because they are about to get priced out of the market after this week.

Verdict - PUFF

Le’Veon Bell (Kansas City Chiefs)

Bell’s revenge game came quite quickly for him. For his second game on his new team the defending Super Bowl champs Kansas City Chiefs, he gets to go against his old team the New York Jets and coach Adam Gase. If I were to take a guess, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is going to continue to get the early down work, most of the touches and some minimal passing game involvement. Le’Veon will eat up most of those backfield targets/receptions and more importantly, the goal line work, an area CEH has struggled with this season. Plus, when you look at the matchup against the winless New York Jets, the Chiefs are likely to be in a very positive game script, which would favour more work for Bell to close the game out. It hasn’t been that long that we’ve all forgotten just how good Bell can be, right?

Verdict - PUFF

DeeJay Dallas (Seattle Seahawks)

Admiral Ackbar: “It’s a trap!” Just because he’s the only fully healthy RB in Seattle right now does not mean he’s an automatic RB1. San Francisco’s defense is no joke, allowing the fewest total red zone plays and the fewest rushing TDs league-wide. Travis Homer was held out of practice Wednesday, for what I assume were precautionary reasons due to his knee contusion suffered last week. If the play-callers in Seattle are wise, they’ll just let Russ cook. To borrow a term from fellow TNFF members of #TheEhTeam Jim Nastic and Connor Donald of the Gold Jacket Podcast, DeeJay Dallas is fool’s gold.

Verdict - PASS

Click here to head on over to listen to the Jet Sweep Show podcast with @itsharristime and @TNFF_Smokey.

Wide Receivers

Brandon Aiyuk (San Francisco 49ers)

The sixth WR taken (25th overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft had himself a day last Sunday, putting up 115 yards off of only six receptions. Now, he finds himself as the primary (non-Kittle) receiver going up against a Seattle team which ranks bottom three in nearly every pass defense statistical category. According to Adam Levitan of Establish The Run, the Seahawks are allowing 76.5 plays per game by their opponents on average, which will elevate most skill player ceilings on the 49ers this week. With Deebo Samuel out this week with a hamstring injury, I believe Aiyuk will smash this week and continue to build on his Week 7 performance.

Verdict - PUFF

Marquez Callaway (New Orleans Saints)

My way too early preseason pick during my video AMA on Canada Day of the New Orleans Saints beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55 is not looking so hot at the moment, at least on the NFC side. Injuries and general stupidity have caused some holes in the offensive lineup in New Orleans, which has accelerated the timeline for receivers such as Marquez Callaway, who led the Saints receiving corps last week against Carolina. We should know some time today whether Michael Thomas will be playing alongside Callaway this week, which would only be a good thing as MT demands coverage. And if MT doesn’t play, Callaway will get a significant uptick in volume. Win, win.

Verdict - PUFF

Marvin Jones (Detroit Lions)

During draft season this year, there were a few trends that stayed consistent throughout my strategies across different league formats and scoring types. One of the strategies I used was never leave the 10th round of a draft without Marvin Jones. Needless to say that strategy has not worked out as Jones is the WR73 on the year, and has struggled to find some consistent fantasy value. He is going to find things more difficult, as this week he faces arguably the best defense in the league in the Indianapolis Colts. Jones has not finished a single game over 13.0 fantasy points so far this year, and while he has been known in the past to have boom weeks, I think this one is trending more towards a bust week.

Verdict - PASS

Tight Ends

Richard Rodgers (Philadelphia Eagles)

Call this Smokey’s Discount Busted-Ass Stack of the Week™ to go along with my Carson Wentz Puff that kicked off this article. Unfortunately, for the Eagles and about a third of my fantasy teams, Dallas Goedert will likely not be back this week, which means it’s one final kick at the can for Mr. Rodgers. He put up a cool six receptions for 85 yards last week and now gets to Harlem Globetrotter his way around the Washington Generals that is the Cowboys defense. Look for Ricky Rodge to get into the end zone this week for one of Wentz’s passing TDs.

Verdict - PUFF

Jonnu Smith (Tennessee Titans)

Started from the bottom now we here. Shout out to fellow Canadian Drake (the good one, not Kenyan) for inspiring Jonnu’s ascension from Pass last week to Puff this week. I think it was pretty clear to anyone and everyone that Smith was still not 100% last week coming off that ankle injury. When healthy, Jonnu has op 5 potential, especially in an offense that is firing on all cylinders like the Titans are. Jonnu is facing the Cincinnati Bengals this week, who are the second worst in the league against the TE position, allowing 11.9 fantasy points per game on average. I wish I had some shares of Jonnu, because I would be firing them up with confidence this week. Wheels up on Mr. Smith.

Verdict - PUFF

Tyler Higbee (Los Angeles Rams)

According to Sean McVay, Higbee has been dealing with “a pretty gnarly hand contusion” which sounds about as delightful as 60 grit toilet paper. Not only that, but hands seem to be one of the more important aspects of catching, and it helps to have functional ones. Higbee is matched up against the Dolphins this week, who are surprisingly the 2nd ranked defense in the league, not only overall but against the TE position especially. They are only allowing 3.7 fantasy points per game on average to TEs, and for a guy with a busted flipper, I don’t have high hopes for Higbee this week. Fade Higbee like my dreams of being the white Muggsy Bogues in the NBA.

Verdict - PASS

Thank you for reading my "Puff, Puff, Pass" article for week 8. Do you agree or disagree with any of my starts and sits? Please leave a comment or let me know @TNFF_Smokey

Editor: Joe Simonetti (@joesimonetti77)

Graphic work: Dan Made Graphics (@DanMadeGraphics)