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FFL: Week 8 | NFL: Week 8

Cardinals-Panthers Preview

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Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella (17) runs in for a touchdown after the catch as Detroit Lions cornerback Darryl Roberts during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella (17) celebrates his touchdown against the Detroit Lions with tight end Darrell Daniels (81) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella (17) celebrates his touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury watches during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)


Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis (28) celebrates after a touchdown catch against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis )


Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis (28) runs into the end zone with for a touchdown after a reception during the first half of an NFL football game Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)


Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury watches his team prior to an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)


Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera, right, greets Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury after an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 30-15. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)


Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule adjusts his headset during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Matt Rhule and Kliff Kingsbury are set to match coaching strategies again - only this time at the NFL level when the Carolina Panthers host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

The two former high-profile college coaches met twice in the Big 12 with Kingsbury's Texas Tech Red Raiders beating Rhule's Baylor Bears in 2017, but Rhule gained a measure of revenge the following year with a victory that directly resulted in Kingsbury being fired with two years left on his contract.

''Just to tell you the kind of man he is, he literally texted me an hour after the game as it was coming out I had gotten fired just saying, `Sorry about that,''' Kingsbury said. ''And he was genuine about it. He really felt bad I had lost my job because they had beat us.''

The two have since forged a friendship.

When Rhule was considering leaving Baylor earlier this year to take the Carolina job, he called Kingsbury for advice.

''I was sad for him at the time because I think he's a really good coach, I think he did a great job at Texas Tech and when he was leaving I just wanted to call and let him know if there was anything I could do for him, just like I know he would do for me,'' said Rhule, who won his first NFL game last Sunday. ''So when he got this opportunity in Arizona, I got fired up for him. Every time I get a chance to see him I make sure to reach out.''

Said Kingsbury of Rhule: ''He's a phenomenal coach and an even better person too. He's one of my favorite people I've met in coaching.''

Here are some things to watch in Sunday's Cardinals-Panthers game:

SHORT AT SAFETY

The Cardinals' depth in the secondary should be tested since the team's top three safeties will likely be on the sideline.

Budda Baker (thumb surgery), Jalen Thompson (ankle) and Chris Banjo (hamstring) are all hurt, which should mean a bigger role for Deionte Thompson and Charles Washington.

It could also open up more playing time for No. 8 overall pick Isaiah Simmons. The do-it-all defender has focused on linebacker so far during his rookie season but Kingsbury acknowledged the 22-year-old could help fill the hole in the secondary.

''Isaiah is a guy who played multiple positions, obviously, there at Clemson,'' Kingsbury said. ''He has a feel for some of that, and with those bodies being down, we may have to look into that.''

WHAT BROWN CAN DO FOR YOU

Speaking of Simmons, the Panthers passed on him with the No. 7 pick so they could take Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, a move that surprised many. After struggling to get his feet wet the first two games, Brown began to emerge as a solid run defender last week against the Chargers and had three tackles for a loss and is beginning to look like a player with big-time potential.

In fact, Rhule described the play of the 335-pounder as ''dominant'' last week.

What would also help Brown is if two-time Pro Bowler Kawann Short can return to the lineup. Short has missed the past two games with a foot injury, and his presence would force the Cardinals to decide which defensive tackle to double team.

SOPHOMORE SUCCESS

Cardinals second-year receiver Andy Isabella is finding a role in the team's offense after a disappointing rookie season.

The second-round pick had four catches for 47 yards and a career-high two touchdowns last weekend against the Lions. The 5-foot-9, 188-pounder is known for his straight-line speed and has proved a good complement for DeAndre Hopkins, who leads the NFL in receptions.

''He had a great camp and really did some nice things, and to see him transition that to the playing field was great,'' Kingsbury said. ''He's a guy who can really run. He's worked really hard at it, very conscientious in his preparation, so it was great to see him have that success.''

Isabella had just nine catches his entire rookie season.

GREAT FIT

The Cardinals hoped that adding Hopkins during the offseason would give second-year quarterback Kyler Murray an elite No. 1 option to anchor the offense.

So far, it's worked out even better than anticipated.

Hopkins leads the NFL with 32 receptions, 356 yards receiving and also has an NFL-high 21 catches that have resulted in a first down.

DAVIS GETS ANOTHER CHANCE

Carolina's Mike Davis will get the start again at running back again Sunday with Christian McCaffrey on short-term injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. McCaffrey is expected to miss at least four weeks.

In his starting debut with Carolina, Davis was effective as both a rusher and passer, amassing 91 yards and a touchdown.

FANS ALLOWED

The Panthers will be allowed to have about 5,200 fans in Bank of America Stadium for Sunday's game under new state guidelines. There were no fans allowed for the team's home opener.

Player Notes
Eric Ebron Oct 29 12:50pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron has been productive over the last month of the season, catching at least five passes in three of his last four games. He could struggle to keep it going in Week 8 as he will face off against a tough Baltimore Ravens team. Baltimore's pass defense ranks seventh in DVOA and is allowing the 16th-most fantasy points per game to the tight end position. Ebron settles in as an uninspiring TE2 for Week 8.

From RotoBaller

JuJu Smith-Schuster Oct 29 12:40pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster finally showed some signs of life in Week 7, setting season highs with nine catches and 85 yards in a win over the Tennessee Titans. While his big performance helped to ease concerns about his slow start to the season, Smith-Schuster could struggle to produce against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8. Baltimore's defense is tough against the pass, ranking seventh in DVOA and allowing the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position. Fantasy managers can still start Smith-Schuster, but treat him as a WR3 for Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Chase Claypool Oct 29 12:40pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool disappointed in Week 7, finishing with just one catch on his lone target. The slow outing by Claypool coincided with the return to action by No. 1 wideout Diontae Johnson, who caught two touchdowns in the game. Claypool appears to have a tough matchup on tap for Week 8 as he will go up against the Baltimore Ravens, a pass defense that is ranked seventh in DVOA this year. That being said, Claypool does draw the most favorable matchup of the top three Pittsburgh wideouts, as he will primarily run his routes against Marcus Peters. Peters has struggled in coverage this season, so Claypool could see more targets come his way if the Ravens can successfully shut down JuJu Smith-Schuster and Johnson. Treat Claypool as a WR3 for Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Justin Jefferson Oct 29 12:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson has 28 catches for 537 receiving yards so far this year, and 36.3 percent of those yards have come after the catch. Jefferson has proved to be extremely difficult to cover and tackle for opponents, and his contributions have helped overcome the departure of Stefon Diggs. At the rate he's currently on, Jefferson will finish his first year in the NFL with well over 1,000 yards receiving, with nearly half of those yards coming after he's caught the football. The 21-year-old is the real deal. He's averaging 3.20 yards per route run and had nine catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns before the team's Week 7 bye. The LSU product has become a must-start WR2.

From RotoBaller

Diontae Johnson Oct 29 12:30pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (toe) is coming off a two-touchdown outing in Week 7 against the Tennessee Titans. Johnson's big day was evidence that he is still the No. 1 wide receiver in Pittsburgh, despite the emergence of rookie Chase Claypool. Johnson is a bit banged up, however, as he missed practice on Wednesday with a toe injury. This is a situation worth monitoring ahead of his Week 8 game against the Baltimore Ravens. If Johnson does play, he faces a tough matchup against the Baltimore secondary. Treat Johnson as a high-end WR3 for Week 8.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Brown Oct 29 12:30pm ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown had 2.9 receiving yards per route run in his rookie year in 2019, which trailed only Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Michael Thomas and Antonio Brown since 2016. Brown has played in only four games this year due to injury, but he's still been a yards-after-the-catch monster despite only accounting for 20.5 percent of the team's total receiving output. He had 96 yards after the catch in the Week 7 loss to the Steelers, and that one game accounted for almost two-thirds of his total yards after the catch for the season. Since returning from injury, Brown has 293 receiving yards and four touchdowns in three games. We'd say he's back. Keep him in your lineups as a high-end WR1 against Cincinnati this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Gardner Minshew II Oct 29 12:10pm ET

X-rays this week showed that Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II (thumb) has multiple fractures and a strained ligament in his right thumb, according to sources. Minshew has been dealing with pain in his thumb since Oct. 11 against the Texans, but the team didn't know about his injury until this week. The Jags are on bye this week, but it's unclear if he'll be able to play in Week 9 against the Texans. We'd be surprised if the 24-year-old is ready to go coming off the bye with this injury, so plan ahead if you've been using him in superflex leagues as a QB2. Mike Glennon is the team's backup and would get the starting nod against Houston if Minshew cannot go.

From RotoBaller

Andy Dalton Oct 29 12:10pm ET

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton (concussion) took part in the quarterback meeting on Thursday, showing that he's making some progress in the league's concussion protocol. However, he will not practice again on Thursday, according to head coach Mike McCarthy. Rookie Ben DiNucci will continue to see first-team repetitions in practice and looks increasingly likely to see his first career NFL start in Week 8 against the division-rival Eagles. DiNucci will be an unappetizing low-end QB2 in superflex leagues if Dalton cannot get cleared, while the Eagles Defense will be a strong play this weekend. Dallas receivers should be downgraded with the rookie likely to start.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Jones Oct 29 11:50am ET

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (calf), who did not practice on Wednesday, is itching to get back onto the field after sitting out in Week 7. Jones thinks he can play in Week 8 against the Vikings and wants to play, but the Packers medical staff continues to be very conservative, especially with Green Bay having a short turnaround in Week 9 against the 49ers on Thursday night. As of right now, it seems like the Packers will err on the side of caution and keep Jones out for the second straight week. Jamaal Williams stepped in last Sunday for a season-high 19 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Texans, and he also caught four passes for 37 yards. If Jones is inactive again, Williams will be a plug-and-play RB2 against Minnesota.

From RotoBaller

Christian McCaffrey Oct 29 11:00am ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (ankle) will not be taken off Injured Reserve and activated for Thursday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. McCaffrey returned to practice this week, but the short week probably prevented him from getting back up to speed and ready for game action. Mike Davis can be started by fantasy owners with confidence and should flourish in a great matchup against the Falcons. McCaffrey, meanwhile, should be considered likely to make his return in Week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

From RotoBaller

Ben Roethlisberger Oct 29 10:30am ET

In Week 8, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be looking to bounce back from his worst performance of the season. Roethlisberger threw three interceptions and two touchdowns in Week 7, although the Steelers still wound up winning. He draws a tough matchup against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8. Baltimore's defense is allowing the 13th-most fantasy points per game to the quarterback position but their pass defense does rank seventh in DVOA. Fantasy gamers should treat Roethlisberger as a mid-range QB2 for Week 8.

From RotoBaller

James Conner Oct 29 10:30am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner has been a productive fantasy option for much of the season, having found the end zone four times in six games. He may struggle to reach his normal production levels in Week 8, however, against a tough Baltimore Ravens run defense. Baltimore is allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to the running back position and has a run defense that is ranked third in DVOA. Conner should see enough work to finish as an RB2, just don't expect a big game out of him this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Cleveland Browns Oct 29 10:20am ET

The Cleveland Browns Defense has been a solid play in fantasy for much of the 2020 season. While they are allowing opposing offenses to score frequently, Cleveland's defense has been opportunistic, leading the league with 14 takeaways through seven games. Cleveland is installed as three-point home favorites for their Week 8 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders. While the Las Vegas offense has been good this season, Cleveland can still be treated as a top-12 fantasy option for Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Jarvis Landry Oct 29 10:10am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry is averaging just 5.57 targets per game through the first seven weeks of the season. He should, however, see an uptick in targets with Odell Beckham Jr. out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. Now Cleveland's No. 1 WR, Landry draws an excellent Week 8 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders. Las Vegas' pass defense ranks just 29th in the league in DVOA and is allowing the 10th-most fantasy points per game to the position. While he has been borderline unstartable most weeks this season, fantasy gamers can trust Landry as a low-end WR2 for Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Rashard Higgins Oct 29 10:10am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins set season-highs in Week 7 with six catches for 110 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals. Slated to see a larger role thanks to Odell Beckham's season-ending knee injury, Higgins is all of a sudden very fantasy viable in Week 8 against a weak Las Vegas Raiders defense. Las Vegas is allowing the 10th-most fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position and ranks just 29th in pass-defense DVOA. Fantasy gamers in a pinch can fire up Higgins as a solid flex option this Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Harrison Bryant Oct 29 10:10am ET

Cleveland Browns tight end Harrison Bryant had a huge game in Week 7, finishing with four catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie tight end took on a larger role in the game with Austin Hooper unavailable after needing an emergency appendectomy. Hooper didn't practice on Wednesday and is looking unlikely to play in Week 8 against the Las Vegas Raiders. Provided Hooper doesn't play, fantasy gamers can use Bryant as a mid-range TE2 against a Raiders pass defense that ranks just 29th in the league in DVOA.

From RotoBaller

Baker Mayfield Oct 29 10:00am ET

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is coming off an excellent five-touchdown game in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7. Mayfield will look to repeat that success in Week 8 when he faces the Las Vegas Raiders at home. Las Vegas' pass defense has been shaky this season, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. While it is unlikely that Mayfield tosses five touchdowns in a game again anytime soon, he does set up as a high-end QB2 for fantasy contests this weekend in a game that could turn into a shootout. Fantasy gamers who have a quarterback on bye or facing a tough matchup can pivot to Mayfield with confidence this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Kareem Hunt Oct 29 10:00am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt has managed to find the end zone seven times through seven games thus far in the 2020 season. He draws an excellent Week 8 matchup against a leaky Las Vegas Raiders run defense that ranks just 29th in DVOA and is allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to the position this year. Hunt will continue to see the vast majority of the backfield work for the Browns with Nick Chubb sidelined, making him a no-brainer RB1 for Week 8. Fire him up as a sure-fire starter in all formats this Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Christian McCaffrey Oct 29 9:43am ET

Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (ankle) is unlikely to be activated from Injured Reserve to play Thursday, Oct. 29.

Fantasy Spin: No surprise here, but he appears to be on track for next week with another 10 days to recover and prepare. Mike Davis is an RB2 against the Atlanta Falcons.

From TheHuddle

San Francisco 49ers Oct 29 9:40am ET

The 49ers Defense has been fantastic lately, allowing a total of 22 points over the past two weeks. Unfortunately, in Week 8, they will face a Seattle Seahawks offense that has been the class of the NFL so far this year. The Seahawks lead the league in both yards per game (425.2) and points per game (33.8). Expect a high-scoring affair in the matchup between division rivals, which means that the 49ers Defense shouldn't be started in any fantasy formats.

From RotoBaller