In this Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, file photo, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is sacked by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Devon Kennard (42) and defensive tackle Corey Peters (98) during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Ariz. The New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions are in unfamiliar territory. New Orleans has lost consecutive games for the first time in three years and Detroit just ended an 11-game, 11-month losing streak. The matchup of teams with 1-2 records on Sunday at Ford Field may prove to be pivotal.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
In this Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, file photo, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) loses the ball as he is hit by Green Bay Packers linebacker Delontae Scott (98) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans. The Saints and Detroit Lions are in unfamiliar territory. New Orleans has lost consecutive games for the first time in three years and Detroit just ended an 11-game, 11-month losing streak. The matchup of teams with 1-2 records on Sunday at Ford Field may prove to be pivotal. (AP Photo/Brett Duke, File)
DETROIT (AP) The New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions are in unfamiliar territory.
New Orleans has lost consecutive games for the first time in three years and Detroit just ended an 11-game, 11-month losing streak.
The matchup of teams with 1-2 records on Sunday at Ford Field may prove to be pivotal.
With running back Alvin Kamara on a scoring tear, a win would help the Saints stay within at least a game of NFC South-leading Tampa Bay.
''I don't think there's a sense of panic or anything like that or doubt, but we also understand this puts us almost a quarter of the way through the season,'' New Orleans safety Malcolm Jenkins said. ''You can't afford to drop ones, especially ones that you feel like you're supposed to win.''
Detroit is in relatively desperate need to earn two straight victories - under embattled coach Matt Patricia - going into its bye week in part because Green Bay and Chicago are undefeated atop the NFC North.
''It's a huge difference between being 2-2 and the alternative,'' Lions running back Adrian Peterson acknowledged.
Kamara has looked healthy and happy to start this season, which began the day after he signed an extension that is expected to pay him $50 million during the next four seasons.
Kamara leads the Saints in rushing with 153 yards and three touchdowns and leads the team in receiving with 27 catches for 285 yards and three TDs, giving him an NFL-high six scores from scrimmage.
''I'm back in rhythm,'' said Kamara, who struggled with ankle and knee injuries last season. ''A lot of those things that I normally do, I couldn't do. Couldn't really move how I wanted to, couldn't be as physical as I wanted to be.''
The Lions leaned on veteran cornerback Desmond Trufant this week, hoping his 12 games of experience with Atlanta against New Orleans would assist in their preparation.
''It's been fun to talk to him about this offense and some of the players that they have, certainly that's been a big help so far,'' Patricia said. ''He definitely has a lot of really good knowledge.''
The 30-year-old Trufant, who signed a $20 million, two-year contract in Detroit after the Falcons released him, might also be able to help on the field after missing the previous two games with a hamstring injury.
Detroit's special teams are off to a strong start.
Jack Fox, an undrafted free agent last year, is the franchise's first punter to earn NFC special teams player of the month honors after his net punting average was a league-best 51.1 yards and he pinned opponents inside the 20 seven times.
Matt Prater was the conference's special teams player of the week after he was 4 for 4 on field goals, including a 39-yard, game-ending kick that lifted the Lions to a 26-23 win at Arizona. Jamal Agnew is averaging a league-high 17.5 yards on punt returns.
While Saints coach Sean Payton specializes in designing and calling New Orleans' offense, he hasn't hesitated to critique his club's defense lately. The Saints have struggled defensively the past two weeks after a strong Week 1 performance against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers.
Payton has honed in on a lack of discipline from his players, who are regularly biting on play-action fakes.
''We need to have much better eyes relative to what we're doing,'' Payton said. ''We looked like a high school team defending the bootleg the other night (against Green Bay) and that was kind of embarrassing. So that has to get corrected.''
While Saints two-time All-Pro Michael Thomas practiced throughout the week, the Saints decided on Friday to list their top receiver as out for Sunday.
That could be a break for Detroit, even if the Lions had to spend the week preparing to play against him.
''When he gets added into the mix, it just really kind of makes things harder for the defense all the way across the board,'' Patricia said.
Thomas set a single-season league record last year with 149 catches and had an NFL-high 1,725 yards receiving along with nine receiving TDs. The Saints have lost both games he has missed this season.
Thomas is but one of six Saints starters ruled out against Detroit, along with cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) and Janoris Jenkins (shoulder); defensive end Marcus Davenport (elbow, toe), tight end Jared Cook (groin) and left guard Andrus Peat (ankle).
Five Hot Plays: Week 8
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has some key factors working in his favor going into Week 8. The 49ers will face the league's worst pass defense this week, the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are allowing 368.7 passing yards per game on the year. Additionally, the 49ers will be without Deebo Samuel (hamstring), who led all 49ers receivers in targets over the past three weeks. Bourne should see at least five targets in a game that figures to be high-scoring. However, that's about what he was getting earlier this year before Samuel made his 2020 debut and the results were extremely underwhelming. Bourne is essentially a touchdown-or-bust option this week and is best left on waivers.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had his first career 100-yard game last week against the New England Patriots. This week, as the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks, the team is likely to lean on him even more with Deebo Samuel (hamstring) out. The Seahawks are allowing 368.7 passing yards per game this week, which is dead last in the league. Aiyuk saw seven targets last week while Samuel was on the field, so it's reasonable to believe he should have a floor of around seven targets this week. That alone against the Seahawks' dreadful pass defense should enable him to have a solid showing, making him a strong WR3 play in all formats.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is in position to have a monster game in Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks rank dead last in the league in passing yards allowed per game with 368.7. In a game that is likely to be high-scoring, Kittle should have a number of opportunities to make plays for the team. Expect to see quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo look Kittle's way at least 10 times in this game, giving Kittle a good chance to compile over 100 yards and a score.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (knee) has a chance to make his return for the team in Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks. He has been out since suffering a knee sprain in Week 2. With both Raheem Mostert (ankle) and Jeff Wilson Jr. (ankle) out for the game, the team is certainly in need of running back depth. As it stands, Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty are their only sure thing active running backs for this week's game. If Coleman is active this week, it's hard to know just how much the team will utilize him. He could see anything from just a few carries to a featured role. McKinnon's workload has been reduced lately and Hasty has just 20 carries on the year. Neither of them project to receive a massive workload, which opens up an opportunity for Coleman. Regardless, there are too many variables at play to feel comfortable starting Coleman this week. He's a fine stash to keep on your bench, but resist from inserting him into your lineup this week.
San Francisco 49ers rookie running back JaMycal Hasty is averaging 5.2 yards per carry over 20 carries on the year and is coming off a solid game where he gained 57 yards on just nine carries. The 49ers will go into their Week 8 game against the Seattle Seahawks extremely shorthanded at running back. Hasty and Jerick McKinnon are the only sure thing active running backs at this point, while Tevin Coleman (knee) looms as a potential addition to the depth chart if he can show enough at practice this week. The Seahawks rank last in the league in pass defense, but their rush defense has been slightly above league-average. They're allowing 110.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks 13th in the league. If Coleman plays in Week 8, we could see something of a three-way split at running back, which would hurt Hasty's upside. Yet, with or without Coleman, Hasty is a decent flex option. He should see somewhere around 10 touches, which gives him a good chance to make at least a few big plays.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon had an extremely disappointing showing in Week 7. He only earned three carries in a game where he was assumed to be the team's primary rusher. Head coach Kyle Shanahan later said that the team had been planning to rest him due to his heavy workload to start the year. This week, the 49ers might need McKinnon more than they have in previous weeks. McKinnon and rookie JaMycal Hasty are the team's only sure thing active running backs for Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks. Tevin Coleman (knee) is the wild card in the mix. He's been on Injured Reserve since before Week 3, but has a chance to return this week. McKinnon should see around 10 touches in this game, but clearly there's also a chance that Shanahan continues to rest him, leading to another disappointing fantasy day. He's a low-end flex option who is fine to start if you don't have a better option.