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FFL: Week 8 | NFL: Week 8

Steelers try to maintain momentum vs. struggling Cardinals

Thu Dec 5 2:11pm ET
By DAVID BRANDT
AP Sports Writer

Players: Kenyan Drake, Jared Goff, Chase Edmonds, Kyler Murray

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges (6) stands on the field with a game ball after a 20-13 Steelers win over the Cleveland Browns in an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals have a No. 1 overall draft pick under center while the Pittsburgh Steelers have a guy named “Duck” throwing the ball around the field.

Yet it's the Steelers who are making a playoff push.

Pittsburgh (7-5) has won six of its past seven games heading into Sunday's road matchup against the Cardinals. It'll be the third start for Steelers quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges, a rookie free agent who has been steady for a team that relies heavily on its defense.

Hodges threw for 212 yards, one touchdown and one interception in last week's win against Cleveland. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin expects more of the same against the Cardinals.

“Football is the ultimate team game,” Tomlin said. “We try to live that out every day. When guys step up and deliver, it is just verification of it.”

The Cardinals (3-8-1) are stuck in a five-game losing streak and trying to bounce back from last weekend's 34-7 loss to the Rams, which was easily their worst effort of the season.

Arizona is rebuilding this season, so the team has been mostly upbeat even after losses. But players and coaches have made it known that getting embarrassed at home by the Rams wasn't acceptable. The Cardinals were down 20-0 by halftime and were never particularly competitive.

“Losing is losing, but that last game was a different type of losing," rookie quarterback Kyler Murray said.

Murray, the top overall pick in April, has been good for most of the season. He's already set a franchise rookie record with 2,866 yards passing despite a tough game against the Rams.

Most of the Cardinals problems are on defense, where they rank last in the NFL in total defense and passing defense. Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff - who had been struggling for a few weeks - dominated the Cardinals for 424 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury expects another tough challenge, even if Pittsburgh's offense hasn't put up huge numbers.

Kingsbury had a short, nomadic career as an NFL quarterback, bouncing between teams over a couple of seasons before becoming a coach. He said Hodges is making the most of his opportunity.

“I’ve been very impressed," Kingsbury said. “Having been in a similar situation, kind of that third-team practice-squad-type range, for him to step in and the poise he shows and protecting the football, you can tell those guys really play hard for him, and they believe in him. He moves around, makes some plays, and he’s been really sharp."

THREE'S A CROWD

Kingsbury was excited to have all three of the team's main running backs - Kenyan Drake, David Johnson and Chase Edmonds - healthy for the first time against the Rams on Sunday.

But the Cardinals offense never got on track. Drake ran for 31 yards, Johnson ran for 15 and Edmonds didn't get a carry.

Kingsbury said he still envisions a roll for all three against the Steelers.

“The (Rams) game got away from us, got a little funky, and we got out of some things we wanted to do and went back to dropping back, which is not what we want to do in those situations,” Kingsbury said. "That’s why you have to stay on schedule and can’t get down 27-0 or whatever it was.”

YOUTH MOVEMENT

If the Cardinals are going to get better defending the pass, they'll have to do it with a bunch of young players.

Arizona released veteran cornerback Tramaine Brock Sr. on Monday, which likely gives more playing time to Kevin Peterson and Chris Jones. Peterson is 25 and Jones is 24.

The Cardinals also have three rookies in the secondary who get substantial playing time, including cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. and safeties Jalen Thompson and Deionte Thompson.

MO POUNCEY, NO PROBLEMS

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey returns to the lineup following a two-game suspension for his role in the brawl against Cleveland on Nov. 14. B.J. Finney filled in capably during Pouncey’s absence and Pittsburgh’s running game finally found some traction, topping 100 yards in consecutive contests for the first time this season. Pouncey said the unexpected break has the 10-year veteran feeling fresh heading into the home stretch.

“I feel like this is the beginning of the year,” Pouncey said. “I’ve got a lot of energy.”

HEISMAN VS WALTER

Sunday's game will pit Murray, last year's Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma, against Hodges, who won the Walter Payton Award at Samford.

The Walter Payton Award is given to the best offensive college player at the Football Championship Subdivision level.

“Now that you mention it, it is pretty unique playing against the Heisman winner and being the Walter Payton winner, the Heisman of the FCS. It is going to be a fun game,” Hodges said.

ONE-TWO PUNCH

Pittsburgh outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree have combined for 20½ sacks through 12 games, the highest total by a Steelers’ linebacker tandem since LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison did it in 2008. Watt was the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November after getting 5½ sacks last month. Watt has at least a half-sack in nine straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL. Dupree has been no slouch. His 8½ sacks are a career high and his four forced fumbles are tied for fourth most in the NFL. Though Dupree typically plays on the left side and Watt on the right, Tomlin will occasionally have them flip to give offenses different looks.

“They’re interchangeable in an effort to keep people off-balance and to give them something to think about,” Tomlin said.

Player Notes
Josh Allen Oct 28 4:50pm ET

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has slowed down a bit after his monster beginning to the season. He completed 30 of 43 passing attempts for 307 yards and zero touchdowns with zero interceptions in the victory over the New York Jets in Week 7. It was a game where Allen was expected to have a huge fantasy game, but he was unable to get much done through the air. He salvaged his fantasy value with 11 carries for 61 yards on the ground. He'll get a chance to bounce back against the New England Patriots in Week 8. Fantasy owners should be able to lean on Allen as a QB1 here.

From RotoBaller

Justin Jefferson Oct 28 4:40pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson will try and keep his hot streak going against the Packers in Week 8. The rookie receiver has exploded over the last month of play, averaging 116.75 yards per game over his last four games with three 100+ yard games and three touchdowns. The Vikings will face a Packers team that is allowing the 11th fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season but the Vikings were able to move the ball against them in the air in Week 1. Jefferson is a must-start in Week 8 and will carry WR2 status with WR1 upside against the Packers.

From RotoBaller

Kirk Cousins Oct 28 4:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins will have his hands full against a talented Packers team in Week 8. Cousins passed for 343 yards with three touchdowns in Week 6 but three first-half interceptions doomed the Vikings in a 40-23 loss to the Falcons. The stat-line looks promising but those touchdowns all came with the team out of reach. Now the veteran passer will face a Packers Defense that is allowing the 12th fewest fantasy points to opposing passers and Cousins passed for 259 yard with two touchdowns against them in Week 1. Cousins has a decent chance at passing for multiple scores but the Vikings could be scoreboard chasing in this game. Cousins lacks top-12 fantasy appeal in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Adam Thielen Oct 28 4:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen will try and burn the Packers one more time this season when the two teams lock horns in Week 8. Thielen caught six passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 against Green Bay. Thielen is averaging 81.6 receiving yards per game over his last three contests with four touchdowns and has seven scores on the season. The Vikings season is hanging by a thread and the Packers have an explosive offense. Thielen has a strong chance at WR1 numbers in fantasy in a must-win game for Minnesota in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Davante Adams Oct 28 4:20pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams will try and replicate his monster Week 7 performance against the Vikings in Week 8. Adams exploded for 13 receptions with 196 yards and two touchdowns last week and now will face a Vikings Defense that is allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season. Minnesota has allowed seven different receivers to post 90+ receiving yards against them and have surrendered 12 touchdowns to the position through six games. Seven different receivers have posted more than 15 fantasy points against the Vikings and Adams will have a chance at another enormous fantasy performance in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Robert Tonyan Oct 28 4:20pm ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan will look to get back to producing on the field when the team takes on the Vikings in Week 8. Tonyan has posted only 57 receiving yards over his last two games after posting three touchdowns in Week 4. Tonyan and the Packers will face a Vikings Defense that has allowed only one touchdown to the position all season and the 16th fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Tonyan's fantasy value will be tied to touchdowns in Week 8 and may be best utilized in DFS lineups only against the Vikings.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Jones Oct 28 4:20pm ET

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (calf) did not join the team on the practice field Wednesday as they prepare their matchup with the Vikings in Week 8. Jones is making progress but coach Matt LaFleur needs to "continue to improve and get better each day" if the star runner wants to play this week. Jones totaled 76 all-purpose yards with one touchdown in Week 1 against the Vikings and is a must-start if he is active. Fantasy teams will have to monitor this situation all week and backup Jamaal Williams will handle most of the touches in the backfield if Jones cannot suit up.

From RotoBaller

Anthony Miller Oct 28 4:10pm ET

Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller will face a Saints Defense in Week 8 that is allowing the 13th most fantasy points to receivers this season. Since Week 1, Miller is averaging a paltry 18.3 receiving yards a game despite coming down with two game-winning touchdowns this season. The Saints have allowed nine touchdowns to opposing receivers this season and the Bears could be without star receiver Allen Robinson II in the game due to a concussion. But neither of these developments bode well for Miller, who continues to disappoint in a struggling Bears offense. Miller is not worth the risk in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers Oct 28 4:10pm ET

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will try and stay hot against a familiar foe, the Vikings, in Week 8. Rodgers is coming off a dynamite performance, passing for 283 yards and four touchdowns last week against the Texans. The veteran now has 17 touchdowns through his first six games and now will face a Vikings Defense that has allowed nine touchdown passes over their last three games. Minnesota is allowing the seventh most fantasy points to opposing passers and 300+ yards passing to three of their last four quarterbacks faced, Rodgers is ready to feast and should be considered a QB1 choice in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Graham Oct 28 4:00pm ET

Chicago Bears tight end Jimmy Graham will be fired up to face his former team, the Saints, in Week 8. Graham isn't racking up tons of targets on a weekly basis but is still a legitimate red zone threat for a struggling Bears offense. The Saints have allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, including six touchdowns to the position through six games. Graham has at least 30 receiving yards in each of his last five games but also has four touchdowns on the season. The veteran tight end will, once again, be a touchdown-dependent option in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Darnell Mooney Oct 28 4:00pm ET

Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney will have a favorable matchup in Week 8 against the Saints. The rookie is averaging 6.2 targets over his last five games and could see more opportunities if teammate Allen Robinson II misses the game with a concussion. Mooney also has been overthrown on multiple wide-open touchdowns the past few games and will face a Saints Defense that is allowing the 13th most fantasy points to opposing receivers. The Saints have allowed seven different receivers to post more than 60 receiving yards against them and have surrendered nine touchdowns to the position. Mooney will carry WR5/6 value in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Allen Lazard Oct 28 3:50pm ET

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said that wide receiver Allen Lazard (core) will return to practice this week. Lazard blew up for his fantasy managers in Week 3 against the Saints with six catches, 146 yards and a touchdown, but then he needed core muscle surgery. The 24-year-old has been out ever since, but it appears that he's nearing a return. Expecting him to be back on the field in Week 8 against the Vikings is probably premature, but Lazard could be back for his fantasy managers in Week 9, assuming he doesn't suffer any setbacks. Tight end Robert Tonyan has benefitted from Lazard's absence the most, but this passing offense continues to flow heavily through Davante Adams. However, Lazard needs to be owned everywhere and should be a WR3 with upside when he's fully healthy.

From RotoBaller

David Montgomery Oct 28 3:50pm ET

Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery will try and get his season kick-started in Week 8 against the Saints. It has been a disappointing season to this point for Montgomery, who has 537 all-purpose yards and posting only 3.7 yards per carry. The Bears running game has gone off the rails since quarterback Nick Foles took over at quarterback and will face a Saints Defense that is allowing the eighth fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. The Saints have not allowed a 100-yard rushing game to an individual runner this season and the Bears are dealing with multiple injuries on their offensive line. Montgomery's value will be no higher than RB3 status and will be best suited to PPR-leagues in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Adrian Peterson Oct 28 3:40pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson will face a Colts Defense in Week 8 that is allowing the fifth fewest fantasy points to the running back position this season. Peterson continues to sit atop the depth chart for the Lions but is losing touches to rookie D'Andre Swift by the week. Peterson has totaled only 105 rushing yards over his last three games and the Colts have not allowed more than 72 rushing yards to an individual runner all season. Peterson is worth a bench stash in deeper fantasy formats but Swift will carry the higher ceiling in fantasy for Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Sammy Watkins Oct 28 3:40pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said that wide receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring) will not practice on Wednesday. Watkins has missed the last two games after getting injured in the Week 5 loss to the Raiders, and he looks likely to miss his third straight game this weekend against the winless Jets. Wideout Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce are must-starts each and every week, but Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman have had more boom/bust WR4/flex appeal in deeper leagues with Watkins sidelined. Robinson had five catches for 69 yards in Week 6 but fell back to Earth in Week 7 against Denver, catching his only target for just four yards.

From RotoBaller

Nick Foles Oct 28 3:40pm ET

Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles will try and shake the team's offense out of a huge slump in Week 8 against the Saints. Foles has three touchdowns and four interceptions over his last three games, a span in which the Bears offense is averaging only 15 points a game. Things are not trending in the right direction for the Bears but Foles will face a vulnerable Saints Defense in Week 8. New Orleans is surrendering the sixth most fantasy points to opposing passers this season, including 17 touchdowns through six games. They have allowed multiple touchdowns to every quarterback they have faced and at least 19 fantasy points. That would be a strong starting point for Foles in Week 8 but is far too risky to deploy in single-quarterback leagues.

From RotoBaller

Quinnen Williams Oct 28 3:30pm ET

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase said trade rumors swirling around defensive tackle Quinnen Williams are false. "He's going to be here," Gase said. General manager Joe Douglas has traded away two of the team's previous top-10 picks in the last year, but it appears that Williams won't be on the move. The first-round pick has exceeded his rookie-year production, but he hasn't been the disruptive force that the Jets were hoping he'd be when they took him third overall in 2019. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported over the weekend that more than a few teams had inquired about Williams with the trade deadline approaching, and the Jets would need multiple second-round picks to part with the 22-year-old.

From RotoBaller

D'Andre Swift Oct 28 3:30pm ET

Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift is slowly gaining more traction in the Lions backfield heading into the team's Week 8 matchup against the Colts. Swift has four touchdowns over his last three games and has 11 receptions and 27 carries during that span. He is not the official bell-cow in the offense with veteran Adrian Peterson in the mix but both players with have a tough matchup in Week 8. The Colts are currently allowing the fifth fewest fantasy points to opposing backs and have not allowed more than 72 rushing yards to an individual runner all season. Swift will have fringe FLEX value in deeper leagues and will need a touchdown to produce a solid fantasy line in standard formats in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Oct 28 3:20pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay will try and keep his hot streak alive against a tough Colts Defense in Week 8. Golladay will take back-to-back 100-yard games into this contest but the Colts defense is loaded with talent. Since Week 1, Indy's secondary has given up yards in the passing game but have allowed only two touchdowns to opposing wide receivers during that span. Golladay is the primary target for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford so getting opportunities should not be a problem. But Golladay finding the end zone and posting a huge fantasy line may prove to be more trick than treat in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Drew Brees Oct 28 3:20pm ET

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is 4-0 in his last four meetings with the Chicago Bears, who he will face once again in Week 8. Brees is averaging 308 passing yards per game while completing 78.7 percent of his passes for an 8-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a passer rating of 124 in his last four games against them. However, QBs have seen a 20.3-point drop in their passer rating against the Bears Defense in 2020, meaning that Brees may not have it as easy this year. That will especially be true if he remains without receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Chicago allows the fewest fantasy points per game to signal-callers this year, making Brees a shaky QB2 this weekend despite his past success against the Bears.

From RotoBaller