Fantasy football Week 8: A.J. Brown, Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry lead the way

Week 8 of the 2022 fantasy football season was highlighted by big games by a whole cast of players, from A.J. Brown and Alvin Kamara to Tony Pollard and Derrick Henry. Which developments from the week are worth reading into? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft offer their analysis.

Brown flies high for Eagles

A.J. Brown managed three receiving touchdowns before halftime, his 34.3 PPR fantasy points at that point the most by any player in nearly two years, and if not for a shoestring tackle on a 43-yard reception early in the fourth quarter, he would've had a fourth score and exceeded 40 points (he finished with 39.6, still awfully good). Brown's chemistry with Jalen Hurts has been consistently excellent, and there's no question that he has picked up his quarterback's play, while reestablishing himself a weekly fantasy WR1. Brown now gets the Texans and Commanders the next two weeks, meaning similarly huge totals might be in store. -- Cockcroft

This is why the Eagles traded for Brown. He's a true difference-maker with three-level ability. And he can play through contact to finish. Throw the deep ball, scheme him on middle-of-the-field throws or get him loose underneath on quicks. A true WR1 in Philly. -- Bowen

Speaking of Hurts

As mentioned with Brown, Hurts has played with much greater confidence in the passing game as a direct result of his new WR1, and Sunday's performance underscored that fact. Hurts delivered 28.40 fantasy points, the ninth time he has managed 25 or more, but this was the first time he did so without the help of either a rushing score or at least 20 rushing yards. Hurts has only two interceptions through seven games this season, after totaling nine in his 15 starts in 2021, and his mobility makes him a bona fide contender for his position's top scoring spot each week. -- Cockcroft

Jags feature Etienne in London

Travis Etienne Jr. dropped 25.2 PPR points and 156 yards rushing on the Broncos' defense in Week 8. Season-high totals there. So were the 27 touches in the offensive game plan. And his short-area acceleration really changes the Jaguars' run game. Quick to the second level on inside zone run schemes that allow Etienne to press the ball or bend to open daylight. Based on the numbers here, the bump in offensive usage, plus his play speed/running traits, Etienne will enter the RB1 mix in my ranks for the Week 9 game versus the Raiders' defense. He's rolling right now. -- Bowen

Here's what I love seeing: Just four days after hints dropped that JaMycal Hasty's carries would increase following James Robinson's trade, Etienne played 77% of the Jaguars' offensive snaps, making him the first running back to play at least three-quarters of his team's offensive snaps in multiple games this season -- and his have come in back-to-back weeks. Yes, involving Hasty more would be smart from a workload-management standpoint, especially considering Etienne's injury history, but this was a statement game that this backfield is firmly his. -- Cockcroft

Kamara teams well with Dalton

Alvin Kamara's 42.8 PPR points (a season high) led all players in the early block of the Week 8 games. We saw the touchdown production here -- three scores -- and a defined pass game element with the Saints running back, too. Kamara logged nine receptions versus the Raiders' defense, and has now recorded a total of 28 receptions over his past four games with Andy Dalton as the starting quarterback. Sure, there are designed throws and matchups to get Kamara the ball. We can see that. But don't sleep on Dalton's ability to simply take the throws that are available when the running back shows underneath, which is a positive (and very sustainable) trend for Kamara's fantasy production moving forward. Up next? Kamara and the Saints get the Ravens' defense in Week 9. -- Bowen

CMC does it all

Christian McCaffrey went to work on the Rams' defense in Week 8, posting 40.26 PPR points, with a touchdown run, reception and pass. In terms of offensive deployment, this is what we expected from McCaffrey in coach Kyle Shanahan's offense. Run and pass game usage, close to 20 touches a game. McCaffrey logged 26 touches in this one, finishing with 149 total yards. Now, we could see the overall volume decline just a bit here with a healthy Deebo Samuel on the field. But I still focus on how Shanahan can scheme for a top-tier player at the running back position, which will keep CMC as a top-five play moving forward. The 49ers are off next week, and return in Week 10 with a positive matchup versus the Chargers' defense. -- Bowen

Those rushing, receiving and passing touchdowns? They put McCaffrey on a list of only 11 players since at least 1950 -- the earliest season for which we have complete game-log data -- to do so in a game, and only four others (Walter Payton in 1979, David Patten in 2001 and LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005) did so since the merger. Additionally, of the 11 total, only Frank Gifford (45.3, Week 10 of 1956) and Patten (43.0, Week 6 of 2001) scored more than McCaffrey's 40.26 PPR fantasy points in those games. -- Cockcroft

Henry does it again

Derrick Henry positively owns the Texans, exceeding 35 PPR fantasy points for his fourth consecutive game against them (35.8). It was also the second straight week he had at least 30 rushing attempts, showing not only his ability to shoulder massive workloads, but also that he has reached his full, midseason momentum, something that often leads to lengthy stretches where he challenges for the position's lead in fantasy scoring. Henry is on quite a roll right now, and it scarcely mattered that Malik Willis did next-to-nothing in the passing game. Keep Henry locked in as at least a top-three positional weekly choice. -- Cockcroft

Tristan, that's now 23 or more PPR points for Henry in four of his past five games. And he has logged six rushing scores during that stretch. A player whom we sometimes take for granted in fantasy football given his consistent ability to handle heavy volume and produce as a runner, Henry is one of the most reliable backs in the league. -- Bowen

Fields on the rise

With 26.04 fantasy points on Sunday versus Dallas, Justin Fields has now registered at least 17 fantasy points in each of his past four games. We are seeing development here with Fields in the Bears' pass game, both in scheme and execution. And the designed quarterback carries/scramble attempts are boosting his fantasy profile. Fields scored on a low red zone rushing attempt for the second straight week in this one, and has logged 22 carries during that stretch. With those numbers, plus Chicago's dedicated approach to game-plan around Fields' dual-threat traits, you can move him up in the ranks as fringe QB1 for the Week 9 game versus the Miami defense. -- Bowen

Why did I cut this guy (in my longtime 2QB league)?! Oh, that's right, it was because the Bears' first-four-weeks offense was a 1970s-style -- if not even earlier vintage -- mess, and in fantasy terms you simply cannot sit back and wait for change when there's no evidence of it. But, Matt, you're absolutely right, this is now a definitively different Bears approach to utilizing Fields' strengths, and if he hadn't been scooped up in that league at a time where I couldn't spare the roster spot to reclaim him, I certainly would've added him back a week or two ago. He's still a guy throwing only 20-25 times per week, but that's much better than the 15-attempt Weeks 1-3 average, and his mobility has been a plus. Argh! -- Cockcroft

Pollard the new No. 1 in Dallas?

In his four-year NFL career, Tony Pollard has made two starts while absorbing the role of lead running back due to an Ezekiel Elliott injury, and in each he totaled at least 130 scrimmage yards with multiple rushing scores. Pollard's 33.7 PPR fantasy points Sunday represented a career high -- his 31.2 in his other start subbing for Elliott are now his second most -- and they raise the legitimate question of whether the Cowboys should consider giving him a guaranteed 50/50 share of the rushing chores, if not more. Pollard has good speed, vision and elusiveness, and I think he'd provide a spark for this offense that looked awfully good in Week 8. We'll see how this backfield shakes out following next week's bye. -- Cockcroft

I agree with this, Tristan. Yes, Zeke can still find the end zone as a goal-line runner, and his ability to win in pass protection provides real value to this Dallas offense. But Pollard plays at a different clip. He can scoot. Stack moves together. And his speed upgrades this Cowboys run game. I think he should be the primary ball carrier for this football team moving forward. -- Bowen

Dak might be back

Don't let the modest final stat line -- 250 yards and two touchdowns passing, 25.40 fantasy points -- fool you, because Dak Prescott and the Cowboys thoroughly trounced the Bears' defense and were in complete control of their game on Sunday. After a Week 7 return in which he was more hesitant to run, Prescott ran five times total and even had a 7-yard touchdown run five minutes into the game, and watching him it was clear he was running with far greater confidence this week than last. He was also more accurate as a thrower, which provides his managers a much-needed positive takeaway as he and his teammates enter their Week 9 bye. Sure, you'll need to find a fill-in next week, but Prescott again looks like a weekly QB1, with this the kind of confidence-building game we wanted from him with some challenging matchups on his second-half schedule (Packers in Week 10, Giants in Week 12, Eagles in Week 16). -- Cockcroft

Other observations

D'Onta Foreman, RB, Carolina Panthers: Sure, the absence of Chuba Hubbard eliminated their speedier rushing threat, but Foreman's power game still got the job done and then some, as he managed 31.8 PPR fantasy points on 26 rushing attempts in a frustrating loss to the Falcons. Foreman's ability to push the pile on his 1-yard, goal-line rushing score (followed by his 2-point conversion run) to begin the fourth quarter underscored his importance in short-yardage situations, and he's the more complete back of the two in my estimation, with the goal-line likelihood coupled with greater receiving chops granting him the higher weekly statistical floor. I can't say I expected it, but Foreman looks like a weekly fantasy flex with RB2 upside. -- Cockcroft

Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, WR, Dolphins: Not that you'd expect anything much shy of it, but Hill's 31.5 and Waddle's 30.6 PPR fantasy points against the Lions on Sunday underscored their dual WR1 ability -- a remarkable thing to come from the same offense. Waddle got more attention thanks to being the one with two touchdown receptions, but Hill was the one who caught Tua Tagovailoa's eye more often, with 14 targets to Waddle's nine. It's that larger target share that keeps Hill a bit higher in my weekly rankings, but when the two face weaker defenses like this one -- and they will against the Browns in Week 10 and Texans in Week 12 as well -- either could easily deliver you a positional top-five score. -- Cockcroft

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins: Tua's Week 8 fantasy production (28.18 points) is a really good example of why you need to play the coverage matchups. Against a man-heavy coverage team in Detroit, Tua found Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle consistently. Sudden movers who can separate -- or run away -- from coverage. Tua was extremely efficient throwing the ball in this one too, completing 29 of 36 passes, with three touchdowns. Poise and confidence in the pocket, with a schemed-up pass game that creates both windows and matchups. Tua and the Dolphins will bring out the zone beaters next week for the Week 9 game versus the Bears' defense. He'll be a midtier QB1 there. -- Bowen

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots: Stevenson has now logged three straight games with at least 21 PPR points. And we should focus on the pass game totals here. Stevenson (who saw eight targets in the Sunday win over the Jets) has recorded 19 receptions during this stretch. Keep him in the RB2 mix for the Week 9 game versus the Colts. -- Bowen

Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: For the fifth consecutive week, Harris was held shy of 13 PPR fantasy points, scoring only 11.96 on Sunday, and a decent chunk of that was padded by a couple of meaningless fourth-quarter receptions. His struggles making things happen in the rushing game have also led to backup Jaylen Warren cutting into his workload, a disturbing trend for this preseason first-round pick, as Warren has now played 35% of the offensive snaps and totaled 15 rushing attempts to Harris' 50 the past four weeks combined. Sure, the Steelers' overall offensive funk has contributed to Harris' lackluster production, but he's also largely responsible for the so-so numbers. He's now on bye, and is a flex consideration only for Week 10. -- Cockcroft

Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders: That was a brutal day for Carr -- and this entire Raiders offense -- in the shutout loss to the Saints. Carr, whom I had slated to post lower-tier QB1 numbers this week given the matchup, finished with just 101 yards passing and a season-low 1.94 fantasy points. The Raiders will get the Jags in Week 9. There are some pretty defined Jacksonville coverage tendencies to target there. But can we really trust Carr? He has posted just three games this season with 15 or more fantasy points, and only one in the past four weeks. He'll be down in the QB2 ranks for me. -- Bowen