At the start of Week 8 of the NFL season, Fantasy players were feeling relief. We had just made it through the worst bye week of the season and had to worry about just two teams on bye. However, injuries ended up dominating the week leading up to Sunday's action, and they ended up dominating Sunday's action, too. The biggest injury is obviously Derrick Henry's foot injury that threatens to end his regular season early, though we also saw James Robinson, Jameis Winston, Rob Gronkowski, and T.Y. Hilton leave Sunday's games, among others.  

I took an early look at the top waiver-wire options for Week 9 Sunday night, and Heath Cummings tried to separate fact from fiction about the biggest storylines coming out of Sunday's games in his Believe It or Not column here. To finish up our Week 8 recap, here are my biggest winners and losers, takeaways, and one thing to know from every game Sunday.  

Jets 34-Bengals 31

Maybe Mike White isn't so bad? Maybe the Bengals defense isn't so good? Whatever the actual explanation, White looked solid in Week 7 after Zach Wilson's injury and then a lot more than solid Sunday, throwing for 405 yards at 9.0 yards per attempt with three touchdowns. He leaned heavily on his running backs and the short passing game in general in this one, with 3.7 air yards per attempt. That probably isn't a sustainable recipe for success, but I bet they'll try it again in Week 9 against the Colts.

  • Winner: Michael Carter. And that would be good news for Carter, who has 17 catches for 162 yards over the past two games, largely from White. Carter also had his best game as a rusher in this one and has been over a 70% snap share in consecutive games. He's looking like a top-20 Fantasy RB right now. 
  • Loser: C.J. Uzomah -- In all honesty, this was a pretty great game for basically every single Fantasy relevant (or potentially relevant) player except for Uzomah, who had four catches for 33 yards on four targets. Uzomah is a touchdown-or-bust tight end on a good offense, but with a lot of competition for targets. If he doesn't score, he's probably going to have a pretty bad game. There's little reason to chase him, I think. 
  • One more thing to know: This was exactly the kind of role we want to see for Joe Mixon, who ran 24 routes on 37 pass plays to just 11 for Samaje Perine. He didn't run the ball all that well but ended up with one of his better Fantasy days thanks to four catches on five targets (14.3% target share) to go along with his 33 rushing yards and a touchdown in both facets of the game. That's the kind of usage I expected when Giovani Bernard left for Tampa, but we haven't seen nearly enough of it -- which makes me skeptical this will become the norm. But one can hope. 

49ers 33-Bears 22

Justin Fields was finally unleashed as a runner. He made some big plays as a scrambler, but also had more opportunities on designed runs and read-option plays, which is really where he can be a Fantasy superstar. If this was a sign of the light clicking on for him, the upside is incredibly high. 

  • Winner: Fields. He didn't really throw the ball all that well -- though he wasn't terrible -- and ended up with 27 Fantasy points. That's the power of what his kind of rushing skills can do. If the Bears are ready to commit to using him regularly in the running game, Fields has top-12 potential. I'm not ready to just rank him as a top-12 QB for Week 9 against the Steelers, but if he has another big game going into the bye, it might be time to have that discussion.
  • Loser: Allen Robinson. I know why we're still waiting on him to break out, but I just don't know if it's worth waiting out anymore. Yes, Robinson has upside, but the path to getting there in this offense is narrow in a low-volume passing offense where targets aren't being funneled his way. Who knows, maybe he'll be moved by Tuesday's trade deadline and realize all that potential, but if not, I think he's droppable.
  • One more thing to know: Brandon Aiyuk led the 49ers receivers in snaps and routes run, and his seven targets were second on the team to Deebo Samuel. Samuel is clearly the No. 1 wide receiver in this offense, but Aiyuk still has plenty of potential. If you're looking for a way to possibly replace Calvin Ridley, Aiyuk is a good waiver-wire target. 

Want more fallout from the Henry injury and advice on what to do if your roster revolved around him? We've got you covered with an emergency Fantasy Football Today podcast complete with possible replacements and more:

Eagles 44-Lions 6

See, everyone spent so much time complaining about Jalen Hurts' garbage time production and now we didn't get any production. Way to go, everyone! The Eagles were able to lean on the run heavily after going up easily early on, so Hurts had just 14 pass attempts. He still rushed for 71 yards, so don't fret about his Fantasy value. 

  • Winner: Tight ends. T.J. Hockenson earned 11 targets, catching 10 for 89 yards, his third game with at least 11 targets. Hockenson hasn't quite made the leap many were hoping for this season, but I think there's been a bit too much criticism of his play -- he's largely been the same player as always, but now he's on pace for 136 targets. That's more or less what you should have been hoping for when you drafted him. He's not a star, but he's a must-start option for Fantasy. 
  • Loser: Kenneth Gainwell. You might think you are disappointed by Gainwell having just 27 rushing yards, but if you didn't watch this one, you really don't know the half of it. He did end up leading the Eagles in rush attempts, but he had just one in the first three quarters and had played just six of 48 snaps to that point as well, behind both Boston Scott (27) and Jordan Howard (15). I don't know what the explanation for that is, but there's no way you can trust Gainwell as a starter in Week 9 against the Chargers
  • One more thing to know: I very well could have gone with D'Andre Swift as a loser. With Jamaal Williams inactive, Swift had just 12 carries for 27 yards, with just 24 yards on five catches and five targets, his season low for yards. He did play 39 of 41 snaps before the fourth quarter, so who knows what he could have done with a bigger role in the fourth -- that's where he feasts, typically. But I suppose this is the risk when the Lions find themselves in blowouts. Williams will probably be back for Week 10 against the Steelers, and Swift will still be a must-start, top-10 RB, but this feels like a missed opportunity for sure. 

Panthers 19-Falcons 13

In a game in 2021, two teams combined for 260 yards in the passing game. And it's not like these are two teams built around the running game. Sam Darnold continues to be a massive disappointment after a slow start, while Matt Ryan struggled to get much of anything going without Calvin Ridley. We saw similar play from him without Julio Jones last year, which is a big concern with Ridley away from the team for the time being. 

  • Winner: Mike Davis. This wasn't a great Fantasy performance from Davis, but after having just four carries compared to 14 for Cordarrelle Patterson last week, Davis split it evenly with nine each, while also earning five targets. I would think we're going to see similar usage from him moving forward. Patterson will be the better option for Fantasy, but Davis still matters. 
  • Loser: Robby Anderson. I think we're done here. Anderson had 55 yards on 27 targets in his previous three games, but at least he was earning targets, you know? Sunday, he got just one target. Maybe he can turn his season around at some point, but between Darnold's poor play and Anderson finally losing targets this week, you can safely drop him. 
  • One more thing to know: Kyle Pitts was one of the bigger disappointments in Fantasy this week with just two catches for 13 yards coming off consecutive 100-yard games. However, he had a few long plays he came very, very close to pulling off, including a touchdown he nearly brought in inside the 5-yard line. You don't get points for an almost touchdown, of course, so that's a small consolation if you lost. But it's a reason to not get pessimistic. 

Bills 26-Dolphins

The Bills dropped 26 on the Dolphins, which is actually their lowest scoring game against Miami since Josh Allen was drafted in 2018. He owns them. 

  • Winner: DeVante Parker. He may have benefited from the Bills paying extra attention to Jaylen Waddle (four catches, 29 yards on 12 targets), but Parker came back from his hamstring injury against a very tough matchup and was pretty impressive with his eight catches for 85 yards on 11 targets. He has at least 77 yards in three of his five games, including all three Tua Tagovailoa has started, against the Bills and Patriots. He'll be one of the top targets on waivers in Week 9. 
  • Loser: Mike Gesicki. So, my concern was that, when the Dolphins wide receivers started to get healthy, Gesicki would take a back seat in the offense, and that's what happened Sunday with his four targets. The good news is, Gesicki still ran a route on all but one of the team's pass plays, so it's not time to panic yet. However, with Will Fuller potentially coming back soon, there's certainly some risk that he'll see his role shrink further. I'll still treat him like a must-start Fantasy TE for now, but I'm a little worried. 
  • One more thing to know: Stefon Diggs continues to disappoint, but not enough to actually cause anyone to panic. I suppose that's good news -- even a disappointing version of Diggs is still earning seven targets and scoring a touchdown. It is worth considering whether this might not be more representative of who he really is -- a very, very good receiver but not necessarily on the short list for Fantasy. Especially with Josh Allen regressing from where he was last season. 

Steelers 15-Browns 10

Baker Mayfield is saying all the right things about how his shoulder feels, and this is a tough matchup even when healthy. But the Browns offense as a whole didn't do much in this one. Though, that is as much about their running game just not being very effective and causing them to run just 57 plays compared to 69 for the Steelers as anything else. Still, this is kind of a tough offense to get excited about right now. . 

  • Winner: With Eric Ebron out, Pat Freiermuth's expanded role continued to grow, and he had his best Fantasy game of the season, catching four passes on seven targets (second on the team) for 44 yards and a touchdown. I'm not convinced Freiermuth is a top-12 TE for the rest of the season just yet, but he certainly has that potential and is probably the top tight end target on waivers for Week 9. 
  • Loser: Odell Beckham. He's showing a lot of toughness battling through injuries to both shoulders, but I don't think it's fair to expect him to produce much right now. It's been tough enough for Beckham to produce in this offense in the best of circumstances, and it's fair to wonder how long he can continue to play through these injuries. He's still out there on close to every passing play, but with just one target on 29 routes Sunday, Beckham is pretty easy to drop right now. 
  • One more thing to know: Nick Chubb only got 16 carries and one target, which looks a lot like his usage when Kareem Hunt has been healthy, which is disappointing. But it's worth noting that he had 76% of the running back carries, compared to 62% when both he and Chubb have been healthy. He's a pretty good bet to get to 20 carries in Week 9 against the Bengals. 

Titans 34-Colts 31

Derrick Henry left this game early with a foot injury but ultimately returned and racked up 28 carries. Turns out, he had suffered a serious foot injury that could put his availability in doubt for the rest of the regular season. The Titans seem likely to bring in at least one running back after placing Darrynton Evans on IR, but this offense will obviously miss Henry. 

  • Winner: Michael Pittman. With T.Y. Hilton active, Pittman was still the team's clear No. 1 target, earning a near-30% target share and finishing with 10 catches for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hilton did leave this game early after being checked for a concussion, but Pittman was dominating long before that. He's made a leap this season. 
  • Loser: Nyheim Hines. The Colts gave Nyheim Hines a solid extension just before the season and he came out and had 14.2 PPR points in Week. He followed that up with 18.9 in Week 3 and looked like he may be a reliable No. 2 RB all season long. However, if you add up his other five games to date, Hines has 19.9 points total. So, not so much. He's been hurt by the retirement of Phillip Rivers more than anyone, because Wentz just doesn't throw to his running backs as often. I'm not saying you have to drop Hines, because he's decent insurance for Jonathan Taylor, but if you need the roster spot, he's droppable, sure. 
  • One more thing to know: You can't always just blame a loss on one player, but Carson Wentz deserves it for this one. The pick six he threw in the final 90 seconds of the game -- threw with his left hand, mind you -- was bad enough, but he followed it up with a disastrous pick that set up the Titans game-winning field goal in overtime.

Rams 38-Texans 22

In the wake of the Mark Ingram trade, Rex Burkhead and Scottie Phillips led the Texans backfield with seven touches each. I don't know why either, but with David Johnson (11) and Phillip Lindsay (7) playing fewer snaps than both, I think that pretty much confirms there's no real reason to chase this backfield. 

  • Winner: Brandin Cooks. Things had been pretty tough for Cooks lately, but he came through against a tough matchup, rewarding my patience and faith in him. My thought process with Cooks has been pretty straightforward: As bas as Davis Mills might be -- and he might not be that bad -- Cooks is seeing too many targets and downfield opportunities not to produce at some point. I'll feel better about him whenever Tyrod Taylor is back, but I think I can still view Cooks as a high-end No. 3 or boom-or-bust WR2 with big upside. 
  • Loser: Tyler Higbee. It's been hard to make sense of Higbee's lack of production, seeing as he's finally playing basically every snap and has by far his best quarterback ever. However, he has his lowest yards per target since 2017 at 7.6, with his lowest depth of target ever at 4.6 yards. Higbee isn't see a Matthew Stafford-sized bump to his value, so while it's hard to go away from a tight end who has a role in a great offense, Higbee just isn't doing enough with it to justify being more than a streamer. You might be better off chasing upside with Freiermuth, honestly. 
  • One more thing to know: It's been even harder to make sense of Robert Woods' season to date. He had two touchdowns in Week 8, but also caught just three passes; however, he also had three carries, plus, those three catches came on a 27% target share. I thought Woods might have the season Cooper Kupp is having, and I'm disappointed he isn't, but I still can't get away from him as a No. 2 Fantasy WR. 

Seahawks 31-Jaguars 7

Coming off a bye and losing 31-7 to Geno Smith is a pretty ugly sight. The Seahawks essentially only threw it to two plays, and the Jaguars couldn't seem to solve that riddle. What a mess. 

  • Winner: DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Both had huge games. Metcalf thanks to his red zone dominance, as he caught all six passes thrown his way for just 43 yards but with two impressive touchdown catches. Lockett, on the other hand, had 12 catches for 142 yards on 13 targets for his massive game. It's still hard to trust this passing game with Smith at QB, but the good news is, Russell Wilson may be back from his finger injury when the team returns from the bye in Week 10 against the Packers. You might have a bye-low window on them; or it may have just passed. 
  • Loser: Laviska Shenault. It's hard to say you should drop Shenault knowing how talented he is, but the Jaguars just don't seem to have faith in him like the Fantasy football community does. They've consistently treated him like the No. 3 wide receiver even since DJ Chark's injury, and on Sunday he had fewer targets (four) than Dan Arnold (10), Carlos Hyde (eight), Jamal Agnew (12), and Marvin Jones (seven). I just don't know when you're going to be able to trust Shenault. 
  • One more thing to know: James Robinson was forced from this game with an ankle injury, which is tough timing coming out of the bye week. It's worth noting that coach Urban Meyer did say Robinson was available for the second half, so maybe they didn't want to force it after they were down 24-0 early in the third quarter. Hopefully Robinson is OK for Week 8 against the Bills, because Hyde would be a pretty low-end option against that matchup. 

Patriots 27-Chargers 24

The Patriots defense held up their end of the bargain, causing Justin Herbert to stumble coming out of the bye week, while the offense mostly just avoided mistakes, and that was enough. 

  • Winner: Damien Harris. The case for Harris as an RB2 in drafts was that he's a pretty good runner who was going to get a ton of goal-line opportunities, and that's what we're seeing lately. He has a touchdown in four straight games and is RB6 even in PPR scoring over the past three. Harris kind of has to score a bunch of touchdowns to be a must-start Fantasy option because he does very little in the passing game, which is why I'd view him as a sell-high candidate right now. But, credit where it's due, this has been a very nice run. 
  • Loser: Hunter Henry. Of course, if you want an example of why you shouldn't necessarily be betting on outlier touchdown paces in this offense, look at Henry's Week 8 performance. He caught one pass for 33 yards, which was actually his second-most yards over the past five games, however it was his worst game because he didn't catch a touchdown. You shouldn't be betting on a guy putting up 42 yards or fewer in seven of eight games unless you are truly desperate. I would rather have Freiermuth and even Dan Arnold. 
  • One more thing to know: Austin Ekeler put a fright into Fantasy players when he was held out of practice Thursday and Friday with a hip injury, but as he did in Week 1 under similar circumstances, Ekeler more or less played his usual role Sunday, with 11 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown plus six catches for 60 yards on 10 targets. He's a no-doubt-about-it No. 1 RB, with as much weekly upside as anyone. It's funny, despite the injury concerns, Ekeler actually played a season-high 76% of the snaps in this one.  

Broncos 17-Washington 10

This game was a pretty ugly affair, with the biggest stars like Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin, and Courtland Sutton failing to do much. These two offenses have not necessarily been conducive for Fantasy production of late. 

  • Winner: There really isn't any good answer for this one. Melvin Gordon scored a couple of touchdowns, however he had one more carry and one fewer target than Javonte Williams, so it could very easily have been Williams having that game. This game might be best left forgotten as quickly as possible. 
  • Loser: Antonio Gibson. Sunday's game was basically the worst-case scenario for Gibson that didn't feature him getting hurt. He played just 31% of the snaps, and while J.D. McKissic did see a larger-than-normal role, Gibson's loss of playing time mostly came from the increased role of rookie Jaret Patterson, who actually led the team with 46 yards on 11 carries in this one. The worst part is, Gibson actually logged his first full practice in weeks Friday and was taken off the injury report for Week 8. I don't quite know what to make of that, especially because Patterson was a factor beginning in the first quarter. Is this now a three-headed backfield? For Gibson, who doesn't catch many passes, that might potentially crater his value. I'm going to need to see a good explanation for this one from Ron Rivera. 
  • One more thing to know: Jerry Jeudy didn't have a big game in his return from an ankle injury, but he wasn't handled with kid gloves. He played 71% of the snaps and ran a route on 77% of pass plays in his first game since suffering that high-ankle sprain in Week 1. I'm going to guess we'll see him more involved in the passing game over the next few weeks heading into the team's Week 11 bye, and Week 9 against the Cowboys could provide an excellent opportunity for him to make an impact. 

Saints 36-Buccaneers 27

The Saints know how to make life difficult for Tom Brady, and they managed to pull out a win despite losing Jameis Winston with a potentially serious knee injury. Of course, making life "difficult" for Tom Brady in 2021 still means he had 375 yards and four touchdowns. 

  • Winner: Chris Godwin. Godwin was targeted 12 times in this one, giving him 23 in the past two games with Antonio Brown out with an ankle injury. Bruce Arians wasn't willing to commit to Brown coming back immediately after the team's Week 9 bye, so Godwin could continue to be the team's top target for a little while longer. 
  • Loser: Mike Evans. The Saints just make life very difficult for him. He ended up with a decent game Sunday, but it was just his second time with more than 12.6 PPR points against the Saints since 2017. He's got the Saints in Week 15, so just keep that in mind. 
  • One more thing to know: It might just be a one-week thing, but it seems notable that Alvin Kamara played his smallest snap share of the season in Mark Ingram's first game, dropping to 67% after playing at least 82% in every game since Week 1. The most potentially worrying part is that he ran a route on just 46% of the team's pass plays. His passing game usage has been frustrating at times this season, so hopefully this isn't the start of a trend. 

Cowboys 20-Vikings 16

No Dak Prescott, no problem, at least for one week. The Cowboys passed for 360 yards and a couple of touchdowns in the win over the Vikings.

  • Winner: Amari Cooper. CeeDee Lamb has made a leap this season, but it's worth noting that Cooper has just one fewer target than Lamb this season. Lamb has been more effective overall, but as long as Prescott is healthy, I still think he can be a higher-end WR2 moving forward, not much below Lamb in the rankings. It was good to see him get the volume with 13 targets Sunday. 
  • Loser: Tony Pollard. I thought the absence of Dak Prescott might make Pollard an even better Fantasy option than normal, but he actually had his worst game of the season in this one. His seven carries were his lowest since Week 1 and he had just one catch for 1 yard on one target; Ezekiel Elliott had 16 carries and six targets. Concerns/hopes that he was going to take Elliott's job or at least a co-lead role early in the season obviously look overblown. 
  • One more thing to know: Dalton Schultz's two-catch game was a disappointment, but he still had seven targets (third on the team)  and ran a route on 32 of 45 pass plays, while Blake Jarwin was out there on just 12 pass plays. He'll be fine. 

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