Fantasy football Week 8 awards: Stafford rebounds, Chiefs confound
In Week 8, Matthew Stafford delivered a four-touchdown day against a stout D
Romeo Crennel didn't know why Jamaal Charles had just five carries Sunday
Heath Miller ranks second among tight ends for TD catches with six this season
Matthew Stafford was in like a Lion, the Broncos dished out a Sunday night smackdown and Pittsburgh brought Washington's dynamic rookie duo down to earth. Week 8 also featured the Patriots going to a foreign land in order to smash the Rams, the Chiefs' best player not touching the ball and a Giants-Cowboys thriller. Let's hand out some awards, eh?
The Boom Goes The Dynamite Award: Matthew Stafford, where you been? Finally, the Lions' franchise signal-caller played like a preseason top-five quarterback, though many owners had probably sent him to the bench already. For the first time all season, Stafford threw more than one touchdown pass in a game, with his 352-yard, three-score day. Even better, he showed some wheels around the goal line, rushing for his third touchdown in four games. This is the game his fantasy owners have been waiting for. With three 300-yard or better outings in the last four games, Stafford is hitting his stride.
Mr. Consistency: Peyton Manning's dissection of the Saints' hemorrhaging defense looked downright Indianapolis-esque. Manning now has five straight 300-yard passing games and four straight three-touchdown pass games. Manning's rise has boosted the stock of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker into top-10 receivers.
Most Invisible Award: Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles only ran the ball five times, getting only one carry in the second half. Coach Romeo Crennel was quoted after the game saying that he didn't even know why. The post-2011 injured Charles has shown what he can do when given the ball, (see: the Saints and Ravens games, in which he averaged 30 carries and 180-plus yards). Peyton Hillis, Shaun Draughn and Dexter McCluster combined for eight carries and 50-plus yards. That makes a second straight clunker outing for Charles, who had 40 yards on 12 carries in Week 6. Owners are at the mercy of the Chiefs' questionable coaching staff and ineffective offense, with few options but to ride it out the rest of the way.
Most Invisible Award, Runner-up: Victor Cruz. It's hard to kill the Giants' wideout for a 23-yard scoreless outing against an improved Dallas secondary, but his drop-off was still bigger than most would have expected. Cruz had rolled in with touchdowns in five out of six weeks and is still one of the top three fantasy receivers this season.
Pickup of the Week: Lions receiver Titus Young tied for a team-high nine targets en route to his 100-yard, two-touchdown day. Young will help replace the injured Nate Burleson in the receiver rotation and stands to benefit the most from a rejuvenated Stafford.
Best Time to Sell Award: All Chris Johnson owners should take notice: Although he had 100 combined yards Sunday, those days might be numbered. The Bears, Dolphins, Texans, Jets and Packers remain on the schedule. With the exception of a date with Jacksonville, it's a rough road ahead.
The Real Steel Award: For the first time this season the Redskins' rookie duo of Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III were shut down in the same game. The Steelers, who ranked second against the pass coming in, were aided by 10 -- 10! -- drops, but it was the Morris outing that surprised the most. On the verge of being bullet-proof no matter the matchup, Morris had scored or hit the 89-yard mark in every game this season, prior to his 59-yard day.
Best Super-Sub: Hopefully by now Rashard Mendenhall's fantasy owners have handcuffed themselves to Jonathan Dwyer (if not, get in line). The former Georgia Tech star has done nothing to make the Steelers rush Mendenhall back. For the second straight week, Dwyer has had 17 carries and rewarded Pittsburgh with a 100-yard outing. He'll have a tougher matchup against the Giants next week, but Dwyer's plug-in production not only allows Mendenhall to take his time mending, but green lights his stock as a great flex/RB3 play.
Most Underrated Tight End: The Steelers' Heath Miller has always been better in real life than in fantasy. But on Sunday Miller caught his sixth touchdown, good for second among tight ends. Sure, it came against one of the league's worst pass defenses, as the Redskins allow the most passing yards in the league. But Miller scored in his first three games of the season this year and hasn't looked back since. After scoring four touchdowns combined the last two years, Miller is two scores shy of breaking his career best mark of seven, set in 2007.
The Box Score Siberia Award: Goes to the Chargers-Browns game, which included a grand total of 13 points and had San Diego passing game owners scratching their heads. On third down, both teams were a combined 10-for-31. In his worst performance since 2009, Philip Rivers' 154 passing yards was the latest entry in a lost season which even the most patient fantasy owner should have pulled the plug on weeks ago. Ask any Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates owners who have suffered the collateral damage. But....
Best Starring Roles in a Terrible Game: Despite the cloudy and wet conditions the Browns and Chargers played in, two big bright spots were Trent Richardson and Ryan Mathews. Richardson owners got assurance that his ribs are fine in the form of 122 rushing yards and the game's only touchdown. It was a great sign that he is over his rib injury and that he's just about full strength going forward. Mathews had his second straight scoreless outing, meanwhile, but rushed for a season-best 95 yards on a season-high 24 carries. The best part? No collarbones spontaneously combusted in the performance, as Mathews showed his workhorse potential on a day when the rest of the Chargers offense was toothless.
The Patriot Games Award: Tom Brady's pedestrian start to the season is starting to fade in the rear-view fantasy mirror, and Rob Gronkowski is recapturing last year's form. Brady is averaging 319 yards in his last three games, and in that span has eight touchdowns. Gronk, who had been battling a hip injury just a few weeks earlier and had become a fixture under the "questionable" category, has four touchdowns the last two weeks and had a team-best 13 targets yesterday. Despite a couple tough off-weeks in Week 5 and 6, Gronkowski is on course for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns.
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