Welcome everybody to this week’s edition of Deep Impact! With a busy week of sports underway (World Series, NBA season opener, Joel Embiid gracing the Sixers court for real), it’s almost easy to forget that hey, they’re going to play NFL games this week! It’s even easier to forget that professional football is happening this week when writing this while watching the Jaguars. As usual for our series, we’ll take a look at players less than 10% owned for those of you who play in deep formats to think about Week 8 options. Also as usual for our series, I will arbitrarily break that threshold because dammit, sometimes there just isn’t a name under it that I would consider starting at a position. Don’t judge me!
Robert Kelley (RB, Washington Football Team, 10% owned) – Back when I was plugging Chris Thompson on a weekly basis, I pointed out that Thompson was worth adding as a PPR back, but that Kelley would likely be the guy to get the starting job if Matt Jones missed time. Well, so far this week Jones hasn’t been practicing thanks to a knee injury, and head coach Jay Gruden has been quoted as saying,“No, this isn’t Jon. You have the wrong number, Rich. No, I won’t call you Mr. Gannon, Rich. Please stop calling when you’re drunk.” No, that’s not the quote I’m looking for. Ah, here it is: “If Matt has an issue where he can’t go, it would be Robert in the lead role, more likely.” Well, there it is right from the lesser Gruden’s mouth. Thompson will stay in his third-down back role, and I think he would still see an uptick in carries, but Kelley would be the guy to start this week in a relatively soft matchup against the London Keepcalms *checks schedule* sorry, I meant Cincinnati Bengals. Their 4.6 yards per carry allowed is 25th in the league, and aside from locking down a pre-Super Saiyan Jay Ajayi, pretty much everyone to run against them has put up good numbers. If Jones doesn’t go, Kelley is an easy call this week, and Thompson is worth considering too.
Adam Thielen (WR, Minnesota Vikings, 5% owned) – Sammy Sleeves and company had rough sledding against the Eagles last week, and Thielen only pulled down two catches for 52 yards as a result. Teammate (and one of my stashes from a couple weeks ago) Cordarrelle Patterson had a solid outing with seven grabs, 67 yards and a touchdown, but was added to the injury report with a concussion today. Since he’s just starting the league’s concussion protocol, I doubt he’s ready in time for a prime matchup against the Bears. Enter Theilen, who had a breakout performance while Stefon Diggs was out, and would stand to gain a good chunk of targets if Patterson is unable to go.
C.J. Fiedorowicz (TE, Houston Texans, 12% owned) – Cheating our 10% threshold here, as I like to do, since I think the tight end options below 10% should be left on the wire where they belong. CJ is just above our mark, and has gone three straight weeks with seven or more targets. Granted, last week he only went for 35 yards, but that was against a stingy Broncos defense where he should have only been started in the most dire of circumstances. This week, against the Lions, the blocking tight end that apparently sold his soul in the offseason for hands (maybe he made a deal with the Robot Devil?) should be in deep league lineups. Would you rather start someone like washed-up Antonio Gates? I don’t care how many targets Gates is still getting, he moves around the field like the Tin Man before he got his joints oiled.
Kapri Bibbs (RB, Denver Broncos, 4% owned) – With C.J. Anderson owners getting blindsided with news today that he’s potentially out the rest of the season, fantasy gamers have rushed to the wire en masse to snag Devontae Booker, who probably wasn’t available in deep formats to begin with. If you were one of the lucky ones to snag Booker (or one of the smart ones who already had him), you should go ahead and handcuff him with Bibbs, who averaged 4.2 YPC in the preseason while leading the team in rushing. Obviously preseason stats don’t count for much, but he’s looked solid when called upon and would be the next man up if Booker goes down. Don’t expect him to get more than 5-10 touches per game as long as Booker is healthy, but don’t be caught flat-footed if you have room on your roster to take out some Booker insurance.
Jordan Howard (RB, Chicago Bears, 81% owned) – Sorry guys, the party is over for Howard. What are you holding on for at this point? He’s getting less touches than Ka’Deem Carey, former starter Jeremy Langford is back at practice and likely to return in Week 8, the Bears play the Vikings this week, and have a bye next week. What does all that add up to? At best, Howard has one week splitting carries with Carey against the best run defense in football before this situation turns into a muddled trio with a healthy Langford back after the bye. At worst, Langford comes back early and Howard won’t get enough touches to have a prayer of being useful this week, let alone going forward. If your league is very deep, I could see holding Howard as a lottery ticket that maybe Langford gets reinjured and Carey turns back into a pumpkin. If you need production now, I’d move on. If you’ve got any questions on starts or transactions for Week 8, leave them in the comments.