If you want to know what the definition of a shootout is in the NFL, just take a look at the Pittsburgh and Indy game. Roethlisberger came out firing and finished with the highest point total for any player in a single week with 44 points. This was a great game to watch, and if it were not for Andrew Luck losing his footing under center leading to that safety, this game could have gone down to the wire. They were only down 8 at the time, and Indy had been moving the ball at will as of late so them tying it up was not out of the question.
The London crowd was witness to a decent game for once that came down to the wire. It was an odd feeling watching a game at 8:30 in the morning, but is also a nice way to wake up. I imagine this is what it feels like being on the West Coast, although they had to wake up extremely early to watch that one. It appeared as though the Detroit Lions flipped the switch at halftime, and came out looking great. Theo Riddick looked good in the game, which should have Reggie Bush owners worried as he has been ineffective for most of the year.
A little longer of an intro to the top performer article, but the rest will still be the same as the past, and some of the players as well. After going over my thoughts on the top performers at each position, I will also select a few other players who either performed above expectations, or maybe have you questioning whether you should continue starting him or not.
The goal of this article is to highlight those top guys, and if you can expect some similar performances in the future from them or if it was a flash-in-the-pan, and also whether you should be worried about top picks in drafts that put up less than stellar performances. So without rambling on longer in this intro, let's take a look at those who performed well in week 8.
QB - Ben Roethlisberger 522 Passing Yards, 6 Passing TD's, 44 Fantasy Points
This truly was incredible to see. Roethlisberger had been having his typical season up to this point, which consists of him being a serviceable starting QB in fantasy for deeper leagues, but for shallower 10 team leagues he is best left on your bench. While this was great to see, week 8 didn't change my opinion of him. Every year Big Ben has one or two games where he goes 400+ yards and 4+TD's, and that was this week. Congrats to those of you who started him, but long-term he is still only a starter in 12+ team leagues.
QB - Tom Brady 354 Passing Yards, 5 TD's, 34 Fantasy Points
In one of my previous articles, I dismissed a great performance by Brady as he hadn't shown anything close to that performance this season. Now I am willing to say that he is a starter in all leagues, and is looking great. Rob Gronkowski, more on him later, looks to be back in his 2012 form and that is all Brady needs to be successful.
RB - Arian Foster 20 Carries for 151 Yards and 2 TD's, 4 Catches for 22 Yards and 1 TD, 35 Fantasy Points
Foster has been an absolute monster this year. He sat out week 3 because of an injury, and then came back too early in week 4, but other than that he has over 100 yards rushing in each game. The notion in the preseason that his injury history had caught up with him were drastically overstated, as Foster looks healthier than ever right now. Has a matchup against the Eagles next week, so expect Foster to find himself in the top three yet again when all is said and done.
RB - Matt Forte 19 Carries for 114 Yards, 6 Catches for 54 Yards and 1 TD, 1 Two Point Conversion, 24 Fantasy Points
Another review of the top performers, and another week of Matt Forte making the list. This is his fourth consecutive week of over 20 fantasy points, and five straight of over 16 fantasy points. Forte is on pace now for 116 catches, which seems crazy, but is what is helping his value. Only bad thing about Forte is that he has his bye week next week, so owners have to wait until week 10 to see him be a stud again.
RB - Jamaal Charles 13 Carries for 73 Yards and 2 TD's, 4 Catches for 44 Yards, 23 Fantasy Points
No surprises this week with the top three running backs as Jamaal Charles rounds out the group. For as great as Charles was this week, and so far this season, he has done it all without catching the ball too often. He had his one game with 2 receiving TD's, but other than that he hasn't caught a TD, and this was the first week he had over 20 receiving yards. I expect Charles to become more involved in the pass game as the season goes on, which will only add to his value.
WR - Jeremy Maclin 16 Targets, 12 Receptions for 187 Yards and 2 TD's, 30 Fantasy Points
Maclin had a very solid start to the season showing that the main receiver in the Eagles offense will get a large amount of targets. After their bye week, Philadelphia seemed to want to get the ball in Maclin's hands more often, and boy did it pay off. Even after coming off the ACL injury last year, he looks to be like he did pre-injury, which is nothing short of amazing. He is clearly a top 15 guy the rest of the way, and potentially top 10 on any given week.
WR - Emmanuel Sanders 9 Targets, 9 Receptions for 120 Yards and 3 TD's, 30 Fantasy Points
For a guy that had only one TD on the year up till week 8, Sanders exploded with three of them on Thursday night. Peyton Manning is the best QB in the NFL right now, and does a great job of making sure his top talents get there share. This will be his best week of the season, but a few more games of 100+ yards and 2 TD's are still on the horizon for him. Borderline top 10 WR for the rest of the season.
WR - Antonio Brown 13 Targets, 10 Receptions for 133 Yards and 2 TD, 25 Fantasy Points
Feels like a long time ago since Antonio Brown made his way into one of these articles. After seeing what Big Ben did on Sunday, you had to know that Antonio Brown would make his way onto this list. Top 5 WR the rest of the year as I said earlier in the season, and still has yet to have a game of under 5 receptions and 80 yards. He is as safe as they come at the WR position.
TE - Rob Gronkowski 9 Targets, 9 Receptions for 149 Yards and 3 TD's, 32 Fantasy Points
It's good to have Gronk back to full health. I am confident that Gronkowski is going to be able to finish the season without an injury, and will finish with over 1,000 receiving yards, and close to 15 TD's. What will be interesting is who finishes with the more fantasy points, Rob Gronkowski or Julius Thomas? Gronk holds the very slight edge in points per game after week 8, as he is on pace for 190 points, while Thomas is on pace for 189.7, so it is neck and neck. I'll take Gronk, but barely.
TE - Antonio Gates 8 Targets, 5 Receptions for 54 Yards and 2 TD's, 17 Fantasy Points
This is now four straight games where Gates has had a TD, and two of them he scored twice. Gates is now on pace for his best season of his career, as his best years have been hampered by injuries in the past. I mentioned the pace that Gronk and Thomas were on earlier, well Gates isn't too far off with his pace of 186 fantasy points. This is remarkable to see out of the TE position, and if it stays the same at the end of the year, will make for difficult decisions in 2015 drafts. Should you take an elite one early, or risk waiting and getting an inconsistent option from week to week?
TE - Heath Miller 8 Targets, 7 Receptions for 112 Yards and 1 TD, 17 Fantasy Points
Not much to say about this one other than look at Big Ben's statline. Miller has been inconsistent this year, and I don't see that changing. He is startable in 14+ team leagues, but otherwise I would look elsewhere to find your starter.
Now a look at a couple of other performances that stood out to me from Sunday's games:
QB - Michael Vick 153 Passing Yards, 0 TD's and 1 INT, 8 Rushes for 69 Yards and 2 Fumbles, 6 Fantasy Points
Geno Smith was benched on Sunday after throwing 3 INT's and was later sent to have x-rays on his shoulder. Whether or not Smith is healthy next week, Vick should be named the starter. I don't believe you should pick up Vick, unless you are in a 2 QB league, as he plays the Chiefs in week 9. That is a difficult matchup for him, and that offense looks out of sync.
RB - Marshawn Lynch 14 Carries for 62 Yards, 6 Fantasy Points
Red flags were flying this weekend about Marshawn Lynch. Word has come out that there is a very small chance that Lynch is back with Seattle for 2015. This has been something that was speculated before the season, but now seem like a lock. I'm worried that this means Christine Michael, and Robert Turbin will get more run the rest of the year to see if they need to draft/sign someone in the offseason. Lynch hasn't been effective the last three weeks, but he is still a guy you need to start every week.
WR - Sammy Watkins 6 Targets, 3 Receptions for 157 Yards and 1 TD, 21 Fantasy Points
Watkins should have been written about earlier in the article, but he wasn't because of a play I'm sure he will regret on Monday morning in the film room. The good news though is that he was still out on the field after his lapse in judgment, and was a focal point in Kyle Orton's attack. Watkins is a top 20 WR for the rest of the year, and maybe in the top 15 once I start to do my week 9 rankings. If you can convince the Watkins owner in your league to trade him away for his mistake, take it, but if you are someone who owns him, hold on unless an amazing deal is thrown your way.
Want thoughts on a specific player? Leave a comment on who it is, and I will respond with my thoughts on that guy's performance and where he stands going forward.