Well, that was another wild 24 hours in the NFL…
* In truly awful news, Raiders WR Henry Ruggs was waived by the team after he was involved in a car accident in Las Vegas early Tuesday morning that resulted in one death. The 22-year-old is facing felony charges of DUI resulting in death and reckless driving after displaying signs of impairment at the scene. Per ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez, “conviction on a charge of DUI causing death carries a possible sentence of two to 20 years in state prison.”
* Aaron Rodgers will not play Sunday vs. the Chiefs after testing positive for COVID. Because he's unvaccinated, he could also be at risk of missing the Packers’ Week 10 game against the Seahawks. Jordan Love will make his first NFL start vs. the Chiefs.
* Saints WR Michael Thomas will not play this season after suffering a setback in his rehaab from left ankle surgery.
💥 SIGNALS & NOISE
Ben Gretch (@YardsPerGretch) writes the terrific Stealing Signals newsletter where he does a weekly deep dive into the previous week and shares his biggest signals (players who could sustain their production) and biggest noise (performances that were likely fluky). Here are some of his observations from Week 8…
Michael Carter — 21 HVT (high value touches) over past two games (14 total in first five)
Austin Ekeler — season-high 75% snaps out of the bye, 9 HVT with 6 receptions and 3 green zone touches, right there in overall RB1 discussion
Jamal Agnew — 25 targets in past three games, the only three he’s really played, and also adds some YAC ability with his return skills, so is worth a deep PPR add
Noah Fant — routes back to 70% of dropbacks (same range as Weeks 1-3, while he was at 83% or higher for Weeks 4-7, but Jeudy and Okwuegbunam returned in Week 8, and it’ll cost Fant some routes and ultimately targets)
Antonio Gibson — 33% snaps, 33% RB touches (both season lows, and it was clearly part of the gameplan as Jaret Patterson played early — which was new — but this has bounced around seemingly every week)
Rex Burkhead — tied for team lead in RB touches, all eight of his rushes and targets came in the fourth quarter in garbage time
Justin Jefferson — 4-2-21 (Cousins missed on open deep shot, Jefferson missed some snaps to injury but return; he has been fantastic all year in a way that hasn’t always shown up fully in stats, potential fantasy trade target)
Kyle Pitts — 6-2-13 (drew a lot of Stephon Gilmore, acknowledged Monday it was a tough matchup, and he might see more with Calvin Ridley out, but I’m not overreacting to the 13 yards on 6 targets)
To see all of Gretch’s biggest signals and biggest noise analysis from Week 8, subscribe to his substack.
🥇WAZ'S .5 PPR RANKS
Here are the early Week 9 rankings from Rob Waziak aka "Waz" along with a couple notes on Thursday Night Football guys:
Mike White (QB20) will make his second start of the season against the Colts tomorrow night. In last Sunday’s win against the Bengals, White completed 82% of his 45 attempts for 405 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Michael Carter (RB13) and Ty Johnson (RB42) benefited the most from that volume but could be challenged against a Colts rush defense that ranks first in DVOA. Still, both running backs are capable pass catchers and could take advantage of the Colts’ 20th ranked pass DVOA.
If Corey Davis (WR72) returns from the hip injury that kept him out last week, passing targets could be a bit more challenging to come by. Davis didn’t practice yesterday, but the Jets have hinted that he could play. If he does, Elijah Moore (WR50) and Keelan Cole Sr. (WR70) would see reduced snaps with Denzel Mims (NR) the odd man out. Ultimately, I wouldn’t count on consistent production for any Jets player outside of Carter and maybe Jamison Crowder (WR33).
The Colts will be without T.Y. Hilton after he suffered a concussion last week and will not clear the protocol given the short week. Michael Pittman Jr. (WR12) should continue to be the centerpiece of this offense against the Jets and their 27th ranked pass defense. This season Pittman is averaging over eight targets a game on a 92.2% snap share and should find plenty of opportunities within the red zone this week. He has nine targets in the red zone due to an impressive 29.03% red zone target share. Ultimately, Pittman’s productivity in the red zone will directly correlate to Jonathan Taylor’s (RB1). Taylor currently leads all NFL running backs in red zone touches through eight games this season with 39 and should greatly benefit from game script against the Jets’ 23rd ranked rush defense in a home game where the Colts are favored by 10.5 points.
Waz is a fantasy football analyst who competes in draft and season-long expert rankings competitions. He's consistently been at or near the top of all industry-wide leaderboards since 2017. He’ll be back on Saturday with an update.
🐦 COOTERDOODLE'S FAVORITE TWEETS
- Pete Overzet