News & Analysis

NFL Week 8 PFF Preview: Players to watch, fantasy football advice and betting projections

We’re nearing the halfway point of the 2019 NFL season and have plenty to preview as we prepare for Week 8 starting with the Washington Redskins’ bout with the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis on Thursday night.

[Editor’s Note: ELITE subscribers have access to all of PFF’s fantasy football projections, rankings and lineup tools in addition to PFF NFL and College Greenline, an online dashboard with predictions for the spread, total and moneyline for every FBS and NFL game every week. Subscribe today to gain access!]

Washington Redskins @ Minnesota Vikings

 Players to Watch

Redskins rookie edge defender Montez Sweat has really struggled so far this season. Across his 145 pass-rush snaps, Sweat has totaled just six hurries, two hits and two sacks. He ranks dead last among 97 qualifying defensive linemen in PFF pass-rush grade (51.7) entering Week 8. On a brighter note, cornerback Quinton Dunbar leads all defenders with 140 or more coverage snaps played through Week 7 in PFF coverage grade (91.1). He has allowed just 17 receptions from 31 targets for 194 yards, zero touchdowns and nine first downs so far this season.

Even though rumors ran wild regarding Stefon Diggs and his frustration with the offense early in the year, the Vikings pass-catcher enters Week 8 as the league-leader in yards per route run (3.25) among all offensive players with 140 or more routes run on the year. He also ranks fifth in yards per reception (18.8) and tied for fifth in average depth of target (16.2) among the same group of qualifiers.

Fantasy Football Preview

Thursday night’s game probably has more narratives (Kirk Cousins against Washington; Adrian Peterson and Case Keenum against Minnesota) than it does fantasy intrigue. Cousins has put himself firmly back on the fantasy map. Dalvin Cook and Stefon Diggs are fine plays, and so is Adam Thielen if he’s active. On the Washington side, you can use Peterson and/or Terry McLaurin if you’re desperate. It isn’t complicated here. Just enjoy the storylines.

Betting Preview

The Vikings have found their rhythm in the month of October, rattling off three straight cover victories and improving their overall against the spread record to 5-2 on the season. Minnesota heads home as the fifth overall team in our ELO rankings to take on the 29th-ranked Redskins. The over has found some backing with this total rising two points since the open. With the Vikings’ fourth-ranked offense, is this line movement significant enough, or could the over still in play?

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons

 Players to Watch

Seattle offensive tackle Germain Ifedi ranks dead last among all qualifying offensive linemen in pass-blocking efficiency (93.5) and pressure percentage allowed (11.9%) through Week 7. He’s allowed a whopping 32 total pressures, including 28 hurries, one hit and one sack, across 268 pass-blocking snaps so far this season.

Austin Hooper has been one of few bright spots for the Falcons to start the season. The former Stanford tight end enters Week 8 ranked third at his position in PFF receiving grade (84.3) and has totaled 12 receptions of 15 or more yards, the second-highest mark among tight ends.

Fantasy Football Preview

The dismantling of the Falcons began Tuesday, as the team sent wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to New England for a second-round pick. Well, that’s not totally true — the dismantling of the Falcons began in Week 1. But the physical dismantling began this week, and while that likely means that things aren’t going to improve from an NFL perspective for Atlanta, the remaining fantasy weapons could see a little boost. For example, Sanu was averaging 5.7 targets a game. Expect Julio Jones, Austin Hooper, Calvin Ridley and others to soak up some of that.

Betting Preview

The Falcons have turned into a dumpster fire and are now 1-6 against the spread with the lowest cover percentage in the NFL. Questions continue to swirl about Matt Ryan’s health, which creates some opportunities in the betting markets if you can find the right price. We have yet to find a consensus price on the spread, but if this total stays at or rises above 54, a play to the downside of two underperforming teams is appropriate. 

Philadelphia Eagles @ Buffalo Bills

Players to Watch 

Among the 31 NFL quarterbacks with at least 50 pressured dropbacks this season, Eagles’ Carson Wentz ranks first in PFF passing grade (81.3), fourth in yards per attempt (8.3) and fifth in NFL passer rating (85.7). He has completed 40-of-82 attempts for 579 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions across his 100 pressured dropbacks on the year.

Only Mitchell Trubisky has a lower grade than Bills second-year quarterback Josh Allen on throws of 10-plus air yards among the 26 signal-callers with 50 or more throws of such depths through Week 7. Allen has completed just 32-of-63 attempts on such throws for 663 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. Including plays nullified by penalty, Allen has logged just four big-time throws and five turnover-worthy plays when throwing 10 or more yards down the field.

Fantasy Football Preview

The Eagles are allowing the most PPR points per game to opposing receivers, in itself enough of an argument to have plenty of faith in John Brown this week. And when you look deeper, that argument gets only stronger. The vast majority of the receiver production against the Eagles so far has come by gashing the secondary from outside receivers to the tune of a league-worst 34.7 points per game. Slot receivers have averaged only 11.7, second-fewest in the league. So Brown up, Cole Beasley down.

Betting Preview 

After opening as a pick ’em, this line has moved towards the Bills as they currently find themselves between -1.5 and -2.5 point favorites. Greenline leans closer to the opening spread between two teams separated by only one place in our ELO rankings. The correct play, according to Greenline, could be a small play on the road dog moneyline if the price continues to slide the other direction. 

Los Angeles Chargers @ Chicago Bears

Players to Watch

Not only does Austin Ekeler lead all running backs in receiving grade (94.2) through seven weeks, but that figure leads all offensive players with 140 or more routes run on the year. The Bolts back has hauled in 49-of-52 targets for 488 yards, 18 first downs and four touchdowns in Weeks 1-7. He has zero drops and 15 missed tackles forced on receptions in said span, as well. Ekeler played 71% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps and averaged 20 touches per game in Weeks 1-4. He played 57% of the snaps and averaged 12.7 touches per game in Weeks 5-7. Melvin Gordon is averaging 2.6 yards per touch on the year; Ekeler is averaging 6.2.

Mitchell Trubisky has been – hands down – the worst quarterback when pressured so far this season. Among the 31 NFL quarterbacks with 50 or more pressured dropbacks through Week 7, Trubisky ranks dead last in PFF passing grade (25.7), completing just 40% of his passes for 154 yards, one touchdown and two picks in the process.

Fantasy Football Preview

In his first game action of 2019, back in Week 5, Melvin Gordon averaged 2.6 yards per carry and put up a 59.5 overall PFF grade. And those numbers have both gotten worse since, dropping down to 2.3 and 59.0 in Week 6 and then 2.0 and 37.6 in Week 7. One of history’s most ill-fated holdouts has Austin Ekeler outperforming Gordon both for fantasy and real football, and while the Chargers seem determined to keep working Gordon in, fantasy managers are under no such obligation.

Betting Preview 

This game pits two underperforming teams coming off tough losses in Week 7. The Chargers head across the country to play the early slate against the seventh-ranked defense. The Chargers’ offense has slipped up recently but still has the second overall offensive ranking. In a matchup of good defense vs. good offense, the offense typically wins out, which is why Greenline leans slightly towards the over 40 in a game that could see more points than expected. 

New York Giants @ Detroit Lions

Players to Watch

The roller coaster that is rookie Daniel Jones ranks inside the top-10 in big-time throw percentage (5.24%) and owns the third-worst turnover-worthy play percentage (6.19%) through Week 7. His up-and-down play has cost the Giants in recent weeks and is largely a product of his inconsistent accuracy. He ranks just 18th in percentage of uncatchable inaccurate targets thrown on the year at 20.6%.

Matthew Stafford has been one of the most aggressive quarterbacks in football to start the 2019 NFL season, as he enters Week 8 with an NFL-high 11.3 average depth of target across 218 attempts. And the results have been encouraging compared to Stafford’s play in years prior. He ranks 11th in PFF passing grade (75.8) among qualifying signal-callers so far this season.

Fantasy Football Preview

Daniel Jones took over the starting job in Week 3. Since then, he’s tied for the league lead with seven interceptions, tied for second with 18 sacks, tied for first in dropbacks under pressure at 92 and is averaging 12.4 fantasy points per game since that monster first start. The Lions are allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but Jones is off the board until things start to improve.

Betting Preview

The Lions have dropped the hook since the opening -7.5 after making a few significant roster changes after their loss to Minnesota. This total has also caught some steam, sliding out a point to 49.5 since the open. If it continues to rise, Greenline sees a potential play on the under.

Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans

Players to Watch

Only Saints’ Teddy Bridgewater has a lower average depth of target than Raiders’ Derek Carr among quarterbacks with 100 or more dropbacks through Week 7. But it’s that conservative approach to the game that has Carr leading all qualifying quarterbacks with the lowest percentage of passes charted as uncatchable inaccurate (11.1%) passes so far this season. Carr also ranks eighth in PFF passing grade (79.7) and first in adjusted completion percentage (84.2%) among qualifying signal-callers entering Week 8.

The trade for Laremy Tunsil is paying off in a big way for the Texans.  Among the 159 offensive linemen with at least 140 pass-blocking snaps on the year, Tunsil ranks second in PFF pass-blocking grade (89.8). He also ranks fourth at his position in pressure percentage allowed (3.2%), giving up just nine pressures across 279 pass-blocking snaps in the process.

Fantasy Football Preview

Since the start of last season, DeAndre Hopkins has maintained a 29% target share when Will Fuller has been active, a number that has ballooned to 33% without Fuller. And with Fuller shelved for who knows how long after his Week 7 injury, Hopkins could see a bump in his work again.

Betting Preview

Two of the bottom three ranked defenses face off with both offenses ranking in the top-10 of the NFL. This total has risen slightly up to 51.5, with Greenline finding quite a bit of value on a certain total side along with a possible lean on the spread. 

New York Jets @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Players to Watch

After a woeful outing against the Patriots’ defense on Monday Night Football, Jets second-year quarterback Sam Darnold ranks dead last among 37 qualifiers in clean-pocket passing grade (551.) among the 37 NFL quarterbacks with 50 or more clean dropbacks through Week 7. He has completed just 45-of-69 passes for 451 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions across his 71 clean dropbacks so far this season. Maybe he is indeed seeing ghosts.

D.J. Chark enters Week 8 with the third-most deep receiving yards of any wide receiver in the NFL. The former LSU standout has exploded in his second NFL season, earning an 84.5 receiving grade and 138.7 passer rating when targeted through seven weeks.

Fantasy Football Preview

It’s hard to have a much bigger gap between performances than Sam Darnold had between Weeks 6 and 7, going from 338 passing yards, a 2:1 TD:INT ratio and a 74.5 overall PFF grade in Week 6 to 86 yards, 0:4 and a 23.7 in Week 7. The real Darnold is somewhere between those extremes, but given his spotty health (he had a toenail removed after Monday’s game) and just how bad Monday was, it’s best to ease off Darnold’s use this week.

Betting Preview

This spread has moved against the Jets after their less than stellar offensive display on Monday Night Football. The total has risen slightly, but does this mean Greenline is buying low on the Jets to cover or is this another spot to target the under?

Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints

Players to Watch

Larry Fitzgerald is one of five NFL receivers with 40 or more targets and zero drops through Week 7. He has hauled in 36-of-51 targets for 439 yards and two touchdowns so far this season, earning an impressive 101.7 passer rating when targeted in the process.

Michael Thomas has been incredible with and without Drew Brees under center. He has hauled in 12 of his 14 contested targets, recorded 20 receptions of 15 or more yards and finished Week 7 ranked third among qualifying wideouts in yards per route run (2.91). New Orleans’ brass was smart to pay him the big bucks this offseason.

Fantasy Football Preview

Between Chase Edmonds’ surprise Week 7 performance (150 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns) and reports of the Cardinals bringing in guys like Jay Ajayi for workouts, fantasy players who roster David Johnson might have a lot to worry about. Assuming Johnson is active going forward, you’re probably stuck using him in your redraft fantasy leagues (though feel free to explore options), but Johnson’s all but off the DFS radar until we see positive signs.

Betting Preview

New Orleans moves to 6-1 overall and 5-2 against the spread with Teddy covering all five games he has started. The Saints showed that quality offense trump’s great defense and almost exceeded the total on their own in Week 7. Arizona averages over 70 offensive snaps a game, making these two teams some of the fastest-paced in the NFL. Does this spell a lock on the over? Only Greenline can provide the real answer. 

Cincinnati Bengals @ Los Angeles Rams

Players to Watch

There aren’t a lot of positives to highlight when discussing the winless Bengals. According to PFF’s team-level grades available in Premium Stats, Cincinnati ranks 26th in run-blocking grade, 31st in pass-blocking grade and 27th in total offense. Defensively, the team ranks outside the top-20 in defense grade, pass-rush grade and coverage grade.

Surprising no one, Rams’ Aaron Donald leads all defenders with 140 or more pass-rush snaps in PFF pass-rush grade (91.4) through Week 7. Recording 34 total pressures across 225 pass-rush snaps, Donald also ranks third among the same group of qualifiers in pass-rush win rate (23.1%) and 16th in pressure percentage (15.1%).

Fantasy Football Preview

The Rams’ fearsome receiver corps hasn’t been quite so fearsome of late, but tight end Gerald Everett has picked up the slack. Everett is the No. 2 PPR tight end over the last four weeks, sitting third in yards and tied for first in touchdowns in that span. Most importantly, Everett is breaking tackles at a record rate, with his 0.46 forced missed tackles per reception more than double the next-best qualifying tight end (George Kittle, 0.21).

Betting Preview

The second-largest spread in Week 8 has actually dropped slightly from an opening two-touchdown differential. The Bengals are the worst team in the NFL according to our ELO metric and have the fourth-worst offense, as well. With a total out to 48.5, the expectation is that the Rams are not able to make up enough of the difference for Cincinnati’s pathetic offensive output to get over this number. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Tennessee Titans

Players to Watch

Among the 28 NFL receivers with 100 or more routes run from the slot this season, Chris Godwin ranks first in yards per route run (2.53) from the pre-snap alignment. The third-year Buccaneers wideout enters Week 8 with a 91.3 receiving grade, seven forced missed tackles and just one drop.

Titans rookie Jeffery Simmons came out of the gates firing on all cylinders after spent a majority of the past year rehabbing a torn ACL. The Mississippi State product earned an impressive 90.7 overall grade across 20 defensive snaps against the Chargers in Week 7, totaling three pressures and three defensive stops in the process.

Fantasy Football Preview

It’s worth wondering whether Ryan Tannehill managed to unlock Corey Davis in Week 8. Davis averaged under 40 receiving yards a game in Marcus Mariota’s six starts — including under 50 yards in five of six games — but in Tannehill’s first Titans start, Davis set season highs in receptions (6) and went for 80 yards and a score. This week he gets a very burnable Tampa Bay defense.

Betting Preview

This spread has seen some significant line movement. After opening at -5.5, it has dropped through the key number down to -2.5. Greenline leans slightly towards the Ryan Tannehill-led Titans at that price but is more confident in the under, giving it a 52.4% cover probability at 45.5. 

Carolina Panthers @ San Francisco 49ers

Players to Watch

Kyle Allen’s inconsistent accuracy is something Cam Newton and Panthers fans alike are well accustomed to seeing in Carolina. Among the 32 NFL quarterbacks with at least 100 aimed passes so far this season, Allen owns the third-highest percentage of passes charted as uncatchable, inaccurate targets at 24.5%. He needs to be much, much more consistent throwing the football against the 49ers’ defense on Sunday.

San Francisco’s defensive line has played with its hair on fire all season long. Arik Armstead and Dee Ford share the team lead in overall grade on the defensive side of the ball at 90.1, and rookie Nick Bosa isn’t too far behind at 82.9 through Week 7. Due in large part to the efforts from Bosa & Co., the 49ers’ defense enters Week 8 ranked second in yards per play allowed (3.7) and eighth in pressure percentage (39.2%).

Fantasy Football Preview 

The Panthers have announced Kyle Allen will get another turn as the team’s starter, but this week might give the team the controversy-free excuse to go back to Cam Newton in Week 9, as the Panthers draw a 49ers defense that has been an absolutely brutal matchup for quarterbacks so far, allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the position. Since the 49ers Week 4 bye, the team has allowed 255 passing yards combined in three games.

Betting Preview

Carolina has found a little bit of betting backing with Greenline giving them a 32% win probability. With both defenses ranked in the top-five of our opponent-adjusted metrics, is this a prime spot to target the under or is 41.5 too low of a number?

Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts

Players to Watch

Courtland Sutton has taken a significant step forward. Emmanuel Sanders is out of the building but wowed to start the season in Denver. Second-year Penn State product DaeSean Hamilton, on the other hand, has simply underwhelmed. He ranks dead last among all NFL receivers with 140 or more routes run through Week 7 in yards per route run (0.60). He’s also logged two drops and has just two contested catches from six contested targets on the year.

Andrew Luck’s retirement had Colts faithful calling it quits before the season began, but head coach Frank Reich and Jacoby Brissett had different plans. Indianapolis enters Week 8 with the lead in the AFC South due in large part to the efforts of Reich and Brissett, but it’s second-year guard Quenton Nelson that leads the team in overall grade (88.2) through seven weeks of play. Nelson has been called for just one penalty and allowed eight pressures (no sacks) in his 247 pass-blocking snaps to start the season.

Fantasy Football Preview

An interesting-if-possibly-meaningless point of trivia about the Broncos so far this year: The team averages 3.2 sacks per game at home (that would be good for fifth-best so far this season) but has yet to notch a single sack on the road. Behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, Jacoby Brissett has only been sacked seven times this year, fewest for any quarterback with at least six games played.

Betting Preview

The Broncos sent their top wide receiver packing as others need to emerge in what is appearing like a rebuilding year for our 25th-ranked offense. The Broncos have a top-10 defense with Greenline projecting this game to stay closer than the -6 spread. The -7 opening was too good to be true for Bronco backers, showing the necessity to monitor Greenline early in the week. 

Cleveland Browns @ New England Patriots

Players to Watch

Myles Garrett ranks right behind Aaron Donald in PFF pass-rush grade (90.9) among the 97 NFL defenders with 140 or more pass-rush snaps through Week 7. Garrett has totaled 29 pressures, including 17 hurries, four hits and eight sacks, across his 170 pass-rush snaps so far this season, ranking fourth in pass-rush win rate (22.9%) and ninth in pressure percentage (17.1%) in the process.

New England’s defense has been fantastic to start the 2019 NFL season, and they have their coverage unit to thank for a lot of their successes. Four of the eight highest-graded defenders in terms of PFF coverage grade play for the Patriots: Jonathan Jones, Devin McCourty, Jamie Collins Sr. and Jason McCourty all enter Week 8 with more than 140 coverage snaps played and PFF coverage grades above 87.0.

Fantasy Football Preview

It’s going to be hard to predict exactly what new arrival Mohamed Sanu’s role will be in the Patriots’ offense right away. The Patriots have several receiving weapons, starting with Julian Edelman and James White. Benjamin Watson played a whopping 62 snaps in his debut Monday. Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers are all involved in the offense when healthy. So Sanu could be a difference-maker (especially considering the price the Patriots paid to acquire him), or he could be just another guy. The thing to do is monitor and not reach any grand conclusions after Sanu’s first game, only a few days into his tenure and against a Browns team that has been above-average against opposing receivers this year.

Betting Preview

The Patriots are tied for the second-best against the spread record in 2019. New England has by far the best defensive ranking with the Browns the third worst-ranked defense in the NFL. Something has to give, but Greenline falls right in line with this total market. Some price shopping is in order, but the Patriots could have some value on the moneyline.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Green Bay Packers

Players to Watch

With Patrick Mahomes sidelined, the Chiefs will turn to Matt Moore to lead the team past the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday Night Football. Moore completed just 10-of-19 attempts for 117 yards and one touchdown after coming in for the injured Mahomes against Denver in Week 7, earning a lowly 51.8 passing grade in the process.

Among the 26 NFL quarterbacks with at least 50 attempts of 10 or more air yards, Packers’ Aaron Rodgers ranks first in PFF passing grade (96.4), with 19 big-time throws and one turnover-worthy plays on such throws. He also ranks third in yards per attempt (13.6), second in NFL passer rating (128.4) and third in PFF adjusted completion percentage (65.8%) throwing passes of 10-plus air yards among the same group of qualifiers.

Fantasy Football Preview

This game was likely circled in red ink on many calendars to start the season, considering the relative firepower on the two rosters. Now, though, with Patrick Mahomes out and the possibility of Davante Adams and Sammy Watkins joining him, the banner matchup is less exciting. Still, Tyreek Hill’s return to action has been electric. He’s fantasy’s No. 3 receiver the last two weeks, including 154 yards and three touchdowns on only eight receptions, including a 57-yard score from Matt Moore after Mahomes’ injury last week.

Betting Preview

This Sunday night matchup has lost a bit of its luster with Mahomes set to sit for the foreseeable future. Bettors seem to have little faith that Moore can get it done as this line has moved out a full two points in some spots from an opening of +3. Does Greenline lean with the home dogs or the number one overall offense in the NFL?

Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Players to Watch

John Jenkins, a third-round pick out of Georgia drafted by the Saints in 2013, has been a bright spot for a Dolphins team in dire straits with zero wins so far this season. Jenkins enters Week 8 with an 86.8 overall grade and an 86.6 pass-rush grade across 167 defensive snaps.

David DeCastro leads all NFL guards with 140 or more pass-blocking snaps through Week 7 in PFF pass-blocking grade (87.6). He’s allowed just six quarterback hurries, zero hits and zero sacks across 203 pass-blocking snaps on the year.

Fantasy Football Preview

You could argue no player needed the bye this season more than James Conner did in Week 7. He’s still a top-13 PPR running back on the year, but Conner’s been questionable and/or banged up in virtually every game so far, so an extra week to rest up and get healthier had to be good. And now, Conner gets one of the best possible matchups coming out of the bye against a Dolphins team allowing 31.2 PPR points per game to running backs in a matchup that should offer very run-friendly game script. And with Jaylen Samuels still out with an injury, expect Conner to dominate the workload.

Betting Preview

Another Monday night thriller with two offenses ranked in the bottom five according to our opponent-adjusted metric. The Steelers have the ninth-best defensive ranking, but that seems to have instilled little confidence in bettors with this line dropping from an opening of -17.5 down to -14.5. Does Greenline think this move was justified, or has it overcorrected for the second-worst team in the NFL?

Betting Featured Tools

  • PFF predictions and real time spread, moneyline and over/under lines for each NFL game.

  • PFF predictions and real time spread, moneyline and over/under lines for each NCAA game.

PFF Edge
Unlock Player Grades, Fantasy & NFL Draft
Learn More
$39.99 / yr
$9.99 / mo
PFF Elite
Unlock Premium Stats, PFF Greenline & DFS
Learn More
$199.99 / yr
$34.99 / mo