Most weeks, the best performances are a smattering of superstars mixed with random guys who have career performances. It's just the law of averages -- not every superstar can pop every week, and occasionally some lesser guys have to have big moments.
Well, no one tell Week 8 about that law of averages. Because there were no (or basically no) unsung big performers. It was all superstars, all the time, and those superstars were putting up ridiculously strong performances. Sunday saw the top quarterback, running back and tight end performances of the season, and the wide receivers did almost as well.
It was a crazy week. Check it out:
Best quarterbacks in Week 8
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (522 passing yards, 6 touchdowns, -1 rushing yard, 44 fantasy points)
That's just ... Wow. No, that's not significant enough. WOW. Roethlisberger had a career day Sunday, and for a quarterback who already had a 500-yard game on his résumé, that's really saying something. Roethlisberger didn't have 44 fantasy points in any two games combined this year. He had averaged 14 fantasy points a game on the season. Basically, Roethlisberger on Sunday had three of his games this season. And then part of another one. Wow again.
Next game: The Steelers host the Ravens next Sunday night. This kind of performance -- the best in the league this season so far by eight points -- is not something anybody is every going to repeat. But Roethlisberger had been falling down the rankings because he seemed to lack his former upside. And that clearly isn't true.
Tom Brady, NE (354 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, 34 fantasy points)
So the third-best fantasy game for a quarterback all season happened to come when another quarterback bested him by 10 full points. Much of Week 8 was pretty silly like that. Brady averaged 8.8 fantasy points per game the first four weeks. Now, through eight games, he's averaging 17.6, and that includes that early rough stretch. He had 35 fantasy points in Weeks 1-4, and 106 in Weeks 5-8. It's been an incredible turnaround, and one that shows no signs of slowing.
Andrew Luck, IND (400 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 26 rushing yards, 26 fantasy points)
The week's No. 2 quarterback was overshadowed by Roethlisberger. Luck was overshadowed by Roethlisberger in the same game. The two teams worked together to provide so much production for the quarterbacks, as the Steelers jumped out to a big lead, meaning Luck had to throw more to try to catch up, and they stayed just close enough to keep Roethlisberger throwing, and so on. Luck has been incredible this season, averaging 23.8 fantasy points a game, and never putting up fewer than 18.
Best running backs in Week 8
Arian Foster, HOU (151 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 22 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, 35 fantasy points)
The last month for Foster has been as good as any running back is ever likely to have. His 35-point day Sunday brings him to 103 in the last four weeks. And it's his fifth game of 20-plus fantasy points on the season. With the Texans having a mediocre-at-best quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick, Foster has been an excellent security blanket, and he's been a heavily used one.
Next game: The Texans host the Eagles Sunday. Foster probably won't be the No. 1 running back in the rankings, but he won't be far from it.
Matt Forte, CHI (114 rushing yards, 54 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, 1 successful two-point conversion, 24 fantasy points)
That's now four straight games of 20-plus fantasy points for Forte, and five straight with 16 or more. He has more receptions than any other player -- not running back, player -- in the game, and he's on pace for 2,104 yards from scrimmage on the season. In eight games, Forte has more than 100 total yards six times. All that, and he's only on pace for 260 carries on the season. Have yourself a season, Forte.
Next game: The Bears get a (much-needed) bye in Week 9, then come back with a Sunday night game at Green Bay in Week 10. Forte will be a top running back again, obviously.
Jamaal Charles, KC (73 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 44 receiving yards, 23 fantasy points)
This number could have been even higher, as the Chiefs gave Charles the latter parts of the fourth quarter off with a big lead, and backup Knile Davis scored a rushing touchdown of his own. Charles now has six touchdowns in six games played; if not for his Week 2 injury, his season numbers would look far better. There were some running back rankings for Week 8 that likely had Foster, Forte and Charles (in some order) in spots 2-4, so that paid off. And maybe (superficially) means good things for DeMarco Murray Monday night.
Next game: The Chiefs host the Jets in Week 9. New York has a good run defense, so Charles might not be able to repeat these highs, but he's still a no-brainer weekly start.
Best wide receivers in Week 8
Jeremy Maclin, PHI (187 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, 30 fantasy points)
It was a season high in receptions, targets and yards Sunday for Maclin, and his two touchdowns brought him to six in seven games. He's averaging better than 13 fantasy points a game on the season, and that includes his one-point outing in Week 6. With the rest of the Philadelphia offense being largely underwhelming, Maclin has been dominant, and gets a huge percentage of the looks.
Next game: Eagles at Texans, Sunday. What, there was a matchup where you might bench Maclin? This "Next game" section is awful this week.
Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (120 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns, 6 rushing yards, 30 fantasy points)
I've held off on fully investing in Sanders in fantasy this season. At first, it was his lack of touchdowns, and then it was his decreased targets and yards in the wake of Wes Welker's return to the lineup. I now no longer have either excuse, as Sanders caught all nine of his targets Thursday night, had his second-highest yardage total of the season, and brought his touchdown total from one to four. He's still not Demaryius Thomas, but at this point, you have to consider Sanders an every-week must-start. Even I agree.
Next game: The Broncos get a little extra rest because of their Thursday game before taking on the Patriots in New England Sunday afternoon. Sanders will be a starter.
Antonio Brown, PIT (133 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, 5 rushing yards, 25 fantasy points)
Brown somehow set a season-high in receiving yards Sunday, and had his third multi-touchdown game to boot. It was his third game of 20-plus fantasy points and seventh with double-digit production in eight games on the season. It's been an incredible run for the top receiver in fantasy, and it's hard to think of many reasons why it might stop now.
Next game: Steelers and Ravens, Sunday night, and Brown might be ranked No. 1.
Best tight ends in Week 8
Rob Gronkowski, NE (149 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns, 32 fantasy points)
Early in the season, Gronkowski's value was frustratingly touchdown-dependent, as he didn't go for more than 44 yards in any of the first four weeks. Since then, he hasn't had fewer than 68 yards. His targets are high, his yardage too, and Sunday he combined everything into a monster Gronk game, with a touchdown in each of the first three quarters as the key cog in Tom Brady's dominant performance.
Next game: The only tight ends who have been ranked No. 1 in most rankings this season are Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas. Every chance Gronkowski breaks that streak in Week 9.
Antonio Gates, SD (54 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, 17 fantasy points)
It's like it's 2006 again or something. Gates isn't quite on his formerly elite yardage pace, but with nine touchdowns already on the season, he's within four of his peak, and we're only halfway through 2014. Early in the season, when Gates had a three-score game before back-to-back duds, it looked fluky, but he now has 202 yards and six scores in his last four games. He's still a stud.
Heath Miller, PIT (112 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17 fantasy points)
Hey, a non-superstar made the week's Best list! And it only took to literally the last skill player to do it! What a crazy week. Miller did Sunday what Miller does -- occasional big games sporadically spread among a bunch of fantasy-worthless ones. He had eight points in Weeks 1-3 combined, 14 in Week 4, six in Weeks 5-7 combined, and now 17 in Week 8. Miller will have these games, but good luck trying to predict and/or capitalize upon them.
Next game: If I'd done my rankings for Week 9 before Sunday, I'd have had Miller, in the Steelers' game against the Ravens, ranked in the mid-to-late teens, with six teams on bye. After this great performance, I probably won't change that at all.
Best kickers in Week 8
Justin Tucker, BAL (3/3 FG, 1/1 XP, 15 fantasy points)
Dan Carpenter, BUF (3/3 FG, 4/5 XP, 15 fantasy points)
Stephen Gostkowski, NE (3/3 FG, 6/6 XP, 15 fantasy points)
A few notes:
- This is Gostkowski's third week in the last four with the top kicker score.
- Gostkowski's three field goals went for 23, 27 and 39 yards, while Tucker's went for 45, 50 and 53, which explains why they had the same fantasy total despite a five-extra-point difference.
- Haha, Carpenter missed an extra point.
Best defense/special teams in Week 8
Miami Dolphins (13 points allowed, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 2 touchdowns, 4 sacks, 26 fantasy points)
Entering Sunday, seven defenses had put up a game of 20 or more fantasy points this season. Three did so Sunday, with the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings putting up exactly 20, while Miami, by virtue of playing the Jaguars managed 26. Seriously, "defense facing Jacksonville" is averaging more than 15 fantasy points a game. Crazy.