Fantasy Football Fades & Busts: Will DK Metcalf disappoint in his return?

DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks
DK Metcalf missed Week 7, so fantasy managers will undoubtedly be awaiting a successful return to the field. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

Just because a player is listed as a “fade” doesn’t mean they are automatic sits. As the adage goes, “Always start your stars.” What a “bust” designation does mean, however, is that you’ll want to consider higher upside options in the flex.

It’s Week 8, baby! All of our teams have returned from the bye, which is a huge relief to fantasy football managers everywhere who have been dealing with the slimmest of pickings. With a full group of playmakers back in the mix, your lineup options may be more plentiful, making it more critical than ever to identify potential busts.

Here's the Week 8 list.

Bust: Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams have been a delightful surprise on offense this season, particularly in the passing and receiving game with the top-notch duo of Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua. Stafford ranks fourth in the NFL in total passing yards, leads the NFL in “big-time throws” per PFF and is averaging 7.5 yards per attempt, which is tied for sixth among NFL quarterbacks with at least 25 dropbacks this season. Unfortunately, that production in the passing game hasn’t translated to fantasy football points, however, as Stafford is sitting as the overall QB18 on the season.

In fact, he’s still seeking his first top-15 fantasy finish this season.

Stafford’s biggest issue to date has not been his ability to make plays; it’s been a lack of touchdown production. In Week 8, the Rams will travel into Arlington, Texas to take on the Dallas Cowboys, who are allowing the third-fewest passing yards and just 1.3 touchdowns per game to opposing offenses. The Cowboys are also allowing the fifth-fewest explosive pass plays while tied for the fifth-most pressures generated on opposing quarterbacks.

This is not the week to count on Stafford’s first QB1 finish of the year.

Fade: Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

Once upon a time, the Detroit Lions were the team to stream against in fantasy football, regardless of position. That’s not the case this season, especially against the run, however, having allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to the running back position. To date, the Lions' rushing defense ranks top-five in the league, having allowed just 567 rushing yards (third-fewest), 363 yards after contact (third-fewest), and just 10 total rushing plays of 10 or more yards (second-fewest).

So far this season Las Vegas Raiders star running back Josh Jacobs is sitting as the overall RB22 in fantasy points per game. Most of that production has come thanks to volume and involvement as a receiver, however, having been largely inefficient with that volume averaging a career-low 3.9 yards per touch. Jacobs is a difficult asset to sit due to his high volume of touches, but fantasy managers should expect another down week up against this tough rushing defense.

Bust: Brian Robinson, RB, Washington Commanders

The Washington Commanders’ backfield has been a confusing one in recent weeks. Despite second-year RB Brian Robinson starting off the season strong with a workhorse role in the offense, that role hasn’t been consistent beyond the first two weeks of the season, which has translated to some rocky performances for fantasy. Robinson has had 12 or fewer touches in four of five games dating back to Week 3, finishing as an RB3 in three of those outings.

Now, Robinson gets his second matchup of the year against the Philadelphia Eagles, against whom he’d gained just 51 yards on 16 touches. Thankfully, to save his fantasy day, he scored a touchdown, but those haven’t been a given up against this Eagles defense that’s allowed the fifth-fewest rushing touchdowns per game so far this season. Philadelphia is allowing a league-low 49 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs, which has translated to being the toughest matchup in the league for fantasy running backs. Pair a tough matchup with Robinson’s sporadic touch totals this season, including the recent involvement of rookie RB Chris Rodriguez, and this is cause for alarm.

Fade: DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Through the first seven weeks of the 2023 NFL season, DK Metcalf has really widened the gap between him and teammate Tyler Lockett in terms of overall dominance. Metcalf is averaging just under a 69% catch rate, 10.5 yards per target and 2.11 yards per route run, all of which are career highs. However, he’s yet to finish better than WR18 on the year, having failed to pair that efficiency with touchdown production to this point in the season.

In Week 8, the Seahawks will face the Cleveland Browns, whose secondary has been a lock-down unit between safeties Grant Delpit and Juan Thornhill and cornerbacks Greg Newsome and Denzel Ward. They’re allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers on the back of their success in coverage. They’ve allowed just 1,102 total yards, including just 23 total explosive passing plays of 15+ yards, both the fewest of any defense in the league — not a great spot for a wide receiver yet to meet his full potential, coming off ribs and hip injuries.

Fade: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts

Despite the loss of Indianapolis Colts’ starting rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson to a season-ending shoulder injury, this offense has continued to chug along, averaging just over 25 points and 361 yards per game, ranked top 10 in the league in each metric, respectively. With that success, WR Michael Pittman Jr. has also been productive, finishing as a WR2 or better for fantasy in four of six games this season. The New Orleans Saints will pose their toughest matchup yet to this point in the season, however, which should have fantasy managers bracing for a down week.

So far this season, the Saints defense has forced a 21.1% contested-target percentage with a 76.5% press coverage percentage, both ranked top three among NFL defenses. Their biggest deficit has been coverage out of the slot against cornerback Alontae Taylor, an area where rookie Josh Downs has seen 35 targets this season compared to Pittman’s 12. This matchup will be much more favorable to Downs, who is coming off a breakout game, posting 125 receiving yards and a score on five catches in Week 7.

Bust: Trey McBride, TE, Arizona Cardinals

Fantasy football managers may have rushed to the waiver wire to add second-year Arizona Cardinals tight end Trey McBride after the team placed veteran Zach Ertz (quad) on injured reserve this week. However, despite that new opportunity to see a potential uptick in targets, the Cardinals will face what might be their toughest opponent to date in the Baltimore Ravens. LB Patrick Queen has ranked among the best linebackers in coverage to date this season, with the Ravens yet to give up their first receiving touchdown or game of 10 or more fantasy points to the tight end position yet this season.