Lowest-graded player at every position in NFL Week 8
We’ve wrapped up Week 8 of the NFL season, with many teams now midway through their schedules. We’ve seen some pretty great performances so far, with many more likely to come as we head down the stretch. But we’ve also seen some not-so-great individual outings; every week, some players simply fail to perform as well as anyone else at their position.
With that criteria in mind, here are the lowest-graded players at every position in Week 8.
Quarterback: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys, 34.7
The Cowboys are thrilled to have come away with an NFC East victory in Week 8, overcoming Prescott’s worst game as a professional. The rookie was under pressure often (52 percent of his dropbacks), and that’s where most of his struggles came from. Prescott was just 9-of-17 for 77 yards when the Eagles got pressure. His first touchdown was more the work of Dez Bryant than his throw, and the interception resulted from a very poor pass on a not-very-difficult read.
Running back: Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints, 40.1
This is a case of statistics not telling the whole story. Hightower managed to rush for over 100 yards, but he still graded poorly. On 26 carries, he only forced one missed tackle, and if you take away his big 28-yard scamper, he averaged just under 3 yards per carry. His offensive line opened holes, and Hightower ran through them, but he didn’t do much more than that.
Wide receiver: Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles, 43.0
Agholor talked after the game about how he doesn’t care about drops, but he should care about not contributing more to the passing game. He was targeted just four times and caught three of them for a mere 25 yards. He didn’t make defenders miss, and had just 3 total yards come after the catch.
Wide receiver: Tyrell Williams, San Diego Chargers, 43.3
Williams actually directly affected the score of the game with his poor play Sunday. He dropped a pass that resulted in a pick-six for the Broncos, and also had another dropped pass in the game. Williams’ only catch was for 4 yards.
Slot receiver: Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles, 47.8
Most receivers make this list because they were invisible in their game. Not Matthews. He was targeted a ridiculous 15 times, and caught 11 passes. But he gained a mere 65 yards on those 11 catches, including a paltry 20 yards after the catch. He also had two dropped passes.
Tight end: Demetrius Harris, Kansas City Chiefs, 36.9
Harris struggled when asked to pass protect, surrendering two QB pressures, as well as being beaten on other occasions. In the passing game, he caught just three passes for 13 yards, and dropped his only other target.
Left tackle: Donovan Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 32.2
Smith actually had a run-blocking grade of 78.5, so you can imagine just how low his pass-blocking grade was. He surrendered two QB hits and six hurries, and a handful of those times he was beaten in less than 2 seconds. (For those wondering, his pass-blocking grade was a league-low 25.2.)
Left guard: Mike Iupati, Arizona Cardinals, 39.3
Iupati had an extremely rough game in terms of pass-blocking. He allowed two sacks, two hits, and two hurries while blocking for Carson Palmer. He also allowed a couple of run-game tackles, took two holding penalties, and also false started once.
Center: Cameron Erving, Cleveland Browns, 38.7
The Browns struggled when rushing the ball on Sunday, gaining only 58 yards on 15 carries. Erving was a big reason for that, as he consistently lost battles in the middle and failed to open up holes for his running backs. In the passing game, he allowed a sack, a hit, and three hurries.
Right guard: Brandon Fusco, Minnesota Vikings, 39.3
The theme of the offensive line this week seems to be decent run-blocking and poor pass protection. Fusco is another example of that, as he didn’t fare too badly in the run game. But when blocking the pass, he allowed a sack and four QB hurries.
Right tackle: Doug Free, Dallas Cowboys, 29.3
Free also struggled mightily in pass protection, but didn’t fare as well as tackle counterpart Donovan Smith did in his run blocking. Free allowed a QB hit and a ridiculous 10 hurries from his RT position. He also allowed three tackles in the run game.
Week 8 defense
Edge defender: Connor Barwin, Philadelphia Eagles, 37.3
Barwin had a sack and two QB hits, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. His sack was unblocked and his hits were both cleanups after Prescott had left the pocket. Otherwise, he didn’t contribute much, failing to make a stop in the run game.
Defensive interior: Beau Allen, Philadelphia Eagles, 35.6
Allen was a replacement player for the Eagles on Sunday night, and it became obvious fairly quickly as to why. Allen didn’t make a single tackle on the day, missing his only two attempts. He was consistently blocked out of his gap against a very successful Cowboys’ rushing attack.
Defensive interior: Akeem Spence, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 37.3
Spence played 56 defensive snaps and finished the game with the never-sought defensive donut. No sacks, no pressures, no run stops, not even a tackle; he had just one tackle attempt, and missed it. Otherwise, he was nearly completely invisible.
Edge defender: Yannick Ngakoue, Jacksonville Jaguars, 38.2
Ngakoue’s run-defense grade of 25.5 was by far the lowest of the week for any edge defender, and for good reason. He failed to make even a single tackle on the day. He was frequently blocked out of his gap in a Titans’ run game that gained 221 yards.
Linebacker: Telvin Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars, 28.2
Smith had an especially tough time trying to cover in his Thursday night appearance. He was targeted seven times and allowed all seven passes to be completed for 63 yards and a touchdown. It seemed every time the Titans needed a gain through the air, they looked at Smith.
Linebacker: Blake Martinez, Green Bay Packers, 35.0
Martinez was a little better in the passing game, allowing just six catches on seven targets for 63 yards and a pass defense. But he struggled in the run game, as well, making just two stops, and was blocked out of plays consistently.
Cornerback: Eric Rowe, New England Patriots, 30.2
For those who didn’t watch the game, it might seem like Rowe posted a solid performance, statistically speaking. He allowed three catches for 54 yards on six targets and no touchdowns. But he was bailed out by a drop on one of those incompletions, and had three huge pass-interference penalties.
Cornerback: David Amerson, Oakland Raiders, 30.8
Amerson is another CB whose stats that don’t tell the entire story. He surrendered five catches on 10 targets for 67 yards and a pass defense, but also took two defensive-holding penalties, and was beaten badly on two of those incompletions that were missed.
Slot corner: Jude Adjei-Barimah, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31.8
A third straight corner with better numbers than actual play, Adjei-Barimah allowed only three catches on the day (seven targets), but for 69 yards and touchdown. He missed a tackle that led to the TD, and was also beaten badly on two of the incompletions. He also took a holding penalty.
Safety: Chris Conte, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 33.3
Conte was the primary cover defender on six targets on Sunday, and allowed all six to be caught for 108 yards and two touchdowns. While he wasn’t great anywhere else, his coverage game was the biggest reason he earned his spot on this list.
Safety: Patrick Chung, New England Patriots, 37.9
Chung had a mix of poor coverage play and poor run defense. He allowed all five targets he saw to be caught for 43 yards and a couple of big first downs. In the run game, he missed three tackles, which isn’t very good from the hard-hitting safety.
Week 8 special teams
Punter: Sam Martin, Detroit Lions
Martin failed to land any of his punts inside the 20-yard line. What’s worse is that all five of his punts were returned, and his net average of 37.6 yards was one of the worst marks of the week.
Kicker: Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals
Nugent missed a 51-yard field goal, which isn’t really anything to be upset about. He also missed an extra point, however, and wasn’t good on kickoffs. That’s enough to earn this spot.
Kick returner: Josh Ferguson, Indianapolis Colts
While there were plenty of muffed kicks this weekend, Ferguson was the only one to muff his lone punt return.