We are about halfway through the 2012 season and teams will start to push for playoff spots in their respective leagues. This week there are only four teams on a bye (including two of the top running backs in fantasy football, Arian Foster and Ray Rice.)
AJ Green, Andre Johnson, Stevie Johnson, and Torrey Smith will also be sorely missed this week. But if you’re in need of a running back, wide receiver, quarterback, hug, glass of water, etc. etc. then I am here for you.
Josh Gordon and Brandon Gibson are chomping at the bit to help your teams in Week 8. So are Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene as they are experiencing season renaissances. Whatever the case may be I’ve got 10 playmakers who would love nothing more than to secure a roster spot on a playoff fantasy football team and get a shot at the championship!
Byes: Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans
1. Rashad Jennings, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars– Owned in 13.6% of leagues (ESPN) MJD is hurt for the Jaguars. They think it’s possibly a Lisfranc (foot) injury. He’s already ruled out for Week 8 and probably beyond. That means Rashad Jennings must step up and take over a rushing attack that’s mediocre but at least now he’ll be the spearhead. Jennings had 21 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown while also grabbing 7 passes for 58 yards. He’ll be expected to do that every week going forward while MJD is out. I think he can.
2. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns – Owned in 36.8% of leagues (ESPN) He’s still producing ladies and gentlemen. Commissioner Gordon is not catching an eye-opening amount of passes but he is making the most of his opportunities. His stats reflect this: 7 catches in 3 games, ehh. 241 yards and 4 touchdowns in 3 games! Now, we’re talking! He’s still available in more than 60% of leagues so I’d go get him if I were you.
3. Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings – Owned in 38.1% of leagues (ESPN) Ponder came back to Earth in Week 7 and, I would argue, may have even ran himself into the ground with how poorly he played. Though, I believe he can bounce back this week when the Vikings host the Buccaneers. The Buccaneers let Drew Brees throw for almost 400 yards and 4 touchdowns on Sunday. If you’re in need of a QB in Week 8, you could do worse.
4. Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets – Owned in 16.8% of leagues (ESPN) A healthy Dustin Keller is a productive Dustin Keller. Mark Sanchez loves this guy and now that he’s seemingly overcome his hamstring injury that came about during the preseason, he should thrive in Santonio Holmes’ absence. On Sunday, Keller caught 7 passes for 93 yards and a score. I’d say he’s back.
5. Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns – Owned in 8.8% of leagues (ESPN) The last three weeks have been kind to Brandon Weeden. He has thrown for 786 yards, 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The Browns are 1-2 in this span but Weeden is certainly doing well. He’s home against the San Diego Chargers this week and if you’ve got Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, Andy Dalton or, God forbid, Ryan Fitzpatrick then you may want to look Weeden’s way in Week 8.
6. Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans – Owned in 18.6% of leagues (ESPN) Mr. Wright was Mr. Wrong in Week 7. He only caught 3 passes for 19 yards in a win against the Buffalo Bills. But, the Titans draw the Colts in Week 8. In the last two weeks the Colts have made Mark Sanchez and Brandon Weeden look like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Matt Hasselbeck is no slouch and should throw it a lot this week especially if Chris Johnson can keep the Colts defense honest.
7. Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers – Owned in 18.5% of leagues (ESPN) Yes, Chris Rainey scored a touchdown on Sunday but he only ran for 17 yards on a handful of carries. Dwyer took the bulk of the carries, garnering 17 of them and rushing for 122 yards. The Steelers are back home for Week 8 against the Redskins and they’re defense hasn’t been able to stop anybody. Dwyer could emerge as a fine sleeper option this week.
8. Logan Paulsen, TE, Washington Redskins– Owned in 0.0% of leagues (ESPN) He’s literally available in every league. Due to a season ending injury suffered by Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen becomes an intriguing option in Washington. He had 4 catches for 76 yards on Sunday. Since the Redskins are traveling to Pittsburgh this Sunday he may become a security blanket of sorts for RGIII. It’s possible, not a given, but possible. Could be worth a look.
9. Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina Panthers – Owned in 19.8% of leagues (ESPN) He’s back! But, is he really? He saw a season high 8 targets against Dallas hauling in 4 of them for 53 yards and a touchdown. And Dallas’ secondary is good but they aren’t Chicago’s secondary. The Panthers do travel to Chicago for a date with the Bears who slapped the Lions around last night. They shut Calvin Johnson down but did let Ryan Broyles “go off” in the second half. If this rings true for Carolina then LaFell could be in for a decent day as the Bears’ defense keys in on Steve Smith. If you’re desperate, this could work for you.
10. Brandon Gibson, WR, St. Louis Rams– Owned in 29.5% of leagues (ESPN) The clear-cut #1 receiver in St. Louis until Thanksgiving or so when Danny Amendola is expected back, Brandon Gibson has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners. He’s had 12 catches for 151 yards in the last two games combined but he hasn’t found the end zone since Weeks 1 and 2. The Rams, in general, have found it difficult to consistently scored touchdowns so while the yardage is good, I’d like to see Gibson find paydirt. New England’s secondary may just be porous enough to do so.