Unlike last week when six teams were on bye, Week 8 only has four teams not in action. However, it’s another week full of unavailable fantasy firepower, highlighted by the running backs. No Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller this week.
While it’s extremely difficult to replace any of these backs’ production in your lineup, the good news is that you hopefully will only be without them for one week and it appears there are several serviceable options out there. Here are some of those names, as well as a few for the other positions, worth considering as you look to fill out your roster for this week and beyond.
Bye week teams: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Houston
Week 7 Recap: Carson Palmer scored a rare rushing touchdown and came on strong in the second half to lead Oakland to a come-from-behind victory over Jacksonville. Mark Sanchez threw for a season-high 328 yards, but had just one touchdown pass and two turnovers (INT and a fumble that resulted in a safety) in the overtime loss to New England. John Skelton had similar numbers (less 66 passing yards) to Sanchez in Arizona’s loss to Minnesota, while Russell Wilson managed just 132 total yards and an interception against San Francisco.
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Freeman has been mentioned here before, but considering he’s thrown for 728 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception in his last two games, he deserves a little more recognition. Freeman is averaging 27. 4 fantasy points over his last three games, and his next three opponents — at MIN, at OAK, vs. SD — are 11th, 9th and 8th respectively in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.
Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans
Hasselbeck’s start against Buffalo in Sunday was thought to be his last one as Jake Locker was reportedly ready to resume the reigns after missing the past three games with a shoulder injury. However, after Hasselbeck (22-of-33, 205 yds., TD) led the Titans to a come-from-behind victory over the Bills, the team has decided to delay Locker’s return to the field at least another week. The Titans have won their last two with Hasselbeck under center and will get the chance to make it three in a row this Sunday against Indianapolis. The Colts are allowing the tenth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
This one is probably for informational purposes only. Henne took over against Oakland after Blaine Gabbert went down with a shoulder injury. At the time the Jaguars were in front of the Raiders. Henne proceeded to go 9-for-20 passing for just 71 yards as the Jags ended up losing to the Raiders after getting out-scored 20-6 in the second half and overtime. Even if Henne gets the nod in place of Gabbert, I’m not sure you really want to use him against the Packers in Green Bay.
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Russell Wilson has gotten more publicity (and does have more wins), but Weeden has been more productive on the fantasy front. Weeden is averaging 20.8 fantasy points over his past three games and has six touchdowns compared to just three interceptions over this span. Depending on who your normal starting quarterback is, Weeden could be a fill-in option as Cleveland hosts San Diego. The Chargers are allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Week 7 Recap: Neither Rashard Mendenhall or Isaac Redman played, but it was Jonathan Dwyer (see below) and not Baron Batch, who benefitted the most. Cleveland is also a situation that bears watching as Trent Richardson was ineffective (8 yards on 8 carries) and later benched against Indianapolis. Montario Hardesty finished with more rushing yards and more carries and could be in for a larger role moving forward. Felix Jones (74 total yards) was a big part of Dallas’ game plan, but he wasn’t able to break any long plays against Carolina and missed the Cowboys’ final two drives with a bruised knee. If DeMarco Murray misses another week it appears that Jones will share the load with another Cowboy back (see below). As far as Arizona's backfield goes, LaRod Stephens-Howling did what William Powell did to him two weeks ago, as Stephens-Howling rushed for 104 yards and had another 45 receiving in the Cardinals' win in Minnesota. His production made Powell irrelevant, just like Powell did to Stephens-Howling in Week 6. What happens this week is anyone’s guess, but it’s not an appealing match-up for either as San Francisco comes calling. LeGarrette Blount was irrelevant (5 att., -2 yards) against New Orleans as the pace and the style of this game made a big, bruising running back like him unnecessary.
Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts
Donald Brown is out at least another week or two, and Ballard showed what he’s capable of against Cleveland. Ballard ran for 84 yards and finished the Colts’ win over the Browns with more than 100 total yards of offense. He has yet to score, but that could change this week against a Tennessee defense giving up the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers
No Rashard Mendenhall or Isaac Redman, no problem for Pittsburgh as Dwyer averaged more than seven yards per carry and finished with 122 yards rushing in the win in Cincinnati. Dwyer, who didn’t even suit up in Weeks 5 or 6, picked up his second career 100-yard effort and will continue to carry the load until Mendenhall and/or Redman return.
Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars
Maurice Jones-Drew lasted all of two plays against Oakland as the Jaguars’ best player was carted off of the field after suffering a foot injury. The extent of the damage is not yet fully known, but MJD has already been declared out for this Sunday's game in Green Bay. There's little doubt that Jennings will be the most-added player this week. The fourth-year back has had his own injury issues, including a knee injury that caused him to miss two games this season. However, Jennings is the starter in Jacksonville until Jones-Drew returns and he averaged 5.4 yards per carry as the backup in 2009 and ’10 combined.
Phillip Tanner, Dallas Cowboys
Tanner, and not Felix Jones, put the finishing touches on Dallas’ win in Carolina on Sunday. Jones missed the final two drives of the game after bruising his knee, leaving Tanner with the job of running the ball to help run down the clock. Tanner’s production (13 att., 30 yds.) wasn’t that great, but he also had nine carries (for 31 yds.) in the Week 6 loss to Baltimore. It’s not known if DeMarco Murray will be back this Sunday, but if he’s unable to go, Tanner should be in line for the same type of workload against the Giants. He could get even more carries depending on how severe Jones’ bruised knee turns out to be.
Danny Woodhead, New England Patriots
Stevan Ridley is the lead back for New England, but the way the Patriots run their offense has allowed Woodhead to carve out a nice, consistent role for him too. Woodhead, whom the Patriots use as their primary back when they go no-huddle, has averaged six carries and more than 66 total yards per game over the last three. His versatility only helps his fantasy value, and again, given New England’s tendency to go no-huddle, he could be a potential flex option depending on the opponent.
Week 7 Recap: Doug Baldwin left Seattle’s game in San Francisco with an ankle injury, not that he did that much (2 rec., 15 yds.) prior to getting hurt. Chris Givens made some sort of contribution across the board (73 receiving, 50 return, 14 rushing yds.), while Josh Gordon and Denarius Moore each caught a touchdown pass despite totaling six catches combined.
Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets
Kerley has 15 receptions for 238 yards over his last three games combined. He went for seven and 120 as Mark Sanchez threw for a season-high 328 yards in the Jets’ overtime loss to New England. Although Kerley hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3, it’s pretty clear he’s become Sanchez’ No. 1 target.
Santana Moss, Washington Redskins
The Redskins brought in several wide receivers during the offseason, most notably Pierre Garcon, but it’s the veteran Moss who continues to produce. Garcon has pretty much been a no-show since Week 1 because of nagging foot issues, while Moss is leading the team in touchdown catches (4), second in receiving yards (290) and third in receptions (19). Moss has three scores in his last three games, including two against the Giants on Sunday. With Garcon likely out until at least Washington’s bye in Week 10, there’s no reason to think Robert Griffin III won’t continue to look Moss’ way.
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
His costly fumble set up the Raiders’ game-winning field goal in overtime, but Shorts also caught a 42-yard touchdown pass to help stake the Jaguars to an early 14-point lead. In fact, Shorts has far and away been Jacksonville’s most productive wide receiver this season. He leads the team in touchdown receptions (3) as well as receiving yards by a wide margin (284 to 136 for the next Jaguar). He has five catches that have gone for 20 or more yards, including a season-long 80-yard touchdown reception against Indianapolis. One caveat regarding Shorts would be if Blaine Gabbert ends up sidelined after suffering a shoulder injury against the Raiders. Backup Chad Henne hasn’t been effective the time he’s been under center for the Jaguars this season.
Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans
Since catching just two passes in Week 2, Washington has had at least three receptions and 43 yards receiving since. He had a season-high six receptions for 43 yards on Sunday against Buffalo, including what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Washington seems to have rediscovered his chemistry with Matt Hasselbeck and it looks like the two veterans will have the chance to do some more damage at least one more week.
Week 7 Recap: Jared Cook caught just two passes for 37 yards against Buffalo, while Anthony Fasano and the Dolphins were on bye. Cook is certainly a solid option this week, and Fasano could be as well with Scott Chandler Owen Daniels, Jermaine Gresham and Dennis Pitta all on bye in Week 8.
Logan Paulsen, Washington Redskins
Fred Davis is done for the season after suffering an Achilles injury in Sunday’s loss to the Giants. In steps Paulsen, who, despite having just one catch prior to this game, led the team in receiving yards with 76 on four receptions. Paulsen’s instant production makes him worth consideration, even with the Redskins bringing long-time tight end Chris Cooley back into the fold.
David Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Coming off of a bye, it was somewhat of a surprise that on Saturday New Orleans ruled Jimmy Graham out against Tampa Bay. Graham sprained his ankle in Week 5 against San Diego, and apparently hadn’t made enough progress for the team to even bring him on the trip. The hope is that Graham will be back this week for the Saints’ game in Denver, but if he’s not, Thomas has shown himself to be capable. Thomas caught four passes for 27 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Buccaneers. It’s possible he may have even shown the coaching staff enough to merit some sort of role in the passing game once Graham does return.
Week 7 Recap: Cleveland managed only three sacks and a fumble recovery in the loss to Indianapolis, but perhaps the Browns will get another opportunity this week as San Diego comes to town. Remember, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers turned the ball over six times (4 INTs, 2 fumbles) in his last game, a Week 6 loss to Denver.
Perhaps it’s because Atlanta was just on bye, but even still, there’s really no reason why the No. 8 DST in fantasy football is owned in less than 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues. The Falcons’ defense has produced 17 turnovers (10 INTs, 7 fumble recoveries) and also has 16 sacks in six games. The Falcons return to action on Sunday against Philadelphia, a team that has turned the ball over an NFC-worst 17 times.
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point per 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.
— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 23, 2012