NFL Week 8 is going to be the most challenging of the season for a significant number of fantasy enthusiasts.
A rash of serious injuries to key players on Sunday, combined with six idle teams – the Ravens, Bears, Texans, Colts, Chargers and Titans – will make filling out a decent starting lineup painfully difficult for those with shallow benches.
At least Jay Cutler (groin), Arian Foster (hamstring), Ben Tate and Brandon Marshall (undisclosed) will have an extra week to mend their wounds, though the initial prognosis for Cutler’s immediate return is not encouraging.
The Eagles will surely be shifting back to Mike Vick now that Nick Foles (head) has been knocked out and Matt Barkley seemed to favor Cowboys defenders over his own receivers.
Sam Bradford was well on his way to a career year before leaving Sunday’s tilt with a season-ending knee injury. The Rams obviously know backup Kellen Clemens isn’t the answer, so they are reportedly casting a wide net for replacements. Any lingering hopes you harbored for St. Louis’ receivers hang in the balance.
Doug Martin has been a major disappointment to those who invested a premium draft pick in him, but they certainly weren’t wishing for the workhorse to be lost for the year with a torn labrum. Alas, that is his fate.
Reggie Wayne not only missed out on the Colts’ end-of-game celebration Sunday night, but he won’t be pitching in the rest of the way either after blowing out his knee against the Broncos.
The Packers’ receiving corps took yet another major hit when Jermichael Finley was lost to a wicked head/neck injury. It’s hard to imagine the tight end returning soon after leaving Sunday’s game in an ambulance and spending Monday in intensive care.
And to add insult to injury in the tight end ranks, Jimmy Graham may not be available this weekend either, even after having the bye week to rest his ailing foot.
That sound you’re hearing just might be the balance of power shifting in your fantasy league.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.
Catch ‘em while you can
Mike James, RB, Buccaneers. The rookie from the University of Miami has good power but lacks game-breaking speed. He’s not going to save your season, but he’s the best Tampa Bay has to offer now that Doug Martin has been lost for the duration.
Jarrett Boykin, WR, Packers. With Finley joining the walking wounded of the Packers’ receiving corps, Boykin proved his value by leading the team in receptions and yardage (8 for 103, plus a TD) against the Browns. Even if James Jones returns next week, Boykin has value for those thin at WR; especially with the Vikings on deck.
Percy Harvin, WR, Seahawks. Still available in three out of four leagues, I urged you to grab him last week. He could be back on the field as early as next Monday night. What are you waiting for?
Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins. Though technically still listed as the backup to Logan Paulsen, Reed has emerged as one of Robert Griffin III’s most trusted targets. I don’t see him vaulting to every-week-starter status soon, but he’s certainly capable of filling in in a pinch following his 9-reception, 134-yard, 1-TD coming-out party against the Bears.
Don’t be fooled
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers. It’s probably wishful thinking, but if you can find a sucker – I mean, RB-starved competitor – it’s time to unload Williams. Not only is Mike Tolbert poaching the TD plunges, but Jonathan Stewart (ankle) is poised to re-join the crowded backfield as soon as Week 9.
Brandon Gibson, WR, Dolphins. After notching his first two scoring receptions in Miami, the temptation may be to jump on Gibson’s bandwagon. But he’s still the Dolphins’ third wideout and normally follows TE Charles Clay in the pecking order as well. Don’t count on continued fireworks from Gibson.