Fantasy Football Pickups Week 8

The loss of Arian Foster is a huge blow to fantasy teams everywhere as well as the football community as a whole.  With that said, we'll do our best to fill the void he has left behind.   The Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins have byes this week.

Quarterback (QB)
- i's -
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (shoulder)
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (knee)
Michael Vick, Pittsburgh Steelers (hamstring)

- Byes -
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins

- R's -
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (currently owned in 27.6% of all ESPN leagues): the sophomore quarterback finally seems to be developing a rapport with rookie Stefon Diggs.  He put together a nice game against the Lions, completing 25 of 35 passes for 316 yards and 2 scores.  If teams stack 7 or more in the box to stop the run first, other guys like Wallace and Diggs will be open downfield.  The Vikings also have some receiving ability out of the backfield with McKinnon and Asiata, and Kyle Rudolph got involved, scoring on a play-action pass.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (currently owned in 49.1% of all ESPN leagues): As a bye-week sub, this guy won't do too badly.  He faces a Chargers defense that gave up 289 yards and 3 scores through the air to Derek Carr last week.  Steve Smith Sr. will out-physical any opposition that gets in his way, Justin Forsett is a great checkdown, and Crockett Gillmore is getting more involved in the passing game as well.  If Teo and Weddle remain sidelined this week, this Chargers defense should remain soft and the Ravens could find themselves in a shootout.

Runningback (RB), Wide Receiver (WR), FLEX
- i's -
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans (acilles)
Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys (back)
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (foot)
Cecil Shorts III, WR, Houston Texans (shoulder)

- Byes -
Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelpha Eagles, and Washington Redskins

- R's -
Alfred Blue, RB, Houston Texans (currently owned in 18.8% of all ESPN leagues): The loss of Arian Foster presents a chance for Blue to step into the shoes of the starting position for the Texans.  However, Blue has been inconsistent when given the chances, so the backfield situation could turn into a runningback by commitee similar to that of the Eagles, Chargers, or Lions.  If that were the case, Blue would get the handoffs, but Chris Polk would catch passes.  Either way, if you're looking for a starting RB, look no further. 

Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys (currently owned in 42.6% of all ESPN leagues): ***UPDATE: McFadden to start week 8*** D-Mac has taken over passing down work since Lance Dunbar tore his ACL in week 4 against the saints, and has not disappointed.  In week 5, he caught 9 passes for 62 yards & carried the ball 5 times for 16.  In week 7, he rushed 29 times for 152 and a score and caught 2 for 10 yards and looked explosive doing it.  The Cowboys had a week 6 bye.  If Randle misses any time with his back strain, it looks like McFadden would take over rushing duties.  He should be picked up in all PPR formats and deserves consideration in standard formats.  If McFadden can stay healthy, and that is a big "if," he would be a valuable addition to any team.

Khiry Robinson, RB, New Orleans Saints (currently owned in 8.4% of all ESPN leagues): This big-bodied third-year back should be considered in PPR leagues.  As a situational back, he’s thrown to on check-downs when the Saints need to march down the field fast.  He was also used for goal-line work in week 7 and came away with 2 scores.  The upside is that Robinson had 14 rushes, the same number of rushes as starter Mark Ingram.  Again, buyer beware, Robinson is a situational back in a pass-first offense, but one touchdown is as good as 60 rushing yards.  If anything, pick up Robinson as a handcuff or as a touchdown vulture. 

Mike Tolbert, RB, Carolina Panthers (currently owned in 0.6% of all ESPN leagues): Jonathan Stewart ran for 125 yards in week 7, but Tolbert was the one who scored, twice.  The 5’9” 250lb Tolbert is an absolute bowling ball.  He has great hands so he can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he keeps his feet moving gaining valuable yards after contact.  Both he and Jonathan Stewart have been running behind a phenomenal offensive line in a run-first offense.  Like Khiry Robinson, Tolbert is a situational back that comes on the field for short-yardage situations in rush and pass plays.  If you’re desperate for a runningback, grab Tolbert as a handcuff to Stewart, or as a touchdown vulture.  Just remember that his fantasy value is tied to his ability to score from inside 5 yards.

Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots (currently owned in 16.1% of all ESPN leagues): Amendola has had 2 productive weeks in a row now, tallying 15 receptions for 201 yards and a score.  LaFell has had a case of the dropsies upon his return, and opposing secondaries gameplan to stop Edelman and Gronk, leaving Amendola open.  Again, buyer beware, the seasoned veteran plays on a team that runs multiple offenses, and Belichick has been known to adjust his play calling according to whatever the defense gives them.  Amendola is a productive player at the moment, but don’t be surprised if he has up and down weeks.

Nate Washington, WR, Houston Texans (currently owned in 5.7% of all ESPN leagues): Good grief, can Cecil Shorts III stay healthy?  If not Washington can look forward to a repeat of his week 7 production.  He came back from injury in a big way, catching 9 passes for 127 yards and 2 scores.  Yes, the Texans were playing catchup the second half.  With Arian Foster now out and the runningback position a potential question mark, the Texans may need to rely on Hoyer’s arm to get them through the season.  With teams looking to stop DeAndre Hopkins first, Washington could see more big plays downfield. 

Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Carolina Panthers (currently owned in 33.8% of all ESPN leagues): The Panthers don’t usually throw it, but when they do, it goes to Ted Ginn Jr.  In week 7, Olsen found himself in double and triple coverage leaving Ginn to catch 5 of his targets for 59 yards.  We saw some interesting calls from the Panthers offense, including a trick play to Ginn that went for a 43-yard rush.  This versatile speedster and return man is a big-play threat that can turn any play into a home run.  With secondaries stopping Olsen first, Ginn is next on the target list, and has had consistent production in PPR leagues with the exception of an anomaly vs. the Seahawks.  He has a great matchup in week 8 against a Colts pass defense that ranks 28th in the league.

Tight End (TE)
- i's -
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

- Byes -
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills
Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
Zack Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins

- R’s -
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (currently owned in 27.3% of all ESPN leagues): Ebron has emerged as one of Detroit’s leading targets.  He came back from a knee injury catching 5 passes for 89 yards and a score.  He has as many touchdowns as Megatron and is currently tied for most receiving TD’s on the Lions.  The Lions’ offensive line is a mess and they had no answers for a Vikings blitz that completely shut them down in the 3rd and 4th quarter during week 7.  With that said, Stafford will need a big, reliable target for outlet passes, and that looks like it could be Ebron.  However, Ebron could be a risky play until the Lions figure out how to give Stafford time to throw.

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins ***Week 8 bye*** (currently owned in 41.7% of all ESPN leagues): Reed seems to have been forgotten amidst Washington’s struggles.  He returned in a big way after missing 2 games with a concussion.  He got involved with Washington’s passing game, catching 11 passes for 72 yards and 2 scores.  Although he has a bye this week, he may be worth picking up and stashing, as defenses will continue to stop Washington’s struggling run game and Pierre Garcon first.  He could also see more targets in the absence of DeSean Jackson.  However, that remains to be determined.  Either way, the arrow seems to be pointing up for Reed.

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