Fantasy Football: Week 8 Pickups
Jarrett Boykin, WR (GB)--Despite converting only one of six targets for receptions in Week 6, quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not shy away from Jarrett Boykin in Sunday's win over the Browns. Boykin took advantage of his opportunity, finishing the week in the top 10 among fantasy wide receivers in standard scoring leagues, after hauling in eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. With James Jones unlikely to return for this week's game against the Vikings, Boykin is expected to play a huge role in the Packers offense once again. The Packers have now lost Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and Jones in their passing attack, so Boykin's fantasy value will only continue to rise as the season progresses. This will be the last week to try and add him to fantasy rosters, so claim your stakes now.
Roy Helu, RB (WAS)--Although Roy Helu may not be the featured running back in the Redskins zone-blocking rushing attack, his speed and pass-catching ability has allowed him to get on the field over the last few weeks. Two of the last three weeks Helu has now finished with over 10 carries while going over 40 yards on the ground in three straight games. While those numbers aren't eye-popping, his touchdown total will definitely catch the eye of prospective fantasy owners. Helu finished with three touchdowns in Week 7, leading to him being the third ranked running back in standard leagues. He is going to continue to be used on third downs and in passing packages moving forward, so it isn't out of the realm of possibility that he continues to put up solid fantasy production. Depending on the matchup, Helu is a solid flex-play/low-end RB2 until proven otherwise.
Mike James, RB (TB)--The Buccaneers received terrible news on Monday in regards to Doug Martin, who suffered a shoulder injury in the team's Week 7 loss to the Falcons. Martin will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn labrum in his left shoulder, leaving Mike James as the team's new featured running back. While James doesn't bring the same set of tools to the table, he is going to get adequate touches to make him a must-own fantasy player moving forward. James showed some versatility on Sunday after the departure of Martin, finishing the game with 14 carries for 45 yards and hauling in three receptions for eight yards. Brian Leonard will also be in the mix, which may limit his touches on third down, but a minimum of 20 touches should be expected for James moving forward.
Jordan Reed, TE (WAS)--I swear, this is the last week I will be talking about Jordan Reed, as he slowly moves up in the sections of my column. Reed is coming off of his best game of the season in Week 7, finishing with nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown as he converted all of his targets into solid fantasy production. This was the breakout performance that everyone was waiting for from this youngster, so now that he proved he can make big plays, it is time for him to move up the rankings. Expect the Redskins to feature Reed more and more as the season progresses, which will only increase his fantasy value moving forward. Like Boykin, he will be one of the top adds this week, so if you are in need of depth at the tight end position, now is the time to get on board.
Chris Ivory, RB (NYJ)--The Jets have been somewhat of a surprise this season, going 4-3 through their first seven games, but the biggest surprise yet may have been their backfield situation in last week's win over the Patriots. Chris Ivory, not Bilal Powell, rushed 34 times for 104 yards, matching the total number of carries he received through the team's first six games. Powell was a non-factor in this contest, rushing only three times for six yards while failing to convert both targets he received in the passing game. While it is unlikely Ivory sees this many carries again this season, his performance earned him at least an even split with Powell out of the Jets backfield. There is a good chance those who drafted him cut bait a few weeks back, so if he is sitting out on there on the waiver wire, he is worth adding in all fantasy formats.
Jake Locker, QB (TEN)--After missing two games with a hip injury, Jake Locker did not miss a beat in his return to the field in Week 7, putting up his third straight quality start. Locker finished 25-for-41 for 326 yards and two touchdowns while also adding three rushes for 29 yards. The Titans have an upcoming bye-week to work more on their passing game, and looking at their remaining schedule, Locker is a nice bye-week fill-in at the very least. Over the next few weeks, some of the top fantasy starting quarterbacks will be on bye-weeks, including Peyton Manning (Week 9), Matthew Stafford (Week 9), Tom Brady (Week 10), Tony Romo (Week 11), Russell Wilson (Week 12). In those four weeks the Titans will go up against the Rams, Jaguars, Colts and Raiders, all of which have had their struggles against opposing quarterbacks.
Jeremy Kerley, WR (NYJ)--With the absence of Santonio Holmes, many thought the Jets passing game who struggle, but Jeremy Kerley has stepped up his game, making a fantasy consideration. Kerley finished Week 7 with eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown, making him a top 10 scorer in standard leagues. While I don't think he will be as involved in the Jets passing game once Santonio Holmes returns, but there has been no official report as to when he will return to action. Until then, expect Kerley to continue being the No. 1 target of quarterback Geno Smith, making him a solid flex-play in most fantasy formats.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR (IND)--The Colts may have taken down the top team in the NFL in Week 7, but they lost their top wide receiver along the way. With Reggie Wayne out for the remainder of the season after tearing him ACL, Darrius Heyward-Bey gains fantasy value as the Colts No. 2 wide receiver. Through seven games, Heyward-Bey has only one game in which he finished with 10 or more fantasy points in standard leagues, but that is expected to change in Wayne's absence. Despite having a solid receiving core, quarterback Andrew Luck targeted Wayne heavily, averaging just over eight targets per game, which will now be split between Heyward-Bey, Hilton and Coby Fleener. I don't think Heyward-Bey will ever live up his top 10 draft slot back in 2009, but in a pass-happy offense, he has now become a serviceable option in deep fantasy formats.
Brandon Gibson, WR (MIA)--Everyone has been talking about Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline in the Dolphins passing game, but it is Brandon Gibson who may be the most consistent of the group in terms of fantasy. Gibson finished Week 7 with five receptions for 40 yards and a pair of touchdowns, which was his fourth game out of six with at least five receptions. This game marked his first output of over 10 fantasy points in standard leagues, but with a soft schedule ahead, he will be looking to build on those totals. Considering the Dolphins offense has been practically one-dimensional this season, there is no reason to think it will change anytime soon, making him a solid pickup in deep fantasy formats.
Andrew Quarless, TE (GB)--The neck injury to Jermichael Finley may have opened the door for Andrew Quarless to resurrect what is left of a disappointing career thus far with the Packers. Quarless has had opportunities in the past to earn playing time, but failed to capitalize when given the opportunity. This time around, there is no Finley, Randall Cobb or James Jones in the Packers passing game, so this may be his best chance yet. Standing at 6' 4", 252 lbs, Quarless is a very big target that has the chance to be utilized in the red zone, similar to what the Lions have done with Joseph Fauria near the goal line. The timetable for Finley's return is unknown at this time, which leaves Quarless' fantasy value in question, but those in deep leagues will want to at least add him to watch lists as we see how this situation unfolds.
Michael Cox/Peyton Hillis, RB (NYG)--The Giants running game has been one of the biggest disappointments in the league, but at least they have a few serviceable options for those in deep league formats. In Monday's win over the Vikings, both Michael Cox and Peyton Hillis received 10-plus carries, despite averaging under three yards per carry. On the plus-side, Hillis was targeted six times in the passing game, which was one target shy of Victor Cruz, who led the team in that category. With the health of David Wilson, Brandon Jacobs and Andre Brown in question, both players are viable options in desperate situations.
Josh McCown, QB (CHI)--No Jay Cutler, no problem. In Sunday's loss to the Redskins, Josh McCown did an admirable job filling in following Cutler's groin injury. McCown went 14-for-20 for 204 yards and one touchdown, keeping the Bears in the game until the final whistle. The Bears have a bye-week in Week 8, so that will give McCown amble time to prepare himself to be the team's starter until Cutler returns. I am not saying he is a starter in one-quarterback leagues by any means, but if you need a bye-week filler in two-quarterback formats, McCown could be of service in the upcoming weeks.
Defensive Matchup Play of the Week
Carolina Panthers Defense/Special Teams--The Panthers defense has been one of the best defenses in football through their first six games, but still sit less than 50 percent owned throughout the top fantasy providers. Having scored double-digit fantasy points each of their last four games in standard leagues, the Panthers have the second-longest streak of scoring 10 or more fantasy points behind only the Chiefs defense. This week the Panthers will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers, who have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses, so the stars are aligned for another solid week from this undervalued group.
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Matthew Beck is a Fantasy Sports Columnist for Rotoinfo.com. If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow him on Twitter @MatthewRBeck for up-to-date Q&A and fantasy information. And, to make setting your Fantasy Football lineup easy, be sure to utilize RotoInfo.com’s new NFL Lineup Grids.
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@stmyers1 thanks for the follow!
@stmyers1 I would say so now that they have grilli and smith in setup roles...just dont know how many innings he will get now