PRYOR, OK —
The past week of action could have been deemed the Friday the 13th in the NFL. Week 7 included a bundle of injuries, including season-ending ones to St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, who both suffered ACL tears. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin and Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley will both also miss significant playing time, if not the whole season.
All of these players are big assets in most fantasy leagues, but can be replaced with other players. With Wayne gone, quarterback Andrew Luck will start throwing the ball T.Y Hilton’s and Coby Fleener’s way a lot more often. Hilton and Fleener may already be taken in most leagues, but Darius Heyward-Bey could be a good addition if he cuts down on dropped passes.
Luckily for Sam Bradford fantasy owners, there are plenty of talented quarterbacks in the league who are still free agents in most leagues. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in his last two starts and has an easy schedule for the rest of the season.
Martin and Finley may be the toughest players to replace, because pickings are thin at both positions in most leagues. Martin’s replacement will be Mike James, but don’t look for James to get the same amount of touches and success that Martin was able to produce. If you do own Martin, though, James will be your best bet to replace him.
Tight end may be the thinnest position in the league right now, but there is still one more tight end out there who could put up Finley-like numbers: Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed. Reed may be a star by the time this season ends. Redskins coaches think highly of Reed, especially after putting up a nine catch, 134-yard performance, which also included a score. Reed has become Robert Griffin III’s top target as the season progresses.
For the owners not stressing over injury replacements, below are four players who will produce big numbers in Week 8.
Quarterback: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: Manning finally looked human last week at Indianapolis, but will bounce back this week against a very weak Washington Redskin defense. The Broncos will go at the Redskins with a balanced attack to give Manning and running back Knowshon Moreno a chance to put up big numbers, but Manning will outshine his teammate.
Running back: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles: McCoy will be the backbone of the Eagles offense this week with quarterback Michael Vick banged up and coming off an injury. Look for McCoy to get a big workload and take advantage of it against a middle-of-the-road Giants defense.
Wide receiver: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Johnson is a top fantasy producer every week, but this week look for MegaTron to do even greater things in what should be a shootout against Dallas. Johnson will improve on an already stellar performance last week.
Sleeper: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Bell does not have an easy match up at Oakland, but has become Pittsburgh’s top offensive threat. Although I am not as high on Bell as Tulsa World’s Jimmie Tramel, I believe Bell is on the verge of a breakout performance. You can expect Bell to be a reliable starter in your lineup for the rest of the season.