Maurice Jones has already been ruled out for Week 8. Coach Mike Mularkey said it appears Jones-Drew has an arch sprain “based on the pressure and where the initial swelling comes from.” Until the testing comes back, however, there remains concern that MJD could have a season-ending Lisfranc fracture similar to the one that ruined Matt Schaub’s 2011 season. Our expectation is that Rashad Jennings will take over as the three-down back for at least several weeks, if not the rest of the season.
Jennings managed just 44 yards on 21 carries against an improving Raiders run defense, but chipped in seven catches for 58 yards as a 28-touch workhorse. With a well-rounded game as one of the league's most talented and reliable backups, Jennings has averaged a stout 4.8 yards per on 157 career carries and 7.6 yards per on 51 receptions. Looking back to August when Jennings was prepping for the offensive focal point role with Jones-Drew holding out, he averaged 4.5 yards on 47 preseason carries.
Even in Jacksonville's league-worst offense, Jennings has fantasy value as a high-volume runner in a bleak running-back landscape. He's the no-brainer top waiver pickup for Week 8.
A quick word on the Lions wide receivers. Nate Burleson had seen 18 percent of Matthew Stafford’s targets (8.6 per game) and handled six percent of the Lions’ rushing attempts this season. His season-ending broken leg is going to have major fantasy repercussions in Detroit.
Titus Young played 58-of-69 snaps compared to Ryan Broyles’ 35 versus the Bears. Young will get a chance to stabilize his fantasy value as the starter after a disappointing first half, but it’s slot receiver Broyles who will see the biggest jump in playing time.
The Lions may have trouble finding the end zone, but they still rank fourth in total yards this season. Young and Broyles are both worthy of a roster spot in 12-team leagues. Broyles may actually be the better choice in PPR formats.
On to the players. Here is how I rank the top players at each position as we head into Week 8. Full write-ups of each player are below.
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers - The schedule has been soft, but it’s still impressive that Freeman has averaged 31 fantasy points the past two games, trailing only a red-hot Aaron Rodgers. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are making plays down the field, and Doug Martin is starting to develop the hot hand on the ground. The Bucs offense could be an emerging fantasy goldmine against the Vikings, Raiders, Chargers and Panthers over the next month.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
Brandon Weeden, Browns - Weeden’s pocket presence was an issue leading up to the draft and throughout the preseason, but he’s shown steady improvement each week since the regular season started. The rookie is sixth in fantasy points over the past three weeks, trailing only Aaron Rodgers, RGIII, Andrew Luck, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Weeden is averaging 277.5 yards over the past six games and has found the end zone twice in each of the past three outings. He’s reached high-end QB2 territory.
Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.
Sam Bradford, Rams - Bradford still has trouble consistently hitting big plays behind a shaky offensive line, but his arm has been impressive this season. He draws a Patriots secondary that has surrendered an average of 310.5 yards to Mark Sanchez and Russell Wilson, two quarterbacks struggling mightily entering the game. The Pats also allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Recommendation: Worth a look as a matchup play.
Jake Locker, Titans - With Matt Hasselbeck producing a pair of last-minute victories, coach Mike Munchak will give Locker one more week to get his shoulder back to 100 percent. When Locker returns, he will find a healthy Kenny Britt and a rejuvenated Chris Johnson. This offense has breakout potential in the second half of the season.
Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins - Tannehill has a tough Week 8 matchup against a Jets defense that has shown surprising backbone after losing its best player. Starting in Week 9, though, the schedule opens up with games against the Colts, Titans, Bills and Patriots in four of the next five weeks.
Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
Watch List: Brady Quinn, Chad Henne, Nick Foles
Quinn has been named the Chiefs’ starting QB going forward. As we pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Quinn has five games under 100 yards in 13 career starts. … Head coach Mike Mularkey even admitted the offense was “inept” with Henne under center at Oakland. Mularkey will know by Wednesday or Thursday whether or not Blaine Gabbert will play through a labrum tear in his non-throwing shoulder. … The Eagles are sticking with Vick. I believe they will continue to stick with Vick. With upcoming games versus the Falcons and Saints, however, it’s conceivable that Foles’ name with resurface if the Eagles are 3-5 entering Week 10.
Cut Bait: Russell Wilson, Matt Cassel