Week 8 Fantasy Football Projections: Underrated Players Who Will Shine

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2012

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30:  Running back Willis McGahee #23 of the Denver Broncos runs with the ball against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on September 30, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

There's still one game left to play in Week 7, but that doesn't mean it's too early to start looking ahead to Week 8 with your fantasy squad, a week that gets underway in three days when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head to Minnesota to take on the Vikings on Thursday night.

We aren't stuck in bye-week purgatory as we were this past week, with six teams on a bye, but four teams with quality fantasy options—Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Houston—won't be able to help you in Week 8.

That means it's time to try and find that diamond in the rough, the dreaded bye-week replacement.

With that, here are some options to consider inserting into your starting lineups.


Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams

It's true, I'm the guy who said that fantasy owners should avoid Sam Bradford like the plague after his Week 6 performance when he threw for 315 yards against the Miami Dolphins.

But with the Rams welcoming the New England Patriots into St. Louis on Sunday afternoon, Bradford is a great under-the-radar start at quarterback.

Over their past five games, the Patriots have allowed an average of 338 passing yards and nearly three touchdowns a game through the air.

Four of the five quarterbacks they've faced have gone over 300 yards, with only Seattle's Russell Wilson falling short (he finished with 293 yards on the day). Mark Sanchez in Week 7 was the only QB to not throw for at least three touchdowns against the Patriots during this run.

Projected Stats: 325 yards passing, two touchdowns, one interception


Willis McGahee, RB, Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos are coming off of a bye in Week 7 and host the New Orleans Saints in a game that features two all-time greats under center in Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, which means we can expect the ball to be flying through the air quite often.

However, the Saints are allowing more than 160 rushing yards per game, and while only one running back has hit triple digits against them this season—Jamaal Charles with 233 yards rushing in Week 3—running backs are posting solid numbers against them.

Over its past three games, New Orleans is allowing starting backs to average of 83 yards and a touchdown, along with four receptions and 40 yards passing.

McGahee has gone over 100 yards on the ground twice this season, and he's become a bigger part of the Broncos' passing game, hauling in 15 receptions over his past three games.

Projected Stats: 90 yards rushing, one touchdown and five receptions for 45 yards


Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns

Josh Gordon is coming off of a game that saw him targeted 10 times by Brandon Weeden, but finished the day with only two receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7.

Those numbers will improve in Week 8 as Cleveland takes on the San Diego Chargers, a team that has allowed four wide receivers to eclipse the 100-yard mark and catch a combined six touchdowns over their past three games.

Granted, Weeden falls in the bottom half of the QB ranks in the NFL, but so does Matt Cassel, and he completed seven passes to Dwayne Bowe for 108 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers in Week 4.

Projected Stats: Five receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown


Brandon Myers, TE, Oakland Raiders

Kansas City hasn't done much right so far in 2012, but one area it has been fairly solid in is defending against the pass, ranking 11th in the NFL heading into Sunday's games (Kansas City was on a bye in Week 7).

However, the Raiders have multiple receivers that need to be accounted for, and that means that Myers will likely find himself in one-on-one coverage over the middle of the field. 

He's quickly emerging as one of Carson Palmer's go-to-guys, being targeted 17 times over Oakland's past two games and catching 12 passes for 108 yards.

Myers won't put up Herculean numbers on a weekly basis, but you can certainly do worse if you need a tight end as a bye-week replacement.

Projected Stats: Five receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown.