Week 8 Fantasy Football: Top 10 Waiver-Wire Pickups in 12-Team Leagues

Jay Clemons@ATL_JayClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterOctober 23, 2012

Week 8 Fantasy Football: Top 10 Waiver-Wire Pickups in 12-Team Leagues

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    The following countdown touts the top 10 waiver-wire pickups heading into Week 8 (for 12-team leagues).

    Obviously, free agent quarterbacks like Brandon Weeden, Matt Hasselbeck, Sam Bradford and Ryan Tannehill are the likeliest candidates for most points from Sunday to Sunday.

    But I would also place an equal or higher priority on landing possible dynamos at receiver, running back and tight end...ahead of a quarterback who may only draw one or two fantasy starts from this point forward.

10: QB Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

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    2012 Stats: 1,453 Yards Passing, 9 TD

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. In his first game with Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley all at full strength (last week vs. New England), Mark Sanchez passed for a season-high 328 yards.

    2. Sanchez has attempted at least 27 passes in six of seven games.

    3. The Jets may be a frustrating bunch to monitor at times, but Sanchez is still the same quarterback who accounted for 3,474 passing yards and 32 total touchdowns last year.

9: TE Dustin Keller, New York Jets

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    2012 Stats: 9 Catches, 106 Yards, 1 TD

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. In his first injury-free game of the season (limited reps in Week 6), Dustin Keller racked up seven catches, 93 yards and one touchdown against the Patriots last weekend.

    2. Keller entered the 2012 season as a top 10 tight end. In the previous two years, he tallied separate double-digit bumps in receptions.

    3. After Shonn Greene, Keller is probably the second-best offensive option at Mark Sanchez's disposal—especially in the red zone.

8: QB Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns

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    2012 Stats: 1,783 Yards Passing, 9 TD

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Brandon Weeden currently ranks as the No. 15 fantasy quarterback in standard-scoring leagues (19 points per game).

    2. Through seven games, Weeden has attempted 35-plus passes six times.

    3. Since Week 2, Weeden has accounted for 300 total yards or two touchdowns five times.

    4. Weeden's modest success has coincided with the the development of fellow rookies Trent Richardson and receiver Josh Gordon.

    This group represents one of the NFL's best rookie threesomes in years.

7: WR Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets

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    2012 Stats: 25 Catches, 435 Yards, 2 TD

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Jeremy Kerley is just days removed from his coming-out party at receiver, catching seven balls for 120 yards against the Patriots. He also collected a personal-high 11 targets.

    2. The Jets aren't blessed with great depth at receiver, meaning that Kerley and rookie Stephen Hill will likely be granted every chance to succeed (and occasionally fail) this season.

    However, there is some trepidation here since Kerley has yet to catch five balls in back-to-back weeks.

    He has never racked up 70-plus receiving yards on consecutive Sundays, either.

    But that could change in a few days.

6: RB Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts

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    2012 Stats: 191 Total Yards (151 Rushing)

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. In his first game of double-digit touches, Indy's Vick Ballard rolled for 103 total yards (84 rushing) against Cleveland last week.

    2. The rookie could solidify a rotation spot in the Colts offense with a strong outing against the Titans on Sunday.

    With tailback Donald Brown nearly recovered from a knee scope, Ballard's time as the go-to rusher may be coming to a close.

5: RB Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    2012 Stats: 216 Total Yards (192 Rushing)

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Jonathan Dwyer bulldozed the Bengals for 122 rushing yards last week, eclipsing his previous career high from Week 5 of last year (107 yards).

    2. Just like Vick Ballard, Dywer's time as a go-to rusher may be over soon...unless he can make a great impression with the Steelers coaches in Week 8.

    3. With a strong effort against the Redskins, Dwyer could supplant Isaac Redman as Rashard Mendenhall's primary backup—assuming all three are fully healthy.

4: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

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    2012 Stats: 37 Catches, 435 Yards, 3 TD

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. In standard-scoring leagues, Randall Cobb currently ranks as the No. 15 wide receiver (nearly 10 points per game). Not bad for the fourth or fifth option on his own team, huh?

    2. For the season, Cobb has four outings of eight-plus targets. He also has four games of seven or more catches.

    3. Cobb has already crossed the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 95 yards and/or one touchdown five times.

3: WR Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns

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    2012 Stats: 14 Catches, 333 Yards, 4 TD

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. Josh Gordon has scored a touchdown in three straight games (four in that span).

    2. Gordon has seen a significant targets uptick in recent weeks, as well, collecting eight in Week 5 and 10 last Sunday.

    3. Looking ahead, Gordon has a realistic shot at nine or 10 touchdowns by season's end.

    4. The Browns rookie has all the makings of a breakout star.

2: RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals

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    2012 Stats: 186 Total Yards (127 Rushing), 2 TD

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. LaRod Stephens-Howling recorded his first 100-yard outing in the pros last week, racking up 149 total yards (104 rushing) and one touchdown.

    2. With Ryan Williams (out for the season) and Beanie Wells on the shelf, the door is wide open for either Stephens-Howling or William Powell to become Arizona's primary rusher.

    3. Stephens-Howling probably has more value in PPR leagues, compared to standard-scoring ones. He has a Darren Sproles-like capacity for six or seven catches every Sunday—with substantial playing time.

1: RB Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    2012 Stats: 155 Total Yards (90 Rushing), 1 TD

    Reasons For This Selection

    1. With Maurice Jones-Drew's potentially serious foot injury, Rashad Jennings could have an unimpeded path to fantasy greatness with the Jaguars.

    2. In Jennings' two career outings with 20-plus touches (including the Week 7 tussle with Oakland), he's two-for-two in earning 100-plus total yards and one touchdown.

    3. Jennings has the physical tools and running savvy to be a top 20 fantasy back, when occupying a starting role.

    4. Unlike the other tailbacks in this countdown, prospective owners would be wise to spend a huge chunk of their FAAB money on Jennings' acquisition.

    I have a feeling he'll be needed all season.

    For a full listing of Week 8's top 30 free agents, click here.