With the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans all on byes this week, many fantasy owners will be forced to dig deep for potential starting fantasy options in the absence of weekly starters Andre Johnson, A.J. Green, Torrey Smith and Steve Johnson.
The following are the top 30 fantasy wide receiver options for Week 8 of the NFL season, broken down into four tiers.
1. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
2. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings
3. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
4. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
5. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
6. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
7. Wes Welker, New England Patriots
8. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With 363 yards and three touchdowns in the last three weeks, Brandon Marshall is the top fantasy receiver this week. Facing a weak Carolina defense that just lost its top cornerback in Chris Gamble for the remainder of the season, Marshall has a great chance to go over 100 yards and reach the end zone at least once for the third time in four games.
The rest of this tier is made up of consistently productive receivers that should be starting on a weekly basis regardless of match up or other options.
Harvin, Nelson and Wayne are all player riding a wave of momentum into this week and face very favorable secondaries in Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Tennessee, respectively.
Johnson, Cruz, Welker and Jackson, though facing defenses that have had more success stopping the pass, are simply too talented and have put up too good of numbers to be left out of the top tier.
Low-End No. 1 Wide Receivers/High-End No. 2 Options
9. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
10. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
11. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
12. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
13. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
14. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Though he is coming off of his worst start since Week 2 and is facing one of the top defenses in the NFL in San Francisco, Larry Fitzgerald remains a weekly top-10 option as he begins to re-develop chemistry with John Skelton.
Mike Wallace faces one of the weakest secondaries in the game and is a candidate to post huge numbers if he is able to get behind the Redskins defense.
Thomas, White, Colston and Jones each have produced a number of big games this season and have the potential to break out any week against any defense. All four should be considered quality starting options and should be able to be relied on for around 100 yards and potentially a touchdown.
Solid No. 2 Fantasy Receivers
15. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
16. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
17. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
18. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
19. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
20. Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like Wallace in the tier above, Brown's big-play ability makes him a quality play against a weak Redskins secondary. It's never safe to rely on a big-play threat, but Brown has the potential to be one of the top receivers this week if he can receive the targets needed.
Nicks and Bowe, though coming off of unspectacular outings, are simply too talented and receive too many targets to place any further down the list while Randall Cobb, though inconsistent throughout much of the season, appears to be receiving an increasingly bigger role in the Packers' offense with every passing week.
Sleepers and No. 3 Options
21. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
22. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
23. Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys
24. Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
25. James Jones, Green Bay Packers
26. Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
27. Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
28. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
29. Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints
30. Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots
The final tier is a mix of players that were either higher draft-pick investments, potential late-round fliers or waiver-wire pickups over the last seven weeks.
Until the Eagles' passing game is able to find some consistency, Jackson and Maclin are tough to rely on as anything more than low-end No. 2 options or quality No. 3/flex options. Jackson has received more consistent targets, but Maclin is coming off of his best performance of the season prior to the Eagles' bye week.
Austin, Britt, Jones and Gordon are all players owners should view as boom-or-bust. They have the potential to reach the end zone multiple times but are almost just as likely to see limited targets and struggle to eclipse 50 yards.
Coming in at the bottom three of the list are Smith, Moore and Lloyd, receivers who were likely taken in the middle rounds in August who are now struggling to match the expectations many owners had for them. With that said, they still have the potential to put up big games and are certainly worth starting in leagues that start three receivers or if you are facing a bye week from one of your other starters.
If you have any questions about my rankings or where I would place any deeper sleepers, just post in the comments section and I will get back to you as soon as possible.