The mixed bag of matchups that Week 8 has to offer presents a variety of fantasy football wide receivers—some consistently productive, others not traditionally so—who will post monster numbers on Sunday.
This particular foursome of surefire No. 1 options for this week features a usual suspect, two explosive players who vie for catches opposite equally stellar teammates and a dark horse play that may not initially come to mind.
If you're in a must-win situation, have these players or have the means to acquire them, congratulate yourself: you may have struck fantasy gold.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
Only New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz has been targeted as many times as the Colts veteran this season.
No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck has leaned on Wayne to say the least, and they are proving to be one heck of a combination. Wayne is on pace for a career year, which will continue in Sunday's AFC South battle in Tennessee.
The Titans give up a league-high 34 points per game and are 27th against the pass. No matter who he's lined up across from this year, Wayne has found a way to get it done.
Another factor working in Wayne's favor is that Indy was able to establish a running game against Cleveland last week, which hasn't really been the case all year. Considering the Titans are also incapable of stopping the run, it should open up multiple deep passes off of play action.
It's been two weeks since Wayne found pay dirt, but don't be concerned.
Help is on the way, courtesy of the Tennessee secondary, and it's hard to expect anything less than 100 yards and a touchdown.
Projection: 10 receptions, 155 yards, 2 TDs
Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
No matter who is in the backfield for the hosting Steelers, they don't need to establish the run in order to throw all over the Washington Redskins, who give up the most passing yards in the NFL.
Ben Roethlisberger fired Wallace's way 15 times in Cincinnati this past week. He'll love to use the fourth-year player's blinding speed to take shots deep against the Skins' secondary.
Wallace is well short of his career average of 18 yards per catch thus far in 2012, though still averaging a healthy 13.7 per grab. The law of averages is going to prevail this week in the form of a big spike in the Pittsburgh wide receiver's numbers.
While Antonio Brown will definitely take some targets away from Wallace, the balls traveling furthest down the field are more likely to go toward No. 17.
Don't expect many receptions from Wallace per say—only because a third of the passes he does haul in will go for six, and they'll be deep.
Projection: 6 receptions, 130 yards, 2 TDs
Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Here is another receiver who will be competing for targets against a putrid defense. Thomas has just one more catch than Eric Decker, but averages nearly four more yards per reception.
Thanks to the benefit of catching passes from Peyton Manning, Thomas has continued to blossom into what the Broncos thought he could be when he was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft. Through just six games, Thomas has already matched his career high with 32 receptions. That will only go up on Sunday night, to say the least.
Blown coverages have been a constant in New Orleans this season under the troubled tenure of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The return of Joe Vitt to the sideline may have helped the cause—if the opposing quarterback wasn't a Manning.
Thomas has the speed to take advantage of the sloppy coverage mistakes by the Saints. As he showed on a beautiful 29-yard TD reception against the Chargers in Week 6, Thomas has developed the finesse to run those deep routes crisply.
Projection: 7 receptions, 125 yards, 1 TD
Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets
A bit surprising perhaps to see Kerley's name here, but he has taken advantage of every favorable matchup on the schedule so far. Most notable of course was in Week 7 at New England, where Kerley was targeted 11 times and put up 120 yards on seven receptions.
Coverage against the Jets has adjusted since the return of Dustin Keller, which has given Kerley more of an opportunity to connect with QB Mark Sanchez.
The Dolphins are coming off of a bye and have the benefit of playing the Jets in Week 3.
This is a much different-looking offense, though, with Keller back in the fold and the emergence of an improved running game over the past two weeks.
Santonio Holmes caught nine passes for 145 yards in New York's overtime loss to Miami earlier this season, and all those targets are now going to go to Kerley.
The absence of Vontae Davis in the Dolphins' defensive backfield certainly looks to be hurting the team. Typical starter Richard Marshall (back) will also not be ready to go, even with the week off to rest (via NFL.com).
All signs point to Kerley putting together two fantastic games in a row, and this time in front of a raucous MetLife Stadium crowd.
Projection: 8 receptions, 110 yards, 1 TD
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