Week 8 Pickups: Under-the-Radar Sleepers That Will Pay Fantasy Dividends

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IOctober 22, 2013

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 09: Jeremy Kerley #11 of the New York Jets runs for a first down during the second quarter of the  pre-season game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 9, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The NFL suffered a terrible rash of injuries to star players Sunday, which sent shockwaves throughout fantasy football leagues across the nation. 

Needless to say, the waiver wire will be buzzing with activity heading into Week 8, and owners who lost stars will need to make savvy decisions in order to salvage their seasons. 

For NFL teams, injuries offer a challenge, but they also present an opportunity for the next man to make up the difference. With so many players to chose from, it can be tricky finding the best "next man" for your fantasy football team.

Here are a few under-the-radar players you should consider. 


Mike James, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Oct 13, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Mike James (25) runs with the ball as Philadelphia Eagles free safety Earl Wolff (28) and inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59) tackle during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Philadelp
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting running back Doug Martin tore his labrum Sunday, and the team is still unsure about his ability to return this season, as Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times noted Monday:

Whether or not he ends up returning this year, the Bucs will be without Martin for most of the season, putting the spotlight on Mike James.

The rookie struggled a bit after Martin left Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons, finishing the contest with just 53 yards on 17 touches. 

But James is the No. 1 option for Tampa Bay going forward, and he'll have plenty of opportunities to score fantasy points this year. Brad Evans of Yahoo! Noise loves his versatility and projects him to touch the ball 18-20 times per game:

The next couple of weeks could be rough, with upcoming games against Carolina and Seattle. But both teams are more dangerous against the pass than the run, meaning James will be leaned on heavily to protect Glennon from making too many mistakes. 


Jeremy Kerley, WR, New York Jets

Geno Smith is really coming on strong this year. He makes rookie mistakes, but he counters with a strong command of the huddle, an unflappable demeanor and excellent physical tools. 

One of the receivers he's been connecting with on a regular basis is Jeremy Kerley. 

Kerley caught eight passes against the New England Patriots on Sunday, totaling 97 yards and scoring a touchdown. In his last five games, he's been targeted 33 times and has come away with 22 catches for 274 yards and two touchdowns.

Smith and Kerley appear to be developing a strong rapport on the field, and this relationship should continue to blossom as the season progresses. 


Josh McCown, QB, Chicago Bears (Bye Week)

When Jay Cutler went down with his groin injury Sunday, it appeared Chicago's offense was doomed until his return. On Monday, the Bears announced on Twitter that Cutler would be out at least four weeks:

But the team's offense functioned just fine with Josh McCown behind center after Cutler left the game. He finished the day with 204 yards passing and a touchdown, completing 14 of his 20 attempts, and Chicago scored 41 points in the game.

This is great news for Cutler's fantasy owners, as they can feel good about simply replacing Cutler with his backup in the weeks to come. Head coach Marc Trestman told reporters on Monday that he was pleased with McCown and expects the bye week to be beneficial, as noted by SiriusXM NFL Radio:

Chicago's offense is still intact, aside from Cutler. McCown has a strong running game behind him with Matt Forte, and he has three excellent receiving options in Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett. 


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