Week 8 of the NFL fantasy season is upon us, and teams are beginning to make their push for the playoffs. Bye weeks and injuries play a huge role in the scoring potential of a team, and pursuing the right names on the waiver wire is crucial to winning matchups.
In this article, we'll look at one under-the-radar fantasy option at each of the skill positions—quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end. We'll kick it off with the quarterback position.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Reliable quarterbacking options can be few and far between at this point in the season, but Andy Dalton presents a solid option for teams looking to cover a bye week, or as an injury replacement.
Dalton posted solid numbers in his last two games against the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions respectively, so a return home against the Jets plays well in his favor.
In Week 6, Dalton lit the Bills secondary up, to the tune of 24 fantasy points on 337 yards passing with three touchdowns, one interception, and 17 yards on the ground. In Week 7, Dalton was even more impressive against the Lions, logging 26 points on 372 yards passing and three touchdowns.
This week, Dalton matches up against a Jet defense that allows roughly 15 points per week to fantasy QBs (based on season averages), so expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20 points from the Red Rifle.
Roy Helu, RB, Washington Redskins
Running backs are the hottest commodity in fantasy football, so coming across a diamond in the rough can be difficult this late in the year. However, Roy Helu presents that opportunity in Week 8.
Helu was able to re-establish himself as a viable goal-line back in Week 7. The third-year veteran carried the rock 11 times, logging three touchdowns and 41 yards.
Though he's slated to take on a Bronco defense that's allowed the fewest yards against of any team in the AFC, Helu could get plenty of goal-line opportunities due to the Broncos' ineptitude against the pass.
The 'Skins gave Helu three touches inside the 15-yard line—two from the three-yard line—and he converted all of them with touchdowns (via ESPN.com). Assuming the team finds themselves in similar situations against the Broncos, expect Helu to get the rock, and convert.
Riley Cooper, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Riley Cooper and the Eagles are playing at home in Week 8, and will be taking on the New York Giants. Cooper has been on a mini-tear lately, rattling off 208 yards receiving and one touchdown over the past two weeks.
The Giants defense has been lackluster against the pass this season, allowing 262.1 yards receiving per-game through their first seven games.
Including Week 8, in which the Giants faced a quarterback in Josh Freeman who had no business being on the field, the Giants have allowed at least one 10-plus-point fantasy receiver in three of four straight weeks.
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With Michael Vick returning to the field this week, the potential is there for Cooper to have a big week. Vick has the ability to extend plays with his feet, allowing his receivers to get open downfield.
Vick's presence should open the field up for Cooper to have a big week against the Giants.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
Jordan Reed made a statement in Week 7 of the 2013 NFL season. The 23-year-old rookie logged 19 fantasy points against a Chicago Bears defense that ranks 13th in the NFC in passing yards allowed.
Which under-the-radar option is the best breakout option for Week 8
This week, the young tight end will take on an even more favorable matchup in the Denver Broncos. Much like we discussed with Riley Cooper, Reed will benefit from a matchup against a defense that currently ranks dead last in the AFC in passing yards allowed per-game (via ESPN.com).
Beyond that, though, the Broncos have been surprisingly bad at covering tight ends.
In all but two of the team's seven games, the Broncos defense has allowed seven points to opposing tight ends. All of that makes Jordan Reed a very safe bet in Week 8.