Week 8 of the 2013 NFL regular season began with a bang, as the Carolina Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-13. For all of the offense that we saw, however, many fantasy football owners were left wondering what could've been after receiving lackluster performances from their starters.
The question is, which mercurial stars should you take a gamble on during Week 8?
There's no question that the following players possess risk, but the odds are in their favor during the current week of football. Some are going up against defenses that have consistently struggled, while others are facing rivals who seem to bring the best out of them.
Risky or not, you need to get these players in your starting lineup.
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
Position: Tight End
2013 Season Statistics
Tight end is the most difficult position to project in fantasy football leagues. For every breakout performance, there's the inevitable possibility that players at the spot will be forced to block more than they break out in receiving patterns.
If any player is worth the risk in Week 8, it's Charles Clay of the Miami Dolphins.
Through seven games, Clay has 24 receptions for 304 yards and three receiving touchdowns. Those aren't extraordinary numbers, but Clay has become one of Ryan Tannehill's favorite targets and a key to the Dolphins' offense.
Even when he doesn't pile up the receptions, he's bound to find the end zone.
Clay will go up against a Patriots defense that has lost a number of key defensive players. Last week, Jeff Cumberland received seven targets against New England's defense, which presents Clay with the opportunity to receive a similar amount of looks.
Clay has touchdown receptions in three straight games and will provide value in both point-per-reception leagues.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
Position: Running Back
Experience: 7th Season
2013 Season Statistics
7 GP; 86 ATT, 380 YDS, 5 TD; 25 REC, 215 YDS
Every week, fantasy football owners seem to have an inner war with the idea of starting Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson. It's not hard to see why, as only so many touches can go around with C.J. Spiller already at running back.
With or without a healthy Spiller, Jackson is a must-start.
It looks like C.J. Spiller is unlikely for Week 8. Fred Jackson to carry the mail. Good for Spiller - he needs to rest his ankle.— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) October 25, 2013
Jackson is a genuine star, and it's all about his versatility.
In point-per-reception leagues, Jackson has tallied at least 14 fantasy points in six of his first seven games. He also has five rushing touchdowns, scoring at least one in four separate games, and has reemerged as one of the best all-around backs in the league.
The New Orleans Saints are a tough matchup, but Jackson will receive a high number of touches.
If you're in a point-per-reception league, there's no excuse for keeping Jackson out of your starting lineup when he's all but certain to eclipse 10 points. In standard leagues, Jackson should still be viewed as a safe start, as he'll likely top 100 yards of total offense due to his prowess as a runner and receiver.
Get Jackson in your lineup.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 6th Season
2013 Season Statistics
7 GP; 37 REC, 64 TGTS, 610 YDS, 5 TD
When it comes to the wide receiver position, there aren't many players who have displayed as much inconsistency as DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles. For every monster performance that the 26-year-old puts up, he's prone to complete and utter meltdowns.
It doesn't help his cause that both Nick Foles and Michael Vick are battling injuries.
Nick Foles is ruled OUT for the Eagles. So if Vick comes up limping again vs. #NYG, it's either a gimpy Vick or Matt Barkley at the Linc.— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) October 25, 2013
Regardless of who is under center, Jackson will have a monster day against the Giants.
Jackson's inconsistencies were summarized in his past two performances. He caught six passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns during Week 6 but landed just three catches for 21 yards during Week 7.
Fortunately for the Eagles and fantasy owners alike, Jackson routinely dominates the Giants.
Jackson caught seven passes for 132 yards and a touchdown against New York during Week 5. It marked the third consecutive game in which Jackson had at least six receptions in a game played against Philadelphia's NFC East rivals.
Whether it's Foles, Vick or Matt Barkley throwing passes, Jackson will continue that trend during Week 8.