Week 8 of the 2013 NFL regular season has been one of extraordinary proportions from a fantasy football perspective. Superstars have returned to their extraordinarily productive ways, under-the-radar players have hit new heights, and the realm of fantasy football has returned to normalcy.
For all of the players who shined, many athletes are still flying under the radar. Said contributors remain free agents in a majority of fantasy football leagues, which opens the door for you to improve your team.
So, which breakout performers do you need to pick up?
All owned percentages provided by ESPN.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Owned: 43.5 percent
2013 Season Statistics: 8 GP; 65.6 CMP%, 2249 YDS, 16 TDs, 7 INTs
Entering the 2013 NFL regular season, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was prematurely accused of being a player who would never reach stardom. Despite the fact that Dalton led the Bengals to two consecutive playoff appearances in his first two seasons, many people focused on his deficiencies.
In his third year, the former TCU star has been absolutely dominant.
Dalton torched the New York Jets for 325 yards, five touchdowns and one interception during Week 8. It was his third consecutive game with at least 300 yards and three touchdowns through the air, further establishing his status as a progressively improving field general.
With each passing week, Dalton makes notable improvements.
It's time to stop doubting Cincinnati's quarterback.
Dalton isn't a game manager, but he is a player who has been looking to find his rhythm in the NFL. He's flashed signs of brilliance in the past, but mental mistakes and the absence of a true No. 2 receiver have hindered his attempts to become elite.
He's playing at that level right now, and that's exactly why you need to sign Dalton before someone else in your league does.
Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
Position: Running Back
Owned: 21.1 percent
2013 Season Statistics: 5 GP; 50 ATT, 214 YDS; 6 REC, 45 YDS, 1 TD
The St. Louis Rams have struggled to develop any form of a run game during the 2013 regular season. Over the past three weeks, however, 22-year-old rookie Zac Stacy has started to provide the run support St. Louis has desperately needed.
During a year in which running backs have struggled to produce at a consistent rate, Stacy is worth signing.
Stacy topped 70 rushing yards in two of his past three games and tallied 87 yards of total offense in Week 7. During that Week 7 breakout performance, Stacy came up with 53 rushing yards and four receptions for 34 yards and one touchdown, leading to double-digit fantasy output.
With Sam Bradford out for the season, look for Stacy to continue racking up carries and receptions off of checkdown passes.
His Week 8 meeting with the Seattle Seahawks won't be easy, but from there on out, Stacy should shine. Future opposing defenses won't be easy to score fantasy football points against, but his usage rate will be high enough to warrant his signing.
No task will be easy, but nothing provides more promise in fantasy football than opportunities.
Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
Position: Wide Receiver
Owned: 1.0 percent
2013 Season Statistics: 8 GP; 24 REC, 34 TGTS, 369 YDS, 7 TDs
If it wasn't for Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, a case could be made that the best wide receiver from Week 8 was Marvin Jones of the Bengals. Not only did he pile up reception after reception, but he also found the end zone at every turn.
In the end, Jones set a franchise record with four receiving touchdowns.
Fortunately for fantasy football owners, this wasn't a flash-in-the-pan performance.
Jones finished the day with eight receptions for 122 yards and an outrageous four touchdowns. It was the third consecutive game in which Jones recorded at least one receiving touchdown and the third straight in which he had at least 55 receiving yards.
That level of consistency makes this breakout performance even more intriguing.
Jones has become Cincinnati's No. 2 receiver, which is something the team has needed for quite some time. As the season goes on, he'll continue to see somewhere in the ballpark of four receptions per game and receive an elevated level of attention from Dalton in the red zone.
According to ESPN, Jones is owned in 1.0 percent of leagues. Sign him.
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