Week 8 Edition
Week 7 served as a classic example that there is truly no way to tell when a player completely off the sonar system will surge up from the depths and make a splash while big-name stars are held in check. This week’s dive, examines a promising handcuff running back, a tight end with rising stock, and much more!
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Week 8 Opponent: at Patriots
The watch for handcuff running backs continues to intensify as the NFL season hits its midway point. Owners of Melvin Gordon have been rewarded with some huge fantasy outputs this year. Unfortunately, with his sizable weekly workload, an injury is always a risk, and it is Austin Ekeler who has emerged as the Chargers’ primary backup running back. Los Angeles also has Branden Oliver in the mix, but he has been banged up with injuries and just hasn’t been as impressive as Ekeler in his opportunities. Twice this year even with Gordon in the lineup, Ekeler has scored a touchdown. This included Week 7’s win over the Broncos when he had a receiving touchdown on 4 receptions while also toting the ball just 7 times but for 38 yards. While he is unlikely to garner enough of a workload to be a fantasy asset regularly in his current role, clearing a roster spot for him now will put you far ahead of the other guy should ill fate strike Gordon.
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
Week 8 Opponent: at Ravens (THU)
The best thing that may have happened for the Dolphins in Week 7 was the injury to Jay Cutler. While it’s never good to see guys get hurt, Matt Moore is honestly far and away the better quarterback which bodes well for Dolphins receivers going forward. Kenny Stills jumped on the opportunity to have his coming-out party last week. After catching a touchdown from Cutler in Week 6, he hauled in 6 catches for 85 yards and 2 scores as an encore with one each coming from Cutler and Moore. Also on his side is a history of chemistry with Moore. Stills had a touchdown catch in all three of Moore’s starts last year. While huge games against the Ravens secondary have been tough to come by for other teams, Stills will likely see plenty of targets with DeVante Parker still uncertain for Thursday with the same ankle injury that has been keeping him out. With Week 8 having 6 teams on bye, Stills can contribute to your fantasy team immediately.
A.J. Derby, TE, Denver Broncos
Week 8 Opponent: at Chiefs
It’s no secret that the Broncos offense has sputtered mightily the last two weeks. Week 7 marked the first time since 1992 that Denver had been shutout, and offensive bright spots were few and far between. One was A.J. Derby who caught 6 passes for 66 yards to lead the team. If not for a fumble, his fantasy line would have been better. While naysayers will point to most of his production coming in garbage time, it is worth noting that Derby also led the Broncos in receiving yards back in the Week 4 win over Oakland when he had 75 yards and also caught a touchdown. With the Broncos offensive line banged up and its top receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas ailing, Derby could be seeing increased targets from Trevor Siemian in the coming weeks as a primary safety valve.
Stephen Hauschka, K, Buffalo Bills
Week 8 Opponent: vs. Raiders
Although he himself admitted that he landed in an unlikely destination this offseason (Western New York doesn’t exactly offer ideal kicking situations), Stephen Hauschka has taken off with his new team this season. From Weeks 3 through 7, Hauschka has made at least three field goals in every game, as well as at least 1 extra point with the only exception being the Week 6 bye. It seems mind-blowing that these numbers only amount to a 14.1% ownership in ESPN leagues. The surprising start by the Bills offense has given him more opportunities than many would have thought. And even with the weather likely to get worse in Buffalo, the Bills have one of the most favorable schedules against opposing defenses in the second half of the season, starting with the Raiders this week. If Tyrod Taylor is a high priority QB against these defenses down the stretch, then Hauschka needs to be owned in all leagues with chances likely to come in bunches.