Week 8: Sleepers of the Week
Football > Week 08 > Sleepers of the Week

Week 8: Sleepers of the Week

These lesser-known players deserve to start this week due to matchup or other circumstances. This week's picks include Jay Cutler, Brandon Weeden, Vick Ballard, Rashad Jennings, and Josh Gordon.

If one of your normal starters is injured or facing a tough match-up, here are some players you might consider starting in their place. While these players may not be every week starters, they are good bets to perform well this week. Most of the players that will be listed are on fantasy rosters, but not normally starters.

Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears take on the Carolina Panthers at home in week eight. Cutler has been one of the most inconsistent fantasy quarterbacks so far this season, mixing good games with terrible ones. He is coming off a 150 yard, one touchdown performance on Monday night against the Lions, but should be able to put up bigger numbers this week. Cutler has locked into Brandon Marshall throughout games, but will need to start spreading the ball around more as the season continues. The Panthers pass defense has been mediocre at best this season, allowing 245 passing yards per game -- 19th in the league. Fantasy owners who are on the fence about starting Jay Cutler this week can get him off their bench and can expect at least 220 passing yards and one touchdown.

Brandon Weeden and the Cleveland Browns return home to take on the San Diego Chargers in week eight. The rookie quarterback has been extremely impressive lately, throwing for two touchdowns in each of the last three games. Weeden has also topped 230 passing yards in each of the past six games. Despite his recent good performances, Weeden is owned in just 40 percent of fantasy leagues, making him a good claim for quarterback needy fantasy teams this week. Fellow rookie Josh Gordon has started to make a bigger impact as the season has worn on, giving Weeden a strong option that he can lean on from week to week. Weeden has a good match-up this week against a Chargers defense that is currently allowing more than 265 passing yards per game -- ranked 25th in the league. Fantasy owners in need of a bye week fill-in at the quarterback position can start Brandon Weeden and can expect at least 200 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Vick Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts travel to Tennessee to face the Titans in week eight. The rookie running back bounced back from an awful week six performance against the Jets with a good game against the Cleveland Browns in which he totaled 103 yards on 21 touches. Ballard was unable to find the endzone, but if he continues to touch the ball close to 20 times per game, he will be a valuable fantasy asset for the remainder of the season. Ballard should be able to find the endzone for the first time this season in week eight against a Tennessee Titans run defense that has allowed more than 134 rushing yards per game -- 24th in the league. Fantasy owners can start Vick Ballard this week and can expect at least 80 total yards and one touchdown from the first year back.

Rashad Jennings and the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers in week eight. The little used running back will have to carry the load for the Jaguars until Maurice Jones-Drew returns (which could be a few weeks). Jones-Drew will definitely miss this week's game, making Jennings the top option on many league's waiver wires. Jennings was forced into action in week seven and while he was held to 44 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries, he also added seven receptions for 58 yards, putting him over the 100 total yard mark on the day. With Blaine Gabbert also banged up, the Jaguars will look to lean on the rushing and short passing game this week against the Packers, giving Jennings plenty of opportunities to match last weeks yardage total. The Packers defense ranks in the middle of the pack in stopping the run, meaning that big plays could be there for Jennings to make this week. Fantasy owners can start Rashad Jennings this week and can expect at least 90 total yards and a touchdown.

Josh Gordon and the Cleveland Browns return home to take on the San Diego Chargers in week eight. The rookie wide receiver has flashed big play ability throughout the season (including finding the endzone in three consecutive games), but has yet to catch more than three passes in one single game. With Brandon Weeden stepping up his play as of late, Gordon can be expected to increase his production as well. Gordon is still on the waiver wire in almost 25 percent of fantasy leagues, a number that is sure to diminish in the near future. Fantasy owners in need of a WR 3 play for week eight can count on the rookie wide receiver for 75 receiving yards and one touchdown.