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Week 8 Sleeper Report

  Updated 10/28 by Bob Henry, Exclusive for Footballguys.com

This weekly article takes a look at players who are probably not in your weekly starting lineup. Each position is analyzed to identify players that may perform better than usual. The reasons vary depending on the specific circumstances of the player and team, such as:

  • Favorable matchups based on their opponent's defensive trends
  • Specific player matchups or injuries to the opposing team's defense
  • Increased playing time due to an injury to a starter or coaching decisions

Sometimes a player is considered if they are normally a starter, but have a bad matchup. Each position is covered in descending order beginning with players most likely to outperform their usual production to those who are certifiable reaches. Your mileage will vary depending on the particulars of your league size and scoring, but we'll try to identify players that could benefit all leagues. We hope to provide you with some analysis that will make those difficult lineup decisions a bit easier. Good luck and always keep in mind that your feedback and comments are welcome.


Quarterback

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

Jay Cutler - CHI - Cutler enters this week's game right at the edge of being a low-end fantasy starter and an excellent backup. He has been mostly good, but he has thrown almost as many interceptions (10) as touchdowns (11), but just like chicks, us fantasy owners love the long ball. This week, against a shaky Browns defense, Cutler should be able to hit pay dirt for some big plays. The Browns defense is among a group of defenses that has allowed the most big plays in the league through the air -- 26 completions of 20+ yards and 7 of 40 yards or more. The Browns have only 11 sacks. The Packers have had a difficult time keeping Aaron Rodgers upright, but he coasted to 246 yards and 3 TDs last week in a blowout win over the Browns. Are you concerned about a blowout and Cutler handing it off to Matt Forte 30 times? Don't be. Ben Roethlisberger threw 35 passes, completed 23 of them for 417 yards and 2 TDs against the Browns two weeks ago. Only two of the seven quarterbacks to play Cleveland failed to throw for 230+ yards, although only three of them threw for 2 or more TDs. Cutler should join that group this weekend.

David Garrard - JAX - Four times in his career David Garrard has passed or thrown for 3 TDs in a game. Two of those games have come against the Titans, and one of them was four weeks ago when he completed 27-of37 attempts for 323 yards at home against Tennessee. Garrard has been shaky on the road this year, but the Titans are easily the best possible matchup for quarterbacks allowing an average of 326 yards, 3.2 TDs and 0.7 INTs per game. Opposing QBs are completing a ridiculous 74% of their passes against them, which is understandable since they've registered only 11 sacks and 4 interceptions, and their opponent's passer rating is 117.5. Mark Sanchez was the only QB not to throw for over 300 yards against the Titans, though he did score 3 TDs. The only QB not to score at least 3 TDs was Ben Roethlisberger in Week 1, but he wasn't disappointing with 363 yds. Needless to say, barring a missed bed check by Mike Sims-Walker, Garrard looks like a great quarterback to have if you paired him with Roethlisberger, Tom Brady or Carson Palmer, who are all on their bye this week.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

Matt Hasselbeck - SEA - The Seahawks had a week off to heal from the wounds inflicted upon them by the Arizona Cardinals. Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted once. He didn't throw a TD and he completed just 10 of his 29 passes. Coming off the bye, with an extra week to prepare, the Seahawks should rebound nicely against a Cowboys defense allowing 253 passing yards per game with 10 TDs against 4 interceptions. The Cowboys haven't exactly faced a murderer's row of QBs either, but Byron Leftwich, Eli Manning, Jake Delhomme, Kyle Orton and Matt Cassel all threw for 220 or more yards and at least 1 TD. Four of the six QBs to play Dallas have thrown 2 TDs, but the Cowboys defense came to play last week. They hurried and harassed Matt Ryan into a pair of interceptions and held him to 198 yards -- the first time this year they've done that. Hasselbeck's main problem against the Cardinals was a lack of pass protection up front. He could be in a similar situation this week, so he's a bit of a gamble. In four starts this year, Hasselbeck has games of 25-36-279-3-2 (vs Stl) and 18-30-241-4-0 (vs. Jax). He also has a pair of duds against the Cardinals and 49ers (10-18-97-0-0).

Kyle Orton - DEN - On paper, this game looks like a reasonably good situation for Orton to produce reasonably good fantasy numbers, but beware, it also looks like a trap game. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown for an average of 258 yards per game with 9 TDs and 7 interceptions. The Ravens have allowed more big plays than usual, too. Opponents have completed 22 passes of 20+ yards and 6 of 40+ yards. That's enough stats for now. The Broncos are going into the belly of the beast this Sunday. The Ravens are coming off the bye, which has given them an extra week to stew about their last-minute loss to the Vikings after they roared back to take the lead, only to allow a last-second field goal and lose the game. Orton has thrown 9 TDs this year to just one interception after being harassed by fans in the preseason for throwing multiple picks. The Ravens defense isn't what it used to be, but they are still dangerous. Orton will probably produce a decent amount of yards (the last three QBs have all thrown for 250+ yards and an average of 2 TDs). In his last three games, Orton has thrown for at least 229 yards and 2 TDs. So while the matchup makes sense, and Orton is certainly playing good football, use Orton with some caution. Call it a gut feeling, but if you give a prideful Ravens defense two weeks off after giving up 34 points to the Vikings, I suspect there will be trouble for the Broncos in the Raven's nest.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

Marc Bulger - STL - It's been a while since Marc Bulger was a serviceable fantasy quarterback. This year he has thrown for 200 yards and a TD just once in five starts. It took a juicy matchup against a poor Jaguars defense for Bulger to take advantage, and it's a stretch to say the he did that, but he did manage to complete 22-of-34 for 213 yards and 1 TD. This week, Bulger has a layup against a Lions defense allowing opponents to complete a league-high 74.2% of their passes for 274 yards/game with 17 TDs against only 4 INTs. Their opponent's passer rating is an unlikely 118.7! If there's a dark side to facing the Lions it would be that they are coming off the bye, they are at home and they'll get some key defenders along their defensive line back from injury (DeWayne White and rookie Sammie Lee Hill). All six QBs to face Detroit this year have thrown for 2 or more TDs. Of those, four threw for 277 or more yards. The other two (Brett Favre and Jay Cutler) didn't need to throw many passes because they jumped out an early lead. Bulger doesn't quite belong in the Prime Cut category, but he's a solid reach if you're other possibilities are thin and he should be able to have his best game of the season (as long as Donnie Avery doesn't reinjure himself).

Vince Young - TEN - At the time this is being written, Vince Young hasn't even been named as the Titans starting QB for Week 8, but news has surfaced that Titans owner Bud Adams has given the mandate to Jeff Fisher to play him. Fisher himself was rather coy about his starting quarterback this week when asked about it on Monday. The writing is on the wall for a winless Titans team. Young is huge gamble. He could easily implode with turnovers and bad decisions or produce some big plays and somehow re-emerge as a viable fantasy quarterback. It seems unlikely, but altogether possible, especially going against a Jaguars defense that has allowed 12 TD passes to just 5 INTs, a 69.1% completion rate and 267 passing yds/game. Making matters worse, the Jags could be without their top corner Rashean Mathis, who broke his index finger and has a cast along with several stitches. Kerry Collins threw for 284 yards, a TD and 2 INTs and he also ran for a TD in Week 4 against the Jags. Keep your eyes on the news blogger this week. If Young gets the starting nod, then it wouldn't be too far-fetched for you to pick him up and start him this week in deeper leagues. If not, Kerry Collins has just the matchup he needs to produce decent numbers and get the Titans their first win of the year.

If you're desperate (worth a look in deeper leagues)

Jake Delhomme - CAR - On Monday, Panthers head coach John Fox was noncommittal when asked about Jake Delhomme keeping his starting job going into Week 8. Who could complain if he decides to go with Matt Moore after Delhomme threw three more picks on Sunday against the Bills. He now has a league-leading 13 INTs on the season. This comes after he melted down in the playoffs with 5 picks against the same team they're set to face this coming week -- Arizona. That being said, the Cardinals are a decent matchup for QBs, but they can also be a dangerous one (as Delhomme can attest). They picked off Eli Manning three times on Sunday night while giving up 243 yards and a TD. If Delhomme is benched, you might think about putting in a waiver claim for Moore and possibly even use him this week, but only if you're really in a pinch. The Cardinals have played well in the last two games and have successfully stymied Eli Manning and Matt Hasselbeck (10-29-112-0-1).

Daunte Culpepper - DET - For the last player among this week's sleeper quarterbacks, I wrestled with the notion of JaMarcus Russell against the Chargers (outrageous), Chad Henne against the Jets (maybe he got lucky in their last game, but that was in Miami, too) and even Ryan Fitzpatrick (Houston's defense can be beaten), but then I came to my senses and against my better judgment the Lions matchup against the Rams jumped out at me, despite the likelihood of Jim Schwartz not naming his starting quarterback until Sunday morning. Matthew Stafford practiced on Tuesday and ran with the ones, but the Lions could be cautious with him and opt for Culpepper if he experiences any swelling. If Stafford goes, he's definitely worth a look. If not, Culpepper will get another shot, but even with a week off, Calvin Johnson may not be ready to go either (he didn't practice on Tuesday). Culpepper will need to get it done with the likes of Dennis Northcutt, Bryant Johnson and TE Brandon Pettigrew. The Rams defense lost CB Bradley Fletcher for the year last week and they dealt their best linebacker to the Eagles for a second day draft pick. Opposing QBs have completed 67% of their passes against them while averaging 250 yards per game with 11 TDs to just 5 interceptions for a passer rating of 98.7. Culpepper looked spry against the Steelers in Week 5 when he threw for 282 yards and ran for 44 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. With a week of rest, Culpepper should be productive against this Rams defense. If Stafford is a go, then he's not as much of a desperate option, but he's not the safest of sleepers either.


Running Back

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

LaDainian Tomlinson - SD - Tomlinson has gone 13 games since his last 100-yard rushing effort and last week's 71 yards against the Chiefs marked his season-high. Tomlinson hasn't scored a TD since the season opener against Oakland, a team he has had great success against over the years. This week, the Chargers host the Raiders and Tomlinson is looking to build on his last two starts that netted him 100 yards and 73 yards respectively. For their part, Oakland has 10 runs of 20+ yards this year (tied with Buffalo for the most), a league-high 11 rushing TDs and 170 yards per game on the ground. Last week, the Jets lost Leon Washington for the year with a broken leg, but still got 144 yards and 2 TDs out of rookie Shonn Greene and 121 yards and a TD out of Thomas Jones. If you own Tomlinson, you're obviously holding out hope that he has some gas left in the tank. If he does, then he just might produce his second 100-yard rushing game since he played the Raiders in Week 4 last year.

Ricky Williams - MIA - Ricky is having one heck of a swan song this season. Despite not being a "starter", he's turned into a whale of a value for someone likely drafted to be a RB3 or RB4. Instead, he's turning in RB1/RB2-like performances week in and week out. He and the Dolphins face a Jets defense that they just embarrassed in Miami three weeks ago. Williams combined for 138 yards in that game. Since losing NT Kris Jenkins for the season, the Jets allowed the Bills' Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson 72 and 52 yards respectively, but they kept them out of the end zone. Last week, Justin Fargas totaled 90 yards and Michael Bush 31 against them. The Dolphins run the ball as well as any team in the league, though they'll be in a more hostile environment this time around in the Meadowlands. Ricky is second fiddle to Ronnie Brown, but Miami runs the ball enough to support two fantasy-worthy RBs and as bad as they ran over the Jets in their last meeting, it's hard not to like Williams again this week.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

Chris Wells and Tim Hightower - ARI - Through the first three games, Tim Hightower had 32 carries to Wells' 16, but in the last three games, the tide has turned to favor Wells with 33 carries to Hightower's 23. Last week, Wells unleashed a stiff arm on the Giants to score his first NFL touchdown. That run underscored Wells emergence as what is likely to be the Cardinals favored runner going forward. The Cardinals are even making good on Ken Whisenhunt's intention of working Wells into the passing game more. This week, the Cardinals host a Panthers team that suffered another tough loss last week, and now they travel across the country to face a team that is getting their swagger back. The Panthers did well to hold the Bills' Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson to a combined 49 yards and a TD last week. The Panthers have struggled against the run, but they aren't a great matchup like the Bills, Browns or Raiders. Wells has been featured more in games the Cardinals have played with a lead. That could very well be the case again this week. Wells should once again get 10 or more carries, a couple of receptions and a decent shot to find the end zone. On the other hand, Tim Hightower has scored a touchdown in three straight games and four out of six games on the season, and he remains the starter and the one most likely to pad your stats in PPR leagues. Both players come with risk, though both are worth a gamble as your RB3/flex option.

Knowshon Moreno - DEN - It seems unthinkable to be writing about a young running back going on the road to play the Baltimore Ravens defense as a potential sleeper this week. Yet, here we are. After not allowing an opposing RB to run for 100 yards for a few years, Cedric Benson (120 yards and a TD) and Adrian Peterson (143 yards) did it in back-to-back games. Darren Sproles burned them for 150 total yards and a TD earlier this year with LaDainian Tomlinson hurt. Jerome Harrison replaced Jamal Lewis in the lineup and combined for 85 yards against them. Moreno is still sharing the backfield with Correll Buckhalter, but it's more like a 2:1 split than a rotation. Moreno has carried the ball between 14 and 21 times in every game since the season opener. Moreno should get a similar amount of touches this week, but don't expect a third straight 100-yard game against the Ravens. Moreno is a decent gamble as a flex option this week, but he'll have some tough sledding to get into the end zone. The Ravens have allowed only two rushing TDs this year to RBs.

Jamal Lewis - CLE - Like the Raiders, the Browns are mostly a vast wasteland of fantasy value thanks to dismal quarterback play among other problems. Yet there might be some hope for Jamal Lewis and his chances of being remotely useful against the Bears this week. Since returning from injury, Lewis has 185 yards in three games ranging from 117 yards against a poor Bills defense to 11-21-0 against the Steelers and 15-47-0 against the Packers last week. The Bears are somewhere in the middle as far as a defensive matchup compared to his three previous opponents. Of course, last week Cedric Benson's motivation was evident as he steamrolled his former teammates for 189 yards and a TD. Lewis has no such motivation nor as good of a team around him. In the previous two games, the Bears were reasonably stout against Michael Turner (46 yards and a TD) and Kevin Smith (51 yards and 2 TDs). However, in Week 3, it was Julius Jones and his 136 yards and a TD that give Lewis owners hope for a Benson-like reprisal. Lewis hasn't found the end zone yet this year and the Browns only rushing TD came from Derek Anderson, but the Bears are allowing one per game, so Lewis just might be able to do the do this week.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

Justin Fargas - OAK - It's hard to find any fantasy value on the Raiders offense, but Justin Fargas is one of the exceptions and that might be stretching it. Buoyed by an injury to Darren McFadden and a head coach that is smitten with his straight ahead running style, Fargas produced 90 and 98 yards in the Raiders last two games against the Jets and Eagles while Michael Bush produced 31 and 24 yards respectively. This week, Fargas expects to be the Raiders lead back against a Chargers defense 123 rushing yards and 1 TD per game to opposing RBs. In the season opener, McFadden produced 59 yards and a TD while Bush produced 93 total yards. This time around, Fargas should get more than half of the carries with Bush getting the rest. For whatever reason, Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable doesn't care much for Bush, so if you're going to roll the dice and go with hope as a plan, then you might take Fargas first, Bush second. One or both could be useful as a flex option, but they are both reaches due to the Raiders overall ineptitude on offense.

Darren Sproles - SD - The Raiders defense has struggled against the run this year, in part because they've been giving up big plays. They allowed 10 runs of 20+ yards so far (tied with Buffalo for the most), and a league-high 11 rushing TDs and 170 yards per game on the ground. Last week, the Jets lost Leon Washington for the year with a broken leg, but they still got 144 yards and 2 TDs out of rookie Shonn Greene, and 121 yards and a TD out of Thomas Jones. When these two teams played in Week 1, Sproles ran for a TD and combined for 66 yards. He ran the ball 9 times for 23 yards and caught five balls for 43 yards. Sproles burned the Raiders last year for a pair of TD catches and 64 total yards in Week 14. Suffice to say, he is on a roll against them. The tricky thing with Sproles has been predicting his touches from week to week. Last week, he combined for 99 yards and a TD against the Chiefs, but he had just three touches in the previous two games combined as Tomlinson re-asserted himself into the Chargers game plan. He's definitely a gamble in that sense, but against the Raiders, he is exactly the type of back you want to take gamble on.

Mike Bell - NO - After missing two games due to injury, Mike Bell might have surprised some people when he re-emerged the last two weeks with 34 yards and a TD against the Giants, and then 80 yards against the Dolphins on Sunday. More telling, Bell and Pierre Thomas each had 15 carries against the Giants while Bell had 12 against Miami to Thomas's eight. This week, the Saints should be able to run the ball effectively against a smaller Falcons front seven that is allowing 4.6 yards per carry and will undoubtedly be more concerned about stopping Drew Brees. The Falcons are a neutral matchup otherwise. They did the best job of any run defense against the Dolphins and only one back has run for more than 80 yards against them (Fred Taylor, though DeAngelo Williams had 79 yds and a touch). Compiling big yards isn't Bell's thing as much as it is getting the ball into the end zone. He's the preferred back at the goal line for Sean Payton and he has scored in two of the four games he's played.

If you're desperate (worth a look in deeper leagues)

Chris Brown - HOU - The Bills run defense is the worst in the league allowing 160 yards and 1.3 TDs per game to opposing backs and a league-worst 5.2 yards per carry. They've allowed 10 runs of 20+ yards -- also worst in the league. Steve Slaton has lost four fumbles this year and with one more mishap, Gary Kubiak could turn to Brown for more than just short-yardage and goal line work. There's a decent chance the Texans could have enough of a lead in this game to get Brown additional carries in the second half. Brown is a major reach, but if you're in a TD-heavy league, Brown might be a sneaky play. The Bills did a reasonably good job on the Panthers ground game last week, but the Texans have Matt Schaub, not Jake Delhomme to keep them honest against the pass.

Michael Bush - OAK - It's hard to find any fantasy value on the Raiders offense, but Justin Fargas is one of the exceptions and that might be stretching it. Buoyed by an injury to Darren McFadden and a head coach that is smitten with his straight ahead running style, Fargas produced 90 and 98 yards in the Raiders last two games against the Jets and Eagles while Michael Bush produced 31 and 24 yards respectively. This week, Fargas expects to be the Raiders lead back against a Chargers defense 123 rushing yards and 1 TD per game to opposing RBs. In the season opener, McFadden produced 59 yards and a TD while Bush produced 93 total yards. This time around, Fargas should get more than half of the carries with Bush getting the rest. For whatever reason, Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable doesn't care much for Bush, so if you're going to roll the dice and go with hope as a plan, then you might take Fargas first, Bush second. One or both could be useful as a flex option, but they are both reaches due to the Raiders overall ineptitude on offense.


Wide Receiver

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

Miles Austin - DAL - If you've been lucky enough to start Miles Austin in the last two games, then you almost have to keep him in your lineup at this point. The Seahawks are another decent matchup, although they have Marcus Trufant returning off the PUP list to play this week to give their secondary a boost. In the Seahawks last game, the Cardinals top three receivers torched them for a combined 26 catches, 232 yards and 2 TDs. Tony Romo is playing better football now that Austin has emerged and Roy Williams is dropping as many passes as he is catching these days. In the Seahawks last four games, they've allowed an average of 16 catches, 194 yards and 1.5 TDs to opposing WRs. If Austin comes up short, then you can put on your old Meatloaf album, because two out of three ain't bad.

Kenny Britt and Nate Washington - TEN - The Titans/Jags games look very much like another track meet waiting to happen. The two teams are #1 and #2 in terms of best possible fantasy matchups for opposing WRs. When they played in Week 4, Washington caught 7 balls for 66 yards and a TD while Britt had seven catches for 105 yards. Justin Gage's production tapered off quickly this year after a fast start in the season opener, so he's no longer much of a fantasy option as the Britt, the talent rookie, emerged. The Titans passing attack has been sporadic lately, whether it's Kerry Collins or Vince Young, they should have time to setup and throw against the Jags. Just hope it's Collins behind center if you're looking to take advantage of Britt or Washington's matchup this week. Three weeks ago, the Seahawks Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh each caught a pair of TD passes against the Jags. If Young ends up getting the call at QB, bump their fantasy potential down a notch, but still keep them in mind as viable sleepers.

Donnie Avery - STL - Avery has been banged up the last few weeks, but he looks like he'll be able to go this week. He's been limited the past two games to just three catches, but he caught a 17-yard TD against the Jags and produced 58 yards on his only two catches against the Colts last week. The Lions are an excellent matchup for quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends. They've allowed 17 TD passes on the season (2nd most) and the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs. In their last two games, the top three receivers of the Packers and the Steelers produced 50 or more yards and three of those six caught TDs. As long as Avery is healthy enough to play, he should be worthwhile as your WR3 or flex option this week.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

Torry Holt - JAX - With the Titans on the schedule this week, Holt is a must start as WR3/WR4/flex option even though he only caught three balls for 42 yards when these two teams tangled in Week 4. Mike-Sims Walker got all of David Garrard's love as he went for 7-92-2 and even rookie Mike Thomas had a better game with 5-31-0 and 9 yards rushing. Since that game, though, Holt's production has increased with 7-95-0 and 5-101-0 over the last two games. The Titans have allowed 19 TD passes to opponents (most in the league) and receivers have caught 15 of them (also most in the league). Almost midway through the season and the Titans are the triple crown winner of fantasy matchups allowing the most receptions, yards and TDs to opposing WRs. Ten of the twelve WRs to start against the Jags have scored double digit fantasy points (standard scoring) and, ironically, Holt is one of the two who didn't (Chansi Stuckey the other). Expect Holt to redeem himself this week.

Lee Evans - BUF - With Ryan Fitzpatrick set to start his second straight game, Lee Evans looks like he'll get mild boost in value since Fitzpatrick undoubtedly has a good comfort level with him and the two connected well last week. Evans has been the classic boom or bust receiver for a while now, so when he topped 50 yards in just one of the first five games, it wasn't a big surprise. Neither was it when he produced 4-68-1 and 5-75-1 in the last 2 games. Evans was targeted 5 or 6 times in the first five games, but since Fitzpatrick replaced Edwards two weeks ago, Evans has been targeted 12 and 9 times. That's not a coincidence. As a fantasy matchup for WRs, the Texans are slightly above average. In their last three games, the opposing starters have averaged 5-79-0.6 (WR1) and 5-59-0.3 (WR2) per game. It's probably not a good time to put Terrell Owens on the bench, but given Evans' rapport with Fitzpatrick and the number of inside slants he's running lately, he seems more likely to continue producing in this game.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

Johnny Knox - CHI - The Browns have allowed 26 receptions of 20 yards or longer (2nd most) and 7 receptions of 40 yards or longer (3rd most) while allowing an average of 10 catches, 159 yards and 1 TD per game to opposing WRs. In the past two games, Donald Driver, Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes all broke loose for big plays against the Browns. If Knox has one special talent it is his elite speed and he's also shown a knack for catching TD passes from Jay Cutler in his rookie season. Devin Hester and Earl Bennett are also solid plays this week while Knox gets a little less attention perhaps because he's the team's No. 3 receiver. Don't let that stop you from reaching for him this week. He could very well score again and this week dial one in from long distance, too.

Lance Moore and Devery Henderson - NO - Brent Grimes stepped into the starting corner spot vacated by the injured Brian Williams last week. Miles Austin made him pay as Grimes failed to tackle Austin as he caught his third touchdown in two weeks. Austin later scored again, too. The Falcons secondary is susceptible right now and the Saints have too many weapons for the Falcons to commit extra bodies to Devery Henderson or Lance Moore. Last year, Moore went for 6-76-1 while Henderson had 2-33-0 against the Falcons in Week 10, then in Week 14, Henderson had 3-72-0 and Moore had 3-35-0. It's a gamble rolling with either player, but the upside is there with a solid matchup for Drew Brees to take full advantage.

James Jones - GB - When these two teams last time the Packers got plenty of production out of their 3rd and 4th receivers -- TE Jermichael Finley and WR Jordy Nelson, who both caught TDs. Since then, both Nelson and Finley succumbed to injury leaving Jones as the unquestioned No. 3 receiver behind Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Jones caught TDs in each of the Packers last two games, but despite that, he only has three combined catches in those games. He should see more reps and targets this week, especially with the Vikings secondary being a little thinner without Antonio Winfield. As good as the Vikings defense has been this year they've allowed a league-high 27 receptions of 20+ yards. Last week, the Steelers slot receiver Mike Wallace caught 3 balls for 72 yards and a TD while adding 19 more yards rushing. Kelley Washington contributed 3-48-0 out of the slot for the Ravens in Week 6 and Danny Amendola 5-43-0 for the Rams in Week 5.

Jeremy Maclin - PHI - Kevin Curtis is out after having surgery on his knee and DeSean Jackson had X-rays taken of his foot during last week's game after he broke loose for two long TDs. Jackson reportedly sprained his ankle, but he continued to play. He missed practice on Wednesday, but he is expected to play on Sunday. Either way, Maclin is in the starting lineup now and producing, albeit inconsistently. The Giants are a tough matchup, but Maclin could see more targets after having been targeted 8, 6 and 7 times in the last three games. He's worth a reach simply due to his upside and talent alone, but if Jackson has any problems with his ankle or miss more practice than expected, then bump Maclin up a few more spots and give him a shot.

If you're desperate (worth a look in deeper leagues)

Mike Thomas - JAX - Since returning from a preseason injury, the Jags talented rookie receiver has produced 45, 40, 28 and 52 yards in his first four NFL appearances. In Week 6, prior to their bye, Thomas caught 7 balls and he has a firm grasp on the team's No. 3 WR job. When the Jags played the Titans four weeks ago, Thomas caught 5 balls for 31 yards. Those stats aren't overly impressive for a fantasy WR, but the matchup is once again great and Thomas seems to be gaining confidence, not to mention targets. Both teams were on the bye last week, but in the Titans last two games they've allowed significant production to receivers operating out of the slot. Julian Edelman caught 6 balls for 43 yards and Austin Collie had 8 for 97 yards and 2 TDs.

David Clowney - NYJ - Jerricho Cotchery looked sharp in practice on Tuesday, so he seems likely to return to the lineup this week relegating Clowney back to the No. 3 spot. Clowney didn't catch a ball in the first four games, but he saw an increased role against the Dolphins when they met in Week 5 as Cotchery's snaps were limited due to his hamstring injury. Clowney went on to catch 4 balls for 72 yards in that game. Even if Cotchery plays this week, the Jets could play it cautious with him to avoid any setbacks since Clowney has produced in two of the last three games and they also have Braylon Edwards now. Don't chase Clowney's stats from last week, his upside is lower if Cotchery is back, but he produced decent number against the Dolphins before and with Cotchery and Edwards drawing the attention of the Dolphins defense, Clowney could sneak in some big plays.


Tight End

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

Jeremy Shockey - NO - Shockey has caught at least four passes in every game this year so far, but until last week, he hadn't produced more than 49 yards in a game, then he broke out with 4-105-0 against the Dolphins. This week, Shockey has another strong matchup against a Falcons defense allowing the fourth most fantasy points to opposing TEs (6 catches for 72 yards and 0.5 TDs per game). Most notable of those tight ends were Jason Witten (5-53-0) last week, Greg Olsen (5-57-1) in Week 6, Vernon Davis (3-51-0) in Week 5 and Chris Baker (2-42-1) and Ben Watson (1-23-0) in Week 3. Shockey has been a borderline TE1/TE2, but with another nice matchup he is pushing his way into the solid starter realm due to his consistency and the fact the Drew Brees is slinging him the rock.

Zach Miller - OAK - Let's just put it nicely. Miller owns the Chargers defense. In five career starts against the Chargers, Miller has caught 30 passes for 356 yards and two TDs. In the season opener this year, Miller fueled the Raiders offense with 6 catches for 96 yards. Two weeks ago, the Chargers were beaten badly by Tony Scheffler for six catches, 101 yards and a TD. The previous week, Heath Miller had a pair of TD catches against them and eight catches for 70 yards in all. If you drafted Miller as a backup, hopefully, your usual starter is on the bye this week (Cooley, H. Miller, Winslow).

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

Marcedes Lewis - JAX - The Titans secondary has been injury-riddled this year and Lewis had a huge game against them when they met earlier this year. Lewis caught 4 passes for 76 yards and a TD -- the best fantasy performance of his four year career. Lewis is still a hit or miss player though. Like Garrard, he's been great in a couple games this year, but he's also been a non-factor in four of them with 23 yards or less. As for the Titans, four of the six starting tight ends that faced them this year have produced 64 or more yards and three have caught TDs against them. Basic math tells you that Lewis has a better than 50% chance to produce 50-60 yards and score this week.

Bo Scaife - TEN - With news of a possible Vince Young return, Bo Scaife owners might be hoping to turn the clock back, too. Scaife was easily Young's favorite target, although he has been reasonably productive working with Kerry Collins, too. Aside from his goose egg last week (the Titans had -7 passing yards) Scaife's production has been moderate, but consistent this year (4-45-0, 3-25-0 and 5-48-0) when healthy. The Jags aren't a great matchup in terms of fantasy points allowed to tight ends (5-40-0.2), but their secondary has been vulnerable all year and they're possibly without top corner Rashean Mathis this week to boot. Scaife had 3-25-0 when they played previously this year, but it was also his first game back after missing two due to injury. As a bye-week fill in or even as PPR flex option, Scaife is a decent play. The Titans should be able to throw the ball with either Collins or Young. If it's Young, Scaife just might catch a couple extra balls though.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

Donald Lee - GB - Those of you that own(ed) Jermichael Finley were probably sizing up this rematch on the schedule after he had his breakout game against the Vikings on Monday Night Football a few weeks ago. Finley went for 6-128-1 in that game, but last week, he suffered a knee injury that will likely sideline him for at least a couple weeks, if not longer. The Vikings have been beaten regularly by tight ends all year, week in and week out. With Finley on the shelf, keep veteran Donald Lee on speed dial. Lee is still a credible threat in the red zone, but he's not anywhere close to being as athletic in the open field as Finley is. Lee has at least three catches in five of the Packers' six games this year with Finley in the mix. Since Finley's big game, the Vikings have continued to be a welcome mat for TEs. Randy McMichael (3-45-0) and Daniel Fells (5-45-0) cancelled each other out, but were collectively productive in Week 5, and then Todd Heap had 3-51-0 in Week 6 followed by Heath Miller with 6-38-0 in Week 7.

If you're desperate (worth a look in deeper leagues)

Kevin Boss - NYG - It's hard to put any eggs in Boss's basket right now. The Giants have a trio of young, productive receivers dominating Eli Manning's targets and the role that Boss had in the offense ever since the departure of Jeremy Shockey has diminished considerably. Yet the matchup this week is intriguing after Fred Davis replaced an injured Chris Cooley on Monday Night Football and proceeded to catch 8 balls for 78 yards and a TD after Cooley had 2 for 21 himself before exiting. The Raiders Zach Miller, thanks to fantastic downfield blocking by Louis Murphy, had an 86-yard TD catch and run against the Eagles. He finished with a season-best 6-139-1. Those two games helped the Eagles overtake the Vikings as the #1 fantasy matchup for opposing tight ends. Boss has also been reasonably productive against them over their last three games against the Eagles: 3-52-0 in Week 19 (playoffs), 1-5-0 (Week 14) and 6-69-1 (Week 10).