Now that we’ve finished processing the various performances of week 7, it is time to examine the week 8 sleepers in fantasy football, including Brandon Weeden, Rashad Jennings, and Ryan Broyles. They have not previously appeared in your starting lineups, but could now provide a scoring boost if you use them this week.
As always, this week’s sleepers are players that were either drafted toward the latter half of your fantasy drafts, or spent time residing on your leagues’ waiver wires until this week. Either way, a combination of their ability, and their specific matchups, has propelled them into a position to enhance your scoring total should you decide to start them.
With that, here are the sleepers for week 8:
Brandon Weeden vs. Chargers
He has quietly assembled respectable numbers in recent weeks, and ranks eighth overall in passing yards (1,783). Weeden has exceeded 230 yards in six straight games, and has thrown two TD passes in three consecutive starts. Both streaks should continue when he meets a San Diego pass defense that ranks a mere 25th. The Chargers have surrendered 268 YPG, and a whopping 14 TDs, and the wounds from allowing Peyton Manning to torch them for three TDs in their most recent half of football remain fresh. Weeden will not hesitate to attack them, as his willingness to take risks has enabled him to generate big plays. That includes two TD passes in excess of 60 yards to Josh Gordon, who now supplies Weeden with a much needed dynamic target on a weekly basis. Expect Weeden to continue his recent surge in, as he rapidly approaches low end QB1 status.
Since taking over for Jake Locker in week 4, Hasselbeck has thrown for 200+ yards in three consecutive contests, and now has an outstanding opportunity to extend that streak versus an Indianapolis defense that possesses some definite shortcomings. The Colts are permitting their opponents to score over 26 points per game, which places them 23rd in points allowed. They have also allowed 12 TDs through the air in six games, and just permitted Brandon Weeden to produce two against them in week 7. Plus, they have failed to generate turnovers, as they have managed just three takeaways all season. Hasselbeck should be able to maintain a high comfort level throughout the contest, and supply reasonable production for any owners who need a bye week replacement at QB this week.
Rashad Jennings @ Packers
Maurice Jones-Drew’s Oakland homecoming concluded after the second play from scrimmage in week 7, as he suffered a foot injury that ultimately sidelined him for the remainder of the contest. His owners were then forced to watch helplessly as Jennings ascended into the feature back role, and garnered 28 touches. While he only managed 44 yards with the 21 carries that he was allotted, Jennings did manage a five-yard TD. Plus, he collected seven passes for 58 yards, which improved his overall output considerably. While the former seventh round draft pick has been in the league since 2009, this will only be his fifth career start. But any savvy Jones-Drew owners will have already secured Jennings, who instantly becomes a viable starter. If he is still available in your league, he also becomes a practical solution if you are facing a bye week crisis. Jennings is a strong candidate for another sizable workload, which will only increase if Blaine Gabbert joins MJD on the sidelines.
Jonathan Dwyer vs. Redskins
He appeared to be Pittsburgh’s best RB throughout the preseason. However, once September arrived, his allotment of carries degenerated from 21 in the Steelers’ initial two contests, to a grand total of zero from weeks 4-6. But he returned to the lineup following injuries to Rashard Mendenhall and Issac Redman in week 7, and took full advantage of the 17 attempts that he was allocated. He ultimately rambled for a career best 122 yards (7.2 YPC), and is now averaging 4.7 YPC in his 41 carries this season. The 192 yards that he has accumulated includes two bursts of 20+. His workload is completely dependent upon the status of Mendenhall and Redman, and he will be facing a far more formidable rush defense than the 24th ranked Cincinnati unit that he gashed last Sunday. Washington ranks a respectable seventh versus the run, and is permitting just 85.3 YPG. But Dwyer remains an excellent sleeper if he is called upon once again.
Ryan Broyles vs. Seahawks
After failing to garner a reception in Detroit’s first five games, the rookie became a factor in the Lions offense in week 7, in the aftermath of Nate Burleson’s season ending injury. Broyles collected his first three career receptions, amassed 51 yards, and scored on a 12-yard pass from Matthew Stafford. He should now become a regular component in the Detroit offense (Burleson had been targeted 43 times), and is therefore a feasible option for fantasy owners in this week’s matchup with Seattle. The Seahawks CB tandem of Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are on the extreme short list of most talented and intimidating corners in the NFL, but Broyles may avoid having to deal with them if he lines up in the slot. Browner and Sherman would then turn their attention to Calvin Johnson and Titus Young, which would elevate Broyles’ targets from Stafford. If you are successful in seizing him your league’s waiver wire, he can be used as a risky bye week WR3 or flex who also delivers high upside.
Cecil Shorts vs. Packers
While the ascension of his teammate (Jennings) into fantasy relevance has become the primary story regarding the Jaguars, Shorts has emerged as a potential WR3 for owners who are scrambling for options during the bye weeks. He has become the Jaguars primary receiving threat in recent weeks, while ascending into a starting role. His current season totals of 29 targets and 12 receptions are not overly impressive, but his 23.7 average per catch definitely is. That is the NFL’s second highest number in that category, as he has unquestionably developed into a big play threat. Five of his catches have exceeded 20 yards, and three of them have resulted in TDs. His resume includes an 80-yard game winning score in week 3, a 39-yard scoring grab in the season opener, and a 42-yard TD in week 7. Shorts was targeted a season high 10 times in Oakland, and will continue to garner the majority of opportunities among Jacksonville’s wideouts. Just make sure that Gabbert is under center on Sunday, as Shorts’ status as a sleeper will evaporate if Chad Henne starts at QB.
Joel Dreessen vs. Saints
Trying to determine the viability of starting either either Dreessen or Jacob Tamme has been maddening for fantasy owners this season, as Denver has simultaneously employed both TEs with just enough frequency to create a very uncertain situation. Yet, when you combine the enormous success that Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ aerial attack has generated, with an enticing matchup versus the Saints’ extremely generous pass defense, the potential for either Dreessen or Tamme to reward any owners who start them undoubtedly exists. But which one should you trust? While Tamme has garnered more targets over the course of the season (38 to 21), most of that disparity was built in September. Dreessen’s targets have gradually increased as the year has progressed, and the seven that he was allotted in week 7 established a new season high (Tamme had only two). Dreessen has also accumulated more snaps, and generated three TDs in weeks 3-5, as opposed to Tamme’s lone score all the way back in week 1. If you need a TE this week, Dreessen has an excellent chance to generate points against the Saints’ porous unit.
Dolphins @ Jets
If you are searching the waiver wire for a new defense to utilize this week, the Dolphins are an excellent unit to grab. Miami's prowess at stopping the run has been impressive, as they rank fourth, and yield just 78 YPG. While they have been less proficient at preventing the pass, they still rank 14th in total defense. They have also generated 18 sacks, which ties them for ninth in that category. Meanwhile, the Jets rank just 21st in total offense, and a lowly 28th in passing. That becomes very significant since they will have to throw in order to have any chance of moving the ball. The Dolphins should pick off Mark Sanchez at least once, and supply even more fantasy points by adding to their sack total.