Fantasy football Risers, Sliders: Wilson shines; injuries abound
It was a rough week in the NFL, with big-name players going down left and right. The Rams' Sam Bradford is gone for the season with an ACL tear, and the Colts' Reggie Wayne suffered a season-ending knee injury. Jermichael Finley spent the night in the intensive-care unit after suffering a serious neck injury, while several quarterbacks, including Jay Cutler and Nick Foles, left the field prematurely. Let's check out the stock of some fantasy players as we get ready to head into Week 8.
• Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks -- Wilson threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 29 yards in Thursday night's win over the Cardinals. After a slow start to the season, Wilson is starting to come around, and the matchups are getting better: The next four weeks, the Seahawks face St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Minnesota. The Buccaneers are probably the best of those four secondaries, and they've lost back-to-back games to Nick Foles and Matt Ryan. Wilson could put up big numbers the next four weeks, before the bye.
• Tom Brady, New England Patriots -- Brady failed to throw a touchdown pass for the second time in three games, and with Rob Gronkowski making his season debut, owners can't even blame that on the lack of receivers. Brady threw for 228 yards, but was intercepted once and sacked four times against the Jets. He now has fewer fantasy points than Andy Dalton in standard formats.
• Chris Ivory, New York Jets -- Ivory, who had just 12 carries combined in his last three games, rushed 34 times for 104 yards in the Jets' win over the Patriots. That's only 3.1 yards a carry, but regular starter Bilal Powell only received three touches. According to head coach Rex Ryan, "Ivory had the hot hand and we just kind of rode it." Ivory had only 34 carries combined coming into the game, but Powell owners may want to add Ivory if they have a roster spot.
• Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons -- Rodgers did nothing on the ground Sunday -- eight carries for 16 yards -- but he caught eight passes for 46 yards and two touchdowns. Jay Glazer reported that Steven Jackson had a setback last week, keeping him out for another week. If Jackson can't play, Rodgers is a good second or third running back, especially in PPR leagues.
• Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Martin rushed 11 times for 47 yards in Sunday's loss to the Falcon before exiting with a shoulder injury that could keep him out for the rest of the season. Rookie Mike James -- who rushed for 45 yards on 14 carries in Martin's absence -- is likely to start Thursday against the Panthers.
• Arian Foster, Houston Texans -- Foster left with a hamstring injury after rushing just four times for 11 yards on Sunday. Ben Tate had 15 carries for 50 yards in relief. Foster said the injury doesn't seem too bad, but keep an eye on him this week.
• Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons -- Douglas stepped into the spotlight with Julio Jones out for the year and Roddy White missing the first game of his career Sunday. He went seven-for-seven for 149 yards and a touchdown. All of Douglas' action came in the first half, but it's clear he's a target Matt Ryan will utilize this year. He's had six targets in three other games this season, even before the injuries.
• Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers -- Filling in for the injured Randall Cobb, Boykin played mainly in the slot, catching eight passes on 10 targets for 105 yards and a touchdown. Options in Green Bay are dwindling, as TE Jermichael Finley suffered a scary neck injury on Sunday. Boykin could be a fantasy starter as Green Bay has attractive matchups the next three weeks against Minnesota, Chicago and Philadelphia.
• Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts -- Reggie Wayne's torn ACL means more looks for T.Y. Hilton and tight end Coby Fleener. It's a huge loss for the Colts.
• Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins -- Wallace had a nice game against Baltimore before the bye, but caught just five passes for 76 yards in Sunday's loss to the Bills. Wallace has fewer receptions and just two more targets than teammate Brian Hartline and has just the one touchdown on the year, in Week 2. Brandon Gibson even has a pair of touchdowns.
• Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots -- In his first game back this season, Gronkowski was targeted 17 times by Tom Brady; he caught 8 passes for 114 yards. No easing back into game shape for Gronk.
• Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins -- Reed caught all nine passes thrown his way for 134 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Despite being a rookie, Reed is second on the team in receiving yards and has assumed the top tight end position. Robert Griffin III appears to be getting more comfortable with him. Not too many rookies can be starting fantasy tight ends, but Reed appears to be an exception.
• Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers -- Finley left immobilized on a stretcher following a neck injury in Sunday's win over Cleveland. He was reportedly walking around in the hospital Monday, but there was no word on when he might return to the lineup.
• Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks -- Hauschka hit two field goals against the Cardinals on Thursday, and Seattle has a slate of decent matchups in the next four weeks. He's 16-for-17 on the season.
• Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins -- The rookie kicker missed his only field goal attempt of the game in a two-point loss to the Bills.
• San Diego Chargers -- San Diego has now gone two straight games without allowing a touchdown. Sure, this weekend they kept the Jaguars out of the end zone, but the previous week they allowed just nine points to the Colts. They get the Redskins after a bye next week
• Chicago Bears -- Yikes. The Bears gave up 45 points to the Redskins and have now allowed the third-most points in the league. They have good special teams -- Devin Hester returned a punt for a touchdown on Sunday -- but injuries and the points allowed are making this defense a bit unattractive.
MORE WEEK 8 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
BELLER: Player Stat Projections -- RGIII finally looking like himself
SI STAFF: Player Rankings -- Gronkowski rewards his owners
EDHOLM, MIGLIO: Bold Strategies -- Have some faith in Vick
BELLER, FLOOD: Roundtable -- Which injury situation will hurt the most?
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- James stepping up for Martin-less Buccaneers
McQUADE: Risers, Sliders -- Wilson gifted strong matchups in coming weeks
BELLER: Early Week 8 advice -- Boykin surprises for the Packers