Welcome to fantasy relevance, Chris Johnson! It took nearly a season and a half, but the former stud running back looks to have finally turned the corner. Johnson ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns against Buffalo in Week 7, including a classic 83-yard scamper. His day could have been even better if he wasn’t replaced on the 1-yard line on two other occasions. Keep in mind he did do this against the Bills, but it’s definitely an encouraging sign for owners. Johnson now deserves to be in your starting lineup every week and should have another great performance in Week 8 against Indianapolis.
Rashad Jennings is the hot pickup in fantasy this week, since starter Maurice Jones-Drew went down with a foot injury. Though it’s just a sprain, he is expected to miss at least a few weeks, meaning that Jennings has some serious value for whoever is lucky enough to grab him. After Jones-Drew was injured on the first series last week, Jennings came in and was very serviceable. Even though he only ran for 44 yards on 21 carries, he did score a touchdown and also contributed seven receptions for 58 yards. He’s a must-start while Jones-Drew is out.
It looks like the Arizona Cardinals may have found their answer at the running back position for now. LaRod Stephens-Howling got the bulk of the carries in Week 7 and came up big. He ran for 104 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown and also chipped in four receptions for 45 yards. The most impressive part of his effort was that he did it against a stingy Minnesota run defense. Arizona hasn’t been able to find a steady player in the backfield that stays healthy, so hopefully Stephens-Howling can be that player. Add him if you can.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland
Heyward-Bey is now fully recovered from his concussion and had a nice game last Sunday. He caught just four passes, but he was able to deliver 85 receiving yards. He was targeted a team-high seven times and seems to be Carson Palmer’s favorite target most weeks. Oakland has a good match-up in Week 8 against a soft Kansas City pass defense, so spot start Heyward-Bey if you need receiver help.
Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis
Ballard seems to be the starting tailback for the Colts right now and could be a solid play this weekend against the Tennessee Titans. He got 20 carries last week and put up a respectable 84 yards. If he can get this kind of workload in Week 8, Ballard should be in your starting lineup. He doesn’t offer a lot catching the ball, but the fact that Tennessee is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs on the season makes Ballard a very enticing play.
Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis
New England doesn’t have the defense it once had and has been giving up points like crazy. Opposing quarterbacks have scored the fifth-most fantasy points against the Patriots defense, so Bradford should be worth a look. There’s a good chance that the Rams will be behind all game and will have to play catch-up through the air. Bradford is capable of putting up big numbers, and I see him doing that in this contest.
Lock of the Week
Alex Green, RB Green Bay Packers
Green got the work in Week 7, he just didn’t deliver. He received 20 carries, rushing for only 35 yards and also had four catches for 29 yards. That should change Sunday against Jacksonville. As long as Green gets the carries once again, he should put up a very nice stat line. The Jaguars are allowing the third-most fantasy points to running backs and overall have a terrible defense. Look for the Packers to get up big early on and rely heavily on the run game in the second half.