Week eight offers the opportunity for a few below the radar kind of players to really take a leap and join the pack. At the same time though, there are some big time names ready to take a beating and in doing so slip down the boards. When I say big names, that includes All Day himself.
Ryan Tannehill – So far in 2013, the Dolphins’ signal caller has been equal parts great and awful. For every well orchestrated touchdown drive, we have two boneheaded turnovers. Granted, Miami hasn’t done a great job replacing Jake Long at left tackle and a lot of the issues can be blamed on the offensive line, but ultimately it’s still Tannehill’s stat line to maintain. The constant plethora of fumbles and interceptions has truly blacklisted a quarterback who was a consensus sleeper in most circles. This week the Dolphins take on a Patriots team that is losing key defensive player after player to injuries in a fashion reminiscent of the plague itself. Tannehill will still face pressure but should be able to operate thanks to above average circumstances. Given that the Jets and Geno Smith were able to move the ball with relative ease, there is a lot to like with Tannehill heading into this matchup. But another three fumbles and one touchdown in Week 8 would likely spell the end of Tannehill as a roster worthy player.
Rueben Randle – It seems that Eli has found a new favorite in New York. Each year, a wide receiver steps up in a huge manner and surprises. A few years ago it was Steve Smith. Next it was the emergence of the dynamic Hakeem Nicks. Then Victor Cruz rose up to greatness. Are we now witnessing the growth of yet another great fantasy receiver? With the tight end position seemingly deflated, Manning has been looking for Randle over the middle for the big play and in the red zone. His touchdown total (4) is impressive given the fact that both Cruz and Nicks are healthy and heavily involved with the offensive game plan. It just seems as though when they get in the red zone that Manning prefers to exploit the matchup on Randle than to force a pass to the outside receivers. Given that this week’s matchup has potential tattooed on its forehead, it’s safe to say that Randle is a good fantasy play this week. With the exception of the Denver Broncos with Wes Welker, it’s typically a bad idea to start a WR3 from any team. Randle has the chance to get that kind of notoriety here against the Eagles.
Jeremy Kerley – Was last week just a simple game plan of exploiting the New England Patriots’ weaknesses or is Kerley suddenly on the rise? Geno Smith looked to find Kerley early and often as the Jets were seemingly playing 11-on-8 for most of the game. Kerley looked explosive, yet consistent, in beating coverage and getting open by more than 10 yards at times. Is the Jets’ new game plan designed to roll Smith out of the pocket and move the chains with Kerley? This week will be telling as the Bengals offer one of the better cornerback units in the league. Is Kerley simply a player who provides stats by punishing weak opponents or is he someone that can be counted on as a WR3 regardless of the level of competition? The question will be answered starting at 4:05pm on Sunday.
Harry Douglas – How is it possible to have someone perform at a high level and have it be surprising yet not surprising at the same time? We’ve seen Douglas from time to time go off out of the blue and finish with a stat line larger than Julio Jones and Roddy White combined. Granted, those times are extremely few and far between, but it has happened and does put a flare up as to how much potential Douglas offers. Last week he was able to avoid one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Tampa Bay’s Darrelle Revis. This week is no treat either as he’ll face the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson. As of now, it looks like White won’t be able to give it a go so Douglas will be in for another huge workload. Will his targets from quarterback Matt Ryan outweigh the coverage of Peterson? If Douglas comes through in back-to-back games then it’ll be time to view him as a low end WR2 for the remainder of the Falcons’ Julio Jones-less season.
Adrian Peterson – Yeah, that’s right. Peterson himself is set for a slide down the fantasy charts. The only thing that can hurt Superman is kryptonite. Well, Peterson may have found his kryptonite in quarterback Josh Freeman. At the beginning of the season it was written by this very author that Josh Freeman looked to be perhaps the worst starting quarterback in the NFL in 2013. Watching the Monday night matchup against the Giants it looked as though no truer words had ever been written. Freeman was covered from head to toe in a cold sweat while facing a New York defense that had been steam-rolled to an 0-6 record. With the absurd performance of Freeman, the Giants were able to stack the box and make it seem as though Peterson wasn’t even in the stadium. Given AP’s talent and matchup this had the makings of a 20-touch, 100-yard game. Instead Peterson was completely held in check and cost many owners a sure fire win with Monday night deciding the week. With Josh Freeman suffering from a concussion, Christian Ponder will be back under center for Week 8 and Peterson couldn’t be happier. If Peterson can’t get it moving against the Packers maybe it should be time for Minnesota to weigh their trade options.