I continue to be intrigued by the volume of RB talent that's seemingly readily available in fantasy leagues. The injury to the Jaguars' Maurice Jones-Drew reminds us that it's never a bad idea to have as much quality insurance behind your top running backs as possible. Owners might want to do a quick waiver-wire check this week as they review their backup plans at the position.
The suggestions below are a function of matchups, expected opportunities and other factors. As a general rule, we will focus only upon players available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Vikings QB Christian Ponder (42 percent owned) — As a one-week fill-in in a bigger league, he's a reasonable pickup, though not a slam-dunk one, as the Vikings can feature a run-heavy offense at times. Nevertheless, he has a good matchup in Week Eight, as the Buccaneers are allowing 323.0 passing yards per game.
Browns QB Brandon Weeden (eight percent) — He's thrown two TD passes in three conecutive games, and he draws the San Diego defense (20th in yards per play allowed) at home in Week Eight. I continue to like what I see from Weeden.
Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck (eight percent) — Like Ponder, Hasselbeck is more a one-week replacement option than a long-term fix, but he's perfectly playable in big leagues Sunday against Indianapolis, which doesn't have a stout defense. Jake Locker (shoulder) is again out for Week Eight, meaning Hasselbeck gets the call once again for resurgent Tennessee.
Chiefs QB Brady Quinn (one percent) — The Chiefs' new starting quarterback will appeal to owners in deep leagues and/or two-QB formats. Quinn has a solid group of pass catchers at his disposal, and he draws an Oakland defense that's 22nd vs. the pass in his first game as the full-time starter on Sunday.
Jaguars RB Rashad Jennings (25 percent) — With Jaguars starting RB Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) out for at least Week Eight and perhaps much longer, Jennings will be a coveted pickup this week. I have no qualms targeting Jennings on waivers, but don't have unreasonable expectations about his impact on your club. In extended action at Oakland on Sunday, he was held to 44 yards rushing on 21 attempts. In fact, Jennings' biggest impact at Oakland came in the passing game (seven receptions, 58 yards on nine targets). Overall, Jennings has gained but 90 yards on 34 carries this season. Jennings will get a good deal of work, which makes him someone worth claiming, but he has yet to show that he's going to be an every-week play for fantasy owners.
Giants RB Andre Brown (43 percent) — He found the endzone in Week Seven, but most importantly for fantasy owners, he was first in line for carries behind Ahmad Bradshaw, racking up 17 yards on five carries.
Patriots RB Danny Woodhead (38 percent) — Has received at least eight touches in 5-of-7 games. A useful player to have.
Colts RB Vick Ballard (35 percent) — If Donald Brown (knee) remains out in Week Eight, Ballard (20-84 vs. Cleveland on Sunday) would get the start at Tennessee, which is 25th vs. the run.
Rams RB Daryl Richardson (35 percent) — Combined rushes and receptions for Richardson in the last two games: 24. Combined touches for Steven Jackson: 27.
Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers (33 percent) — A logical pickup for Michael Turner owners.
Chiefs RB Peyton Hillis (27 percent) — A logical pickup for Jamaal Charles owners.
Browns RB Montario Hardesty (10 percent) — Insurance for Trent Richardson owners.
Buccaneers RB LeGarrette Blount (29 percent) — Will probably get dropped in some leagues after being stuffed on three straight goal-line carries vs. New Orleans on Sunday, but he's better than that, and he has some value. A nice claim-and-hold proposition.
49ers RB Kendall Hunter (26 percent) — Considering his skill and the 49ers' committment to the run, he's one of the top backup running backs widely available. Also, Frank Gore was hurting at the end of the Week Seven win vs. Seattle.
Steelers RB Jonathan Dwyer (24 percent) — His role will shrink once Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (knee) return to the lineup, but those depending upon Mendenhall in big leagues might want to keep Dwyer around just in case. Dwyer had his best game as a pro in Week Seven, racking 122 yards on 17 carries at Cincinnati.
Patriots RB Brandon Bolden (23 percent) — Inactive with a knee injury in Week Eight but has flashed potential.
Lions WRs Titus Young (25 percent) and Ryan Broyles (one percent) — Both could see more passes thrown their way with Nate Burleson out for the season with a broken leg. Young hasn't lived up to the preseason hype, but he comes off his best game of the season on Monday night (eight targets, six catches, 81 yards). Perhaps he's rounding into form. He merits a pickup. Broyles is also very interesting; he hasn't played much this season, but when he got some reps on Monday night, he made the most of them, catching three passes for 51 yards and scoring the Lions' lone TD. If you're looking to improve your WR depth and have a roster spot, I'd have no problem with taking a flier on Broyles.
Jets WR Jeremy Kerley (43 percent) — With Santonio Holmes out for the season, Kerley has become the primary target among the Jets' wide receivers. He's had 26 passes thrown his way the last three weeks, and he recorded career-highs in targets (11), catches (seven) and receiving yards (120) in the Week Seven loss at New England.
Cowboys WR Kevin Ogletree (24 percent) — Remember when he lit up the Giants for eight catches, 114 yards and a pair of TDs in Week One? Well, he hasn't quite produced at that level since (13 catches, 134 yards, no TDs in five games), but he does get another shot against New York on Sunday.
Broncos WR Brandon Stokley (12 percent) — He's caught a TD pass in consecutive games, and the Broncos face the Saints on Sunday. He's a nice plug-and-play option in three-WR formats.
Jets TE Dustin Keller (27 percent) — Hobbled by a hamstring injury at the beginning of this season, Keller had a break-through performance in Week Seven, catching seven passes for 93 yards and a TD. Clearly one of the top targets in the Jets' passing game.
Raiders TE Brandon Myers (13 percent) — Leads the Raiders in catches (28) and yards (334). Has caught 82.4 percent of the passes thrown his way.
Broncos TE Joel Dreessen (12 percent) — Was targeted a season-high seven times in the Broncos' last game before their Week Seven bye, catching six passes for 57 yards in the comeback win at San Diego. What's more, he caught one TD pass in each of Denver's previous three games in Weeks Three through Five.
Saints TE David Thomas (two percent) — Hauled in a 20-yard TD vs. Tampa Bay in Week Seven when seeing a slight uptick in targets with Jimmy Graham (ankle) sidelined. Doesn't get a lot of opportunities; he has but four catches on nine targets in six games. However, if Graham is sidelined once again, he's a reasonable addition in leagues with thin waiver wires.
Steelers PK Shaun Suisham (14 percent) — Has hit 14-of-15 field goals in six games. In sharp form.
Chargers PK Nick Novak (four percent) — Will be the Chargers' full-time kicker with Nate Kaeding to be let go once he's off injured reserve. While I like Novak as a long-term proposition, I might not rush him into the lineup in Week Eight, what with Cleveland Browns Stadium a sometimes tricky place to kick.
Detroit (29 percent) — There's plenty of playmaking talent on this defense. An attractive claim-and-play option for Week Eight, what with Seattle's offense not especially potent.
Miami (14 percent) — I'm sure some fantasy owners will look to pick up this defense with the Jets on the schedule.
Oakland (13 percent) — The Chiefs, whom the Raiders face in Week Eight, haven't scored an offensive touchdown in their last two games.