Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/28/11

By just glancing at the list of bye teams below, you can already begin to feel the pain of a number of fantasy owners. Elite quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends are all sitting this week out, and a once lush waiver wire is now as lean as Kyle Orton’s chances of starting again in Denver. But this week is not as bleak as it appears on first glance. Here are my rankings and some sneaky plays for week 8.

Teams on bye week: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York B, Oakland, Tampa Bay


Wide Receivers

Could Impress: Jabar Gaffney. With Santana Moss’ broken hand, Gaffney becomes the defacto #1 receiver. He’s been the model of consistency this season, putting up 50+ yards in every game. He should get a touchdown for the first time since week 1 against the Bills.

Could Disappoint: Reggie Wayne. Since Curtis Painter has taken over the reins in Indy, Wayne has seen his targets decrease every week. He makes the most of what he gets, but even in Sunday’s 62-7 drubbing, Wayne could only muster three catches for 36 yards. There are better options out there.

Keep an eye on: Demaryius Thomas. Tim Tebow’s passes aren’t exactly on the mark, but at least he’s misfiring to Thomas more than anyone. No other Bronco’s pass catcher even sniffed Thomas’ 10 targets last Sunday. He will likely be a factor in the offense moving forward.

Injury Replacement: Antonio Brown. He stepped up with Hines Ward injured, picking up 102 yards and a score. Brown is more consistent than fellow second-year wideout Emmanuel Sanders, and even if Ward returns, Brown is a good play against a bad Patriots defense.

WR Rankings

1. Calvin Johnson DET (@ Denver)

2. Mike Wallace PIT (vs. New England)

3. Steve Smith CAR (vs. Minnesota)

4. Dwayne Bowe KC (vs. San Diego)

5. Hakeem Nicks NYG (vs. Miami)

6. Wes Welker NE (@ Pittsburgh)

7. Marques Colston NO (@ St. Louis)

8. Larry Fitzgerald AZ (@ Baltimore)

9. Vincent Jackson SD (@ Kansas City)

10. Miles Austin DAL (@ Philadelphia)

11. Dez Bryant DAL (@ Philadelphia)

12. Brandon Marshall MIA (@ New York Giants)

13. Andre Johnson HOU (vs. Jacksonville)

14. A.J. Green CIN (@ Seattle)

15. DeSean Jackson PHI (vs. Dallas)

16. Steve Johnson BUF (vs. Washington)

17. Anquan Boldin BAL (vs. Arizona)

18. Pierre Garcon IND (@ Tennessee)

19. Brandon Lloyd STL (vs. New Orleans)

20. Jabar Gaffney WAS (@ Buffalo)

21. Mario Manningham NYG (vs. Miami)

22. Jeremy Maclin PHI (vs. Dallas)

23. Deion Branch NE (@ Pittsburgh)

24. Nate Washington TEN (vs. Indianapolis)

25. Reggie Wayne IND (@ Tennessee)

26. Sidney Rice SEA (vs. Cincinnati)

27. Demaryius Thomas DEN (vs. Detroit)

28. Eric Decker DEN (vs. Detroit)

29. Michael Crabtree SF (vs. Cleveland)

30. Victor Cruz NYG (vs. Miami)

31. Greg Little CLE (@ San Francisco)

32. Antonio Brown PIT (vs. New England)

33. Torrey Smith BAL (vs. Arizona)

34. Steve Breaston KC (vs. San Diego)

35. Percy Harvin MIN (@ Carolina)

36. David Nelson BUF (vs. Washington)

37. Mike Thomas JAX (@ Houston)

38. Malcom Floyd SD (@ Kansas City)

39. Michael Jenkins MIN (@ Carolina)

40. Robert Meachem NO (@ St. Louis)

41. Braylon Edwards SF (vs. Cleveland)

42. Lance Moore NO (@ St. Louis)

43. Jerome Simpson CIN (@ Seattle)

44. Doug Baldwin SEA (vs. Cincinnati)

45. Davone Bess MIA (@ New York Giants)

46. Devery Henderson NO (@ St. Louis)

47. Kevin Walter HOU (vs. Jacksonville)

48. Nate Burleson DET (@ Denver)

49. Jacoby Jones HOU (vs. Jacksonville)

50. Early Doucet AZ (@ Baltimore)


Fantasy football's new top TE

Tight Ends

Could Impress: Visanthe Shiancoe. He got eight targets and a touchdown in Christian Ponder’s first game under center. Shiancoe is on a number of waiver wires and the Panthers are below average at defending tight ends. If you’ve got Tony Gonzalez or Jermichael Finley on a bye, Shiancoe should be your guy.

Could Disappoint: Greg Olsen. You never want to read too much into one week, but Olsen got just one catch for four yards against Washington last week. On the flipside, fellow tight end Jeremy Shockey has seen the ball eight times in the last two games, and seems to be a bigger part of the short-to-medium passing game. Like I said, you can’t read too much into one game, but Olsen is a fringe starter this week.

Keep an eye on: Jermaine Gresham. He’s had four straight games with at least four catches, and seems to have the confidence of Andy Dalton. Cincinnati has St. Louis and Arizona late in the season, so he could be a good play around playoff time.

Injury Replacement: Evan Moore. It sounds like Benjamin Watson will miss Sunday’s game against San Fran with a concussion. Moore and Watson have been splitting the workload, but at least for this week, Moore is the guy.

TE Rankings

1. Jimmy Graham NO (@ St. Louis)

2. Jason Witten DAL (@ Philadelphia)

3. Antonio Gates SD (@ Kansas City)

4. Fred Davis WAS (@ Buffalo)

5. Aaron Hernandez NE (@ Pittsburgh)

6. Vernon Davis SF (vs. Cleveland)

7. Rob Gronkowski NE (@ Pittsburgh)

8. Owen Daniels HOU (vs. Jacksonville)

9. Brandon Pettigrew DET (@ Denver)

10. Jermaine Gresham CIN (@ Seattle)

11. Visanthe Shiancoe MIN (@ Carolina)

12. Heath Miller PIT (vs. New England)

13. Greg Olsen CAR (vs. Minnesota)

14. Dallas Clark IND (@ Tennessee)

15. Evan Moore CLE (@ San Francisco)

16. Jared Cook TEN (vs. Indianapolis)

17. Ed Dickson BAL (vs. Arizona)

18. Jeremy Shockey CAR (vs. Minnesota)

19. Brent Celek PHI (vs. Dallas)

20. Jake Ballard NYG (vs. Miami)

21. Lance Kendricks STL (vs. New Orleans)

22. Daniel Fells DEN (vs. Detroit)

23. Marcedes Lewis JAX (@ Houston)

24. Benjamin Watson CLE (@ San Francisco)

25. Delanie Walker SF (vs. Cleveland)


Stephen Kelley is a contributor at The Sports Bank where he covers Fantasy Sports and Pro Drafts. You can follow him on Twitter @stephen_tsb.

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