This past week was one of the toughest in recent memory, with significant injuries to Reggie Wayne, Jay Cutler, Jermichael Finley, Doug Martin and Sam Bradford, just to name a few fantasy-relevant offensive starters. It's true in fantasy football as well as actual football, the "next man up" has to perform.
Two weeks ago, when Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones went down for the season, I suggested grabbing Harry Douglas as soon as possible. With Roddy White also out for Atlanta on Sunday, Douglas exploded for a career-high 149 yards and a touchdown. That will not be the norm, but it's that kind of potential that opens up when injuries arise.
The funny part is that a few Douglas owners asked me for starter advice on Week 7, and I gave starting him little thought, not expecting much against Tampa Bay. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. If a player pops up in a favorable new role with a good quarterback, like Green Bay wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, do not be afraid to go get him. You never know when the next star is ready to emerge from the bench.
Of this week's injuries, Wayne's is most intriguing as you might see the Colts trade for a wide receiver. At the very least, this makes T.Y. Hilton's stock blow up. He already has been a hot topic in regards to how many snaps he gets, but now it will be impossible for the Colts to keep him off the field outside of the occasional breather.
Do not be surprised if Hilton finishes the season averaging over 80 yards per game as the Colts have to somehow fill Wayne's production (71.9 yards per game). This also makes Coby Fleener and Darrius Heyward-Bey more valuable, though it's hard to imagine the latter will ever be worth a roster spot on your fantasy team. The Colts are not as pass-happy as Atlanta, for example.
But if you want to upgrade at wide receiver and actually have a running back to spare, then Hilton would be an excellent trade target right now.
Here are the best and worst fantasy matchups for Week 8. Note that references to defensive rankings for the pass and run are based on Football Outsiders' DVOA metric, explained here.