Before quarterback Jay Cutler went down with a torn groin muscle in Week Seven’s 45-41 loss to Washington, the Chicago Bears looked poised to make a serious playoff run.
With a 4-3 record entering the bye week, Chicago’s remaining schedule includes four games against three teams with winning records (the Green Bay Packers in Weeks Nine and 17, the Detroit Lions in Week 10, and the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14). The rest of their opponents (the Baltimore Ravens, the St. Louis Rams, the Minnesota Vikings, the Cleveland Browns, and the Philadelphia Eagles) have a combined 13-21 record and even in their victories those teams have been very inconsistent.
The loss of Cutler and linebacker Lance Briggs to a shoulder injury significantly hinder the Bears postseason hopes, and affect the production of receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, along with running back Matt Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett.
Cutler’s injury will make waves across every league no matter the format, unless 11-year veteran Josh McCown (38 TDs to 44 INTs in 51 career starts) can come out of nowhere and keep the backfield warm.
In Week Eight, owners were already going to need subs for Cutler, Forte and the rest of the Bears offense, along with Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck, the San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers and Danny Woodhead, and Houston Texans' Arian Foster. Weeks Eight and Nine will have six teams sitting out with byes, the most of the season.
Checkout each position below to fill out your roster.
Chris Ivory, New York Jets
Avoid the rush on Tampa Bay’s Mike James, and go with Ivory. James never posted a 100-yard game in four years at Miami, and Tampa Bay was only 20th in the league in rushing even before Doug Martin went down. Ivory posted the fourth 100-yard game of his career in Week Seven, and should continue to split carries with Bilal Powell. If you own Powell or Ivory, pick up the other and handcuff them for the next few weeks. After Cincinnati in Week Eight, the Jets have New Orleans, a bye week, then Buffalo, two of worst teams against the run.
Peyton Hillis, New York Giants
The depleted Giants backfield signed Hillis last week, and he made an immediate impact with a goal line touchdown for the team’s first win of the year. Hillis didn’t look like the player that rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 TDs in 2010, but he’s a good third running back option in deep leagues.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons
Rodgers had eight catches for 46 yards and two touchdowns in Week Seven, largely because Matt Ryan had no one else to throw to. Receiver Roddy White missed the first game of his career with ankle and hamstring injuries, and his status for Week Eight is unknown. Rodgers could get plenty of targets and touches against Arizona this week.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Chances are he’s sitting on some owner’s bench, but at this point in the season in eight or 10 team leagues most of the top quarterbacks have already had their byes, meaning an owner might have dropped Kaepernick to address another need. In Week Eight, he’s the latest quarterback to luck into the Jacksonville jackpot. In a two-quarterback league he's a solid second option, or a starter depending on your first stringer.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Two straight games without a pick for Roethlisberger have resulted in two straight wins for Pittsburgh. That’s not a coincidence. He’s completed 70 percent of his passes for three consecutive games, and faces the 16th ranked Oakland secondary in Week Eight.
Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns
Might be a stretch, but Campbell is now the starter in Cleveland according to several reports. Brian Hoyer showed owners what any quarterback not named Brandon Weeden could do with the Browns receiving corps. Campbell will face arguably the NFL’s best defense in Kansas City this week, but they were nearly beaten by a rookie quarterback in Week Seven.
Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers made another fantasy breakout star appear out of thin air. Boykin’s eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown make him the heir to Randall Cobb and James Jones for now, especially against the banged up Minnesota Vikings’ secondary in Week Eight.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
He’s one catch and 19 yards behind Larry Fitzgerald for the team leads, and pretty soon Floyd could take over the receiving touchdown lead. Up next are the Falcons, who are 23rd against the pass this year.
LaVon Brazill, Indianapolis Colts
Reggie Wayne’s injury is a huge blow to Colts offense, but Brazill could be a steal on the waiver wire. Many owners will chase T.Y. Hilton or Darrius Heyward-Bey, but Brazill might be a better pickup. He’s only worked as a returner this year, but Brazill proved in college he can make the most of an opportunity. He totaled 72 receptions for 1,150 yards and 11 touchdowns in his final year at Ohio.
Andrew Quarless, Green Bay Packers
Jermichael Finley’s scary neck injury might require surgery, leaving an opening for the three other tight ends on Green Bay’s roster. Quarless was the only tight end Rodgers targeted in Week Seven, and that trend could continue.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
The rookie snagged the first touchdown of his career in Week Seven, and the Bengals appear to be using more two tight end sets. Eifert meets the tough Jets defense in Week Eight, but they’ve been middle of the pack against tight ends this season. He’s worth a look at the flex spot.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
It’s been a rough season for the Redskins thus far, but the rookie Reed has been one of the bright spots. He recorded nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown last week. Reed’s likely been picked up, but if you’re in a keeper league a trade shouldn’t be out of the question.