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Bye bye bye
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - When the fantasy team pages flipped from Week 7 to Week 8 Tuesday, you may have noticed that half your roster is on vacation.

Six NFL teams -- Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Houston -- have a bye in Week 8, leaving many fantasy teams decimated, especially after the wave of injuries that swept over the league in Week 7.

Of those teams, only San Diego and Indianapolis have elite fantasy quarterbacks, so most fantasy owners should still have their QB1.

However, plenty of starting-caliber skill position players, such as Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Chris Johnson, are out.

Fantasy owners are going to have to get creative and take chances to replace those guys.

Here's how victory can be achieved despite the absences.

1) Put in a claim on the top pickups of the week.

This should be the first step fantasy owners take. Try to grab running backs Mike James, Roy Helu, Zac Stacy and Joseph Randle and receivers Harry Douglas, Jarrett Boykin, Terrance Williams and Percy Harvin. All are worthy starters this week.

2) Take chances on running backs who have a good chance of scoring a touchdown.

That means looking for Mike Tolbert-type players who get the goal line carries for their teams. Besides Tolbert, consider Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis of the Giants, Brandon Bolden of the Patriots, Daniel Thomas of the Dolphins, Willis McGahee of the Browns and Phillip Tanner of the Cowboys.

3) Comb the target leaders from the past few weeks to see which receivers have been in their quarterback's sights.

Detroit Lions wideout Kris Durham, for example, has 29 targets the last three games.

Here are a few others who might be available through free agency or via inexpensive trade.

- Buffalo's Stevie Johnson saw 13 targets from Thad Lewis in Week 7 and caught six of them for 60 yards. Lewis has started two games in a row but Johnson didn't practice or play in Week 6 due to a back injury. Another full week of practice should help the two get in sync.

- Giants WR Hakeem Nicks has been a massive disappointment but he has seen an average of 9.75 targets the last four games. He only caught 18 of them, but nine of those catches came in Week 5 against the Eagles, his Week 8 opponent.

- Jeremy Kerley of the Jets had season highs with 10 targets, eight catches and 97 yards Sunday against the Patriots and has averaged five catches, 61.3 yards and 7.7 targets while scoring two touchdowns the last three games.

- Miami's Brandon Gibson, who had five catches for 40 yards and two touchdowns against the Bills Sunday, has averaged 5.3 catches, 58.5 yards and 7.5 targets the last four games.

- Michael Floyd of the Arizona Cardinals has grabbed five passes in four consecutive games and has 32 targets, 250 yards and one touchdown in that span.

- Cincinnati's Marvin Jones has emerged as the Bengals No. 2 receiver and pulled in a touchdown in each of the last two games while averaging 3.5 catches, 5.5 targets and 64 receiving yards in that span.

- Greg Jennings of the Minnesota Vikings had 20 targets the last two games and has another week to develop some chemistry with new quarterback Josh Freeman.

It's going to be tough to do, but locking down a win this week isn't impossible, especially if your opponent has similar bye-week issues.

And if you drafted a starting roster of Andrew Luck, Andre Johnson, Torrey Smith, Matt Forte, Arian Foster and Antonio Gates, well, there's always next week.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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