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The quarterback apocalypse is in full effect. After Aaron Rodgers went down last week, Carson Palmer was lost this week. Now, basically every division has at least one quarterback who has either missed time, or has been lost for the season. Quarterbacks may not be as valuable for a fantasy team, but they can have big implications on the fantasy world. When a good quarterback like Rodgers is lost for the season, it lowers the floors and ceilings of players all around them. This week, the watch list is focused on players who still have solid, franchise quarterbacks around them.

Continuing the Rookie Tight End Emergence

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie tight end O.J. Howard has started the season rather slowly. He had a lot of buzz coming into the season because of his huge build and athleticism. He was also put in a good position to succeed because of all the weapons around quarterback Jameis Winston.

Instead, the relatively unknown Cameron Brate has been a surprise start for the Buccaneers at tight end. He currently ranks fourth in scoring for tight ends in standard leagues with 58.1 points. This would make him seem firmly entrenched as the Buccaneers top tight end. Don’t be so quick to accept that though. After Howard’s performance last week against the Buffalo Bills, he’s moved himself up to the number six spit for tight ends, with 38.5 points.

To be fair, there is a huge dropoff in points between him, and the number five spot, Evan Engram, who has 52.2 points. Then there is a logjam between him and then next nine spots. Marcedes Lewis sits as the fourteenth ranked tight end, with 34.5 points. This is only four points lower than Howard.

Still, there is little doubt that Howard is the better athlete over Brate. He is benefiting from defenses having to focus their attention on the Buccaneers dangerous receiving tandem in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. Howard is hot on his heels though. He showed he deserves some more playing time this week, making six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Brate’s best stat line was week four, where he caught four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.

It might still take a while for Howard to overtake Brate on the depth chart, but there is no doubt it will happen eventually. Keep watching Howard’s snaps and stat lines, because he could quickly become a hot commodity.

A Crowded Room of Unspectacular

There are six teams on bye this week, meaning a lot of random receivers will be streamed, and there won’t be as many unknowns to watch. One to keep an eye on is Josh Doctson of the Washington Redskins.

So far Doctson has been a huge disappointment. On the season, he only has seven catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Until last week, he hadn’t caught more than three passes, and wasn’t even their starter. Last week however, he got his first start, due to his teammate, Terrelle Pryor, also being a huge disappointment.

Pryor looked like he’d at least be a solid part of the Redskins offense in week one. He caught six passes for 66 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles that game. Since then, Pryor hasn’t caught more than three passes in a game. He only reached 70 yards once since then He just doesn’t look like he has a lot of chemistry with quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Last week, the Redskins decided to switch it up, and start Doctson over Pryor. Doctson didn’t do any better than Pryor, only able to catch three passes for 39 yards. However, it looks like he’s going to have at least a few weeks to prove himself. Redskins head coach noted that Doctson is looking better than Pryor in practice right now, and that Pryor still needs time to learn the position.

Doctson is still someone to wait on, but if he starts to emerge as his opportunities increase, he will be worth adding to wide receiver needy squads.

Lightning Rod in a Bottle?

It is that point of the season where each week there will inevitably be a long shot on the list to watch. This week, put focus on Dallas Cowboys running back, Rod Smith.

This year’s NFL soap opera side story has been the on again-off again suspension of Ezekiel Elliott. Just like your best friend’s relationship, no one knows what’s going on, or when it will end. One week he’s suspended, the next he’s not. For now, he gets to play one more week because judge is on vacation. Although Elliott somehow hasn’t missed a game yet, it’s a matter of when, and not if.

To complicate matters further, his backup situation is just as muddy. Some think it will be Alfred Morris, who’s been the primary backup so far. Others think it will be Darren McFadden, who might have been bubble wrapped as part of a master plan for Elliott’s inevitable absence.

One player, is trying to be the beneficiary of all of this uncertainty. Smith, who has been rotating as the third down back, has been getting a quiet buzz since the off-season. He’s fighting hard for more playing time too, rushing eight times for 61 yards against the San Francisco 49ers.

Nobody knows what is going to happen right now, but it’s best to put a star next to his name right now. That way, if an announcement arises with Smith being the surprise starter after Elliott is finally forced to serve his suspension, you can quickly and easily rush to add him to your team. Teams that add him might get a little lightning in a bottle while Elliott is gone.

Really? Another Redux on This Guy?

Until he gets up to at least 90% ownership in all leagues, New York Jets tight end is probably just going to be in this spot every week. What are teams waiting for? Austin Seferian-Jenkins in now an every week tight end. Somehow, he is only 80% owned in Yahoo leagues, and 75% owned in ESPN leagues.

Perhaps it is because he is still only the eighteenth highest scoring tight end in standard leagues. He would probably be a lot higher right now, but missed the first two games due to suspension. As he keeps putting up solid performances, he moves up further and further up the leaderboards each week. He has now gone three weeks in a row scoring a touchdown, and scored over eight points in each of those weeks.

If he is still available in your league, snatch him up. Even if you don’t need him, he can be good trade bait. In this year’s thin tight end market, someone will eventually want him.

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View the original article on Last Word On Pro Football: Week Eight NFL Fantasy Football Watch List