Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 8: Under-the-Radar Stars You Must Start

Ben Layman@@houtexmajorinCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 21: Jamarca Sanford #33 of the Minnesota Vikings looks to tackle LaRod Stephens-Howling #36 of the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter of the game on October 21, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Cardinals 21-14. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

It's Week 8 and fantasy league standings are beginning to take shape.

Some fantasy owners are on cloud nine right now, while others are banging their heads against a wall in frustration.

All fantasy owners are guilty of benching a player who goes off for one of the best fantasy performances that week. It's one of the worst feelings a football fan can stomach.

So how do you foresee an under-the-radar fantasy star before the games begin? It isn't easy, and it often requires looking beyond the obvious factors.

Here are a few of these stars you must start this week:


LaRod Stephens-Howling

The Arizona Cardinals have easily had the worst luck in the NFL keeping their running backs healthy. Beanie Wells was expected to repeat his breakout 2011 campaign until he landed on injured reserve. Ryan Williams is out for the year after a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 5 against the Rams. 

Head coach Ken Whisenhunt has been all over the place with how he'll handle his tailbacks going forward. The best way to get inside a coach's head is to look at what happened on the field. Stephens-Howling rushed for 104 yards on 20 carries last week on the road against the Minnesota Vikings. He also added four catches for 45 yards.

Whisenhunt rode the hot hand on the road last Sunday, and fantasy football owners should expect that to continue this week. The Cardinals will be committed to the run given how poor their quarterback play has been lately.


Don't hesitate to start Stephens-Howling, even though he's facing the San Francisco 49ers defense. Don't forget that same defense gave up 103 yards on the ground to Marshawn Lynch just last week.


Lance Moore

For reasons unknown, Lance Moore seems to always be that fantasy player flying under the radar. It might be his small stature, or the fact that Drew Brees prefers to spread the wealth when it comes to his receivers. Regardless, fantasy owners can't let those factors play into their decision of whether or not to start Moore this week.

Moore posted his second game of over 120 yards receiving last week. For perspective on this, fans should know Moore never went over 100 yards receiving in a game all last season and only once the year before that. Fantasy owners know he's a good receiver, but they might not realize the monster season this guy really is headed for right now.


Miami Dolphins Defense

The most underrated defense in the NFL belongs to the team that resides in South Beach. The Dolphins have been one of the stoutest defenses against the run all year. Defensive tackle Randy Starks is having a Pro Bowl season, and he's one of the key cogs up front for Miami.

The Dolphins will travel to New York to face the Jets this week, and it should be a golden fantasy matchup. Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets offense have struggled against the better defenses all season, even at home. Defensive end Cameron Wake should be good for a sack (or more), and New York's running game will be slowed.

Miami's defense will be one of the premier defensive plays this week, even over great defenses like the Seattle Seahawks (vs. Detroit Lions) and the Chicago Bears (vs. Carolina Panthers).