Fantasy players to consider in Week 8
Week 7's slate of games was dreadful, but the fantasy implications were plentiful, particularly in the running back department, so let's get right to it.
The second temptation of Tebow
In one of my leagues last week, a sly fellow owner tried to nab one of my top receivers by dangling Tim Tebow. I declined because I'm perfectly happy with Eli Manning throwing Hail Marys every four plays. But after Sunday's performance -- because of course Tebow would win in dramatic fashion on Gator Day in Miami -- look for similar trade offers to be flying around fantasyland. After he passed for 161 yards and two TDs, rushed for 65 yards and ran in a two-point conversion, is Tebow someone you should trade for?
Unless your league allows points for pregame mentions, I would advise against it. Not only does Tebow have one of the league's weaker receiving corps, the Broncos' opponents get a lot tougher than the Dolphins. Next week they have the Lions, and in future weeks they'll face the Chargers and Jets, all top-10 passing defenses. But if you really want to feel like part of the hoopla, then by all means ignore me.
In other quarterback news, Matthew Stafford suffered an ankle injury that Jim Schwartz said makes him "day to day." It sounds like Stafford's inclusion or lack thereof in Wednesday and Thursday's practices will tell us a lot. At most, it sounds like he would miss a week. Stafford owners and those light at quarterback should consider picking up backup Shaun Hill. Hill threw a touchdown in every game he started as Stafford's injury replacement in 2010.
Running back revelations
Over in Dallas, DeMarco Murray may go from the pickup of last week to start of this week. After a 253-yard one-touchdown performance that broke Tony Dorsett's team rookie record, and Emmitt Smith's franchise record, Murray gets to face a weak Eagles defense that has already allowed six rushing touchdowns. Felix Jones' owners may not want to hold on to him much longer. His high ankle sprain is expected to keep him out for a few more weeks. And inferior talent may keep him out of the starting lineup even longer, perhaps permanently. But it is probably worth seeing whether Murray turns in a strong repeat performance first.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, ever the secretive one, turned us into fantasy fools when he insinuated that Ryan Torain would get the bulk of carries Sunday even though Tim Hightower was starting. Torain saw no action in the first half and only became a factor in the second half after Hightower went down with what we now know is an ACL tear, ending his season. It's pretty clear that Torain will be the starter going forward, but you should also consider Roy Helu. He serves as a nice complement to Torain and should see a decent number of carries moving forward. Plus, you never know when Shanahan will randomly decide to make Helu the starter.
Also worth grabbing is Raiders running back Michael Bush. Bush had his most productive game of the season with 99 rushing yards after replacing Darren McFadden, who left with a sprained foot. The severity of McFadden's foot injury is still to be determined, but Bush makes for a nice backup. Even when McFadden is healthy, Bush is good for a few carries a game, the most important of which are at the goal line. And based on the start of the Carson Palmer era in Oakland, the running game will be emphasized even more than usual. The Raiders have a bye next week so we may not have a clear picture on McFadden for a while, but Bush adds value either way.
We don't know when Lions RB Jahvid Best will return from his concussion, so it's a good time to take a look at Keiland Williams. Williams surprisingly got the same number of carries as Maurice Morris in Best's absence, and also serves as a goal-line back. Morris is obviously a good option, but was nabbed last week in many leagues. The Lions have a good matchup in Denver next week, followed by the bye. If Best doesn't return in Week 10, Williams and Morris could be in for the long haul.
In a bit of a shocker, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was a late scratch due to back spasms in pregame warm-ups. Leon Washington, who started, and Justin Forsett, who split carries, were pretty much worthless and should only be picked up in a desperate situation. Lynch could very well be back, and the Seahawks face a Bengals team allowing fewer than 90 rushing yards a game. Besides, have you seen the Seahawks' offense?
The oft-injured Cardinals running back Beanie Wells is out again with a bone bruise on his knee. Early reports say Wells will miss one to two weeks, but don't be surprised if it's longer with that type of injury. Alfonso Smith looks to be the guy you want to pick up in this situation. LaRod Stephens-Howling could come in for third-down situations, but Smith would be the starter. If you can afford to stash Smith away for next week's matchup against the mighty Ravens run defense, the lowly Rams and Eagles await.
Remember Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno, the one-time fantasy top-10 pick who lost his starting job to Willis McGahee? With McGahee's hand broken, Moreno is one to pick up if you're looking for a would-be starting running back. But with Tebow at the helm and Moreno's high fumble rate, don't expect him to be much better than second-rate.
An unexpected place you might go for running back help is Houston. OK, Arian Foster is not exactly dangling from your waiver wire, but backup Ben Tate may be. Tate is actually getting a decent number of carries (15 on Sunday), largely as a sub for Foster after long runs, and last week as a result of ample garbage time. He is not a guy you want to be starting regularly but there are worse options as a bye-week replacement.
Have faith in
Bears WR Roy Williams has finally come alive, posting consecutive 50-plus-yard performances. Williams is a decent add, as he and Cutler are finally showing some chemistry. But with the bye week and a subsequent date with Philly, you may have to wait until Week 10 to see this pickup pay dividends.
I can almost guarantee you that Vikings QB Christian Ponder is available in your league, and you ought to take advantage. In one week, Ponder showed he's a playmaker, both in the air and with his feet. He will make rookie mistakes but will likely put up decent fantasy numbers along the way, especially with Minnesota playing catch-up so often.
And helping out the young Ponder will be Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe. He's a solid option who knows how to get open in the end zone and may end up as Ponder's go-to option.
Have mercy on
If you picked up Raiders QB Carson Palmer this week, carefully drop him back into the waiver mix. Palmer was simply horrible Sunday, incredibly inaccurate and lacking any poise in the pocket. Don't look for him to improve much, as he will need several weeks to learn the Raiders' playbook and develop some chemistry with his receivers. By the time he does, your fantasy season may be over.
If you have any questions on how to boost your lineup not addressed here, please ask in the comments section and I will reply quickly.