Saturday, October 25, 2014

Last Minute Fantasy Start'ems and Sit'ems: Week 8

Jerick McKinnon may be the latest flash-in-the-pan, high-volume, stat-padding running back on a bad team to save your fantasy season.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

In a jam choosing between two borderline starters this week? I've got your back with my last-minute start'ems and sit'ems. Let's get right to it.


Quarterback: Carson Palmer, Arizona

Matchup: Vs Philadelphia, Sunday at 4:05 pm

The Eagles have given up 13 passing touchdowns (3rd most in the league) this season and snatched only three interceptions. The Cardinal defense is actually worse against the pass yardage-wise (so don't sit Nick Foles if you have him), but the Eagles are one of just six teams that are giving up an average of over 20 fantasy points (standard scoring) to opposing quarterbacks each week.

Still, this isn't just about the Eagles, it's about Palmer, who has quietly been very good when healthy. In the three games he's played this season, Palmer has averaged 270 yards and 2 touchdowns per game, with just 0.3 interceptions. Not too shabby, and this may be a good week to dust him off your bench or grab him off waivers if you play in a smaller league.

Running Back: Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota

Matchup: At Tampa Bay, Sunday at 1 pm

If you haven't hit your waiver wire and snatched up this rookie back, go do it now. I grabbed him in one of my league's last week (after realizing he was stealing the Vikings' workload from Matt Asiata), and he delivered to the tune of 19 carries for 103 yards.

While he didn't score, McKinnon did that vs Buffalo, the stingiest defense against fantasy backs this year. This week brings a trip to Tampa Bay and, while the front has improved as Gerald McCoy has gotten healthy, the Bucs are still giving up an average of 23.10 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.

With McKinnon demanding the majority of Minnesota's carries (he out-carried Asiata 19 to 6 last week, and that disparity should grow larger this week), expect him to put up top-flight back numbers against the Bucs.

Wide Receiver: Sammy Watkins, Buffalo

Matchup: at NY Jets, Sunday at 1 pm

The Jets are incredibly bad at defending the deep pass (have allowed the 2nd-most pass plays of 15+ yards in the league), while only Atlanta's Julio Jones is targeted more than Watkins deep down the field.

That means Watkins will have plenty of chances to make plays deep against a Jets defense that has been kind to opposing fantasy wideouts and, is it just me, or does Watkins have some real chemistry with journeyman quarterback Kyle Orton?

If you take away Watkins' day on Revis Island against the Pats, Orton has targeted Watkins 26 times for 16 catches, 209 yards and two scores in a pair of games since he took over the starting job.

If you like the idea of a previously fringe-starting receiver getting 13 targets, 8 catches, 104 yards and a score this week, you should consider starting Watkins against the porous Jets pass defense.

Oh yeah, I also don't believe the Bills have any running backs left on their roster, so they better come out throwing.


Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh

Matchup: Vs Indianapolis, Sunday at 4:25 pm

Roethlisberger faces a daunting matchup against the Colts, who are surrendering the 2nd-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Even last week, when Indy was blowing out Cincinnati, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton amassed just 126 yards on 38 attempts. That's a minuscule 3.3 YPA, and much of that came in the fourth quarter when the Colts were backed far off Cincy receivers.

For his part, Roethlisberger has played some stellar stretches of football but, much like the Steelers as a whole, has disappeared at times. Ben isn't in the Manning/Rodgers "automatic start" class, so you have to be wary of this matchup.

Running Back: Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati

Matchup: Vs Baltimore, Sunday at 1 pm

I normally like Bernard, mostly due to his big-play speed and receiving ability, so I'm definitely buying him long-term, but this crucial division game against Baltimore probably won't be his week.

The Ravens are surrendering the 2nd-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs (behind aforementioned Buffalo) at 11.37 per game, and with Jeremy Hill stealing carries, especially near the end zone, it just doesn't figure to be a productive afternoon for the versatile back.

Wide Receiver: DeSean Jackson, Washington

Matchup: At Dallas, Monday at 8:30 pm

The Redskins will turn to another place holder quarterback that used to be good in college when Colt McCoy starts Monday Night in Dallas. A new quarterback is never great news for a fantasy receiver (unless it's a star returning from injury or Peyton Manning coming to Denver), and Jackson will face a defense that has held receivers like Andre Johnson, Michael Crabtree and Marques Colston all to less than eight fantasy points.

Also, don't forget that Pierre Garcon made Washington's biggest play of the game against Tennessee last week, and the veteran seems to have chemistry with an improvising McCoy. It's likely that Garcon becomes the go-to guy again, and that the Redskins look to run the ball and play "keep away" from the stellar Dallas offense.

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