Surviving Week 8 Byes: Ponder, Kerley Top Waiver-Wire Potentials
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Though there are only four NFL teams with a bye in Week 8, they’re all significant fantasy franchises.
The Bills, Bengals, Ravens and Texans are loaded with significant fantasy producers. If you’ve got Ray Rice, Arian Foster, Stevie Johnson or A.J. Green and are wondering what’s out there on the waiver wire, look no further.
Here are the best pickups with the most favorable matchups for this coming week:
QB: Christian Ponder
Ponder's at home against the lowly Bucs pass defense.
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Christian Ponder was incredibly awful in Sunday’s win over Arizona (8-of-17, 58 yards, 2 INT, QB rating of 35.5). But he still managed to keep the 5-2 Vikings from losing, and he’d averaged better than 300 yards passing each of the previous two weeks.
I expect a return to those sorts of numbers Thursday night at home versus a Tampa Bay pass defense (T-28th after Week 6) that was riddled by Drew Brees in Week 7.
He may throw a pick, but he may also throw for two or more scores and solve your bye-week QB quandary.
QB: Brandon Weeden
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Weeden has more touchdown passes than Andrew Luck this season.
He’s had an almost 2-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio since his four-pick baptism against the Eagles in Week 1.
Week 8 brings the reeling Chargers to town. They were blindsided by Peyton Manning last Monday night. They’re being investigated for cheating by the league for using a sticky substance during games. Norv Turner’s hanging on for dear career life.
Oh, and the Chargers are a meek 20th in pass defense. Weeden’s thrown two TD passes in each of his last three games. Ride him.
RB: LaRod Stephens-Howling
Stephens-Howling ran for 104 yards against the Vikings in Week 7.
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Prior to rushing for 104 yards against the Vikings Sunday, Stephens-Howling had a total of 23 yards rushing on the season—so there’s a 97-percent chance he’s a free agent and a steal of a pickup for you.
Without Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams to run the ball, the Cardinals’ attack has faltered. Now with John Skelton in for Kevin Kolb, there’s even more reason to establish the ground game.
Stephens-Howling may be smallish, but he’s scored a TD in 40 percent of the games he’s played in this season. Arizona does play the 49ers (13th against the run) in Week 8, but at least they’ve got them at home.
RB: Shaun Draughn
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Jamaal Charles’ stand-in, Draughn is making the most of his appearances at RB in a woeful Chiefs season. He’s had double-digit rush attempts in the last two games and has 59 total touches in five games.
Yes, he almost always gets pulled for Charles in the red zone, but if you’re in a PPR league, he’s an excellent receiver out of the backfield, too.
The Raiders (top 11 in rush defense) are Kansas City’s Week 8 opponent and have a multi-use back of their own in Darren McFadden, who scores about as often as Draughn does, too.
RB: Jamie Harper
Harper got two short-yardage scores against the Bills.
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Who? Most fantasy owners were wondering that over the weekend, when the Titans offense spelled Chris Johnson’s comeback with goal-line attempts for Harper (two touchdowns).
For his career, the ex-Clemson Tiger has 27 carries for 56 yards—and four touchdowns. He’s not replacing Johnson anytime soon, but he appears to be something of a TD vulture.
After running wild against the Bills in Week 7, Tennessee tries again in Week 8 versus a Colts run defense ranked in the lower half of the NFL.
RB: Mike Tolbert
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Tolbert was at it again last week, scoring from in close against the Dallas Cowboys and infuriating Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams owners everywhere.
He’s averaging a touchdown every seventh time he touches the ball. That’s Barry Bonds-level production. Problem is, you never know when he’s going to get his chance. If your team is emaciated at RB, you could do worse than picking up The Vulture (28 career TDs in five years).
WR: Chris Givens
Givens has a gain of longer than 50 yards in each of the last four games.
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We might be seeing the emergence of a star in St. Louis.
Givens has had receptions of 50-plus yards in each of the last four weeks. He’s averaging—averaging—27 yards a catch.
With Danny Amendola out, Givens is fast becoming a Sam Bradford favorite.
The thought of the New England Patriots might keep you from picking him up, but consider that the Pats are 31st in the NFL in pass defense. They’re surrendering nearly 300 yards and more than two TD passes a game. Bradford should be able to find Givens for a few scoring opportunities.
WR: Jeremy Kerley
Kerley's star is rising, even with the Jets' offensive drama.
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If you need a receiver, make Kerley your top waiver priority for Week 8. He’s been something of a secret thus far, but not after his seven grabs for 120 yards against the Patriots in Week 7.
On the season, he’s caught 25 Mark Sanchez passes for 435 yards (17.4 avg.) and two scores.
The Jets face Miami’s soft pass defense this week and should be able to post a few TD passes.
WR: Andre Roberts
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Roberts has quietly totaled five touchdowns through Arizona’s first seven games (Fitzgerald only has three). He’s gone over the 100-yard mark in receiving twice in the last four games, and though he faces the rugged 49ers pass D in Week 8, Roberts figures to post solid numbers if Skelton’s eyes stay fixed on him.
WR: Stephen Hill
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The secret may be out on Jets receiving teammate Jeremy Kerley, but Hill hasn’t quite exploded onto the scene.
The clock is ticking on that, however. Hill made waves in Week 1 with a two-TD day, but then owners forgot about him as he missed a few games with injuries.
The last two weeks have seen him catch 10 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown, though. And with the Dolphins' previously mentioned weak pass defense coming to the Meadowlands in Week 8, Hill could easily find the end zone again.
TE: Joel Dreessen
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Dreessen’s last four games have produced this line: 14 receptions, 131 yards and three touchdowns. Peyton Manning has targeted him 19 times. Fellow Broncos TE Jacob Tamme has similar numbers but just one score on the season.
Dreessen appears to be the TE Manning looks for in close. While either of these TEs is a solid waiver pickup for Week 8 at home against the tragically bad Saints defense, I’d prefer Dreessen.
TE: Dustin Keller
Keller's fully healthy, and that's a boost to the Jets offense.
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Keller is healthy for the first time this season, and his 7-93-1 effort in Week 7 against the Patriots proves it.
Jets RB Shonn Greene dealt with a head injury during Sunday’s game (second time this season), but says he’s OK.
I still wouldn’t be surprised if the offense went heavier through the air for that reason (and the previously mentioned reasons with Kerley and Hill) against Miami.
K: Steven Hauschka
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One of Seattle’s best weapons to date has been Hauschka, who’s connected on 13 of 15 field goals (86.7 percent).
Eight of his 13 field goals have come on the road from at least 30 yards out, and he’s notched fewer than six points just once.
Week 8 finds him on the road, but indoors, at Detroit. With premium kicking conditions and a Lions defense that has been troubled all season, Hauschka should get his chances.
K: Phil Dawson
Dawson has converted 78.6 percent of all his field goal attempts over a 14-year career.
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Ol’ reliable Phil is getting the job done again for the Browns in his 14th season. Dawson is a career 78.6-percent field-goal kicker, and in 2012 he’s a perfect 12-of-12. Four of those have been from 50 yards or beyond.
It doesn’t matter where he’s kicking—Dawson is straight money for fantasy owners, but lots of guys forget about him because he’s a Brown. He’s got 51 points on the season, and five of his seven games have seen him score at least nine points. Good enough for ya?
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Denver has sacked the quarterback 18 times in six games, picked off six passes and scored three touchdowns.
It’s only allowing 23.0 points per game, good for seventh in the NFL. Yet the Broncos are sitting without a fantasy owner in many leagues. If they’re sitting in yours, they’d be a decent Week 8 pickup at home against the Saints.
Drew Brees has already been intercepted seven times, and New Orleans just won its first road game of the season in Week 7. Denver’s a solid waiver acquisition.
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San Diego football might feel like a hot mess right now, but the defense is still respectable (ninth overall). The Chargers have 10 sacks, seven picks and a pair of touchdowns and travel to the always-adventurous Cleveland Browns in Week 8.
Surrendering less than 23 points a game, the Chargers need a win desperately to keep pace in the AFC West. The defense must turn in a solid effort.