Fantasy Football Thursday Night Start 'Em or Sit 'Em: Freeman, Rudolph & More

Eric StashinSenior Writer IOctober 25, 2012

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 21:  Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passes during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on October 21, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Must-Start Options
Quarterback: None
Wide Receiver: Percy Harvin (Min), Vincent Jackson (TB)
Running Back: Adrian Peterson (Min), Doug Martin (TB)
Tight End: None

Debatable Options

Quarterback: Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings

Ponder has played well overall, but even facing a Buccaneers defense that has excelled against the run, can we say for certain that the Vikings won’t continually hand the ball to Adrian Peterson? The Buccaneers have also allowed a lot of passing yards (323.0 yards per game), but only eight passing touchdowns.

I am not going to say Ponder is a bad option, depending on who else you have, but I wouldn’t consider him a must-use one coming off a game where he threw the ball just 17 times for 58 yards and has two interceptions in each of his past three games.

Quarterback: Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

He has been playing great football recently, but the Minnesota defense is no easy task. They have allowed under 220 passing yards per game while picking up 22 sacks. They also have allowed just 14 plays of at least 20 yards and Freeman and company depend on the big play to get things done.

There’s a lot of risk here, especially given the matchup. While he has thrived the past three weeks, he gets a much tougher test than Washington, Kansas City and New Orleans (all of which are allowing a lot of TD passes). Consider him more of a mid-level QB2.

Wide Receiver: Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

He has managed to score three TD, but has just 19 catches. Yes, they have gone for 368 yards, but that feeds into what we said about Josh Freeman: This is a passing game built on big plays, and there is no guarantee that the Vikings are going to be susceptible to it. If they can keep Tampa’s receivers in front of them, their value takes a definite hit.

Williams is a risky WR3 option, at best, at could be better left on your bench.

Wide Receiver: Tiquan Underwood ,Tampa Bay Buccaneers

He was given some looks in Week 7 (six targets went for two receptions for 35 yards and a TD), but does anyone actually think he holds value? Making a play like this would simply be out of desperation and noting more.

Wide Receiver: Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings

Once he proves healthy he could offer nice value for fantasy owners. However, he hasn’t been healthy and has just five catches for 59 yards on the season. He’s the type of receiver you want to stash but not trust until he proves something.

Running Back: Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings

As Adrian Peterson continues to prove healthy, Gerhart's potential value continues to diminish. While he is a capable backup, Peterson is one of the few elite running backs in the league. There should be no consideration in playing Gerhart in any week right now.

Running Back: LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There has been talk of his role expanding, but he has not yet had more than seven carries in a game this season (including five carries for minus-2 yards in his last game). Could he vulture some touchdowns? Absolutely, which will put him on the radars of those in the deepest of formats.

However, he certainly is far from a trustworthy option with upside. He’s really more of a handcuff than anything.  Unless you are absolutely desperate, look elsewhere.

Tight End: Dallas Clark, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Clark has not been a major factor in the passing game. As I have said, this is a big-play attack, and at this point in his career that is not Clark’s style. The Vikings have been beaten by tight ends this season, however, which could open the door for Clark as an under-the-radar option. He’s a low-end TE2, but if you are desperate he is worth rolling the dice on.

Tight End: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

Unless you have one of the true elite options, you are going to be using Rudolph. The only reason he isn’t listed in the must-use category is because he is not a top-five option. However, he is the clear No. 2 receiver and is the go to red-zone target (5 TD).

Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings

 Top 25 Quarterbacks
Top 40 Running Backs
Top 50 Wide Receivers
Top 25 Tight Ends
Top 15 Kickers