Fantasy Football Week 8: Underrated Spot Starts That Will Deliver Big Numbers

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 23, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 21: Wide receiver Rueben Randle #82 of the New York Giants catches a touchdown in the second quarter as cornerback Chris Cook #20 of the Minnesota Vikings defends during a game at MetLife Stadium on October 21, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

With six NFL teams having a bye during Week 8, some fantasy lineups will need temporary plug-in options to keep things afloat at certain positions.

Given some of the matchups set to unfold on the upcoming schedule, there are options at each position for fantasy owners to consider spot starting.

By picking up any of the four following players—one at each offensive position—respect can at least be gained in fantasy leagues for nabbing a productive player.

It's especially impressive during a week in which many rosters are thinning, with owners scrambling for short-term answers in the midst of an unprecedented amount of idle teams.


Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals

/Getty Images

Any notion the Cardinals were entertaining that they might finally find a legitimate quarterback to pair with superstar wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has all but gone out the window.

This statistic from the NFL on ESPN's official Twitter is telling as to how the season has gone for Carson Palmer, Fitzgerald and the Cardinals:

However, if fantasy owners are in dire need of a signal-caller to get them through Week 8, the former No. 1 overall pick Palmer is a great option.

With playmakers like Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts—and even rookie Andre Ellington—at his disposal, Palmer is capable of carving up a 23rd-ranked Atlanta Falcons pass defense.

What helps the immobile Palmer most is that Atlanta lacks a pass rush. The Falcons are tied for 25th in the NFL with only 14 sacks this season, giving the vertical passing plays dialed up by head coach and play-caller Bruce Arians adequate time to develop.

Plus, his counterpart Matt Ryan will be throwing a lot to compensate for a poor running game, giving Palmer more shots to air it out himself.

As long as Palmer has time, he should be in for a big day in the Georgia Dome.

Projected Numbers: 24-of-42 for 285 yards passing, 3 TDs, 1 INT


Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets

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Running back is the bedrock of fantasy football, so plugging in a bell-ringer like Chris Ivory—who carried the ball a career-high 34 times last week—isn't the worst an owner could do.

Ivory is facing a difficult Cincinnati Bengals defense that hasn't yielded a rushing touchdown in the past four games, but Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg had to be pleased with what he saw out of Ivory in the win over New England.

Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has thrown 11 interceptions, diminishing some of his flashes of brilliance and costing the team a shot at winning even more games.

Part of that is due to Smith throwing it deep more often than any other quarterback in the league, per Pro Football Focus:

Considering the physical style of running Ivory deploys and the fact that head coach Rex Ryan likes the ground-and-pound, it's conceivable that the game plan could shift.

A great way to take the hosting Bengals out of the game early would be to chip away with Ivory on the ground in matching up with the AFC North leaders.

The yards per carry may not be great, but expect the powerful Ivory to rumble into the end zone once.

Projected Numbers: 28 carries, 85 yards, TD


Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants

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Perhaps Rueben Randle is considered a notch above a spot start at this point, but join along on this odyssey of analysis about the second-year receiver's inconsistency.

The former LSU standout had five catches for 101 yards in the season opener but then had that many receptions in the next two games combined.

Week 4 saw Randle have just one catch for seven yards on four targets. Then, he had a monster performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in which he caught six passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns—but on 14 targets.

That's not terribly efficient, and although he's found pay dirt in each of the past two contests, he has six catches total in that span.

So why count on Randle this week? Simple. The Giants are playing the Eagles again, who give up 311.6 yards per game through the air.

Plus, the past six catches Randle has had have come on only eight targets, while his higher-profile teammate Hakeem Nicks managed only two receptions on 10 targets in Monday night's win over Minnesota.

Projected Numbers: 7 receptions, 110 yards, TD


Timothy Wright, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sep 29, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Timothy Wright (81) after he caught the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Greg Schiano has come under fire for the winless Bucs, but Timothy Wright, who is a rookie hailing from Schiano's previous coaching stop at Rutgers, has been a pleasant surprise.

The undrafted Wright has carved out a solid role in Tampa Bay's offense, capitalizing on his modest opportunities to the tune of 15 receptions for 153 yards on only 20 targets.

Rookie third-round QB Mike Glennon has taken a liking to Wright. In last week's loss to the Falcons, though, Wright had only 15 receiving yards on two receptions—but only three passes were thrown his way.

Glennon locked in on Vincent Jackson for 22 targets—an outlier that won't repeat itself on a weekly basis.

As a result, expect Wright's production to pick up against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.

Against such a difficult opponent, a young quarterback will look to his tight end as a security blanket of sorts too.

Wright has proven capable of playing that role, and the Panthers will be more worried about Jackson and Mike Williams on the outside.

Although the Bucs should have difficulty gaining traction against the Panthers' elite defense, it should be a strong showcase for Wright, who may see his targets in or approaching double digits.

Projected Numbers: 6 receptions, 55 yards, TD

Top Week 8 Fantasy Spot Starts
RankingQuarterbackRunning BackWide ReceiverTight End
1Carson Palmer, Arizona CardinalsChris Ivory, New York JetsRueben Randle, New York GiantsTimothy Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2Eli Manning, New York GiantsLe'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh SteelersKenny Stills, New Orleans SaintsAndrew Quarless, Green Bay Packers
3Thad Lewis, Buffalo BillsRoy Helu, Washington RedskinsJeremy Kerley, New York JetsRob Housler, Arizona Cardinals
Rankings are strictly opinion



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