Fantasy football isn’t a complicated game, but some seem to understand the importance of utilizing the waiver wire and making smart starts based on matchups more than others.
These wise owners are known as "gurus," and they often win their leagues, leaving the rest of the competition in the dust by making correct decisions more often than not.
If you are looking to join these ranks, take a look at a handful of sleepers you should consider starting and some mediocre players you need to keep glued to the bench.
Start ‘Em: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have been greatly bolstered by Bell’s return, finally getting their running game off the ground and winning two of the three games he has participated in.
Bell has rushed for 184 yards and two scores on 51 attempts. While he hasn’t scored since his debut in London against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4, the bruising rookie back should find pay dirt against the Oakland Raiders in Week 8.
The Raiders have played sieve-like defense against opposing backs, allowing unheralded talents like Ronnie Hillman, Roy Helu Jr. and Danny Woodhead to garner at least 10 points in standard scoring leagues. Don’t be surprised if Bell joins those ranks by the third quarter of this matchup.
Sit ‘Em: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
Pegged as a great sleeper in the preseason, Miller has done nothing but disappoint since fantasy drafts took place.
Through six games, he has garnered just 59 carries, generating 254 yards and two scores in the process. He’s not much of a weapon in PPR leagues, hauling in just six receptions for 12 yards.
Miller's usage is down in the dumps and doesn’t figure to get any better against the New England Patriots in Week 8. Daniel Thomas vultures carries and scores, although neither has been particularly great over the Dolphins' three-game losing streak.
The Pats are vulnerable to the rush, but this backfield by committee isn’t going to rack up a ton of points, so stay away from both Miller and Thomas.
Start ‘Em: Jarrett Boykin, WR, Green Bay Packers
Boykin emerged as a legit waiver star heading into Week 7, and he produced for owners that took a risk on his talents, hauling in eight catches for 103 yards and a score.
With Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb and likely James Jones out of the picture against a suddenly soft Minnesota Vikings secondary, Boykin is primed to have an even better outing in Week 8. It would be surprising if he didn’t at least match his targets from last week (10), but the defense will likely be a bit more prepared this time.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers won’t be afraid to squeeze the football into tight coverage, so cross your fingers that Boykin can come up with the rock and have another big day.
Sit ‘Em: Harry Douglas, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Although he came up with seven catches—on seven targets—for 149 yards and a score, Douglas did not have to deal with an elite cornerback shadowing him throughout the afternoon. In Week 8, he will likely be staring down Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals across the line of scrimmage and will greatly struggle to get open against the top-notch defensive back.
PPR owners may want to still take a chance on Douglas this week, but standard-league players should avoid him if a better alternative with a beatable matchup is available.
Start ‘Em: Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
Welcome to the NFL, Jordan Reed. The rookie tight end burst onto the scene with a breakout performance in Week 7. He generated nine receptions—on nine targets—for 134 yards and a score.
This Florida product has clearly replaced Fred Davis as the Redskins' top tight end, and he should only get better in the second half of the season as he builds rapport with star quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Another statistical outburst should delight fantasy owners in Week 8 as Washington prepares to engage in a shootout with the Denver Broncos. Likely playing from behind, Reed should see plenty of looks and have a myriad of opportunities to pierce the end zone.
If he is still available for any reason on the waiver wire, plug this breakout star in as a starter at the tight end or flex position.
Sit ‘Em: Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams
Cook is a bust, plain and simple. He threw us off the scent for far too long with his two-touchdown performance in Week 1, but now he’s waiver fodder—and should have been before Sam Bradford’s torn ACL.
When this bum is shut down by the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, you'll be glad you finally jettisoned him off your roster. He’s simply not worth a spot in all but the deepest leagues.
The Rams offense is no longer featuring this tantalizingly talented tight end, and the focus should instead be on rookie rusher Zac Stacy. If you need to start someone from St. Louis, go with him.
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