Setting your fantasy football lineup becomes a cumbersome chore during the heart of bye weeks. With many starting stalwarts sitting Week 8 out, owners may have to find replacements on the waiver wire.
What is an Andrew Luck or Philip Rivers owner supposed to do without those starting quarterbacks available to play this weekend? How about all the desolate owners who must replace Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, Ray Rice and Arian Foster at running back?
With six NFL teams on bye, managers must get creative when filling out a lineup. These guys, who remain available in many fantasy leagues, are worth rostering and starting during Week 8.
QB Carson Palmer (vs. Atlanta Falcons)
The Carson Palmer experiment has not fared well in Arizona.
Expected to pile up the yards with the Cardinals, Palmer has averaged 248.7 passing yards per game, which may not look as bad if not for the 13 interceptions. That places him 27th among quarterbacks by ESPN's count.
All the turnovers will stymie Palmer from finishing as a trustworthy fantasy option, but he's worth a Hail Mary today against the Atlanta Falcons.
Atlanta presents one of the league's most favorable matchups for a quarterback. Per ESPN's scoring, opposing quarterbacks record 19.5 fantasy points per game, which ranks 28th. The Falcons surrender 267 passing yards per game with a 65.5 opposing completion percentage.
RB Pierre Thomas (vs. Buffalo Bills)
Look above at all the big-name running backs not playing on Sunday. A lot of managers are operating this weekend without their premier rusher.
That makes it a stretch that Pierre Thomas remains available in many active leagues. Then again, he's only owned in 33.7 percent of ESPN leagues, so many managers are missing out on a solid No. 2 back this weekend.
The Bills have allowed 123.6 rushing yards per game, but opposing running backs have registered just 24 catches this year. That means the New Orleans Saints could implement Darren Sproles less in the passing game, instead pounding the ball with the bigger Thomas in between the tackles.
Without Mark Ingram around, Thomas has accumulated 30 carries in the last two weeks. While he's not a permanent enough factor in New Orleans' offense to trust on a weekly basis, this is the day to employ Thomas.
And for owners needing to dig even deeper, Khiry Robinson is worth considering as a desperation play.
WR Terrance Williams (at Detroit Lions)
Terrance Williams needs to be owned in every league. Once every team has played its bye, Williams should still warrant starter status with the right matchup as the rookie continues to blossom more every week.
Forced into action in place of an injured Miles Austin, Williams has amassed 320 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the past four games. He has now found the end zone in each of the last three weeks.
Don't be fooled by his newbie status: Williams has quickly emerged as a dependable target for Tony Romo. Williams has caught 24 passes on 28 passes, giving him a 85.7 percent success rate. That gives him the highest catch percentage among any wideout with at least 20 targets.
The Lions have allowed 282 passing yards per game, so Williams is in great shape to keep the good times rolling one week longer. Even a healthy Austin won't be able to knock Williams down from his newly earned position as Tony Romo's No. 2 receiver alongside Dez Bryant.
TE Rob Housler (vs. Atlanta Falcons)
After singing Palmer's praises for this week, it's fair for a skeptic to wonder who would direct the quarterback to a fruitful fantasy performance. The Cardinals are depending on Larry Fitzgerald while he's less than 100 percent, and there's not much more to their shallow offense.
Look for tight end Rob Housler to gradually develop into a valuable weapon for Palmer.
Housler recorded a season-high seven catches and 52 yards last week against the Seattle Seahawks, who boast the NFC's toughest passing defense. The 6'5", 250-pounder has the size and speed to create mismatches and make noise in the end zone if Palmer continues to look his way more.
While no star tight ends are on a bye, some owners might need a short-term replacement for Martellus Bennett or Coby Fleener. Jimmy Graham's owners also must monitor the stud's status in case they are required to make a last-second switch.
Assuming Jordan Reed is long gone from free agency, Housler is worth auditioning against Atlanta.
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