Week 8: Start 'Em
When it comes to setting your lineups for each week of the fantasy season, a good rule of thumb is simply to not over think it. You drafted players for a reason and in almost all cases, it is to play them from the jump. Then again, don't let draft day pride interfere with a basic - or detailed - look at the match-ups, something you most likely do throughout the season. That's why we offer the "Start 'em" column, where we look beyond the obvious names to offer suggestions on potential lineup options, perhaps someone sitting on your bench right now that you may have simply overlooked. Throughout the season check back here for sleepers and oh so subtle plays and also sneak a peak at our Matchup Analyzer page.
If you're in need of a QB to start this week, you might not need to look any further than Christian Ponder. First things first, you have to ignore his performance last game vs. the Cards and focus on the match-up he has this coming week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Two weeks ago when Ponder faced the only team with a worse pass defense than the Bucs, the Washington Redskins, he threw for 352 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Bucs are giving up 323 yards through the air per game, so you can expect similar numbers from Ponder this week. If you need a QB, Ponder is definitely worth a look.
Looks like Rashad Jennings will finally get his shot to start in Jacksonville over the next few weeks and maybe longer, depending how long MJD's foot injury keeps him out. After MJD went down this past week, Jennings came on in relief and rushed for 44 yards and 1 TD as well as catching 7 passes for 58 yards, showing that he is a dual threat to put up fantasy points. The Jags offense is sad and has very few players that can make any plays and even those guys don't seem to be making any, so look for the Jags to work to get Jennings involved early and often in the offense this week. He makes for a solid RB2 start as well as a flex starter. Like Jacksonville plans to, make sure to have Jennings in your starting lineup.
Early reports are that DeMarco Murray won't be available for this Sunday's match-up vs. the Giants, and Felix Jones didn't finish the game last week due to knee and neck injuries. Tanner ended up playing more snaps than Jones. While neither injury appears to be that serious, we have all seen how durable Jones is over the past few years. All that being said, it might be time to give Phillip Tanner a look, especially in deeper leagues. The Cowboys are at home to face a Giants defense that just gave up 248 yards to the Redskins. Make sure to follow the Cowboys' injury updates this week, but if Murray and Jones' status don't improve, Tanner could be worth a look as a low end RB2 or flex starter.
For the first few weeks of the season the only receiver that mattered in St. Louis was Danny Amendola, but since his injury it's been a group effort to replace him. It seems Brandon Gibson has become Bradford's favorite target, while Chris Givens has become the big play guy, catching a pass of at least 50 yards in 4 straight games. This week the Rams face a Patriots offense that seems to have issues keeping leads. A lot of that having to do with not being able to stop the pass, giving up the 4th most passing yards per game at 290 -- many of those yards coming on big plays. Bradford's trust in his rookie receiver seems to grow each week. Look for that to continue this week, with Givens gaining over 100 yards for the first time in his career. Givens can help you out if you need a WR3 or a flex starter.
Going into this season, no one would have expected Jeremy Kerley to be the Jets' most consistent performer through the first seven weeks of the season, but that's exactly what he has been. Kerley leads the Jets in receptions (25) and receiving yards (435) and is 2nd on the team in targets (40) and touchdown receptions (2). With Santonio Holmes injured and out for the rest of the season, the Jets needed someone to step up and make some plays and Kerley had done just that. This week the Jets face a Miami Dolphins defense that is giving up 284 yards per game through the air, good enough for 5th worst in the NFL. The Jets had very few playmakers going into this season and now with Holmes out, it is even worse (so look for them to go to Kerley as often as possible against the Dolphins, trying to take advantage of their poor pass defense). Depending how deep your league is, Kerley can be started as a low end WR3 for flex starter.