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Fantasy Football: Trust or Bust Week 8

Rich Hribar breaks down the players to start and bench this week in you PPR leagues.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer

Oct 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws during the second half against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

In Fantasy Football Trust or Bust, we will focus on who we deem as trustworthy starts and pepper in a few sits for your Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues.

TRUST

Carson Palmer vs ATL

Yes, that Carson Palmer. The very same one who ranks 26th in quarterback scoring through seven weeks and has thrown multiple interceptions in each of his past five games. He’s been bad, crippling bad from a real football perspective.  Underneath all of that awfulness, he’s still competing 60 percent of his throws for 250 yards per game while attempting 38 passes per game.

The Atlanta Falcons pass defense has been just as bad. They’ve allowed all six quarterbacks they’ve faced to throw multiple touchdowns and all six have had better quarterback ratings in those games facing Atlanta than they sport on as their season total.  From a fantasy slant, every quarterback they’ve faced with the exception of Ryan Tannehill has finished that week as a top 12 or better fantasy option.  These aren’t all world beaters like Drew Brees and Tom Brady either. Geno Smith, Mike Glennon and Sam Bradford all fit that bill. In a week with Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco all on bye, Palmer is the bye week option for those not faint of heart

Le’Veon Bell @ OAK

It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for Bell since his return from a foot injury that forced him to miss the first three weeks of the season. Over those three games, he’s averaged only 3.6 yards per carry and 64 total yards per game. The promising sign is that he’s getting massive volume in the Pittsburgh offense, receiving 20 touches each week, and has faced two very tough defenses the past two weeks in the jets and Ravens. In his past game against the Ravens, he totaled 20 touches for 99 yards.

This week the Steelers look to continue their winning ways in Oakland, who has been formidable on defense so far this season. The Raiders have yet to allow a back to reach 80 yards rushing in a game, but have allowed five backs to reach 75 total yards over their past four games and a touchdown to a back in each of their past five contests. In a game that could feature plenty of running on both sides, Bell should come out of the Black Hole as high-end runner.

Jeff Cumberland @ CIN

Taking advantage of Kellen Winslow’s suspension and the slew of injuries that the Jets have suffered at the wide receiver position, Cumberland has gained a bigger role in the passing game. After playing fewer than 60 percent of the offensive snaps throughout the first four weeks, he’s played over 75 percent in the past three. His targets have also increased in each of the past three games, while grabbing at least three receptions for 40 or more yards in each.

He also has developed nice deep ball chemistry with Geno Smith. Per Pro Football Focus, Cumberland is the only tight end other than Vernon Davis to have a reception on a pass of at least 20 yards in the air in each of the past three weeks. Over that same time frame, he has four catches for 118 yards and one score on such throws from Smith.

The Bengals have suffered multiple injuries to their secondary, and have been susceptible in allowing tight ends to reach the end zone. They’ve allowed four tight ends to score so far this season, only a Steelers team without Heath Miller, Packers team that lost Jermichael Finley in the first quarter and a Patriots team missing Gronk  failed to have a tight end score against the Bengals.

Terrance Williams @ DET

Williams’s stock is soaring right now as he’s become the regular starter opposite Dez Bryant. He’s become a fixture on two wide receiver sets, participating on 80 percent of the Cowboys plays over the past four weeks.

He’s been incredibly efficient as well, catching 24 of his 28 targets this season. That 85.7 percent catch rate ranks first in the league out of all players with 25 targets or more. He’s also scored or topped 70 yards in three of his past four games.

Detroit has been getting torched by wide outs all season, but more specifically, number two wide outs. Jerome Simpson, Santana Moss, Alshon Jeffrey, Marvin Jones, James Jones, and even Greg Little have either scored or had 75 yards or more receiving facing the Lions.

Jacquizz Rogers @ ATL

Even with Steven Jackson finally expected to make his long-awaited return this Sunday, don’t expect Quizz to be a forgotten man in the Atlanta offense. With Julio Jones lost for the season, Roddy White still hobbled, and Jackson nursing back to full strength, the Falcons will be a team that relies on the short passing game to move the football.

The woes the Cardinals have had covering tight ends are well documented this season, due to inferior safety play and the number of injuries they’ve sustained at linebacker this season. Receiving backs have given the Cards small fits so far this season, giving up 35 or more receiving yards to fourbacks of similar pass catching prowess. Look for the Falcons to use Rogers in the passing game and in space on those linebackers as well this Sunday. In PPR leagues, with Jackson receiving a lighter workload, Rogers will still be a guy you want to have in this week.

BUST

Alfred Morris @ DEN

Morris hasn’t been getting much love, but he’s been really solid this season. He has 15 or more carries in each of the past four weeks and has rushed for at least 70 yards in every game since week one. His 5.2 yards per carry are the highest mark out of all backs with at least 50 rushing attempts. Week to week, his extremely reliable rushing stats provide a decent floor even in leagues that award catch points.

Although Denver has given up the eighth most points to opposing backs, those stats are largely inflated solely based on touchdowns. Running backs have not enjoyed much consistent success versus the Broncos front. Denver is allowing only 3.3 yards per attempt (second best to the Jets 3.1). No running back has topped 73 yards on the ground against them, with only two backs topping 43 yards rushing.

Not only are they good per play, but because teams are constantly trying to keep pace with the Broncos offense, teams are only attempting 23.4 runs per game against them (seventh fewest in the NFL). Roy Helu has played more snaps than Morris in two of the past three weeks with Washington playing catch up, serving as the more versatile option and better receiver. In a game with limited touches that may be ineffective, Morris is strictly dependant on whether he scores or not.

LeSean McCoy @ PHI

McCoy has cooled off a bit after opening the season with three consecutive games of 150 or more total yards. Since then, he’s rushed for 100 yards only once and is averaging only 3.7 yards per carry over the past four weeks.

Saying the Giants have been a disappointment this season would be an understatement, but the one area of the team that is playing well is the defensive line in terms of stopping the run. Mike Patterson, Linval Joseph and company have been extremely strong against a tough slate of runners over the past four weeks.

In those games, the Giants have held Jamaal Charles (18 for 65), McCoy (20 for 46), Matt Forte (19 for 67) and Adrian Peterson (13 for 28) to an average of 18 carries for 52 yards, with McCoy having the only rushing touchdown. With the Eagles offensive line playing so poorly, it won’t matter who is under center, they’ll have a tough time pushing around the New York front.

Denarius Moore vs PIT

Moore was a preseason sleeper favorite for the past two seasons, finally souring owners on the 24-year-old this season. He’s having a post hype breakout so far in 2013 with the emergence of Terrelle Pryor. In the four weeks prior to the Raiders bye, Moore was 12th in targets (35), sixth in receiving yards (356) and sixth in PPR scoring for all wide outs with 73.6 points (18.4 points per game).

That string of wide receiver one production will be put on hold this week as Oakland welcome the Steelers. Pittsburgh has clamped down on some of the very best in the game, allowing only two receivers (oddly enough, to teammates Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson) to reach over 61 yards. Torrey Smith, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey were all held to an average of 51 yards with only Smith topping 52 yards (61) in a game.

Jordan Cameron @ KC

The leading scorer at the tight end position in PPR leagues, Cameron is third in the NFL with five receptions inside the opponents’ 10 yard line. In his three games with Brandon Weeden as quarterback and Josh Gordon on the field, his lines haven’t been as pretty, however. In those weeks he’s failed to reach 65 yards receiving after hitting that mark in all four games to start the season. He also only has one touchdown after five in the first four weeks.

This week he heads to Arrowhead where tight ends go to die. No tight end has scored yet against the Chiefs and Delanie Walker is the only tight end to reach 40 yards receiving against them and he only had 43. Part of the reason is Eric Berry is playing fantastic football right now, Per PFF, he’s allowed only 17 of the 30 targets in his coverage to be completed with an interception and three passes defended. His 57.9 quarterback rating allowed ranks third best out of all NFL safeties that have seen at least 25 targets in coverage.

Full Disclosure from Week 7

TRUST

PPR PTS

RESULT

Nick Foles

5.7

QB29

CJ Spiller

3.7

RB46

Mike Wallace

13.8

WR26

Brian Hartline

12.9

WR31

Jordan Cameron

18.5

TE3

BUST

Colin Kaepernick

20.76

QB9

Zac Stacy

18.7

RB9

Josh Gordon

4.1

WR70

 

SEASON RESULTS

W

L

TRUST

20

19

BUST

15

11

*Stats used were provided from ProFootballFocus, Pro-Football-Reference, NFLData.com

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