Week 8: Pickups of the Week
I guess there are deep leagues and two-QB leagues where Matt Cassel is (or was) rostered. It is to managers in those odd-ball leagues that this particular recommendation is directed; the rest of you can move along – you have safer options to pursue. And even for you remaining desperate few, this pickup doesn't come without considerable caveats. Cassel was awful through the first five games, fumbling five times and tossing up nine interceptions. When he got injured, Kansas City fans cheered. Then Quinn stepped in and coughed up two picks of his own with zero touchdowns while posting a woeful 48.1 passer rating in his first start against Tampa Bay in Week 6. On the positive side, he's now had an extra week to collect himself and enters Week 8 with the knowledge that the starting job is officially his. I can't, in good conscience, recommend him as a fantasy play right now but maybe, just maybe, he'll prove to have some value down the road. He does have one thing going for him that 16 other starting NFL QBs don't: his 2012 bye week is already in the past.MyFantasyLeague availability: 64%
The fact that the Browns are 1-7 on the season has no doubt softened the impact of Brandon Weeden's solid play on the collective fantasy consciousness. After the kind of rocky start you'd expect from a rookie QB who stepped into a first-day starting NFL gig with a non playoff team, Cleveland's 2012 first-round pick has made a dramatic turnaround. He has now thrown two TD passes in each of the last three games while averaging 262 yards and just one interception per contest over that span. Cleveland's faltering run game and tendency to play from behind have actually helped boost the first-year pivot's fantasy numbers. Don't be afraid to test him out this week against a San Diego team that is giving up 280 passing yards per game and fielding one of the top ten most pass-friendly defenses.MyFantasyLeague availability: 44%
Rashad Jennings has long been considered one of the better handcuffs in fantasy football and now a foot injury to Maurice Jones-Drew could put him in the starting lineup again. If this particular insurance policy hasn't already been retained by someone in your league, prudence dictates you take advantage while the rates are low. Jennings has been mostly used as a change of pace for the past few years, so you have to go back to 2010 for a glimpse of what he can do when granted a full workload. With the backfield all to himself in Week 17 against the Texans, Jennings recorded 22 carries for 108 yards and a TD. He missed 2011, but was healthy enough this season to give the Jaguars leverage during Jones-Drew's training camp holdout. Remember that as late as the beginning of this September, the team was ready to roll with Jennings as their number one guy.MyFantasyLeague availability: 51%
Behind a wretched offensive line, William Powell couldn't get anything going on the ground last week, causing the Cardinals to turn to a player whose skill set supersedes the need for conventional blocking schemes. The improvisational style that Stephens-Howling brings to the table proved to be much more effective as he produced a TD run, passed the century mark in rushing yardage and hauled in four passes for 45 yards. Powell may occasionally factor more heavily in future game plans but Stephens-Howling offers the greater overall breakout potential. That being said, keep both Arizona backs firmly on the bench for this week's matchup against San Francisco's suffocating defense.MyFantasyLeague availability: 51%
There's life in the wasteland that is the Jets receiving corps! Kerley has ably filled the void left in the wake of Santonio Holmes' season-ending injury and has managed to extract unexpected fantasy value from the talent-starved Jets offense. Since assuming a starting role three weeks ago, Kerley has snagged 15 balls for 238 yards. Despite New York's passing woes, he should significantly boost those numbers this week against a soft Miami secondary that is giving up the third most catches and fourth most yards to opposing receivers.