Curt Kestila
Good Call/Bad Call - Week 8

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As we approach the second half of the season, you need to keep your eyes wide open for that running back who surfaces. There is always at least one running back that either by an injury or improved play, emerges in the second half of the season to help carry fantasy teams into the playoffs and maybe to a championship.

In the past it has been Jamaal Charles  (five 100-yard games from Weeks 8-17 in 2009), LeGarrette Blount  (17.1 fantasy points per game from Weeks 8-17 in 2010), Roy Helu  (18.6 fantasy points per game from Weeks 9-17 in 2011), and Knowshon Moreno  (122 of his 132 fantasy points on the season came in Week 12 or later in 2012). This year I’m thinking that guy is going to be either Mike James , Andre Brown or Shane Vereen. If any of these guys are sitting on your waiver wire right now, stash them on your bench and see if they’re the one this year. No guarantees on any of these guys, but it’s a really low-risk move and could pay off huge. Having one of these second half guys really can turn around your season and give you that push into the playoffs if you’re sitting around .500. Now on to the calls for the week.

Quarterbacks

This is the week to get Carson Palmer into your lineup. With six byes this week, your choices at quarterback are diminished. Palmer should be able to put up a good stat line against the Atlanta defense which allows an average of 267 passing yards and more than two touchdown passes per game. Palmer should be able to get you 20 fantasy points or more this week, and he’d be a good call to get into your lineup.

The only quarterback to not get two or more passing touchdowns against the New York Giants was Josh Freeman in his debut for the Minnesota Vikings last week. That’s why you want to get Michael Vick into your lineup this week. Vick has been practicing all week, and looks to be fully healthy to play the Giants this week. The only other running quarterback the Giants have faced was Cam Newton , who had seven rushes for 45 yards and a touchdown in Week 3. Vick looks to be good to go for this week, and walks into a nice matchup as well.

Someone you might want to keep on your bench this week is Tom Brady . Did I really just tell you to sit Brady? Yep. His stats are down this year while trying to get on the same page as his wide receivers. The return of Rob Gronkowski didn’t help as much as people thought it would last week. This week the Patriots play Miami, who have held two-thirds of the quarterbacks they’ve faced to one touchdown pass or less, and less than 300 passing yards in those matchups, as well. Add in Miami averaging more than one interception a game, and things just don’t look good for Brady in this game.

Running Backs

Stevan Ridley has at least one touchdown in each of his last two games. After a slow start he may finally be getting going. Miami has been stopping quarterbacks but the run defense is pretty bad. The Dolphins rank just 28th in points given up to running backs. Ridley is the Patriots' leading rusher by more than 100 yards so he’ll be the one doing the majority of the running. A lead running back against a bad team sounds like a good call for you to start this week.

Darren McFadden was able to rest his hamstring during Oakland’s bye week last week, so he’s fully healthy and ready to run all over the Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers have allowed rushing touchdowns to five different running backs over their six games. Every No. 1 running back that has faced Pittsburgh, except one, has put up 12 fantasy points or more. McFadden has been a good running back when healthy and should have no problem putting up some solid production for you this week.

The last four games Darren Sproles has been down, up, down, up with games of eight, 32, seven and 13 points, respectively. If he continues this trend this will be a down week. That seems likely with his matchup against the 11th-ranked Buffalo run defense. The Bills have allowed just one rushing touchdown to running backs on the year. In the past four weeks, no running back that the Bills have faced has more than 72 rushing yards. Starting Sproles this week would be a bad call.

Wide Receivers

Rueben Randle has just as many receiving touchdowns this year as Victor Cruz (four), while Hakeem Nicks has zero. All four of those touchdowns have come over the last three weeks. It seems that Eli Manning is favoring Randle more than Nicks right now. That’s good for Randle with an easy matchup against the last-ranked Philadelphia Eagles. Teams get a lot more plays on offense with the Eagles defense moving so fast and not being on the field for very long. More plays mean more targets for Randle and more points for you. Randle is a good call this week.

Jarrett Boykin looks to be the one benefiting from the injuries to the Green Bay receivers. With Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley out, and James Jones hampered with a hamstring, Boykin gets his shot to catch passes from one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Aaron Rodgers seems to hit his receivers no matter who they are, which means good things for Boykin. This week’s matchup with Minnesota looks like a good opportunity for Boykin to get some good fantasy points. The Vikings secondary is pretty weak, and have allowed the third-most receiving touchdowns this year. Expect big things from Boykin this week.

If you’re struggling for a bye week wide receiver, give Jeremy Kerley a look. After a slow start to the season, Kerley has double-digit fantasy points in three of the past four games. He’s the No. 1 wide receiver on the New York Jets right now. The Cincinnati Bengals rank in the bottom half of the league in points given up to wide receivers, so he doesn’t have a tough matchup. With Leon Hall out for Cincinnati, Kerley should have a little bit easier time finding some space to catch passes. He’s not going to have a monster game, but he should be solid. And as a bye week fill-in, you could do much worse.

Tight Ends

Besides a one week goose egg, Jordan Reed has been a solid tight end this year. He’s averaging five catches for 60 yards and an occasional touchdown. Not bad for a guy that was barely drafted this year. His game with Denver this week looks to be a good one. Dallas Clark , Brandon Myers, Jason Witten and Coby Fleener have all had games with 13 or more points against the Broncos. Starting Reed would be a good call this week.

The New York Giants rank 28th against tight ends this year. That’s good news if you’re starting Brent Celek this week. Five different tight ends have scored touchdowns against the Giants this year. With Michael Vick back and an easy matchup, look for Celek to have a good week. He’s a guy you’re going to want to get into your lineup.

Be very cautious if you’re starting Jordan Cameron this week. Kansas City is the toughest team for a tight end to go against. No tight end has more than 43 yards against the Chiefs, and the Chiefs haven’t given up a touchdown to a tight end yet this year. With Jason Campbell getting the start for Cleveland this week, things don’t look good for Cameron. He’s a bad call this week.

Good luck this week, and, as always, may your starters stay healthy and I hope you make all the right calls.