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Tre Mason: must-start or fool's gold?

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Week 8 marks the halfway point to the Fantasy Football season for most as the championship game is typically held in Week 16. With half the season gone, it is time for owners to take a look at their rosters and make some tough decisions. Do you give up on a player who has been underperforming and you aren't sure he can pull out of the tailspin (Eddie Lacy)? Or do you trade for a player who has hasn't been good, but the needle is pointing north on his production for the second half (Calvin Johnson)? Now the chances are Megatron isn't available in your league, but it wouldn't hurt to float his owner a trade offer just to see if you can catch him on a bad day.

On Tuesday I went over some guys I am giving up on, so today I thought I'd go over some players you should target who should be good for a strong second half of the season.

Matthew Stafford – Lions: Stafford has been without Megatron basically since Week 3, and every email I get about him is saying the same thing, that he is "killing" his owners. Yes, I understand it is hard to know what production you will get from him when Reggie Bush and Johnson aren't on the field, and his No. 1 WR is Golden Tate. The good news is Bush is back and the Lions have a bye in Week 9, so Johnson will hit the field Week 10 at as close to 100 percent as one can be. Stafford might be able to be had if you dangle an overrated fantasy QB like Colin Kaepernick in front of his owner.

LeSean McCoy – Eagles: McCoy is an easy 1st round choice to make for any fantasy format, so it is unlikely that his owner will let him go for pennies on the dollar. But for a guy who Yahoo had pre-ranked #1 overall and now sits #93 overall, you might be able to play those numbers off on his owner and get him a little cheaper. Shady currently ranks 9th in rushing yards for RBs with 422 and is tied for 12th in receptions (for RBs) with 16 with many guys ahead of him also tied with others. The worst stat of all is his 74 yards receiving, which would put him somewhere in the 40 range for RBs this season. The Eagles have been moving the ball well, but that movement has come through the air and without McCoy's involvement for the most part. With all that said, McCoy isn't going to stay down forever and you might be able to get him if you threw out a RB like Frank Gore with a WR like Eddie Royal. It's also possible his name makes him untradeable, but it's worth a shot.

Vincent Jackson – Buccaneers:An interesting stat: Jackson is 14th in the NFL with 60 targets this season. Word around the campfire is that V-Jax can be had via trade, and the Bucs are fielding a ton of calls for him. With a 1-5 record and Jackson turning 32 in January, my guess is he won't finish the season in Tampa Bay. Anyone trading for Jackson is sure to have a better QB than Mike Glennon, so his value would almost certainly improve. You could trade for him on pure speculation and pray to the football Gods for a trade to happen. If and when that does, you might have just snagged a No. 1 WR for a bag of chips and some M&M's.

Andre Johnson – Texans: Speaking of targets, Andre Johnson is 9th in the NFL with 63 targets, but his catch percentage is 20 points higher than Jackson's at 62 percent. The other difference between Johnson and Jackson is the Texans offense is much more stable than the Buccaneers offense, so the touchdowns will come rolling in for Johnson eventually. Even if he doesn't score a ton, the targets will pay off with receptions in PPR leagues. I think Johnson is undervalued because he has only found the endzone once, which is why I traded for him in my church league.

  • Andre Williams – Giants: I've been getting a lot of emails and Twitter questions about dropping Williams with Rashad Jennings set to return following the Giants bye this week. I personally would wait a week to cut Williams because Jennings is 29 ½ years old and coming off a fairly serious MCL injury. On top of that, Jennings wasn't 100 percent clear on his Week 9 status when he was asked about it on Monday. Williams hasn't done enough to even steal snaps from Jennings if he returns healthy with a 3.15 YPC average, but he shouldn't be cut until we know Jennings' official status.

Start 'em

Carson Palmer – Cardinals:The Eagles are giving up 23.6 fantasy PPG (FPPG) this season, the 5th-most in the NFL. Palmer is going to make good use of both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald (now that his arm is somewhat right), and Andre Ellington will keep the defense honest enough to not play a pass-prevent defense. Palmer is a nice sleeper QB for Week 8.

Jay Cutler – Bears: The Bears have too many weapons on offense to be averaging the 17th-most YPG on offense at 349.3. Furthermore, their 157 total points scored ranks just 13th in the NFL. So if I am disappointed in their production why am I telling you to start Cutler after he came up lame last week when he put up 190 yards passing, 1 TD, and 1 INT? Because the Bears take on the Patriots and Tom Brady is the #1 ranked QB over the past two games. The more Brady scores and moves the ball, the more the Bears will have to throw the ball to keep pace. Even if Cutler throws a couple of INTs, his yardage and TDs (garbage time or to keep them in it) should negate them.

Justin Forsett – Ravens:Would it surprise you to know that Forsett is ranked #8 on NFL.com for fantasy RBs this season with 80.10 points? It did me! The Ravens are either running the ball or throwing it to Steve Smith, making their playbook basically 2 pages long. Play 1: Run Forsett; play 2: Throw to Steve Smith; play 3: see plays 1 & 2. The Bengals defense hasn't been what fantasy owners had hoped for as they head into Week 8 ranked #25 on NFL.com. Forsett has proven his worth and should be started in more than just 67.5 percent of NFL.com leagues.

Jerick McKinnon – Vikings:The Adrian Peterson suspension could end up being a blessing in disguise as the Vikings get a chance to truly see what they have in McKinnon this year without having to worry about Peterson losing touches. McKinnon has freakish athletic ability and he is the unquestioned starter now for the Vikings. The Bucs defense on the other hand has been very underwhelming, and they are allowing RBs to feast on them for 23.8 FPPG (4th-most).

Doug Baldwin – Seahawks:When the Seahawks traded Percy Harvin everyone instantly wondered who would be the go-to guy when a pass is called, and Baldwin answered that question in Week 7 when he hauled in 7-of-11 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown. I do worry about him from the regression aspect because he isn't likely to do better than 7/123/1, but the Panthers give up the 4th-most points to WRs this year at 27.9 FPPG. He needs to be owned in all formats, but I'd taper my expectations too.

Golden Tate – Lions:[Calvin] Johnson is trying to play coy about his Week 8 status, but there is little chance he suits up against the Falcons in London when the Lions have a bye in Week 9. That means Tate is once again going to be Stafford's hot read at WR, and Reggie Bush will be his check-down option. I wouldn't bank on another 10/154/1 line from him this week, but the Falcons have been generous to WRs this year giving up 1,272 receiving yards (4th-most in the NFL).

Antonio Gates – Chargers:Did you know that over the last four weeks Antonio Gates has put up the 2nd-most fantasy points for TEs on NFL.com? His 178 receiving yards over that span rank him 8th, but the 4 TDs tie him for 1st with Julius Thomas. And as we all know, touchdowns are king in fantasy football. Philip Rivers is having a great season, and Gates is his go-to target of choice when the Chargers get in the redzone. I would expect the Chargers-Broncos game to be a fairly high-scoring game considering the firepower each team has. In that scoring, there is a more than decent chance that Gates finds the end zone once again.

Buffalo Bills defense: A good streaming option this season for fantasy defenses has been to just play whoever the Jets play! This week they take on a Bills defense that is #1 in sacks with 24, tied for 3rd with 8 INTs, and has allowed the 7th-fewest points this season with 128. The Jets are a mess, and I don't see Harvin helping matters much considering Geno Smith is still the QB. The Bills might just finish this week #1 for fantasy defenses if things go according to plan.

Sit 'em

Matt Ryan – Falcons:Ryan has now thrown just one touchdown pass in three consecutive games for the Falcons. The problem isn't Ryan or their WRs; no, the problem is an O-Line that is possibly the worst in the NFL. And to make matters worse, the Falcons lost their center, Peter Konz, for the season with a torn ACL last week. The Falcons get a Lions team in London this week that is giving up the fewest fantasy points to QBs this season at 15.2 FPPG thanks to an elite D-Line. If Ryan was my QB I'd head to the waiver wire and grab Palmer or Tannehill and plug them in for Week 8.

Ben Roethlisberger – Steelers:What is funny about Big Ben is that fantasy owners rarely consider him a "starting caliber" fantasy QB (11.1 percent started on NFL.com), but he is owned in 84.7 percent of those same NFL.com leagues. Right now he is the 16th-best fantasy QB on NFL.com, meaning he is a middle of the road kind of guy best suited to be an emergency option for a bye week. This week the Steelers take on a Colts team that is giving up the 2nd-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season at 16.5 FPPG. When you consider that Roethlisberger is only scoring 14.8 FPPG this year, you can see why he isn't a good option on paper this week.

Tre Mason – Rams:This is one of those times where I look at projections and wonder why they think a player will do as well as they think. Mason has played in just two games this season, and as good as he looked last week (18 carries for 85 yards and a TD), Coach Jeff Fisher said on Wednesday, "it'll be a week-to-week thing" at running back for the Rams. And lest we forget, the Chiefs haven't given up a rushing or a passing touchdown to a RB yet this season. I've seen far too many websites pushing Mason hard this week. And while he may be the starting RB for the Rams right now, the Rams aren't committing to Mason publicly. Pick him up, but I would grab the reins on the runaway bandwagon that is Tre Mason.

Bishop Sankey – Titans:Word is the Titans have officially demoted Jake Locker and will be starting sixth-round rookie Zach Mettenberger this week. With Jadeveon Clowney expected back this week, the Texans might just pin their ears back on defense and shut the entire Titans offense down flat. Sankey hasn't exactly impressed me the last two weeks, averaging just 58.5 yards for a 3.45 YPC. The Titans are already in 2015 in the front office's mind, so Sankey is certainly worth owning. But playing him this week is not the best of ideas unless you are just desperate.

Cordarrelle Patterson – Vikings:So he caught a fluke touchdown on a 4-yard bubble screen last week, big deal! Patterson is without a doubt going to end up as one of the bigger fantasy busts this year as the Vikings have proven they just have no clue how to get him involved in the offense. I cut him in all the leagues I owned him in, and would suggest you bench him until we see consistent production from him.

Dwayne Bowe – Chiefs:Bowe is the WR version of Roethlisberger in that he is owned in 55.5 percent of NFL.com leagues, but started in just 5.4 percent of them. When you consider that he is ranked #73 for WRs on NFL.com you have to wonder why his ownership is at 55 percent. Bowe has just 30 targets on the season, which ranks him #70 for WRs in the NFL. Bowe is a TD-dependent WR who won't see enough yards to be worth playing in standard leagues, and won't reel in enough receptions to be worth playing in PPR leagues. Why do you own him?

Jason Witten – Cowboys:Following in the Bowe line of thinking, I have to ask at this point why do you still own Witten? His 266 receiving yards and one touchdown rank him 15th on NFL.com, with backup Gavin Escobar sneaking up on him thanks to his 3 TDs in the last two games. Witten does rank 2nd on the Cowboys with 35 targets this season, but DeMarco Murray leads the league with 209 touches this season and the coaching staff is clearly trying to not lean too much on Tony Romo this year. If Murray gets injured and the Cowboys turn back to a more even offensive philosophy, then Witten has a chance for fantasy production. But until that happens, you can find better options to play most weeks.

San Diego Chargers defense:The Chargers have put up top-10 fantasy points on defense so far this season; funny, considering they went largely undrafted this season. This week they run into a Broncos offense that has scored the 5th-most points this season with 189. Peyton Manning is now the NFL all-time leader in touchdown passes thrown with 510, and you can be sure he wants to pad that just a little before the season is over. I'd find other options this week like the Bills or Browns.

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