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Fantasy Doctor: Schedule points to Palmer as pickup

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By The Fantasy Doctor

Every Wednesday, The Fantasy Doctor ponders fantasy football dilemmas and prescribes advice with an eye on helping you win. Email your fantasy questions to

So, I have Falcons QB Matt Ryan and he's on his bye week. My only other backup is Vikings QB Christian Ponder, but he doesn't have a good matchup this week against the Cardinals. Raiders QB Carson Palmer is available in my league, and I was thinking about picking him up and dropping Ponder. What do you think I should do?

— Jwatt

I prefer Palmer in Week Seven. I also believe he has a more favorable schedule going forward than Ponder, who has had a slew of good matchups early in the season. However, Minnesota still has two games left against Chicago and Green Bay. In addition to Arizona, Houston, Seattle and St. Louis are non-divisional opponents still left on the slate for Ponder. In my view, that’s eight less-than-ideal matchups for the Vikings’ second-year passer. I’m including Green Bay on this list on playmaking ability, but if even if you exclude Dom Capers’ defense, we’re still talking about a tough ending stretch. 

Meanwhile, Palmer has a host of favorable matchups. The Raiders still have a pair of games against the Chiefs (32nd in yards per pass play allowed) and also face the Buccaneers (31st vs. the pass), Browns (30th vs. the pass), Saints (26th vs. the pass), Chargers (24th vs. the pass) Ravens (22nd vs. the pass). Oh, and the Jaguars are 23rd in pass defense, too. 

While Ryan should be your clear-cut starter going forward, Palmer is a backup with upside.

I have Packers TE Jermichael Finley in a standard 12-team league. He hasn't provided good numbers for me so I need to find a replacement. Jets TE Dustin Keller, Panthers TE Greg Olsen, Colts TE Coby Fleener, Broncos TE Joel Dreessen, Buccaneers TE Dallas Clark and Dolphins TE Anthony Fasano — whom you like?


For starters, I’d hold on to Finley, whom I prefer to Keller, Olsen, Fleener, Dreessen, Clark and Fasano over the long term. Yes, Finley has had a tough season, but if you release him, he will be picked up in a heartbeat, and he has the ability to help an opposing fantasy team at some point. The Packers have yet to have their bye, and Finley is playing through a shoulder injury. Perhaps he starts to hit his best stride late in the season. If nothing else, keep Finley around for Week 16, when the Packers face the Titans. Tennessee has had big-time problems stopping tight ends. 

Of the six other tight ends you mentioned, I like Olsen, Keller, Fleener and Dreessen the most, and I’ve ordered them in how I assess their upside for the rest of the season. Ideally, you can add one as an insurance policy — the Packers don’t have their bye until Week 10, so you will want to monitor Finley’s recovery. Above all else, though, I wouldn’t give up on Finley just yet. 

Hey doc,

I really need your help. I have my two top RBs on bye weeks. Who should be my two starting RBs out of this group: Bills RB C.J Spiller, Cowboys RB Felix Jones, Colts RB Vick Ballard?

Who should be my two starting WRs: Panthers WR Steve Smith, Texans WR Andre Johnson, Ravens WR Torrey Smith, Saints WR Lance Moore? Usually it would be a no-brainer, but Steve Smith and Andre Johnson are not producing.

Finally, who's my best bet at my flex spot? Thanks.


At running back, I’d start Spiller and Jones. Spiller’s the slam dunk of the group, and Jones has more upside than Ballard.

At wide receiver, go with Andre Johnson and Steve Smith. Both draw secondaries with some injury concerns. What’s more, Johnson has given the Ravens some trouble in recent matchups.

Finally, Torrey Smith looks like your best bet at the flex spot with Lance Moore hurting and Ballard perhaps not an every-week fantasy starter just yet.

Hello, I am in need of some advice for Week Seven. I’m 2-4 and in slight panic mode.

At quarterback, I have Redskins QB Robert Griffin III or Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. 

At running back, I also have Lions RB Mikel Leshoure or Rams RB Steven Jackson.

Also, I have two WR spots and Steelers WR Antonio Brown, Browns WR Josh Gordon and Ravens WR Anquan Boldin as options. 

Also, what are your thoughts on dropping Rams WR Steven Jackson to pick up teammate Daryl Richardson, and do you think Eagles WR LeSean McCoy is going to get back to big numbers or continue with mediocre points? Thanks for all your help. 


Digging out of a 2-4 hole isn’t easy, but it can be done, and it helps to have RG3. The Redskins’ rookie quarterback is a must-start, and should you make a big rally this season, I’m guessing he will be leading the charge.

At running back, I’d go with Jackson, who faces a Green Bay defense allowing 110.2 rushing yards per contest. To answer another of your questions, I would certainly pick up Richardson — but I wouldn’t drop Jackson. I’d work to have them both on the roster.

Boldin and Brown look like your best bets at wideout in Week Seven, but Gordon is a good player to have for the long term.

Finally, I would much, much rather have McCoy than not have him. He’s tied for the team lead in TDs (three), and his playmaking ability, coupled with his active roles in the running and passing games, gives him considerable upside. In his first game after the Week Seven bye, he faces an Atlanta defense allowing 5.2 yards per carry. He could be poised for a strong start to the post-bye part of the slate. 

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