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Sunday 22nd Oct 2017

Week 13 has finally arrived, and for most this will be your last chance to get yourself into your league’s playoffs. If you are lucky enough to be looking ahead to the post season, then this week’s waiver run is an important time for you to take a good look at your roster and prepare for the important journey ahead. The injuries to some running backs the last two weeks underscores the importance of padding your roster with as many high-upside players, particularly RB’s, as you can reasonably roster. Don’t be afraid to cut that extra kicker, defense or WR5 types and instead use those roster spots to make sure you fortify your house in case of injury. No players can make a bigger impact if they rise to the rank of starter than those RB’s and the guys ahead of them on the depth chart also happen to be the guys who take the most punishment each and every week. To further drive the point home this week, I’ve listed a bunch of handcuffs that I like at the end of the RB section.

You have to weigh how much a particular handcuff is worth to your team. For example, I own Doug Martin and Trent Richardson on two of my playoff bound squads. This week I grabbed Montario Hardesty in both. I did not grab LeGarrette Blount. I chose Hardesty mainly because T-Rich has already gotten hurt once this year and missed time, but also because he is touching the ball 30 times a week. That workload puts him at risk of injury, so I’ve decided to cover my base here. You get the picture, now go out and make the moves you need to make to make your team stronger in your quest for fantasy glory.

QB

Colin Kaepernick, SF – The Niners rookie tops the quarterback list once again this week after another solid effort against the Saints on Sunday. It is becoming ever clearer that this is Kaepernick’s job to lose now. Alex Smith just doesn’t bring the energy or excitement to the offense that Kaepernick does. If he’s still available in your league, you need to grab him this week since he now has Top 10 potential for the rest of the year. Even if you already have an elite starter on your bench you should make the move just to keep him off an opponent’s roster. I speculated on his talent two weeks ago on my two playoff bound squads, and now I am really excited about have this difference maker around for the playoffs.

Chad Henne, JCK – Henne returns to the list again this week after following up his Week 10 breakout with another solid effort against the Titans. I understand if you wanted to see him do it again before biting, but a matchup with the Bills should be more than enough to get him into some lineups this week. The schedule set up nicely through the playoffs, so he’s a nice backup plan, especially if you have a starter will some cold weather starts late in the year.

Russell Wilson, SEA – If it weren’t for Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, Wilson would be getting even more attention for the fantastic rookie season he is engineering in Seattle. The Bears are a nasty matchup this week, but the Cardinals and Bills coming up next make him a great QB2 to have on hand as the playoffs approach.

Digging Deeper:

Sam Bradford, STL – If you are looking a week ahead as you try to bolster your roster for a playoff run, then Bradford’s playoff schedule (@Buf, Min, @TB) should get your attention. He’s no great shakes, but could finish real strong and be a sneaky playoff weapon in two QB leagues.

Colt McCoy, CLEBrandon Weeden suffered a concussion last week, so it’s possible McCoy will get the start against the Raiders generous defense this week. You’d have to be in a pretty deep league to have to take a shot like this, but at least the matchup is right.

Week 12 Update:

Jake Locker, TEN – I’ve been a pretty big Locker cheerleader this year, and he finally looks like he is healthy again. I mention him yet again since the Titans just fired their OC, so I am interested to see if Dowell Loggains can unlock the potential explosiveness of the Titans skill players.

Mark Sanchez, NYJ – Sanchez was serviceable last week against the Patriots and does have a favorable schedule (Ari, @Jac, @Ten, Sd) that could be enough to make him a factor in two QB leagues in the playoffs.

Ryan Lindley, ARZ – Lindley looked like a rookie on Sunday, as his 4 INT’s indicate. He’ll get another start this week, which isn’t the news Larry Fitzgerald owners wanted to hear.

RB

Bryce Brown, PHI – While I did recommend Brown last week as a player with the size and speed to do damage against a mediocre Panther defense, his breakout performance was a real eye-opener. He looked like a beast, plowing for 178 yards and 2 TD’s, one of which was a beautiful 65-yard scamper down the sideline. LeSean McCoy likely won’t be rushed back on a short week, so Brown will get at least one more week as the main back for the Eagles. It’s also a reminder of why you need to go out this week and back up your stud RB with his handcuff if you can. Don’t be afraid to cut those WR5’s to grab high-upside understudies for your playoff bench.

Knowshon Moreno, DEN – It seemed pretty clear that Ronnie Hillman was the guy to get last week, but that was before John Fox decided to channel his inner Shanahan. While I pumped Hillman, I did warn of the downside that the coaching staff still didn’t trust him in pass protection and had the veteran backs to deploy if that was the case. I obviously didn’t expect 24 touches to 3 for Hillman. Starting RB’s usually don’t appear this late in the year, so Moreno is this week’s top add regardless of format.

Chris Wells, ARZ – I was pretty harsh with my take on Well’s return last week, but I have to give him his due after a two touchdown day in his first week back. I still hate the schedule and the offensive line, but I you have him that means you might not have better options available. Regardless of what I think, he absolutely needs to be owned in all leagues the rest of the way. LaRod Stephens-Howling owners should take notice that he received only one carry. It’s time to move on.

Michael Bush, CHI – Bush’s value this week is directly tied to the health of starter Matt Forte. If Forte sits, Bush is a clear start this week at home against the Seahawks. Forte owners hopefully can continue to ride their handcuff, but those in shallow leagues might just find him sitting on the wire. If so scoop the battering ram up.

Rashad Jennings, JCK Jalen Parmele suffered a season ending groin injury, which will give Jennings another start while the team waits for Maurice Jones-Drew to finally return to action. Jennings hasn’t done much this year when given the touches, but the Bills defense undeniably makes him much more attractive for this week at the very least.

Digging Deeper:

DeAngelo Williams, CAR – I almost feel dirty having to write about Williams, as he and Beanie Wells basically helped torpedo my NFFC squad’s chances this year (so much for trying to cheat on RB’s in the draft). Regardless, the injury to Jonathan Stewart opens the door for him to get a starter’s workload against the lowly Chiefs, which at least makes him start worthy for the first time in weeks. Unfortunately, if you own him your team is likely trying to do little more than play spoiler in your league this week.

David Wilson, NYG – The season-ending injury to Andre Brown finally opens the door for Wilson to get 5-10 touches a week the rest of the way. He isn’t the solid flex start that Brown had become, because he won’t get the goal-line carries, but he is a must have handcuff for fragile Ahmad Bradshaw owners.

Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL – I hyped Rodgers earlier in the season, but he never really delivered on my belief that he would seriously cut into Michael Turner’s workload. Finally, the Falcons seem to be admitting that they need him on the field more, and a great schedule the rest of the way makes him a solid flex start for those who stubbornly hung onto him.

Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James, SFKendall Hunter tore his Achilles, opening the door for the Jacobs and James to battle it out for the 5-10 carries he was getting as Frank Gore’s backup.

Stud Handucuffs – Rather than write up all the guys that you should consider adding to your bench this week to prepare for the playoffs, I just list a few here that I would consider adding as high-upside plays if the starter ahead of them were to get injured: Ben Tate, Shane Vereen, Robert Turbin, Toby Gerhart, Bernard Pierce, Cedric Peerman, Cedric Benson, Evan Royster, Montario Hardesty

Week 12 Updates:

Jalen Parmele, JCK – Parmele’s injury means all that money you spent to get him didn’t amount to much production. Cut him and move on.

Bilal Powell, NYJ – Powell continued to share carries with Shonne Greene and has emerged as the back of choice in the red zone. He’s worth owning the rest of the way, and deep leaguers could do worse as a flex play the rest of the way.

WR

Pierre Garcon, WAS – Garcon finally looked healthy, and as such needs to be picked up in any leagues he is available in. He was cut in one of my leagues after a lackluster return in Week 11, so make sure you check your wire to see if he’s there. His return to form will be a boon to Griffin’s and the team’s prospects down the stretch.

Ryan Broyles, DET – I said last week that the Titus Young suspension would provide Broyles the opportunity to truly breakout as Calvin Johnson’s running mate. He got 12 targets last week, and I think it is quite possible Jim Schwartz just moves on from Young. If you didn’t heed my advice to grab him last week, this is your last chance.

Julian Edelman, NE – Edelman was profiled last week, and was back at it for the Patriots with a touchdown grab and a special teams TD on a fumble recovery. He has been the biggest beneficiary of the Rob Gronkowski injury, and is worth taking a shot on in deeper leagues due to the explosive offense he plays in.

Digging Deeper:

Davone Bess, MIA – Bess has a nice matchup at home against the Patriots this week. He’s getting a ton of targets lately, which makes him a very safe flex option this week.

Chris Givens, STL – Givens put himself back on the radar with his first 100 yard game of the season. As we noted open in our Bradford blurb, the schedule is nice enough to add Givens to your bench for your playoff run.

Damaris Johnson, PHI DeSean Jackson is done for the year with broken ribs, which will open the door for Johnson. The Eagles are such a mess, it will be tough to trust anyone in the passing game after Jeremy Maclin, but deep leaguers can certainly take a shot here.

Mario Manningham, SF – Colin Kaepernick’s ability to extend the play with his legs gives Manningham’s value a little boost going forward. The two seem to be building some chemistry and the former Super Bowl hero has shown that he can be a difference maker in big games. I have to admit, I’m intrigued enough to have taken a shot in one of my leagues.

Week 12 Updates:

Justin Blackmon, JCK – While he obviously couldn’t duplicate his ridiculous Week 11 stats, he once again found the end-zone and will continue to be a solid starter in the new Jaguars offense.

T.Y. Hilton, IND – Hilton was at it again on Sunday, scoring on a punt return and a short pass in crunch time. I said it before, when you are looking for WR’s to fill out your bench, go for the guys with exciting QB’s. Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne will continue to keep Hilton as a WR3/Flex option. The Colts have one of the most pass-friendly schedules the rest of the way.

Brandon Stokley, DEN – Stokley once again did what he does as Peyton Manning’s slot-guy. He’s a boring but safe flex option against Tampa Bay this week.

Mohamed Sanu, CIN – That’s 4 TD’s in three weeks since I wrote up Sanu in Week 9’s report. I think he’s done enough to be owned in most leagues at this point.

TE

Marcedes Lewis, JCK – Lewis had another solid week, with Chad Henne getting him involved in the action yet again. I see no reason why the duo can’t keep it going against the Bills this week.

Rob Housler, ARZ – I wrote about Housler a couple weeks back, and he promptly delivered a goose-egg. Last week, rookie Ryan Lindley dumped the ball to him eight times and will likely have to lean on him again this week against the Jets.

Digging Deeper:

Jacob Tamme, DEN – Manning seems to be leaning on his TE again since Willis McGahee went down, which gives him renewed value in 2 TE leagues.

Dallas Clark, TB – Don’t look now, but the wily veteran is slowly gaining momentum. He’s not producing eye-popping numbers, but it’s clear he’s back to at least being in the discussion for matchup starts again.

Week 12 Update:

Brandon Myers, OAK – Myers topped the list last week, and once again got you something. Cleveland is vulnerable to the TE, so he could finally get back into the end-zone this week.

DST

Jets – Last week it was the Rams here and this week it’s the Jets. The common denominator is the Cardinals offensive line and rookie QB who threw 4 INT’s last week.

Cowboys – I called the Cowboys number when they played the Eagles a couple weeks back, and this time they get them at home in prime-time. Yeah, I like their chances again.

Bengals – Philip Rivers has thrown 14 interceptions on the year, and the Bengals defense is surging as the team makes a playoff push.

Browns – Gotta give my Browns defense for securing the big win against the Steelers last week with an 8 turnover performance. You might want to stash them for the KC game coming up in Week 14.

K

Connor Barth, TB – I profiled Adam Vinatieri as a nice weather-proof kicker to lean on for the playoffs. Barth is another warm weather kicker, with a good offense and a nice playoff schedule to consider hitching your fortunes to.

Follow Ryan on Titter @ryanpcarey

The season ending injury to Willis McGahee was the biggest news heading into this week’s report, and it will undoubtedly result in Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball getting grabbed in every league in which they are still available. Honestly, Hillman should have already been stashed, as we’ve stated on more than a few occasions that the potential for injury was there for the 31 year old.

Still it’s a wakeup call to playoff contenders to back up their stud running backs now that the bye weeks are behind us. There is nothing worse than losing a workhorse back only to find his handcuff on an opponent’s roster. It only gets worse if this happens to you in the playoffs. So take a good look at your roster and don’t be afraid to make room for the next Hillman. If you own Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce should be on your roster. Alfred Morris owners, it’s time to pick Evan Royster back up. You get the picture. Not all handcuffs are created equal, and there are some, like Peyton Hillis, who I wouldn’t rush to add. But backup running backs on good teams like Ben Tate, Shane Vereen and Michael Bush need to be owned with the playoffs coming. Hillman is the first to get his shot, but the stakes are too high this time of year to gamble that he will be the last.

Injuries are usually what creates the most value this late into the season, and this week is no different.

QB

Colin Kaepernick, SF – Last week I was very conservative in my outlook for the speedy QB’s prospects against the Bears defense. Instead he passed for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns, brought Vernon Davis back from the dead and quite possibly earned himself another start. If that’s the case, the Saints will provide a great opportunity for a repeat performance. With the playoffs looming, Kaepernick makes a great speculative add in most leagues, because he just might take this job and run with it. It’s worth noting that Alex Smith could still get the start this week, so he’s worth holding onto or grabbing himself just in case.

Chad Henne, JCKBlaine Gabbert got hurt early in Sunday’s game, and the veteran Henne took over and woke up the entire offense. He tossed 4 touchdowns, 3 of which were big-play strikes. He finally allowed the offense to tap into Justin Blackmon’s upside and had Marcedes Lewis thinking it was 2010 again. If you whiffed on your QB replacements last week, Henne could be just what the doctor ordered with matchups against the Titans and Bills the next two weeks. Don’t expect a repeat of last week’s numbers, but his schedule actually doesn’t rule out some very good results.

Jay Cutler, CHI – Cutler will return from his concussion this week, and the Bears will be at home and ready to put a tough loss behind them. He might have been dropped in some leagues, and could make some noise this week at home against the Vikings.

Digging Deeper:

Mark Sanchez, NYJ – Sanchez is not for the squeamish, but if you really feel lucky this week, you could take a shot on the Jets QB on Thursday against the Patriots. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone outside of two-quarterback leagues being desperate enough to actually start him.

Ryan Lindley, ARZ – The rookie out of San Diego State took over for an ineffective John Skelton, but didn’t do much better himself in relief. He may get another start until Kevin Kolb is ready to return. Lindley is a name to store away for next year.

Charlie Batch, PITByron Leftwich cracked a couple of ribs last week, so Batch will see his first action of the year. He’s probably the best third string QB in the league, but expect a very conservative approach from the Steelers this week in Cleveland.

Week 11 Updates:

Jake Locker, TEN – I beat this drum last week, but wanted to hit it again with the Titans heading into a game against the Jaguars, who just got lit up through the air by the Texans.

Nick Foles, PHI – Foles flopped on Sunday, and the entire Eagles team looked like they wanted to be anywhere else but on a football field. With LeSean McCoy going down, the Eagles may have no choice but to deploy Michael Vick if he is cleared to play.

RB

Ronnie Hillman, DEN – Hillman will get a chance to be the lead dog in Denver, and will no doubt be the top pickup in any league he is available in. The Broncos have an explosive offense and very good schedule the rest of the way. Hillman could very well be a major difference-maker down the stretch, so don’t be afraid to spend as much as it takes to get him this week if you have the chance. His big play ability gives him tremendous upside if he can seize control of this backfield the rest of the way. The one downside for Hillman, particularly in the short-term, is pass protection. John Fox knows he has to keep Peyton Manning healthy, and has veteran RB’s to deploy in passing situations.

Bryce Brown, PHILeSean McCoy hasn’t officially been ruled out for Week 12, it seems very unlikely that he will be cleared to play. That’s thrusts his backup Brown into the spotlight, for at least this week. The Panthers defense is nothing special this year, and Brown has the size and talent to do some damage if he draws the start. McCoy owners should have had him on the roster with the Bye weeks coming to a close, but if you didn’t you’ll have to be aggressive to ensure locking him up now.

Jalen Parmele, JCK – The former Ravens special-teamer got the surprise start last week, and did enough to get another turn against the Titans this week as the Jaguars wait for Maurice Jones-Drew to return from injury. Parmele should be picked up in all leagues, but doesn’t quite have the upside of those above him. Still with the Bills coming up next he could absolutely help get you into the playoffs.

Chris Wells, ARZ – Wells should return to action this week, and despite LaRod Stephens-Howling’s heroics, he will still take over as the early down back for the Cardinals. If you’ve been waiting for his return, you’ll now have to decide when and if you want to start him. With Seattle and Chicago looming in the fantasy playoffs, he’s not someone I would pursue unless I really needed to.

Vick Ballard, IND – I’ll admit, I thought Ballard would cede more work to Donald Brown last week. Instead he got sixteen carries to four for Brown, and now gets a chance to take advantage of the Bills shoddy run defense. Start him with confidence.

Bilal Powell, NYJ – Powell got some love in this column early in the year, as I bashed Shonn Greene on an almost weekly basis to start the season. Last week he finally did something to justify getting listed again, scoring two touchdowns to go along with 60 total yards on 13 touches. Greene is still the starter, but this week’s game against the Patriots puts Powell on the radar for flex consideration in deeper leagues.

Digging Deeper:

Lance Ball, DEN – While Hillman is clearly the flashier player, Ball is the steady veteran and potential goal-line back going forward. He’s part of this committee and worth speculating on in deep leagues and touchdown-heavy scoring formats.

Kevin Smith, DET – I am not sure why it happend, but Smith seemed to take over third down work from Joique Bell on Sunday. I doubt there is much to this, but it does put him back on the radar in deeper leagues.

Week 11 Updates:

Marcel Reece, OAK – Reece more than delivered last week against the Saints. He should retain at least flex value this week, but the sledding will be tougher against a pretty good Bengals run defense. As always, he’s a much better play in PPR leagues.

James Starks, GB – Starks got 25 carries last week, and didn’t really do much with them. The Giants are tough to run on, and it seems likely that Alex Green will be worked back into the mix this week. Temper your expectations here.

Ben Tate, HOU – He ended up missing another week, but Arian Foster owners need to get him back into the fold as a must-have handcuff.

WR

Justin Blackmon, JCK – Blackmon was one of the more disappointing rookies from this year’s class, and as such a lot of his owners moved on week’s ago. Nobody benefitted more from the switch to Chad Henne than the fifth pick in this year’s draft. I mean his 236 yards last week were almost as much as he had coming into the game. His breakout game will get him picked back up, and you have to consider starting him with the Titans and Bills on the docket.

T.Y. Hilton, IND – I pimped Hilton hard in Week 10 and now realize I was just a week early with my enthusiasm. Seriously though, I grabbed Hilton that week and stubbornly held onto him in that league based solely on the upside of his QB, schedule and a belief that he is a better player than Donnie Avery. While I didn’t start him last week for his 100 yard, two TD day, at least I didn’t drop him either. Avery suffered a concussion, which paved the way for Hilton’s third 100 yard game of the season. If Avery sits this one out, Hilton can do it again against the Bills.

Julian Edelman, NE – Edelman started opposite Wes Welker last week, and turned in a career performance. The injury to Rob Gronkowski will help keep Edelman a factor in this offense the next few weeks, giving him sneaky flex value the rest of the way.

Ryan Broyles, DET – Titus Young got himself suspended for this week’s game, opening up playing time for the two guys behind him on the depth chart. Broyles could have a chance to truly breakout now, especially if Young stays in the doghouse beyond this week. It is worth noting that Mike Thomas will step into Young’s spot on the outside, giving him some appeal in really deep leagues.

Digging Deeper:

Brandon Stokley, DEN – Stokley hauled in another touchdown, giving him five on the year. Manning loves to throw to his slot receivers, so Stokley has some value the deeper the league. But honestly, I’d rather take a shot on a player with more upside than this. Still the Broncos have a good schedule coming up, and it seems likely that the veteran should be able to continue to be a viable flex option.

Plaxico Burress, PIT – Yeah, it’s true, the Steelers signed their former headcase, but only because Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery are still out. Don’t waste a roster spot on him looking for past glory.

Week 11 Updates:

Danario Alexander, SD – Alexander followed up his Week 10 breakout, with another stellar performance last week. Look, if he’s still out there in your league, just pick him up already. If you have him, you have to consider starting him now that he’s emerged as the primary weapon in the Chargers passing game.

Mohamed Sanu, CIN – Sanu made it back-to-back weeks with a TD, and could hit pay-dirt again against the Raiders this week.

Pierre Garcon, WAS – Garcon made it through last week’s game, but didn’t look good doing it. Continue to stash him if you like, but don’t count him to deliver much until further notice.

TE

Brandon Myers, OAK – I think Myers should already be owned in most leagues, but the injury to Gronkowski means those in shallower formats should make Myers their first option to try and replace their stud TE. He’s been as steady as they come this year at his position.

Marcedes Lewis, JCK – We touched earlier on Lewis turning back the clock to 2010, after scoring twice in Week 11. Like the other Jags on this week’s list, he has upside thanks to the matchup with the Titans and the switch at the QB position.

Digging Deeper:

Ben Watson, CLE – Watson, like Lewis, scored twice last week, but it’s tough to trust any of the Browns receivers right now.

Garrett Graham, HOU – Graham had already been seeing increased action with Owen Daniels being banged up, and then went out and vulture two TD’s last week two Daniels’ owners chagrin. If you are in a deep league, you could take a shot that lightning will strike twice. It’s a short week and Graham will get some more chances as the Texans continue to focus on getting healthy for the playoffs.

Week 11 Update:

Rob Housler, ARZ – Housler vanished with the entire Cardinal passing game last week.

DST

Rams – The Rams didn’t do much against the Jets last week, but I will list them again thanks to a matchup against the Cardinal offensive line that hands out sacks like candy and a third string QB who will be making his first start.

Panthers – The Panthers will look to take advantage of the Philadelphia turnover machine this week.

K

Adam Vinatieri, IND – The Colts kicker has been busy the last few weeks, gets a good matchup this week at home against the Bills, then follows it up with a basically weather-proof schedule the rest of the way.

Phil Dawson, CLE – The game against the Steelers could devolve into a battle of the kickers. Dawson knows how to boot it at home and the Browns keep stalling in the red-zone.

Follow Ryan on Twitter - @ryanpcarey

Regular readers of the column may have noticed last week that I omitted my usual opening paragraph setting the scene for the blurbs that follow. Well, I apologize for that, but trust me; I barely got the column written last week. I threw my lower back out last week and it was all I could do to sit at the computer and get the bare minimum done. Anyone who has experienced back pain knows what I am talking about. Thankfully I have a good friend who is studied in Chinese medicine and acupuncture, so he got me back on my feet by the weekend.

I own Doug Martin in both of my long-standing home leagues. The rookie’s amazing performance was the final ingredient that I needed to get me up on my feet, dancing around the living room as he led me to two important and unlikely victories in these leagues. If you lost to a Martin owner like me on Sunday, you have my sympathies. There is nothing you can do when your opponent gets the gift of a game like that against you.

Anyway, I am glad to have put my injury behind me so I can focus instead on the injuries in fantasy that will create the best places to look for help on the wire this week.

Bye Weeks – Cleveland, Arizona, Green Bay, Washington

QB

Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF – While the Bills quarterback is likely still unavailable in deeper leagues, a shaky stretch of games has seem his ownership numbers drop in shallower formats. The Patriots always seem to bring the best out of him, so don’t be afraid to plug him in this week if he was dropped or languishing on your bench.

Ryan Tannehill, MIA- If you are missing the services of Aaron Rodgers or Robert Griffin this weekend, then Tannehill might be the best option you will find sitting on your wire today. The rookie hasn’t gotten the attention due to the fantastic play of Griffin and Andrew Luck, but the Titans come to South Florida, meaning this could be Tannehill’s week to shine. The Bills follow next week, so it’s possible he could be more than a one week wonder.

Philip Rivers, SD – Rivers has been a borderline bust for anyone who was expecting consistent QB1 production from the Chargers signal-caller this year. But if Carson Palmer can toss 4 touchdowns against the Buccaneers, then Rivers should be able to continue to keep the arrow pointing upward on his season. It’s possible he’s been dropped in shallow leagues here and there, so don’t be afraid to give him a new home if that’s the case.

Jake Locker, TEN – With their Bye looming in Week 11, it’s probable the Titans will give Locker one more week to let his injured shoulder continue to heal. But the Titans will need to get Locker back under center to properly evaluate the entire offense down the stretch. That means he should be back under center for a tasty matchup against Jacksonville in Week 12.

Digging Deeper:

Kevin Kolb, ARI – Kolb continues to get closer to returning from his rib injury, and he should reclaim his starting job probably as soon as Week 11, after the team’s bye this week.

Week 9 Update:

Blaine Gabbert, JCK – Gabbert had another solid day against the Lions, and I think solidified his case that he should be owned as a QB2 in most leagues. In two QB leagues, he could be a boon in the coming weeks with the Titans and Bills down the stretch.

Russell Wilson, SEA – Wilson’s stock is rising, but the schedule just doesn’t line up too well for him the next few weeks (NYJ, BYE, @MIA, @CHI). He makes a viable bench option, but don’t plan using him very much down the stretch.

RB

Vick Ballard, INDDonald Brown had a setback during last week’s game, and left after tallying a single catch for 7 yards. He also reportedly injured his hip as well as experiencing pain and swelling in his knee. This should keep Ballard in the feature role for a great matchup versus Jacksonville. Monitor Brown’s status, but don’t be surprised when he doesn’t play this week.

James Starks, GB – We have been saying for weeks that Alex Green’s struggles would eventually force the Packers to give Starks more work and it finally came to pass last week. Starks got the start and was the primary back on rushing downs, while Green rotated in on passing downs. I expect this to continue coming out of the Bye. Cedric Benson is eligible to return in Week 12, so things will get interesting here.

Marcel Reece and Taiwan Jones, OAK – Don’t look now, but Darren McFadden finally got his yearly injury, this time a high ankle sprain, that could sideline him for multiple weeks and at the very least will have him at much less than full-speed. Complicating matters for the Raiders is the fact the primary backup Mike Goodson suffered his own high ankle sprain in the same game. High ankle sprains are bad injuries for RB’s and often sideline players for up to 4 weeks. Reece and Jones will be hot properties this week, and likely the best options available, particularly in deeper leagues. Greg Morgan hinted at Reece’s potential as a pass-catching back in this offense way back in Week 3 I believe, and we advised deep leaguers speculate on his talent ourselves in Week 5. The reasons for this was the undeniable fact that the players ahead of him on the depth chart were injury prone and the Raiders had one of the most fantasy friendly schedules for RB’s in the second half. Bear in mind that Reece doesn’t get a lot of carries (at least not yet), so he has more value in PPR formats. Jones should serve as the primary ball carrier, and does have the requisite speed to make some noise. But the coaching staff doesn’t trust him enough yet to get more than a share of the work. Still, he’s worth speculating on himself, because he could easily emerge as a RB2/Flex option the next few weeks.

Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall, PIT – The Steelers RB situation has been a weekly staple in this column all season long as the wheel continues to spin week-to-week. Last week it landed on Redman, as Dwyer’s quad injury gave him a chance to finally deliver on his own pre-season hype. Personally, I am glad to have avoided this situation in most of my leagues, and all three backs are owned in all leagues I play in, which is how it should be at this point. I wouldn’t want to count on anyone in this backfield, but I can’t deny that if any of this trio is available you may want to clear a roster spot.

Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory, NO – The injury to Darren Sproles opened the door for Ingram to have his busiest day in weeks and for Ivory to see his first action of the year. Honestly, Ivory led the team in attempts and scored the only touchdown for Saints backfield last week. The workload split was not happy news to Pierre Thomas’ owners, who were hoping their guy would explode with more work. Sorry, but this is going to remain a committee going forward. If Sproles remains out, both Ivory and Ingram will have some bye week appeal. If I had to choose one for this week, I’d roll with Ivory against a Falcons D that dares you to beat them on the ground.

Digging Deeper:

Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL – Rodgers hasn’t delivered for those who hoped Michael Turner’s age would translate into a bigger role in a more explosive Falcon’s offense. This week’s matchup against the Saints provides a good chance for him to provide flex-worthy stats however, so he could help out RB needy teams this week.

Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead, NE – Last week’s Bye means one of the Patriots’ backup RB’s could have landed on shallower waiver wires, and both will provide value this week against the Bills in what should be a high scoring affair with lots of work for the entire backfield here.

Ronnie Brown, SD – We haven’t given Brown much love in this column, but the Chargers have been relying more and more on the wily veteran as the pass catching back, which gives him flex value in PPR formats for the time being.

Bilal Powell, NYJ – Earlier in the year, it looked like Powell was going to force a committee approach for the Jets. But a shoulder injury in Week 7 and better play by Shonn Greene quieted the buzz. Powell should be back this week and if Greene struggles against a stout Seattle defense, the buzz on Powell could heat up again. Get the jump on the competition and scoop him up this week if he’s out there in deeper leagues. The Jets get Jacksonville and Tennessee in the fantasy playoffs, so Powell makes a viable roster stash for those building a bench for the postseason.

Lance Dunbar, DAL – Dunbar has passed Phillip Tanner on the depth chart in Dallas, and with DeMarco Murray likely to miss at least another week of action, Dunbar is only a Felix Jones injury away from true fantasy relevance. At this point of the year there aren’t a lot of viable options at RB in deeper leagues, so Dunbar could be the only guy worth speculating on this week.

Week 9 Update:

Joique Bell, DET – We recommended Bell as a viable Flex option going forward, and he came through last week with his best statistical game of the year. Granted, the rushing touchdown and a good chunk of his rushing yards came in garbage time, but he has locked himself in as the 3rd down back in a passing offense, so continue to play the matchups with him going forward.

WR

T.Y. Hilton, IND – Hilton very well could be the biggest potential difference maker on the wire in all leagues this week. The rookie took advantage of Donnie Avery’s injury to record his second 100 yard/1 TD game of the season. The short week means Hilton should get the start and he could easily explode against the Jaguars this week. The Colts have a great schedule for WR’s going forward and it wouldn’t be crazy to see Hilton take this opportunity and really emerge as a WR3 option the rest of the way. He’s my top waiver wire option for this week.

Danario Alexander, SD– After noting Alexander’s return to the NFL in last week’s column, those who decided to give him a look had to be pleased with what they saw last week. The coaching staff sang his praises, and he will continue to get more work as long as his knees allow. If you took a wait and see approach here, don’t wait any longer.

Golden Tate, SEA – Tate had his second 2 TD game of the year against the Vikings, but don’t get carried away here. His yardage totals were still pedestrian and this is a run first offense and that’s not changing anytime soon. With the Jets this week followed with a Bye in Week 11, I’d let someone else pay for Tate’s big week.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK – Bey continues to get healthy and with the mess that is the Raiders running game right now, the opportunity is there for Bey to make some noise for those who have stuck with him.

Emmanuel Sanders, PIT – Sanders has quietly gone along as the fourth option in the Steelers passing game all year. The ankle injury to Antonio Brown should allow Sanders to emerge from the shadows this week, making him a worthy bye week fill-in.

Davone Bess, MIA – Bess is a guy who likely sits on someone’s bench in deeper leagues but is widely available in shallower formats. He’s got the same schedule as Tannehill and he’s a great guy to stick in your flex spot the next two weeks.

Week 9 Updates:

Danny Amendola, STL – We told you to make a move on Amendola last week while the Rams were on Bye. He’ll be back this week and should slowly get back to being a PPR machine.

Donnie Avery, IND – Well, if you decided to bet that my finally cutting ties with Avery would mean good news, you were rewarded with his first 100 yard effort since Week 2. Bad news is he suffered a hip injury in the game. Great matchup lie ahead, but I’d rather take a shot at the aforementioned Hilton going forward.

Mohamed Sanu, CIN – I listed Sanu last week as a sleeper candidate in the Bengals offense. It didn’t really happen last week, as TE Jermaine Gresham and slot receiver Andrew Hawkins continued to be next in line after stud A.J. Green. The schedule sets up nicely for the Bengals and I still like Sanu as a sleeper in deep leagues.

TE

Brandon Myers, OAK – Don’t look now, but Myers has quietly worked his way into the Top 10 in TE production on the year, thanks to his 8 catch/2 TD day last week. Like Reece and Bey, he should continue to benefit from the injuries on offense. If Carson Palmer keeps looking his way in the red zone, he could emerge as a real weapon down the stretch.

Dwayne Allen, IND – The injury to Coby Fleener provided Allen with the opportunity to get all the work at TE last week. That should continue this week.

Rob Housler, ARZ – Housler is the best name on my deep league waiver wires, so if you play in 2 TE leagues, he could be worth a look this week.

Week 9 Updates:

Dustin Keller, NYJ – We reminded you about Keller again last week with the Jets on Bye. He shouldn’t be un-owned at this point as the most reliable option in the Jets passing attack.

Tony Moeaki, KC – We warned that you couldn’t rely on him to build on his Week 8 mini-breakout and sure enough he crashed back to earth with a zero catch day. Cut him loose.

DST

Cowboys – I have been playing Rent-a-Defense in one of my home leagues for weeks now, and this week I am taking a shot on the Cowboys in a must win game on the road in Philadelphia. The Eagles offensive line is terrible and Michael Vick has been turning the ball over a ton.

Steelers – The once feared unit hasn’t lived up to expectations this year.  They actually landed on the wire in one of my shallow formats. They get the gift that is the Chiefs offense this week making them a must start if you have them.

K

Adam Vinatieri, IND and Shaun Suisham, PIT – If you like to play revolving kickers the smart play is to look to the Bills and Chiefs for your best options. Here they are.

It was a tough week for quarterbacks in the NFL last week as Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler and Alex Smith all got knocked out of their games, thrusting their backups into action. As a result, many owners will be sent scrambling for replacements this week and since we are dealing with our last bye week of the season, that means those of you in deep leagues may have no choice but to turn to some risky options this week.

Big Ben’s injury looked to be the most serious, as he badly sprained his throwing shoulder. The speculation is he could miss as much as four weeks and possibly longer. It’s a pretty big blow to the entire offense and I’d be worried if I was counting on Mike Wallace or Antonio Brown in the coming weeks.

Vick got his bell rung pretty well on Sunday, and apparently also sustained an eye injury which resulted in some vision loss. Andy Reid has been looking for an excuse to bench Vick, and now he doesn’t need one. If you own Vick you have to prepare for the worst case scenario that his time running this offense is up.

Cutler and Smith both sustained concussions, so their owners may want to make contingency plans in case they can’t make it back this week.

Bye Weeks – Seahawks, Giants, Vikings, Titans,

QB

Nick Foles, PHI – Foles will be one of the most added players this week in leagues of all sizes. He will be behind center this week against the shaky Redskins pass defense, and that makes him an attractive spot-starter for at least Week 11. Having a weekend house in the Poconos means I catch a lot of Eagles games on the tube and after seeing Foles perform in relief on Sunday, I came away with mixed feelings. At times he showed decent presence in the pocket and an ability to make some plays. But he also was harassed constantly and that led to some errant throws and turnovers. Rumors are starting to swirl that Vick could be “rested” the rest of the year, which would give Foles even more value beyond this week. It’s undeniable that the weapons are there on offense and the schedule isn’t that bad either. I’m glad that I don’t have to take the shot on Foles, but it’s possible you won’t have that same luxury. My advice if you go with Foles is to consider pairing him with the next guy on this list.

Jake Locker, TEN – Normally I might put a guy I profiled last week in the update section, especially when he isn’t even playing this week. But the carnage at the QB position over the weekend convinced me to put him up top once again. The Titans got Locker back under center earlier than expected to face the Dolphins, but the rust was evident throughout. The bye week comes just in time to get him sharp for a Week 12 meeting with Jacksonville. If you need a QB this week, Locker obviously isn’t your guy, but if you are looking for a QB with upside to replace an injured starter, I like Locker’s upside the rest of the way more than just about anyone who will likely be available in your league.

Sam Bradford, STL– Bradford had his best day since Week 6 against Miami, and it wasn’t a coincidence that Danny Amendola was a big part of making that happen. While Bradford is worth consideration for the QB needy, the schedule (NYJ, @Ari, SF) the next three week’s makes him a shaky starting option over that span. Think of him as what he is, a capable backup with some intriguing matchup during the fantasy playoffs.

Russell Wilson, SEA – I wrote Wilson up last week, and my opinion hasn’t changed that much since then. He’s on bye this week then gets two tough road games, where he has had less success so far this season. You may remember I was very high on Wilson coming into the season, and I think he has shown more than enough to be owned as a high-upside backup in all leagues at this point.

Digging Deeper:

Colin Kaepernick, SF – Personally, I wouldn’t want to count on Kaepernick this week for a couple of reasons. The first is that the Niners play on Monday night and Alex Smith still has an outside chance to start. Second, the Chicago Bears defense means even if he gets the start, he could be in for a long day. If your choices are limited to the names in this section, his running ability gives him a higher floor and means he won’t be a total bust. I guess there is a chance Smith could miss more time, which makes him a name worth considering in deep leagues.

Jason Campbell, CHI – Cutler also has an extra day to try and get clearance to play this week, but if he can’t go, Campbell will get the start. The matchup isn’t great, and I wouldn’t count on big numbers, but the Chicago defense can shorten the field and provide some scoring opportunities for the strong-armed backup. I don’t normally talk about two-QB leagues, but that’s the kind of league where I might take a shot on the former Redskin and Raider this week.

Byron Leftwich, PIT – Big Ben’s injury is a big blow to the Steelers offense, and Leftwich will make his first start since 2009 against the Ravens. You probably read about his elongated delivery countless times over the past couple of days, and it seems likely that the Steelers will focus more on running the ball more making Leftwich little more than a game manager. He’s only an option for the truly desperate.

Week 10 Updates:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF – The former Harvard grad got back on track against the Patriots, and actually has a pretty favorable schedule for the rest of the year. I noted last week that he is likely only floating around in shallower formats, but if you lost Vick or Roethlisberger over the weekend, Fitzpatrick could provide more than enough to carry you the rest of the way.

Ryan Tannehill, MIA – Tannehill had been showing improvement before imploding with 3 INT’s against the Titans on Sunday. Normally a matchup with the Bills would have me interested, but with only 5 TD’s on the year, I just can’t get too excited any more.

RB

Marcel Reece, OAK – Reece finally gets top billing this week after he emerged as the clear winner of last week’s battle for touches with Taiwan Jones. I will keep following up on Greg Morgan’s pimping of Reece, and now that the situation is clearer, if you took our advice and grabbed Reece, you should feel very confident about rolling with him this week against the Saints. His pass catching ability and the fact that the Raiders will no doubt be in catch-up mode early means he’ll get plenty of touches on Sunday. He needs to be owned in all leagues now since we still don’t know how long Darren McFadden will be sidelined.

James Starks, GB – I mentioned Starks taking control of the committee in Green Bay last week, and the coaching staff has indicated that his role will increase this week after the team’s bye. That makes him the back to own in Green Bay for the time being. Cedric Benson is eligible to return in Week 14, and Alex Green is still there to steal touches as well. We’ll undoubtedly revisit this backfield as the fantasy playoffs approach.

Daniel Thomas, MIA – Thomas got the bulk of the carries for the Dolphins last week after starter Reggie Bush got benched after an early fumble. While Thomas is not a guy I think you can bank on, this week’s tilt against the Bills does offer an opportunity for him to put up some useful stats. Even if Bush gets out of the doghouse, Thomas is the clear goal-line back here and that makes him a viable option in your flex spot this week.

Chris Wells, ARZ – Wells should be ready to return to the field in Week 12, and will be given every opportunity to reclaim his starting job. He’s worth adding in most leagues, but the likelihood that he’ll have a lot to prove before you’ll want to put him in your lineup.

Digging Deeper:

Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL – Had him here last week, and here he is again. Like everyone else, I saw Michael Turner get stuffed multiple times at the goal-line last week, and I understand why everyone is saying the Falcons will finally give Rodgers more work as a result. I myself have said the same thing at least twice in this column at different points this season already. At this point, I will only believe it when I see it. If you have the roster spot to play with and he’s available, by all means take the shot if you like, ideally in PPR formats.

Andre Brown and David Wilson, NYG – The Giants are on bye this week, and Ahmad Bradshaw got banged up last week and required X-rays for a neck injury. Brown’s ownership numbers have dropped, so take advantage and grab him now. He’s already getting the goal-line work, and proved earlier this year he can handle a full workload. Wilson is more of a long-shot for deep leaguers, so view him as a lottery ticket that could pay off before the season’s through.

Ben Tate, HOU – Tate is getting closer to returning, and it could be worth checking to see if the Arian Foster owner in your league dropped him while he’s been out, in a bye-week roster crunch. I just checked one of my leagues and lo and behold there he was.

Week 10 Updates:

Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram, NO – Both had success last week as Pierre Thomas faded into the background. Ingram got the most carries he’s had since Week 2 and Ivory showed his explosiveness on his 56-yard TD run.

Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead, NE – Vereen gets a little boost in value this week with news that Brandon Bolden was suspended for 4 games. Vereen is now locked in as Stevan Ridley’s backup. Woodhead rewarded owners who plugged him in last week with a nice 2 TD effort.

Vick Ballard, IND – I was wrong about Donald Brown not being ready for last week’s game. As a result, Ballard slipped back into a complimentary role where he will likely remain unless injuries strike yet again.

WR

Danario Alexander, SD – I think I mentioned Alexander in this column two weeks ago before most people took notice, and I told you again last week. Well he showed what he can do as long as he stays healthy turning a quick slant into an 80 yard touchdown gallop as part of a monster day. He’s got tough task this week in Denver, but he has a chance to keep filling the Vincent Jackson role in this offense the rest of the year. Hopefully you grabbed him on the cheap, because he’ll cost a boatload this week.

Cecil Shorts, JCK – Shorts is another guy that I find I need to keep mentioning due to his low ownership totals in shallower leagues. I don’t know what else he or I have to do to get you to pick him up. Like Alexander, this week’s game against the Texans might be a time to park him on the bench, but he needs to be on a roster at this point.

Donnie Avery, IND – Man, he just won’t go away. He’s not scoring touchdowns, but he’s back to being a viable flex play since he’s starting opposite Reggie Wayne and the Colts get the Patriots, Bills, Lions and Titans the next four weeks.

Donald Jones, BUF – Jones has been pretty hit or miss this year, but has looked pretty good the last two weeks, posting back-to-back six catch games. If he finds the end-zone like he did last week that will just improve his flex-worthy stats.

Laurent Robinson, JCK – Robinson has come back to life since returning for his concussion. He is still more of a possession threat, but 15 catches in two weeks puts him back on the radar as an option in PPR leagues.

Pierre Garcon, WAS – Garcon will apparently test out his injured foot this week to see if he can make it back on the field this year. It’s worth checking if he’s available in your league and if he is take a chance he can make it back. I think it’s more likely he’ll get shut down for the season, but I’d still grab him if I could to see what happens this week.

Digging Deeper:

Mohamed Sanu, CIN – Feeling a little vindicated by my sticking with my thoughts on Sanu as he finally found the end-zone last week. He’s still really just a deep league stash at this point, but this week’s game at Kansas City could be another step forward.

Alshon Jeffery, CHI – Jeffery is getting closer to returning for the Bears, but any excitement I might have had about that is quashed by Jason Campbell at QB.

Jarius Wright, MIN – Wright looked pretty good subbing in for Percy Harvin last week. The Vikes are on bye, and Harvin should return afterwards, so Wright should return to the bench.

Week 10 Updates:

T.Y. Hilton, IND – Well, if you are going to crow about the one’s you get right, you’ve got to admit when you miss the bus. All signs pointed to Donnie Avery being less than 100%, thus opening the door for Hilton to shine. Sadly, he only got one target, zero catches and needed two rushing attempts to salvage something from the day. I like the talent, but as the third wheel, you just can’t bank on production.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK – We were right about Carson Palmer’s second favorite WR getting back up to speed. Last week was the time to make a move on him. If you did, expect another good game against the Saints.

Emmanuel Sanders, PIT – Sanders will get another start in place of Antonio Brown. Sadly, Byron Leftwich will be throwing the ball, so don’t get too excited.

TE

Kyle Rudolph, MIN – Rudolph had fallen out of favor with a couple of zero catch weeks recently. With Percy Harvin sidelined, Rudolph finally got some love from Christian Ponder again. Hopefully this will get him going again following this week’s bye.

Dwayne Allen, IND – Colby Fleener should be out at least another week or two, so Allen will have the opportunity to take advantage of good matchups against the Patriots and the Bills the next two weeks.

Rob Housler, ARZ – The pickings will be slim in deeper leagues, so Housler once again could be the best option available for those looking for a one-week fill-in.

Week 10 Update:

Brandon Myers, OAK – Myers didn’t find the end-zone this past week, but he delivered another solid performance.

DST

Bengals – The Bengals are the winner of this week’s Kansas City sweepstakes. They are also coming off an emotional victory against the Giants and will be fired up for this one. If Brady Quinn is behind center, I like them even more.

Rams – The Jets are just terrible. They can’t score and they turn the ball over. I like the Rams at home to take advantage accordingly.

Redskins – I feel like a broken record kind of, but I liked the Cowboys against the Eagles last week and they paid off big-time. This week we’ve got a rookie QB and an even more demoralized team. The Redskins defense has been pretty lousy, so this is a slightly risky play.

K

Kai Forbath, Was – Forbath has been perfect since taking over the kicking duties and should get plenty of chances against the Eagles this week.

Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanpcarey

QB

Blaine Gabbert, JCK – Gabbert has had an up-and-down year, but is coming off his best game of the year against the Packers and has a pretty decent schedule the next two weeks (DET, IND) which makes him a viable spot starter in many leagues. I’d rather own Gabbert than Mark Sanchez or Matt Cassel

Alex Smith, SF – Smith rebounded with a three TD performance against the Cardinals on Sunday after two lackluster weeks likely landed him on some waiver wires. He’s on Bye this week, so he might get dropped in some others. He still rates as a high quality QB2 in all leagues

Digging Deeper:

Russell Wilson, SEA – Wilson had a solid game against the Lions and continues to show improvement as a starter. I don’t love the match-ups the next two weeks, but he could have value as a fill-in the next two weeks.

Matt Moore, MIA Ryan Tannehill is dealing with bruises to him knee and thigh, so his status for this week’s game is still somewhat in doubt. Matt Moore managed the team well in relief, and if he gets the start in Indianapolis, he will be of use in deep leagues or those that start two QB’s.

Nick Foles, PHI – As of today, Foles has not been told that he will be replacing Michael Vick as the starter in Philly. Vick owners may want to add Foles in case Reid makes the switch and they have the space.

Week 8 Updates:

Josh Freeman, TB – Freeman delivered for the third week in a row and has a great chance to keep rolling the next three weeks.

Brandon Weeden, CLE – Weeden and the entire Browns passing game was a victim of the elements on Sunday. The bright spot is he didn’t turn the ball over and continues to make better decisions with the ball. He’s not really much more than a QB stash at this point.

Sam Bradford, STL – Bradford came up short against the Patriots in London and can be safely dropped heading into this week’s Bye. The schedule doesn’t offer any upside down the stretch.

RB

Jonathan Dwyer, PIT – Dwyer had his second 100 yard game in two weeks against the Skins, but unfortunately injured his quad in the game. Keep an eye on the injury reports, but with the injured backs all around him on the roster, he needs to be owned because it seems clear he will be a part of whatever rotation the Steelers will use going forward.

Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead, STL – There is big speculation that Steven Jackson will be traded at today’s deadline. If that happens Richardson would become the lead back in a likely committee with fellow rookie Pead. Richardson is most likely owned in many leagues already, but those in deep leagues may want to scoop up Pead in case Jackson gets traded, opening up playing time.

Joique Bell, DET Mikel Leshoure left last week’s game with an apparent injury and Bell and Kevin Smith took over in the 4th quarter. Coach Jim Schwartz was quoted as saying he stuck with Bell down the stretch since he had the “hot hand”. Bell is the best option on the roster to fill the Jahvid Best role in this offense, and with the Lions passing game showing life, he should be able to provide flex worthy stats going forward.

James Starks, GB Alex Green continues to underwhelm, which has the Packers in the middle of most of the trade rumors surrounding available running backs. If the Packers don’t bring someone new in, I think the Packers have to give Starks a bigger role in the offense in the coming weeks.

LeGarrette Blount and DJ Ware, TB – Blount could be one of the most likely players to actually get traded today, since his salary is low and the Bucs won’t ask for much in return. If he were to land in a spot like Green Bay, he obviously could have value in such a good offense. He’s worth speculating on in hopes he lands in a favorable spot. If Blount does in fact get traded, Ware would see an uptick in playing time as the change-of-pace option behind workhorse Doug Martin.

Ronnie Hillman, DEN – Hillman had his best game of the season, working once the Broncos jumped out to a big lead. You won’t be able to trust him in your lineup yet, but the performance showed some glimpses of what he could do if Willis McGahee were to get injured.

Digging Deeper:

Chris Wells, ARI – Wells can’t play until Week 12 at the earliest, but it could be worth stashing him now if someone cut him in your league. He will surely get his starting job back as soon as he is healthy again.

Week 8 Updates:

Rashad Jennings, JCK – Jennings had a workmanlike game against the Packers, but things get easier the next two weeks against the Lions and Colts at home. He’s getting 18-20 touches per week and still rates as a RB2 option.

Daniel Thomas, MIA – Thomas punched one in last we as we suggested he might. He is going to continue to see value as the goal-line option behind Reggie Bush, and would become an every week start if Bush were to go down with injury.

WR

Cecil Shorts, JCK – Shorts was profiled a couple times in this column and since then he has established himself as the clear No. 1 option for Gabbert in the passing game. He should be rostered in all leagues at this point, and should continue to able to produce WR3 numbers and being the primary deep threat for the Jaguars means he has the potential for some big games.

cecilshorts

Danny Amendola, STL – Amendola has made a remarkable return from the nasty clavicle injury that knocked him out of action a few weeks back. His recovery is well ahead of schedule, and there is speculation he could suit up as soon as next week, after the Rams bye. If he is somehow sitting on your wire, scoop him up and reap the benefits down the stretch, as he’ll go right back to being a PPR machine as soon as he’s healthy again.

Titus Young and Ryan Broyles, DET – We profiled both Lions receivers last week, and both were scooped up in all of my deep leagues. However, in one of my shallow leagues, someone actually cut Young prior to last week’s games in a roster crunch. So, give a look and see if either of these guys is still on your wire. Young will get the most attention coming off his 2 TD, breakout performance, but Broyles quietly scored for the second week in a row. With defenses dedicating so much attention on stopping Calvin Johnson, both these young receivers will have chances to provide value.

Dexter McCluster, KC – The Chiefs coaching staff didn’t make any friends in fantasy circles last week with their curious decision to not give Jamaal Charles to ball. The biggest beneficiary last week was McCluster, who did most of his damage as a receiver. The fact that he also qualifies as a WR in some formats gives him some added flexibility.

Danario Alexander, SD – Look who’s back in the NFL. Alexander was signed off the scrap-heap by the Chargers, which signals to me Vincent Brown won’t be returning anytime soon. Alexander is a very talented WR, but he is made of glass. With the way Robert Meachem has been playing, it makes sense for the Chargers to try to work Alexander into the game-plan, so deep leaguers could do worse than take a shot at Alexander to see if he can carve out a bigger role.

Mohamed Sanu, CIN – I like Sanu a lot, and coming off the Bye I am curious to see what the Bengals will do with their WR options behind A.J. Green. I think Sanu could emerge from a crowded group to stake his claim as the Clear WR 2 for his team.

Week 8 Updates:

Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK – Bey didn’t do much last week, but a 32 yard TD salvaged his day for his owners. Denarius Moore is the clear WR1 for the Raiders, dropping Bey to low WR3 territory.

Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss, WSH – The Skins passing game sputtered last week, but it was partly due to some costly drops by the WR corps. Both of these guys have value through the bye weeks.

Donnie Avery, IND  - Avery once again failed to deliver in a juicy matchup. There are more ahead, but I’m giving up on Avery. Of course that means he’ll likely breakout again this week. If you like to bet on angles such as this, be my guest.

TE

Dustin Keller, NYJ – We mentioned Keller last week, but we list him again because his role will only grow in a Jets offense in need of veteran leadership.

Kellen Davis, CHI – Davis is a player we haven’t talked about all season, because frankly he hasn’t done much. The only reason he gets mentioned this week is the matchup against the Titans. If you need a one-week fill-in, Davis could be the best option available.

Tony Moeaki, KC – Moeaki emerged as another winner in last week’s Cheifs gameplan. He’s a tough guy to rely on, but if you are desperate you could roll the dice against the Chargers D this week.

DST

Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins have been playing very well on defense and their penchant for running the ball leads to lower scoring affairs.

San Diego Chargers – The Chiefs offense is a mess and the Chargers are a desperate team in need of a win. In a short week, I like the Chargers D a lot this week.

K

Matt Prater, DEN – The Broncos offense is rolling and Prater will continue to benefit.

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