It's week 16 - finally. The championships are here (for most of us). Money is on the line (for some of us), and we're still digging for some last minute advice (for a few of us). 'Tis the season for shopping, and waiting in lines, and spending money we don't have. But 'tis also the season for us fantasy ballers who have put in time, effort, money, and smack talk all season for this one wonderful weekend of football. Bragging rights and some hard earned cash are at stake as we roll towards the conclusion of the fantasy season. PFS has been on a small hiatus from the blog- family ALWAYS comes first - but don't think we haven't been putting in some research, giving advice, and checking stats in the wee hours of the night in preparation for this weekend. We want to jot down a few things we learned over the past few weeks and share those insights with you in hopes that we can give you that edge to win your fantasy league this week. We saw some crazy things happen over the past couple of weeks - hopefully they didn't cost you the win - but as Matthew Berry put it best - "(A loss) comes in stages
". You made it this far, so give yourself a pat on the back, but as my grandfather always told me "never rest on your laurels." Keep digging for news. Keep looking at stats and matchups to see if there is a player you should start over another this week. Take heed to what we have to say here. We've seen all to many 1 point losses, MNF chokes, TNF regrets, and managers simply fumbling the ball on the hypothetical 1 yard line. Good luck.(Almost) always start your stars in the playoffs. They are the ones who got you here in the first place. It generally shouldn't be a tough decision to make. Don't try and get fancy. We just recently passed into the finals after the manager facing us had some Tomfoolery backfire in his face. Granted, we beat him by 48 points
, but he started Josh Freeman vs. the Saints over Tom Brady vs. the 49ers. Freeman put up a measly 5 points, while Brady posted 30 points. Needless to say his team put up 124 points in the loss (with 91 points on his bench.)If your star goes down - find the most consistent replacement available and plug him in. We lost Gronkowski weeks ago, and luckily for us, Greg Olsen was sitting on the wire. We snagged up Olsen, and haven't stopped looking for a more suitable Gronk replacement since. While Olsen certainly helped us get into
the playoffs, we didn't necessarily feel as if he was a top 10 TE. So we kept our eyes peeled, and when Heath Miller hit the wire (frustrated owner dropped him when Roethlisberger went down,) we didn't hesitate to snag him up as well. We didn't need a 6th string RB, so we instead rolled with 3 TE's while Gronk healed. We plugged Miller into our lineup last week, and he paid dividends with 19 points to Olsen's 8. Don't be afraid to roll with a consistent player, even if he isn't a star. We made several trades in our league to secure some stud starters, but that left us a bit thin at one of our WR positions. After dealing away guys like Stevie Johnson, Vincent Jackson, and Reggie Wayne to strengthen our RB core (Alfred Morris,
Doug Martin, and Malcolm Floyd), we had a hole in our #2/3 WR slot next to Megatron. After shopping the wire for a reasonable bench WR, we settled on TY Hilton way back in week 11. He didn't
have the star power of a Dwayne Bowe (who we just couldn't start), but was certainly similar to a guy like Floyd. We played Hilton over Floyd weeks 13, 14, and 15, because of matchups, and he has rewarded us with 34 points over those three weeks. Now, we call Hilton our starter - our #2 WR - after the Floyd injury. And we aren't afraid of him hurting us this week vs. the Chiefs. This next point goes hand-in-hand with the above statement. Don't get too confident with a flash-in-the-pan starter; you could wind up burning yourself like we did in another league. Bryce Brown, a name who has probably passed through several angry managers mouths
in the last two weeks, absolutely killed us in our big money, 12 team league. We skated into the playoffs as the #6 seed, by going 5-1 over the last 6 weeks of the season. We were facing a team that we had just beaten (easily). We had been employing Steven Jackson and DMC/Reece as our RB's, and when Shady McCoy went down we had to jump at the opportunity to grab Bryce Brown for some depth. We plugged in Brown during weeks 12 and 13 (played the matchups/injuries), and he rewarded us with 57 points and helped us get into the big dance. During the week 14 playoff matchup, we benched Miles Austin and went with Brown, DMC, and S-Jax. We lost by two points, thanks to Browns lousy 1 point effort. The lesson learned here is that there was really no need to start Brown. We got "fancy". DMC was healthy, S-Jax had a good matchup, and Austin had started every other game this season for us. We would have won had we started Austin (or 50% of the players available on waivers for that matter.) Shame on us.Kickers really do matter in fantasy football. And for a couple of different reasons.
During the week 14 playoff matchup we rolled with Phil Dawson as our kicker. We had recently dropped Zeurlein (his leg died a few weeks back,) and while Dawson put up a solid 12 points, three of the kickers we were looking at put up at least 2 points more than Dawson. Those 2 points would have won the week for us, had we pulled the trigger. And now onto the second, and most frustrating reason. The manager we faced started Jason Hanson as his kicker. Now I'm sure a few owners out there will forever curse Jason Hanson and Jim Schwartz for their week 14 play-call. With 7 seconds left in the Sunday Night Football game (7 SECONDS!), and the Lions down 10 points (10 POINTS DOWN), Schwartz elected to kick a 34 yard field goal and then
try for the onside kick and touchdown. It was 11 p.m. on Sunday night; we had all but secured our win. Then the kick. A 34 yarder to put the Lions down by 7. I mean, 7 seconds will never
be enough time for a field goal, onside kick recovery, and scoring touchdown drive. The game was over. But Schwartz had to beat us. He had to kill our fantasy football championship hopes. We lost by two points. Had our opponent started another kicker, we may have won. Had Schwartz not gone for the pity-points in a losing effort, we would have won. Had Hanson missed
that FG, we would have won. Fantasy sports is such a fickle game, reliant on not only your own personal decisions, but of those made by others. We hope you didn't lose your playoffs to Jim Schwartz this year. For Christmas, I asked Santa for a Detroit Lions hat - so that I could drive over it with my car (forward and reverse for good measure), cut it to shreds, and light the pieces on fire, while I read the news of yet another Lions loss and missed opportunity to make their
real-life playoffs. We wish our readers a safe, happy holiday season in the coming weeks, and we wish our readers the best of luck in their fantasy football playoffs. We hope our readers come back for some fantasy baseball advice (its just around the corner!). And hopefully nobody is
playing against Jason Hanson. He could ruin your week.
Ah, the wonderful feeling of knowing that your fantasy team will be playing in the playoffs this week (or next). And the regrets we come up with as to why our teams may have not made it into the playoffs. This time of year for fantasy footballers is like walking a tight rope. One false move and you're out. You can't go backwards - the trade deadline has come and gone, length or extent of injuries are barely on your radar. Sleepers no longer matter, bye weeks are irrelevant, and there are probably only 4-8 active, relevant managers left standing. It's just you and the triumphant goal in sight - the end of the wire. If you've been paying attention to PFS, and are still in - kudos. We hope we helped. This week, we'll just recap a few guys who may be able to help over the next three weeks. There aren't too many out there. The great teams are still standing. Most of us still playing don't need the help. But PFS is still looking out for you. Good luck, be it this season or next. We'll be here next summer with rankings and more advice.
1 - Bryce Brown RB PHI - If this guy is available - and he is in about 30% of Y! leagues still - then add him now. LeSean McCoy is reportedly still having concussion symptoms two weeks after his injury. Not a good sign. We urged managers to add Brown in each of the past two weeks, and he's payed managers off with 372 total yards and four touchdowns over the past two weeks. He should be considered at least a RB2 the rest of the way.
2 - Josh Gordon WR CLE - Gordon is still owned in less than 50% of Y! fantasy leagues. Shame. Some owners just don't know how to let go of an under performing bum and pick up something new and fresh. The Browns have been quietly playing some decent football over the past few weeks. Gordon has 7 targets in each of his last three games, with 15 catches for 229 yards and a score over that span. If you are in a deep league, or in a league that starts 3 WRs plus a FLEX (or two) then Gordon should be pressing you for starting time. Gordon faces three sketchy pass D's down the stretch in KC, WAS, and DEN. He should be good for at least 10 points a game in PPR leagues over the next three.
3 - Golden Tate WR SEA - Tate has put up some very, very good numbers over the last four games, and like Gordon (above), he should be pressing you for playing time down the stretch. With several WR/RB's out right now, a guy like Tate could be a great FLEX play. Tate has 4 touchdowns in his last 4 games, coupled with at least 4 catches or 50 yards in that time span. He has netted 60 fantasy points over his last 4 games in PPR leagues, and is owned in just about a third of Y! leagues.
4 - Montell Owens RB JAX - Yes, ANOTHER Jacksonville player on our list. With MJD still questionable to return, as well as injuries to Parmele and Jennings, Owens will be the Jaguars bell cow this week. While Owens probably won't break out like Bryce Brown did, he will certainly get plenty of carries this weekend vs. the Jets. He had a 4.1 YPC last week on seven carries, and caught his only target. We think a line to the tune of 14-70, 3-20 with the chance of a score could be in line this Sunday. That could be just enough to warrant an emergency FLEX play in deeper leagues and leagues that use week 14 as a regular season game.
5 - Jacob Tamme TE DEN - With Brandon Stokely out for Thursday night's tilt with the Raiders, Tamme will play slot receiver in his place. Tamme has TE eligibility, and could put up WR numbers, which is a major benefit, especially for PPR owners. Tamme had 13 targets and 9 catches for 89 yards last week vs. the Bucs. All three are season highs. Grab the 36% Y! owned TE and plug him in if you are on the bubble about your current TE.
Some pretty intense H.S. runs for Bryce Brown - the top ranked high school player his senior year.
Week 12 brought many fantasy owners a lot to be thankful for, and some, not so much. In deeper leagues, teams are gearing up for a playoff run, smaller leagues, fighting for a playoff spot. There were a handful of notable injuries (or players with them) - including DeSean Jackson, Miles Austin, Jonathan Stewart, and to a lesser extent Jalen Parmele, Kendall Hunter, and Andre Brown. Owners are also worrying about the health of Matt Forte, Danny Amendola, and Matt Schaub's manhood. And many of us are already reeling from the losses and demotions of Maurice Jones-Drew, Percy Harvin, Willis McGahee, Michael Turner, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Run-DMC, Alex Smith, and Rashard Mendenhall. 2012 seems to be the year that we can liken fantasy football to the Bad-News Bears; many teams are hardly starting the roster they drafted, managers are cashing in on a rag-tag group of fantasy gold that they have picked up and traded for through the season. Let's continue onto a few players that we think could have some sort of fantasy relevance heading into the last leg of the race in our FFL's.
1 - Bryce Brown RB PHI - We mentioned Brown a week ago as a guy who could possibly make a difference in your league. Some spry owners started Brown the minute they heard of a Shady McCoy concussion were rewarded mightily in leagues this week. The 41% owned back went off for 189 total yards and two scores last week vs. Carolina. Grab him if at all possible, and plug him in confidently if you are an owner looking for some RB2 or FLEX help this week.
2 - Rashad Jennings RB JAX - Jacksonville's revamped offense is suddenly putting up some relevant fantasy stats for desperate owners. The former fantasy wasteland is now providing a copious amount of points with players like Justin Blackmon, Jalen Parmele, Cecil Shorts III, and now Jennings coming through with newly anointed starter Chad Henne taking over the reigns of the JAX offense. With MJD and now backup Parmele both out week 13, Jennings stands next in line for the start. Buffalo is ranked as the 31st rush D in the league according to www.footballoutsiders.com. Grab Jennings and start him if you are still awaiting the return of DMC, MJD, or DeMarco Murray to your starting lineup.
3 - David Wilson RB NYG - Wilson has always been known as a play maker, but his pass-protection skills are lacking, and coach Coughlin doesn't like to use rookie RB's in general. With 3rd down and goal-line back Andre Brown and his 470 total yards and 8 touchdowns hitting the IR Wilson should slide right into the role as the Giants look to keep Bradshaw fresh. Use your waiver claim to snag Wilson if possible and hope for a Bradshaw injury.
4 - Jonathan Dwyer RB PIT - Rashard Mendenhall picking up just 39 yards on his last 15 carries, coach Tomlin has said openly that he is going to use Jonathan Dwyer as the lead back moving forward. We like Dwyer as a solid RB3 moving forward, so if you have the space, pick up the 38% owned Y! back in all league formats, just be weary of Redman and Mendenhall lurking over his shoulder. Dwyer is averaging 4.4 yards per carry this season.
5 - Mohammed Sanu WR CIN - We talked about Sanu way back in September as a super-sleeper heading into the season. A third round pick out of Rutgers, Sanu had 19 touchdown catches in just three seasons, and also had four touchdown passes out of the wildcat offense at school. Sanu is a 6'2" 220lb receiver with speed and hands for days, and is regarded as a fantastic natural athelete. He should pair up as the perfect compliment to AJ Green the rest of the way, very similar to the role Ryan Broyles has slid into in Detroit. Sanu has 11 catches and 4 touchdowns in his last three games - and the 4% owned receiver should be readily available in your league should you need the help.
6 - Marcades Lewis TE JAX - Yet another Jaguar probably widely available and potentially useful in fantasy leagues listed on PFS. If you are a frustrated , Finley, Gronk or Hernandez owener, or have been limping through with a now concussed Kyle Rudolph then look no further than Lewis. With the Jags offense clicking under Chad Henne, and a scheme that now involves the TE, Lewis has been the beneficiary of some useful fantasy points. Marcades has caught 14 of his 20 targets in his last 4 games, and had provided at least 6 points per game in PPR leagues in that span. He even caught two huge touchdowns in Jacksonville's inspired football game vs. Houston two weeks ago.
7 - Brandon LaFell WR CAR - For those in deeper leagues, LaFell just might be available, as he's owned in just 21% of Y! leagues. In his last 5 games played, LaFell has had 34 targets. with 19 catches and 3 touchdowns. Though he's only gone over 80 yards twice, Brandon should be useful as a WR3 in deeper PPR leagues, especially if he can stop dropping passes. The Panthers face three questionable pass defenses in KC, ATL, San Diego, and Oakland down the stretch. None of those teams rank inside the top 12 in the NFL at covering the pass.
Week 12, unlike most other weeks, has given us a cornucopia of rosterable fantasy faces to choose from as we head into Thanksgiving week. Most of these guys are readily available. We hope you had taken action on picking up guys like Danario Alexander (7-96-2), Julian Edelman (5-58-1-RET TD), TY Hilton (6-100-2), and Brandon Myers (6-55-1). We don't think we've had such success with predicting the guys to add before a big game to date. Several starters remain out: DeMarco Murray, MJD, Vick, and Roethlisberger. Several players remain questionable: DMC, Antonio Brown, and Cutler. There were also a handful of players who went down this week, most notably Rob Gronkowski, LeSean McCoy, and Willis McGahee. There should be plenty of waiver wire action this week, as bye weeks are over, teams are preparing for the playoff push, trade deadlines are (or soon to be) over, and the aforementioned injuries. Add to that mix the three early Thursday Thanksgiving games and a couple of shifts in starting players in the NFL i.e., Alex Smith/Kaepernick in SF. This week we are thankful for Friends and Family, Happiness and Health, good food and football. Cheers.
1 - Ronnie Hillman RB DEN- With Willis McGahee heading to the IR with a torn MCL, the Broncos will have to turn to the youngest player in the NFL with Hillman. Don't let Knowshon Moreno or Lance Ball cloud your vision, Hillman will get the lions share of touches this week vs. a pitiful Kansas City team. The Broncos will most likely have the ball most of the game and will run it down the Chiefs throats. The former understudy of Snoop Dogg (we're not kidding - he played for Snoop's team as a child) has been likened to former SDSU Aztec Marshall Faulk. He was even born the day Faulk scored 7 touchdowns in college. Hillman will, or may have cost a top waiver pick to acquire, but if he's sitting on your wire right now - get him. We think Hillman could be a top 20 back the rest of the way, and worthy of at least an RB3 or FLEX spot down the stretch.
2 - Jalen Parmele RB JAX - Parmele is more of a spot starter this week, and we think he is certainly worth a FLEX play this week in a game vs. Tennessee that should turn out to be a muddling, back-and-forth type of game. Should MJD need more time after week 12, which is highly likely in a losing season for the Jags, Parmele will be the guy they will roll with. They just don't have any confidence in Rashad Jennings, who has a measly 26 yards on 14 touches over his last two games. Parmele is a former Ravens farmhand out of Toledo who, has averaged 3.6 yards per carry and 8.8 yards per catch in very limited NFL action since 2008.
3 - Bryce Brown RB PHI - The former Hall Trophy winner (best high school player in the country), and first running back ranked #1 by Rivals.com since Adrian Peterson, should at least split carries with LeSean McCoy this Monday Night. McCoy went down with a concussion this past week, and Brown took over admirably, netting 35 rushing yards on 5 carries. Dub-B has 148 total yards on 33 touches this season in a very limited backup role, and we think that will carry over into a full game worth of touches. Playing against a Carolina team that's ranked 17th in rush defense, Brown could eclipse 100 total yards with a steady diet of touches this week. Grab Brown if not just for this week should you be looking for depth at your FLEX position moving forward.
4 - Ryan Broyles WR DET - Broyles, a 2nd round rookie out of Oklahoma, has fallen into his starting gig at WR for the Lions. With Burleson hitting the IR earlier in the season with a broken leg, and Titus Young's pouting and whining on the sideline, Broyles figures to get the starting nod at WR opposite the beast Megatron the rest of the way. Detroit has struggled this season to get things going, but they always score points and seem to be pretty sound at the RB and offensive line positions. That should give Broyles enough of an edge to gain WR3 or FLEX consideration over several borderline starters in fantasy leagues. Broyles has 15 catches for 181 yards with 2 touchdowns in just 5 games played this season, averaging out to just about 3-60-0.5. Subtract Young from that equation and we think that Broyles could haul in 4-5 catches and 50-60 yards per game the rest of the way as teams look to double Calvin Johnson. Grab him should you have some extra room on your roster, and we think he has even has some value as a deep league starter.
5 - Justin Blackmon WR JAX - Yes, another Jaguar on our list this week. With Gabbert officially out for the season and Chad Henne at the helm, this Jags offense is shaping up to have some fairly serviceable names. At one point (well most points) this season, we'd advise against ANY Jacksonville starters being on your lineup - but along with the aforementioned Parmele, and out-of-nowhere superstar Cecil Shorts, Blackmon is the next player from the Jaguars that you can comfortably add to your roster. He's not necessarily starting material right now, but Blackmon, this years #5 pick overall is coming off of an absolute monster game vs. Houston with 7 catches for 236 yards and a score. Blackmon has now put up 2 touchdowns in his last three games, and at least 4 catches in four of his last five games. If Blackmon slipped through waivers this week, snag him up without hesitation. You can probably safely start him at your FLEX spot in 3 WR leagues, or in 14+ team leagues. Blackmon just had his NFL welcoming party. And there's more where that came from.
While most fantasy ballers may have their lineups ready to go Sunday morning, there have been several players going into the week questionable or ruled out that may leave you scrambling for a guy to plug into your lineup. It's looking like Mendenhall, Alex Smith, Maclin, Donald Brown, Pierre Garcon, and Sproles will be starting, letting some of us breathe a sigh of relief. But through the week, it looks like we've lost, (in addition to Vick, Roethlisberger, Cutler, DMC, and MJD among others) Aaron Hernandez, Ben Tate, Heyward-Bey, Antonio Brown and Coby Fleener. DeMarco Murray won't be back this week, Michael Turner is hurting, and Ryan Matthews, Owen Daniels, and Brandon Lloyd will all be game time decisions. Let's take a peek at some guys you can probably add in a pinch and plug into your lineup.
1 - Dwayne Allen TE IND - We actually used Allen in a league two weeks ago when Gronk was on a bye week and Fleener listed out in a game time decision. He posted up a very respectable 6/75/0 line, and helped us seal the win. Allen is a great option again this week, as he looks to start one more time, this week vs. the Patriots. The Pats/Colts game should settle in as a showdown between the wily veteran Brady, and the young gun Luck. Look for Luck to spread the wealth again as NE is planning on double teaming Reggie Wayne for the game. Allan is a very good bet to match, or beat, his week 9 line of 6-75. Pick him up should you be a scrambling Hernandez, Daniels, or Fleener owner.
2 - Brandon Myers TE OAK - We wrote about a Myers breakout roughly seven weeks ago, after catching his first 15 targets through the first three games (he put up a stinker 1/22/0 that week,) and he has continued that success by climbing into the top 100 Y! rankings, and currently sits as the 12th fantasy TE (probably one of two undrafted TEs in the top 12 - the other being Scott Chandler of Buffalo.) Carson Palmer is leading the AFC in yards (which is a surprise in itself without DMC and DHB most of the season,) and should continue to use Myers in a big way. Look for some major points this week vs. New Orleans. I'm hard pressed to find 10 TE's I'd rather start than Myers week 11. Y! has him as the 26th TE - behind the likes of Fleener, Dreessen, Tony Sheffler, and Tom Crabtree to name a few. Dig deep and plug in the 38% owned Myers ahead of most TE's this week. You could cash in with a 7-70-1 line.
3 - Julian Edelman WR NE - When I say deep sleeper, I certainly mean it with Edelman. While he is a fairly risky play this week, I see some deep league FLEX value in a pinch. The Patriots released Deion Branch yesterday, Aaron Hernandez is out, Brandon Lloyd is going to be a game time decision, and Wes Welker is banged up. That leaves Gronk and Edelman as the two healthy, starting receivers for Tom Brady to use in what should shape up as a shootout. Edelman only has 24 catches over his last three seasons - but don't let that scare you. 6 of his 13 catches this season went for a first down and one of them went for a score. Even if Welker and Lloyd both start this week, Edelman will be the third receiver on the roster until Greg Salas is ready to go. We're not predicting much here, but 4 or 5 catches with 50 yards and the possibility of a score is not out of question. Edelman's only owned in 1% of Y! leagues - so he's most certainly available.
4 - TY Hilton/Donnie Avery WR IND - We'll stick with the Pats/Colts shootout theme here. The Patriots will be double covering Reggie Wayne most, if not all of the game today, and Coby Fleener is out. That leaves both Hilton and Avery as very nice checkdown options for Andrew Luck as he will look to keep pace with Tom Brady. Hilton is owned in just 21% of Y! leagues, and Avery 26%, so they should both be available in your league. Both players are deep threats with the ability to miss tackles and find paydirt. Avery has 9 catches for 173 yards in the past two weeks, and Hilton put up a 6-102-1 line two weeks ago. Look for both players to approach 6 catches and 80 yards, and gamble on one of the two to score.
5 - Ronnie Brown RB SD - We'll call Brown the other Marcel Reece this week. With Ryan Matthews (surprisingly) hobbling around this week, and looking like a game time decision, we think that Brown could bust out with some points for your FLEX spot. And should Matthews be downgraded to out today, Brown will certainly mop up some points @DEN this week. Former PFS friend Jackie Battle has just 10 touches since week 6, and Brown has at least 3 catches in every game this year. Even if Matthews is the starter, we envision Brown leaching some totes from him in an effort to keep him from breaking again. You could do much worse than Brown in a desperation play should you need some help at your RB3 or FLEX spot this week, especially in PPR leagues. We think a line like 6 carries for 30 yards, 5 catches for 40 yards with the possibility of a score is about right.
Week 10 was fairly uneventful as far as shifting of playing time and injuries that are relevant to fantasy football, compared to recent weeks. There were, however a handful of things that could change how your teams look heading into week 11. For starters, Mike Vick, Alex Smith, and Jay Cutler all went down with "significant" concussions, and should be out at least week 11. Smith is the only QB here with a chance to start. Ben Roethlisberger has a rare shoulder/rib problem, and could be out a while. And with Eli Manning and free agent backup QB's Ponder, Locker, and Wilson on byes this week, you may have a problem heading into the week if you own any of these quarterbacks. It's shaping up as if DMC/Goodson will be out another week, Ahmad Bradshaw owners hope he gets back to 100% during the bye, and the hopes of DeMarco Murray and Mendenhall coming back continue to remain dim. Let's check out a few players who should be available to plug into lineups this week.
1 - Nick Foles QB PHI - Hopefully, you had a backup plan for annually injured Mike Vick going into the season, if you took him as your starter. If Cutler, Big Ben, or Smith was that plan, you could be scrambling right about now. Nick Foles will look to lead the Eagles to their first win in 7 weeks, and Washington could be the right place to look for that win. Foles has been described by coach Reid as a guy with smarts, a big arm, and excellent vision down-field. All things that Vick has been lacking of late. Foles is owned in just 12% of leagues, and is coming off of a week 10 emergency play, where he completed nearly 70% of his passes with a score (albeit with two turnovers) against a tough Dallas D. Foles might be the best available quarterback this week, and has a fantastic matchup. You may want to wait and see which QB2's are dropped (managers who had recent QB byes), but add Foles if you have to and keep your hopes up.
2 - Danario Alexander WR SD - At this point, you shouldn't be needing a bye week WR, but if you do - or if you are having some depth issues, take a gander at the 14% owned Alexander. Danario is coming off of a 5-134-1 week in which he cemented his status as WR2 in San Diego. Castoff Robert Meachem has worked his way into a reserve role, and Alexander is gaining momentum as he builds rapport with Phillip Rivers. Deep leaguers should feel confident in starting Alexander as a WR3 or FLEX play until he proves otherwise - his knee is reportedly better than it's ever been - and as the Chargers look to keep games close, they will lean on Super Danario and Malcolm Floyd.
3 - Daniel Thomas RB MIA - Thomas may be the most mentioned player on PFS, but that's with good reason. We have been a fan of Thomas' game for quite some time now, and the opportunities for him appear to be growing with each game. Reggie Bush has just 32 touches with just one score and two fumbles over his past three games. Thomas has 34 touches, no fumbles and a score over that same time frame. Coach Joe Philbin has been concerned with Bush's play, and has moved the Dolphin running back situation into a full-on time share. Thomas stands to benefit most, and can almost be trusted as a deep league FLEX play. Take a look and see if the 32% owned Thomas is available in your league.
4 - Sam Bradford QB STL - Bradford could prove to be your last hope at QB heading into the week. And there may not be much reason to worry - Sam is coming off of a week 10 game vs. San Fransisco where he put up 275 yards and two scores with 0 turnovers. The return of Danny Amendola can be attributed to Sam's success last week, and they should continue to post some nice fantasy points for desperate owners this week vs. the Jets. San Fransisco has a much better defense than the Jets, and with weapons like Amendola, Givens, and Gibson, and Steven Jackson turning into a beast over the last couple of weeks, Bradford could certainly help your team should you need him this week. You could certainly do worse than 16 points or so in a desperation play at your QB position.
5 - Emmanuel Sanders WR PIT - The Steelers fantasy stars were posting some tasty numbers early on, but injuries have left this team decimated. Big Ben Roethlisberger is probably out for a couple of weeks, and reports that Antonio Brown and Rashard Mendenhall will also be out at least this week. That pretty much leaves Heath Miller, Mike Wallace, and Sanders as relief valves for backup QB Charlie Batch. Sanders can play inside and outside, and should have no problem racking up a handful of catches across the middle Sunday night vs. the Ravens. Grab Sanders should you need him, and expect a line to the tune of 5 or 6 catches for 60-70 yards and hopefully a score. Sanders is owned in just 23% of Y! leagues, and Jerricho Cotchery is an afterthought. Remember that Sanders had 7 targets in a very, very nasty-weather game last week with Batch at the helm.
This week it seems as if there have been an abnormally high number of injuries, questionables, doubtfuls, and outs amongst starting fantasy footballers. Add to that bye weeks for GB (Rodgers and his WR gang), Arizona (Fitz and Roberts), Washington (RGIII, Morris), and Cleveland (hopefully just RIchardson.) Percy Harvin is looking less and less likely to play; the Patriots listed 14 players as questionable including Gronk, Hernandez, and Welker; DMC and his backup are out; and Sproles and Murray are out as well. Here, we look to help you find a few guys who may be available in your league - guys who should be worth starting - even at your FLEX spot, and should get you a handful of points. Nobody likes a zero.
1 - DeAngelo Williams RB CAR - While Williams was called out by ownership, and demoted in place of Jonathon Stewart on a struggling Panthers team weeks ago, he still seems to have a bit of fantasy value left in the tank. He's currently owned in 51% of Y! leagues, and if you need a FLEX player this week, and a frustrated owned dropped him, give Williams a shot this week vs. Denver. The Broncos have the 13th ranked rush D, and if Carolina wants to win, they will need to score points. Williams has 17 carries for 70 yards and a score in his last two games. That may be just enough to warrant an emergency FLEX play this week.
2 - Kendall Wright WR TEN - Wright posted 14-102-1 in his first three games as a pro with QB Jake Locker under center. And with Locker coming back this week, Wright is 7 games more experienced, and looks poised to keep trending up in fantasy circles. While the Dolphins are great at stuffing the run, they struggle at times with pass coverage, offering up 10 pass attempts and 76 yards per game to #1 receivers according to footballoutsiders.com. Wright is owned in less than 50% of leagues, and if you need to use him, 5-70-1 is not out of reach for your WR3 or FLEX slot.
3 - Dustin Keller TE NYJ - Since coming back from injury, Keller has logged 14-160-1 in his last two games. The Seahawks sport a fantastic defense, but their weakness at times has been covering good pass catching tight ends. The Jets are going to have to throw in this one, and that could mean that Keller benefits with a line to the tune of 6-65-1. Those in PPR leagues that need help at TE, or that offer TE in the FLEX spot should take a look if necessary.
4 - Danny Woodhead RB NE - Woodhead has been merely a fantasy handcuff for owners to this point in the season. He's been somewhat useful in leagues - 14 catches over his last three games, and two scores this season - but with Brandon Bolden suspended, Woody has the 3rd down/passing downs on lock for New England. With a fun tilt slated at home vs. Buffalo this week, you could certainly do much worse at your RB3/FLEX spot for week 10. Woodhead has 23 rushes for 161 yards and 10 catches for 85 yards with 3 scores in five career games vs. Buffalo - easily his best splits vs. any team in the league.
5 - Taiwan Jones RB OAK - Jones' starting gig this week fell into his lap at the hands of two RB injuries last week in Oakland. Though he only has 17 career rushes, and 3 career receptions and a fumble, Jones will look to prove himself in week 10. He has averaged nearly 4.5 yards per carry, and 10 yards per catch, and Taiwan has speed for days. The Raiders have named Jones the every-down back this week, but Marcel Reece will probably see more touches and goal-line carries. If you need a deep sleeper play for some points, Jones could do some damage with 12-15 touches this week. Expect a few bumps in the road, but 70-80 total yards with a few receptions seems appropriate for the speedster.
With several guys coming back off of their bye week, and a few new injuries last week, there are a handful of guys who should be available in your league that can help your team over the next few weeks. Last week, we discussed a few players who will be coming off of byes and IR over the next couple of weeks. We hope that you took a look to see if any of them were available.
1. Marcel Reece RB OAK- With fragile Darren McFadden going down this week, and his backup Mike Goodson also going down with an ankle injury, the rushing duties could belong to fullback Marcel Reece, and to an extent Taiwan Jones. The Raiders don't seem confident in Jones' abilities so much as the sure handed bruiser Reece - so Marcel could be in line this week to pick up the lions share of carries. He is currently owned in just 7% of leagues, and is coming off of back to back seasons in which he racked up close to 500 yards and more than 25 catches out of the backfield. Reece could turn out a stat line of 12 carries for 60 yards and 5 catches for 50 yards with the possibility of a TD against a Baltimore team that ranks 18th in rushing D, and is giving up 5 yards per catch to running backs.
2. Toby Gerhart RB MIN - I am only recommending Toby G for this week, and here's why: with Percy Harvin out, a matchup against a weak Detroit defense, and a bye next week, Gerhart could be in line for some snaps lined up wide, or involved in a few trick plays. We think Gerhart could be in for a decent week as the Vikings may look to get Ponder back in line with check-downs, reverses, and screens. Gerhart could very well be playing a role similar to Harvin (though not as involved.) 25 yards rushing, 3-5 catches for 40 yards or so could help out in a pinch for your FLEX spot in PPR leagues.
3. Chris Ivory/Mark Ingram RB's NO - There are two things we learned from the Saints Monday night game last week while Darren Sproles was out. First, it's that New Orleans has a stable full of capable backs that compliment each other well and run hard. Second, the Saints actually have a running game that is worthy of taking notice of. Sproles continues to heal from his broken hand rapidly, but we all know that he is not your prototypical back. He lines up wide a lot of the time, and the Saints have only actually rushed the ball 130 times this season. Chris Ivory (9% owned) and Mark Ingram (28%) both ran very hard on MNF, racking up more than 50 total yards a piece while splitting time three ways. With some tough matchups down the stretch, the Saints could continue to feed the rock to Ingram/Ivory and incumbent Pierre Thomas, while using Sproles in a Dex McCluster type of manner out wide. Grab either of these two guys should they be available and watch and see what happens. One of them could break out in a major way should Sproles miss any more time. I can see Ivory as the early down back, Thomas on 3rd/passing downs and Ingram in short yardage/goal line duties.
4. T.Y. Hilton WR IND - While it was Donny Avery who was originally getting looks opposite Reggie Wayne, the rookie Hilton has come on strong of late. He has 11 catches for 137 yards and a score in his last two games and should continue the trend down the stretch in some very, very sweet matchups against the likes of JAX, NE, DET, BUF, and TEN - all soft(er) pass D's. And with Avery struggling with a hip injury, they look even sweeter. Grab Hilton and plug him into your WR3 or FLEX slot this week and perhaps beyond should you need him. He could finish out the season as a top 40 or 50 fantasy receiver.
5. Ryan Broyles WR DET - The 14% Y! owned Broyles has made fantasy owners quickly forget about Nate Burleson and his gimpy leg in Detroit. With Megatron pulling constant double coverage and Titus Young looking like a fantasy bust, Broyles stands to benefit. In his three games this seaosn, Broyles has 12 catches for 140 yards and two scores, which averages out to about 13 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues. Pick him up and plug him into your WR3 or FLEX spot should you need him or are running thin at WR. With some tough games down the stretch against a few teams with middle-of-the-road pass D's, Broyles could continue to put up around 10 fantasy points per game the rest of the way as Detroit's WR2.
Way back in week seven, we talked about guys like Joique Bell, LaGarrette Blount, Felix Jones, and Josh Gordon, to name a few. While none of them have been game-changers, we hope that you took advantage of 10 points from Jones or a touchdown from Gordon week 7. Bell looks like he will be getting more carries moving forward, so if you need help and he's available, we'd suggest picking him up for some bench depth. This week, we will look to strike gold with some players who may be able to get you some points in the weeks ahead (and more importantly during the playoffs.) There are a handful of guys who may be getting more touches, a starting job, or coming off of injury to help your team out. Check and see if these players are available.
1. Beanie Wells RB ARZ - Wells went down with turf toe during week three, and was placed on the "designated for return IR", and looks good to come back when eligible week 12. That's just in time for your playoff run, and while the Cardinals offensive line is nothing special, the Cards play solid D and should play ball-control offense as they make a run for the playoffs. Don't listen to the trade talks - Deangelo Williams is too pricy for the crowded Arizona backfield, and LaGarette Blount doesn't seem to be a good fit. Bank on Wells contributing for your team weeks 12-16, and you probably have a roster spot as you drop your bye-week fill-ins. Grab him now and stash him for the next three weeks.
2. Cedric Benson RB GB - While Benson is ineligible to return until week 14, he could serve as a fantastic flex back for your three playoff matchups. The Green Bay offense has come to life the past couple of weeks, and that's no thanks to Alex Green and James Starks - Bensons temporary substitutes. The Packers could very well add another back to help out, but we think that Benson should be good to go week 14 and beyond. And as the Packers love to run the score up, he could get plenty of carries against the Lions and Titans weeks 14 and 16. Stash him if you have the room.
3. Daryl Richardson RB StL - Richardson is certainly not a game changer, and might not even get as many carries as most other rostered backs in your league - but he has several things going for him and might be able to help your squad out the rest of the way. Daryl has been slowly working his way into a tandem RB role with incumbent S-Jax, and has received at least 11 touches in his past 3 games. Richardson is built like a younger CJ Spiller, and with regular touches can probably put up similar numbers. D-Rich is averaging 6.4 yards per carry over the last three games, with 3 catches for 21 yards per game. Spiller is averaging 5.9 and 3 for 16 during the same span. D-Rich could haul in some major points should S-Jax go down, or should he start receiving more touches. Grab him now and hope for the best. This guy is for real.
4. Jeremy Kerley WR NYJ - Kerley has stepped into the starting WR role in New York nicely, after Santonio Holmes is out for the season with the dreaded Lisfranc injury. Kerley is certainly more talented than the likes of Chaz Schilens and Clyde Gates, and rookie Stephen Hill has been struggling to get comfortable in NFL games. Kerley is owned in just 53% of Y! leagues, and could make for a nice WR3 the rest of the way. The second year WR out of TCu has 12 catches for 163 yards in his last two games, and that's including a game played in the midst of Hurricane Sandy (this will be the only time we mention Sandy.) You can pick Kerley up and start him should you need help at the WR position right away.
5. Pierre Garcon WR WAS - Garcon has been out several weeks now while dealing with a tear of his "plantar plate" in his foot. He is not scheduled to come back until at least week 11, after the 'Skins week 10 bye, but Garcon is coming off of three straight seasons with at least 765 yards and should be a contributor on a team that has been struggling in the passing game of late. If Garcon comes back strong, he should be a good bet for six weeks averaging 5 catches and 65 yards per game as a solid WR3. Garcon is a great player to buy low on, or, as he is owned in just 54% of Y! leagues, a good player to pick up and stash for no cost.
6. Danny Amendola WR StL - Amendola was putting up All-Pro numbers with a team that struggles on offense before his week 5 clavicle/shoulder injury that put him out until week 10. Amendola was averaging just about 8 catches for 80 yards per game before he went down, and with Chris Givens and Brandon Gibson stepping up, he could continue to put up WR2/3 numbers for your team the rest of the way. DA is owned in just 59% of leagues, and could be had for very cheap off of a frustrated owner, or a manager looking to win this week or next. Grab/trade for this guy if you can, and don't be afraid to plug the gritty receiver into your lineup during the second half.
Bye-week blues leave nothing to be desired when your team is hit with an added injury or multiple byes in one week. Scrambling on a Saturday night or Sunday morning to find a guy who won't put up a big, fat, zero is no fun. Here, we aim to give you a few guys who might be available in your league last minute, and who can also post more than a couple points to give your team the best chance at winning.
1. Jonathon Dwyer RB PIT - This guy probably comes at no surprise this week, but he's owned in just 37% of Y! leagues, and teams are running out guys like Daryl Richardson, La'Rod Stevens-Howling, and Michael Bush to name a few. The week 8 game vs. the Redskins figures to feature lots of yardage, and Dwyer is getting another start with Mendenhall out and Redman questionable. Start him at your empty RB slot with confidence this week.
2. Chris Givens WR StL. - The good news is that Danny Amendola looks like hes defying the odds and recovering quickly. He should be back next week, but even so, Givens is owned in just 11% of Y! leagues, and is a lock to put up at least 3 catches and 50+ yards. In PPR leagues, those kinds of stats can be very sneaky at your FLEX spot during a bye-week. The Rams will need to pass against an injury riddled Patriots secondary. Givens has posted more than 50 yards in four straight weeks now, and almost returned a kickoff for a score vs. Green Bay. We think Givens can put up a line to the tune of 4-75-1 this week.
3. Brandon Stokley WR DEN - Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are the main men in Denver, but Peyton Manning is throwing the ball like hes a 25 year old again. There is plenty of love for the 36 year old Stokley, as he has caught a TD in 3 of his last 4 games, and has 14 catches for 163 yards in that span. The Sunday Night game vs. New Orleans will most certainly be a shootout. We think he can deliver more than 10 fantasy points even in non PPR leagues this week. Grab him and start him.
4. Jonathon Stewart RB CAR - If J-Stew has been dropped in your league, you need to calmly walk to the nearest computer and pick him up and plug him into your lineup. Rumors are that the organization is looking to dump DeAngelo Williams and use Stewart exclusively and Tolbert as the change of pace. The Panthers want to grind it out more, and the combo of Stewart/Tolbert figures to be just the tandem to do so. While he doesn't have the best stats at the moment, Stewart has posted more than 45 total yards in 3 of his 4 games this season while receiving less than 15 touches per game. If the Panthers commit to the run and hand J-Stew the rock 20+ times, he could be a great bet for 70 yards, plus 3-4 receptions and a score. Chicago will be a tough setting to prove himself, but we think Stewart could be up for the challenge. Pick up the 67% owned back and watch to see what he can do this week as a bye-week fill in.