Last week we warned you for the last time to go out and grab TE Jordan Reed & RB Chris Ivory before it was too late. Actually we shouted about it for weeks – now wouldn’t Reed be good on your team if say you had Jermichael Finley go down with injury this weekend? Or Ivory as an option if you owned Doug Martin? I’d also like to remind everyone that we advised picking up WR Percy Harvin ahead of the crowd last week as well…you may still have time on him if you didn’t…but time is running out.
And week 7 in the NFL had several significant injuries, but only some of them provide opportunity for you as a fantasy owner. It’s a cruel reality, but someone else’s misfortune can be your gain. We’ll help you turn those salty tears into gumdrops.
As always what we’ll do here is make recommendations on 3 levels. Level 1 guys are so obvious that they were either drafted in your league on draft day already, or you will have to fight with other owners over them on the wire. Level 2 guys are decent risks that may not always pan out, but more of them may be available in your league to serve your purposes. And finally level 3 guys are more of the longshot homerun guys – but if your need is great, or if you play in a deep league – these might be the only guys you have a chance at….
RB Ben Tate – Tate may not be owned in more shallow leagues, and though I am hesitant to recommend a player that fumbles, and to over exaggerate any injury to Arian Foster – I need to recommend adding him anywhere you can. Tate has broken rib issues, and Foster has a bye to help get healthier on his hamstring…but as insane as this sounds rib injuries are better for a RB to be dealing with, and as the Texans fall out of contention they are likely to continue to ease Foster’s workload if they can. The Texans will have to add someone new to the mix, since they cut 3rd string RB Cierre Wood for pot smoking over the weekend – but it’s tough to see anyone new really challenging a banged up Tate for work. Tate sometimes lives off of hype so don’t expect clear sailing if you get him, but he could be a great RB2 over the next few weeks for you.
RB Mike James – James is worth a level 1 grade for now, because it’s about to be week 8 and there are really very few options on the waiver wire for starting RB’s. Doug Martin’s shoulder injury may have him on the shelf for the season – or at the very least significant time, and in that time “someone” has to get the workload. I think James is fairly talented, but buyer has to beware here – the Buccaneers couldn’t get Doug Martin going, there’s no real reason to believe James will have good success. Personal favorite RB Bobby Rainey was picked up by the Bucs off of waivers as well – but make no mistake you should be way more concerned about the general offensive challenges of the team rather than the competition. But fantasy football is a lot about supply and demand at the RB spot, so if you need a RB3/flex type of option…James is worth the add.
RB Roy Helu – Even in some average size leagues I suspect Helu is available. This was with good reason, as the Redskins have been slow to define his role this season. But, Helu is starting to be used more and more – particularly in the Redskins no huddle offense, and was a huge performer with 3 TD’s over the weekend. Alfred Morris owners need not panic (although they should pick up Helu if available), but Helu does present another option to teams looking for flex level RB play. Helu is more talented than Mike James, and probably more than Ben Tate – but his workload going forward will be much more erratic than those two and without a general “touch” number week to week starting him will be a matter of matchup and luck. Still Helu needs to clearly be owned in all leagues at this point even if just for bench depth.
RB Shane Vereen – Speaking of a guy with talent, Vereen finally took his cast off at practice last week – which may be a sign of him returning in a few weeks. Vereen’s brittle injury history combined with a logjam at RB in New England – may not scream to you that he should be added weeks before he is announced as being ready to play. However, Vereen’s outstanding season opener (159 total yards) should put him on track to some sort of significant role in the New England offense when he returns. The big question here, is when? So do you pick him up now when he may still be out for 2-3 games? This depends on your roster space and your team’s need to have producers over the next few weeks, if you can squeeze him on the team do so, because if somehow he is available to play soon he’ll be a level 1 type of guy without question and your whole league might get in on trying to grab him.
WR Brandon Gibson – Gibson was quietly moving up the Dolphins passing pecking order this season (74 vs Balt in Week 5 before the bye) until this weekend’s 2 TD explosion. With 29 catches on the season Gibson is probably a better PPR start than non, but he has interesting flex value when the Dolphins play teams with weak secondaries (I notice they play NE this week).
WR Marvin Jones – In each of the last 2 weeks Jones has caught a TD pass and appears to be winning the 2nd WR spot for the Bengals. I like Jones’ overall game, and the questions only remain for me about his role and targets – but you have to like the fact that they are trending up. He may not initially have the production of Douglas or Gibson – but to me his upside is much higher. If he goes out and has a 3rd solid game this weekend he’ll be a no brainer add….get him before then if you need WR help.
WR Harry Douglas – Look, the Falcons don’t have much else at this point so while it’s unlikely Douglas will go 149 yards and a 1 TD every week, he does have weekly flex fantasy starter material written on him. When Roddy White returns – Douglas will lose some targets perhaps, but he is assured playing time and targets as long as he’s healthy. He probably just had his best game of the season, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help your team going forward.
TE Coby Fleener – I don’t love Fleener’s talent, and even as TE’s go he can be inconsistent. But if he’s sitting out there in your league and you need TE help here’s a guy that might see more targets with WR Reggie Wayne being lost for the season to ACL injury. Don’t drop a good TE2 for him, but if you have an ok TE starter and a questionable backup it may be time to add Fleener.
RB Daniel Thomas – Thomas may have been cut by some owner earlier this season, b/c let’s fact it: nobody wants to own or draft Daniel Thomas. And I am loathe to bring him up here – and only advise this as a desperation add. But, Thomas looked pretty good vs the Bills this weekend with 60 yards on 12 carries, and appears to be in the mix at the RB position. He’s not very talented and this has to be more of a hurt to Lamar Miller owners than a fantasy option…but should Miller get even a little banged up – it appears Thomas is ready to go. I mean 12 carries is a lot of work for a “backup” RB….Thomas appears to be creeping into RB committee territory and could be useful to a (very) desperate fantasy team.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey – Our own Tim Brown championed Bey during the preseason as a sleeper for 2013. Bey had a tougher time than we expected transitioning to the Colts’ offense, but like Fleener above, Reggie Wayne’s injury should open the door to more looks for Bey. Bey won’t elevate to WR2 level in all likelihood, but he could provide your team with some WR3 low level flex play -and gets even a little more boost in a PPR league.
QB Case Keenum – Keenum is the only QB of those thrust into action this week (McCown in CHI, Clemmens in STL, Campbell in CLE?) who will be worth rostering on potential. It’s not that he’s great. He’s not – he arguably has a bad NFL arm and may struggle as teams get tape on him. But he does manage a good offense with weapons and has a bye week to presumably learn more with the 1st team. I don’t know if he’s won the Texans starting job, but in deep leagues, or 2 QB leagues, or dynasty leagues he’s worth a speculative add – because while he may not have the job for long, or only have it for this season – there’s the slim chance he performs well enough to win the job outright. And that’s a shot the other “fill-in” QB’s just don’t have. Dynasty league value here is probably the highest, but if you have a redraft league with QB issues – as a lotto style backup option he may be worth a look.
WR Mike Brown – With Cecil Shorts struggling due to injury, Jacksonville has another WR getting garbage time points. Brown’s huge 5 catch 120 yard day came out of nowhere and isn’t likely to be duplicated again this season – but if you need WR4/5 depth on your roster he may be worth a flier. For you PPR players Brown has 9 catches over his last 2 games – and should Shorts continue to nurse injury – I expect Brown’s targets to remain steady.
WR Tavon Austin – Austin did finally get behind a defense this week for a big play – but that play was canceled out by a tripping penalty. The rookie WR, who I felt was terribly overhyped coming out of college has had a rough transition to the NFL game, and now with QB Sam Bradford out for the season there is no reason to own this guy in redraft leagues, even in very deep leagues he’s a questionable keep. I don’t advise dropping TE Jared Cook just yet, because new QB’s tend to rely on TE’s to dump off the ball to….but Cook may also become a Kellen Clemmens causality drop in a game or two.
RB Chris Ogbonnaya – If you picked him up based off his week 6 80 total yards 1 TD performance it may be time to drop him already. 4 touches coming off of that game? 4?!! And now he’s in a committee with Fozzy Whittaker behind McGahee?!! The Cleveland Browns are infuriating for fantasy this year….total wild cards.