What a wild weekend of NFL football! If you managed to survive and advance after the inordinate number of blowout losses, shutouts and underachieving big name studs then congratulations are in order.
Some studs such as Drew Brees, Andre Johnson and Adrian Peterson kept their owners alive while others picked a very inopportune time to lay an egg. Doug Martin, Jamaal Charles and Danario Alexander probably ended more than a few fantasy playoff runs this weekend.
As championship weekend awaits here are some names that stood out this weekend as possible plug-and-play options to help steal that Week 16 win. As well as a few names that may just be fantasy mirages and are best left alone.
, WR, PHILADELPHIA: Cooper scored his third touchdown of the season on Thursday night and has filled in admirably for the injured DeSean Jackson. Over the past three weeks Cooper has played 95% of the Eagles offensive snaps and produced nine receptions for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie quarterback Nick Foles seems to have an eye for Cooper as he has been targeted 21 times in the last three games. At 6’ 3”, and 222 pounds he is a nice red zone option for Philadelphia and has the Washington Redskins on tap for Week 16. Washington is among the top three defenses in allowing fantasy production to the wide receiver position and Cooper is looking at a strong fantasy finish to the 2012 season.
, RB, GREEN BAY: In the past two weeks Harris has rushed for 58 yards and scored a touchdown on very limited touches. Look for that to change moving forward because Alex Green is simply not getting the job done for the Packers. After a decent performance against the Lions in Week 14 where he amassed 66 total yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry, Green put up only 41 total yards on 14 touches against the Bears. Look for Green Bay to turn to the former Jaguar Harris, sooner rather than later. Green will still get some action on passing downs but Harris is due for a look as the No. 1 RB for Green Bay.
, WR, WASHINGTON: It was a very nice week for Hankerson as he turned three targets into a two catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns. For the season he now has 36 receptions for 521 yards and three touchdowns. Hankerson will be a hot name next week as a possible Week 16 starting option, but don’t buy into it. Remember that it was Kirk Cousins under center for the Redskins and while he had a nice rapport with Hankerson, as soon as RG III returns, Cousins will be heading back to the bench. He may be worth holding onto in dynasty leagues as Washington has a young offense that can mature together, but right now Hankerson is too risky to plug into lineups.
, RB, CAROLINA: It took 15 weeks but Tolbert finally paid off for those stubborn owners who held on to him and started him this week. Just kidding, nobody has started Tolbert since week…well, since some week last season I suppose. That could all change moving forward as on Sunday he was able to utilize his skills as the goal line option for the Panthers and punched in two 1-yard touchdown runs. He ended the day with 64 total yards on 11 total touches and the two touchdowns. Tolbert resembles ‘Cedric the Entertainer’ more than he does a NFL running back but he possesses a nose for the end zone and excellent ball catching skills. Unfortunately, the Panthers are as likely to use Cam Newton as a goal line option as they are Tolbert so the risk factor in starting the ‘human bowling ball’ is just too great.
, RB, INDIANAPOLIS: Ballard posted his first career 100 yard rushing performance against the Texans on Sunday and cemented his spot as a #2 RB heading into Week 16. He’s amassed 199 rushing yards in the last two weeks and has a date with the hapless Kansas City Chiefs next week. He’s stepped up and claimed the position of number one running back for the Colts and can be safely started moving forward this season as well as held on to in dynasty formats. Yep, the Colts have found their running back of the future and fantasy owners have found a fill-in starter for their fantasy championship.