Zac Stacy has been one of fantasy football’s biggest free agent find this season. Many fantasy owners were salivating at the prospect of a dream matchup against the porous Bears defense this weekend and Stacy was well on his way to a big day before he was forced to the sideline with a concussion. Benny Cunningham picked up the torch and ran with it for the Rams, piling up 109 yards and a touchdown in relief duty.
As we close in on the fantasy playoffs some owners may be tempted to make Cunningham a waiver wire priority. I would advise against that, unless you have a roster spot to burn or the Rams expect Stacy’s symptoms to linger for several weeks. Even if Stacy can not pass the NFL’s concussion protocol to be cleared for Week 13, Cunningham will be forced in to action against the stingy Niners defense and would figure to be a low-end flex play based on the matchup.
The nightmarish fumbling issues for Stevan Ridley just aren’t going away. Ridley coughed up the ball for the third consecutive week Sunday night and saw his carries distributed to the Patriots’ other backs afterwards. Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden were the primary ball carries after LeGarrette Blount also lost a first half fumble. Vereen should already be owned in all PPR formats and Bolden is worth some consideration in deeper leagues, as well. The glaring issue here is for Ridley owners who can no longer count on the Patriots to give Ridley the ball enough to produce decent fantasy stats at the worst possible time. The historically tight-lipped Patriots will be difficult to read, but history seems to suggest that as long as Bolden and Vereen produce and hold on to the ball, Ridley will reside in the dog house.
Philip Rivers and the Chargers are putting up solid fantasy outings nearly ever single week this season. Antonio Gates has been a fixture at tight end, but on Sunday Ladarius Green showed why he is likely the future for the Bolts. Green is slowly being worked into a bigger role and now has produced back to back 80+ receiving yard games. I expect Green to continue to see more and more snaps over the last month of the season as the Chargers look to groom the second year tight end for the future. I’m not suggesting he is someone to consider for your team this season, but I would warn you to lower your expectations for Gates the rest of the year and make a mental note of Green for next season’s draft.
I warned you last week about expecting too much out of Bobby Rainey going forward. After Rainey carved up the Falcons last week, some owners might have been tempted to have him in their lineup this week. If you did, you were very disappointed. Rainey was only able to manage 35 rushing yards this week. The Bucs were able to score on long passing plays and an interception return, limiting their need to control the ball and feed Rainey. The matchups get exponentially worse for Rainey going forward. He will likely find the end zone again down the stretch, but multiple touchdowns in the same week is expecting far too much. Feel good that you have a starting running back for the playoff run, but don’t get cute and start him unless you are decimated with injuries.
The Saints have a history of driving fantasy owners crazy with a revolving door in the backfield, spreading the ball around between Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles. This season, Thomas has been a very reliable and steady option for owners. Much to the dismay of Sproles’ owners, Thomas has been targeted in the passing game the second most times of any running back and is a solid weekly starter in PPR leagues. While he may not turn in any highlight reel runs, he offers the consistency that many fantasy owners look for as the playoffs get closer. Given the tough string of matchups that are staring the Saints down in the next several weeks, Thomas should be positioned as a nice checkdown option for Drew Brees and their pass happy attack. You shouldn’t start Thomas if you are looking for a huge upside play, but if it is consistency you are looking for, Thomas is your guy.