Down the stretch we come and now is the time to review your league rules to see when or if your waivers come to a close. We keep this going right to the bitter end, and we appreciate your patronage! For those in leagues where waivers are about to come to a close, the strategy shifts to making sure you will have players at the skill positions should injury strike. Grabbing the backup to your running back, or a third wideout on a team where you have its stud, are good plays at this time of year.
We are starting to see some quarterbacks get sent to the sideline. This is obviously a key position that scores a lot of points. My recommendation is to make sure you have three on your roster. Those three can be current starters on different teams, or you might be in a situation where you can grab the starter’s clear backup if you think the team will continue to throw the ball. One situation that is not clear is the situation in New Orleans. Drew Brees will surely miss some time, as reports are that he had broken ribs from two different games to go along with a collapsed lung. New Orleans has Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, so it is not clear who would step in for New Orleans.
While we are in the midst of a monologue, this feels like a good opportunity to talk about some players who saw a spike in stats this week. Nyheim Hines had a big week, scoring twice while putting up over 100-yards in total offense. That gives him three good performances over the nine games Indianapolis has played, and there is not a real indication that this week’s numbers will translate into a similar performance next week. It is hard to recommend a player for pickup where pinning down a week where he can be a fantasy starter is near impossible. Indianapolis has too many other options and it’s doubtful he will enter a game as the clear-cut starter.
For New England, Rex Burkhead is another player who found the endzone twice this week. His high fantasy usage is just as tough to predict as Hines’, but he scored well this week with only 10 touches. New England prefers to run with Damien Harris, and James White is lurking as the preferred ball catcher out of the backfield. Burkhead is not likely to enter any game this season as the sole ball carrier.
So beware players like those two who spiked this week, but are never likely to be a player you consider as a fantasy starter. We do have some others to consider for your enjoyment, all in a single “On the Radar” category. Onto the wonders.
On the Radar
RB Salvon Ahmed, Miami
Just when it looked like Miami settled its running back situation, Myles Gaskin landed on Injured Reserve. Matt Breida has been unable to keep himself on the field, leaving undrafted youngster Ahmed to step in and run for 85 yards on 21 carries. He also chipped in a catch out of the backfield, and got himself into the endzone as well. Not a bad day’s work. Gaskin is still a couple of weeks out, and the depth chart has been cleared with the release of Jordan Howard. Look for Ahmed to carry the load for the next couple of weeks until Gaskin returns.
WR Josh Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams
There are plenty of weapons at the disposal of Jared Goff, and Reynolds is in the mix with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Among the three, Reynolds is quietly emerging as the best option as the fantasy numbers are starting to slide in his direction. This week against Seattle he grabbed eight catches for 94 yards, which is a spike from his previous average of four catches and 50ish yards over the previous several games. The Rams offense has the potential to heat up, and Reynolds is available in most leagues right now.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay
He has been a frustration for fantasy owners all season, and he came very close to being folded into the portion above talking about unusable players. The numbers in the last two games are hard to ignore, especially this past week against Jacksonville. He found the endzone twice a week ago against San Francisco (on two catches), and this week he caught four passes for 149 yards and another score. He is the definition of a boom-or-bust player, but he is worth stashing at the bottom of a fantasy roster to see if this wave of hotness continues.
WR Michael Pittman, Indianapolis
The Indianapolis passing game is starting to heat up and Pittman is emerging as a favorite target of Philip Rivers. He backed up a four-catch, 56-yard effort against Baltimore with a seven-catch, 101-yard performance this week against Tennessee. T.Y. Hilton does not look like he is at 100 percent, which creates an opportunity for Pittman to continue to be a viable option.