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Rock and a Hard Place – Week 1

In a deep draft conducted several weeks ago with representatives from a few different fantasy sites, I took Le’Veon Bell in the fourth round, Montee Ball in the fifth round, and topped it off with Andre Brown and Josh Gordon in the middle rounds. At the time, Bell was healthy and looked like a solid RB2, Ball was a solid back with upside, Brown was in a timeshare and looked to handle goal line duties, and Gordon would serve a two-game suspension.

A few weeks later, I’m in some trouble. Bell will miss at least Week 1, although there is now some optimism about weeks two and three. Ball is now in a timeshare until he can figure out how to block. Brown broke his leg for the second time in the last year. The only guy that hasn’t completely screwed me from that draft was Gordon, since I already knew he’d serve a two-game suspension.

So what do you do if your team is already being held together by duct tape and twine? Well, you start to dig a little deeper and look for guys with plus matchups that may be able to fill in for the week.

Below, I’ll list the player, their week one matchup, and the percentage of leagues in which he is owned according to our friends at


The hope is that you don’t find yourself in a situation like this. The hope is that you dodge the bullet. But hope won’t help you come Sunday.

Let’s move on to this week’s targets, keeping in mind that these aren’t every week starters. Instead, these are guys that should only be used if you’re in some kind of roster emergency.


E.J. Manuel vs. New England – 28 percent.
I honestly don’t see a quarterback that would be hurt to the point that you’d need to start Manuel, but he has some upside. He was efficient with the ball this preseason, and it doesn’t matter if the offense was simplified with checkdowns. He also ran the ball fairly well, and as we saw last season, quarterbacks that bring a running threat provide significant fantasy value. He’s got some weapons on offense, and I think the Patriots defense is not necessarily at an elite level. While I hope you don’t need to start him, I think he can outperform the 185 yards passing and a touchdown that we’ve projected.

Terrelle Pryor at Indianapolis – 13 percent.
Bear with me. He can run. He has a matchup against a defense that gave up a ton of points last season. I think he can provide some value, although I also feel the need to go shower now for suggesting it.


Isaac Redman vs. Tennessee – 58 percent.

Normally, I don’t show backs with an ownership number this high, but Redman will be the top guy in Pittsburgh this week and for as long as Bell is out. He’s a big, plodding back, and a lot of his value is tied to him scoring. If he doesn’t get a goal line carry, he probably disappoints you. But I think the 60 yards rushing and 20 yards receiving are about right for him.

Mikel LeShoure vs. Minnesota – 28 percent.

LeShoure is a big, goal line back for the Detroit Lions this year. With Reggie Bush now in town, and Joique Bell acting as his backup, LeShoure is more of a bizarro change-of-pace back. Without a Bush injury, the only way he helps you is if he gets a goal line carry. We didn’t even provide a projection for him.


Greg Little vs. Miami – 21 percent.

I may be unreliable at this point with Cleveland. I love the Browns this season. Norv Turner is now the offensive coordinator, and say what you want about his time as head coach, but he can run an offense. Trent Richardson is primed for a big season, and Brandon Weeden has looked much better with a focus on a downfield passing attack rather than the West Coast scheme from last year. With Josh Gordon out to start the season, Little might provide a boost to unsuspecting owners. I think he easily tops the four-catch, 50-receiving yards that we’ve projected.

Malcom Floyd vs. Houston – 28 percent.

Danario Alexander blew out his knee early in the preseason, leaving Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown as the primary pass catchers in San Diego. While Brown is probably the better bet for fantasy value, Floyd has proved to be good in the past when healthy. We’ve projected him for three catches and 45 yards, but I think he can top those numbers and even get in the end zone.

Andre Roberts at St. Louis – 17 percent. When

Bruce Arians came to town, he traded for Carson Palmer. Carson Palmer is not what he used to be, but you know what he’s not? John Skelton. Or, Ryan Lindley. Or, Brian Hoyer. Did you know Palmer threw for 4,018 yards last season with Oakland, good for 10th in the league? Keep in mind that Arians is all about airing the ball out. Larry Fitzgerald will get his, keeping the Rams occupied, but I think Roberts and/or Michael Floyd will provide some nice value as well. I think Roberts easily tops the two-catch, 25-yard projection on our site.

Good luck in Week 1.

Drew Magyar is a staff writer and can be reached at “What Did We Learn” will be posted each Tuesday morning during the season, and “Rock and a Hard Place” will be posted each Friday morning.

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