Is it safe to trust Brock Osweiler during your team’s playoff run? What about Eddie Lacy? What about Derek Carr? Who is Spencer Ware? Could Thomas Rawls be the key to your fantasy championship run? Matt Wilson tackles those questions and more in his latest edition of Traps & Trends.
1. THE BROCK OSWEILER EXPERIMENT
The Damage: Making his first career start in place of the injured Peyton Manning (foot, ribs), Osweiler played well overall. Displaying a nice command of head coach Gary Kubiak’s offense in some cold Chicago weather, Osweiler completed 20 of his 27 passes for 250 yards with two touchdowns against no interceptions. With Emmanuel Sanders (ankle, finger) sitting out, Osweiler leaned on Demaryius Thomas (3-59-1 on eight targets), Vernon Davis (6-68-0 on six targets) and Owen Daniels (4-69-0 on five targets). The only downside to Osweiler’s performance: he took five sacks. The fourth-year pro held onto the ball longer than he should have on two of the takedowns. Is Osweiler fantasy starter material going forward?
The Diagnosis: TOSSUP
Aside from a challenging Week 12 home matchup against the New England Patriots, the rest of the Broncos’ schedule looks fantasy friendly for Osweiler. The San Diego Chargers (Week 13 road matchup), the Oakland Raiders (Week 14 home matchup) the Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 15 road matchup) and the Cincinnati Bengals (Week 16 home matchup) all have burnable defensive backfields. However, I have to call Osweiler a TOSSUP going forward because of Manning. After the Chicago game, Kubiak was non-committal on who would start in Week 12. I doubt Manning will play in Week 12. If Osweiler continues his solid play and leads the Broncos to victories, there’s a decent chance that we’ve seen Manning play his last down in a Denver uniform.
2. SINCE CHARCANDRICK WEST WAS HURT, KNILE DAVIS WAS SUPPOSED TO FILL IN FOR HIM, RIGHT? INSTEAD OF DAVIS, KANSAS CITY USED SPENCER WARE. WHO THE HECK IS SPENCER WARE?
The Damage: As you surely know, Charcandrick West left the late afternoon San Diego Chargers/Kansas City Chiefs tilt with a bad hamstring, and Kansas City opted to use Spencer Ware in his place. Checking in at 5-foot-8, 228 pounds and listed as a fullback, Ware, a third-year pro out of LSU, toted the rock 11 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns, which were all single-game career highs, and caught one pass for five yards during his team’s 33-3 road victory over a San Diego team that’s pretty much thrown in the towel on the season. Assuming West sits out next week and possibly longer, is Ware the Chiefs’ back to pickup?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Unless Kansas City pulls a fast one, it looks like Ware is the guy until West returns. He obviously was effective, and Ware is healthy. What about Knile Davis? The third-year pro had slipped down to third on the Chiefs’ running back depth chart, and Davis was a healthy scratch two weeks in a row. Even though he’ll probably be active this week – again, I’m assuming that West will be out for a while – Ware is the presumed starter for now.
3. THOMAS RAWLS…A LATE-SEASON DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH?
The Damage: Making a last-minute fill-in start Sunday in place of Marshawn Lynch, who was a surprise inactive, Thomas Rawls absolutely shellacked a San Francisco 49ers defense that usually struggles on the road with 209 rushing yards and one touchdown, and three catches for 46 yards and one score. By the way, Rawls also broke Curt Warner’s 1983 record for rushing yards by a rookie (Warner had 207), and Rawls’ 209 yards was the second-highest single-game rushing total in team history. Regarding Warner, yes, it’s Curt with a “C.” No, it’s not the quarterback who won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams and played for the Arizona Cardinals. Warner was a running back for the Seahawks from 1983 through 1989. Getting back to Rawls, will he provide a nice boost to your fantasy team during the stretch run and the playoffs?
The Diagnosis: TOSSUP
I have to label Rawls a TOSSUP because of the uncertainty regarding the health of Lynch. Do you know why he was a surprise inactive? This is one of the more under-reported stories of the weekend: Lynch, who is dealing with an abdomen injury, could have a sports hernia, and, according to Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who addressed the media following the 49ers/Seahawks game, said surgery for Lynch, “could be an option.” While it’s unknown whether Lynch will have the surgery and how long he would be out, one thing is certain: keep Rawls for now.
4. HEY! DIDN’T AHMAD BRADSHAW DO THIS RED-ZONE BACK THING LAST YEAR?
The Damage: After averaging just 5.3 combo yards and 17.8 combo yards per game with one receiving touchdown scored during his first four games played for the Indianapolis Colts this season, Bradshaw erupted for four receptions, 20 receiving yards and two touchdown grabs, and nine carries for 32 yards. The scoring passes were from seven yards out and two yards out, respectively. In 2014, Bradshaw, while operating as Indianapolis’ red-zone tailback, scored at least once in six of nine full games played before a broken leg ended his season. Is “Mr. Red Zone” officially back?
The Diagnosis: TREND
I’m sure some of you think Bradshaw’s surprising Week 11 performance was the product of a plus matchup against an Atlanta Falcons defense that yields a large number of receptions to the running back position, but all signs point to Bradshaw resuming his red-zone role. He’s a nice safety-valve option for the weak-armed Matt Hasselbeck. It’s disappointing that it took an injury to Andrew Luck (kidney) for the Colts coaching staff to remember that Bradshaw has three-down versatility, but I won’t go into that here. However, I will remind you that Frank Gore (knee/quad) is banged up, so Bradshaw’s role probably will expand.
5. IS IT SAFE TO START EDDIE LACY AGAIN?
The Damage: After compiling just 10 rushing yards on five carries in Week 9 and sitting out Week 10 due to a groin injury and whatever other allegedly unreported ailments that are bothering him, Lacy bounced back in Week 11 during his team’s impressive road victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The third-year pro toted the rock a season-best 22 times, amassing his first 100-yard game of the year. James Starks did get the start and the two split carries during the first half, but Lacy took over in the second half. Is Lacy fantasy starter material again?
The Diagnosis: TREND
I watched a good chunk of the Packers/Vikings game, and Lacy ran like his productive 2014 self. Don’t hold a grudge. He has RB1 upside at the most injury-ravaged position in fantasy football. Plug Lacy into your lineup for his Thanksgiving night matchup against the Chicago Bears.