Let’s mix things up a little bit this week. With the waiver wire drying up this late in the season, and the rash of injuries to major running backs, this seems like as good a time as any to combine the waiver wire pickups with some random thoughts.
A tough week as there are now half a dozen running backs on the shelf, some very big names. A couple of which there are questions as to their return for this season. As always, injuries present opportunities for the fantasy owner. A league suspension also is creating an opportunity. Yes, there are still a few bodies likely on your waiver wire that can help you.
I really like wide out Lance Long in
Ronnie Brown has been ruled out for this week. The news may get worse for Brown owners, as he’s on his way to see a foot specialist. It’s never a good sign when a ‘specialist’ is involved.
***UPDATE*** The Dolphins have place Ronnie Brown on injured reserve, ending his season.
After receiving his second concussion in as many games, Brian Westbrook is also on his way to see a specialist – a concussion specialist. This is also a serious situation, one that threatens not only Westbrook’s career, but his future well-being. The rookie LeSean McCoy is poised to assume a greater role in the running game, but the Eagles are no longer a team that automatically puts up a big number of rushing yards regardless of who the back is. That said, McCoy has proven his worth in the passing game, so look for weekly numbers along the lines of a combination of air and ground yardage around the century mark, with a score. Leonard Weaver will also be in the mix, but McCoy will get the majority of fantasy action for the Eagles backfield.
Clinton Portis is another back that is suffering from a concussion. He wasn’t dressed this past week, and it sounds like that will also be the case this upcoming week. Ladell Betts more than filled in for Portis, going for 114 yards and a score as the Redskins upset the Broncos. I know this will sound a little odd, but Washington has very favorable running matchups coming up (Dallas, New Orleans, Oakland) so if Portis continues to be on the sideline, then Betts will be a must fantasy start. Rock Cartwright and Quinton Ganther are bumped up the depth chart a bit, but Betts will be the only one worth a fantasy look as Portis’ apprentice gets to shine.
Kansas City wideout
The NFL has suspended Dwayne Bowe for four games. This will open the door for the continued resurgence of former Charger Chris Chambers. Fantasy owners should look to picking up Lance Long, as he’ll be the primary beneficiary of Bowe’s absence. Mark Bradley may be listed as the starter, and may actually start, but it will be Long that will see the most targets, especially since he’ll likely be playing out of the slot position.
Let me start off this portion of the article by saying that this is only for the truly desperate. The Bills are in complete disarray, culminating in coach Dick Jauron’s firing this week. This was a train wreck from the start. The triumphant signing of Terrell Owens to pair him with Lee Evans was quickly overshadowed when Buffalo fired their offensive coordinator just days before the start of the regular season. Now with Jauron out of the picture, word is that Ryan Fitzpatrick will get the start over a healthy Trent Edwards this week. In some cases, a changing at quarterback or a firing of a coach may spark things, but in this case, fantasy owners should avoid all Bills if at all possible.
Cincinnati running back
Those fantasy owners that are holding onto Larry Johnson got a sliver of hope as he’s been signed by the Bengals. Cedric Benson is hurt, and reports are that he won’t be in uniform as the Bengals get a week off against Oakland. The timing just isn’t right for Johnson to step in this week in Benson’s absence. Look for backups Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard to split the carries this week with Benson on the shelf, and then Benson comes back the following week against the Browns resuming his position as top dog. I don’t see much, if any, value from any back in Cincinnati not named Benson. I certainly don’t see any value in Johnson as he’s just an insurance policy at this point.
Atlanta running back
Reports are coming in that Michael Turner has a high ankle sprain, which translated means he’s highly unlikely to see the field in the next couple of weeks and when he does return it will be on a limited basis. The bad news for Turner owners is good news to owners of Jason Snelling. Yes, that’s right, Snelling is poised to take the majority of Turner’s action. Jerious Norwood is coming back from injury, and while most fantasy owners will target him as the guy to get, the savvy owner will grab Snelling and enjoy. Norwood hasn’t been able to keep himself healthy, so look for Snelling to seize the opportunity here to put up good fantasy numbers in Turner’s absence.
Seattle running back
Julius Jones continues to have injury troubles, which will likely keep him out another week or two. Look for Justin Forsett to handle the bulk of the carries for Seattle. Louis Rankin will also be in the mix, but he’ll be secondary. Forsett has taken control of things in Jones’ absence, 123 yards and a touchdown this past week is a good indication that the Seahawks coaching staff believes in him. Look for numbers in the range of 75 yards and a touchdown to continue for Forsett.
St. Louis wideout
We highlighted Keenan Burton early in the season, and he played well until getting hurt and knocked out for the season. Donnie Avery is one starter, but look for Branson Gibson to step up as the starter opposite him. Danny Amendola had his opportunity to shine for the Rams, and he did OK, but Gibson’s 93-yard effort this past week should give him at least another week or two in the starter’s role. Look for Gibson to solidify himself into the starter’s role, and while it’s difficult to predict the aerial numbers for the Rams, 60-80 yards and a touchdown are likely numbers for Gibson going forward.