Even this late in the season, the fortunes of both NFL and fantasy teams can change for the worst on a dime. Hopefully you were reading a couple weeks ago, when we mentioned that it was a good time to make sure you have the backup to your stud runner. Without getting into the details that have been well discussed elsewhere, Kansas City will now be going with its backup at running back for the rest of the season. Be it an incident like this or an injury, all you can do as a fantasy owner is to be as prepared as possible by building as much depth as you can.
Was this week the “upside down” week that always seems to come at the end of the season? Just when it seemed like Kansas City, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Rams were well above the rest of the league, Dallas served notice and knocked off New Orleans on Thursday night to kick off the week. The Rams held firm, pulling away from Detroit late in the game, but Kansas City now has a chink in the armor as everyone gets closer to the finish line. The Los Angeles Chargers served notice that the AFC is wide open by beating Pittsburgh; and Seattle and Houston march on as well. Baltimore has also come alive, and that team in New England all of a sudden looks pretty good again, defeating a tough Minnesota squad. An exciting next few weeks are on tap!
Several players to look at this week, including a player that Kansas City is signing on to bolster its wounded running attack. On to the wonders!
RB Jeffery Wilson, San Francisco
With nothing to lose, San Francisco has been throwing caution in the wind. For the second week in a row, Wilson has not only been active, but has been a key component of the game plan, getting several touches on the field. After a taste against Tampa Bay a couple weeks ago, San Francisco declared Alfred Morris a healthy scratch and the team featured Wilson as the lead back this week against Seattle. He carried the ball eight times for 61 yards, but more importantly, he hauled in eight passes good for 73 yards out of the backfield. Look for him to continue to get an abundance of touches going forward, making him a rare running back find off waivers this late in the season who can be a fantasy starter.
TE Ian Thomas, Carolina
Carolina is a team where it is ingrained to use the tight end, and the loss of Greg Olsen thrusts Thomas into the starting spotlight. We do not expect him to continue the high output of Olsen, but we do see him as a frequent target of Cam Newton. If this week is any indication, which was a week that had Thomas catch five passes for 46 yards, then we are encouraged that Thomas can have a fantasy impact down the stretch.
WR Dante Pettis, San Francisco
San Francisco has been ravaged by injury at so many positions this year, which includes the wide receiver position. Playing from behind much of the game, Nick Mullens was hot and one of his go-to players this week was Dante Pettis. He was good for five catches and 129 yards, but also scored two touchdowns. This is the second week in a row he has found the end zone, and completed a three-game stretch where he has been very busy, hauling in a total of 13 passes in the three games. Look for these numbers to continue as San Francisco has nothing to lose and will continue to throw the ball.
On the Radar
RB Charcandrick West, Kansas City
Spencer Ware is not going to step in and produce the way that the newly released starter for Kansas City did. In fact, Ware is not likely to be given the chance to carry the workload on his own. Coach Andy Reid was already talking about a three-way split heading into this week’s game, and after the game Kansas City immediately signed a familiar face in West. Look for West to have an immediate impact, and for he and Ware to split the carries. Not a great situation, but Kansas City is a team that loves to run so the opportunities will be there for both.
WR Taywan Taylor, Tennessee
After missing several games, Taylor came back this week with a bang against the New York Jets. Though he only caught three balls, he made the most of that trifecta, making them count for 104 yards. Tennessee is in dire need of someone to emerge as a big play maker, and a healthy Taylor has the looks of being that player.
WR Jaron Brown, Seattle
Seattle is becoming a dangerous team down the stretch, as it is in the hunt and will probably need to win every game to have a chance at the postseason. That’s a great combination for the fantasy owner, and this week Russell Wilson spread the ball around enough to get Brown a mention in this week’s story. We would like to see some more consistency, but three catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns is more than enough to get onto this week’s radar.
RB Rex Burkhead, New England
Back on the field and healthy again, New England wasted no time getting him involved this week against Minnesota. He carried the ball seven times, and surprisingly he was active in the passing game, hauling in two passes good for 21 yards. New England is spreading things around (Sony Michel and James White are in the mix) but in an effort to keep everyone sharp and healthy, Burkhead will see his share of the rock. As the weather turns colder, Burkhead may be called upon in the final few games to carry a big load. He is worth a speculative add to see how things shake out in the New England backfield.
RB Chase Edmonds, Arizona
David Johnson has not looked great for Arizona, and with nothing to lose the team has been giving Edmonds a handful of touches each of the last few games. This week against Green Bay he made his five rushes count, tallying 53 yards on the ground while finding the end zone twice. He also snagged a couple passes out of the backfield, too. Edmonds is not a bad pickup for a fantasy owner looking to build some “just in case” depth.