The injury shuffle continues as the running back position, which presents some opportunity to the shrewd fantasy owner. Dig deeply into the depth chart and make sure you aren’t wasting the last roster spot on your fantasy team.
It’s getting late in the season, and many teams in the NFL are starting to see the writing on the wall. There could be half a dozen new starting quarterbacks by the time Sunday rolls around. Be prepared and stock your roster with as many starters as possible, especially those of you with waiver wire deadlines. You don’t want to be caught with a zero next to your starting QB.
Let’s get right into this week’s list!
RB Chester Taylor, Minnesota
When one door closes, another door opens. Shame on the Adrian Peterson owner for not having Chester Taylor backing him up. The Vikings passing offense is, well, offensive, which is being kind. It’s been well documented the success that Peterson has had, especially last week. While I don’t expect Taylor to put up close to 300 yards per game, he is a capable back and even in the Vikings stagnant offense, he could accumulate 100 total yards now as the starter.
WR Mark Clayton, Baltimore
Ok, how many of you out there gave up on Clayton (my hand is raised). His 107 yards this past week nearly doubled his total for the entire season. If, as expected, Kyle Boller continues to be the Baltimore starting QB, then Clayton becomes a viable fantasy starter again.
Solid Pickups (aka. QBs that will be playing)
Kyle Boller, Baltimore
Have we seen the last of Steve McNair in Baltimore? Probably. McNair, banged up already, came out of last week’s contest adding a sore shoulder to his already long list of injuries. Or was it that he was ineffective? Inquiring minds want to know. Brian Billick has to be wise enough to see that Boller is a better choice as the starter going forward.
Rex Grossman, Chicago
Similarly in Chicago, Brian Griese left the game last week with an injury, and former starter Rex Grossman came on to provide a nice spark to the Bears offense. Griese was probably on a short leash anyway, I expect Grossman to be the starter starting this week. Good timing for everyone involved here, Grossman provides a spark to the team looking to get back into the playoff hunt while he plays for a job in 2008.
Kellen Clemens, New York Jets
Clemens did all he was asked in week 10, and in return he should continue to be the starter. Not tremendous numbers, 226 yards and a touchdown pass. Rushing yards (48 were a bonus). A viable fantasy backup moving forward.
Brodie Croyle, Kansas City
As of press time, I haven’t been able to confirm this one, but this is another change that has to be made. Damon Huard isn’t getting it done and the Chiefs need to do something to get their offense going.
JaMarcus Russell, Oakland
Josh McCown got beat up a bit last week and it isn’t clear if he’ll be ready to go next week. This would be the perfect opportunity for the Raiders to make a change… and get the rookie some playing time. The Raiders will likely be forced to the air, which will present opportunities for Russell to pick up some yards with his legs.
John Beck, Miami
As is the case in Oakland, there’s no reason for the Dolphins not to turn things over to their rookie.
On the Radar
RB Antonio Pittman, St.Louis
Steven Jackson is back, but the battle for his backup job continues. Pittman went for fifty plus yards this week, more importantly, he touched the ball twice as many times as Brian Leonard. Hedge your bets, especially you Jackson owners.
RB Dwayne Wright, Buffalo
Wright is worth keeping an eye on, I definitely see the Bills playing him over Anthony Thomas. Marshawn Lynch owners would be wise to protect their investment by grabbing Wright.
WR Deion Branch, Seattle
Though inactive this past week, Branch is close to returning to the Seahawks lineup. DJ Hackett has solidified himself as one of the starters, I see Branch taking over for Bobby Engram when he’s healthy. The Seattle passing game is starting to get some momentum, so jump on board and ride the wave.
TE LJ Smith, Philadelphia
4-49-1, not a bad week’s worth of action from Smith. He looked healthy for the first time all season this week, project similar numbers on a weekly basis for him, not a bad backup fantasy TE.
TE Leonard Pope, Arizona
Anytime a TE registers a multiple touchdown game, that’ll get some notice. Pope also went for 50 yards. He’s not a fantasy starter, but not a bad guy to put on your bench in case your starter goes down.
RB Mewelde Moore, Minnesota
Moore has been a frequent visitor to this column. Most times it is because of trade rumors and his 2008 value, but this time he makes the list since the Vikings RB depth chart has been shuffled for the next few weeks. Moore is more than capable if called upon.
RB Pierre Thomas, New Orleans
The shuffle upwards for the Saints continues… Reggie Bush did end up playing this past week, but the battle for his backup may be heating up. Aaron Stecker would likely get the first call, but little known Pierre Thomas would be in the mix and could potentially get past the career backup.