Injuries have owners scrambling for replacements, and others scrambling for value this week. The hits are almost too numerous to mention. Reggie Wayne is out for the year. Doug Martin is out for awhile. Arian Foster has a hamstring injury, though with a bye week he has an opportunity to get back without missing another game. Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford were both hurt on Sunday, and the backups will be pressed into duty.
It looks like it will be an active week, so who do you go for? Let’s go down the positions. I’m going to put the percentage of ownership in CBS leagues in parentheses, so you can assess how likely it is that someone is available.
Carson Palmer (41%) going against the Falcons at home looks to be your best matchup option. Ryan Tannehill (49%) is the other option among starters that might be lurking on the free agent wire in the average league.
Sam Bradford is out and Kellen Clemens steps in. I’ll pass.
Josh McCown and Case Keenum would be better options going forward, though they both have a bye this week.
Mike James (6%) is worth a chance, because he should get a high percentage of carries in Tampa Bay. Martin’s injury could be for the rest of the year, so James could be someone who comes out of nowhere to be a fantasy starting option. There is obviously a risk factor here that he will struggle, but the upside is just as good, because the opportunity.
If you miss out on James, I mentioned Khiry Robinson (6%) last week. Coming off the bye, the matchup against Buffalo is one that he is startable as a flex.
Chris Ivory (38%) benefitted from Bilal Powell’s injury, and if Powell is limited again, will be a flex option.
I was high on Roy Helu (47%) before the season, then the Redskins trailed too often early. He had a big game on Sunday and a game against Denver might favor his style in a shootout, where he can be used in a receiving role.
It’s hard to recommend Jonathan Stewart (28%) too heavily, but if you can hold a roster spot, by two weeks from now he may be worth considering. DeAngelo Williams has not grabbed the full role with gusto while Stewart has been out.
Shane Vereen (58%) continues to be available in about half the leagues. Not sure you will find a bigger impact player if he returns in about three weeks.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (18%) moves into a bigger role with Reggie Wayne’s injury. He has caught just under half his targets this year, but with an increase in targets comes more chances for big plays. You want a top two target for Luck.
Jarrett Boykin (41%) should have been heavily picked up, but is still available in many leagues. More opportunities to come with Cobb out for a while. Oh, and he gets Minnesota’s bad secondary this week.
If you have a roster spot to plan ahead, Titans receivers Kendall Wright (41%) and Nate Washington (52%) should be targets for weeks 9 and 10. Yes, Washington only had three catches, but he was targeted by Locker ten times, and will face St. Louis and Jacksonville coming out of the bye. Wright, meanwhile, has been targeted at least 8 times in four straight games. This team is ready to move on from Britt for good, and these two will benefit with good matchups.
Marvin Jones (8%) has taken on a more prominent role in the passing game in Cincinnati the last few weeks. The matchup this week against the Jets isn’t great, but he could be a player to stash for the second half of the year.
For short term emergency starts, look to Sidney Rice (40%) against the Rams, Kris Durham (18%) against the Cowboys, and Kenny Stills (10%) against the Bills.
I highlighted Jordan Reed (41%) a week ago. He will be harder to get now, but is the clear target where available. If you miss out on Reed, Rob Housler (4%) has 12 targets in the last two games after a slow start. The Falcons are banged up at linebacker and we saw what Jeff Cumberland of the Jets did on Monday night a few weeks ago.
Well, my recommendation of the Panthers each week has finally moved to the point where they likely are not available. With Jacksonville (49ers) and the Clemens-led Rams (Seahawks) playing top ten defenses, we have to go deeper. I’m going to go with the Saints against the Bills. Thad Lewis has played decently but struggled in blitz pickup, so expect Rob Ryan to heat him up to try to force sacks and errors.
After that, I’m going Eagles against the turnover prone Giants, followed by the Jets and their excellent defensive front at Cincinnati.
1. Jordan Reed
2. Mike James
3. Darrius Heyward-Bey
4. Jarrett Boykin
5. Roy Helu
6. Khiry Robinson
7. Marvin Jones
8. Chris Ivory