1. With the Dolphins in a freefall after their loss to the Bills last night and Reggie Bush a free agent at the end of the season, look for the Dolphins coaching staff to go with more of a committee approach at running back over the balance of the season. While Bush entered 2012 with a hot streak over his first two games after coming off a career year last season, opposing defenses have mostly contained him over the last eight games (he hasn’t topped 68 total yards since Week 2) and especially so over the Dolphins last three games, all losses. This week, Daniel Thomas, the team’s 2011 third round pick, carried the ball more than Bush (12 carries to 10) and it won’t be a surprise if he and rookie 4th round pick Lamar Miller, who is averaging a solid 5.4 yards per carry, assume a greater workload over the Dolphins remaining six games as the team tries to determine whether they need to re-sign Bush or add another running back in the draft. That doesn’t bode well for Bush’s fantasy prospects and his fantasy owners should be looking to add a replacement prior to league trading deadlines.
2. Another running back whose fantasy prospects are looking shaky over the balance of the season is the Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw has struggled badly over the last four games, averaging just 57 rushing yards and failing to find the end zone. Foot and neck injuries are hindering his performance and he has lost the team’s short yardage role to Andre Brown, who has scored touchdowns in four consecutive games. With rookie 1st round pick David Wilson struggling (just three carries in his last two games), the team worked out several veteran running backs this week and that could be an indication that Bradshaw’s neck injury could cause him to miss time. Bradshaw owners might want to look for a replacement while Brown owners in flex leagues should feel comfortable using him as a flex option over the remainder of the season.
3. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is a wonderful talent but is beginning to earn the label of being injury prone with news this week that he will be a gametime decision on Sunday for Atlanta’s home game against Arizona. Jones suffered an ankle injury in the Falcons Week 10 loss to the Saints and was ineffective earlier this season in a Week 4 game against Carolina due to an injury. In addition, he missed three games and most of another during his rookie season in 2011 due to hamstring issues. While Jones has the talent to be a top 10 wide receiver and he was expected to be a top 10 fantasy wide receiver this season, it is beginning to look like Roddy White is the safer fantasy option of the two Atlanta receivers due to track record of remaining healthy (no missed games during his eight years in the league).
4. With a slew of injuries at the quarterback position in Week 10, there are likely a number of fantasy owners struggling to find starters at the position this week with the bye weeks not over until Week 12. The Steelers Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler of the Bears and Michael Vick of the Eagles are all likely to miss this week’s game and the 49ers Alex Smith will likely play but faces a tough matchup against a stout Bears defense. For those who need to grab a replacement from one of these teams, the options include Byron Leftwiich (against the Ravens), Jason Campbell (against the 49ers) and Nick Foles (against the Redskins). Given the matchups, the rookie Foles, taken in the 3rd round of this year’s draft, looks like the best option of the three. While he struggled somewhat in relief of Vick this past week against Cowboys, the Redskins represent a plum matchup due to their 30th ranked pass defense. In addition, Eagles head coach Andy Reid has never been known to change his offensive approach, which borders on “run only when necessary”. That should translate into plenty of targets and fantasy production for Foles.
5. With his 127 total yard performance this week against the 49ers, Rams running back Steven Jackson now has accumulated the 2nd most yards from scrimmage of any player in franchise history, moving past former Rams wide receiver Torry Holt. With a strong finish to the season, Jackson could overtake Isaac Bruce for the franchise record by season’s end.
6. Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe stated this week that he wanted to finish his career as a Chief. What remains to be seen is whether he is willing to finish his career as a Chief if it means signing a long-term contract extension at terms that are below his market value. The Chiefs and Bowe failed to reach a contract extension in 2011, forcing Kansas City to retain his services by placing the franchise tag on him. The reasoning may have been to ensure that his maturity is in check after a number of examples of immaturity during the early part of his career. However, he has performed admirably on a struggling team, taking that argument away from Chiefs management. Unfortunately for Bowe and Chiefs fans, general manager Scott Piolo has shown a tendency to be unwilling to sign players to a long-term extension unless they are on favorable terms. It certainly won’t be a surprise if Bowe is either back in Kansas City next season under the franchise tag or on the market looking for another team.
7. It’s official – James Starks is the man for the Green Bay Packers at running back, at least for now. Running backs coach Alex Van Pelt stated this week that Starks had earned the role but there are no guarantees that Starks will retain the starting position once veteran Cedric Benson returns to the team. Benson is eligible to come off the injured reserve list in Week 14, just in time for the fantasy playoffs. Starks has a chance to keep Benson on the bench with a string of solid performances but he has failed to remain healthy and productive during the first two and a half years of his career, making that prospect unlikely.