Kirk Cousins, Redskins
With RGIII battling a knee injury, Cousins may step into the starting line-up this week. Roundly panned for using a 4th round pick on Cousins after surrendering a bundle of picks to the Rams in order to draft RGIII with the 2nd pick in the draft, head coach Mike Shanahan is looking pretty smart for taking Cousins given his performance in limited playing time this season. He came off the bench to get the Redskins into overtime against the Ravens and helped earn the team a win and looked decent in Week 5 against the Falcons. RGIII owners should feel starting him this week against the Browns if the need arises.
Nick Foles, Eagles
With his 32 of 51, 381 yards, two touchdown performance during this week’s 23-21 win over the Bucs, Foles has clearly put the clamps on the Eagles starting quarterback position in 2013.
John Skelton, Cardinals
Turns out that Skelton’s 6-2 run as a starter in 2011 was pure fluke. This year, he’s been awful, tossing nine picks in just 201 passes and displaying the same lack of accuracy that he somehow got away with last season (54.9% completion rate in 2011). This dude is seriously bad and should be out of the league in 2013.
David Wilson, Giants
Some times this job is tough. Other times, not so much. David Wilson was an easy Moving Up inclusion this week courtesy of his coming out party against the Saints. The Giants 1st round pick carried the ball 13 times for 100 yards and a pair of scores and displayed some electrifying moves in the return game as well, piling up 327 all purpose yards. With Ahmad Bradshaw once again iffy with a knee injury, Wilson could be in line for his first career start this week against the Falcons and their 23rd ranked run defense.
Mikel Leshoure, Lions
Leshoure wasn’t great this week against the Packers (14 carries for 49 yards) but he had six touchdowns in the five games prior while accumulating 333 total yards. The schedule looks good with the Cardinals 29th ranked run defense on tap this week followed by the Falcons 23rd ranked run defense.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
With Willis McGahee out of the line-up, Moreno has been getting loads of touches, averaging 28 per game over the last three weeks, and he was a one-man wrecking crew this week against the Raiders. Sure, it was the Raiders run D but Moreno was a beast with 167 total yards and a score. He chewed up the clock in the 4th quarter and could be used in that role again against the slumping Ravens and Browns over the next two weeks.
Montell Owens, Jaguars
With 91 rushing yards this week against the Jets, Owens nearly matched his career rushing total of 112 yards in one game. And this cat has been around since the 2006 season. I never would have guessed.
Bryce Brown, Eagles
The Bucs run defense is solid but they have given up plenty of rushing touchdowns – just not this week. And they didn’t give up much else to Brown either as he managed just 12 yards on eight carries. Up next is a solid Cincinnati run defense in a Thursday night matchup.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals
It’s hard to run when your team is relying on high school level talent at the quarterback position and that’s Beanie’s problem in Arizona. Defenses can basically stack nine guys in the box on every play given the putrid play of the Cardinals’ quarterback. Net result – 21 carries for 40 yards over the last two games for Wells.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts
I’m making up for last week’s miscue by not having Hilton in this section. This week, he was merely decent against the Titans catching a pair of balls for 50 yards. However, in the four games prior, Hilton had three 100-yard games and accumulated 21 receptions for 335 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Miles Austin, Cowboys
With the possibility of a hot Dez Bryant out of the line-up due to a finger injury, Austin will move into the lead wide receiver role for the Cowboys. The schedule isn’t pretty this week with the Steelers top ranked pass defense on tap but Austin figures to be a target machine. And just in case you are really desperate, it is worth noting that Dwayne Harris has 16 targets over the past three weeks compared to just eight for Kevin Ogletree.
Jonathan Baldwin, Chiefs
After a solid offseason, Baldwin has had a disastrous second season in Kansas City, catching just 18 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown despite lining up opposite Dwayne Bowe on the outside for much of the year. The 2011 1st round pick figures to get a chance to shine over the balance of the season, however, with Bowe out due to a rib injury. With Bowe a free agent at season’s end, Baldwin should have plenty of motivation to show the Chiefs what he can do.
Brandon Lloyd, Patriots
After being mothballed in Week 13 against the Dolphins (one target) due to his lackluster performance in the five weeks prior to that (15 receptions for 150 yards), Lloyd was dangerous once again this week, hauling in seven of his nine targets for 89 yards and a score against the Texans. Those numbers could have been even better had quarterback Tom Brady not missed him on a throw down the sideline.
Jason Avant, Eagles
With Djax out, Avant has caught 11 passes for 212 yards in his last two games.
Kenny Britt, Titans
Britt’s stat line this week (eight receptions for 143 yards) might indicate that he’s now fully healthy. Or maybe he was healthy enough to take advantage of a young Colts secondary. Maybe he’s going to do something stupid and end up in jail on Sunday morning. Who knows.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Not to pile on Larry, a fine gentleman if there ever was one, but it is mind boggling that a player of his talents has caught just a single pass in three of his last four games, totaling six receptions for 67 yards. Another truly remarkable fact is that Fitz has caught just six of his last 37 targets, a completion rate of just 16.2%.
Jeremy Kerley, Jets
Kerley is a fine little slot receiver but his lack of playmaking ability in the red zone hurts his fantasy value and the Cardinals and Jaguars have put the clamps on him over the past two weeks, limiting him to seven receptions for 64 yards in those games. After scoring twice during the first three weeks of the season, Kerley hasn’t found the end zone once in his last 10 games.
Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
After a subpar performance in Week 12 in his return from an ankle injury, Hernandez has put together two fine games, catching eight passes for 97 yards in Week 13 and dismantling the Texans on Monday night this week with eight more receptions for 58 yards and a pair of scores. He’s hot at just the right time.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens
With 18 targets over the last three weeks, it looks like Pitta is once again in offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s offensive game plans. Whoops, Cameron just got fired. Either way, Pitta has played well in recent weeks, averaging 7.6 PPG over the last three weeks and he has scored touchdowns in three of his last five games.
Greg Olsen, Panthers
It looks like the late season swoon that Olsen had in 2011 won’t repeat itself this season. Olsen remains a key cog in the Panthers passing attack, with 344 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his last six games.
Tony Scheffler, Lions
Brandon Pettigrew suffered an ankle this week and is questionable for this week’s matchup against the Cardinals. Since the Lions will likely have 50 minutes of time of possession, Scheffler should be able to at least match last week’s production of 20 yards and a score. Not pretty, I know, but the 10 targets were nice.
Vernon Davis, 49ers
Davis has been here before and now he is back again. This week, he was once again persona non grata, catching one pass for four yards against the Dolphins, a team that doesn’t exactly possess the most athletic safeties in the league. Davis’ three weeks totals are now three catches on six targets for 19 yards and no touchdowns. Looks like the 49ers are saving him for the playoffs (no, not the fantasy playoffs).
Antonio Gates, Chargers
At this point, it’s safe to conclude that Gates is either playing hurt or a shadow of his former self. This week against the Steelers, he caught just three of eight targets for 31 yards. He has failed to find the end zone in four straight and has amassed just 224 receiving yards in his last seven games.