1. Entering Thursday night’s game, the Giants backfield was a mess with David Wilson out, Andre Brown not yet eligible to return and Da’Rel Scott recently re-signed. Fantasy owners were left to ponder how the workload would be split amongst Scott, Brandon Jacobs or rookie 7th round pick Michael Cox. After Jacob’s 22 carry, 106-yard, two-touchdown performance, it appears he will carry the load in the Giants backfield at least until Brown returns to the lineup. Cox failed to register a carry, Scott totalled just five touches and ESPN has reported that Wilson will be out several weeks with a neck injury. Add it all up and Jacobs should be a hot waiver wire prospect entering Week 7 games. While he may not be useful in the fantasy playoffs, he could be a key add to help get you there.
2. In Buffalo, Jeff Tuel’s performance in relief of EJ Manuel was so underwhelming the Bills added Thaddeus Lewis to the active roster and plan to start him this week against the Bengals. With Steve Johnson questionable with a back injury that has kept him out of practice, Lewis could be left to operate with rookie 2nd round pick Roberts Woods and 2nd year player T.J. Graham as his starting wide receivers. Even if Johnson is a go, he shouldn’t be in your starting lineup and neither should Woods or Graham. Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller (notice who is listed first?) should see plenty of touches until Manuel returns to the lineup.
3. Despite all of the speculation that Texans quarterback Matt Schaub will be benched as a result of his subpar play and Houston’s 2-3 record to open the season, don’t look for him to be removed from the starting lineup anytime soon. The Texans are just two games behind the division-leading Colts who have a 4-1 record and backup T.J. Yates is lacks the experience necessary to lead the Texans deep into the playoffs, which was the organization’s expectation entering the 2013 season. Andre Johnson owners can rest easy that he won’t be receiving passes from Yates even though his current FPts/G average of just 8.1 is not exactly what they were hoping for.
4. Sticking with struggling quarterbacks, it is only a matter of time before the Vikings’ Christian Ponder officially loses his job in the starting lineup. His rib injury forced Matt Cassel into the starter’s role in Week 4 and Cassel produced a win against the Steelers that will earn him another start this week against the Panthers (the Vikings were on a bye in Week 5). The bigger issue for Ponder is Minnesota’s decision to sign Bucs cast off Josh Freeman. Simply put, Freeman is a better fit in the Vikings offense than Ponder. Ponder has struggled as a downfield thrower and has a tendency to check the ball down while Freeman has a strong arm and is not afraid to take shots down the field. When a team has a dynamic threat at running back like Adrian Peterson, they need to have a quarterback that can hit on play action in order to maximize the value of having a player of Peterson’s ilk.
5. In Washington, the Redskins have an interesting backfield dilemma. Alfred Morris helped lead the team to the playoffs last season with 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns season but has just 56 touches during the Redskins 1-3 start to the season. Meanwhile, Helu has looked explosive and is averaging 6.5 yards per touch on 21 touches. The team wants to get both players more involved, particularly with quarterback Robert Griffin III struggling in his sophomore season. Expect the Helu hype to die down soon enough with the Redskins leaning heavily on Morris over the balance of the season.
6. Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin has returned to full practice after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. While he should be available for this week’s matchup against the Redskins, the issue is how much playing time he will receive. Rookie 3rd round pick Terrance Williams has played well subbing in for Austin with 11 receptions for 222 yards and a touchdown over the past two weeks. Look for Austin to be eased back into the lineup, making Williams a decent bye week fill in this week. Looking down the road, it is fair to wonder if the Cowboys will jettison Austin after the season due to his $5.5-million 2014 salary coupled with the emergence of Williams.
7. With the Browns benching Greg Little in favor of slot receiver Davone Bess in the starting lineup, some fantasy owners rushed to the wire to grab Bess. Not so fast. Bess has just 12 touchdowns in 82 career games and just one over his last 20 games. He rates as no better than an upper end WR5 in 12 team leagues and there are no guarantees he will remain in the starting lineup.
8. If you are looking for a buy low candidate at running back, consider the Patriots Shane Vereen. Vereen suffered a broken wrist in Week 1 after putting up 101 yards on 14 carries and 58 yards on seven receptions and is eligible to return for New England’s Week 11 game against the Panthers. If you feel safe that a playoff spot is in order, he is a great target to stash on the end of your bench. Of the trio of Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, none have secured the starting position with Ridley struggling badly after posting a career year in 2012 with 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. With the reduction in talent amongst the team’s group of receivers, Vereen, easily the best pass catching running back on the roster, is clearly the best fit at running back in the New England offense.