Josh Freeman, Vikings
Matt Cassel turned into Christian Ponder’s non-identical twin this week against the Panthers so it’s a pretty safe bet that Freeman will be under center for the Vikings once he gets up to speed with the team’s playbook. It could be this week against the Giants.
Nick Foles, Eagles
Subbing in for an injured Michael Vick, Foles was effective against a solid Bucs secondary, throwing for 296 yards and three touchdowns. His performance may have planted some seeds of doubt as to whether Vick is immediately inserted into the starting lineup once he returns from an injured hamstring.
Thaddeus Lewis, Bills
For emergency only (216 yards with two touchdown passes this week as well as 17 yards and a score on the ground).
Andrew Luck, Colts
Last year’s rookie sensation (4,374 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and five scores on the ground) is this year’s fantasy bust. Luck is on pace to finish the season with 3,611 passing yards, 18.6 touchdown passes and 5.3 rushing touchdowns. Over the Colts final 10 games, they face six passing defenses ranked in the top 10.
Brandon Jacobs, Giants
Well, David Wilson is hurt and the coaching staff doesn’t trust Da’Rel Scott (cut twice already this season) and rookie 7th round pick Michael Cox (no carries). Jacobs put up the best performance of any Giants back this season by carrying the rock 22 times for 106 yards and a pair of scores against the Bears. With Eli struggling, look for another 20-touch performance this week against the Vikings. The Giants only face three top 10 rushing defenses over the balance of the season.
Lance Dunbar, Cowboys
Sure, he’s out with a hamstring injury but Dunbar probably rates as the Cowboys top backup running back when he returns to health. With DeMarco Murray out for an unspecified amount of time with a sprained MCL, Dunbar is likely in line for some starts. Unfortunately, the Cowboys tend to rely heavily on the pass when Murray is out and Dunbar will likely split the role with rookie 5th round pick Joseph Randle. The Cowboys face two top 10 rushing defenses the rest of the way.
Joseph Randle, Cowboys
I like Dunbar more but Randle is worth an add. Unfortunately, he doesn’t look like a guy who is ready to be a steady contributor.
Zac Stacy, Rams
Making note of the fact that after splitting the workload last week, Stacy had 20 touches this week against the Texans and Daryl Richardson had just four. While the Rams had a big lead for most of the game and Stacy is better suited to running out the clock, the discrepancy in the workload seems to indicate that Richardson will be relegated to a change of pace and pass receiving role unless Stacy struggles.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Some times players are benched because they have played poorly, some times it is because their backups are better and some times it is a combination of the two. With LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden having done little, it seems Ridley was benched to send him a message (i.e. run hard and don’t fumble). This week, he had his best game of the year with 20 carries for 96 yards and a pair of touchdowns. When Shane Vereen comes back, we will get to see if Ridley gets benched because his backup is better. That isn’t the case at the moment.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
As gramma used to say, “Davey, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” Let’s apply that to Murray’s injury history. Sometimes, things are predictable.
Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals
It is looking more and more like Mendenhall is in a full on timeshare with rookie Andre Ellington. That would be fine if he were finding the end zone on a regular basis but he isn’t with just two touchdowns in six games.
Willis McGahee, Browns
Either McGahee needs some time to round into form or else he’s finished. With 59 carries in four games, he has had enough time to get up to speed but he’s averaging a measly 2.8 yards per carry. At some point, the Browns will see what else they have at the postion.
Justin Blackmon, Jaguars
Blackmon has been a monster in his first two games of the season, hauling in 19 of his 29 targets for 326 yards and a touchdown. Six weeks into the season, Blackmon is the 45th ranked fantasy wide receiver. Not bad. Cecil Shorts suffered a sprained shoulder (or sprained sternoclavicular joint if you want to be specific) putting him in doubt for this week.
Denarius Moore, Raiders
Moore is a streaky player and he’s currently lighting it up. At least for him. With three touchdowns in his last four games, Moore is chipping in scores on an almost weekly basis despite playing in the Raiders suspect offense. He also has 20 receptions for 356 yards over the last four games, as he makes a run for WR2 status. The schedule shows the Raiders playing five of the league’s top 12 passing defenses and five ranked 20th or worst over the balance of the season. At least you will know when to start him.
Rueben Randle, Giants
Randle proved this week that he isn’t a polished product but he does have three touchdowns over the past two weeks and there are reports the Giants are getting ready to unload Hakeem Nicks, who does not appear to be in their plans for next season (unless he signs a below market contract). It’s also worth noting that Randle has been targeted 41 times this year to 45 for Nicks.
Kris Durham, Lions
With Patrick Edwards having been released and Ryan Broyles averaging two targets a game, Durham is the Lions second receiver behind Calvin Johnson. And his 13 targets this week prove that. It’s also pretty clear that Johnson’s knee is more of an issue than the Lions are letting on. That means Durham’s eight-reception, 83-yard performance this week could be a precursor of his weekly production for the next few games.
Brandon LaFell, Panthers
During his first three years in the league, LaFell has proven to be nothing special. However, he is on a hot streak with 11 receptions for 207 and three touchdowns over his past three games. Carolina faces pass defenses ranked 16th or lower in each of the next three weeks.
Jarrett Boykin, Packers
Well, his performance this week wasn’t anything special with one reception on six targets and a pair of drops. But he did manage to take his reception for 43 yards, the Packers like him and they don’t have many options at the moment with Randall Cobb out for an extended period and James Jones looking doubtful for this week.
Danny Amendola, Patriots
I’ve been calling him Little Danny Amendola since he signed with the Patriots and he keeps on making me look good. This week’s injury for Amendola was a concussion on a play where he was completely rocked. I don’t know if he will play next week but it doesn’t look good and if he does, I can’t tell you what type of injury he will suffer. I just know there’s a good chance it will be something. With Amendola, it’s always something. Remember Gramma’s saying?
Marques Colston, Saints
Colston looks like he is either injured or lost a step. With the Patriots focused on shutting down Jimmy Graham, Colston had a pile of single coverage this week but only finished the day with a single reception for 11 yards. Over the past two weeks, Drew Brees has targeted him just five times and he hasn’t found the end zone since Week 1.
Chris Givens, Rams
A breakout candidate after catching 42 passes for 698 yards and three touchdowns during his final 13 games as a rookie in 2012, Givens can’t seem to get on the same page as quarterback Sam Bradford. Possessed with outstanding speed, Givens failed to haul in a long pass that would have resulted in a touchdown this week and how has just four receptions for 36 yards over his past two games. Worse yet, he has caught just 17 of his 38 targets in 2013. At some point, St. Louis will start taking away his playing time in favor of Austin Pettis, Brian Quick or rookie 3rd round pick Stedman Bailey.
Vernon Davis, 49ers
It’s not fair to say that Davis is maddeningly inconsistent because he is a true professional. But it is fair to say that his usage in the 49ers offensive game plans has been maddeningly inconsistent. That might be about to change. With San Francisco’s wide receivers struggling, Davis caught eight passes for 180 yards and a pair of scores giving him 11 receptions for 268 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. He has also now scored in three straight contests. Look for Davis to get plenty of targets over the next few weeks.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
Lukewarm endorsement. Fine as your TE2 but too touchdown dependent as your TE1. Rudolph set single game career highs in receptions with nine and yards with 97 (his previous high was 67) while matching his career high in targets with 11. He also scored in the Vikings blowout loss so this is clearly a case of garbage time production. If you believe that checkdown artists Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder will remain under center, Rudolph isn’t a bad player to own. If Josh Freeman takes over at quarterback, it’s a different situation.
Joseph Fauria, Lions and Lance Kendricks, Rams
Fauria, an undrafted rookie free agent, took all three of his targets to the house this week, giving him five touchdowns on the season… on seven receptions and nine targets. Kendricks scored this week against the Texans giving him a touchdown in each of his last three games. Chasing touchdowns? Yes. But when the byes hit, that’s not necessarily a bad thing at the tight end position.
Tim Wright, Bucs
First off, at 220 pounds, Wright isn’t your prototypical tight end. However, that is how he is listed and he has caught 12 of his 15 targets for 132 yards over the past two weeks. Mike Williams’ absence helped his cause this week but Wright is a guy to watch over the next few weeks.
Jimmy Graham, Saints
Leading the league (not just tight ends but the entire league) in receiving yards entering the Saints Week 6 matchup against the Patriots, Graham put up a doughnut and suffered a foot injury. With New Orleans on a bye this week, Graham gets an extra week to heal but the blueprint is now out there for teams to slow him down although not all teams have a cornerback with Aqib Talib’s physical characteristics and experience.