Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
With 971 passing yards and nine touchdowns in his last three games, Big Ben is getting hot at just the right time for the Steelers and his fantasy owners. The matchups aren’t great between now and Week 15 (Browns, Ravens, Dolphins, Bengals) but Roethlisberger is a streaky player and he’s rolling at the moment.
EJ Manuel, Bills
This one’s more for the dynasty leaguers out there, but the Bills’ rookie first-round pick was solid this week in his second game after returning from a knee injury. Despite not having leading wide receiver Steve Johnson or Robert Woods available, Manuel threw for 245 yards and a pair of scores on 20-of-28 passing during the Bills 37–14 blowout win over the Jets.
Geno Smith, Jets
Yeesh! That was ugly.
Andy Dalton, Bengals
Dalton’s hot streak ended three games ago and he has turned into a turnover machine since then (eight interceptions). I am confident going on the record in stating that he’s not going to have any more three-touchdown outings when he throws for just 93 yards. Dalton needs to be on your bench until he gets hot again.
Bobby Rainey, Bucs
Well, I told you last week that Rainey didn’t have the look of a true lead back and I guess I’m eating my words today after his 30-carry, 163-yard, two-touchdown performance this week against the Falcons. Oh yeah, he also chipped in a four-yard touchdown reception. Rainey is clearly the lead back in Tampa over the balance of the season, and the matchups from Weeks 14 through 16 aren’t that bad (Bills, 49ers, Rams).
Donald Brown, Colts
The only thing holding Brown back from emerging as a solid RB2 over the balance of the season is the fact it would be extremely embarrassing for the Colts’ management and coaches to bench Trent Richardson. But it still might happen. Brown was great this week with 15 touches for 94 yards and a pair of scores, but the Cardinals are on tap next week (third-ranked run defense) and then the Bengals in Week 14 (ninth-ranked run defense).
Rashad Jennings, Raiders
Jennings is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per reception. Darren McFadden is averaging 3.6 yards per carry and 6.5 yards per reception. Jennings has a pair of 100-yard rushing games in the Raiders’ last three matchups. McFadden is a free agent at season’s end, will command a large salary on the open market, has one 1000-yard rushing season during his first five years in the league, and has topped 1,000 total yards just once. Jennings is also a free agent but will cost a fraction of what McFadden will. The Raiders have been in salary cap hell. Maybe they should spend the rest of the season finding out what they have in Jennings. He’s hot and, save for a Week 14 matchup against the Jets’ top-ranked run defense, the schedule is favorable.
Ray Rice, Ravens; Chris Johnson, Titans
Undoubtedly taken in the first round of most fantasy drafts this year, both Rice and Johnson have disappointed, with Rice being one of the biggest busts of the year. They are each coming off of solid games, with Rice topping 100 rushing yards for the first time and 100 total yards for just the second time. Johnson scored a pair of touchdowns, giving him four in his last three games. Consider Rice a sell candidate if your league’s trading window is still open, but I would ride Johnson the rest of the way.
Ben Tate, Texans
If Tate owners were hoping he would replicate Arian Foster’s success, they have been sorely disappointed. While Tate is clearly talented, he is also clearly not in Foster’s class as a running back. In the last three games, he has averaged 4.0 yards per carry, 75 rushing yards per game and chipped in just eight receptions for a measly 35 yards. He lacks Foster’s explosiveness, pass-catching ability and chops as a short-yardage runner.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
Montee Ball stole a pair of touchdowns this week, leaving Moreno with just one touchdown in his last three games. Not the kind of slide his fantasy owners want to see with the playoffs approaching.
Mark Ingram, Saints
With Ingram coming off of the first 100-yard game of his three-year career, I was cautiously optimistic the Saints would be committed to getting him consistent touches going forward. Sure enough, he had just seven touches in a close game against the 49ers this week. If the Saints aren’t committed, you shouldn’t be.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals
After averaging 7.4 targets per game over the Cardinals’ first seven games and being largely disappointing (32 receptions for 396 yards and one touchdown), Floyd saw his workload decreased to a total of six targets over the two games prior to this week. That seemed to motivate Arizona’s 2012 first-round pick, as he had the finest game of his career this week, hauling in six of his 11 targets for 193 yards and a 91-yard touchdown. He might be hitting his stride at just the right time.
Kendall Wright, Titans
Over the last two games, Wright has 21 targets, 16 receptions and 158 receiving yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick likes to look his way, and if the touchdowns every start coming (just one so far this season), Wright will emerge as a solid WR2 in standard leagues with even more upside in PPR formats.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Sure, Bowe’s an idiot and the Chiefs MAY have been fools for signing him to a lucrative long-term contract extension, but it’s fairly obvious that he has been misused for much of this season. That might be changing. He averaged just 5.6 targets per game over the Chiefs’ first eight games but has been targeted 26 times over the past two. With Kansas City needing to establish a strong passing attack with the playoffs around the corner (as evidenced during their first loss of the season this week to the Broncos), Bowe figures to see the ball plenty as the season winds down.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Colts
Since Reggie Wayne went down with a torn ACL in Week 7, DHB has caught five of his 15 targets for 51 yards. So much for the notion that he would step up and become consistent with Wayne out. For the year, he has caught just 23 of his targets despite averaging just 10.5 yards per reception.
Wes Welker, Broncos
He’s concussed and has just one touchdown in his last four games after scoring eight times during the Broncos’ first six games.
Victor Cruz, Giants
The schedule looks good but Cruz has scored touchdowns in just two of ten games so far in 2013, including none in the past six.
Delanie Walker, Titans
Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown 61 passes in the last two games and targeted Walker 17 times. Hmmm… Opportunity is knocking on Walker’s door and he figures to get plenty of targets going forward since he caught all ten of his looks this week for 91 yards and a touchdown. That gives him double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games.
Coby Fleener, Colts
Reggie Wayne was lost for the season and Fleener has been targeted 25 times in the three games since then, including 20 in the Colts’ last two games. He topped 100 receiving yards for the first time in his career this week against the Titans, with seven receptions for 107 yards. With Darrius Heyward-Bey struggling, look for Fleener to continue to get plenty of targets.
Garrett Graham, Texans
It was nice that Graham put up a career performance of seven receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown this week against the Raiders, but the fourth-year pro is likely headed to the bench soon with incumbent starter Owen Daniels targeting a Week 14 return.
Martellus Bennett, Bears
Bennett can’t seem to shake the ankle injury that has hindered his performance, and he was barely used this week with just two targets (two receptions for 48 yards). With just one touchdown in his last eight games and 120 receiving yards in the last four, it might be time to see if you can do better.