Injuries create opportunity. I am not saying that they are a good thing, no one like to see someone get hurt. Especially when that injury could cost someone their job. I do find it interesting that professional sports is one the few places where you can get hurt on the job and lose your job because of it. If I sprain my knee at work, not only do they have to pay me but they have to give me my job back when I get on my feet. When it comes to our athletes we treat them like race horses. If it doesn’t look like they are going to recover we get rid of them. When you look at it like that it almost doesn’t seem fair, but I digress.
Injuries create an opportunity for coaches to test the depth and resolve of their team. Bruce Arians, the coach of the Cardinals spent most of last season reciting the phrase “next man up.” It doesn’t matter if you lose your starting QB, you don’t have time to whine about it. “Next man up.” It is how the Patriots have been doing business for years. Welker went down and Edelman stepped up. Edelman went down and Amendola stepped up.
Injuries create an opportunity for fans to debate “what if” scenarios. If you are a Cowboys fan you have been in this debate all season. What if Romo didn’t break his collar bone twice and what if Bryant didn’t hurt his foot? I am sure that fans in Dallas were thinking Superbowl. Along those same lines, injuries create an opportunity for fans of bad teams to escape reality. It doesn’t matter how bad the Browns are, they lost their starting QB. Unlike Falcons fans who can’t blame their team’s poor record on anything but the Falcons.
Injuries also create an opportunity for those of us who love fantasy football to find out how good our scouting really is. Sure we don’t monitor 40 yard dash times but we do have to take into consideration schedule, coaching tendencies, and other factors when deciding who to start. Those decisions have playoff implications and for some of us there is a little financial incentive as well.
The question now is, what will you do with you opportunity?
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, New York Jets- 45% Owned
I am not sure how this guy has stayed off the radar. Outside of Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, I am not sure that there has been a better fantasy QB over the last 3-4 weeks. Fitzpatrick has been nothing less than stellar. If you are looking to replace Dalton, Fitz is your guy. He is less than 10ps away from being in the top 7. He will finish as a top 10 QB this season ahead of Rivers and Ryan; both of whom are struggling as of late. In his last 3 starts, Fitz has 9 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He averaged over 20pts a game during that stretch. He has 2 very good receivers. As long as the Jets are healthy, Fitz is a must start. Heading into Dallas this week is icing on the cake.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans- 43% Owned
Please don’t make the same mistake with Mariota that I made with Fitzpatrick. Mariota is a legit fantasy starter. It is easy to miss him, he plays for one of the worst teams in the NFL. However, Mariota still finds a way to put points the board. He has thrown for multiple touchdowns, 2 weeks ago we saw him run 80+ yards for a touchdown, and last week he caught a touchdown pass. The guy can do it all and he is doing it all. Each week the odds are stacked against the rookie, and more often than not he is beating those odds. If you can’t get Fitz you need to grab Mariota.
DuJuan Harris, RB, Seattle Seahawks- .6% Owned
That’s right folks, the first RB on the list this week is owned in less than 1% of all ESPN leagues. Harris is the front runner to start in place of newly injured Thomas Rawls. Harris ran for 42 yards on 18 carries, not the best stat line we have seen. However, just 3 weeks ago Harris was still on the practice squad. I like Harris this week to put up double digit fantasy points. The main reason for that is Russell Wilson. The Seahawks passing attack has been stellar as of late and that will take the pressure off of Harris. Not only the pressure to make plays but also the pressure defenses would normally be putting on a Seattle RB. I predict Harris to run for between 60-80 yards with TD.
Denard Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars- 3.6% Owned
Robinson put up 14pts after taking over for Yeldon who went down with sprained knee. Robinson had a fairly successful rookie season in 2014 before being moved to second string in his second season. What we saw last week from Robinson is exactly what you will see moving forward. Games against the Falcons and Saints make Robinson an intriguing option to start as an RB2 or flex. Similar to Harris in Seattle, the passing game is going to help here. Bortles is playing well. Hurns and Robinson command a lot of attention. As long as Yeldon is out Robinson has value.
Tim Hightower, RB, New Orleans Saints- 41% Owned
It has been a long time since Hightower has been on this list. It also speaks volumes for what the Saints see in CJ Spiller. Ingram is out for the season and Hightower is in. It took him 28 carries to get to 85 yards which isn’t great for average. It did show the Saints commitment to running the ball against a tough Tampa Bay defense. I am all about the law of averages, the more times you touch the ball the more chances you have to score. Detroit, Jacksonville, and Atlanta is how the Saints will close out the season. Hightower is going to have an opportunity to show everyone what he can do against some very suspect defenses. Hightower has huge upside to finish out the season.
If you don’t like those options you could look into Fred Jackson in Seattle. Carrol told the media that he plans to keep Jackson as the 3rd down back but we know that he can play. If Harris can’t get the job done Jackson will be the next man up. Isaiah Crowell is also another option in Cleveland, coming of a huge game. I don’t really like anyone in Cleveland outside of their TE.
Ted Ginn Jr, WR, Carolina Panthers- 42% Owned
The only WR with a higher fantasy score over the last 2 weeks in Doug Baldwin. Ginn has scored over 20pts in each of his last 2 games. He has scored double digit pts in 3 of his last 4. He has a knack for finding the end zone collecting 5 touchdowns in the last 4 games. Keep an eye on Carolina’s depth chart, it is unknown whether or not Cam will sit. If Cam is on the field, Ginn is a pretty safe waiver pick up this week.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks- 22% Owned
I am all in again this week on the Seahawks. While Baldwin has been getting all the WR love in Seattle, Lockett has been quietly putting together a fantasy resume of his own. In his first 9 games this season Lockett had 20 receptions for 260 yards and 1 touchdown. In his last 4 games he has 20 receptions for 280 yards and 4 touchdowns. Something has changed in Seattle and you should roll with it while they are hot. With the running game slowed by injuries Wilson is going to continue to air it out. Look for Lockett’s steak of strong fantasy games to continue.
Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers- 26% Owned
The Steelers are a dangerous team who smell blood in the water after the injury to Andy Dalton. Big Ben loves to throw the football which gives Wheaton tremendous upside. His down side is that he is the third WR on the team. However, over the last 3 games he has managed 16 catches for over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. If you are looking for a WR1, you won’t find any on this list. If you are looking for WR2 or a flex position Wheaton is your man.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 43% Owned
His ownership is up 30% this week. If it continues at that rate this will be your last shot to get him He has not impressed us since his return a few weeks ago, however that is more about the team overall, not just Jenkins. He has been the most targeted receiver since his return and it is only a matter of time before he breaks out again.
Vernon Davis, TE, Denver Broncos- 27% Owned
Davis is coming off of arguably his best game as a Bronco. 7 catches for 74 yards is what we have been waiting to see for the last several weeks. It takes a few weeks to acclimate to a new place and a new offense. TE’s are new QB’s best friends, look for Davis and Osweiler to connect on a few more plays this week.