Fantasy Football: Backups Who Will Shine in Relief of Injured Starters

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IISeptember 29, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 23:  Running back Ryan Williams #34 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football against the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the Eagles 27-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Several NFL starters are out or are questionable for Week 4 matchups. Fantasy football owners have got to keep up with these injuries.

More importantly, you’ve got to follow and scoop up their backups on the weekly waiver wire. If you’ve been doing your homework and have a strong and deep bench, you’ll likely have a couple of these types of guys stashed away for reserve.

With a deep bench come game-day decisions, though.

Have no fear, because I’m here to tell you which of the backups have the best shot at making a splash in fantasy points this week.

Take a look at my picks and some added rationale to help convince you that I know what’s best for your fantasy team’s success.


Ryan Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Williams will be starting in place of Chris “Beanie” Wells, who has been put on injured reserve until the end of November. While Williams has his own injury concerns, the second-year running back may be in line for a huge Week 4 performance.

The No. 2 running back is coming off of a big game against a decent Philadelphia Eagles rush defense. He ran extremely tough and picked up 83 yards on just 13 carries, good enough for a 6.4 yards per carry average.

If you’ve got a flex spot open that you can’t decide how to utilize, the smart money is on Williams. The Dolphins' third-ranked rush defense (66.3 yards per game) may be a little bit of a mirage due to its horrid team passing defense. They’ve surrendered 307 yards per game through the air.

Look for Williams to have a solid showing and get into the end zone at least once as the up-and-coming Cardinals are going to walk all over the Dolphins in so many ways on Sunday.


Ramses Barden, WR, New York Giants

Barden proved last week that he’s got what it takes to fill in for the big-play threat of Hakeem Nicks. Barden has the size and apparently the hand-eye coordination to come down with the big plays that have cemented Nicks value as a fantasy wide receiver.

His matchup isn’t great as he will likely draw coverage from both Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha throughout the game. However, he has the tools and one of the best quarterbacks in the league throwing him the ball. The Giants are also mighty familiar in dealing with the Eagles’ secondary and could exploit that knowledge for a big game through the air Sunday night.


Leonard Hankerson, WR, Washington Redskins

With Pierre Garcon questionable again this week, someone is going to have to rack up the fantasy points against a pretty horrible Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. To make matters worse for the Bucs, their pass rush lost defensive end Adrian Claiborne for the season last week.

Hankerson has received 10 targets in two games of action after Garcon went down. He might not be the top option for Robert Griffin III, but he scored on a 68-yard bomb from the rookie quarterback in Week 2 and then followed that performance up with a four-catch, 56-yard outing in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Call me crazy, but Hankerson has scary big-play potential and could absolutely go off this week in Tampa.


Mike Hoag is a Breaking News Team writer with Bleacher Report and also covers the Cleveland Browns and the NFL for the site.