We start to see running backs emerge off the waiver wire to regularly contribute to fantasy lineups around this time of the season. While Shane Vereen, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Jonathan Dwyer all had productive games last week, we need to target Rashad Jennings as the first running back to pickup.
QB. Josh Freeman -
The Buccaneers continue to look like an offense trending towards the passing game, and perhaps they will be forced to throw the football if their secondary continues to struggle against good quarterbacks. What surprises me most is not that Tampa Bay is taking shots to Vincent Jackson down the field but more that he’s looking like a better fantasy option without Philip Rivers working with him.
Perhaps Jackson and Freeman are in just the right situation together as Rivers would look to spread the football around and Freeman tends to make sure his No. 1 receiver is getting a fair amount of targets weekly.
Jackson hasn’t been the only successful option in the Buccaneers offense as Mike Williams is having a bounce-back season, Tiquan Underwood has made some big plays, Doug Martin is a factor underneath and we even had a Dallas Clark sighting against the Saints.
Look to Freeman as more of a matchup play and a respectable backup on your depth chart for the rest of the season.
QB. Ryan Tannehill -
There’s a reason I gave up my 2013 first round rookie pick in my 16-team dynasty league this summer for Tannehill; the guy is going to be a good quarterback. Maybe even great, as we’ve seen his skill set translate from college to the pros already.
Tannehill has a good arm and can make plays on the move. He has good speed (he was a good receiver early on in college), but he doesn’t look to run when the pocket collapses. Rather, he keeps his eyes downfield and looks to make a play in the passing game.
Tannehill has his old college head coach, Mike Sherman (former Packers head coach), as his offensive coordinator, and that has proven to be an invaluable help to his early success.
Perhaps Tannehill won’t be a good option to start this week, but he’s worth a spot on your roster as a backup and is a name to remember for future seasons.
QB. Sam Bradford -
St. Louis won’t be the same without Danny Amendola, but Bradford is worth a look as a cheap start this week as the Rams take on the Patriots weak secondary. If Mark Sanchez can throw for over 300 yards against this group, so can Bradford.
RB. Rashad Jennings -
I’ve been a big fan of Jennings over the past few seasons, but knee problems have derailed his odds of making a difference in fantasy lineups, not to mention the fact that Maurice Jones-Drew was in front of him.
Now Jones-Drew could be lost for the entire season and it’s Jennings' show.
Even when Jennings is struggling in the running game, he can help your team with touchdowns and his work in the passing game. Consider him a low-end RB2 and no less than a flex play option each week.
RB. Jonathan Dwyer -
Dwyer displayed tough running, and one could make the case he’s looked like the best running back the Steelers have had this season. It would be wise for Pittsburgh to give Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman another week off, and let Dwyer continue to run the football.
If Dwyer draws the start, he’s worth a RB2 start this week.
RB. Shane Vereen -
With Brandon Bolden banged up, it was Shane Vereen that took over his role in the Patriots offense. To start the game, it was Vereen in the Patriots backfield, not Steven Ridley.
This really doesn’t mean that much as we need to look at the overall workload from both Vereen and Ridley to determine whom Bill Belichick still views as his top option.
It's still Ridley at this point, and he should continue to see more work unless his fumbling issues crop up again. Still, Vereen is running well and is worth stashing on your bench.
RB. LaRod Stephens-Howling -
A fumble early by William Powell opened the door for Stephens-Howling to carry the football over 20 times against the Vikings. It was wise of the Cardinals to stick with the run because they needed to take some pressure off the offensive line in pass protection, especially on the road.
This isn’t a good week for Stephens-Howling to start, but he might be worth a flex play against the 49ers if you're in a PPR league.
RB. Andre Brown -
It was Brown that worked with the first team when Ahmad Bradshaw was out of practice last week, and it was Brown that received an early goal-line touchdown.
Can’t say he’s taken over short-yardage duties because we watched Bradshaw stick in a goal-line touchdown as well.
Still, while the Giants coaching staff talked of using David Wilson more a few weeks ago, it’s clear they still don’t trust him in all aspects of the game enough to use him over Brown.
RB. Phillip Tanner -
Felix Jones admitted he was fighting through a knee injury against the Panthers. If this continues, we will see more of Tanner in the Cowboys backfield. Consider him a decent hold on your depth chart at this point because we don’t know for sure the severity of Jones' issue, and DeMarco Murray’s ailment, for that matter.
WR. Josh Gordon -
I’ve talked about Josh Gordon for a couple of weeks now ,and if he’s still sitting out on your waiver wire it’s time to pick him up. Gordon is the top option in the Browns passing game that continues to look respectable with Brandon Weeden pulling the trigger.
WR. Devery Henderson -
Henderson had another respectable performance against the Buccaneers last week and should have opportunities against the Broncos as Denver is likely to use Champ Bailey against Marques Colston.
WR. Jeremy Kerley -
Don’t expect the kind of numbers Kerley put up against the Patriots again. That said, he’s probably the top receiver in their offense at this time, and the Jets have proven over recent weeks that they aren’t ready to give up on this season.
WR. Santana Moss -
I talked about Moss as a waiver option last week and he rewarded fantasy owners who took a chance on him with two touchdowns. Pierre Garcon doesn’t appear to be coming back to the lineup any time soon, so Moss should continue to see his role expand and could quickly become the top target in the Redskins offense.
TE. Dustin Keller -
Health has been a problem for Keller this season but he’s back and his play proved as much against the Patriots. If you’re looking for help at the tight end position, look to Keller as the top option off the waiver wire.
TE. Martellus Bennett -
After knee problems slowed down his promising start to the season, Bennett showed us he’s ready to be a factor in the passing game with five receptions for 79 yards last week. We know he can score touchdowns based on his red-zone success earlier in the season.
Consider Bennett a sneaky play this week as he takes on his former team for the second time this year. The first time around he had a touchdown.
TE. Jacob Tamme -
The Broncos will be in another shootout against the Saints, and if New Orleans uses Roman Harper like they did a week ago, Tamme should have a nice game. A better option in PPR leagues, Tamme is worth a bye week fill-in.
Keep An Eye On
RB. Jamie Harper -
While Chris Johnson was terrific against the Bills, it’s clear he still doesn’t have a grip on the goal-line work. Jamie Harper holds that job, but I want to see him receive more work in the offense before recommending him in leagues with less than 12 teams.
RB. Ronnie Hillman -
I continue to keep Hillman on the list of options to consider for the waiver wire.
Hillman has clearly won the backup job to Willis McGahee and his running style fits Peyton Manning’s offense perfectly. If the veteran should go down, Hillman will make an impact in fantasy leagues.
WR. Greg Little -
Little held onto the football while picking up six receptions and a score against the Colts. Keep an eye on his progress because if he stops the drops, he will be a decent matchup play down the stretch. A better option in PPR leagues.
WR. Ryan Broyles -
We finally saw the Lions' talented rookie find the field after Nate Burleson broke his leg. Burleson is done for the year and I anticipate Broyles giving the Lions offense new life. He’s a nice pickup, especially in PPR leagues.
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