2012 Fantasy Football: 9 Under-the-Radar Rookies to Trust Down the Stretch
As the season grinds on, some rookies may hit the proverbial wall.
Conversely, some rookies who did not get much playing time early on are now carving out an increased role for their team.
Whether it is because of injuries, increased practice reps or just general grasping of the team’s offense, the following rookies are stepping up their game at the most critical time for fantasy owners. So, if you are looking for players with upside who could help you in your quest for fantasy glory, the nine subsequent players are definitely worth a look off the waiver wire.
Whom you will not see here are the likes of Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson and Doug Martin. They are already established rookies whom we have come to rely on for the majority of the season.
(This slideshow was supposed to be comprised of a nicely rounded-out 10 players, but due to Mohamed Sanu’s sudden injury, the list now features nine.)
Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles
It goes without saying that if LeSean McCoy continues to miss games, then Brown will be a fantastic start down the stretch.
Brown looked studly on Monday night, rushing for a whopping 178 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
With the Eagles not having much on the line, they will play it cautious with McCoy. Therefore, expect the Eagles to let Brown run wild in the remaining weeks. The Eagles will want to know what they have in Brown and whether his performance on Monday night is a foreshadowing of things to come.
Even if McCoy comes back—and that’s up in the air—Brown has probably played himself into more carries anyway with his performance on Monday night. Brown is a must-have off the waiver wire and a trustworthy start for the playoffs.
Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
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After two impressive outings in which he recorded 12 receptions for 298 yards and two touchdowns, Blackmon is picking up a lot of steam as we head into the fantasy playoffs.
With the Jags switching to Chad Henne at quarterback, Blackmon’s game has taken off. All of a sudden, we’re finally seeing why this prospect was taken as the fifth overall selection.
Blackmon is only scratching the surface of his potential and is in line for a fantastic finish.
Ryan Broyles, Detroit Lions
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With Titus Young acting immature and getting stuck in Jim Schwartz’s doghouse, the door has been opened for Broyles to step up and make a contribution.
Broyles burst through last week while corralling six passes for 126 yards against the Texans on Thanksgiving Day. Broyles also has two touchdowns on the year and is quickly developing a nice rapport with Matt Stafford.
After suffering a torn ACL in college last November, Broyles took a while to get his legs under him. But now that he is showing the explosive ability that made him such a touted prospect in the first place, he could dazzle down the stretch.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
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Andrew Luck likes connecting with Hilton on deep patterns, and Hilton is slowly but surely upping his production in the last few weeks. This connection could be lethal for years to come.
Hilton has scored four touchdowns in his last four games while also racking up 235 receiving yards on 15 catches.
It took a while for their rapport to develop, but Luck is trusting Hilton these days. So should you.
David Wilson, New York Giants
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After being in coach Tom Coughlin’s doghouse after fumbling issues early in the season, Wilson now has the time to shine.
With an injury to Andre Brown, Wilson will be the main backup to Ahmad Bradshaw in New York going forward. While Wilson’s stats to date are nothing to write home about, he will most definitely be in line for more touches in the Giants offense.
After all, Wilson was the Giants' No. 1 draft pick last April and, sooner or later, the Giants will want to see what they have in him.
Chris Givens, St. Louis Rams
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Just like Hilton, Givens is providing his young quarterback (Sam Bradford) a downfield threat to connect with.
Givens has scored two touchdowns in his last three games while also compiling 197 receiving yards on 12 receptions. With the Rams not having a lot to play for, they will continue to play the youth card and give Givens a chance to showcase his explosive playmaking ability.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
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Continuing with the deep-receiver option theme, you may want to try Gordon on for size.
At 6'3" and 225 pounds, Gordon gives Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden a big target down the field. Gordon has made good on quite a few plays this year, as he has already scored four touchdowns.
Gordon’s targets and yardage numbers are suddenly increasing of late, and he could make for a solid flex play down the line.
With matchups against the Chiefs in Week 14 and the Redskins in Week 15, Gordon could post some solid numbers in the fantasy playoffs.
Dwayne Allen/Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
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Granted, Allen and Fleener sharing time is not ideal, but eventually these two could become the poor man’s Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez for the Colts.
We already know about Fleener (who is set to return this week) and Luck’s rapport from their days at Stanford together, but Luck is starting to trust Allen as well.
Allen has 26 targets in his last four games, which have resulted in 17 catches for a respectable 211 yards. It may take a while for Fleener to get back into the flow of the mix, so Allen should be the better player down the stretch.
With matchups against the Titans in Week 14 and the Chiefs in Week 16, Allen or Fleener could make for a stealth pick.
Jarius Wright, Minnesota Vikings
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With the Vikings banged up (think Percy Harvin) and also getting underwhelming production from Jerome Simpson and Michael Jenkins, Wright has stepped up to the plate and done an admirable job of pumping some juice into the Vikings' pass offense of late.
Wright has registered 10 receptions (on 15 targets) for 114 yards and one touchdown in his first two games with the Vikings. Christian Ponder is starting to rely on Wright, and while he is no stellar player, Wright could be a deep sleeper to make an impact down the stretch.
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