With Roy Helu’s injuries giving him problems partaking in full practices, Coach Mike Shanahan decided to hold him out and go with fellow rookie Evan Royster as the feature back. Royster responded with 132 yards rushing on 19 carries against the Vikings defense. When it comes to Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme, it’s more a matter of whether Shanahan will settle on one tailback to be the main runner than it is how talented the back is for consistent fantasy production.
Royster isn’t likely to be much of a name of the future, but at this time, it’s reasonable to believe that Helu will be held out again, and Royster should close the season out as the feature back. This sets Royster up as a solid RB-2 against the Eagles run defense. Like Helu, expect Royster to get some looks in the passing game, as he picked up 15 yards through the air last week.
If for some reason, Kahlil Bell is still sitting on your waiver wire, make him the first player to target as a pickup because he’s playing like an RB-1 right now. Coach Lovie Smith has grown tired of Marion Barber, and Bell has the fast track to being Matt Forte’s primary backup of the future. Expect Bell to carry the football over 20 times while picking up four or five receptions.
Another backup getting a chance to start as Toby Gerhart continues to show his coaches why he’s worth trusting if they should be without Adrian Peterson for the first half of next year. Gerhart not only has run well, but he’s contributing in the passing game, just like he did back at Stanford. If someone in your league cut Gerhart because Peterson was playing again, nab him up as the second running back to target off the waiver wire after Kahlil Bell.
With LeSean McCoy likely out this week, rookie Dion Lewis figures to be the bulk of the ground work over Ronnie Brown. Considering that the Eagles tried to trade Brown a couple of months ago, this week figures to be a good time for the coaching staff to evaluate Lewis as a starter, and see how he performs. View Lewis as a solid flex play that could easily turn in an RB-1 performance as his skill set is a great fit for the Eagles running scheme.
If you're desperate for help and the names above are off the board, turn to Stevan Ridley as a possible breakout flex play this week. In recent weeks Ridley has been leading the team in carries and with the Bills on deck, this could be a great opportunity for the Patriots to rest veteran BenJarvus Green-Ellis and allow Ridley to rush for over 100 yards.
Joe Webb vs. Bears
Last year we watched Joe Webb lead the Vikings to a victory over the Eagles, stripping away Philadelphia’s hopes for a bye week in the playoffs. When given an opportunity this year, Webb has done nothing but help his team come back and compete to win football games on the road in Detroit and Washington. Because Webb led the Vikings to a victory against the Redskins, Minnesota is now out of the running for the first pick in the draft, and that means Andrew Luck is not likely to be available when they select.
While Christian Ponder will be given every opportunity to win the starting job next year, he will be pushed by Webb at some point, especially if Webb closes out the year with another win over the Bears. It remains un-official that Webb will be the starter this week, but after Ponder suffered a concussion, the Vikings would have to be crazy to jeopardize his career with another concussion the very next week. With Webb’s explosive running ability, he makes for a nice start this week if you’re in need of a starter because your starter could be rested for the playoffs.
Denarius Moore vs. Chargers
At this point, we should view Denarius Moore as a roll of the dice start, as he’s failed to put two strong games together in back to back weeks. Consider Moore a solid gamble as Moore torched the Chargers in their last matchup against this secondary, and is fresh off a long touchdown reception against the Chiefs. It appears Moore is finally healthy again, so if you’re in need of an upside player who can give you 100 yards and a touchdown, Moore is a good bet as the Raiders are still in the running for the playoffs.