1. Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims RB/Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9.2 and 0.2% Owned)
As the trade deadline approaches, there are rumblings that Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has the potential to be on the trading block. If Martin is dealt, or Lovie Smith realizes that Martin is not that good, there would be a big hole in the Buccaneers backfield.
When Martin was forced to miss a couple of weeks earlier this season, the Buccaneers relied on Bobby Rainey to carry the load, and early indications suggested Rainey had the potential to be the feature back, even when Martin was healthy. Those thoughts were quickly put into question as Rainey struggled protecting the football. In limited time this season Rainey has been impressive averaging 4.9 yards per carry this season, and has shown to be a reliable target in the passing game.
The other option to replace Martin would be rookie Charles Sims. Sims was taken by the Buccaneers in the 3rd round in the 2014 NFL draft, and there were even rumblings in training camp that Sims could supplant Martin as the starter going into the season. Those aspirations were quickly put to rest when the rookie suffered a torn ligament in his ankle during practice. After being placed on the Inured Reserve-Designated to Return list, Sims has now resumed practicing and once again there are suggestions that Sims will play a major role in the second half of the season. Sims is eligible to return to action next week against the Browns.
When Sims does become eligible to return you should avoid starting him for at least a first week. It will be unclear how Smith will split up the carries between the three running backs, but I would assume a relatively even time-share early on. As the weeks progress I fully expect Sims to gain a bigger and bigger role within the offense, and could see the majority of the carries just in time for the fantasy playoffs. Both Rainey and Sims are players worth a roster spot, but until I see how the coaching staff divies up the work I would avoid starting them at all costs.
Recommendation: Stash for Roster Spot
Value: RB3 w/potential
2. Donte Moncrief WR/Indianapolis Colts (0.2% Owned)
When the Colts signed Hakeem Nicks in free agency there were hopes that the veteran would be able to the no.2 receiver, the team has been looking for someone to play opposite Reggie Wayne. With Wayne now out for a few weeks and Nicks showing the inability to be a consistent option, the door is open for rookie Donte Moncrief, a third-round pick out of Ole Miss, to play a major role within one of the leagues most prolific passing offenses.
Moncrief answered the bell in week 8, torching the Steelers secondary for a team-high 7 catches for 113 yards and his first career-receiving touchdown on an impressive leaping catch between two Steelers defenders. With Nicks once again proving ineffective, and Wayne out for an extended period of time, I expect Moncrief’s role to grow more and more as the season progresses.
After posting gaudy numbers this week I expect Moncrief to be a very popular target for fantasy owners this week, but I have to warn you guys to temper expectations in the long term. Once Wayne returns there is going to be limited snaps available for Moncrief, as T.Y. Hilton is not going to be given less time and I doubt Pagano will keep Wayne out of action. You can ride Moncrief while he is hot as he should produce at the level of a WR3, with the potential to post high-end WR2 type numbers.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Value: WR3/Flex w. Potential
1. Brandon Lafell WR/New England Patriots (8.8% Owned)
Depending on Brandon LaFell has become a lot like playing russian roulette with your fantasy lineup. LaFell has scored 20 fantasy points or more in three of the last five weeks, al though he has been unsuccessful to put together two consecutive strong performances.
Now that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has shaken off the early season rust, the Patriots offense has become one of the premier offenses in the NFL over the last month. LaFell has quietly carved out a nice role within the Patriots offense. The free agent signee has never been targeted fewer than four times in any game this season, and has been on the field for at least 70 percent of the teams offensive snaps on a weekly basis the last four games.
Recommendation: Add in Deep Leagues
2. Travaris Cadet RB/New Orleans Saints (0.4% Owned)
With running backs Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas sidelined with injury, little known Travaris Cadet was thrust into a major role for the Saints Sunday night game against the Packers.
Despite being buried on the depth chart under three other running backs; Cadet has a skill-set that gives him the potential to serve a reliable role within the Saints' offense. Now that Mark Ingram is back from a wrist injury that caused him to miss the last month, the Saints are looking for a speed complement to Ingram’s power. Cadet is also versatile in the passing game, having the ability to lineup in the slot, or even out wide with the ability to take advantage of matchups with slower linebackers and safeties.
Lets be clear, Mark Ingram is going to be the bell-cow for the Saints offense and rightfully so. The man has run like a man possessed this season, and is finally living up to the expectations of a first-round pick and Heisman trophy winner. Even though Ingram will see the majority of the carries, I still feel like Cadet can be a valuable piece for the Saints on third down, as well as in the passing game.
Recommendation: Add in Deep Leagues
Value: Low Flex/RB4
Guys To Monitor
1. Justin Hunter WR/Tennessee Titans (66.6% Owned)
Now that Zach Mettenberger has taken over for Jake Locker as the Titans starting quarterback, I feel Justin Hunter is a guy who is going to be in for a major workload in the second half of the season. In the preseason the combo of Hunter and Mettenberger combined to lead the preseason in passing and receiving yards, so obviously Mettenberger has some chemistry with the second-year wide receiver. I would not waste a high-priority selection on Hunter, but keep your eye on the Titans offense to see how the combo progresses.
Jeremy Hill RB/Cincinnati Bengals (80.3% Owned)
Gio Bernard suffered a minor hip-injury in the Bengals week 8 win over the Ravens, and al though it does not look like Bernard is a threat to miss any time, I think the Bengals could start to change their game plan going forward. The Bengals drafted rookie Jeremy Hill in the second-round for a reason. With offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s preference to employ a two running back system, it was thought that the Bengals would use Bernard in a more efficient way, while letting Hill do a lot of the heavy lifting. If the hip continues to be an issue for Bernard, Hill would quickly become a legitimate RB2 so keep an eye on his workload going forward.