- Mark Sanchez QB/Philadelphia Eagles (0.1% Owned)
In my opinion, being released by the New York Jets was the best thing that has happened to Sanchez. After signing with the Eagles this offseason, the former first-round pick was given an opportunity to prove himself with hopes of getting an opportunity to be a starting quarterback next season. While no one expected the Sanchize to be the starting quarterback in Philadelphia, he will now be thrust into the starting role for the foreseeable future after starting quarterback left Sunday’s game with what early reports are indicating as a broken collarbone.
Foles was diagnosed with a broken clavicle, and is likely to miss at least six weeks. Sanchez has a great opportunity to make a good impression going into the offseason. If Sunday’s performance is any indication as to how Sanchez will fit within the Eagles up-tempo offense, fantasy owners have to be excited. Sanchez picked apart the Texans defense in relief of Foles, completing 15 of 22 attempts for 202 yards and two touchdown passes to Jordan Mathews and Jeremy Maclin.
I know it's hard to wrap your head around the possibility of Mark Sanchez, the same person who made the “butt-fumble” a memorable play within NFL history, could possibly be counted on as a contributor for fantasy teams. However, with a good matchup against a Panthers defense that has been a shell of the unit they were a year ago, Sanchez has a chance to be a legitimate QB1 if he's able to take care of the football. In another week that sees a lot of teams on a bye, you could find much worse options than the Sanchize.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Value: QB2 w/Potential
2. Alfred Blue RB/Houston Texans (7.0% Owned)
After battling hamstring issues for much of the offseason as well as the early part of this season, running back Arian Foster may be taking an extended leave from the Texans starting lineup after suffering another lower-body injury in the Texans week 9 loss to the Eagles. While there has been nothing definitive about the severity of Foster’s injury, ESPN Texans reporter Tania Ganguli senses "some pessimism" on Arian Foster's groin injury, noting that Foster’s body language after the injury gave off a serious vibe.
If Foster is indeed out for an extended period of time, the Texans will depend on 2014 6th round selection Alfred Blue to carry the load for the Texans rushing attack. In limited time this season Blue has rushed the ball 61 times for 221 yards (3.6 YPA), but has been unable to carve out a consistent role within the Texans offense.
Do not get too jumpy and rush out and get Blue quite yet fantasy owners. The Texans are on bye next week, giving Foster two weeks to heal until playing next. Continue to monitor the status of Foster over the next couple weeks to see how his groin injury progresses.
Recommendation: Stash and See
Value: RB4 w/Potential
3. Mike Evans WR/Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31.6% Owned)
Since second-year quarterback Mike Glennon has been inserted back into the starting lineup, rookie wide receiver Mike Evans has started to establish himself as the team’s number one option in the passing game.
In the five weeks that Glennon started for the Buccaneers, Evans has been the most consistent fantasy option between himself and veteran Vincent Jackson. In the teams first three weeks of the season, Evans got off to a slow start, totaling just 13 receptions for 138 yards and zero touchdowns. However, since Glennon has taken over as the team’s starting quarterback, Evans has played like a man possessed. In the five weeks of Glennon being the teams starting QB, Evans has 19 receptions for 322 receiving yards, including four touchdown receptions.
It's clear that Vincent Jackson is still hampered by a wrist injury, giving the talented rookie a chance to establish himself as the focal point of the Buccaneers passing game. With owner-friendly matchups against the Falcons, Redskins, and Bears in the next four weeks, Evans has a chance to assert himself as a weekly WR2 option.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Value: WR3 w/Potential
4. Tre Mason RB/St. Louis Rams (49.1% Owned)
It seems the Rams have finally made a switch at running back, replacing the unproductive Benny Cunningham with rookie second-round selection Tre Mason as the team’s feature back. Despite being on a below-average offense, Mason has shown flashes of the ability to be a team’s feature running back.
In a tough match-up with the 49ers in week 9, Mason cemented himself as the team’s starting running back going forward. While the stat book will not jump out at you (19/65/0), Mason still showed big-play ability that has been lacking from the Rams running game since the days of Steven Jackson.
Going forward, Mason is not someone that I want to count on as a RB1 or RB2. With tough matchups against the Cardinals, Broncos, Chargers, and Redskins in the near future, the rookie is sure to go through his ups-and-downs that come with a rookie running back. Mason is definitely worth a roster spot, but I would classify him as a low-end flex play, rather than a weekly asset for fantasy owners.
Recommendation: Add in Deeper Leagues
Value: Low End RB3/Flex Play
5. Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell RB/Cleveland Browns (49.1% and 34.6% Owned)
The Browns running back situation is quickly becoming one of the most frustrating committees to figure out on a weekly basis. It was thought that when Ben Tate came back from a knee injury that he would run away with the job. However, Tate has shown to be nothing more than a complementary piece, having his yards-per-attempt slip in every week.
This week the Browns turned to rookie running back Terrance West as the feature piece of the teams running game out-touching Tate 15-10. Neither back seemed to be very effective as the two combined for just 67 yards rushing in the team’s week 9 win against the Buccaneers.
There were also reports from Browns camp that the other rookie running back, Isaiah Crowell, could once again claim a major role in the Browns offense. Despite head coach Mike Pettine saying the team wanted to get Crowell more involved, the rookie saw zero carries this weekend.
Going forward I expect the Browns to get the two rookies the bulk of the work in the second-half of the season.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
6. Martavis Bryant WR/Pittsburgh Steelers
After not being active for the first 6 weeks of the season, rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant has established himself as a legitimate fantasy option going forward.
In the three weeks that Bryant has been on the Steelers active roster, he's had a nose for the end zone. He already has five touchdowns in the last three weeks. Despite having just 10 receptions over the last three games, the rookie has been a consistent threat within the red-zone, using his 6’4” frame and elite athleticism to take advantage of smaller defensive backs.
Going forward I expect Bryant to carve out an even bigger role within what is becoming one of the premier passing attacks in the NFL. Bryant has a chance to keep his hot streak rolling with wide receiver friendly matchups against the Jets and Titans before the team’s bye in week 12. Go out and grab the wide receiver while you can, as he will be a hot commodity on the waiver wire this week.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Value: Low WR2/Weekly Flex Play
Players to Monitor
1. Adrian Peterson RB/Minnesota Vikings
After missing the majority of the season dealing with off-the-field issues, there are rumors circulating Vikings running back Adrian Peterson may be on track to play again this season. Reports surfaced today that Peterson and his legal team are working towards a plea agreement for the running backs trial for child-abuse. While it is uncertain if Peterson will face any additional punishment from the NFL, the league could decide that Peterson’s suspension from the Vikings could serve as a requisite punishment. If Peterson is available in your league I would recommend stashing him on your roster if you have space available, but make sure you track as to how his legal situation plays out.
2. Carlos Hyde RB/San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore is clearly not the same running back that he was in past seasons, but head coach Jim Harbuagh has been slow to integrate rookie Carlos Hyde into the offense. Hyde has started to see a recent uptick in workload, getting 10 or more carries in three of the teams last five games. Despite more involvement, Hyde has been unable to be a consistent option in the 49ers backfield. Look for the 49ers to continue to limit Gore’s carries going forward, and eventually leading to move of an even split between Gore and Hyde.
3. Kyle Rudolph TE/Minnesota Vikings
As a Vikings fan, I had big expectations for Rudolph going into the season. With Norv Turner now running the offense, I expected Rudolph to establish himself as one of the best young tight ends in the NFL. However Rudolph has once again struggled to stay healthy, and is currently rehabbing a sports hernia injury sustained during the preseason. There is reason for optimism for the Vikings tight end from a fantasy perspective, as early reports have indicated Vikings coaches expect Rudolph to return to the lineup when the team comes back from their week 11 bye. If you are struggling to find production at the TE position, Rudolph could be a sneaky addition that could pay major dividends in the fantasy playoffs.
4. Josh Gordon WR/Cleveland Browns
Josh Gordon is eligible to return to the Browns lineup in week 12. The Browns offense cannot wait to get the wide receiver back, as they have lacked big-play ability from the position all season. If owners were not patient with Gordon early on this season and decided to drop him, I highly recommend adding the star wide receiver before it is too late.