Our top category comes back, and rightly so as we have a player that will have an immediate fantasy impact as both a short- and long-term solution. Despite the fact that three starting quarterbacks went down with a concussion, their backups all played so poorly that none are worth considering in any format. Wide receivers and running backs carry the day in this week's edition, though we do reach deep in our effort to list at least one tight end. There's something for everyone this week!
WR Danario Alexander, San Diego
Alexander was slated to split time with Robert Meachem as the starter opposite Malcom Floyd this past week. Just over a minute into the game against Tampa Bay, he got his hands on a slant pass and 80 yards later he was in the end zone. More importantly, the coaching staff had seen enough to keep him on the field for nearly every one of the Chargers' offensive plays. He finished the day with five catches good for 134 yards and the one touchdown, which clearly moves him ahead of Meachem as the starter for San Diego. Even though the Chargers have difficult matchups against Denver and Baltimore, look for Alexander to be an integral part of the San Diego passing game and he should be owned in all formats.
RB Chris Ivory, New Orleans
We talked about Ivory last week, and his performance against the Atlanta Falcons backed up the high praise that we heaped upon him. With Darren Sproles likely to miss at least another game or two, we continue to like Ivory as a waiver wire pickup that can provide help at the running back position. The return of Sproles will put a damper on Ivory's playing time, but until that happens Ivory is worth a look in all formats. He backed up a 10-carry 48-yard performance two weeks ago by rushing seven times for 72 yards against the Falcons while scoring a touchdown for the second week in a row. He is only owned in 30 percent of online leagues, numbers that are sure to rise as running backs that touch the ball 5-10 times per game are a rare find on the waiver wire. Our friends at fleaflicker.com have him as one of the top adds this week, so get him while you can.
WR Laurent Robinson, Jacksonville
The Jaguars have adapted their offense since losing Maurice Jones-Drew to injury, with the realization that Rashad Jennings cannot carry the same load. The Jaguars offense is relying more on the passing game, frequently going with three wide receivers on the field. The beneficiary is Robinson, who is taking advantage of the increased playing time. A week after catching a half-dozen passes against the Detroit Lions, Robinson grabbed nine passes this past week, good for 77 yards against the Indianapolis Colts. Even as the third option, Robinson is a viable fantasy option for the Jaguars, especially while they are playing without their work horse to grind out the ball on the ground.
On the Radar
WR Alshon Jeffery, Chicago
Jeffery has been on the sideline since breaking his hand in Week 5, and reports are that he will be ready to return this upcoming week. Devin Hester has done nothing with the increased playing time, so he's merely been a place holder of Jeffery's position until his return. Jeffery's recommendation on this list would be higher, but the questions around Jay Cutler's playing status have us downgrading everyone in the Bears passing game not named Brandon Marshall. Jason Campbell looked terrible in relief of Cutler, so any time missed by Cutler will have a significant impact on Jeffery's fantasy numbers. He's only owned in 30 percent of online leagues, so at this moment we like him as someone to grab and hold as we like his potential for big fantasy numbers with a healthy Cutler throwing him the ball. Since he hasn't played in a few weeks, he's well under the radar, our friends at fleaflicker.com do not have him anywhere near the top of the list of add lists, grab him and stash on your roster before anyone else realizes he is back from injury.
WR Doug Baldwin, Seattle
Another wide receiver that missed some time but has recently returned is Baldwin. Only three catches for 42 yards this past week, but more important is the fact that he is again healthy and playing for the Seahawks. Seattle's recent play calling has been extremely conservative, but we expect that the return of the deep threat in Baldwin will loosen things up a bit. Only owned in 14 percent of online leagues, Baldwin is also worth considering as a player to add and hold onto in all fantasy formats.
RB Ronnie Hillman, Denver
We are being a little speculative in having Hillman on this week's list, as his value at the moment lies in the fact that he is the backup to starter Willis McGahee. McGahee is always a candidate to come up with an injury, and especially this late in the season that possibility is increased. Of concern for McGahee's playing time is another fumble this past week against the Carolina Panthers. Coach John Fox doesn't like his backs to put the ball on the ground, and if McGahee continues to have issues holding onto the ball, Hillman will get a spike in playing time with the potential to earn a 50/50 split of the carries in the Broncos backfield.
RB Tashard Choice, Buffalo
Fred Jackson was injured in the game against the New England Patriots, and with the short turnaround into this Thursday's game against the Miami Dolphins, initial reports are that he will not play this week. This is excellent news for owners of C.J. Spiller, as they have been waiting for Buffalo to give him the ball more often. Spiller will be the primary back this week, but the depth chart shuffle moves Choice up into the backup role for the Bills. We don't expect Choice to see more than 3-5 carries, but any time a player is moved up the depth chart into the No. 2 slot, he is worth considering as an add for those in need at that position.
TE David Ausberry, Oakland
The Raiders have been using the tight end in their offense quite often of late, with starter Brandon Myers having consecutive weeks of close to 60 receiving yards. Two weeks ago he hit paydirt twice against Tampa Bay. This factors into the mention of Ausberry because Myers suffered another concussion this week, with early reports indicating that he will miss a game or two. Look for the Raiders to continue to involve the tight end in the passing game, with Ausberry filling that role. He caught two passes last week, and the potential is here for him to pick up the numbers that Myers has been enjoying.
Deep and/or Dynasty Only
RB Lamar Miller, Miami
Reggie Bush has been struggling of late, and it got worse after an early fumble against the Tennessee Titans resulted in him being left on the bench for the rest of the first half. Once he returned in the second half, he wasn't much better, so we are not certain what the future holds for the backfield in Miami. Daniel Thomas has seen an increased role as the backup to Bush. Third on the depth chart is Miller. Should the struggles continue for Bush, the trickle down effect will get a few touches for Miller. Only those in deep and dynasty leagues need apply here.
RB Jeremy Stewart, Oakland
The Raiders coaching staff has zero confidence in Taiwan Jones. After mentioning Jones last week, we are moving away from him in favor of Stewart. Signed off the practice squad, he got more playing time than Jones against the Baltimore Ravens, rushing seven times for 22 yards. Certainly nothing to write home about, but Stewart is likely to see similar action in the coming weeks as the Raiders await the return of regular runners Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson.
Doug Coutts is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.