An unexpected plethora of options are listed in this week's story, which is quite the contrast to the last few weeks where the viable options have been few and far between. We have three players in the top category this week, a rarity especially this late in the season. The options in the next category are just as appealing, many of which are capable of being viable starting fantasy players. There's something for everyone in this week's edition!
WR Danario Alexander, St.Louis
We brought back our top category last week for Alexander, and he did not disappoint by catching seven passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos. Previous to that, it was a five catch effort for 134 yards and a touchdown that got our juices flowing. He has become the top option in the Chargers' attack, and should not only be owned, but started in all fantasy formats. He gets a second billing this week since he is still available in 50% of online leagues, we don't expect that he will be available for much longer so act now.
WR Julian Edelman, New England
Coach Bill Belichick seems to have a soft spot for Edelman, dating back to the beginning of the season when he gave him the starting nod over veteran Wes Welker. His days as the starter were short lived, as a mysterious hand injury put Edelman on the sideline, ending any controversy as Welker was plugged in as the starter. His return to the lineup has been very gradual, with this past week against the Colts being the breakout performance to get him back on the fantasy map.
On a day when New England scored at will, Edelman was all over the field in just about every formation. His stats at the end of the day included five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, a punt return for a touchdown, and 47 yards on the ground for good measure. He is as healthy as he's been all season, and the Patriots were not afraid to look his way. The injury to Rob Gronkowski creates even more opportunity for Edelman and the rest of the New England offense, look for Edelman to continue to have a fantasy impact the rest of the season.
RB Ronnie Hillman, Denver
Last week, we speculatively dropped Hillman into the "On the Radar" group, citing the propensity for starter Willis McGahee to get injured. Sadly, those words rang all too true as McGahee left last week's game with a severe knee injury that early reports indicate will likely sideline him for the remainder of the season. McGahee has been a workhorse for the Broncos all season, averaging well over 100 total yards in his last six games. Hillman will be the starter, with Denver relying on him on first and second down, as well as near the goal line, so fantasy owners can expect 75-100 yards of total offense from the new Broncos starter. He is another player worth owning in all formats, and starting as he will have an immediate fantasy impact, one that will continue for the remainder of the season.
QB Chad Henne, Jacksonville
For the second week in a row, Henne stepped in for an injured Blaine Gabbert, but this time the switch is going to be permanent. Coming on in early relief against the Texans, Henne torched the Houston defense to the tune of 354 passing yards and four touchdowns. The Jaguars were in position to win the game, but got a bit unlucky and Houston was able to steal the win in overtime. The Michigan product has a good pedigree, and did have some success while in Miami, at a time when the Dolphins were struggling to get any production from the quarterback position.
The Jaguars have already announced that Henne will be the starter next week, regardless of Gabbert's health. Jacksonville has become a passing team, mainly out of necessity of losing Maurice Jones-Drew, but also because they are always playing catchup. We have been very stingy with our quarterback recommendations this season, but we feel that circumstances have come together where Henne will have a fantasy impact both in the short and long term. Some very favorable matchups are on tap for the Jaguars, including games against the Titans, Bills, Jets, Dolphins, and Patriots, so he is worth owning in all formats.
RB Bryce Brown, Philadelphia
Just when it seemed like the Eagles had been through enough this season, things got exponentially worse as their prolific starting running back, LeSean McCoy, suffered a head injury in the closing minutes of this week's loss to the Redskins. Early reports indicate that McCoy will need to go thru the standard concussion protocol before returning to the field, so his status for this week's Monday night matchup against the Panthers is in question. At 3-7, Philadelphia's season is already down in the dumps, so the expectation is that they will be cautious with their prized runner. Brown will start in place of McCoy, though we don't expect him to keep up the same pace, we do expect 75-100 yards in total offense from Brown as the starter in the Eagles offense.
WR Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville
When a player erupts for over 200 receiving yards and is owned in 49% of online leagues, that is a recipe to get a mention in this space. Blackmon has been on the cusp of fantasy relevance, but last week's game against the Texans where he caught seven passes for 236 yards and a touchdown makes him a player that should be owned in all formats. With Cecil Shorts established as the starter on the opposite side, he and Blackmon are a pairing that will continue to make fantasy noise this season, especially with the switch at quarterback to Chad Henne.
RB Beanie Wells, Arizona
The Cardinals have confirmed that Wells will return this week to play against the Rams, and he will resume his role as the starter. La'Rod Stephens-Howling was hit-or-miss, mostly miss as he only put together two games where he went for over one hundred yards. The Cardinals running game is suspect this year, but Wells will be the unquestioned starter. He is currently owned in only 46% of online leagues, and as we have mentioned before, starting running backs are a rare find on the waiver wire. If you miss out on Hillman and Brown this week, Wells isn't a bad consolation prize.
On the Radar
WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis
In a shootout against the Patriots, Hilton caught six passes for one hundred yards and two touchdowns. Two weeks prior he had another 100-yard effort, catching six balls for 102 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins. Sandwiched in the middle, the Jaguars kept him off the board completely, so consistency has not been a strong suit for Hilton. We will keep an eye on Hilton, as we like what we have been seeing out of the Indianapolis passing game. Starter Donnie Avery left last week's game with a head injury, should he miss any time then Hilton would become the starter and a candidate for another 100-yard game. He's worth owning in all formats, with the potential to start in place of Avery and to be a fantasy starter as well.
TE Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville
As we do every week, we do our best to dig out a tight end that is worth picking up. We are excited about the Jaguars' passing game, as Chad Henne takes over the reigns. In the past, he has involved his tight end, and this week was no different as Lewis caught three passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns. Lewis has consistently been around 40 yards per game and we like the potential for this number to go up with Henne at the helm, with the added bonus of some red zone looks as well.
RB Jalen Parmele, Jacksonville
As the Jaguars continue to wait for the return of Maurice Jones-Drew, they have shuffled the depth chart at running back. Out as the starter is the disappointing Rashad Jennings, replaced by Jalen Parmele. Against the Texans, Parmele ran the ball 24 times for 80 yards worth of offense. He was also involved in the passing game, catching three out of the backfield. Jones-Drew is reportedly eyeing a return in Week 13, that leaves Parmele as the starter this week against a Titans defense that has given up some big games to opposing runners. Short-term potential here, as we see Parmele getting between 75-100 yards against Tennessee.
Deep and/or Dynasty Only
TE Visanthe Shiancoe, New England
We are digging deep here, only those in deep leagues need apply. Even though the Patriots have lost Rob Gronkowski, they will welcome back Aaron Hernandez this week, with the rest of Gronkowski's passes to be spread out among Julian Edelman and Wes Welker. Shiancoe may potentially catch a pass or two, which may include a red zone look, but not much more.
RB Lance Ball, Denver
The injury to Willis McGahee bumps up Ball on the Broncos' depth chart. Ronnie Hillman becomes the starter, with Ball to serve as his backup and third down back. Not much upside here, but those in deep leagues desperate at the position can take a flier on Ball as a player that will be on the field for 10-15 offensive plays.