A relatively healthy week for key fantasy players, so we are setting aside the top category for this week. Nothing terribly exciting, but we do have a handful of players that should be on fantasy rosters. We also talk about several backup running backs that are also worth consideration for pickup. A little something for everyone this week!
WR Ryan Broyles, Detroit
We were able to squeeze Broyles into last week's listing in the bottom category, as the extent of Nate Burleson's injury during the Lions Monday night game was not known by the time we had to go to press. With Burleson gone for the season, Broyles now assumes full time duty in the slot for Detroit. This will get him on the field for right around 50% of the offensive plays. He caught a touchdown pass in the Monday night contest, as well as in this past week's game. Only six catches in total over the two games, so we're not ready to recommend that you plug him intoyour starting lineup, but he should be owned in all formats.
WR Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville
Moving up one category from last week, Shorts warrants another mention this week as he is still available in more than 75% of online leagues. After a week seven performance that had him go for 79 yards on four catches and a touchdown, he doubled is catches, hauling in eight passes for 116 yards. He is Blaine Gabbert's top option, and his numbers will not be affected when Laurent Robinson returns from injury. He is a very solid pickup this week, worth owning in all formats.
RB Daniel Thomas, Miami
The Dolphins have made Thomas the goal line back, and he's starting to assert himself even beyond that role. He punched in one short yardage carry for a touchdown on a day where he totaled 15 carries. Reggie Bush was ineffective, and was the recipient of only 14 carries on the day. This is not a sign that Bush is being phased out, but it is a clear indication that Miami is going to be looking to split thingsdown the middle, with Thomas getting the edge at the goal line.
RB Joique Bell, Detroit
Mikel Leshoure has battled injury for most of the season, and this week he struggled to make it through the game, sitting out most of the fourth quarter in favor of Bell. There is no indication that Leshoure has an injury that will keep him out of the lineup, however,with all the action that Bell has beengettingits giving him and the coaching staff more confidence in his ability to handle a larger role. For now, he remains the backup and third down specialist, we would not be surprised to see his role continue to expand.
On the Radar
WR Chris Givens, St. Louis
Like everyone else, we have been looking for a sign from the Rams receiving corps to see who is going to step up in the absence of Danny Amendola. Given's has made a case, posting 63 yards on three catches and a touchdown in this week's game. The Rams are on a bye this upcoming week, and Amendola looks to be back in the lineup by then, but we like Givens to stay involved to the tune of 3-5 passes per game at a minimum.
TE Logan Paulsen, Washington
The Fred Davis injury opened up the starting role for the Redskins, and despite the signing of Chris Cooley, it is Paulsen that is the starter and most productive player at tight end for Washington. Four catches this week for 43 yards, four catches the previous week for 76 yards; we expect him to continue to put up consistent numbers like that for the Redskins.
WR Drew Davis, Atlanta
The undrafted rookie got a chance at some playing time this week in place of the injured Harry Douglas. Davis only caught two balls, but one went for a touchdown. Not a huge amount of upside here, but the absence of Douglas will give Davis some regular playing time until he returns.
RB Ronnie Brown, San Diego
Another backup running back, Brown had quite the week against the Browns. Not a lot of rushes (four for 17 yards), but seven catches out if the backfield for 84 yards. He is owned in less than 20% of online leagues so it is likely that he is available. Ryan Mathews has been up and down this season, which has included some time in the coach's dog house. Brown is a good candidate forfantasy owners looking for a backup running back to stash on their roster.
Deep and/or Dynasty Only
RB Shane Vereen, New England
We liked what we saw when Vereen was given the ball in London this week and the week prior against the Jets. However, the Patriots have so many other options that we can only recommend him for those in deep leagues. The injury to Brandon Bolden has opened the door for some regular work, seven carries last week (including a goal line carry thathe converted for a score) plus eight carries the week prior, indicate that he will get some regular work. Stevan Ridley is the starter, Danny Woodhead is in the mix, so not a lot of carries to go around here but enough for consideration for those that are desperate at the position.
WR Clyde Gates, New York Jets
The leading receiver for the Jets this week, he announced his return from a shoulder injury by catching seven passes for 82 yards. New York was in catch-up mode for most of this week, so we don't anticipate a repeat performance out of Gates. The Jets have struggled to keep anyone healthy at the position, keep an eye on Gates to see if he can hold off Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, and Chaz Schilens for playing time.
Doug Coutts can be reached at email@example.com
Broyles vs. Jac. or Josh Gordon vs. Balt.?