Vinnie Iyer provides his insight to fantasy owners preparing
turkey to set their lineups for Week 12.
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As we’re near three-quarters through the NFL season, this is when injuries start taking their toll. While that takes away a lot of talented every-week starters from fantasy lineups everywhere, it also means many backups and unheralded players now become viable replacement options.
This is why it’s important to draft good depth before the season, and make sneaky insurance stashes throughout the season. You should always have a solid backup quarterback, and you can never have enough running backs. The good thing about wide receivers and tight ends, however, is that you can always find help on the waiver wire — if you know where to look.
Andy Dalton, Bengals. He has been seen as a backup spot starter in fantasy, but maybe that should change. He has had more huge games than bad ones, and has a good shot at 30 total TDs and 4,000 yards. Now that he has become more consistent, he’s a great play against the Raiders, and might be for the rest of the season.
Three more: Robert Griffin III will once again shine back near Baylor in North Texas, feasting on Dallas’ defense in a Thanksgiving shootout with Tony Romo; the Giants’ Eli Manning should need to chuck a lot trying to outduel Aaron Rodgers and the Packers; whether it’s Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick getting the nod for the 49ers in New Orleans, they will produce in a great matchup with the Saints’ defense.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos. Trent Richardson and Doug Martin have delivered as versatile feature backs as rookies all season, and now it’s Hillman’s turn with Willis McGahee on the shelf. Don’t hesitate in plugging him in right away to play, because he’ll be busy racking up yardage as Denver pulls away from the Chiefs.
Three more: BenJarvus Green-Ellis just dropped his first 100-yard game for the Bengals, and should stay hot along with his QB vs. Oakland; another hot pickup, the Jaguars’ Jalen Parmele steps into a golden opportunity at home vs. Tennessee; the Colts’ committee won’t hurt Vick Ballard from doing big damage vs. Buffalo.
Michael Crabtree, 49ers. The Niners welcomed Vernon Davis back into the game plan in a big way, and Randy Moss, Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham are also getting more touches. That should only help Crabtree as their clear No. 1 guy, and he’s a must start at the Saints. It feels like an 8-catch, 100-yard affair with at least one end-zone trip.
Three more: The Colts’ secondary has been very friendly to wide receivers, and that should benefit the Bills’ Stevie Johnson; the Jets’ Jeremy Kerley will be the most active pass-catcher for Mark Sanchez against New England on Thanksgiving; Titans coach Mike Munchak wants to get Kenny Britt more involved, and we’ll see that at Jacksonville with Jake Locker throwing more his way.
Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars. This week, it’s all about how you can best replace injured Patriot Rob Gronkowski for the run to a fantasy championship. Lewis joined Gronk in producing a pair of scores in Week 11, and also has an ex-Michigan QB who likes to throw to him in the end zone. Lewis has a good shot at least one more TD vs. the Titans.
Three more: The Raiders’ Brandon Myers might still be available in your league, based on depth, and he’s someone you can pretty much play every week in place of Gronk, beginning with Cincinnati; the Colts’ Dwayne Allen is seeing more targets from Andrew Luck and should produce well vs. Buffalo, don’t sleep on Tampa Bay’s Dallas Clark (remember him?), who is expected to stay more involved in a red-hot passing offense at home vs. Atlanta.
Carolina Panthers. This is a reminder that the Eagles have become a bonanza for fantasy defenses — consider that even reeling Washington posted a solid game against them. Carolina has been racking up the sacks, and no matter who’s the QB behind the Eagles’ shoddy line on Monday night, the visitors will get a takeaway or two from him.
Three more: The Broncos are blazing thanks to Von Miller and they should feast on Kansas City for their biggest game yet; the Seahawks will come back from a bye and stifle the Dolphins’ dysfunctional offense on the road; the Ravens are producing despite their injuries and will be hungry to capitalize on mistakes in San Diego.
Philip Rivers, Chargers. Rivers has disappointed all the owners who drafted him thinking that he was a full-time starter and most of them have found great alternatives such as Griffin, Dalton and Andrew Luck. On paper, the Ravens’ pass defense has issues, but they also can get sacks and takeaways to make Rivers a mediocre play.
Three more: Carson Palmer has the revenge factor working vs. Cincinnati, but its defense will force him into miscues that outweigh his production; don’t follow the Rams’ Sam Bradford on the road in Arizona; Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden has been good in spot starts, but against the Steelers doesn’t set up as one of them.
Mikel LeShoure and Joique Bell, Lions. Whoever’s running the ball for Detroit runs into the big Butterball known as the Texans’ defense on Thanksgiving. LeShoure and Bell are good only when they score, and Houston doesn’t give up that. Also, Kevin Smith may get more playing time to help with pass protection.
Three more: Don’t even think about playing either Miami back, Reggie Bush or Daniel Thomas, at home against the Seattle run D; it’s hard to like Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory or Mark Ingram in a New Orleans timeshare against a very good Niners run defense; Dallas’ Felix Jones is a little banged up (again) and not trustworthy to do much on Turkey Day vs. a Redskins D that’s more vulnerable against the pass.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles. Whether it’s rookie Nick Foles still at quarterback or Michael Vick returning, Jackson (and Jeremy Maclin, for that matter) are difficult to play. That’s because the protection won’t let the Eagles get the ball deep, and Jackson in particular faces a tough matchup with the Panthers’ pass defense.
Three more: The Buccaneers’ Mike Williams is getting more attention, and Atlanta’s defense can keep him from stretching the field; the Browns’ Josh Gordon has cooled off and the Steelers will keep keeping him in check; the Patriots’ Brandon Lloyd continues to see fewer snaps and now draws the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie.
Heath Miller, Steelers. The Browns are very good at defending the tight end, and Miller is the Pittsburgh pass-catcher most affected by not having Ben Roethlisberger throwing to him. The presence of Plaxico Burress also will limit what Miller can do in the end zone with Charlie Batch.
Three more: The Colts have been tough on tight ends not named Gronkowski, and Buffalo’s Scott Chandler will learn that; the Giants’ Martellus Bennett is too much of a wild card to play vs. Green Bay; especially if Percy Harvin can’t go again, the Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph will be the center of coverage focus by an angry Bears D.
San Francisco 49ers. The Niners had one of those sack-happy games (hello, Aldon Smith) that their owners expected all season, but they’ve been far from a reliable every-week play. In what should be a shootout with Drew Brees and the Saints, you can do better with your lineup.
Three more: The Giants were called out as being soft by Tom Coughlin, and they can’t get too much better against Rodgers and Green Bay after a bye; the Falcons should not be played against a prolific Buccaneers offense on the road; rope in the Cowboys, because the Redskins with Griffin just don’t give up much to defenses.