It all comes down to this. Week 13 of the NFL season, the final week of the 2015 Fantasy Football regular season for the vast majority of us in this fraternity of competitors and maniacs, is upon us. The end is nigh. Some of you who are reading this will be advancing to the second season, the playoffs, to try to claim the crown in your league, bragging rights for roughly one calendar year coming part and parcel. Plus, with more injuries this week to crucial contributors like Chris Johnson, finding a replacement for his production becomes of paramount importance.
Spencer Ware performed admirably (19 carries, 114 yards, 1 TD)in his spot start while Charcandrick West recovered from a hamstring ailment, so bully to anyone who placed their faith in him after a 101-yard, two touchdown day in relief the week prior. The Chiefs have been essentially unstoppable for more than a month now. Their remaining schedule is quite soft, which makes their running backs even more enticing over the final five weeks, as they challenge for the Wild Card in a very crowded pack of AFC also-rans that includes Pittsburgh, the NY Jets, and the Houston Texans. Speaking of Houston, Alfred Blue had another solid week for the white-hot Texans, leading their backfield in carries and yards, and delivering a touchdown to boot. Contrary to Ware, Blue is likely to remain an every week RB2/RB3 candidate (or a FLEX play) as the Texans continue to rely on him to keep defenses honest against Brian Hoyer, and also because of the apparently unprecedented rash of injuries across the NFL this year, particularly at the running back position.
As I’ve said before, sometimes, the best offense is a good defense. Even if you don’t necessarily need one of the players mentioned for this week, consider putting in a waiver claim or blowing some FAAB bucks if it means preventing another owner who may be looking to punch their ticket to the playoffs from grabbing one. Mercy is for the weak. Sweep the leg. Put him in a body bag, Johnny.
David Johnson (8 carries, 21 yards, 1 TD; 2 rec. 8 yards): Johnson began the afternoon in his usual third back role, but finished the game as the potential Week 13 starter for the Cardinals because of injuries. As the Cardinals’ top two running backs battle injuries – Chris Johnson fractured his tibia and is out indefinitely; Andre Ellington is dealing with turf toe, and his Week 13 status is unclear – Johnson has ascended to the top of the depth chart. The Cardinals are 9-2 and lost Johnson, perhaps the biggest surprise of the season and their leading rusher just ahead of what will be a truly tough slate of games with the Rams, Vikings, Packers, and Seahawks all queued up. David Johnson will be one of the main waiver wire pickups this week along with Scott Chandler, and rightfully so. TRENDING UP
Frank Gore (19 carries, 24 yards; 2 rec. 13 yards): Ahmad Bradshaw, the man made entirely of glass and the whispers of children, succumbed to injury yet again, and was placed on I.R., effectively ending his third season in a row due to injury. Gore’s own coach has said he’s been beaten up pretty badly this year, which is concerning for the 32-year-old’s productivity, as the Colts hope to extend their season with Matt Hasselbeck at the helm. With Bradshaw and Gore both banged up to varying degrees, the team claimed Boom Herron last week, and re-signed the illustrious Zurlon Tipton (who was cut to make room for Herron) to bolster their running back cadre. The aging Gore is fading fast, which makes Herron an interesting pickup for the remaining four weeks. As your opponents scramble to grab Scott Chandler and the aforementioned David Johnson, perhaps those with lesser budgets or lower claims will want to take a gamble on Herron, who could manage to become a RB3 if given a full workload. TRENDING DOWN
C.J. Anderson (15 carries, 120 yards, 2 TDs): Whoa! I can’t believe I’m writing this! But it looks like Anderson is on his way toward reprising his role as a late-season surprise for the Broncos, just as he did in 2014. It’s too early to say for sure, but if he continues to dominate touches, and supplants Ronnie Hillman as the starter behind Brock Osweiler, then he could easily be the RB2 so many teams need right now. The Broncos face the Chargers on the road in Week 12, a team that has not shown they can stop any offense lately and is 0-2 in the AFC West. Following that game, they have three more home games, with two being against division rivals (Chargers, Raiders), one against a sure playoff team (Bengals) and one road battle against Pittsburgh. If ever there was a time to take a shot on Anderson, it seems now is that time. TRENDING UP
Shaun Draughn (15 carries, 51 yards; 5 rec. 35 yards): This article posits the question that many have been wondering about for weeks, and at this point in Jim Tomsula’s maiden voyage as Head Coach, it’s fair to wonder what the upside is in rushing Carlos Hyde back from injury. Hyde has been recovering from a stress fracture in his foot, and with the team sitting at 3-8 with no realistic shot at the playoffs though not yet mathematically eliminated (technically), there is no reason to put him back on the field. Enter Shaun Draughn. Draughn is a journeyman back who exactly no one drafted, or expected to be a starting running back earlier this year. Draughn played all 56 snaps for the Niners this past Sunday, and received all but one of the carries doled out by Blaine Gabbert. He’s a not-as-risky-as-you’d-think option this weekend, when the team takes on the Chicago Bears, who surrender over 128 yards per game on the ground (4th most in the NFL). TRENDING UP
Additional Notes: What happened to Lamar Miller (5 carries, 2 yards) this weekend? Oh, right, he faced the Jets, and his organization promptly fired Bill Lazor, the former Offensive Coordinator for the Dolphins on Monday. The Fins draw the Ravens this weekend coming off an emotional, insane walk-off win on a blocked field goal attempt last night, but it will still be a short week for a team that is banged up. Expect Miller to receive more work, even though I’m sure they like their defense’s chances against Matty Pick-Six and the Ravens’ J.V. offense. … Like many, I had figured that with Dion Lewis’ season in ruins, the Pats would rely more heavily on LeGarrette Blount to control the pace of the game. It didn’t happen this week, as Blount managed just 27 yards on 9 carries, and was in on just 27 offensive plays. There is a chance, however, that if Rob Gronkowski misses some time to let his knee heal for the playoffs, the team changes up its game plan and goes more run-heavy with games against Philadelphia and Houston upcoming. Without Gronk, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola, this is a very different offense, which makes you wonder if Josh McDaniel and Bill Belichick will focus more on the ground game over the next two weeks to simplify things, and give players the chance to heal. Since this is all speculation, Blount is a likely low-end RB2 going forward who has as much of a chance to deliver another stinker as he does to rumble for 100-plus yards and a touchdown. For your sake and mine, I hope it’s more the latter.