First, Andre Ellington has a hip pointer and will be a game-time decision, making him the most annoying player to own entering the Fantasy playoffs. Ellington suffered the injury picking up a blitz last week and his Fantasy owners should be concerned. The Cardinals host the Chiefs at 4 pm ET, so Ellington owners can’t wait on his availability while relying on a RB who plays in the early games.
If you own Ellington, and want to start him if he’s active, then you need to own a backup RB from Buffalo, Denver, Kansas City, Seattle, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland, New England or San Diego. All other teams kick off before you’ll know the status of Ellington.
You’ll have a hard time replacing Ellington on the waiver wire, considering C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, Shane Vereen and Ryan Mathews are owned in basically every league.
You know who is available in 75 percent of CBS leagues? Ellington’s in-house backup Marion Grice. Owning Grice is the easiest way to ensure that you can wait on Ellington’s health until the last minute and still guarantee yourself a serviceable RB to plug in.
Grice is a sixth-round rookie out of Arizona State, who was actually drafted by the Chargers. He was taken 20 spots after Alfred Blue, who has already proven that he can be effective at the NFL level. The Chargers could have snagged Isaiah Crowell, who went undrafted, but they opted for Grice. Well, The Chargers exiled Grice to the practice squad in September and the Cardinals signed him a few weeks later. Three weeks after landing in Arizona, Grice started taking some first-team reps in practice. The Cardinals obviously see something.
Grice is a raw player, but has enough playmaking ability to be a serviceable Fantasy option if the Cardinals give him ample carries. His long-term role is probably more of a third-down type, but he’s more talented than the other bums currently on the Cardinals RB depth chart.
Grice was a stud in college, scoring 39 TDs in 24 games without losing a fumble over 406 touches. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry and the kid can catch passes out of the backfield, too. In 24 games at ASU he caught 91 balls for 863 yards. His pass-catching abilities are actually good enough that he should be owned in all PPR dynasty formats just in case he pops.
Grice won’t emerge as an elite, RB1-type player if Ellington misses time, but Fantasy owners counting on Ellington should pick up the rookie for emergency purposes. Grice seems fully capable of putting up Ellington-type stats if he’s given ample carries.
Now, the real question is… can Grice hold off Michael Bush and Stepfan Taylor for playing time? I think he will and I’m picking him up wherever possible.
- If Jordan Reed doesn’t slip on a cotton ball and injure his mangina before Sunday, I really like him as a target monster until his next injury. I know I’ve previously said he was banned from my teams, but 11 targets is a significant number.
- I like Carlos Hyde to score a TD this week against Oakland, if you’re desperate for a flex option. It’s just a hunch… but the 49ers should run a ton when they’re up by 97 points.
- Raiders coach Tony Sparano apparently told Sirius XM Radio that Latavius Murray will not be utilized as a workhorse down the stretch. Well, I guess Sparano doesn’t want to win any games down the stretch either.
- Stop freaking out when Marshawn Lynch skips practice. He’ll play. Don’t worry. Same with Demaryius Thomas.
- I face Pat Mayo in the playoffs of the FLEX PPR league this week. I own Julius Thomas. If Thomas does not play, I am going to hate him for life. Seriously.
- Will Andrew Luck be the first QB drafted for Fantasy purposes next season? While it’s hard to imagine him going before Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers, Luck is first in passing yards, second in passing TDs and significantly younger than his competition.
- I got a lot of crap on Twitter for predicting Isaiah Crowell would have a big game last week against the Bills. He didn’t have a big game. I was wrong and admit it. But… the kid is due. With Ben Tate out of town and Terrance West in the fumbler’s doghouse, Crowell is going to surpass 20 carries for the first time in his career (if his hip is OK). I’m expecting big things down the stretch for Crowell.
- If you read this column, you know about my man crush on Sammy Watkins. That said, I’m not counting on him for the remainder of the season. He only has nine catches over his last three games and hasn’t eclipsed the 35-yard mark since Week 8. His QB stinks, defenses are focusing on him and I’m fairly sure he hates the cold weather. He does play at Oakland Week 16 so don’t drop him, but don’t rely on him either.
- I went 10-3 and 9-4 in my two “serious” leagues with friends from high school and college. I’m aware nobody cares about other people’s Fantasy teams… but I had to point this out. Interestingly, my first-round pick in both leagues was Demaryius Thomas.
- C.J. Anderson looks great and is a RB1 for the foreseeable future, but don’t be surprised he burns Fantasy owners at some point. The Broncos will probably give a few carries to Montee Ball or Ronnie Hillman if either one is ever healthy enough to play.
Questions? Hit me on Twitter @briansflood