The mere presence of a waiver wire pickup helping you in Week 16 is like watching the credits roll at the end of a movie when……BOOM! One last twist that you didn’t see coming hits you like a Sony Entertainment exec having to ante up about their emails.
Thanks to the broken hand of DeMarco Murray, the plot to many championship bids received a brutally cruel storyline no one saw, as the hero was set to head into the sunset (probably not in the manner like our own Drew Dinkmeyer, one of America’s newest millionaires). Yet, just as Murray goes down, in comes Joseph Randle looking to pick him up and carry him through the final steps of the climb.
Randle is owned in just 10 percent of polled leagues, mostly by those who wisely handcuffed him to Murray. Known more this season for his penchant for five-fingered discounts; Randle steps into a potential high-end RB2 role for his owners, as the Cowboys take on a Colts team that ranks a meh 16th against the rush. While he has just 34 carries entering this week, one glance at Randle’s totals provide a level of optimism that should make owners sprint in his direction; he averaged at least seven yards per carry in the three games in which he had at least three carries.
While that total is an admitted shot in the dark, Randle does provide the ability to get into the second and third levels that Murray doesn’t. He’s not a burner in the true sense, but if you go back and look at some of his film from Oklahoma State (where he was money for those who played college Fantasy football during his two seasons as Mike Gundy’s lead back), it will show that Randle is more elusive than the back he’ll be replacing. He’s also a solid receiver out of the backfield, which will enhance his value in PPR leagues.
In the wake of making Jonas Gray one of the greatest one-game Fantasy wonders in recent memory, the Colts have played much better against the run since Gray’s Jim Brown-like outing, allowing a combined 164 rushing yards in wins over the Jaguars and Redskins. But they’ve shown signs of cracking, as they’ve given up an average of 126 yards on the ground versus the Browns and Texans the last two weeks. The Cowboys’ physical O-line should be able to establish itself early, which means the potential for Randle to have a big afternoon is well beyond just a mere thought.
There will be those who will go after the other Cowboys back, one Lance Dunbar (owned in three percent of polled leagues), who does have his qualities, especially as a receiver. Yet, don’t be fooled: Joseph Randle is your man.
Plain and simple: you’re not picking up Randle to sit him. Either you start him or don’t bother making the bid.
There are still a handful of players who can sneak in and be contributors in championship week (or the penultimate week for those who call week 17 as their final chapter):
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: Spiller hasn’t been seen since breaking his collarbone against the Vikings in Week 7, but the Bills took him off the injured reserve/designed to return list, which means he could see action when Buffalo visits Oakland on Sunday. Week 1 notwithstanding (in which they rushed for 190 yards against the Bears), the Bills’ running game has struggled, as they have had just one game in which they rushed for more than 113 yards. Spiller is available in 22 percent of polled leagues and is definitely worth the flier. Keep an eye on how he looks in practice, as he could be a very intriguing Flex option if Buffalo is willing to plug him in.
Alfonso Smith, RB, 49ers: Just who the (???) is Alfonso Smith? Well, he just may be the Niners’ lead back with Frank Gore (concussion) and Carlos Hyde (ankle, back) potentially sidelined against the Chargers. Smith received his first four carries of the season late in last Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, so don’t put all your stock in the six yards he gained. It’s Seattle, folks. Smith is a journeyman who had 48 carries with the Cardinals in 2011 and 2013, so it’s not like he’ll have a hard time adjusting if asked to start. He’s owned in less than one percent of leagues, but he falls into the Flex option neighborhood in deeper leagues if it turns out Gore and Hyde are indeed out.
Marquess Wilson, WR, Bears: His anticipated first start netted him just three catches for 16 yards, yet that one touchdown was just enough to merit consideration for another start. Wilson gets the Lions this week, which will make some owners shy away from the rookie, who is owned in 30 percent of polled leagues. It’s understandable, considering how badly Jay Cutler has played, but Wilson is a better fit as a WR3/Flex in deeper leagues. The Bears could be blown up in the offseason, so Wilson is an interesting player to watch going into 2015.