Dominick Petrillo @envisionFF
Tunnel Vision: Week 10:
Now that we are nearing the playoffs in fantasy leagues, it is time to start looking to handcuff some of your stars in case of injury. Or in some cases, a player starting in place of someone who sits out to rest if you play in Week 17 leagues still.
Below are some names to roster going forward to avoid missing out on players who would have week saving potential should an injury or a rest day happen to your star. Obviously, not all of these will hit and most likely you will not even need to use them. But just in case you do, grab them before your opponent can use them against you if the unforeseen happens.
Malcolm Brown – RB | Los Angeles Rams
We saw his skills on display against the Saints in Week 9 as he scored a tightrope touchdown much to the dismay of Todd Gurley owners. With the Rams offensive line being stellar and the offense itself being top two in the NFL, Brown would be a low end running back one if an injury were to occur to Gurley. All the hype before the season was John Kelly coming in but the snaps throughout the year have shown the true handcuff in Los Angeles is Malcolm Brown. If you are the Gurley owner than you need to go pick up Brown off the Waiver wire. If you are playing the Gurley owner or if they are on the brink of the playoffs you should go get him as a block, and as stated, have a potential running back one while also crippling your opponent should he become the number one for a time.
Josh Adams – RB | Philadelphia Eagles
Ok so not really a handcuff, but at only 12% owned Josh Adams should finish the season as the Eagles running back one. and in an offense who wants to run the ball more, and whose coach said he wants to use him more, you could do worse. Unlike many of the others on the list, he will have value no matter what happens with the other backs in Philadelphia. At 6’2 and 210 pounds, Adams is the big back there and has the size to hold up. Corey Clement is a good third down back, but Adams should take over the first and second down role leading him to be a flex play and a viable running back two play in coming weeks. Players like Nick Chubb, James White, and Kenyon Drake still have bye weeks coming and Adams could make a good replacement for them on your roster for those weeks. In his only real work, this season he gained 61 yards on nine carries in London against the Jaguars rush defense before the team’s bye week. With two weeks to get used to the offense and another setback for Darren Sproles who came back to practice before reaggravating his hamstring again, Adams is going to get the majority of work going forward in the committee back situation which is the Eagles.
Mike Davis – RB | Seattle Seahawks
Everyone laughed at Brian Schottenheimer when he said he wanted the Seahawks to be a running team this season, and with good reason. The offensive line was terrible, and they just drafted a third-round running back in the first round. Well, everyone was half right. Penny should have been drafted in the third round but as it turns out, the offensive line isn’t terrible. Tom Cable is. See the current Raiders line for more proof. The line in Seattle has been good and Seattle has run for almost 130 yards per game this season. A lot of this is due to Chris Carson for sure, but with his current nagging injuries leaving him questionable on a week-to-week basis Mike Davis is a good replacement for him. In the game in Arizona in which Carson was absent, Davis gained 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and added 23 receiving yards on four catches. The Cardinals are not the Bears when it comes to rush defenses, but they are still an NFL defense and Davis has the talent to do the same to other defenses. Seattle still has games left against those same Cardinals as well as the 49ers meaning good matchups could lead to good results if he is needed. With the injury bug hitting Chris Carson taking him out of last week’s game and Rashaad Penny being, well bad, he will get playing time. If Carson is ruled out, you will have a high end running back two. If Carson is there, you still have a possible flex play during the remainder of the bye weeks.
Duke Johnson Jr. – RB | Cleveland Browns
Nick Chubb is the best thing since sliced bread. At least this is the common sentiment in the fantasy football circles. Well, Duke Johnson Jr. is better so what does this make him. Maybe sliced bread with butter. Either way, Duke Johnson Jr. is the running back to own in Cleveland and he is only owned in 67% of leagues. The Browns suck. They just fired their head coach and their coach in waiting. Who did they replace the offensive coordinator with? The running backs coach. The person who has been working with both backs all season. He is well aware Johnson Jr. has the most receptions over the last three seasons of any back in the NFL. He is also aware the Browns are going to be making comebacks a lot meaning throwing the ball. Remember, even in new math 1+2=3. Nick Chubb will get some but not all of the first and second down work but not all of it and all the third-down work will go to Johnson Jr. just as it did in week 9 against the Chiefs in which he had nine catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns. No one is happier in the trade of Carlos Hyde than Johnson Jr. and this will continue as the Browns try to play spoiler for other teams. Nick Chubb will be a high end running back three going forward, but in PPR leagues especially, Duke will be a high end two and possibly running back one.
Spencer Ware – RB | Kansas City Chiefs
This one is difficult. If Kareem Hunt stays healthy Ware will be a bust. If Hunt is hurt though or the Chiefs continue to dominate, expect Ware to get a lot of work to make sure he is entrenched for the playoffs should they need him. The only reason Kareem Hunt got a chance last season was due to the Ware injury in the preseason. Andy Reid has always employed a single back offense. Whichever back is healthy will get all the work so if Hunt goes down the backfield will belong to Spencer Ware. In game scripts like last week at Cleveland and most likely at home against Arizona this week, Ware could be in the entire second half which could make him a great flex option this week before the bye week. Afterward look for him to get more and more involved making him a flex for the rest of the season. Much like Malcolm Brown with the Rams, if Hunt goes gown in Kansas City, Ware would be an immediate running back one weekly so as the Hunt owner, you need to grab him before someone else does.
Latavius Murray – RB | Minnesota Vikings
Finally, Dalvin Cook is back and fully healthy. He must be, he gained 89 yards and a touchdown on only nine carries against the Lions. Oh, wait, one of those runs was a 70-yard run. So, on the other eight runs, he only gained 19 yards. Well, that is downright Rashaad Penny numbers. Ok, they aren’t as bad as Penny’s numbers but still. Yes, it was good to see Cook back on the field before the bye week, but we have seen this before. Both with Cook this season and many other players many other times over the years. Soft tissue issues tend to creep up again and again and in Latavius Murray we know what we have as we have been seeing it all season. We have a minimum top 15 running back and with how well he has been doing, the Vikings can not just sit him now. Just like James Conner in Pittsburgh, even if the lead back comes back Murray has carved out a role and he will be used in this role at worst to keep Cook from getting reinjured. The same can be said for the usage of T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde in Jacksonville despite the return of Leonard Fournette. The only difference, in this case, is there is only one backup to figure out. Is Murray a great running back? No. But he has shown his ability to be a top 15 back and if you can hold on to a top 15 back just in case Cook goes down, you do it and do it happily. The Vikings are going to be in a battle to the end of the season for the division and a possible playoff berth with both the Bears and Packers. They have a great offense and part of the offense is getting the running game going. This is going to take both Cook and Murray and both could be at worst running back two’s each week after their bye this week. If you have either of them, hold on to them. If you can find them somehow on the waiver wire, yes, I have heard of both being there, grab them right now. Seriously stop reading this article grab them and then finish the article.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling – WR | Green Bay Packers
Yes. You knew he was going to be on this list. He had to be. Valdes-Scantling has quietly become the number two receiver on the Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay Packers offense. This makes him very valuable. In recent seasons the number two receiver on the Packers with Rodgers at quarterback has finished at an average of wide receiver 15 and this is what can be expected going forward for Scantling. In his last four games he has had either 100 yards receiving or a touchdown and with most of this happening with Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison out of the lineup it bodes well to continue now that Allison has been placed on injured reserve and Cobb is playing like he should be placed there. Since the first game of the season in which he had nine catches for 142 yards and a touchdown, Cobb has been a clear disappointment including costing the Packers their game with the Redskins with two drops and a fumble late in the game. Since coming back from his two-game absence due to a concussion, his play has not gotten any better and Scantling has been lighting it up including his touchdown in the game against the Rams and a solid game on Sunday night against the Patriots. At this point, it is going to be hard to get him as he has probably been picked up in every league with vigilant owners. But if he hasn’t, go get him and have a top 20 wide receiver for the rest of 2018.