By Julian Martinez
Quarterback: Big Ben hurt feels like déjà vu
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Ben Roethlisberger is hurt. In Pittsburgh’s game against the Raiders, Big Ben fell victim to a mid-foot sprain. Thankfully, that is all it is but once again owners will have to piece together their quarterback situation to make up for Roethlisberger’s absence.
One option can be Marcus Mariota. Mariota in his first game back from an MCL injury put on a show against the Saints, throwing for 371 yards and four touchdowns in his return. The only problem with Mariota is his next scheduled game will be against the undefeated Carolina Panthers and their imposing defense. I do like his following three games, however, as he will face Jacksonville twice and Oakland. Mariota’s ownership is at 38 percent.
We are also on the verge of seeing the much-awaited return of Tony Romo, who has been sidelined since week two with a broken collarbone, but the hope is Romo will be ready when the Cowboys travel to Miami. This is a good match-up for Romo if he suits up and his number one receiver, Dez Bryant, appears fully recovered from his own injury as he had a terrific performance against Philadelphia, despite Matt Cassel being the man under center. Romo is owned in less than half of Fantasy leagues, but expect that number to rise with the news of Romo finally practicing again.
Running back: Dion Lewis, we hardly knew thee
It appears the downward spiral of Eddie Lacy is ongoing. This past week Lacy was benched following a costly fumble. This is coupled with the fact he only ran for 10 yards beforehand. That leads me to name James Starks worthy of the number one waiver priority this coming week.
Starks only managed 39 rushing yards but saw six receptions for 83 yards and saw the endzone one time against the Panthers. Starks’ ability in the passing game and Lacy’s inability to get out of his own way makes this weekend’s match-up against Detroit enticing. Starks is only owned in 40 percent of leagues.
Karlos Williams is also back in this column because of his terrific performance in his return to action. Williams against Miami ran for 110 yards and scored twice. Even more positive news in regard to Williams’ value is the fact LeSean McCoy injured his shoulder in the contest against Miami and even if McCoy is healthy, it seems the Bills can give both running backs enough touches to be productive. Williams’ ownership is roughly around 40 percent and, even with limited touches, I view him as a low-end RB2.
Another situation to monitor now is the New England backfield. Dion Lewis was a sensation for the first nine weeks of the NFL season, but Lewis’ season appears to be over after suffering an injury to his ACL. Lewis was so good this season that he made me break tradition and actually put faith in a New England running back for Fantasy purposes, but now I don’t see anyone I’m willing to really trust.
LeGarrette Blount will get his touches on early down work, but I don’t see any particular running back stepping up to make up for the loss of Lewis’ production. James White is the first name to be brought up for passing down work, but until I see consistent play from him in the next couple weeks, then I can’t trust him or risk using a waiver priority on him. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if Brandon Bolden has a good game here or there, or is at least enough of a vulture to kill any value White has. Not putting my faith in this backfield until I see something that makes me have to reconsider.
Wide Receiver: Time for a rookie not named Amari Cooper to step up
You remember how bad Antonio Brown was when Roethlisberger missed games early this year? That’s now a thing again. It’s a shame too because Brown is coming off an historic afternoon where he caught 17 passes for 284 yards and even ran for 22 yards. If you are a Brown owner, you desperately want the Steelers to start Landry Jones at quarterback over Mike Vick. Either way, until Big Ben returns, Brown should be viewed as more boom-or-bust as opposed to the consistent elite tier receiver we all know and love.
So a week after being considered by the Fantasy community as a worthy investment, Malcolm Floyd tore his labrum. Though it hasn’t officially ended his season, it can pretty much be assumed. Now Stevie Johnson, whom I noted has the potential to be the go-to receiver in this offense if healthy, is in the driver’s seat for targets. He led the team in catches against the Bears on Monday Night and should be able to continue this with a bye week to work on things with Philip Rivers.
With the recent change in regime in Tennessee, it looks like Dorial Green-Beckham is becoming Fantasy relevant. Green-Beckham had double-digit targets against the Saints and that can be a sign of better things to come as he has every bit the ability to be the number one receiver in this offense. Green-Beckham is owned in only nine percent of leagues and, like Mariota, is closing in on a favorable stretch of schedule.
Tight End: Expect game two to go a lot better for Davis
Vernon Davis was active last week and only played about a handful of plays, but this is not indicative of what he will be moving forward. The game in Indianapolis was a chance for Davis to get his feet wet in the offense. Davis is a smart player, so I don’t see it taking him too much longer to learn the Kubiak offense and I could see him participating in at least half the teams snaps this week against Kansas City and maybe even a full workload by the time Denver travels to Chicago.
It looks like officially Austin Seferian-Jenkins may be ready to go against Dallas this weekend. Seferian-Jenkins was close this past week when Tampa faced the Giants but was a late scratch. Given that fact, it would be hard to see him sitting after being given another full week to let his injured shoulder rest. If Seferian-Jenkins suits up, then I consider him a TE1 given his size and connection with Jameis Winston.
DST and Kicker: A Few Notes
If you weren’t aware, Nick Folk was placed on the injured reserve with a quad injury. Randy Bullock, previously of Houston Texan fame, will be kicking for the Jets moving forward.
Bye Week Teams:
San Francisco 49ers
San Diego Chargers