Well folks, we’re almost at the mid-point of the NFL Season and while each of us has experienced some amount of loss along the way, you can take comfort knowing that there is still plenty of time to catch up. Here are some players to keep an eye on if you are not doing so already – they just might help you bring home a “W” in coming weeks.
1. DeMarco Murray (Running Back, Dallas Cowboys)
If you haven’t heard his name by now, you’re playing the wrong game. Last week against the Rams, Murray set the Cowboys’ single-game rushing record, as well as the new rookie record for the NFL, with 253 rushing yards. As if this Fantasy story needed any sweetening, Murray gets to make his first NFL start against the team that allows the most Fantasy points to opposing Running Backs on average than any other team in the league, the Philidelphia Eagles. Even if Andy Reid does pack his usual “post-bye week punch,” it would be hard to imagine the Eagles 23rd-ranked rushing defense squashing the productivity displayed by Murray last week.
2. Demaryius Thomas (Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos)
I will keep this short, as there’s already too much talk about this 2-4 team. Last week Thomas had 3 receptions for 27 yards and a score, but more importantly he led the team with 10 targets. Imagine if Tebow manages to show up before the 2-minute warning.
3. Montario Hardesty (Running Back, Cleveland Browns)
I had concerns about Peyton Hillis’ production before this season began, considering his workload last year, and from the looks of it, so do the Browns. Hardesty carried the ball 33 times last week against the Seahawks for 95 yards and caught 2 for 27 yards. As Hillis creeps closer to IR, Hardesty will emerge as the featured back in Cleveland.
4. Jason Hill (Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Jaguars stunned everyone last week when signs of life appeared in their passing game and they upset the Ravens. One of the unknowns to emerge was Jason Hill who had 4 receptions for 62 yards and was targeted 8 times. The most targets seen by any other receiver on the team was 3, so Hill appears to be Blaine Gabbert’s favorite receiver. Mike Sims-Walker is back in the receiving core for the Jags, but he wasn’t dependable even with David Garrard; his biggest contribution will likely be diverting coverage from other eligible receivers.
5. Fred Davis (Tight End, Washington Redskins)
Last week against the Carolina Panthers, Davis had 6 receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. Add to that the fact that he has been the Redskins’ most consistent player this season (which is still not saying much). The Redskins’ offense took a beating last week as both Tim Hightower and Chris Cooley have been placed on Injury Reserve for the season, plus Santana Moss is out with a broken hand for either 3 to 6 weeks or 5 to 7 weeks, depending on who you listen to (Moss or Shanahan).
6. Jackie Battle (Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs)
I know this violates the Fantasy Football Bible lesson from the Book of John about avoiding crowded backfields, but if Battle continues to produce, it will likely become less crowded in coming weeks. Battle carried the ball 16 times for 76 yards last week against Oakland, and before the bye, had a very impressive 119 yards on the ground plus 21 yards off 2 receptions versus Indy. The downside is that Le’Ron McClain is Kansas City’s touchdown vulture and Battle is splitting carries with both Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones.
7. Michael Jenkins (Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings)
This guy is not new to the game, but seems to have developed some chemistry with the rookie tossing the rock in Minnesota. Jenkins hooked up with Christian Ponder 3 times for 111 yards and a touchdown in Ponder’s first start against the Packers last week. Percy Harvin is definitely the #1 Receiver for the Vikings, but he is dealing with some rib issues that forced him to come out early last week and miss some practice this week, which bodes well for Jenkins.
8. Delone Carter (Running Back, Indianapolis Colts)
I am not usually high on any Colts Running Back mainly because Addai has become Clinton Portis-like with his injury status over the past few seasons, stealing starts from his backups, only to inevitably leave the game early due to a physical ailment. That being said, Carter looked good last week against the Saints with 89 yards and a score on 10 carries. With all of the other things going wrong with the Colts’ offense, you have to think that Carter will keep getting chances to make plays.
All of these players show some potential, but it is unlikely that they all will become Fantasy standouts. That’s why the title of the article is “8 Players to Watch,” not “to Add,” and when I say “watch,” I mean you should actually watch them play if at all possible. There are certain intangibles that you can pick up on by seeing these players and teams in motion that don’t appear in the stat books. Look for relationships between players, particularly Quarterbacks and their respective targeted Receivers, and pay special attention to emerging patterns in offenses run by a new Quarterback (rookie or otherwise).
Most teams are still trying to figure out how to utilize all of their offensive weapons through various schemes, but the teams with new offensive personnel are the most likely to make drastic changes as far as workload goes. These are the teams to keep a close eye on.
If you are conservative with your waiver wire advantages, you should be able to pick up a player once they have shown that they are worth the spot – not before, not after.
Finally, I would like to share a positive thought with all of you struggling Fanagers out there: no matter how bad it gets this week, it can’t be worse than the Redskins…or the Dolphins…or the Colts…or the Seahawks…or the Rams.