Lineup keeping you up at night? Perhaps your quarterback is concussed, or your tight end is on bye. Maybe your wide receiver is visiting Revis Island, or your running back blew a .20 Friday night. Whatever your affliction, I’ve got an elixir. Below are a handful of obscure players who you can plug-and-play this week. Consider it my fantasy medicine cabinet, for emergency use only. Warning: if your ego is still inflated more than four hours after the game, consult a physician.
QB Nick Foles, Phi @ Was (Owned in 14% of Y! Leagues)
If you’re looking for a QB this week, it’s not pretty. Past Lineup Lifesavers like Christian Ponder, Russell Wilson, Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Tannehill—your usual waiver wire options—are all unavailable for the column. Moreover, now that he’s finally surpassed the 50% ownership mark (he’s at 67%), Dr. Carson Palmer no longer qualifies as a Lifesaver, either. Take away those guys, and you’re left with a dumpster fire of bums and backups. Now that I’ve established the fact that I don’t like any of the possible options, let’s go ahead and settle for the guy who has both the best matchup and the best arsenal—Nick Foles. Against opposing QBs, Washington ranks 30th in YPG and 31st in TDs (20), so the third-round rookie from Arizona should have a handful of Pac-12 flashbacks. The hope is that his bevy of playmakers will do enough to offset Foles’ inevitable rookie blunders.
RB Marcel Reece, Oak vs. NO (Owned in 56% of Y! Leagues)
Yes, 50% is the magic number for this column, but we used Marcel Reece last week (at 29%) so I’m grandfathering him in. He emerged as the unquestioned feature back for Oakland last week, piling up 13-48 on the ground and 7-56 through the air. This came just one week after he posted a sparkling 8-95-1 receiving line, and Reece now ranks 4th in targets and 5th in receptions amongst all backs. I’ve been referring to him as an oversized Darren Sproles, and this week the two pass-catching specialists will go head-to-head. Prior to their second bye week against Michael Turner last week, the Saints were giving up a league-worst 195 combo yards and over a touchdown per game to the position. All things considered, I view Reece as a borderline RB1 in standard leagues and a top-10 PPR option this week.
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, Ari vs. Atl (Owned in 45% of Y! Leagues)
Arizona is a fantasy wasteland, but amidst the dregs, LaRod Stephens-Howling has found a way to score in two of his last three games, while averaging 18 touches for 82 combo yards. Atlanta is a neutral opponent, but only three teams have given up more than their 8 rushes of 20+ yards, so LSH has a shot to break a big one. Moreover, he should be heavily active as a receiver once Arizona transitions into catch-up mode. Consider him a low-end RB2 with upside.
RB Jonathan Dwyer, Pit vs. Bal (Owned in 39% of Y! Leagues)
How this 3-headed pie will be split is anybody’s guess, but I’m betting that Jonathan Dwyer’s slice will be the most fruitful. The uninspiring Rashard Mendenhall looks like he’ll finally return from his Achilles injury, and he’s likely to get the first crack, but Dwyer’s simply the more effective runner, as he’s shown by averaging 18-95 over the last three weeks. The Ravens rank 28th in rushing YPG, and have given up 8 TDs through nine contests, so the matchup brings Dwyer into play as a flex option.
RB Chris Ivory, NO vs. Oak (Owned in 27% of Y! Leagues)
Wait, another running back? Yes, it’s an abnormally strong week for waiver wire RBs, and conversely, an abnormally thin week for all other positions. Much like Dwyer, Chris Ivory appears to be the most talented runner in a muddy backfield. He’s only carried a total of 17 times over the last two weeks, but he’s scored in both games, while averaging over 7.0 YPC. We can probably pencil him in for 8-10 touches, and that just might be enough this week. Oakland gives up 147 combo yards and 1.2 TDs per game to opposing backs, and they’re just two weeks removed from their 251-yard, 4-TD Doug Martin debacle. Ivory is a valid flex play with RB2 upside.
WR Danario Alexander, SD @ Den (Owned in 17% of Y! Leagues)
Danario Alexander has always had more than enough size (6’5”, 217) and raw talent, but his chronic knee issues have held him back. However, he’s healthy now, and the former Ram has suddenly found himself in an enviable position, as Philip Rivers’ preferred downfield target. Two weeks ago he put up 3-61, and last week he exploded for 5-134-1 on 7 targets. This week his momentum will be put to the test against Champ Bailey’s Broncos, who rank No. 5 against opposing fantasy WRs. So will Alexander see Bailey lined up across from him? I reached out to ESPN Denver’s Cecil Lammey, who replied, “DX will get Chris Harris and Tony Carter. His size gives him an advantage over those two deep, but will Rivers have time to throw?” Maybe, maybe not. The good news is that it only takes one play for “DX” to fill up a box score, as his four career TDs have come from 38, 19, 25 and 80 yards. What more can you ask for from a desperation WR3?
WR Brandon LaFell, Car vs. TB (Owned in 18% of Y! Leagues)
Brandon LaFell has been hit-or-miss—well, mostly miss—all season. Over his past four games, he’s scored just once, while averaging a mundane 3.5 catches for 53.5 yards. So why are we even talking about him? Well, because he’s seen a healthy 8 targets in two of his last three games, and because he’s squaring off against the worst pass defense in the league. The Bucs give up a ridiculous 232 YPG to opposing WRs, and in the teams’ last two meetings, LaFell has gone for 3-103-1 and 3-65-1. Like Alexander, LaFell warrants desperation WR3 consideration.
TE Dwayne Allen, Ind @ NE (Owned in 14% of Y! Leagues)
With rookie Coby Fleener all but ruled out, fellow rookie Dwayne Allen will again be the primary TE target for rookie QB Andrew Luck. These guys make me feel old. Allen hasn’t scored since Week 5, but he’s averaged a respectable 4-54 the last three weeks, and he’ll have a chance to improve upon those numbers in New England. The Patriots rank bottom-five against opposing TEs in catches, yards and touchdowns, and last week Scott Chandler went for 5-65-1, so Allen could be in line for a career day.
K Kai Forbath, Was vs. Phi (Owned in 5% of Y! Leagues)
Kai Forbath plays for an offense that’s good enough to move the ball, but not always good enough to close the deal. He’s connected on multiple field goals in three straight games, and this week he faces a Philadelphia team that ranks 25th against opposing kickers in FG attempts. That’s all I got.
D/ST Washington vs. Philadelphia (Owned in 16% of Y! Leagues)
While it may seem like I’m hedging my bets here, I could certainly see both Nick Foles and Washington’s D/ST producing this week. The rookie Philadelphia QB has the ability to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers, but he also gift-wrapped a pair of defensive TDs for the Cowboys last week. This one could get wild and ugly, but in Fantasyland, we like wild and ugly.
LAST WEEK’S LIFESAVERS:
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 337 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 12 ru yds
Marcel Reece: 48 ru yds, 7 rec, 56 rec yds
Danny Woodhead: 15 ru yds, 4 rec, 46 rec yds, 2 TDs
Dallas D/ST: 23 PA, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FR, 3 TDs
LAST WEEK’S FLATLINERS:
Ryan Tannehill: 217 yds, 3 INTs
Emmanuel Sanders: 2 rec, 30 yds, 4 ru yds
Ryan Broyles: 1 rec, 6 yds
Dan Carpenter: 1 FG
SEASON TO DATE: