You made it. You soldiered through the gantlet of bye-week absences, undoubtedly with the additional burden of replacing injured stars along the way.
Hopefully your postseason aspirations are still intact, and you can now get back to the business of managing your roster without the random nuisance of starting backups in lieu of perfectly healthy players that just happen to have the week off.
And none too soon, with yet another week of mass casualties striking across the NFL. Starting running backs are dropping like flies, again, making it even more essential to build a stockpile at the position.
Now that the bye-week schedule is over, there’s no reason to carry more than one kicker or defense (if you ever did allow yourself the luxury). Jettison the redundancy to make room for the handcuffs to your lead backs. This may also be the time to dump a receiver or two that you’ll never start, in favor of a runner like Robert Turbin, who is now the heir apparent to Darren McFadden, one of the most injury-prone rushers in the league.
McFadden has seized the Cowboys’ starting role and is in the midst of a stellar run. But most who have followed his career believe he’s on borrowed time, making Turbin just a pulled hammy away from rushing behind one of the league’s most decorated offensive lines.
Another veteran who recently resurrected his career, Ahmad Bradshaw, scored twice on Sunday while playing second fiddle to Frank Gore. Bradshaw has proven his worth as the No. 2 RB in Indianapolis before, so there’s no reason to think he can’t do so again.
It’s crunch time, folks, which means there’s no point in carrying dead weight on your roster. Given the rash of injuries that is sweeping the league, it’s foolish to believe that your starting roster this week will be intact through your (hopefully extended) postseason run.
Look no further than the recommended waiver-wire candidates below to see just how quickly the fantasy landscape can shift. Waiting until you’re forced to make a change can be very costly.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.
Catch ‘em while you can
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks. There’s speculation that Marshawn Lynch’s abdomen injury will cost him more than this weekend’s matchup. And with Rawls posting a near-franchise record 209 yards and 2 TDs against the lowly 49ers, there’s little doubt that the rookie has game. Even if you don’t own Lynch, rush to the waiver wire to grab his backup.
Javorius Allen, RB, Ravens. There’s no two ways about it. The Ravens are a hot mess, with Matt Schaub taking over for the injured Joe Flacco and lead rusher Justin Forsett (forearm) joining Steve Smith on injured reserve. Allen is the next man up in the backfield, and he has potential, especially in PPR leagues. But is there anybody left around him?
Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs. Skepticism swirled around Charcandrick West when he was called upon to take over for Jamaal Charles earlier this year. Ware did a great job of quelling any concerns we may have about his prospects with his 96-yard, two-touchdown pummeling of the Chargers. He may have been the fourth Chiefs back when the season began, but the former Seahawk could be the man now if West’s hamstring injury lingers.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons. Remember him? The Wally Pipp of the Falcons backfield may have a chance to win back his job if Devonta Freeman’s concussion keeps him sidelined for an extended period. Coleman won the starting job in training camp, so he obviously has potential.
Don’t be fooled
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks. The attraction to Lockett is understandable, because he clearly has playmaking skills, underscored by his two-TD outing against the 49ers. But the rookie plays with a quarterback who has had multiple TD passes just twice all season. Lockett’s breakout game is more likely to be followed by a return to anonymity than another trip to pay dirt.
J.J. Nelson, WR, Cardinals. Players who breakout during primetime often get swept up in the fantasy hype, and Nelson’s 142-yard, one-TD performance is the latest example. But Nelson was aided by Michael Floyd’s absence, and the Cardinals’ WR corps is already loaded with lethal weapons. Nelson’s 15 minutes is likely already up for 2015.