Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions: Welcome back to Motown, Mr. Smith! Due to a backfield that has been decimated by injuries this season, the Lions went out and re-signed former draft pick Kevin Smith, who blew up for 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries in Sunday’s win over the Carolina Panthers. Keep in mind that no team in the NFL is surrendering more fantasy points to opposing running backs than Carolina, so it’s going to get tougher from here on out. But the upside is that with Jahvid Best still battling concussion issues, Smith could be in line for a much bigger workload.
Next up: vs. Green Bay (Thursday)
Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota Vikings: This is likely just a short-term scenario, but with Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson nursing an ankle injury that could keep him out of action in Week 12, look for the former Heisman finalist to pick up the slack and pound it between the tackles. We aren’t expecting big-time numbers from Gerhart at Atlanta this weekend, but he could fit nicely as a flex option for owners in leagues with ten or more teams.
Next up: at Atlanta
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers: It’s been a disappointing year for the former Texas Tech standout, but Crabtree is coming off a solid performance against the Arizona Cardinals that consisted of seven receptions on ten targets for a season-high 120 receiving yards. He’ll be hit or miss for the rest of the season depending on the matchup, but Crabtree is worth owning as a WR3/4 in leagues with ten or more teams.
Next up: at Baltimore (Thursday)
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills: The Bills are in bad shape right now and the news that running back Fred Jackson is battling a calf injury that could keep him out of action certainly won’t sit well with the folks in upstate New York. However, the silver lining here is that former top-ten draft pick C.J. Spiller could finally be in line for some serious touches, meaning owners should bum rush the waiver wire in an attempt to add this guy for the foreseeable future. Remember, Spiller is a dual-threat back who can make plays in the passing game as well, so don’t be surprised if he figures out how to put up a respectable stat line or two.
Next up: at New York Jets
Expect the Bears to lean more on Marion Barber with Cutler out of action.
Marion Barber, RB, Chicago Bears: MBIII has found the end zone in five of seven games this season and will continue to see plenty of touches when the Bears find themselves in goal-to-go situations. But the big plus here is the increase in workload Barber is likely to experience now that quarterback Jay Cutler is on the shelf after undergoing thumb surgery. Chicago is going to become a more run-oriented offense with Caleb Hanie at the controls, so expect Barber’s role to increase effective immediately.
Next up: at Oakland
Matt Moore, QB, Miami Dolphins: He won’t save your season, but Moore has thrown three touchdown passes in two of his last three starts and has guided the Fish to three straight wins. This team is trending upwards and should continue to find success against opponents who struggle to slow down the pass. Consider Moore a QB2 for owners in leagues with 12 or more teams and don’t be surprised if he puts up a solid stat line on Thanksgiving against a Cowboys secondary that just let Rex Grossman tear them to shreds.
Next up: at Dallas (Thursday)
Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay Packers: The Packers currently rank just 21st in the NFL in rushing offense, so don’t expect Grant to come in and start posting 100-yard games like Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. However, with starter James Starks battling a sprained right knee, Grant should be in line for an increase in carries for Thursday’s showdown against the Detroit Lions. We consider Grant an RB4 who adds some respectable depth for at least the next week.
Next up: at Detroit (Thursday)
Jerome Simpson, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: With starting wideout A.J. Green out of action, Simpson stepped up and posted a monster stat line in Sunday’s loss at Baltimore (8-152-0 on 13 targets). Yes, his role on the offense will take a step back once Green returns to action, but quarterback Andy Dalton has been on fire as of late, meaning this guy is certainly worth owning as a WR3/4 for the rest of the way out.
Next up: vs. Cleveland
Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It’s been a disappointing sophomore season for Williams, who finished the 2010 campaign as one of the fantasy world’s top sleepers. The upside here is that the former Syracuse standout found the end zone on Sunday for the first time since Week 1 and rolled up an impressive seven receptions for 83 yards on 11 targets in the process. Take note that Williams has been targeted 11 or more times in three of his last five games. Lets see if he can finish 2011 on a strong note.
Next up: at Tennessee
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