Dallas Wide Receiver Terrence Williams (Owned in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues)
It’s the first week of October, so it’s worth mentioning Halley’s Comet, something that we on planet Earth are lucky enough to see about once every 75 years. That makes it almost the exact opposite of a Miles Austin injury, something we get to see every year. Over the last four seasons, the Cowboys’ receiver has missed 14 games for an average of only 12.5 starts per season. In Austin’s absence, Tony Romo has had plenty of success with his backup receivers. Laurent Robinson scored 11 touchdowns over ten games as Dallas’ third wide receiver in 2011. Rookie Terrence Williams has stepped up to fill this role for the last two weeks, and has caught 11 balls for 222 yards and a score. Last year at Baylor, the 6-foot-2 wideout had 97 receptions for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns in an offense without Robert Griffin III. The third round pick could develop into something special for Dallas. There is no timetable for Austin to return from his latest hamstring pull.
Pittsburgh Tight End Heath Miller (Owned in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Heath Miller is back, and it couldn’t have come too soon for the Steelers. Against the Vikings in week four, he saw eight targets for six catches and 70 yards. In the last four seasons, he has averaged 60 catches for 687 yards and 4.5 touchdowns. In 2012, he completed his second season of 70 or more catches, while scoring eight times and earning 2.9 first downs per game. Ben Roethlisberger will continue to lean on this man, especially with all the new faces on offense this year. If the Steelers are unable to turn things around, Pittsburgh residents may need to start caring about hockey this winter.
Atlanta Wide Receiver Harry Douglas (Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues)
What’s black and red, and black-and-blue all over? Okay, it’s low-hanging fruit, but the Atlanta Falcons sure are in trouble. Starting receiver Julio Jones may miss the rest of the season. Initial reports have indicated his foot injury Sunday was more serious than even Jones had suspected. He will seek a second opinion Wednesday, at which point over five million Atlanta residents will flee into the streets with their hair set on fire. Okay, that’s one of the three worst-case scenarios. Also, because of the government shutdown, this census data could not be confirmed, so Wikipedia will have to do. Roddy White has only a fifty-fifty shot to start Week 7 after the bye. Don’t forget the 1-4 Falcons are also missing starting running back Steven Jackson. Enter Harry Douglas, the team’s third wide receiver. This season, he has caught 16 of his 27 targets for 219 yards. In his four previous seasons, he has never had fewer than 22 receptions, but never more than 39. He does appear to have talent when you watch him. He has also returned 10 punts for the team this year, but head coach Mike Smith might need to have his head examined if he leaves Douglas in that role moving forward. The receiver may be asked to focus on his offensive duties to avoid further catastrophe for the Dirty Birds. Expect Douglas to see a lot of attention, from both Matt Ryan and opposing defenses. Atlanta is running out of options, and out of time.
New York Giants Wide Receiver Rueben Randle (Owned in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Rueben Randle just had a monster game against the Eagles, showing the second round potential that many saw with him in April of 2012. Eli Manning threw to him 14 times for six completions, 96 yards and two scores. Randle has shown flash this year, and will hold incredible value should Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz miss any time. For the season, the 6-foot-2 receiver from LSU has 17 catches for 258 yards. Randle received a lot of extra playing time with Manning this summer when the starting receivers were missing repetitions in camp. The chemistry is evident in the results. In 2013, Nicks has no touchdowns and only 4 more catches than Randle.
Jacksonville Wide Receiver Justin Blackmon (Owned in 61 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Justin Blackmon has just completed his four-game suspension for substance abuse. In his first action of 2013, the second-year wideout caught five balls off nine targets, for 136 yards and a touchdown. Blackmon was the fifth overall pick in 2012, and last year earned 64 catches for 865 yards and 5 scores. All of these numbers are impressive for a player with 17 games experience. Blackmon is still a free agent in many leagues. The quarterback situation is unclear in Jacksonville, but Blackmon may be able to succeed with Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne. Luckily for Blackmon, the recent Jacksonville rally for Tim Tebow drew only about 20 fans.
St. Louis Running Back Zac Stacy (Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Jeff Fisher announced Monday that Zac Stacy will maintain his starting job at running back for the Rams’ week six contest in Houston. The rookie fifth-rounder rushed 14 times for 78 yards in his first start against Jacksonville on Sunday. Stacy left the game with an apparent rib injury, but later said he only had the wind knocked out of him. That was certainly an impressive performance for a team in search of a starting back. Hopefully he can continue his pace of 5.5 yards per carry for the season.
Oakland Quarterback Terrelle Pryor (Owned in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues)
In his four starts this season, Terrelle Pryor has looked a lot better than in his only other start from 2012. In his first career start against San Diego, the former Rose Bowl MVP completed only 46.4 percent of his passes for 150 yards, two scores and one interception. So far this year, Pryor has thrown 68.3 percent complete, including 72.5 percent over the last two games. Though he’s accounted for two interceptions and three fumbles this season, he has four touchdowns and has rushed for 280 yards and another touchdown. Turnovers usually have far less affect on fantasy outcome than in real football. Owners could do a lot worse than Pryor this year, especially as he matures. Who said Buckeyes can’t play in the NFL?
Philadelphia Quarterback Nick Foles (Owned in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Eagles’ starting quarterback Michael Vick may miss the next two games. Head coach Chip Kelly has suggested that Vick will keep his job once he returns. But with lackluster results from the starter so far, backup Nick Foles will have all the opportunity in the world to usurp the chain of command. He’ll have all the opportunity that two starts can afford, that is. While playing seven games in 2012, Foles had a 60.8 completion percentage for an average of 242.7 yards, 0.9 touchdowns, and 0.7 interceptions per game. Those numbers are hardly impressive, but the 2012 version of Vick was worse, with 58.1 percent complete, for a per-game average of 236.2 yards, 1.2 scores and one pick. In relief Sunday, Foles completed 64 percent of his passes for 197 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers.
Cleveland Running Back Willis McGahee (Owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Willis McGahee is so fresh and new as a Brown, ESPN is still using an image of him in a Denver Broncos jersey. The real question is, does he still have that killer mohawk and ‘stache? The public has announced its demands. In his three games in Cleveland, McGahee’s carries have increased from eight to 15 to 26. Only Ray Rice received a bigger workload in Week 5, carrying the rock 27 times in Baltimore’s win over Miami. The 31-year-old back is only averaging 2.6 yards per carry this season, compared with his 4.4 last year on an admittedly much better team. Touches and red zone touches are arguably the most valuable statistic in all of fantasy. And although McGahee’s downside is crystal clear for potential owners, that workhorse value cannot be ignored.
Oakland Running Back Marcel Reece (Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues)
The Raiders are on bye in week seven, and starter Darren McFadden is not expected to return before then. Marcel Reece injured his knee against the Redskins in Week 4, but with a negative MRI, he was still able to play last week. Rashad Jennings was the starter against San Diego, but left the game early with a hamstring injury. Reece managed 4.6 yards per carry while earning 57 yards of offense. Reece’s value will depend entirely on how much time is missed by Jennings and McFadden. The high school photo of Darren McFadden was recently unearthed, with a caption underneath that read, “Least Likely to Start in Week 6 of the 2013 NFL Season.” So oddly specific.
Stats and data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and wikipedia.org.