WATCH: INJURY UPDATE – JULIO JONES
As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each season and week of DFS, different factors are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” is a series that examines players who are now being propelled into a starting role (thus creating a larger opportunity for that player), whether it be via injury, suspension or simply a change to the depth chart.
Entering the last few weeks of the season, teams are typically pretty banged up. So rather than limit this to just one name, here are some “Next Man Up” quick hits on players that should see expanded roles for the foreseeable future for one reason or another.
Kenneth Dixon — RB, Baltimore Ravens
Let’s call Dixon our “featured” next man up this week since he’s the only one of the handful that actually seems to have won over a job from healthy competition this past week. The rookie had been splitting playing time/touches with Terrance West in past weeks, despite clearly outplaying him. Monday against the Patriots, Baltimore finally let Dixon off the leash — out-snapping West 42-14. While West was essentially a non-factor, Dixon carried 11 times for 39 yards and was even more impressive in the passing game snagging 8-of-11 targets for 42 yards and a touchdown. I think it’s safe to assume Dixon is the lead back moving forward.
Here are some running backs that should get some starts down the stretch and benefit from injuries to the players that starts ahead of them …
Bilal Powell — RB, New York Jets
By now you know about Powell’s monster game Sunday in wake of Matt Forte’s injury — 179 total yards and a pair of scores on 34 touches. Forte is listed as questionable for Saturday evening’s game with a torn meniscus he believes he can play through. That said, we’re talking about an aging RB that will eventually need knee surgery playing on a team out of the playoff picture … so there’s not much incentive for Forte to push himself. Powell is averaging over TWO yards per carry more than Forte this season, so Powell should be a big piece of the Jets’ ground game in these last three games … and probably should’ve been starting anyway.
Kenneth Farrow — RB, San Diego Chargers
Melvin Gordon is going to miss Week 15, and he’s already admitted that he’s “aiming for next week.” There’s also still a chance Gordon gets shut down for the season, which would mean Farrow is a lock for somewhere between 1-3 starts at RB. Ronnie Hillman will mix in, but the rookie has shown the ability to handle a large workload in his college days at Houston, and gained 78 yards last week on 22 touches. Farrow could be one of this season’s no-name heroes down the stretch.
Now for some names you already know, but that need a welcome back to the fantasy scene.
Alshon Jeffery — WR, Chicago Bears
Jeffery will make his return from a four-game PED suspension this week, and he may not need any time to ease back into a groove. Matt Barkley has been making the most of his opportunity with Marquess Wilson, Cam Meredith and the rest of the run down Bears’ receivers. Gaining back a weapon like Jeffery should give him his first stable No. 1 option to target. With a game against Green Bay’s brutal passing defense this week, Jeffery could have a big day in his return.
Adrian Peterson — RB, Minnesota Vikings
Peterson is back practicing and has a slight chance to play this week, otherwise he’ll debut in Week 16. Either way, unlike Jeffery, I’m not too bullish on AP. It’s worth mentioning his name, but remember that he gained 50 yards on 31 carries in the two games he played this season. Since then, Minnesota’s league-worst offensive line may have gotten even worse. Nonetheless, Peterson should assuming starting RB duties when he does return.
And if you want to give a veteran QB a chance to be a potential value play …
Matt Moore — QB, Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill is out with an ugly knee injury that fortunately/somehow didn’t yield any tears. Moore has been a solid veteran for a while now, and is considered one of the best backups in the league. As a starter for the Dolphins in 2011, he did manage nearly 2,500 yards in 13 games with a 16:9 TD:INT ratio. He helped the Dolphins win last week by coming in late in the game and going 3-for-5 for 47 yards, and should be ready to go against the Jets’ swiss cheese pass defense. There’s potentially some value here.
For questions or comments hit me up on Twitter @julianedlow
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.