As we head into the championship week for the vast majority of leagues, there are fewer players worth the risk of starting and this severely limits the list of potential pickups. Upside is a largely useless consideration at this point, unless you are desperate (but if you are desperate, you’re probably no longer in the running for your league’s championship).
Donald Brown, RB, IND - Before the season, I liked Brown quite a bit. He looked to get a fair share of the work and was a bargain on draft day in the very late rounds. The reason for him being expected to see a lot of work is the contract situation for the aging and injury-prone Joseph Addai. This is the last year of his current contract and there would be little reason to sign him again if you have a guy worthy of the starting job already on your roster. Since Brown was a round 1 draft pick, there were high hopes that he would have a breakout year but that was not the case. He racked up 18 points this week when everyone had given up hope and now, if Addai misses another week, Brown will be a worthy start in your flex spot.
Jacoby Ford, WR, OAK - He is still very risky, but he is a game-changing talent that the Raiders try to get involved in a variety of ways. He is a threat to run (71 yard TD run this week), catch a big pass, or return a kick for a TD whenever the ball is in his hands. As long as Oakland looks to get him involved, he is a risky flex play in deep formats. Even if you don’t plan to use him yourself, don’t leave him to your opponent who might get a big game from him.
Colt McCoy, QB, CLE – With Grossman and Tebow each VASTLY exceeding our expectations for how they would perform, why is it McCoy on my list of pickups? Well it came down to McCoy or Grossman for me, so if you can’t get Colt, then you know who you should target next. McCoy has seen extended playing time in 6 games this season and in all but one of them, he put up double digit points… including a week 6 loss to the Steelers. He does play against the Ravens next week (compared to Grossman vs. Jacksonville), but the Baltimore defense has not been lights-out like it has in the past and they currently are ranked 14 against the pass. This makes him the guy with the least risk involved, if you have to get one of the newly-starting signal callers for your two-QB league to make your championship run.
Kevin Walter, WR, HOU - Next week the Texans play against the Tim Tebow led Denver Broncos. Champ Bailey might be getting old, but he is still among the best corner backs in the league and with some help from the safety position, he can take some of the better receivers out of the game. Andre Johnson will not be shut-down but with all the attention that is sure to be paid to him, Walter will see a lot of man coverage and is likely to have a decent game.
Derrick Ward, RB, HOU - Arian Foster left this game early with a muscle spasm. It is still not yet clear the extent of the injury, but a muscle spasm doesn’t sound severe. If he is to be limited or miss any time, then Ward is savvy veteran worth a start in your flex position.
Josh Morgan, WR, SF – This is Morgan’s 2nd straight game where he has been the top-producing receiver as he catches 7 passes on 9 targets for 106 yards. The 49er offense was struggling against the league’s top defense, but Alex Smith played decent and since they are still alive in the playoff race, you can count on them pulling out all the stops and playing for their entire season next week. I would still rather start Crabtree, but Morgan has certainly earned some attention in deeper formats.
Austin Collie, WR, IND - He suffered his third concussion on a hard hit in this game and after a great first half in this week’s game against Jacksonville, it really is a shame that he cannot stay healthy for very long. Blair White should be the slot receiver for the Colts the rest of the fantasy-season.
Shonn Greene, RB, NYJ – Even though the Jets got a huge win this week and produced against the most talented defense in the league, Greene has a tough outing next week against the Bears stout run defense. Given he will be splitting carries, he really just doesn’t have the chance to produce like you need in your fantasy super bowl.
Keiland Williams, RB, WAS – Torain is the guy, enough said. This would be a completely wasted roster spot, should you hold Williams.
Anquan Boldin, WR, BAL - I will like him next year, but Mason is the top guy in Baltimore this season and until he retires I do not think that will change. If you own him, you need little prodding to at least leave this inconsistent threat on your bench. I am also aware that in his last game against the Browns he had 3 TDs. That was too long ago to think it will happen again. Only drop him if there is someone worth playing, but you definitely shouldn’t start this guy.
Steve Smith, WR, CAR – Even in a win, when the offense looked as sharp as it ever has… he was barely able to produce. He is still their best red zone passing target, but expect the running game to continue the heavy lifting.
Robert Meachem, WR, NO – This goes for Lance Moore as well, the Saints receivers (other than Colston) are too hit or miss for playoff consideration. They have 0 points or 20 points, so with what looks like a 50% chance to get you a goose-egg, get these guys off your team or at least on the bench.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, MIN - He may as well be inactive for fantasy-owners… at least then we wouldn’t be tempted to start him. Get yourself a new TE if you have made it this far with Shiancoe.
Jahvid Best, RB, DET - The only way you own this guy and are still in the playoffs is if you haven’t been using him! He still has not had a double digit fantasy performance since week 2 and there is no reason to expect that to change against the Dolphins next week.