by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
A format Start/Sit column doesn’t make as much sense this week, given how few fantasy owners are going to be competing. Instead, lets highlight some recent news from around the league and see where there could be players worth using:
Ben Tate placed on IR
Tate has been playing with four broken ribs for some time, but there have been reports that he broke a fifth rib and that ultimately ended his season. Dennis Johnson should get the start and, with Tate being a free agent at seasons’s end, he certainly has motivation to produce. Denver’s defense has struggled against opposing running backs (644 total yards and 6 TD over the past four weeks), but there’s always the threat of Houston going down big early and needing to go pass heavy. In other words, Johnson should be considered a much better play in PPR formats this week, but could have value regardless of the format as he will see the bulk of the backfield touches.
Verdict – Dennis Johnson – Start ‘Em as potential FLEX, but there’s some risk
Cecil Shorts placed on IR
The Jaguars lost Justin Blackmon weeks ago and are now left with Mike Brown and Ace Sanders starting. Yes, it is that bad. There’s nothing to exploit in the receiving corps, but even if Maurice Jones-Drew plays I would expect Jordan Todman to once again play a significant role. There just isn’t enough talent on the outside to think that the running backs won’t thrive. As a potential FLEX (or RB2), he’s worth considering.
Verdict – Mike Brown/Ace Sanders = Sit ‘Em; Jordan Todman = Start ‘Em (especially Maurice Jones-Drew is out)
Dennis Pitta being eased back into the lineup
According to Pro Football Focus he appeared on just 45.4% of the Ravens’ snaps in Week 15. He was a virtual non-factor (2 catches for 24 yards), but the Patriots have been among the worst defenses at stopping tight ends over the past for weeks (24 catches for 293 yards and 3 TD). It all depends on your alternatives, but Pitta is a worthwhile option this week.
Verdict – Dennis Pitta – Low-End TE1
Victor Cruz not expected to play in Week 16
In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is sat down for the remainder of the season. That leaves Rueben Randle in position to start and play virtually every down, a role he could assume in 2014 as Hakeem Nicks is expected to leave via free agency. You could actually argue that Randle has been the team’s second best receiver, with 37 receptions for 571 yards and a team high 6 TD. Of course, the Giants offense has been pathetic of late, but the matchup with Detroit is a favorable one.
Verdict – Rueben Randle – Viable WR3