With LeSean McCoy working his way back from a concussion and Willis McGahee down with a knee injury, a pair of rookie running backs will receive a chance to start this week. Both Bryce Brown and Ronnie Hillman should be in fantasy lineups this week with favorable matchups.
QB. Andy Dalton vs. Raiders -
No defense has struggled more over the past three weeks than the Raiders and unless Oakland is jacked up to win a game for Carson Palmer (first time he will play his old team), the Bengals should score over 30 points. While Dalton has taking a beating at times this season, he’s proving to be durable enough that A.J. Green and company are locks for big things things this week.
QB. Matt Schaub @ Lions -
Last week reminded many of the good old days (for fantasy anyway) when Matt Schaub was one of the leading quarterbacks in passing yardage. Since Wade Phillips arrived to the team a few years ago, the Texans defense and the presence of Arian Foster have suppressed the need for Houston to put the football up over 40 times a game.
Last week was obviously a different story as Schaub threw for 527 yards and five touchdowns against the Jaguars. The Texans defense may struggle again if to corner Jonathan Joseph is out of action due to a hamstring injury. Schaub will play on Thanksgiving and is a solid low-end starter this week.
RB. Ronnie Hillman @ Chiefs -
Expect Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno to get some time on the field going forward but Hillman will have the first crack to be the starter, as the team will have to move on with Willis McGahee out. Hillman was drafted and is being groomed to be the Broncos future starting tailback so obviously he is likely to get a long leash as the starter, and this week is a terrific opportunity for the rookie to make a splash.
While this is a divisional rivalry game in Arrowhead, the Broncos should still make quick work of the Chiefs and that means the running game will be featured in the second half. This could be a game where we see Denver run the football up to 30 times and Hillman is a terrific RB2 play, even if he loses goal-line touches.
RB. Bryce Brown @ Panthers -
If there’s one thing Andy Reid did right on draft day it was taking a shot on Bryce Brown in the later rounds. Brown had a troubled college career but his talent has never been in question. Making good on Reid’s faith in him, Brown worked his way into more action over recent weeks, even with LeSean McCoy in front of him on the depth chart.
Brown is a sneaky low-end RB2 play this week, assuming McCoy is out because of a concussion and should have a productive game against the Panthers run defense. Let’s hope the Eagles cut him loose for a full feature workload, because I could easily see this rookie finishing his first start with over 20 carries, 100 yards and a score.
RB. BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Raiders -
The Bengals matched up against a defense Green-Ellis could exploit, and he did just that as the veteran carried the rock 25 times for over 100 yards and a score in a blowout win against the Chiefs. This week Green-Ellis has another solid matchup as the Raiders struggling defense comes to town.
Consider the veteran a worthy RB2 play this week.
RB. Jalen Parmele vs. Titans -
The veteran took over for an ineffective Rashad Jennings and carried the full load against the Texans last week. Parmele will be the feature back until Maurice Jones-Drew returns, and he has a much better matchup against the Titans defense this week. Look to Parmele as a solid flex play.
WR. Michael Crabtree @ Saints -
Erase any concerns about Crabtree suffering without Alex Smith on the field, as backup Colin Kaepernick looked terrific against one of the better defenses in the league last week. Kepernick even found Crabtree for a touchdown and whether it’s Smith or Kaepernick starting this week, Crabtree is a terrific start in New Orleans.
Quietly, Crabtree is starting to make good on the 49ers faith to draft him as a first-round pick a few years back. Making ankle breaking moves in the open field over recent weeks, it appears Crabtree is finally starting to deliver in his first season without nagging foot problems.
WR. Jeremy Kerley vs. Patriots -
The Jets are a bad team, but Jeremy Kerley is worthy of tossing in your lineup if you need help as a WR3 or flex option. The only catch for Kerley is that Aqib Talib is the top corner in the Patriots secondary now, in contrast to the first-time Kerley played against this secondary and had a career game.
Talib should slow Kerley down some, but the Jets will be throwing the football often, playing from behind, so Kerley should pickup valuable yards in garbage time.
Eli Manning @ Packers -
While Manning told the press his has more “pop” in his arm after the teams bye week, I want to see him deliver on the field, before recommending him as a starter in fantasy leagues. The rest should’ve helped Manning and especially his top receiver Hakeem Nicks, so let’s keep him on the bench and see how he does in a favorable matchup against the Packers.
Joe Flacco @ Chargers -
I told fantasy owners to bench Flacco last week, even though he was fresh off a big performance against the Raiders. Flacco was horrible against the Steelers, and while he should have a better game in San Diego, it’s not like the Chargers defense has struggled this year.
The Ravens need to give the Chargers a heavy does of the running game to win, and we should expect big plays down the field this week.
RB. Shonn Greene vs. Patriots -
Greene lost out on red-zone work to Bilal Powell last week and it appears the two are going to work in a committee going forward. The Patriots are solid against the run and the game scripts should tilt towards a heavy pass game, as the Patriots are primed to blowout New York on Thanksgiving.
RB. James Starks vs. Giants -
Coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t happy with Starks performance against the Lions last week, and the Packers have struggled mightily to run the football since Cedric Benson went down. Look for the Packers to split work with Starks and Alex Green, until Benson returns.
RB. LaRod Stephens-Howling vs. Rams -
Beanie Wells is back and will start for the Cardinals going forward. Stephens-Howling has earned a role in the Cardinals offense, but Wells will be counted on to run the football close to twenty times a game, as Stephens-Howling likely picks up somewhere between three and seven touches a game.
WR. Jeremy Maclin / DeSean Jackson @ Panthers -
Until Michael Vick returns as the starter we shouldn’t trust the Eagles receivers for any consistency going forward. Nick Foles struggled against the Redskins and while the Eagles have a decent matchup against the Panthers, this situation isn’t favorable because of ineffective play.
WR. Brandon Lloyd @ Jets -
Lloyd was demoted out of two receiver formations last week as Julian Edelman worked opposite Wes Welker. Not sure this will last, but for now Lloyd need to show us more before we can look to him as a starter in our lineups. This has been a disappointing year for Lloyd.
WR. Larry Fitzgerald vs. Rams -
When you have a receiver with the skill set that Larry Fitzgerald and he’s on the sit’em section, you know the quarterbacks situation is horrible. Fitzgerald struggled to get anything done last week, and unless John Skelton or Kevin Kolb get back on the field, we should look to Fitzgerald as a starter with Ryan Lindley on the field.