Friday, September 28, 2012

Homer Guide: AFC East Week 4 fantasy glance


It all really can change in a flash.

While a couple of AFC East running backs remain in the top tier of the fantasy rankings at the end of Week 3, bigger concerns have come up regarding their health.

Buffalo Bills breakout star C.J. Spiller went down late in the second quarter vs. the Browns with a shoulder injury, while Miami Dolphins playmaker Reggie Bush missed the second half (and overtime) of his team's OT-decided affair with a minor knee injury.

Undoubtedly, other running backs in the league are catching up with Spiller and Bush (Spiller remains the top-ranked NFL fantasy player; Bush dropped down to No. 5), and will continue to do so if each misses time moving forward. But, remember: as players go down, new ones step up. Keep a keen eye out for those backups to step into primary roles.

Thumbs Up:

Santonio Holmes — Week 3: 9 rec for 147 yds; Season: 16 rec for 243 yds (WR, Jets)
It seems like Holmes is ready to explode after a slow start to the season. He’s only found the end zone once so far, but he had more catches and yards last week than he did in Week 1 and 2 combined.

Stevie Johnson — Week 3: 7 rec for 51 yds, 1 TD; Season: 13 rec for 172 yds, 3 TD (WR, Bills)
His numbers aren’t monstrous, but they’re consistent. Johnson has scored a touchdown in each of his first three games, including one last week when he was listed on the injury report with a minor injury. It was his best effort of the young season, and he remains QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target.

Thumbs Down:

Steven Ridley — Week 3: 37 yards; Season: 233 yds, 1 TD, 5 rec for 51 yds (RB, Patriots)
After an impressive opening-week performance, Ridley’s stock has been on the decline. Fellow Patriots RB Danny Woodhead has picked up some extra touches and Shane Vereen is set to make his return soon after missing the beginning of the season with a foot injury.

Rob Gronkowski — Week 3: 2 rec for 21 yds; Season: 14 rec for 156 yds, 2 TD (TE, Patriots)
He’s stepping into a bigger blocking role in the absence of Aaron Hernandez, and his season-total so far this year looks like that of a single game last year. Look for that to change.

Temporary Must-Start:

Tashard Choice — Week 3: 91 yds, 2 rec for 8 yds; Season: 131 yds, 2 rec for 8 yds (RB, Bills)
With the Bills' No. 1 and 2 running backs — or the No. 1s —both injured coupled with the way Buffalo's offensive line has been run-blocking this year, Choice deserves a start. Both Spiller and Fred Jackson are questionable, so even if one or both play, they'll be very limited.

Poised to Emerge:

Jeremy Kerley — Week 3: 2 rec for 73 yds, TD; Season: 8 rec for 185 yds, 2 TD, 1 Ret TD (WR, Jets)
Kerley found the end zone last week with only two catches, but he’s up against a tough and tight San Francisco defense this week. Still, a huge effort by fellow Jets WR Holmes last week infers that Kerley may lose out on being targeted, but other Jets WR Stephen Hill is currently nursing a hamstring. That should mean a few more looks for Kerley.

Wes Welker — Week 3: 8 rec for 142 yds; Season: 16 rec for 251 yds (WR, Patriots)
Everyone thought Welker was a goner after WR Julian Edelman got the start over him early in the season, but look at him now. He’s since come into his own, despite the fact that he hasn’t scored yet this season. His big game last week proves he’s still a major factor. Expect a TD or two this week vs. division-rival Buffalo.

Close-Eye Worthy:

Jets Defense — Week 3: 1 INT, 1 Fumble, 1 TD; Season: 4 INT, 2 Fumbles, 2 Def. TD, 1 Ret. TD
They’re the highest-ranked AFC East defensive unit, and the Jets, as a team, are improving every week. Even with the heartbreaking loss of All-Pro cornerback Derelle Revis, Coach Rex Ryan’s defense remains competent and able, though it faces a huge task in the 49ers this week, making it a borderline start.

Reggie Bush — Week 3: 61 yds, 1 rec for 1 yd; Season: 302 yds, 2 TD, 10 rec for 72 yds (RB, Dolphins)
Thankfully Bush’s knee injury suffered last week is not serious. He’s been kept out of practice all week to rest it up and get back to his explosive self. He said he’ll play this weekend, but the Cardinals defense has been stingy all season, and coming off an injury, he might be taking a back seat to another player on your squad with a better matchup.

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