So, you were sitting there on your couch, enjoying the first great Thursday Night Football game of the season, minding your own business, when the bad news hit. Your biggest fantasy star, your top pick, is officially ruled out for this week due to injury. Cue the panic. Four consensus first round fantasy choices: Calvin Johnson (ankle), A.J. Green (toe), Jimmy Graham (shoulder), and Montee Ball (groin), will all be out at least one game. As all fantasy owners know, the choice between one free agent or another could make or break your week,and one week can make or break your season. Don't worry, we're here to help. Stick to these guys, and you'll have your opponent slamming their phone against the sofa as he watches your point total skyrocket.
Jeremy Ross, WR, Detroit Lions
We're assuming that Detroit's No. 2 wide-out, Golden Tate, is already owned. If not, grab him immediately. Still, with the way the Lions sling the ball around, Jeremy Ross has some serious appeal this week. Since you've probably never heard of him, let's give a bit of background:
Despite not seeing the field much last season, Ross flashed his big play potential on special teams. He scored two return TDs, and finished near the top of the league in both kickoff and punt return average. Many thought that Ryan Broyles would come in and steal the Lions' No. 3 WR spot this year, but as the weeks go by, Ross, the best speed option on the team, has solidified his role in the offense.
In week 4 against the Jets, when Calvin Johnson was playing, Ross got behind the defense and hauled in a 59 yard TD. Without Calvin this week, QB Matt Stafford can still be expected to take a few deep shots against a mediocre Vikings' secondary. He's definitely a boom-or-bust kind of play, but there's a chance for a big day here.
Bonus Team Sleeper: Eric Ebron, TE, DET
Mohamed Sanu, WR, CIN
This one is quite the obvious choice, but his production is hard to ignore. Sanu has been filling in as Cincinnati's No. 2 receiver all season, as Marvin Jones has missed the entire year to date with a foot injury. He's already racked up 455 yards and 2 TDs as a secondary target, so we can only imagine that he'll be the primary option with A.J. Green on the sidelines.
Since coming into the league, Green has been near the top of the league in targets every season. On top of what Sanu would normally receive, we expect him to see at least half of the balls that would normally be thrown to Green. In addition, Bengals' TE Tyler Eifert is also out with an elbow injury. Cincinnati is expected to stick with a run-first offensive game-plan, but even so, they'll have to throw the ball at least 25 times. If Sanu can grab 10 targets, which is very much in the realm of possibility, he's a top tier option.
Bonus Team Sleeper: Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos
Another high-round pick, Montee Ball, went down with a serious looking groin injury on Sunday, leaving a void in the fantasy friendly Broncos' backfield. Peyton Manning’s running backs, from Marshall Faulk, to Edgerrin James, to Joseph Addai, to Knowshon Moreno, have all had huge seasons as the lead runner in a Peyton-led offense. So, who’s the next man up?
Ronnie Hillman has had an up-and-down NFL career so far. He’s been inactive more than he's been on the field through two-plus seasons, so it’s clear that the Broncos aren’t sold on him as a long-term piece. However, he soaked up 15 carries on Sunday after Ball departed in the third quarter. Hillman should get the first crack at RB for Denver, and the possibility of 15+ touches in that high-powered offense will make him an appealing option until Montee returns.
Bonus Team Sleeper: C.J. Anderson, RB, DEN
Daniel Fells, TE, New York Giants
Okay, we know this one is really a stretch, and may be geared more toward those in deep leagues, but hear us out. Jimmy Graham is hurt, AND the Saints are on a bye. It's well known that the TE pool this year is slim pickings, so if you need a fill-in for a couple of weeks, you're really looking for a guy who can find the end-zone and not ruin your odds of winning. Fells just may be your man.
Over the past few weeks, the hype behind Giants' starting TE Larry Donnell was outrageous. Why did Donnell really shine? Well, Eli Manning has finally figured out this new up-tempo offense, and is playing his best football in years. It's well known that when Eli is on his game, he loves his safety-blanket receivers over the middle. Again, Fells fits the mold. Though he does serve as the second-string TE, he's found the endzone in three straight weeks. The Giants match-up with Philadelphia this week, who field one of the weakest defenses in the NFL. Expect New York to be in the red zone early and often, so there's opportunity here.
In addition, with the injury to NYG RB Rashad Jennings, Eli may opt to throw more often in the red zone. Fells may only grab one or two catches on the night, but there's a strong chance that he finds pay-dirt. Desperate owners could do much worse than an eight point fantasy day from a fill-in tight end.
Bonus Positional Sleeper: Tim Wright, TE, NE
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