It’s not uncommon to see players come in late in the season and quickly pay dividends, especially at running back. Peyton Barber (Tampa) and Kerwynn Williams (Arizona) were great examples last week. Barber got the start in Tampa and produced 143 yards while Williams had 97 yards filling in for Adrian Peterson.
Barber remains a strong consideration this week against a Detroit defense that has allowed a rushing touchdown in seven straight games, the longest streak in the league.
There are several other players who make this list as they suddenly find themselves (and their fresh legs) needed on the field.
▪ Undrafted rookie Tion Green (Detroit) played his first NFL game last week and quickly collected a score. Green is a reasonable flier this week, and will play at Tampa close to his hometown for added inspiration.
▪ Mike Davis (Seattle) has given the Seahawks’ a much-needed spark at running back, and totaled 101 yards on 20 touches last week. At Jacksonville is a tough draw but Davis should remain busy.
▪ If Joe Mixon is out due to a concussion, Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati) makes for a strong start. Bernard filled in for Mixon last week and collected 96 yards on 15 touches.
▪ Several tight ends are also now in play. Dwayne Allen (New England) should have an expanded role with Rob Gronkowski suspended.
▪ If Zach Ertz (concussion) can’t go, Trey Burton (Philadelphia) is also a great one-week option. Burton started for Ertz in Week 9 and delivered a score.
▪ If you are looking for more than just for a one-week option, consider Stephen Anderson (Houston), who is set for a major role with C.J. Fiedorowicz on injured reserve. Anderson is athletic with upside and produced 79 yards and a score last week on 12 targets.
Other Play ’Em
▪ Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) and the Steelers’ passing game gets an easier route this week with the Ravens’ best defensive back, Jimmy Smith, out (he is injured but also suspended by the NFL for four games). It would seem a tough matchup on paper but stick with Roethlisberger at home in prime time.
▪ Deshone Kizer (Cleveland) has some sneaky sleeper potential with Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon as options at receiver. Kizer is tied for the lead league for quarterbacks with five rushing touchdowns. And Green Bay has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks since Week 5.
▪ Keep Jamaal Williams (Green Bay) dialed in regardless of who else is back healthy at running back for the Packers. Williams has been the No. 3 running back over the past three weeks.
▪ Fire up Brandin Cooks (New England) as a high-end option this week. Cooks is due to be fed targets off a quiet game, plus Rob Gronkowski is suspended this week.
▪ Dez Bryant (Dallas) has a good matchup to deliver again this week, especially with star defensive back Janoris Jenkins out for the remainder of the season.
▪ Josh Gordon (Cleveland) looked quite sharp his first game back – drawing 11 targets, four catches and 85 yards (for a healthy 21.3 yards per catch average). Also, Gordon was targeted on 38 percent of his routes, the highest rate of any receiver last week.
▪ Also for the Cowboys, Jason Witten (Dallas) has frequently had big games against the Giants, including a seven-catch, 59-yard game with a score in Week 1. Also, the Giants allow the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
▪ Derek Carr (Oakland) will get Michael Crabtree back but it’s still never that easy to face the Chiefs on the road. In three career games at Arrowhead Stadium, Carr averages 178 passing yards and 0.7 touchdowns per game.
▪ Jordan Howard (Chicago) is simply too hit or miss to trust here in Week 14 crunch time. Howard has averaged 118 total yards in his five good games but 44 yards in his seven bad ones.
▪ Josh Doctson (Washington) has shown he can certainly add in a touchdown on any given play (he has five touchdowns on just 24 receptions this season), but shutdown corner Casey Hayward looms this week.
Alan Satterlee is in his fourth year of writing about fantasy football for The Charlotte Observer. Find him on Twitter at @Speedkills_DFW.