A trend in this risers and fallers column has been players rising to the occasion after injuries to their teammates. Running backs, in particular, have been featured heavily in these articles as players whose stock is rising simply because the are receiving previously unavailable playing time. This brings us to…
Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon, RB, Buffalo Bills
Brown and Dixon are those guys this week. The Bills run game took a big hit last week with it’s top two backs, Spiller and Jackson going down with injuries (collarbone and groin respectively). After Spiller and Jackson exited the game last week Dixon had 13 carries for 51 yards. He should receive the bulk of the carries for the Bills until Spiller and Jackson return. Brown is the pass-catching specialist out of the backfield and should be featured heavily in that respect.
Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams
Contrary to Brown and Dixon, Mason is rising by simply being a baller. He has completely outplayed his competition through seven weeks. I mentioned last week that Zac Stacy’s stock was falling in St. Louis partly due to the emergence of Mason. Tre then kindly followed that observation up with 18 carries for 85 yards and a score on Sunday. I allowed myself a quick pat on the back. With Stacy proving unable to do much of anything other than plod along, and Benny Cunningham receiving a reliable dose of just five to ten touches a game, Mason looks like he’s locked down the feature back role for the Rams.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
We’ve got risers due to injury, a riser based on performance, and now we have a riser resulting from a trade. Baldwin had a huge game in the first of the post-Harvin era in Seattle, hauling in seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. Baldwin should continue to see a lot of targets out of the slot, and despite Seattle’s recent struggles, I expect them to get right soon with Baldwin being a key player.
Denard Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
The former Michigan quarterback absolutely went off against Cleveland last week. With a 22 carries for 127 yards and a score performance, it seems highly unlikely that Robinson will lose his starting job back to the likes of Toby Gerhart or Storm Johnson. There are definite concerns about how many carries he can realistically expect to get per game given his slight frame and lack of elite power, but he’s still a solid flex play with RB2 potential on a weekly basis.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears
It’s hard to pinpoint a reason for Marshall’s struggles. Perhaps it’s lingering ankle issues, perhaps it’s the play of his quarterback, but whatever the reason, Marshall has not performed like fantasy owners expected him to this season. In five of seven games, Marshall has less than 50 yards receiving, and outside of the his three TD game against San Francisco in week 2, he only has two touchdowns for the season. The whole Bears offense in struggling, including the aforementioned…
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
Cutler has received the bulk of the blame for the Bears offensive woes. He’s been called a reckless gunslinger who’s too careless with the ball his entire careers. That talk has been hotter than ever this year and the Bears offense has been undoubtedly the most disappointing unit in football. In a seemingly plus matchup against the ‘Fins last week, Jay only managed 190 yards, a touchdown, and two turnovers. The weapons surrounding Cutler will keep him fantasy relevant, but until he fixes his 32.4% completion percentage on deep passes (fourth-worst in the league), he slips from a QB1 to a QB2.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
The veteran Wayne has struggled all season. Reports are that he’ll be out a couple weeks with an elbow injury, but even before that, Wayne only produced one 100-yard receiving game on the season and only one touchdown, both occurring in the same week. When Wayne returns in a couple weeks, nothing more than a WR3 should be expected from him.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
After starting the season on fire, Ryan has fallen (literally) to an injury-riddled offensive line that has left him on back instead of celebrating touchdowns. Despite great targets in Julio Jones and Roddy White, Ryan looks way too shaky to start in one QB leagues. Fantasy owners should simply hope the offensive line gets it together soon, Ryan regains confidence, and only think about starting him at home in the dome.