James Starks #44 of the Green Bay Packers rushes against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field on October 28, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
For the first time in a while, there appears to be some hope for fantasy owners struggling to find a running back on the waiver wire. There aren't any must-haves, but several decent possibilities exist for those facing bye-week issues.
RB James Starks, Green Bay Packers
The Packers gave Starks the opportunity to start last week, though it is too soon to tell if they have realized he is their best option on the ground or if they're just tired of Alex Green and decided to try someone else. Even if Green Bay did settle on one of the two, the starting ground gainer for the Packers isn't likely to do that much fantasy scoring. Neither back scored, and Starks saw more carries (17 for 61 yards vs. Green's 11 carries for 53 yards). Green caught a couple of passes out of the backfield, but Starks was on the field at the end of the game.
The Packers are off this week, so the mystery of who will get more carries will have to wait another week. This late in the season, anything from a running back on waivers is a victory, so the 15-20 carries and 50-75 yards the Green Bay starter is likely to register is a welcome addition to any fantasy roster.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers
Sanders is the "waiting in the wings" wideout for the Steelers, and if Antonio Brown should miss any time, Sanders will get a significant bump in playing time and fantasy production. The Steelers have been mum on Brown's condition, and this will likely stay hidden right up until game time this week. In the meantime, those in need at the wideout position can add Sanders and hope he sees some significant action.
RB Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
The Lions' running back situation is similar to Green Bay's, in that the quarterback and wideouts score most of the fantasy points. Bell recorded 73 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries while also catching three passes for 36 yards. Mikel Leshoure got the lion's share of carries (16 carries for 70 yards) and Kevin Smith was in the mix as well, so Bell's numbers are not going to be predictable from week-to-week.
RB Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders
Injuries to both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson have shuffled things in the Oakland backfield. McFadden is indicating that he will play this week, but he'll likely be a game-time decision. Goodson is in the same boat, so Reese is next up on the depth chart. Though primarily a fullback, Reece was on the field when McFadden and Goodson went to the sideline this past week. All he did was catch eight passes for 95 yards and a score. With the status of the two in front of him in limbo, Reece is worth owning in all formats.
RB Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints
The Saints are another team getting hit by the injury bug as Darren Sproles is slated to miss a few games with a broken hand. Mark Ingram has been a disappointment, and Pierre Thomas is more of a third-down threat, so the opportunity for Ivory to see the field on a regular basis is very real. The Saints have thought highly enough of him to keep him on the roster, and having this much depth is now paying off. Ivory found the end zone on Monday night. Look for him to be in the mix for the Saints as New Orleans splits things up between Ivory, Thomas and Ingram.
On the radar
WR Kevin Ogletree, Dallas Cowboys
Despite being questionable heading into last week's game, Ogletree played and caught three passes for 96 yards and a score on Sunday night. Something clearly isn't right with starter Dez Bryant, whether it is physical or something else. The Cowboys will need someone to step up and pick up some stats if Bryant is unable to do so.
WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck is coming of age, and the Colts are turning into an impressive passing offense. Hilton grabbed six passes for 102 yards and a score on a day when the Colts passed the ball for more than 400 yards. With pass-friendly defenses like New England and Buffalo upcoming, Hilton is worth a look for those in need at the wideout position.
TE Joel Dreessen, Denver Broncos
In an effort to find a tight end worth picking up, this week we go back to Denver. Dreesen was productive against the New England Patriots (four catches for 21 yards and a score) and San Diego Chargers (six catches for 57 yards), but registered a goose egg against the New Orleans Saints. A bounce-back week against the Cincinnati Bengals, where he once again found the end zone while catching four passes for 38 yards, lands Dreessen back on this week's list, as he is only owned in 33% of online leagues. There's not a lot of upside, but Dreessen is a red-zone target for Peyton Manning, so a score to go along with a handful of catches will likely be his regular numbers.