Far too many people draft a team and forget about it until about halfway through the season, refusing to make any moves (trades or waiver wire) because they have faith in their guy. I know better because I know there are these things called busts and sleepers! Just like in life, there are times when you have to call a spade a spade and move on. Likewise, there are also times when you have to take a leap of faith and pick up a player based on a gut feeling.
That brings me to Raiders RB Latavius Murray. The Raiders head into Week 12 with a 0-10 record, doing their best to run the table in reverse this season. In route to that record they have insisted on trotting out perennial bust Darren McFadden, and a past his prime player in Maurice Jones-Drew. Run DMC has managed an unimpressive 3.5 YPC this year, while MJD has an even worse 2.1 YPC to his credit. While Murray only has 10 carries on the year, he has put up 54 yards rushing for a 5.4 YPC average. Murray has freakish athletic ability and the Raiders have no reason to not see what they have in him down the stretch. Remember when the big box websites start talking about Murray in a couple of weeks, I said it back in Week 12.
Those holding on to Adrian Peterson can safely drop him after an independent arbitrator ruled the NFL can keep him on the exempt list. AP still has an appeal pending, but this was a major blow that severely diminishes his chances of playing this season.
Good news for Bengals fans as Giovani Bernard is back this week, meaning the Thunder and Lightning show is back in action. Jeremy Hill's impressive play has certainly thrown some questions out there as to what the fantasy value of each is going forward, and the best answer I can give you is Bernard is likely to be eased back in against the Texans, then he'll see a slightly reduced role after that. His value isn't going away, but Hill has earned more carries. I'd consider both players RB2's until we see exactly how the workload shapes up.
Mark Sanchez – Eagles: While Sanchez did finish with a 346-2-2 line in Week 11, he was far from impressive in doing so. His stats largely came in garbage-time with the Eagles down by as much as 33 points in the 3rd quarter. That being said, he gets a juicy match-up to bounce back with this week against the 2-8 Titans. Sanchez has too much talent on the offense to not put up numbers against a team that has nothing to play for, and is already looking towards next year's draft. I'd consider Sanchez a mid-range QB1 this week.
Colin Kaepernick – 49ers: I'm far from a Kaepernick fan, and I personally don't own him in a single one of the 37 leagues I play in (yes, I said 37 you rookies). However, I also can't ignore a good match-up when I see it, and the Redskins give up the 4th most fantasy points to QBs this season at 23.2 PPG. With Frank Gore finally putting up rushing yards (88 yards averaged in last two games), the Redskins will have to respect the run. That will open the pass up and I could see Kaepernick finishing with 300-plus yards and a few TDs.
C.J. Anderson – Broncos: With Ronnie Hillman out again this week, and Montee Ball out 2-3 weeks, the Broncos will continue to use Anderson in the lead-back role. While the Dolphins do have a very good D-Line, Peyton Manning should have a chip on his shoulder after the Broncos were dominated by the Rams last week. If the game gets out of hand, Anderson should see enough work to make him worth an RB2 play this week.
Denard Robinson – Jaguars: Robinson has been nothing short of impressive since taking over the starting RB role for the Jaguars (5.3 YPC and 97.3 YPG). This week he faces a Colts defense that gives up 22.7 fantasy PPG to RBs, the 6th most in the NFL through 11 weeks. There is some worry about the score being a factor and taking Shoelace out of the equation, but he has proven himself over the last four games enough for us to trust him again following the bye. I'd consider Robinson a RB2 for fantasy purposes.
Josh Gordon – Browns: Gordon is finally back from his NFL suspension, and fantasy owners who have been patient will be rewarded in Week 12. There is no reason whatsoever to think the Falcons can stop Gordon when they have been unable to stop anyone all year long. Brian Hoyer has been fairly solid as the Browns QB without Gordon, so his effectiveness will only improve with a WR who led the NFL in receivers yards just last year.
Jordan Matthews – Eagles: Matthews has now scored in three straight games, while posting back-to-back 100-yard performances. Riley Cooper on the other hand might as well be Cooper Manning with how little the Eagles involve him in their gameplan! Matthews has proven he is the superior WR and he's now producing enough fantasy points to be played as a WR3 for teams needing help there. He's owned in 32.8 percent of NFL.com leagues currently, so people are catching on to his recent uptick in value.
Larry Donnell – Giants: Donnell may have disappointed owners with his performance since his 3 TD game back I Week 4, but people need to understand that TEs are largely TD dependant in order to be fantasy worthy. The Giants have a tough division rivalry game this week against a Cowboys team that generously gives up 11.2 PPG to fantasy TEs this season. Not only that, they have allowed 8 TDs to TEs this season, which ties them for the 3rd most in the NFL.
Buffalo Bills defense: Michael Vick has yet to hit the 200-yard mark with his arm this season, and he has 3 turnovers to equal his 3 TDs. Statistically speaking, for every good thing he does he cancels it out with something bad. The Bills have improved on last year's 8th ranked fantasy defense this year, ranking out #6 so far this season. Vick may be better than Geno Smith, but not by enough to make the Jets a dangerous offensive team.
Russell Wilson – Seahawks: The only thing really keeping Wilson afloat in fantasy leagues lately is his legs. Not only does Wilson have just one 300-yard game this season, but he has failed to throw for more than 250 yards in 8-of-10 games this season. The Cardinals have allowed the 3rd fewest points in the NFL this season (176) and Wilson has struggled moving the ball through the air this year. If the Cardinals can bottle up the run (both RB and QB), Wilson will be a disappoint.
Matt Ryan – Falcons: Ryan has 20 sacks this season, a number that has him tied for the 8th most in the NFL this season. Because the Falcons O-Line has been little more than turnstiles this year, Ryan is barely clinging to QB1 status with a #11 ranking right now. This week he gets a Browns defense that gives up the 5th fewest fantasy points to QBs this year at 17.7 PPG. Julio Jones is likely to be shadowed by Joe Haden, making Ryan a tough sell as a QB1 this week.
Jonas Gray – Patriots: A stat correction gave Gray an official line of 37 carries for 201 yards and 4 TDs in Week 11. Those types of numbers don't come around often, so it is a little surprising that I am saying sit Gray while EVERYONE else is jumping on the bandwagon to start him. Let me give you three reasons why. First, the game was close until the 3rd quarter, when the Patriots simply pulled away and they turned to the run. Second, all four of Gray's TD runs came from inside the 4-yard line. And third, the Lions lead the league in rush yards allowed per game (68.8), YPC allowed (3.03) and are currently tied for 2nd in touchdowns allowed (4). There are going to be far too many people picking up Gray and sticking him into their line-up because of what he did last week. The truth of the matter is Gray set the bar so high in Week 11 that he can't possibly live up to the hype it created.
Bishop Sankey – Titans: It always amazes me how much some websites jump all over a running back despite the glaring holes in his game. Did you know Sankey's season-high for rushing yards was 61 back in Weeks 3 and 6? Did you also know that he has just 2 TDs on the season with a 3.9 YPC average? If you remember from above, McFadden has a YPC of 3.5 this year. There really isn't much difference in 3.5 and 3.9 from a realistic standpoint. Sankey 's fantasy value has far more fiction to it than fact.
Steve Smith – Ravens: There was no better WR to own in fantasy football up until about Week 7. That was when Smith remembered he was Steve Smith and the 35-year-old WR came crashing back down to Earth. In the four games since then he has averaged 3.5 receptions and 38.8 YPG receiving. It looks like the Ravens finally realized that [Steve] Smith is past his prime whereas Torrey Smith is 25-years-old and still hasn't entered his prime. Smith's value is plummeting and he is more of a WR4 than a fantasy starter.
Larry Fitzgerald – Cardinals: Fitzgerald has been nothing shy of a fantasy bust this season after being drafted at the top of the 4th round on average. So far this season Fitzgerald is ranked #32 for WRs on NFL.com, giving him late 7th round value. The loss of Carson Palmer crushes any hope of Fitzgerald redeeming himself this season. If you can't bring yourself to cut him loose, at least do yourself a favor and stop plugging him into your line-up.
Vernon Davis – 49ers: Speaking of colossal fantasy busts, Vernon Davis shouldn't be owned in any format for any reason whatsoever. Now, if there was a game he could break out in and put up big fantasy numbers in, it would be this week against the Redskins. But the odds are against him as he has managed just 2.3 receptions and 22.0 yards per-game this season. I'd go grab Mychal Rivera if you are desperate for a TE going forward, or Charles Clay if you needed a streamer.
Miami Dolphins defense: The Dolphins have the 2nd best fantasy defense this season. But, that won't be the case this week as they head on the road to take on a Broncos team looking to bounce back from an upset loss to the Rams last week. I could think of probably 25 other defenses I'd rather play than the Dolphins this week, making them one of the least desirable defenses on my list.