The NFL season is nearing fantasy playoffs, and by now, fantasy players have zeroed in on their optimal lineups for each week going forward. Injuries happen, and they can often derail a championship run if a top player goes down. On the flip side, a handcuff can help push a team over the top if they have the backup to the player who misses time. If spots are available on your roster, here are some names to consider rostering to either secure your player’s production or dip into another owners shortcomings.
Spencer Ware – Chiefs (4.1% owned ESPN)
The Chiefs offense produces five high-end fantasy options with Kareem Hunt being the most consistent outside of Patrick Mahomes. Ware was set to be the lead back before the 2017 season before being injured. He is the clear RB2 on the team and would be able to step right in if Hunt were to miss some time. Ware isn’t the same runner but the drop off in production wouldn’t be grave. Ware looks like a must own at this point in the season, especially for those who roster Hunt.
Malcolm Brown – Rams (3.2% owned ESPN)
Sean McVay could turn Ronald Jones into a productive runner if he had to. That being said, Brown would be a home run if Gurley were to miss some time. Gurley makes this offense go, and there are maybe two other runners in this league that could challenge him for the top spot. McVay involves Gurley every way possible. Brown would see similar touches if he assumed the role as their starting RB. Brown is not near the same level, but I’m a firm believer that any starting RB in the offense would be a low-end RB1 at worst.
Mike Davis – Seahawks (14.1% owned ESPN)
Davis has had 7+ touches in each of the last four games for the Seahawks. In his lone start this season, Davis rushed for over 100 yards with two scores and posted 28.4 points in PPR leagues. The Seahawks offensive line has done a complete 180, and their identity starts with the run. Chris Carson who is only in his second season hasn’t shown that he can carry the load for a full season dating back to his days in high school. Davis would be in a prime position with a team that loves to run the ball, and he would likely assume the lead role with Rashaad Penny as the backup of Carson were to miss time.
C.J. Anderson – Panthers (6.9% owned ESPN)
McCaffrey has had mediocre games on the ground, but he receives enough touches each game through the air to make him an RB1. Anderson is the only other RB on the roster with over 10 Fantasy points this season, and he’s the obvious handcuff to McCaffrey. Anderson is not nearly as explosive or dynamic as McCaffrey, but he does offer the ability to catch passes out of the backfield with 30+ targets in 3 of his past four seasons and having 25+ receptions in those seasons as well.
Stevan Ridley – Steelers (0.1% owned ESPN)
James Conner has been the bellcow for the Steelers this season. If he were to miss time the questions will surround a return of Le’Veon Bell. If Bell continues to hold out, then Ridley would be the likely candidate to be the lead back in a committee with rookie Jaylen Samuels. Samuels is the more dynamic player with a ton of versatility, but the Steelers staff would probably put their trust in the veteran Ridley. Ridley would only be an option in a very deep league.
Returning from the IR
D’Onta Foreman – Texans (6.5% owned ESPN)
Foreman has yet to be activated, and coach Bill O’Brien stated the Texans would “more than likely wait until after the week 10 bye” to do so. Foreman is a second-year player coming off a torn Achilles. He was a favorite around the league last year to overtake the starting job as the Texans runner during some point in the season due to the mediocrity of Lamar Miller. He can add something to their run game this season and is a nice stash for the playoffs should the Texans get him involved.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling – Packers (4.7% owned ESPN)
MVS low percentage ownership comes as a surprise due to him being an immediate impact if Davante Adams were to miss any time. MVS has averaged 15.2 PPR points over his last three games. Both MVS and fellow rookie WR Equanimeous St. Brown (0.3% owned ESPN) would have huge roles in a Rodgers led offense.
Chris Conley – Chiefs (0.4% owned ESPN)
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense has shown the ability to facilitate multiple productive players in their offense. Tyreek Hill is dealing with a strained groin but has practiced this week. Sammy Watkins has battled injuries before, and if either were to miss time, Conley is the benefactor. Conley posted a 4.35 40 at the combine and has a 6’2” 213 lb frame. Conley has a wealth of potential that has failed to come to fruition up to this point. He should be a priority add outside of the top RB handcuffs if there are roster spots available.