With the fantasy football playoffs approaching, the need to find fringe receivers who can be late-season sleepers is important. Teams are dealing with a variety of injuries, which are affording several unheralded players an opportunity to shine. If you can pick them up before the rest of your league, your run through the playoffs will be a fruitful one, for sure.
When the Saints lost Ted Ginn and Cameron Meredith, they set up a multi-week audition for those on their roster and suddenly the world became more familiar with the likes of Tre’Quan Smith and Austin Carr. When it became apparent that Smith would miss the Thanksgiving game against the Falcons with a foot injury, Tommylee Lewis, Dan Arnold and Keith Kirkwood were ready to take center stage. The results weren’t game-changing, but with the leadership of Drew Brees, all three managed to find their way into the end zone.
Sunday’s games likely will afford similar opportunities on a number of teams.
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When the Bengals square off against the Browns this week, both sides have a number of fringe players who could step into the spotlight. Everyone knows Jarvis Landry as the primary wideout for the Browns, but with Antonio Callaway struggling, the team has been forced to get more creative with their personnel.
Running backs Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb have seen their roles in the passing game increase, but wideouts Rashard Higgins and Breshad Perriman are seeing a larger share of the targets, and Higgins has two touchdowns in his past three games.
Meanwhile, the Bengals are fighting their way through A.J. Green’s injury, and if he misses another game, which seems likely, the team needs others to step up and support Tyler Boyd, who has seen a significant increase in coverage recently.
The return of Giovani Bernard has helped in the passing game, John Ross has stepped into a larger role and fringe wideouts like Cody Core and Auden Tate are getting more looks.
In Seattle, Doug Baldwin is questionable, which could mean more work for David Moore and Jaron Brown. With 49ers receiver Pierre Garcon sidelined, Kendrick Bourne is seeing more targets. Look at Seth Roberts in Oakland, Curtis Samuel in Carolina or maybe even Leonte Caroo in Miami.
Not all of these guys are going to hit, but when you need to fill a hole in your lineup, it’s all about the opportunities. Even just an extra two or three targets could mean the difference between going to the playoffs or turning your attention to fantasy baseball.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 4-6 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy sports advice and NFL player rankings.