McCoy, McGahee injuries open door for new starters off waiver wire
Denver's explosiveness makes Ronnie Hillman a better option than Bryce Brown
James Starks, Vick Ballard have emerged as starters for their respective teams
Oakland's Brandon Myers ranks fourth among tight ends in most scoring systems
Another two running backs went down in Week 11. That means two possible starting running backs are on the waiver wire as the fantasy playoffs approach. How do they grade out?
The first injury happened because Andy Reid decided to run LeSean McCoy when down 25 points with less than two minutes left because the Eagles "were trying to catch up and win the game." McCoy was concussed, and his status for Week 12 is in doubt.
McCoy's backup is Bryce Brown, a seventh-round rookie who has rushed 32 times for 141 yards this season. The Eagles' offense doesn't score much, but it does move the ball up and down the field. Carolina's run defense is middle-of-the-pack, but the teams don't play until Monday night. Brown is really only insurance for McCoy owners.
The other option is a little more appealing: Ronnie Hillman will likely take over the starting job in Denver with Willis McGahee out with a torn MCL. Hillman rushed 12 times for 43 yards after McGahee left last Sunday's game. The Broncos play a weak Chiefs run defense this Sunday, so Hillman should put up decent numbers, especially if Denver gets an early lead.
Carson Palmer, Raiders (71 percent owned): Another quality performance in defeat! Palmer threw 40 times, completing 22 passes for 312 yards, two touchdowns and two picks. He is already rostered in most leagues, but if you can get him, do so. He's good insurance and might be better than your current backup.
James Starks, Packers (22 percent): So much for Alex Green. Starks carried 25 times in Week 11; Green didn't touch the ball. Starks didn't do much against a solid Lions' defense (75 yards rushing, one catch for six yards), but he's a starting running back who's likely on the waiver wire at the end of the season. Grab him for depth if needed.
Vick Ballard, Colts (34 percent): Ballard's the best fantasy option at running back in Indianapolis, but Delone Carter took a goal-line score from him last Sunday. Still, Ballard carried 16 times for 72 yards -- and only five of those carries came in the second half, when the Colts were down big to New England. Indy will be closer against the Bills, Lions and Titans the next three weeks.
Marcel Reece, Raiders (66 percent): This is your last chance. Despite the Raiders getting plastered by the Saints Sunday, Reece put up big numbers: 19 carries for 103 yards and four receptions for 90 yards. Palmer airs it out a lot, but Reece gets a decent amount of targets (five on Sunday) and has 32 carries in two games starting since Darren McFadden went down. McFadden's an outside possibility in Week 12, so check before you start Reece.
Julian Edelman, Patriots (four percent): Edelman helped the Pats torch the Colts last Sunday, catching five passes for 58 yards and a touchdown (on seven targets) and rushing once for 47 yards. Then Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm on the last extra point of the game. Gronk is possibly out for the rest of the fantasy season; Edelman is a good fantasy starter in the meantime.
Danario Alexander, Chargers (24 percent): The real-life waiver wire wonder had another big game Sunday, catching seven passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets. He now has 15 receptions for 291 yards and three touchdowns in the past three weeks. With Philip Rivers looking more his way each week, Alexander is someone who could win a fantasy playoff game for an owner. Grab him.
Cecil Shorts (43 percent) and Justin Blackmon (25 percent), Jaguars: Blackmon's breakout game saw him put up seven receptions on 13 targets for 236 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown. It was a good fantasy week against a solid Houston secondary for Shorts, too, who scored for the second straight week and caught three passes for 81 yards on six targets. Jacksonville gets the Titans and Bills next. Shorts has been a worthy fantasy receiver for the past couple of weeks, so go after him first, but grab Blackmon if you can't get Shorts.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts (23 percent): A week after being targeted once, Hilton caught six passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns versus the Patriots. His numbers came after Donnie Avery was concussed; if Avery's out for any period of time Hilton is a good pickup.
Brandon Myers, Raiders (40 percent): The Raiders' tight end was concussed the previous game but led the Raiders in targets again last Sunday, with 10. He caught six passes for 55 yards and a score, yet is somehow unowned in a majority of leagues despite being the fourth-ranked tight end in most scoring systems. The Raiders' next four weeks are at Cincinnati, versus Cleveland, versus Denver and versus Kansas City. Myers is going to get a ton of looks. Pick him up if you need a tight end.
Dallas Clark, Buccaneers (12 percent): He caught seven passes for 58 yards on 11 targets -- including the game-winner in OT -- against the Panthers. He scored in Week 10, too, but that was his only reception. Tampa's opponent this week, Atlanta, is top-10 in points allowed to tight ends.
Lawrence Tynes, Giants (64 percent): He's available in a lot of leagues because the Giants are coming off their bye. Yes, he's an outdoor kicker in a cold-weather city, but New York doesn't have any horrible matchups for the next three weeks, and Tynes is second in fantasy among kickers. Plus, he's been remarkably consistent.
Adam Vinatieri, Colts (27 percent): He still kicked a field goal and three extra points, even though the Patriots wrecked the Colts. This week Indy has a better matchup against the Bills at home, where the Colts are 4-1. Expect them to move the ball and get Vinatieri chances.
Arizona Cardinals (38 percent): Fresh off a performance in which they forced Matt Ryan into five interceptions, the Cardinals face the Rams in Glendale. Don't expect five INTs again, but Arizona's pass rush should wreak havoc.
Carolina Panthers (four percent): The Panthers play the Eagles this week. If you're by any chance in one of the 13 percent of leagues where Denver is inexplicably available, grab the Broncos, who are a top defense and play Kansas City this week.