Fantasy football Risers/Sliders: Dalton plays into elite QB class
Only Matt Ryan has thrown for more touchdown passes than Andy Dalton in 2012
Dez Bryant has emerged lately with 21 catches for 200 yards over last two games
Shonn Greene may find trouble with Patriots defense that limited Marshawn Lynch
There's a lot to cover this week in risers and sliders, including the Bengals impressing in defeat, the Jets' main weapon finally showing up and a hot and cold day for a much-maligned Cowboy.
Shonn Greene, Jets -- Welcome back to the 2012 fantasy football season, Shonn Greene. Your owners missed you while you were on your productivity hiatus. The leading gainer of the weekend scored three touchdowns against the Colts -- granted, one of the worst rushing defenses in football, yet for a while it appeared that Greene would have trouble gaining three yards a carry against anyone. The Jets want to run, and Greene is their best chance to do so. Despite the big day, you can't always get what you want, including this coming week against a Patriots team that kept the Beast, Marshawn Lynch in check in Seattle.
William Powell, Cardinals -- Let's admit that the Cardinals offense is not that good, save for Larry Fitzgerald, and there's little chance that any of their runners will remind anyone of Ottis Anderson any time soon. But now that Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells are both on the shelf, the best bet for those in need of an Arizona back is Powell, who quickly supplanted LaRod Stephens-Howling as Arizona's primary ball carrier. He's averaging 4.9 yards per carry and is an option as a receiver out of the backfield. If he gets 15-20 touches per game, which is quite possible, he's worthy of a look in games against lesser run defenses on the schedule like the Jets, Falcons and Packers.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers -- The bye week did wonders for the Bucs rookie, who was making his fantasy owners question the sanity of playing him every week. But following his 131 yards from scrimmage, second among running backs to only the aforementioned Greene through Sunday's games, Martin should be back in full good graces. Even impressive numbers by backup LeGarrette Blount (seven carries for 58 yards and a touchdown, much of which came late in the fourth with the game already out of hand) shouldn't dampen your excitement over having Martin on your squad.
Felix Jones, Cowboys -- Here we go again. DeMarco Murray suffered a sprained foot while having a great game against the Ravens and was replaced by the Cowboys' longtime backup, who also had a large day against the fallen Ravens. However, given his history of injuries and failures when given the exact same chances, any idea that Jones will come in and provide consistency for fantasy owners is hard to fathom. The Cowboys don't believe that Murray's injury is severe and it may not cost him any additional playing time, but if it does, I'd be much more likely to use a roster spot on Phillip Tanner than Jones.
Trent Richardson, Browns -- Richardson's rookie season has had more than enough ups and downs, the latest of which is a rib injury that cost him all of the fourth quarter in Cleveland's first win of the season against Cincinnati. Richardson was outgained 56 yards to 37 by backup Montario Hardesty, who also scored the Browns only rushing touchdown in the contest. Hardesty is a solid pickup while Richardson's status remains in doubt.
Steven Jackson, Rams -- As a team the Rams didn't have trouble running against a tough Miami front seven, but individually, Jackson's numbers were disappointing as he gained just 52 yards on 12 carries. His backup, impressive rookie Daryl Richardson, who is most likely to inherit Jackson's job next season, managed 76 yards on 11 carries. Meanwhile, Jackson is plodding along with a 3.6 yards-per-carry average and hasn't scored a touchdown in eight straight games, and 13 of his last 14.
Vick Ballard, Colts -- The hot pickup last week when news of Donald Brown's knee surgery surfaced, Ballard flopped badly against what was the league's second-worst run defense (the Jets), picking up just 25 yards on eight attempts, although that did raise his yards-per-carry average to 2.3 for the season. Even with Brown the Colts aren't a good running team. Without him, they're all Luck.
Mike Williams, Buccaneers -- The surprise of 2010 and flop of 2011, Williams' stock is rising again after this second-straight 100-yard game and his third touchdown of the season. Being paired across the field and in the locker room with Vincent Jackson is paying major dividends for the Bucs and those owners savvy enough to pick him up.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys -- Bryant had a great game against Baltimore before letting a potential game-tying two-point conversion bounce off of his chest. He made a Week 6-high 13 catches for a season-high 105 yards and his first two touchdowns of 2012. Fantasy owners are right to ask where that has been all year, but also should be encouraged by his 21 grabs on 28 targets and 200 yards over his last two outings.
Brandon Gibson, Rams -- The Rams offense is not dead without receptions machine Danny Amendola, but the passes are spread around a bit more. The chief beneficiaries are last week's riser Chris Givens (three receptions, 85 yards) and Gibson, who with seven catches for 91 yards fell just one grab and two yards short of his career single-game highs.
Brian Hartline, Dolphins -- Cortland Finnegan showed Hartline why he's one of the league's top cover corners by blanking Miami's leading receiver Sunday. Literally blanking him for no catches and no targets. While most teams will turn their attention to Hartline now, most won't have a corner the caliber of Finnegan. Still, the fact that Hartline put up a goose-egg on many fantasy scoreboards leaves many owners with legitimate trust issues.
Pierre Garçon, Redskins -- As Garçon's foot saga drags on, the cost-benefit analysis of using a roster space to shield him is becoming increasingly lopsided in favor of dumping him for someone who will help you win games.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders -- It was great to see DHB back on the field after suffering a crushing head injury against the Steelers, and he proved he could take a hit, but unfortunately it came on his only reception of the day. Against Atlanta, the Raiders' offense looked much better than it has for most of the season, but it's still not good and a hesitant DHB would be the fourth fantasy option on the team at best.