Fantasy football Risers/Sliders (cont.)
Reggie Bush, Dolphins -- The wheels have officially fallen off the Reggie Bush-as-lead-fantasy-back campaign following a paltry 20-yards-on-10-carries showing in Buffalo last Thursday. Miami's offense as a whole was pitiful against a defense ranked in the 30s in nearly every meaningful category. The lone glimmer of hope is that Bush's backup, Daniel Thomas, hasn't set the world on fire recently either. Unless Bush shows up against the Seahawks or Patriots the next two games it'll be impossible to trust him with a starting spot in the fantasy playoffs.
Donald Brown, Colts -- What was billed as a timeshare in the Colts' backfield has left Brown shortchanged. The oft-injured back managed just six touches (four runs and two catches) in the Colts' complete submission to the Patriots. Meanwhile, Vick Ballard got the ball 17 times and is looking more and more like the internal choice for lead back duties. With just one opening day touchdown to his credit, there's no reason to hold onto Brown while there are likely many better options available for the taking on your waiver wire.
Justin Blackmon, Jaguars -- Welcome to the NFL, Justin Blackmon. While the rest of his rookie brethren were tearing up the league, Blackmon, the fifth overall selection (taken 26 picks ahead of Doug Martin and 87 before T.Y. Hilton) trudged through obscurity in Jacksonville, failing to record more than six catches or 67 yards in any game. Then came Houston. Blackmon chewed up the Texans for 236 yards Sunday, including catches of 39, 63 and 81 yards. That was the second-best receiving day in Jaguars franchise history (behind Jimmy Smith) and the third-best in terms of yardage for any receiver this year, behind only Andre Johnson's 273 yards in the same game and Brian Hartline's 253 against Arizona. Dynasty leaguers are already all over Blackmon, but it's time for re-draft owners to take a look, too. Cecil Shorts is a stronger play on a weekly basis and Blackmon won't be this good again this season, but as long as Henne is at quarterback, Blackmon's explosiveness makes him a consideration for WR3 and flex duties from here on.
Danario Alexander, Chargers -- The Chargers big receiver keeps on rising. Owned in less than a quarter of Yahoo! leagues as of Monday morning, Alexander has become a difference maker both in fantasy and for the Chargers. The 6-foot-5, 217-pound wideout has 289 yards and three touchdowns on 17 catches over his three games for San Diego. He has taken over the top spot in formations, and with fellow trees Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd also running in space, he has created a nightmare for opposing defensive backs. The way Alexander is being utilized by Norv Turner could make him one of the top-20 wide receivers of the second half of the season.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals -- Nothing would make me happier than never having to put Fitzgerald, one of the league's great players and gentlemen, on a list like this, but playing for the Cardinals the past few seasons has made that impossible. Arizona's quarterback situation went from bad (John Skelton) to worse (Ryan Lindley) in Atlanta. Fitzgerald was reduced to being a blocker and route runner, managing just a single reception for 11 paltry yards. Fantasy owners and Cardinals fans alike can only imagine what kind of numbers he'd be putting up with a Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or even Robert Griffin III.
Mike Wallace, Steelers -- Already trudging through a down season due to a holdout and a new short passing scheme, Wallace's value may have hit rock-bottom against the Ravens. Byron Leftwich, subbing in for Ben Roethlisberger, could find what should be Pittsburgh's most dangerous weapon just four times for 26 yards in a game nearly completely devoid of offense. Sunday's game represented just the fourth time in his career and first time in more than two seasons that Wallace failed to account for a first down, an extraordinary stat for one of the league's most-explosive deep threats. Roethlisberger is most likely sidelined for another week or two, which does not bode well for Wallace.
Dallas Clark, Buccaneers -- There's something special going on in Tampa Bay, and Clark is a big part of it. A team leader in the locker room, Clark also has led on the field, catching touchdowns in three of his last five games while bringing in a team- (and personal season) high seven catches for 58 yards and the game-winning score in overtime against the Panthers. Over the past four weeks he's been a top-12 tight end and is worthy of starting consideration.
Garrett Graham, Texans -- Owen Daniels is the undisputed top tight end in Houston, but Joel Dreessen showed that there was room for another borderline fantasy-caliber tight end with the Texans. This year, Graham, the former Wisconsin Badger who was instrumental in the Texans' fourth-quarter comeback against the Jags has filled that slot. Targeted nine times (matching Daniels), Graham hauled in eight passes in Week 11, including two fourth-quarter scores that sent the game into overtime. Only Jimmy Graham (four) has more tight-end touchdowns than the Texans' Graham in November, tying him with Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Myers for second in the league. Keep a close eye on Thanksgiving Day for how he's used against the Lions. With Houston's weak wideout corps beyond Andre Johnson, Graham will be a decent stretch-run pickup if the targets keep coming.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots -- Perhaps the greatest fantasy tight end ever suffered a broken arm against the Colts that will keep him out for the rest of the fantasy regular season, a major blow to the hopes of scores of owners. While it's impossible to replace someone who ranks first overall at his position and fifth among all pass-catchers, there are enough available options to help you possibly squeak through: Brandon Myers, Kyle Rudolph, Dustin Keller, Marcedes Lewis and the aforementioned Dallas Clark. Visanthe Shiancoe will also see an increased role for New England and is a good call in deeper leagues. The best option, of course, is trying to trade for someone like Aaron Hernandez, Jermaine Gresham or Antonio Gates, but with most deadlines over, the wire may be the only option.