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BACKUP PLAN
David Sabino
September 26, 2011
They may have begun the season on the bench or in part-time roles, but after two weeks they have proved that they're worthy of a roster spot
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September 26, 2011

Backup Plan

They may have begun the season on the bench or in part-time roles, but after two weeks they have proved that they're worthy of a roster spot

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Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders The rookie from Tennessee was the star of Oakland's training camp, which might sound like being the thinnest kid at fat camp. But last week Moore showed he can carry his weight when it counts, with five catches for 146 yards, including an acrobatic 50-yard touchdown. That's why he has rocketed up the depth chart and should be active in every league—even with the coverage-crazy Jets coming up on Sunday.

David Nelson, WR, Bills Calling a Buffalo player "anonymous" may be redundant, but it's the truly unknown among the Bills who have led the team's unexpected offensive outburst. Through two games, Nelson, a 6'5" second-year wideout, has established himself as a point-per-reception stud, hauling in 14 balls for 149 yards and a touchdown. He's getting steady looks from Ryan Fitzpatrick and, with Stevie Johnson, forms one of the league's most effective yet unheralded duos.

John Kuhn, RB, Packers With all of the advanced weaponry at his disposal, Aaron Rodgers often relies on the old-fashioned cannonball near the goal line. The 6-foot, 250-pound runner has now scored eight touchdowns in his last nine games, the most on the team. Kuhn shouldn't be a week-in, week-out starter, especially in leagues that skew toward yards instead of touchdowns, but when injuries hit and you need a solid contributor, he's a great emergency fill-in.

Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos McGahee turned into an old car in Baltimore, becoming too expensive to maintain ($6 million) for his age (29) and efficiency (3.8 yards per carry). He landed in Denver as a backup to Knowshon Moreno. With Moreno out last week against the Bengals because of a pulled hamstring, McGahee carried 28 times, his most since December 2007, and gained more than 100 yards for just the second time since '08. It's too early to declare the Broncos' backfield a full-fledged time-share or even to make McGahee a lineup regular, but look for coach John Fox to ride the hot runner, whether it's a new model or a classic.

Roy Helu, RB, Redskins Tim Hightower has been a fantasy revelation, but he's not going to monopolize Washington's carries. The Redskins' trustbuster and long-term answer in the backfield is Helu, a rookie from Nebraska. In his second game he was the one on the field in crunch time, getting six fourth-quarter carries. There's no certainty about what coach Mike Shanahan will do, but it looks as if Helu will be a starter, possibly soon, so stash him away if he's still available.

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