This late in the year, you may be looking for one last way to solidify your team for the playoffs. Though it’s probably too late to broker that blockbuster deal for a flat-out stud, this is the moment to make the move for some less obvious players who may be ready to explode. They are guys recently back in action, or whose circumstances have suddenly changed in a way that may allow them to excel during the last quarter of the NFL season. The right player now can be the ingredient that spices up your team, providing just the necessary hot streak to advance you in your playoffs. Here are some Johnny-come-latelies that could be your ticket to the top.
Sage Rosenfels – If you have a great team except at the QB position, it’s worth getting Rosenfels to see if he can continue with enough of his success as the Dolphins’ starter to make him worth inserting in your fantasy lineup. He put up an impressive 272 yards and two touchdowns passing against the Bills on Sunday, after arriving in the third quarter. And looking ahead, after a tough matchup next week in San Diego, Miami faces the weak New York Jets and Tennessee Titans at home in weeks 15 and 16. Even in week 17, though Rosenfels will be away against New England, he is facing a sub-par secondary. A pretty good run through the fantasy playoffs should he remain the starter.
Marques Tuiasosopo – If Norv Turner follows through on his hint toward a quarterback change, Tuiasosopo could be a real late-season steal. The Raiders aren’t vying for a playoff spot, so they have nothing to lose by going for it all in every remaining game. Tuiasosopo does have the much-talked-about mobility that Collins lacks. The better to give star receivers Moss and Porter time to shake defenders downfield? A lot of ifs here, to be sure, but the potential reward is worth your attention.
Corey Dillon – In his return to action Sunday, he had 65 yards rushing and scored again. As the Patriots get healthy toward the playoffs, and Dillon gets into his rhythm, he will be a great start since the Patriots will want to use him in the colder weather to control the tempo of games. At the minimum, we know he can score touchdowns consistently in games, which is more than can be said of most runners.
Ryan Moats – There is no guarantee that Moats will star for Philadelphia now that Brian Westbrook is out for the season, but if you have a platoon player like Ronnie Brown or Michael Bennett as your second back, wouldn’t you like to pick Moats up and have the opportunity later to take that chance? The team will have to use him a lot since they are minus three stars on offense now.
Kevin Jones – Just because he was not been healthy last week when Jauron took over in Detroit doesn’t mean Jones won’t be getting a steady workload once he is ready. It could just be that this year instead of a half season of phenomenal production, it will only be a quarter contribution. If he could ever get a full workload of carries, you would see a productive afternoon. He seems to be able to score even in games when not much else is going on.
J.J Arrington – Dennis Green will need to see once and for all if Arrington can carry the load next year, so expect to see his carries increased over the next four games, particularly this upcoming week when he faces off against the inept 49ers defense.
Tatum Bell – With Bell seemingly fully healthy again, expect him to have a successful stretch run for the Broncos. He simply needs to stay healthy at practice and during games to get the ball more. When he does garner the carries, he has a high average, breaking off a lot of larger gains because of his terrific speed and nice moves, coupled with the strong offensive line. Last week Bell averaged 9.2 yards per carry. That has to attract attention. When this back breaks into the open – muy caliente!
Chris Chambers – Perhaps all Chambers has really needed to elevate his level of production was a quarterback willing and able to target him throughout a game. Considering that Rosenfels was the archer for less than half of Chambers’ breakout 200+ yard game, he should be in store for much more of the same if Saban takes some Sage advice.
Lee Evans – Evans, who doubled his touchdown total for the year in the first quarter of last week’s contest is getting hot again in the season’s second half. The fuel behind the sudden takeoff in statistics is his rapport with J.P. Losman. Grab Evans now, because there is no reason that these two will stop firing away trying to build a base for future success.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh – Playing second fiddle to Chad Johnson, in the eyes of the league’s defenses, is opening up a lot for Houshmandzadeh of late. Like Anquan Boldin of the Cardinals, he is one of the better wide receivers after the catch, able to break tackles and with a terrific sense of open-field space.
Koren Robinson – As evidenced by his big day versus Detroit, Robinson still has game-breaking playmaking skills. If he has finally got his act together, he can continue to hook up with Brad Johnson as the season wanes. The only question here is whether he will be a boom/bust player, sharing success with Marcus Robinson and the other Minnesota wideouts.
Antonio Bryant – The Braylon Edwards injury makes Bryant the undisputed top target, for whichever QB the team sends out on the field. Bryant can make an impact, but he has been inconsistent this season. Grab him inexpensively to see if he can string together a nice run of fantasy weeks.
Ben Troupe – Troupe finally got involved again for the Titans. He led all receivers for his team with 67 yards on five catches. Though Bo Scaife had six catches, main competition Erron Kinney had only one. Perhaps now is the moment that Troupe steps forward.
Bryan Fletcher – The “other” Colts TE is getting very involved in end-zone packages. He has scored in each of the last three games, and could be a cheap way to upgrade a weak link in your lineup.
Hire Joe Levit for corporate or client appreciation events at fantasyfootballspeaker.com. His fantasy football columns appear on SI.com and thehuddle.com. Joe, a PFWA and FSWA member, writes about the NFL for patriotsinsider.com and is a fantasy football analyst on radio. He is the creator of the Sleeper League and FF Hold ‘em League concepts.