Week 11: Player Upgrades
This Week 11 edition of Player Upgrades takes a look at seven players whose fantasy stock is on the rise and should be targeted by fantasy owners either off the wavier wire or via trade. Fantasy owners should be sure to check out all of the excellent strategy articles and customizable rankings here on FFToolbox.com (yes, I am a company man) as well as download the FFToolbox.com Weekly Podcast, available on Itunes.
The absence of superstar wide receiver Andre Johnson has led to the development of the NFL's premier one-two punch at the running back position in Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Tate has filled in admirably for Foster when called upon so far this season and in recent weeks (despite serving as Foster's backup) has put up solid fantasy numbers. Tate has scored in back-to-back games and broken the century mark in two of the last four games despite not being the team's starting running back.
Tate's role in the Texans offense will expand exponentially for the remainder of the season (especially if Matt Schaub undergoes season-ending foot surgery). With Matt Leinart under center, the Texans will rely on their running game even more than they already do, which should be a big boost for the fantasy value of Tate. With the Texans on a bye this week, now is the time for fantasy owners to make a move to acquire Tate.
Fantasy owners looking ahead to the playoffs should take notice of Tate's extremely favorable schedule -- which includes match-ups against Carolina, Indianapolis and Tennessee, who rank 28th, 31st and 22nd against the run this season.
With Emmanuel Sanders on the shelf for the next couple of weeks (after suffering a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery), Antonio Brown has taken full advantage of the opportunity to establish himself as the Steelers' primary option alongside superstar wide out Mike Wallace. Brown has not only passed Sanders, but he has supplanted veteran wide receiver Hines Ward as the second option in the Steelers' passing attack.
This past weekend, Brown caught five passes for 86 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals. Over the past four games, Brown has caught at least five passes and eclipsed 100-yards in two of the four contests with one touchdown over that span. With the Steelers on a bye this week, now is the time for fantasy owners to make a move to acquire Brown, whose fantasy stock has been on the rise over the past month.
Tim Tebow may have completed only two passes, but when one of them is a 56-yard touchdown to Eric Decker and the Broncos win, nobody is going to complain. Decker has seen his receptions drop over the past three weeks, but he has scored in three straight games and as long as he keeps hitting paydirt, he will have fantasy value.
With Willis McGahee dealing with a hamstring injury and Knowshon Moreno suffering a season-ending knee injury this past weekend, the Broncos will eventually be forced to put the ball in the air. The player they will turn to will be Decker, which is why fantasy owners should make an effort to acquire his services.
Denarius Moore has quickly emerged as Carson Palmer's favorite target in Oakland, reeling in five passes for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a stunning upset victory over the San Diego Chargers last Thursday night. The Raiders believe they got a late-round steal in Moore this past April and so have fantasy owners who took my advice in the pre-season and picked him up.
After a quiet stretch, Moore has blossomed over the past two weeks with Palmer under center. Moore has caught nine passes for 147 yards and two scores over the past two weeks. With his outstanding speed and an experienced veteran quarterback feeding him a steady supply of targets, Moore has turned into a valuable fantasy asset worth owning in all leagues. Moore has the potential to be one of the best sleepers in fantasy football for the remainder of the season and is still available in most leagues either off the wavier wire or via trade.
Unless you live in Tennessee, odds are that you have never heard of Damian Williams until recently. Williams had his most productive game of the season last weekend pulling down five receptions for a season-high 107 yards a touchdown in a victory over Carolina. Williams began the season buried on the Titans' depth chart, but has stepped up in the absence of superstar wide receiver Kenny Britt, who suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier in the year.
Williams has seen his role in the Titans offense expand greatly over the past couple weeks as he has passed veteran Nate Washington as the team's go-to receiver. Williams was targeted a team high seven times this past weekend and has caught at least four passes in three straight games and has scored in back-to-back games. Fantasy owners looking for a boost at the wide receiver position should consider picking up Williams, who has an extremely favorable schedule, facing just two top-10 pass defenses (Jacksonville and Houston) over the final seven games.