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Five Things to Know: Denver's Thomas Rolls On

Mario Puig

Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Ishmael Butler, James Harrison and David Bowie.

1. Demaryius Thomas should keep rolling

I was initially (incorrectly) skeptical of Demaryius Thomas' chances of maintaining standout production in the Denver offense, but he appears to a safe starting option at this point, even against Brandon Flowers and the Chiefs in Week 17.

Thomas' best chance to put up big numbers before the end of the regular season, however, is probably this week's matchup against the Bills. Buffalo is not doing well against the pass this year, particularly in regard to completion percentage allowed (third worst at 64.3), touchdowns allowed (third worst with 26) and pass rush (last in the league with 21 sacks).

Thomas heads into that matchup with 33 targets out of 77 Tebow pass attempts over the last three weeks, which measures out to 42.9 percent of the targets in Denver. Against New England last week, in fact, it seemed as if Tebow was almost exclusively looking Thomas' way.

2. Heading into 2012, sell high on Beanie Wells

Beanie Wells has had himself a fine 2011 season and, despite the injury troubles, most of his owners are probably relatively happy with his 994 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground in 13 games.

Still, those in multiyear leagues should probably proceed as if this is the high point. Wells is incredibly gifted as an athlete, but his athleticism is matched dollar-for-dollar by his fragility. Since his remarkable 2007 season at Ohio State, when he ran for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns in 13 games (5.9 YPC), Wells has missed time with, in order, foot (three games, 2008), ankle (two preseason games, 2009), knee (three games, 2010) and knee (one game, 2011) issues. The list becomes considerably longer when you include injuries that he played through but nonetheless limited his effectiveness, such as the knee injury from this year.

That's not considering the effect the return of 2011 second-round pick Ryan Williams might have. Williams isn't exactly a menacing threat to Wells' workload as he returns from a torn patella tendon, but the injury occurred back in August, so Williams has at least had a decent amount of time to recover. The team didn't draft him 38th overall, moreover, to rot on the bench.

3. Don't overspend on Donald Brown

Colts running back Donald Brown deserves credit for his strong showings of late, but don't expect him to save your team, especially in keeper and dynasty leagues.

Good as he was against Tennessee last week, it was still his first 100-yard game of this year and just the second of his three-year career. Also, four of his last seven games saw him average 3.8 yards or less per carry despite facing defenses that combine to allow roughly 4.2 yards per carry.

Sunday's game against the Titans wasn't the first time that Brown came out of nowhere to have a big game in Week 15, actually. He did something very similar against Jacksonville on Dec. 19 a year ago, running for 129 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. He ran for 37 yards in the next two games.

There still isn't much reason to believe that Brown is anything more than a backup running back at the NFL level. He should be owned in most or all leagues, but he's not much of a trade target beyond depth purposes.

4. Look into adding Mikel Leshoure in multiyear leagues

If you're looking for a potentially cheap offseason running back acquisition that can pay off in a big way, consider Detroit's Mikel Leshoure.

The second-round pick missed all of his rookie season after suffering a torn Achilles' tendon in early August, but he will return to a very favorable situation in 2012. The Lions can't expect much at all from Jahvid Best at this point, so even if Leshoure is only about 80 percent full strength a year into his recovery, there's still a strong chance that he'll be Detroit's top option at running back next year.

If Leshoure is close to full strength, he should easily win the competition. Even before considering the injury concerns with Best, Leshoure is just the better NFL running back prospect. He's not fast, but even at 6-feet, 233 pounds, Leshoure is still a big-play threat due to his standout acceleration and cutback ability. For a player of his size, Leshoure has very quick feet and does a great job of changing direction at high speeds. Also, Leshoure is a natural receiver both in the flats and downfield, so he can meet the pass-catching demands of Detroit's pass-happy offense.

Even if Detroit clings to Jahvid Best as a starter in 2012, the last two years have conclusively shown that his lack of durability will eventually put the next man in line into the starting lineup. The same is true for Kevin Smith, who has a similarly bad injury history and is less gifted than both Leshoure and Best. Expect Leshoure to rise to the top of the group.

5. Sammy Morris is a good target if you need RB help

With Felix Jones dealing with a hamstring issue, Sammy Morris is a justifiable pickup in most or all leagues, at least as a handcuff heading into the weekend.

Those who have Morris in deep leagues might want to start him Saturday even if Jones plays through the injury. Even though the Eagles are in the midst of an intimidating two-game win streak, they still allowed 176 yards rushing (5.5 YPC) to Reggie Bush and Shonn Greene in those games, and Jones is both remarkably bad at playing injured and likely to worsen the injury in-game.

Morris has been an underrated runner his whole career and, even though he'll be 35 years old in March, he's still relatively well rested after taking the last three and a half months off. He looked pretty good against the Buccaneers last week, and the Eagles remain vulnerable against the run.