This article is part of our Run 'N' Shoot series.
I apologize to my loyal readers - all three of them - that this article is late. My day job got the best of me this week. (Blame the banks - that's what I do whenever stuff goes wrong in my life.)
It's not all bad, though. Writing a fantasy football article on Friday night - instead of my usual, Monday night gig - forces me to approach this article from a different perspective. There's no need to discuss last week's games - those are ancient history. Instead, let's look ahead to this weekend.
One thing that jumps out at me as I ponder this week's games is the realization that we're basically through the bye weeks. Sure, there are few this week and the Panthers and Steelers next week, but that's it. For me, that means the approach to your fantasy rosters should be totally different than it's been the last 7-8 weeks. Your bench spots, at this point, should be all about upside. Rostering a backup tight end when you start Rob Gronkowski? No need. Holding Colin Kaepernick when Aaron Rodgers is your starter? Pointless. Instead, here are some players I'd be stashing on my bench. Don't misunderstand - these players I'm recommending aren't as valuable as many other, available players if you need to start someone this week. But if all you're doing is holding players on your bench, these are the guys I'd be looking at:
All the Broncos RBs: Who's going to carry the load in the Broncos backfield this week? Heck if I know. It seems like CJ Anderson and Montee Ball will split carries, but nobody really knows for sure. The one thing we all know, though, is that whoever winds up with the job, whether it's Anderson, Ball, Ronnie Hillman (when he returns from injury), or even Juwan Thompson has significant upside on Denver's record-setting offense.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts: Moncrief looked like he would be a fixture in fantasy lineups for the rest of 2014 after posting 7-113-1 on 12 targets in that Week 8 shootout with the Steelers. But Reggie Wayne came back in Week 9, and the Colts inexplicably gave Hakeem Nicks more playing time than Moncrief, relegating Moncrief to one target and inducing most fantasy owners to cut him. Yes, the Colts coaches have driven us crazy by playing the inferior player so often (Coby Fleener stealing snaps from Dwayne Allen, Trent Richardson at the expense of Ahmad Bradshaw), but I have to think they'll realize Moncrief deserves playing time over Nicks at some point. With Andrew Luck throwing over 300 yards virtually every week, there's upside in this offense.
Davante Adams, WR, Packers: I've been talking about Adams since Week 3, and I might just crash and burn with him all year long. But I can't help but think Adams would be a monster if Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb were to get hurt. He's been talented enough to keep 2013 darling Jarrett Boykin on the bench all year.
Cody Latimer, WR, Broncos: Latimer was hyped in the preseason on a Peyton Manning offense, particularly when Wes Welker was suspended, yet he's been firmly planted on the bench all year. I doubt that's going to change any time soon, particularly without an injury. But what if it does? What if Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both tear an ACL this week? That might seem unlikely, but at least Latimer has some plausible path to being a receiver you'd want to start in fantasy. That's more than I can say about guys like Bowe, Britt, Jermaine Kearse, Hakeem Nicks, and many other wideouts with higher ownership rates than Latimer.
Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers: I know Green has been a colossal disappointment all season, while Antonio Gates has played like a Pro Bowler. But what do you think will happen if Gates has a recurrence of that foot problem that's plagued him over the years? If Gates gets hurt, there would be a mad rush to the waiver wire for Green. He'd instantly be a TE1, particularly with Philip Rivers throwing to him.
Now that you've spent so much time dumpster diving, you might as well maintain this same mindset and play some daily fantasy leagues.
After all, finding worthy players for cheap is the key to winning in DFS.
Here are some inexpensive players I'll be targeting on DraftKings Millionaire contest this week. None of these guys are sexy, but you have to play one or two of them if you want to roster the Demaryius Thomases of the NFL:
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers, $6,800: Rivers should be angry coming off three straight losses and well-rested after a bye. A home matchup against the Raiders is the perfect recipe for a bounce-back. Yet Rivers is only $6,800, cheaper than he's been at any point since Week 2. To win a tournament like Millionaire, I believe you have to get 300 yards and 3 TDs from a cheap QB option, and Rivers is as good of a bet to do so as anyone.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers, $6,700: Yes, Newton has been bad recently. But $6,700? $1,000 less than Jay Cutler? I still see Cam as a guy who can explode for 38 fantasy points in any week, as he did against Cincy a few weeks ago. That's what you want in a tournament, particularly since lost of guys may be off of Newton since he's struggled.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons, $6,400: Did you watch the Panthers secondary on Monday night? It's not a pretty sight. I realize the Falcons offensive line has been abysmal, but if they can keep Ryan upright this week, he'll be throwing to Julio Jones in a terrific matchup. One of those 300-yard, 3-TD games is well within reach for just $6,400 here.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Eagles, $5,800: It's not hard to envision the Eagles and Packers getting into a shootout. Sanchez showed he can make you a millionaire - the guy who one played him. Sanchez's salary was set at $5,800 before that game, too - otherwise he'd undoubtedly be higher.
Jonas Gray, RB, Patriots, $3,400: Gray doesn't catch any passes, and that's really bad in the full PPR scoring format. That said, New England has been scoring like crazy, yet most of it has been through the air. At some point, there will be a game where the Patriots starting back has a 2-TD game, right? Something like 14-80-2 is within reach, and even without an receptions, I'd gladly take 20 fantasy points for $3,400.
Theo Riddick, RB, Lions, $3,100: It looks like Reggie Bush is going to sit out again this week. The last time that happened, just a couple of weeks ago, Riddick had 21.9 fantasy points. That's a dream total for a guy barely above the minimum. The Cardinals are far better against the run, so it wouldn't be hard to see Riddick getting another 5-6 catches, especially if Detroit happens to be playing catch up.
Alfred Blue, RB, Texans, $3,000: Arian Foster is nursing a groin injury and is rumored to be sitting out this Sunday. Against a bad Browns run defense (31st in YPC at 4.7), Blue is my favorite minimum salary play of the week. Remember, every week but on, the perfect DK lineup had at least one minimum-salary player.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins, $4,000: The Bucs secondary has been abused all season, and Garcon is only $4,000 - a full $1,000 less than he's been at any point all year. For comparison, DeSean Jackson is $7,300. Garcon has the talent to post 8-100-1 on any given week, especially in a matchup like this. I don't think that's likely, of course, but for $4,000, it could.
Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Vikings, $3,800: Yes, I realize Patterson had just one catch last week. But did you see what the Bears defense did, allowing Jordy Nelson to run free all game long? It will only take one play from Patterson to profit at this price. I'm thinking a 50-yard TD propels Patterson to 4-80-1. Let's just hope Teddy Bridgewater doesn't overthrow Patterson this time.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts, $3,000: Moncrief could easily do nothing this week. If he's the Colts 4th WR, a goose-egg might actually be likely. But what if Moncrief plays in front of Nicks? And what if the Patriots get a big early lead against the Colts, forcing Andrew Luck to chuck it 50 times against soft defenses? As far as minimum-salary WRs go, I can't see anyone more likely to post 7-100-1, as Moncrief did a few weeks ago.