Mike Davis (RB, Seahawks)
The Seattle backfield has been a fantasy owner’s nightmare this season. Last minute additions to the injury reports and quirky starter decisions by head coach Pete Carroll have made it nearly impossible to rely on any of the Seahawks’ running backs from one week to the next. This week, Chris Carson takes another turn on the injury list with a hip injury that comes with a two-week Optimal Recovery time and a three-week return to an Above Average Health Performance Factor.
Meanwhile, when he’s fully healthy, Davis has been a productive RB in PPR leagues. For example, in Week 9 against a tough Chargers defense he converted seven of his eight targets for 45 yards, and he toted the rock 15 times for 62 yards, an average of 4.1 yards per carry. The Seahawks face a tough Rams defense in Week 10. However, as tough as they are, the Rams’ defense has still allowed seven rushing touchdowns to running backs along with 841 rushing yards, the ninth-most yards allowed to the position by any NFL defense.
As tough as the matchup with the Rams is, it’s the Seahawks’ schedule during the fantasy playoffs and championship week that makes stashing Davis, as well as rookie RB Rashaad Penny, a good idea. After the Rams, the Niners have two more tough matchups in Weeks 11 and 12 against the Packers and Panthers respectively. Then they face the 49ers in Weeks 13 and 15, the Vikings in Week 14, and then the best reason of all to stash Davis and Penny – a Week 16 fantasy championship matchup against the NFL’s worst defense against running backs – the Kansas City Chiefs.
Alfred Morris (RB, 49ers)
San Francisco running back Raheem Mostert suffered one of the more gruesome broken forearms I’ve ever seen. Late in the Week 9 game against the Raiders, Mostert, who had racked up nearly 90 yards on just six carries, was diving into the end zone for what would be the very first touchdown of his career. He extended his arm to soften the landing as his body headed toward the ground, and the force simply crushed his forearm. Mostert was placed in Injured Reserve and he underwent surgery to repair the arm. He has a long recovery ahead, but he should be ready for next season according to Inside Injuries’ algorithm.
Matt Breida, who is approaching full health, is clearly the top running back for the Niners. However, the loss of Mostert leaves Alfred Morris as the No. 2 running back on the depth chart, and the schedule ahead presents some nice opportunities for fantasy owners. For the season, Morris 84 carries for 294 yards, an average of 3.5 yards per carry. The Niners face the Giants and Buccaneers in Weeks 10 and 12 respectively, two teams that are among the Top 10 (Giants 10th, Bucs 6th) in average fantasy points allowed per game to running backs. For fantasy owners of Breida, having Morris available as a handcuff for those final weeks leading into the fantasy playoffs could be critical. After Week 12, Morris and Breida can both likely be dropped in most redraft leagues as long as their owners have better options available.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, Packers)
The season-ending injury to Geronimo Allison opened the door (once again) for rookie Valdes-Scantling to strut his stuff. He was targeted six times and caught three of those passes for a startling 101 yards. For the season, he has 17 receptions for 358 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While his 53% catch rate (he’s been targeted 32 times) is less than desirable, he is averaging 21.1 yards per reception, which is second only to DeSean Jackson at 22.4 yards per reception.
The Packers have a very favorable schedule for the wide receiver position during the fantasy playoff and championship weeks. During Weeks 14-16, the Packers matchup against the Falcons, Bears and Jets – teams that are third, seventh and 12th in terms of most fantasy points allowed to WRs. Right away, that makes Valdes-Scantling worth adding and stashing. At the very least, he will offer excellent flex value during the fantasy playoffs/championship weeks with the potential to be a WR2 with WR1 upside.
*By Tim McCullough