Jonas Gray, RB New England Patriots: I don’t even think Miss Cleo saw this one coming. Jonas Gray, the undrafted player out of Notre Dame, finished the beatdown of the Colts with 38 rushes for 199 yards and four record setting rushing touchdowns, the most by a running back in Patriots history. With Stevan Ridley out for the year, many predicted expanded roles from fellow rookie James White and the obvious role filler Shane Vereen, but Gray, who had been getting steady work in their two previous games, has quickly leaped up that depth chart. With a performance like that, he’s the obvious hot waiver wire pickup for this week, but tame those expectations for Week 12. While it’s never bad to ride the hot hand, on Sunday, the Patriots will host the Lions who have the best defense against the run in the NFL. The Lions only allow 68.8 rushing yards per game and have only given up four rushing touchdowns this season. The Patriots always adjust their offensive style to their opponent’s defense so expect more play action passes a la Vereen rather than smash mouth running via Gray. He’s still certainly worth a pickup, especially for the playoffs, but don’t expect a huge game from him in Week 12. Gray is available in about 75 percent of fantasy leagues, but don’t expect to see him on the waiver wire for much longer.
Latavius Murray, RB Oakland Raiders: What a surprise this has been. The Raiders overrated, underperforming and often injured combination of Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden hasn’t panned out for them and it only took them 11 weeks to figure it out. Latavius Murray is about to hurdle the aforementioned running backs on the depth chart and is looking to change the Raiders’ running game in the process. Murray is an incredible athlete and while his technique may need work, his raw talent and ability makes him a threat to be a breakout performer. In their 13-6 loss against the Chargers on Sunday, Murray had four rushes for 43 yards, averaging just under 11 yards per carry, and caught three of the four passes thrown his way for 16 yards. Week 11 was the most amount of work all year, indicative of his season-high 27 offensive snaps. While the Raiders have taken a wait and see type of approach with Murray, there really is no reason not to play him at this point because the Raiders don’t have anything to lose. Seriously, they’re 0-10, they’ve done enough losing already. Why not try something new? Murray is available in virtually all fantasy leagues.
Kenny Stills, WR New Orleans Saints: It has been a pretty underwhelming sophomore campaign for Kenny Stills thus far, after many projected him to thrive in this offense after such a promising rookie campaign. However, the season is far from over and Stills is about to get a big opportunity that could do a total 180 on his value. With Brandin Cooks out for up to a month with a thumb injury, Stills is poised to step up and fill that role. Although his production up this point has been rather pedestrian, since their bye in Week 6, Stills has caught 21 of the 27 passes thrown his way for 290 yards and two touchdowns, the only two he’s pulled in all season. While Stills hasn’t been on pace for a breakout season like many suspected, he’s got a great opportunity ahead of him to change that and could be a strong snag off of the waiver wire, especially while Cooks is sidelined with an injury. Stills is available in about 85 percent of fantasy leagues.
Coby Fleener, TE Indianapolis Colts: Despite a 42-20 loss to the Patriots, Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener had a connection that worked well as Fleener caught all seven passes thrown his way for 114 yards. Although it didn’t seem like the Colts’ offense was clicking, Luck and Fleener were certainly on the same page – must be a Stanford thing. While the former ivy-leaguer has shown inconsistent moments of greatness this season, it seems like he’ll be getting many more opportunities moving forward. Dwayne Allen went down in the second quarter with an ankle injury and is currently listed as day to day. While Allen could make his way back on the field soon, Fleener has made a strong case for more playing time as he’s now lead the Colts in receiving yards for the second week in a row. Luck certainly likes to air it out and will generally spread it around his many targets. With a juicy matchup in Week 12 against the Jaguars, a possibly injured Allen and an increased favor from his quarterback, Fleener is looking like a solid option at tight end. Fleener is available in about 60 percent of fantasy leagues.