This past week was brutally tough on running backs. We saw several of them get injured and there are lead backs who will miss multiple weeks from the Denver Broncos and New York Giants. Factor in Kansas City and New Orleans are on bye this week, and it makes for a minefield of running backs to work through. We’ll help you get through it in this week’s column. Here we go.

Pickup of the Week

Andre Williams of the New York Giants is the player you want to add to your team this week. Williams came on in relief of Rashad Jennings after he went down with a sprained ligament in his knee and he’s going to be out for around four weeks.

The Giants schedule the next four weeks sets up like this: at Philadelphia, at Dallas, BYE and Indianapolis. Those matchups look to be favorable for running backs. Williams is also a player who we know can carry the load. While in Boston College, Williams was an All-American, fourth in Heisman voting and rolled up 2177 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns on 355 carries.

In short, he’s a tank in cleats and a helmet.

The other reason you want Williams over some of the other backs we’ll feature below is that the player he is replacing is starting out the time he is missing with injuries. Jennings will be down a few weeks and next week is the first week of that span.

So what about the other running backs?

Let’s take a look first at Branden Oliver of the San Diego Chargers. Oliver went off against the new York Jets with 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and four catches for 68 yards and a second touchdown as San Diego took care of business. His schedule for the next four games (@OAK, KC, @DEN, @MIA) doesn’t look too bad but there is another reason why we’re not over the moon for Oliver.

That reason is Ryan Mathews. Reports out of San Diego suggest that Mathews will be out for one or two more games, setting the stage for his return against Denver. Would you rather have a featured back for two games or four; we’ll take the four. Another thing playing against Oliver is Donald Brown.

Brown was the primary backup after Mathews went down with his knee injury. Brown left last week with a concussion and needs to work his way through the league-mandated protocols before he gets back on the field. He’s also going to be a new dad in the next few days. From someone who experienced it last season, I can tell you that it turns your brain to mush for a few weeks and it makes focusing on non-baby things tough. Even if he is cleared to play physically, you have to wonder how much his head will be in the game.

There is another piece to the waiver wire puzzle this week and its name is Ronnie Hillman. Hillman pops up on the radar here after Montee Ball went down without contact in the fourth quarter against Arizona. Ball will be out several weeks dealing with some sort of groin injury—the nature of it is unknown as of now.

Hillman has the chance to shine in the role of “Lucky bastard who gets handoffs from Peyton Manning” and should be on your fantasy roster. His schedule for the next three games is going to be tougher than you would think with a trip to take on the New York Jets this weekend followed by a home game with San Francisco and a short-week home game against the Chargers. He should be favorable in November with road games at New England, Oakland and St. Louis which offer more fantasy potential. We also saw Denver’s third-string running back get a few carries and a score in the win over Arizona but Juwan Thompson doesn’t get enough carries to merit a roster spot.

If all of these options fail, take a look on the wire for Mark Ingram of the Saints. He should be back after the Saints bye this week. Ingram broke his hand in Week 2 and should start leaching touches from the other New Orleans backs. They have a trip to Detroit, host Green Bay and visit Carolina on a short week as their first three games out of the bye. The Saints offense looks out of whack and having Ingram in the backfield can only help them get back in order.

Let’s take a look at the other positions and see where we can find help this week….

The Arizona quarterback situation has become a mess. Carson Palmer is dealing with nerve issues in his shoulder, back up Drew Stanton got his bell rung on a clean, legal hit from Von Miller and left the game with a concussion. Logan Thomas relieved him and was sacked on his first two dropbacks. Arizona hosts Washington this week and Palmer would make a good play if he were healthy enough to do so. There’s also the outside possibility the Cardinals will sign a free agent quarterback to serve as a backup depending on the health of all three quarterbacks.

Monitor this situation and make a move if Palmer winds up getting the call.

Teddy Bridgewater of the Vikings went under the radar this week and needs to be back on your radar if you need a quarterback to get you through this week. Bridgewater and the Vikings host the Lions this week and Detroit has yet to take on a truly mobile quarterback. This could be an interesting game for the Vikings as Detroit could be missing stars on offense and will be unpredictable on that side of the ball.

Watch and see if the Titans turn to Zach Mettenberger. Jake Locker can’t stay healthy (shocker) and Charlie Whitehurst doesn’t cut the mustard. It’s a situation to monitor for now and perhaps use him when we get to later bye weeks (9 and 10) where six teams are off.

Austin Davis has won the starter’s job in St. Louis for the rest of the season. Four of his next five games are against NFC West foes but Davis will be an option to get through the big bye weeks.

Speaking of the Lions, this is going to be an unusual week for them at this position. Reggie Bush (ankle) is up in the air for this week. Joique Bell (concussion) missed last week and could be out again. Theo Riddick and George Winn are the other running backs on the Lions depth chart and it remains to be seen how carries will break down due to health. This is a situation to monitor through the week.

Chris Ogbonnaya of the Panthers had 24 rushing yards and a touchdown past week against Chicago. He’s worth an add if you’re desperate for depth. DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart are both battling injuries and when one of them comes back, Ogbonnaya’s role should be cut.

Check for Knowshon Moreno on your waiver wire. He’s questionable for this week and could play against a squishy Green Bay defense. If someone messed up, make the move on him and take advantage of Moreno’s return from injury. He gets to run behind a pretty good offensive line which is always a plus.

So how do you replace Marques Colston (bye) and Calvin Johnson (ankle)? Johnson could be sat this week to let his wobbly ankle heal up and make him a more viable play for the rest of the season. Johnson hasn’t done much in his last two games so this would be a smart move by the Lions against Minnesota.

Eddie Royal can help you get by this week as San Diego takes on Oakland and the Oakland defense hasn’t been terribly impressive this season. We discussed the San Diego ground game above but their passing game has been on-point.

Brian Quick of the Rams should be owned in PPR leagues. He has either seven catches or a touchdown in each of his four games this season. Austin Davis will be the starting quarterback in St. Louis the rest of the way and Quick benefited from this to the tune of 5-87-2 against the Eagles. Fellow Ram Kenny Britt has quietly put up between 65 and 70 yards in each of his last two games to become a deeper option.

Odell Beckham Jr. made his debut for the Giants and posted a 4-44-1 line in their win over Atlanta. He should be a good complimentary piece for Big Blue and has favorable matchups with Philly and Dallas before the Giants bye on Week 8.

No Jimmy Graham and no Travis Kelce this week makes for some hard times for some owners.

Give Heath Miller of the Steelers a shot when Pittsburgh takes on Cleveland in a favorable matchup for tight ends. Owen Daniels of Baltimore is widely available and had 70 yards on five catches in the Ravens loss. Tim Wright of the Patriots had a solid game against the Bengals with 85 yards and a touchdown on five catches despite being on the field for 16 of 50 snaps. Wright’s usage will be key going forward and it’s tough to predict how he will be used against Buffalo.

Dan Carpenter hit a 58-yarder to help Buffalo win at Detroit and could give an extra boot to your point total this week. Josh Brown of the Giants didn’t have a chance at a field goal in his first two games but has gone 7-of-7 in that department since. Chandler Catonzaro of Arizona has started the season 11-of-11 on field goals for the Cardinals and should be considered in all leagues.

We’d have more faith in Billy Cundiff against the Steelers if his season long was more than 45 yards—but it’s not. Matt Bryant of the Falcons has a good matchup at home against Chicago.

The Detroit DST might get dropped after last week and you should pounce on them if they become available. Baltimore DST has a positive matchup on the road at Tampa Bay this week. If you’re really looking for a stunner, consider the Tennessee DST at home against Jacksonville. They’ve been hammered the last two weeks but Jacksonville doesn’t have the firepower that Indy or Cleveland do. You could go the other way with it and take the Jacksonville DST against the question mark known as the Titans offense as well.

Finally, remember to play double waivers and see who was dropped this week by the other teams in your league. You could get an even better piece for your team on Friday.

  1. Teddy Heater says:
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    With Charles on a bye, Stacy limping to Sunday, Doug Martin….. well garbage and Matthews hurt I’m hurtin for a waiver add,. So Williams definitely over Oliver than?

    • @Teddy Heater: If yr looking for a one week fill-in it could be a fine play, but Willams has already been playing well and just got a guaranteed share of work. Though Oliver’s likely to get a goodly number of touches (depending on the status of Brown), don’t pick him up expecting another huge performance.

      Definitely go for Williams over Oliver in the short term, and Williams or Hillman over Oliver in the LT.

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      @Teddy Heater: Yep. Williams first, Oliver second

  2. Gay 4 Jay says:
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    K. Robinson or Ingram for ROS?

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      @Gay 4 Jay: Ingram for me. He’s the most attractive option of those two in a slightly muddy backfield

  3. Clint says:
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    Golden Tate, Andrew Hawkins or Brian Quick in ppr league?

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      @Clint: Tate if no Megatron…then Quick

  4. J says:
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    Hey man, I plan on making quite a bit of moves for the waiver rush;
    I’m third in the waiver order this week (waiver order changes on each week based on record )

    Who should be my first priority; Oliver or Ronnie Hillman? I’d be dropping terrance west there

    – next I plan on dropping jerick mckinon for either hilman or Oliver basically whichever one I don’t target first priority , although I think it’ll be very unlikely to come away w/ both Oliver & hilman but worth a shot, then I have it set up dropping mckinon for Odell beckham jr or if he’s gone next on my list is Storm Johnson

    – next move Im fed up w/ gerhart & I love Eli mannnings matchup vs philly so drop gerhart for Eli or maybe I’d put Eli in priority 2 where mckinon is

    – next lol, dropping the d that hurt me last week (Browns), and I’m looking for an improved d ths week;

    Giants D @ Philly

    Ravens D @ Tampa

    Dolphins D Vs Packers

    Packers D @ Miami

    — lastly, on kicker which one; zuerlein, McManus , Josh brown or if Matt prater ends up signing w/ detroit do you like him better than any of those? I like how McManus & Zuerlein already had there bye weeks

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      @J: Oliver for sure. Definitely drop Gerhart for Eli.

      As for the DST, I like the Giants best out of that group and gave my rationale in another similar post farther down the page.

  5. ABM says:
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    Just traded Emmanuel Sander and Travis Kelce for Matt Forte.
    Current roster stands as such (10 team league and can start 2 qbs in an offensive flex. Passing TDs worth 6 and -1 sacks non ppr)

    QB1:Drew Brees
    OF: Big Ben
    RB1: Demarco Murray
    RB2: Matt Forte
    WR1: Alshon
    WR2: Golden Tate
    WR/TE Flex: Keenan Allen
    TE: Larry Donnell
    K: Gost
    D S/T: 49ers
    B: Jeremy Hill
    B: Shane Vereen
    B: Eli Manning
    B: Bishop Sankey
    B: (Empty Pending Trade Going through) – Either Kendall Wright or T.Y. Hilton depending on the bid

    Now that I have a log jam at RB who should I drop to pick up more WR or TE depth (Ertz and Dwayne Allen are sitting on the wire which is why I made the trade).

    • ABM says:
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      @ABM:
      Side note there is a floundering (1-4) owner who has Demaryius Thomas, LeSean McCoy and Ben Tate. He has an outside shot of making the playoffs. Is it crazy to try to flip Demarco for Thomas and one of his running backs…

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      @ABM: Sankey is the guy to drop. The Titans seem to have no clue on how to use their running backs and it’s difficult to deal with.

      Side question: It’s plausible and go for LeSean-Demaryius. What that other guy might not know is that the Cowboys are planning to scale back Demarco’s workload a little bit to save him for the long haul of the season. Given that, it makes more sense.

  6. Lemmingness says:
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    Hey Andrew,

    Standard scoring league,
    How much of a $100 faab would you put on each of Williams/Oliver/Hillman? Only looking to pick one up, just lost Jennings and my other RB’s are lamar miller, bradshaw, and an injured matthews. I have $98 left, and for comparison mckinnon went for $10 last week.

    My first thought is up to $35~40 for williams, but I don’t want to overspend

    • Lemmingness says:
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      @Lemmingness: Damn, Williams was actually already drafted. Thoughts on Hillman and Oliver, though?

      • Andrew Nordmeier

        Andrew Nordmeier says:
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        @Lemmingness: Oliver for 20 since he will be good this week against oakland but the Mathews question marks hang over him going forward.

  7. KTrout17 says:
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    Time to clear out Knile off my bench, Andre over Forsett on playing time alone?

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      @KTrout17: Agreed. Forsett is the lead back in Baltimore, or so it seems, but they are going to an RBBC-3 setup with Pierce and Taliafero thrown in there too.

      I wouldn’t be afraid of Peyton Hillis taking that many carries from Andre Williams while Jennings heals.

  8. Zach says:
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    Knowshon Moreno and Michael Floyd for AP and Sammy Watkins. Which side do you like?

    • George says:
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      @Zach:

      Is AP, Adrian Peterson? He’s not playing.

      Depending how deep your RB and WR is. If you need WR and can give up an RB. It’s basically Moreno for Watkins. Floyd needs Palmer to come back, if you want any value for him (wk 7 or 8 for comeback maybe).

      Depends on what you have on your squad?

      • Andrew Nordmeier

        Andrew Nordmeier says:
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        @George: I wouldn’t do it. Moreno and Floyd is too much to pay for Watkins. AP is a non-factor since he is not likely to play again this season.

        (I assume this is redraft.)

  9. George says:
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    PPR League, 1 qb, 3 wr, 2 rb, 1 te, 1 flx (10 Man league)
    Who should I get?

    TE (Me): Jason WItten & Niles Paul
    Waiver TE: Jared Cook or Tim wright

    Also what do you think about Carlos Hyde ( i own), I have Gio Bernard, Eddie lacey, Chris Ivory, and Alfred Morris. I want to drop Hyde for Knowshon Moreno who is available.

    Thanks

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      @George: Okay to drop Hyde for Moreno. I would stick with the TE you have as Witten is firmly established as Romo’s security blanket.

  10. Tom says:
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    Which week 6 defense add & play,

    -Add Ravens D who are @ Tampa with mike Glennon & co.

    – add Philly D who are home & face Eli & co, thing is I’ll be starting Eli , but even though opposing qb’s do well Vs Eagles eagles D still generate their pounts.

    – Giants D @ Philly , jason Pierre paul has looked better this season , prince amukara, Antrell Rolle haven’t looked bad either.

    Which would be your first choice, so on & so on

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      @Tom: Giants, Philly and Baltimore. I like the Giants with the healthy Jon Beason in the middle. LeSean McCoy has been shockingly ineffective so far and the Giants secondary has been better as of late.

      Some day the hot streak will end for the Eagles DST and when it does they might not be worth holding on to. Tampa is improved with Glennon under center to the point where they won at Pittsburgh and took New Orleans to OT.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Andrew Nordmeier: PHI allowed 28 pts at home to STL. whatever “hot” streak they were on still didn’t make them a good defense.

  11. Hometown Heroes says:
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    I’m in a 2 qb keeper league, standard scoring where all tds count 6 pts. I’m sitting at 2-3 and have Romo, Locker and Orton as my qb’s(ouch). I have Demaryius, Wright and C Patterson at WR, Gronk & Kelce at TE and Moreno, Lacy, Stacy and Vareen at RB.

    I would give up Stacy(tough schedule), Kelce, Josh Gordon $1, and Orton for Foles, B Marshall, A Blue and Marvin Jones. Would you pull the trigger?

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      @Hometown Heroes: Yes I would make this deal.

      Foles is young enough that he should give a few quality seasons. Brandon Marshall is a huge plus. Blue could be the starter before the end of the season if Arian gets hurt again and Marvin Jones is an okay 3rd receiver.

      Stacy has to deal with Cunningham and Tre Mason behind hin and he might get the injury prone sticker put on him too. Kelce is solid now but is an unknown long-term. Gordon has a tough road ahead of him in terms of this offseason and Orton won’t last long-term as a starter.

  12. Locifer says:
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    Hey Andrew,

    Just got offered Boldin and Hawkins for my Ben Tate.

    I’ve got a hunch Tate’s not gonna last the whole season.
    Should I jump on this trade?

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      @Locifer: I would think so. Tate is tough as they come but always winds up being hurt. West and Crowell behind him make it easier to sit him.

  13. Comatose says:
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    I’ve got a decent stockpile of backs, but I’m still trying to cover my ass by staying on top of the wire. My backs are Murray, Bradshaw, Stacy, Tate, Joique Bell, Mathews and Crowell.

    Knowing this, do your rankings of Oliver, Hillman, and Benny Cunningham change at all? Would you be dropping Crowell for any/all of those guys?

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      @Comatose: Crowell for Oliver if you need a one-week boost and/or a handcuff if Mathews gets hurt again. Second option is Hillman. Cunningham lags behind since Stacy is likely to play this week.

  14. Charles says:
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    Stuck between adding Oliver or Williams. In a keeper league, which player has a better chance to be worth $10 next year ($200 budget)?

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      Williams. He has fewer players ahead of him on the depth chart.

  15. Ron says:
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    I already have Charles, Stacy, Miller, West, Hyde and K. Davis. Do I drop West/Hyde for any of the guys below?

    Hillman, Oliver, Benny C, Antone Smith

    • Andrew Nordmeier

      Andrew Nordmeier says:
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      West for Hillman or Oliver; I prefer Oliver since the Denver running backs have been hit quite often in the backfield and had plays result in no gain or a loss.

  16. snafu says:
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    do i start cam newton, tony romo, or pick up eli manning/brian hoyer off of the waiver. i thought cams ankle would be a non-issue, boy did i blow that pick… and romo’s been great but at seattle…

    so, romo, newton, hoyer, eli?

  17. Tarman Got Him says:
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    I won William on the claim in a bunch of leagues, these are the following guys in adage where I have by far 2nd most points for, but am 2-3:73 to unlucky matchups, although I’m in 7th, 2-6 are 3-2, so no worries.

    My team is absolutely stacked

    Question is, following guys have fell through the wire.

    SHOULD I drop any of of these guys for the following:

    Drop: Forsett, Bradshaw, Joquie, Ivory,

    For

    Ingram or A Williams?

    I also own Stacy and Forte with a WR corps of Julio, Allen, Wallace, Crabtree, and Wayne, with Olsen, and Luck. Ask me how I am 2-3?

    Thanks!!!

  18. Tarman Got Him says:
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    I won William on the claim in a bunch of leagues, these are the following guys in one specific league where I have by far 2nd most points for, but am 2-3 to unlucky matchups, although I’m in 7th, 2-6 are 3-2, so no worries.

    My team is absolutely stacked

    Question is, following guys have fell through the wire.

    SHOULD I drop any of of these guys for the following:

    Drop: Forsett, Bradshaw, Joquie, Ivory,

    For

    Ingram or A Williams?

    I also own Stacy and Forte with a WR corps of Julio, Allen, Wallace, Crabtree, and Wayne, with Olsen, and Luck. Ask me how I am 2-3?

    Thanks!!!

  19. Andy says:
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    I was able to get Williams, and Oliver is still on the waiver wire…Would you drop Vereen or L. Miller to get Oliver?

    I have McCoy and Jennings as well

  20. The Man Inside Me says:
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    Hey Andrew, great stuff as usual.
    12team .5PPR league FAAB budget of $100, I have $96 left
    I am currently 2-4 and starting Joquie Bell as my RB2….I am looking to drop Gerhart for Oliver or Hillman, how much would you bid on each?

  21. sniff test says:
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    Any issue with dropping Chris Johnson for Beckham Jr? I have a plethora of RB (Murray, Spiller, Williams, Sproles, McKinnon and Matthews) and could use some WR depth (D. Thomas, Wallace, Wright and K. Allen) Or would you drop someone else mentioned above or hold?

  22. Zandy says:
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    std league
    dropping khiry, west or pierre for, cunningham(own stacy), DMC, Shonn (stacy fill in), CJ anderson, joseph randle, Winn, storm

    other rbs stacy, doug, rainey, ingram, AP, rainey, mckinnon
    thanks bud

  23. friar says:
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    Great advice about playing double waivers: someone dropped Montee Ball last night!

    Now, I haven’t been particularly impressed by Ball, his injury sounds like it could linger for quite a while, and I think there’s a decent chance he loses his job while hurt (that last one could be wishful thinking due to my admiration for C.J. Anderson), but I feel like I HAVE to put in a claim for Ball…right?

    Who would you drop to pick up Ball (12-team, non-ppr):
    QB: Ryan
    RB: Charles, L. Bell, Bernard, Mathews (injured), Moreno (injured), Rainey, C.J. Anderson
    WR: C. Johnson (injured), Hopkins, T. Williams, Welker, T. Smith
    TE: Olsen
    D/ST: Titans (streaming)
    K: McManus

    • friar says:
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      @friar: Someone also dropped Knile Davis, who I’d love to pick up as a handcuff. Should I?

      Thanks in advance for the help! I tend to get invested in the guys already on my roster, so it’s incredibly helpful to get objective add/drop advice.

  24. Dom B says:
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    Should I do this trade first my roster: QB Aaron Rodgers Russell Wilson RB Eddie lacy Doug martin Andre Ellington Fred Jackson WR kelvin Benjamin Roddy White Crabtree TY Hilton Kendall wright and this is the trade I send Russell Wilson, Doug Martin, and Roddy white and I get aj green, Reggie Bush and George winn

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