I picked one guy off of each team who has either NEVER been fantasy relevant, or has been forgotten at some point, and might return in the final weeks of this season to be useful. Most of these guys will probably not. But a few, thank me later.
Broncos- Tim Tebow- If Denver loses Monday night to San Diego, look for Tebow to start getting more snaps, with the season all but lost. Theoretically, he could even be in line for a week 16 or 17 start, just in time for fantasy playoffs.
Chargers- Mike Tolbert- You shouldn’t have forgotten him. He has touchdowns in five of the last six weeks. Ryan Mathews is hurt again, and Tolbert’s carries could increase. He is, at least, a prime source of touchdowns.
Raiders- Michael Bush- Oakland has said it will try to limit Darren McFadden’s workload as the team’s playoff hopes rise, intending to save his legs. He has never had more than 142 touches. Nine games in he has 161.
Chiefs- Dexter McCluster- With the emergence of Jamaal Charles, and Dwayne Bowe, defenses have a lot to worry about. Think of a defense double-teaming Bowe, and stacking linebackers against Charles. A lightning-fast RB/WR could wreak all kinds of havoc.
Giants– Kevin Boss- Now than Eli Manning has found his tight end, and without Steve Smith, Boss should see an uptick in his red zone targets, making him a high-upside TE.
Cowboys- Tashard Choice- We all know the injury woes of Felix Jones and Marion Barber. Not to mention, Choice has been very productive when he has gotten the chance. As the season is lost, the Cowboys might throw more touches the youngster’s way.
Redskins- Joey Galloway- Anthony Armstrong is a hot name right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see McNabb look for the veteran when he needs a reliable target. With the running situation a question mark in Washington, there should be balls to go around.
Eagles- Kevin Kolb- I know, I know……. I STILL think Kolb gets another chance before the year is up, and I want to be the one owning him when he does. Also, with Kolb’s stock goes Brent Celek.
Colts- Javarris James- Yes, he is buried on the depth chart when everyone is healthy, but who knows when that will be. The Colts have never been an organization that stubbornly sticks to names (they quickly downsized Marvin Harrison when he got old), so if James is the most productive back, he will get touches.
Texans- Steve Slaton- The breakout star, Arian Foster, had 62 touches in his rookie 2009 year. He has 205 through nine games so far this year. This is akin to a starting pitcher going from 75 innings to 200+ innings in the next season. He is at least a solid handcuff.
Titans- Javon Ringer- CJ2K just hasn’t been as effective as we are used to seeing him. Teams are successfully stacking the box against him, so there might soon be the need for a thunder to counter his lightning. Lendale White (may his career rest in peace) nabbed 15 touchdowns in that role in 2008.
Jaguars- Mike Sims-Walker- He has 118 less receiving yards than Mike Thomas, but double the touchdowns. As David Garrard enjoys a fairly soft schedule, Sims-Walker should rise with him.
Steelers- Emmanuel Sanders- Watching the Sunday night game, Ben Roethlisberger didn’t hesitate to throw to him in pressure situations. With Hines Ward concussed, Sanders has a chance to step up and grab some serious minutes.
Browns- Mohammed Massaquoi- The rookie Colt McCoy has rejuvenated this offense. While the Browns will still be led by Peyton Hillis, the time is coming for defenses to stack the box and force McCoy to throw. Massaquoi has the size and athleticism to explode in that environment.
Ravens- Willis McGahee- As the importance of the games increases, and the Ravens chase a playoff spot, they will be more inclined to go to the experienced McGahee, especially in red zone situations. He could be a nice source of touchdowns for the rest of the season.
Bengals- Bernard Scott- As expected, Cedric Benson has been moderately ineffective this season with 3.6 yards per carry and only three scores. As the Bengals face into 2010 irrelevance, they are more likely to experiment with Scott.
Packers- James Jones- Jones is the “other” receiver in town. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver have been the guys there. But Driver is old, and Jones role is steadily increasing. With teams doubling Jennings, and no real established threat at tight end, Jones could be in line for more targets.
Bears- Devin Hester- With Hester banished to kick returning, the Bears have found themselves without a big-play man. Hester oozes home run threat. Expect more bubble screen, slants, and reverses to get the ball in his hands.
Lions- Kevin Smith- The rookie Jahvid Best has been good, but fragile. Jones isn’t as flashy, but could put up big numbers when Best needs to rest and/or heal.
Vikings- Tavaris Jackson- Top receiver Sidney Rice might come back just in time to see Brett Favre‘s usefulness expire. With the season lost, it’s time the Vikings started looking forward and experimenting with their (gulp) quarterback of the future.
49ers- Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn- With Michael Crabtree established, and Troy Smith looking like a legitimate threat to throw, teams won’t have enough men to cover three talented receivers. I expect to see Smith’s college teammate, Ginn, go streaking down the field for a few long touchdowns, and Morgan get a lot of underneath stuff when they drop back.
Cardinals- Early Doucet- Let’s look back and remember Anthony Gonzalez had 57 receptions and four touchdowns in 2008 as the third receiver behind Marvin Harrison and Pierre Garcon. Steve Breaston had 77 and 55 receptions the last two years playing behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. So there is precedent for a third receiver, behind two stars, to have success.
Rams- Kenneth Darby- I would wager Steven Jackson does not play 16 games this season. That being said, Darby showed serious talent in relief of Jackson.
Seahawks- Justin Forsett- He simply looks better than Marshawn Lynch right now. He showed last year he was capable of solid numbers when given the chance.
Saints- Robert Meachem- In 2009, Meachem was #1 among ALL NFL receivers having caught 80% of passes thrown to him (54 targets, 43 receptions), he also led the league with 13.14 yards per target. He has the best hands on the team, and Drew Brees will look for him more and more.
Falcons- Jason Snelling- This shows my lack of faith in Michael Turner staying healthy. Snelling is effective when he is in there, and if the Falcons clinch a playoff spot early, he might get starter’s carries during fantasy playoffs.
Buccaneers- Kellen Winslow- The talented tight end has seen a ton of balls thrown at Mike Williams, but as teams key in on him more, Winslow will find more open space, and should be a safety valve for the young Josh Freeman.
Panthers- Tony Pike- Why not? Matt Moore was a bust, Jimmy Clausen has been horrible. The Panthers gave Pike some snaps last week, so why not give him a legitimate chance to make something of the league’s worst offense?
Jets- Shonn Greene- I’ve been saying it for a month now. Ladanian Tomlinson will break down quickly. And Greene will be there to snatch up all those carries for the Jets. You will want to own him when that happens.
Patriots- Danny Woodhead- This is a pass first team. BenJarvis Green-Ellis isn’t consistent enough to get 20+ carries per game. Woodhead is the better pass catcher and blocker, and the Patriots have found ways to get him touches every game.
Dolphins- Ricky Williams- Of course, the easy answer here is Tyler Thigpen, but we don’t do easy answers here. Williams only has 89 carries to Ronnie Brown’s 113. I expect Williams to be productive in the last few weeks.
Bills- CJ Spiller- The Bills 2010 is done. They would be wise to get the rookie more involved in the offense as he will be its focal point sooner than later. He has the explosiveness to become useful, especially with playoffs looming.
So that’s 32 players who are mostly being ignored right now and shouldn’t be. Pay attention and you might catch lightning in a bottle.