This week marks the last of the bye weeks for this season. Whether you need to find replacements on the waiver wire or not, make sure that you check to see who is available to make sure that there aren’t any possible upgrades out there for your team.
We’re getting to the point in the season where owners who are on the playoff bubble will have to make tough decisions. They may need to release a useful player in order to field a full roster because they need to win this week no matter what. We all hate those kinds of decisions but if you’re on that playoff line, you can’t worry about next week until it actually comes. Here are some players that could help you pop that bubble and get you into your league’s playoffs.
JAMAAL WILLIAMS, RB, Green Bay Packers (8 percent owned in CBSSports.com leagues)
Williams is likely to be the number one claim due to injuries to both Aaron Jones (MCL) and Ty Montgomery (ribs). We don’t know how long either player will be out of the lineup. What we do know is that MCL injuries usually take at least three weeks to heal and the injury to Montgomery is a re-injury to the ribs he broke several weeks ago. The Packers might take the cautious approach and hold Montgomery out until they are positive that those ribs are healed. The Packers don’t have much of a passing game without Aaron Rodgers and the offensive line (which was already average at best) lost their best player for the season last week, Bryan Bulaga. You may not want to break your free agent acquisition budget for Williams unless you just don’t have anything to lose.
SAMAJE PERINE, RB, Washington Redskins (14 percent)
Perine has done very little with his opportunities this season as he only has 175 yards on 57 carries, but he could be the starting running back this week and every starting RB has value. The current starter, Rob Kelley, left the game Sunday with knee and ankle injuries that could sideline him for an undetermined amount of time. If that were to happen, Perine would be the starter and a possible flex play.
AUSTIN EKELER, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (5 percent)
We don’t want to overreact to Ekeler’s performance Sunday, but it’s hard to ignore that he had two scores and outperformed Melvin Gordon versus what may be the best defense in the NFL in the Jaguars. Ekeler was also the RB the Chargers trusted (incorrectly, as he fumbled) to try and close out the game. Gordon is still the starter here, but he has been battling injury all season long and if the team decides to shut him down early as they fall out of playoff contention or if they just decide to limit his snaps, Ekeler will be the primary beneficiary.
JAMISON CROWDER, WR, Washington Redskins (39 percent)
If the Washington defense continues to perform anywhere near as poor the rest of the season as they did Sunday, then they will have to throw the ball early and often. Terrelle Pryor might be the biggest free agent bust and Jordan Reed can’t stay healthy. That leaves Crowder as the first look on most pass attempts for Kirk Cousins. In deeper leagues, Josh Doctson (41 percent) could also be a pickup.
CHARLES CLAY, TE, Buffalo Bills (47 percent)
Clay returned from a knee injury Sunday and although he only caught two balls, he should return to being a red zone threat for Tyrod Taylor and the Bills for the remainder of the season. The addition of Kelvin Benjamin could take away some of those looks from Clay, but that also assumes that Taylor and Benjamin will have the kind of chemistry together that Taylor and Clay already have.
ERIC EBRON, TE, Detroit Lions (48 percent)
Sure, it’s hard to rely on Ebron, who had his issues this season and has pretty much been a fantasy disappointment since coming into the NFL, but the Lions aren’t very good at running the ball and will have to use the passing game to score points. Ebron won’t be the first or even the second look on most pass plays but he did catch a touchdown versus Cleveland on Sunday and could still be a red zone threat with the size advantage he will pose over most corners and safeties that will try and cover him.