By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
Read full column on Ohio.com
So, that’s the last time I place my stock in anything Oakland (or Los Angeles) Raiders.
After telling you that Latavius Murray and Derek Carr were very good choices for your lineup, Murray rushed for 28 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries (2.2 yards per carry) and Carr completed 13-of-25 passes for 169 yards. The Raiders lost to the suddenly stingy Detroit Lions, 18-13.
Fortunately, there are at least a couple weeks left in your regular season, depending on how your league is set up. It might be too late for a playoff push, but your pride is still on the line, and we all care about that. Go down swinging, champ.
Thomas Rawls, running back, Seattle Seahawks (owned in 37.8 percent of ESPN leagues)
For all the attention that has been paid to the antics and health of veteran back Marshawn Lynch, Rawls has upstaged him rather quickly.
No, Rawls isn’t feared like the man known as Beast Mode. But the rookie running back superceded every game Lynch has ever completed in fantasy terms except for one, scoring 36 points to lead all scorers, and doubling his output in his rookie season.
He doesn’t see consistent action, so he’s a tough start — which also makes him a heartbreaking member of your bench on a surprise Sunday like in Week 11. He’s also got a bad matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12, a team that has allowed 100-plus yards rushing just three times all season. But he’s undoubtedly the leading choice off the wire this week, and is readily available in a majority of leagues.
Cecil Shorts III, wide receiver, Houston Texans (owned in 6.7 percent of ESPN leagues)
It seems as though all the Texans really needed to get going was a little bit of T.J. Yates.
I’m kidding, of course, but the quarterback has injected some life into an otherwise sleepwalking offense. DeAndre Hopkins has been the primary beneficiary, making highlight reels on a weekly basis while racking up touchdowns. But Shorts also had a boost in production in Week 11.
Outside of Sunday, he had been largely irrelevant. But he’s a great short-term choice for this week, because the Yates-led Texans are facing the New Orleans Saints, whose defense can’t stop a nosebleed right now. This could mean a bevy of points for Hopkins, and/or a sprinkling of scoring on the part of Shorts.
Jameis Winston, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (owned in 24.6 percent of ESPN leagues)
Don’t look now, but Winston and the Buccaneers might have turned the corner.
We gave good old Jameis half of a season to figure it out and get comfortable, but it’s time to stop ignoring him, especially after Sunday’s five-touchdown performance. It’s likely he doesn’t score five times against the Indianapolis Colts this week, but he’s been pretty stable in terms of yardage (244.4 per week), and he’s only going to get better. There’s a reason he was chosen No. 1 overall.
For the first time in years, the sun is peeking through the storm clouds in Tampa Bay. And the rays are bouncing right off the squinty smile of Winston.
Stevie Johnson, wide receiver, San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are a mess.
Right now, they’re in contention with the Browns for the worst record in the AFC. They’ve lost six in a row. It was so ugly on Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs 346-pound defensive tackle Dontari Poe scored.
For the love of fat-guy touchdowns, run from the Chargers, and run fast.
That includes Johnson, who’s reached double-digits in fantasy scoring just twice this season. Even that isn’t encouraging, because they came in the first two weeks of the season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars could be a rebounding point for the Chargers in Week 12, but then it’s right back into the buzz-saw defenses of the Denver Broncos and the Chiefs. It’s about to get ugly, folks.
Justin Forsett, running back, Baltimore Ravens
Forsett, a high choice in all fantasy leagues this season, suffered a broken arm on Sunday in a late victory over the St. Louis Rams. His backup is Javorius Allen, who rushed for 67 yards on 22 attempts in place of Forsett. Add Allen if you’re desperate, but don’t forget to consider the loss of starting quarterback Joe Flacco, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the win.
The Ravens, ravaged by injuries even before Sunday, lost a lot of offensive potency. Replace them with their backups, if you dare.
Wait, don’t follow that suggestion to the earth’s end, because Matt Schaub is Flacco’s backup. No one with a clear mental state should consciously pick up Schaub. Don’t even consider it.