Running back Arian Foster tore his Achilles tendon this week. It was tragic. Foster, one of the all-time great Houston Texans, simply cannot seem to catch a break from the injury bug. This Achilles injury, notorious for robbing athletes of their trademark quickness, could be career-ending. As someone who owns Foster in fantasy football — specifically acquiring him after the season-ending injury to Jamaal Charles shook up my fantasy team — I am at a loss. If you are like me, losing both Charles and Foster this year, you are not alone.
With that said, we are seven weeks through the NFL regular season. You probably are either dominating your league (if you read this column), dreaming of next year as you start checking NBA scores (if this is your first time reading) or in the playoff hunt. If you are Option A, congrats. If you are Option B, convince your league you should do a keeper league next year, because being checked out of fantasy football halfway through is never fun. And if you are Option C, this article is for you.
As the adage goes, anything can happen once you’re in the playoffs. The key is getting to that point. Remember, it’s all about future production from here on out. You win in fantasy football (as you do in the stock market) by identifying the undervalued assets before everyone else does. So who are the undervalued players that might be calling your name on the waiver wire or waiting patiently on the trade block for you to make an offer?
Two names need to be highlighted as you survey the waiver wire this week. The first is Minnesota Vikings rookie Stefon Diggs, a wide receiver who has posted back-to-back 100-yard performances during the past two weeks. He has eclipsed not only Charles Johnson but also Mike Wallace as the Vikings receiver to own, and he even got in on the run game with a nine-yard carry this past week. I always think it’s a telling sign when teams plan coordinated runs for their receivers. It’s a flashing signal: We want to get this guy the ball in his hands. Diggs, a fifth-round pick this year out of Maryland, is a special talent. While Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper gets all the press, and rightly so — I highlighted him extensively during the NFL preseason — Diggs also carries the mantle from this year’s spectacular rookie wide receiver class. He is a solid option for the rest of the year and if he can continue to post 100-yard games, he could play a deciding role in your team’s playoff push.
The second is David Cobb, the Tennessee Titans running back eligible to come off Injured Reserve in Week 9. The Titans backfield is a complete and utter mess right now, and Cobb looked stellar during the preseason before he went down with an injury. Come Week 9, he could easily rise to the starting running back position for Tennessee and deliver serviceable numbers the rest of the year. Considering he is almost universally unowned across fantasy football leagues, he’s a bargain.
While many fantasy analysts will recommend picking up Texans running back Alfred Blue, Foster’s assumed replacement in Houston, I would not put much stock in him. Sure, Blue is a quality back and had a 100-yard game in Week 3 before Foster returned from injury, but the Texans will struggle mightily without Foster. Blue could post somewhat-serviceable numbers this week and beyond, but if you are a Foster owner, do not view Blue as your savior.
A better way to address your lineup holes is through the trade market. One name above all others stands alone: Eddie Lacy. The Green Bay Packers running back, whom I admittedly championed as my number one pick this offseason, has been an utter disaster this year. Pundits warn that Lacy’s backup James Starks could now be more heavily involved in Green Bay’s offense. But I believe talent wins out, and if you are asking me who is the more talented running back, Lacy has to be my answer. While it might not be this week, I am positive Lacy will return to something at least resembling his form from last year. He should come at a fraction of his real value on the trade market, so if you run across a frustrated Lacy owner, go after him with a vengeance.
One other name to keep in mind is Antonio Brown, although the window to acquire him at a low cost may have passed after he had a 124-yard game on Sunday versus the Chiefs. Brown has suffered with Michael Vick and Landry Jones at the helm of the Steelers’ offense, though Big Ben promises to return soon. Brown will resume his reign as a top-three wide receiver once this occurs.
Until next time, fantasy lovers, play on.
Joe Lanzilla is a senior in the School of Foreign Service. Fantasy Football Corner appears every other Friday.
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