I watched the presidential debate rather than much of the first half of the Monday Night Football game (and, consequently, instead of ranting here about football) because I'm a true patriot. Can Jon Gruden say the same? I think not.
Josh Freeman, TB – In consecutive weeks now, Freeman has put up white-hot results, lighting up the Chiefs for 328 yards and three touchdowns, then the Saints for 420 yards and three more touchdowns. While there's a lot to fear about Freeman (inconsistent running game, low completion percentage) and he's a tough play against Minnesota this week, he draws a series of positive matchups thereafter, including a rematch with the Saints in Week 15 – the fantasy playoffs.
Brandon Weeden, CLE – One of the this week's most useful bye-week replacements, Weeden draws a home game against the Chargers, who sport the eighth-worst pass defense in the league. Weeden's thrown for two TDs in three straight weeks, and he threw for 320 yards the game before that.
Sam Bradford, STL – The Rams draw New England – a very good offense and an awful pass defense – so Bradford's gonna have to throw the ball. Mark Sanchez just threw for 328 yards against the Patriots, and Bradford is, well, maybe slightly better than Sanchez. Bradford's been putting yards up even with Danny Amendola out, so he's a reasonable play as long as you don't mind a couple interceptions.
Rashad Jennings, JAC – Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) may have a Lisfranc injury, and if he does, that's a long-term – possibly season-ending – concern. We'll find out more in the coming days, but regardless of the severity, MJD will miss this week for sure and probably more. That gives Jennings a golden opportunity as the top backup in Jacksonville. Jennings rushed for just 44 yards (and a touchdown!) on 21 carries in MJD's place, but did gash Oakland for 58 yards through the air. He's talented, he's got a very run-friendly schedule ahead of him, and he could have the job for the year. A must-add.
LaRod Stephens-Howling, ARI – Those who didn't bench or drop Stephens-Howling this week, I salute you. Personally, I benched him, somehow (barely) won anyway, and at this point am just glad I didn't drop him. But a lot of folks did – he's owned in just 17 percent of Yahoo leagues and 10 percent of ESPN leagues. Finally healthy, LSH flipped the script on William Powell's owners by going off for 149 total yards and a touchdown against a tough Minnesota defense. I don't love him this week against the Niners, but any starting back has fantasy value.
Jonathan Dwyer, PIT – I honestly have no idea what's going on in the Pittsburgh backfield from week to week, but Dwyer's top dog at the moment, and I'm always willing to bet against Rashard Mendenhall being healthy these days. Dwyer popped off for 122 yards on just 17 carries against Cincy.
Ryan Broyles, DET – The end of Monday Night Football actually gave us the rare non-injury actionable fantasy moment when Broyles became the only Lion to score a touchdown against the Bears, catching a 12-yarder from Matt Stafford with 30 seconds remaining. Broyles has something of a cult following from his days at Oklahoma, where he became the all-time leader in catches in NCAA history. Yes. History. And then he tore his ACL and fell to the second round of the draft, where the Lions grabbed him, and he finally worked his way into the offense Monday after seeing very limited work early this year due to that ACL tear. He's a massive talent with a terrific quarterback who needs an option not named Calvin Johnson. Quietly add him if you can.
Santana Moss, WAS – Moss giveth, and Moss taketh away. Santana notched two touchdowns out of three catches (and 67 yards) against the Giants, but also fumbled to end the game. Sure, Moss is old and you can't expect all that much, but Pierre Garcon refuses to stay healthy, Fred Davis (Achilles) is out for the year, and someone's got to catch Bob Griffin's passes.
Logan Paulsen, WAS – This comes with the disclaimer that we don't know how far from ready Chris Cooley is to compete in the NFL right now. The Skins signed Cooley up and he will be a factor in time, but first, Paulsen's got the opportunity to place his stamp on the position with Fred Davis done for the season. He got off to a good start Sunday, reeling in four balls for a shiny 76 yards. Feel free to go after Cooley in deeper leagues.
Rob Housler, ARI – Housler broke out with five carries for 54 yards Sunday, finally starting to look as though he was coming into his own as Todd Heap's (knee) injury replacement. With seven targets against Minnesota, it looks like Housler's role in the offense is increasing, which is great for his fantasy value. Heap is practicing, but it's unclear how close he might be to returning.