It went from Reuben Droughns (2004) to Mike Anderson (2005) to Tatum Bell (2006) to Selvin Young (2007). Fantasy owners have latched on to Denver's prominent ground game for years, and other running backs have also chipped in, with Mike Bell (2006) and Travis Henry (2007).
Some have panned out and others have flopped, but they have all been worth taking a chance on with a late draft pick or a waiver wire addition.
|Who would've thought that Peyton Hillis would have Fantasy value heading into Week 12. (AP)|
Ryan Torain, a promising rookie in training camp before hurting his elbow, returned in Week 10 but only had one game at Cleveland before suffering a torn ACL. With Young still out, the Broncos needed help in Week 11 at Atlanta.
Tatum Bell, who was jettisoned to Detroit last year before being cut and walking off with Rudi Johnson's luggage, was brought back to share carries with seventh-round draft pick Peyton Hillis, a converted fullback. The Broncos also activated P.J. Pope from the practice squad.
It was a true committee against the Falcons, with Hillis rushing for 44 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries before leaving with a shoulder injury, and Bell (seven carries for 34 yards) and Pope (four carries for 35 yards) finishing the job. Hillis, who also added three catches for 26 yards, is expected to be fine.
If you're looking for a late-season addition at running back, grab Hillis. He is only owned in 41 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com.
Hillis already had a big receiving game in Week 9 against Miami with seven catches for 116 yards and a touchdown.
"He's got excellent hands," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said after the Falcons game. "He might have the best hands on our football team."
Hillis also has a chance to be the best Fantasy running back from the University of Arkansas this year. He has 228 total yards and three touchdowns compared to fellow Razorbacks rookies Darren McFadden (448 total yards and one touchdown) and Felix Jones (276 total yards and three touchdowns).
But Hillis has more upside at this point with McFadden dealing with turf toe and Jones still out with the hamstring injury. The only downside for Hillis could be sharing carries with Bell and Pope.
For now, continue to monitor how many carries each player gets heading into Week 12 against Oakland, but add Hillis now and pick up Bell (25 percent) in deeper leagues. You can wait on Pope (1 percent), and we'll see what happens if Young (42 percent) can return, but he might be worth stashing.
The Broncos have become a running back by committee again. But if history repeats itself in Denver and an unknown rusher comes out of nowhere like Hillis, you'll want that player on your Fantasy team.
He could play dividends once the playoffs start.
In case you haven't noticed ... It's time to add Jets tight end Dustin Keller. Brett Favre has turned the rookie from Purdue into the Jets best receiver the past two weeks. Keller had eight catches for 87 yards at New England and six catches for 107 yards and a touchdown the week before against St. Louis. He is only owned in 45 percent of leagues, so pick him up and start him as a No. 1 Fantasy tight end. He has a great remaining schedule, and Favre will continue to look in his direction.
Each Monday we will highlight players who might be available in your league and whether you should consider picking them up off waivers based on their recent performances. The players chosen are based on the percentage of ownership in CBSSports.com leagues.
Kerry Collins, QB, Tennessee
Owned: 27 percent of leagues
Week 11: Completed 13-of-23 passes for 230 yards, three touchdowns and one interception at Jacksonville.
Analysis: OK, it's time to give Collins his due even though he was an "avoid" last week. He now has five touchdowns in his past two games with 519 passing yards and only one interception against the Jaguars and Bears. And he has another great matchup in Week 12 against the Jets, who defend the run well but struggle in pass defense. Collins is making the most of his limited weapons with Justin Gage and Bo Scaife, and Gage (19 percent) is worth consideration right now with four catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns against Jacksonville and three scores in his past two games. Collins should also shine in Week 13 at Detroit, Week 14 against Cleveland and Week 15 at Houston.
Shaun Hill, QB, San Francisco
Owned: 18 percent of leagues
Week 11: Completed 15-of-20 passes for 213 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions and scored a rushing touchdown against St. Louis.
Analysis: Hill probably should have been the 49ers starter coming into this season. He finished last year with five touchdowns and one interception in three games and now has 10 touchdowns and three interceptions in six appearances. As you know, we're fans of Mike Martz quarterbacks, and Hill is playing for his future. The 49ers might not be going anywhere this year, but Hill could help your Fantasy team down the stretch. Hill will be doing plenty of passing, and he has proven in a short amount of time he can be a productive Fantasy quarterback.
Antonio Pittman, RB, St. Louis
Owned: 23 percent of leagues
Week 11: Had 14 carries for 95 yards and three catches for 4 yards at San Francisco.
Analysis: With Steven Jackson out again for Week 12 with a thigh injury, Pittman could have a great ending to his season. After games against Chicago and Miami the next two weeks, Pittman closes the season with Arizona, Seattle, San Francisco and Atlanta, all teams that struggle against the run.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Tampa Bay
Owned: 47 percent of leagues
Week 11: Did not play.
Analysis: With the news that Earnest Graham (ankle) could be out for the year, that means Warrick Dunn will be the starter for the Bucs, with Williams now elevated to No. 2. He was activated off the PUP list this past week but inactive against Minnesota. That will change in Week 12 at Detroit. Don't plan on starting Williams any time soon, but he should definitely be added. And if Dunn gets hurt, Williams would then become a No. 3 Fantasy running back if he ever returns as the starter for Tampa Bay. And if he shows his old burst prior to last year's knee injury, Williams could be a tremendous addition to your Fantasy team.
Martellus Bennett, TE, Dallas
Owned: 1 percent of leagues
Week 11: Had one catch for 25 yards and a touchdown at Washington.
Analysis: Don't expect Bennett to take over for Jason Witten even though Bennett scored against the Redskins. Witten is still fine even with the broken ribs. Bennett could be a solid player down the road, but he remains the No. 2 tight end for the Cowboys and low on the pecking order when it comes to passes from Tony Romo. Bennett isn't going to turn into a quality Fantasy tight end this season.
Ronald Curry, WR, Oakland
Owned: 8 percent of leagues
Week 11: Had six catches for 73 yards at Miami.
Analysis: Don't get excited with Curry's performance because one week he might look good and the next he could be inactive. Now, he's likely to remain a part of the game plan with Javon Walker (ankle) out, but the Raiders passing game is terrible. There are other receivers worth investing in at this time like Deion Branch (17 percent), who returned for Seattle in Week 11 against Arizona with four catches for 54 yards.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Cincinnati
Owned: 6 percent of leagues
Week 11: Completed 29-of-44 passes for 261 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions against Philadelphia.
Analysis: It appears more likely each week that Fitzpatrick will remain the starter for the Bengals with Carson Palmer (elbow) unlikely to return. But even though Fitzpatrick had his first game over 200 yards this year in Week 11, he's not going to turn into a quality Fantasy option. He has struggled to consistently hook up with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson, and the Bengals have a brutal schedule the rest of the way.
Others to monitor ...
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants
Owned: 16 percent of leagues
Week 11: Had nine carries for 96 yards against Baltimore.
Analysis: Bradshaw is the No. 3 running back for the Giants, and he typically plays when the game is out of reach. He's behind Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward on the depth chart, and both are healthy and playing well. Still, if either running back suffers an injury, Bradshaw would step in and shine. He nearly snapped Baltimore's streak of 28 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, and it's too bad he doesn't get more playing time.
Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans
Owned: 20 percent of leagues
Week 11: Had 16 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 56 yards at Kansas City.
Analysis: Thomas showed he could be Reggie Bush with Bush missing his third game with a knee injury. But if Bush returns in Week 12 against Green Bay as expected, Thomas will return to the bench. Bush thought he could return against the Chiefs, so he could be limited again, which would open the door for another good game for Thomas. Keep an eye on what happens with Bush, but consider Thomas a good pick up if Bush misses another game. He would continue to share time with Deuce McAllister, but we saw Thomas shine in Kansas City.
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