Ricky’s Week 12 5-Pack Fantasy Sleepers

Each week, Ricky Valero will unleash his 5-pack of fantasy sleepers for the upcoming week. These players are going to make for great value plays while you construct your weekly DFS lineups.

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Fantasy Football Boom Or Bust: Week 12

Shady McCoy
Fantasy owners will need a big day out of Shady McCoy and he has the matchup to do it

Boom:

Jay Cutler: As bad a season as the Bears have had, Jay Cutler has actually been a top-ten fantasy option thus far. He has passed for 2+ touchdowns in 7 games and has actually has accounted for all but 3 of the Chicago’s offensive touchdowns. This week, the Bears have a home game against the Bucs who have allowed every quarterback they’ve faced to throw for 200+ yards and 5 to throw for 300+ yards. Another plus for Cutler is that his defense is absolutely terrible so there will never be a lack of opportunity to sling the ball around.

Joe Flacco: The Ravens are come out of their bye with a trip to New Orleans. Every quarterback that has traveled to New Orleans has thrown for at least 200 yards. The quarterbacks who have done this are Mike Glennon, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, Teddy Bridgewater and Aaron Rodgers. The only top-tier quarterback in this group, Rodgers, torched the Saints for 425 yards and 3 touchdowns. Expect the Saints and Ravens to have a good ol’ fashion shootout.

LeSean McCoy: The Titans have now allowed teams to rush for 220, 204, 200, 174 and 153 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. With McCoy having 20+ carries in 7 games this year, I see no reason why he can’t slice and dice the Titan’s for a big day.

Shane Vereen: Detroit has allowed 100 yards on the ground only once and only 4 rushing touchdowns all year. All terrible numbers for a running back, right? Good thing Shane Vereen does most of his damage in the passing game. The Lions are allowing 50 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs on average. In the 5 games when Vereen received 12 or more touches this year, he averages 85 yards and has 40 total touchdown. Look for Vereen to be the featured back in New England’s offense this week.

Denard Robinson: Since he has been named the starter, Robinson is averaging 97 yards on the ground and a touchdown per game. His opponent this week, the Colts, are coming off a game where they allowed a 200-yard rusher. Expect the Jags to take advantage of the Colts’ bottom-5 run defense that is allowing 4.6 yards a carry and 1+ touchdown a game.

Steve Smith: This game has all the makings for Steve Smith to show he still has something left in the tank. He is coming off a bye and 4 sub-par games. I don’t think Keenan Lewis will shadow Smith, which will greatly benefit him. The Saints have surrendered an average of 186 yards to receiving corps and a whopping 12.8 yards per catch. If Flacco has a big game, as I suspect he will, then Smith will too.

Roddy White: Wide receiver is a very quarterback dependent position. This week, the Falcons are at home, which bods well for White. Matt Ryan has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the Georgia Dome compared to 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on the road. Surprisingly, White has been very consistent over the last 4 games totaling 3 touchdowns and 312 yards. Expect Matty Ice to look Roddy’s way often with Julio Jones having Joe Hayden stuck to his hip all day.

Kenny Stills: With Brandin Cooks going on IR, opportunity has come a knockin on Stills’ door. Before Cooks got hurt, Stills was averaging 4 catches a game for 58 yards. Now that Stills has been thrust into the number 2 receiver position, he should be an even bigger contributor to the Saints pass-heavy offense. The Raven’s pass defense has been average this year and will have their hands full with Jimmy Graham, opening up some 1 on 1 opportunities for Kenny.

Larry Donnell: In his first meeting with Dallas, Donnell hauled in 7 balls for 90 yards. Look for an even better game against a Cowboy defense who has allowed 8 touchdowns and 4-100 yard games to tight ends this year.

Colts D/ST: Every defense that has gone against the Jagsuars has recorded at least an 8-point fantasy performance. Last time the Colts played the Jacksonville they put up great defensive numbers, recording 2 interceptions, 1 fumble, 4 sacks and a touchdown. Don’t be surprised if you see a repeat performance out of a reeling Colt defense.

Bust:

Matthew Stafford: On the year, Stafford has 15 total touchdowns and 9 interceptions for an average of 12 to 16 fantasy points per game (depending on your settings). He has been consistently average, having only 2-300 yard games. He’s also yet to throw for more than 2 scores in a single game. I see the Patriots putting a beatdown on the Lions, so Stafford could get lucky with some garbage time points, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Mark Ingram: The Ravens are the league’s number-1 fantasy run defense, but they have the 26th ranked pass defense. I see Brees and Payton putting together a game plan that exploits the Raven’s weakness rather than trying to score against a defense that has only surrendered 3 rushing scores. With the Saints’ pass defense being just one spot behind Baltimore’s, I think we will be in for a Monday night shootout.

Golden Tate: With a healthy Calvin Johnson opposite of him in week 11, Tate only had 2 targets. This week, the Lions will head into New England to face the Patriots’ number-4 pass defense. Last week the Pats’ secondary decided to double-team the dynamic T.Y. Hilton while Darrelle Revis blanketed Reggie Wayne. I expect we will see the bigger Brandon Browner shadowing Johnson with safety help while Revis follows Tate around like a lost puppy. Belichick is known for making offenses beat him with their secondary weapons, which in the Lions’ case, is their run game.

DeAndre Hopkins: Lets not overreact to Ryan Mallet’s performance last week. Mallet is still an unproven, inexperienced quarterback. The Texans have a tough passing matchup against the Bengals’ 6th ranked pass defense in week 12. With a healthy Arian Foster and an emerging  Alfred Blue, expect the Texans to try and pound the ball on the ground, which will limit Hopkins’ opportunities. Cincinnati has also only allowed 6 touchdowns to receivers and over 200 yards once all year.

Antonio Gates: Gates has been the definition of boom or bust this year. He has not gone over 61 yards since week 2 and has 3 or less receptions in 6 games. St. Louis has given up only 2 touchdowns to tight ends all year and hasn’t allowed any of them to break 70 yards. This week will be tough sledding for Gates and the struggling San Diego offense.

Jacob Tamme: If Julius Thomas misses any time Tamme will be the one to fill his place, but those of you who are expecting a Thomas-like performance out of him will be disappointed. In his last 2 games, Tamme has received 15 targets and has only been able to turn 5 of them into catches. Tamme’s workload will definitely increase, but his production won’t. The Dolphins haven’t let a tight end touch pay dirt in any of their last 5 games.

Lions D/ST: New England’s’ offense is red hot right now, which makes the Lions a very risky play. In their last 3 games the Pats have scored 136 points and are averaging 36 points a game at home on the year. I would hold onto the Lions for some upcoming matchups, but it would be wise to stream a defense this week so you don’t cost your team points.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/8MexyK

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Payton is the newest fantasy football contributor to The Sports Script. Be on the lookout for more of his work in the coming weeks and follow him on Twitter @PaySand!

Eight In The Box: IDP Waiver Wire Week 12

Chandler Jones is on the mend.
New England’s Chandler Jones may be nearing a return

IDP Injuries of note:

  • Phil Taylor (CLE DL): Taylor has been placed on IR and is out for the year. He is safe to drop in DT-required leagues.
  • Ian Williams (SF DL): Williams has been placed on IR with a broken leg. Taking his place will be Glenn Dorsey, who has been activated from the PUP list after injuring his bicep in training camp. Dorsey is a nice speculative add in DT required leagues.
  • Chandler Jones (NE DL): Jones has been out for five weeks now. The original estimate was 4-6 weeks, so his return may be nearing. There’s nothing to do right now until there is new information. This is New England, so we may not get anything new. Hold tight for now.
  • Karlos Dansby (CLE LB): Dansby sprained his knee and is likely out about a month. This will be a blow to the Browns defense, but look to Christian Kirksey to get a boost in value.
  • Jabaal Sheard (CLE LB): Sheard was originally thought to have a serious foot injury that could require surgery. After further review, it looks a lot better than that and he may only miss a week or two.
  • Ahmad Brooks (SF LB): Brooks had his feelings injured since the coaching staff wasn’t using him as he thought they should. Because of his bruised pride (which can be debilitating) he missed the second half (self-imposed) when he took off his cleats and pouted on the sideline.
  • Trent Murphy (WAS LB): Murphy injured his knee and may have a slight tear of the PCL. It looks like he will try and play through it but he isn’t a tremendous talent so he is probably safe to drop.
  • NaVorro Bowman (SF LB): Bowman appears to have been cleared to return to practice. I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of an impact for your fantasy squad this year. Let someone else use the roster spot.
  • Keenan Lewis (NO DB): Lewis played last week but totaled only 11 snaps. He wasn’t himself and it showed. I would keep him on the bench a couple weeks until he is fully healthy. This probably hurts the NFL Saints more than any fantasy squads.
  • Jason Verrett (SD DB): Verrett sees his rookie season end with shoulder surgery. He was impressive early and is someone to look at for next year in leagues that require the use of a corner.
  • Leodis McKelvin (BUF DB): McKelvin broke his ankle and was placed on IR. He was good this year and should recover from the injury in time for the 2015 season.

Who to use (or not):

DL:

  • Clinton McDonald (TB DL): McDonald has been solid as an under the radar defensive tackle this year. If you are in a DT-required league, he is worth the pickup as he has continued his strong play all season. Obviously it helps when Gerald McCoy is getting all the attention, but putting up 3 sacks, 25 solos and an interception is solid regardless.
  • Mario Williams (BUF DL): Williams is coming off a huge 3.5 sack game last week and gets the Jets in week 12. The chances of another sack and continuing his string of at least a half sack in 7 straight games should continue. There’s only been one game this season where he didn’t put up at least a partial sack and in that game he had 4 solo tackles. Consistency is what we have here.
  • Rob Ninkovich (NE DL): Some leagues may have Ninkovich as a linebacker and some as a defensive end. Either way, I expect him to put some pressure on Stafford this week and pick up a sack.
  • Robert Quinn (STL DL): You are probably thinking, of course I should play Quinn, but I am saying he gets at least 2 sacks this week against a hobbled Philip Rivers.

LB:

  • Aldon Smith (SF LB): Last week I cautioned about using Smith in his first game back. It turned out to be a good suggestion as he put up goose eggs. Although, he was putting pressure on the quarterback and I expect him to get one or two sacks this week against RG3. Get him in your lineup.
  • Jamie Collins & Dont’e Hightower (NE LB): I expect big things from the Patriot defense this week against the Lions. Both of these guys should be in your lineups.
  • Justin Houston (KC LB): The NFL’s sack leader hasn’t had a sack in two weeks. Surprisingly, the Raiders haven’t given up a ton of sacks this year (probably because their defense can’t get off the field) but I have a feeling Houston is going to beast in this game. His sacks come in bunches and I see 2+ on the horizon.

DB:

  • Reshad Jones (MIA DB): Jones will get a lot of opportunities going against the Broncos this week. He will be up to the task and should be fantasy gold in week 12.
  • Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (GB DB): Ha Ha has put up a solid floor due to high tackle numbers. He is locked into playing every down and I have a hunch he gets his first pick since week 3. He put up 5 solo tackles in his last game against the Vikings. He should do that again this week.
  • Michael Griffin (TEN DB): Griffin gets the safety dream matchup against the Eagles; big game coming.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/kw4BG8

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Shane Gallimore is a fantasy football contributor and co-host of the live Sunday edition of The Fantasy Forecaster for The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Gally4!

The Fantasy Forecaster: Week 12 Start/Sit

Ricky was joined by fellow TSS writer Doug Moore and they discussed their Must Start/Must Sit for week 12.

Here is the short version of the show just telling who we picked.

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Make sure to follow Ricky (@rickygangster) and Doug (@DMM0822) on Twitter!

The guys will be back next week (November 25th)! Get your questions in on Twitter using the #TSS tag.

The Weekly Stream: Defense; Week 12

The Saint Louis Rams have beaten the Seahawks, 49ers and the Broncos. Jonas Gray had 199 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns on Sunday night. A guy named Bell on the Steelers followed that up the next evening with 203 rushing yards of his own. Odell Beckham showed us that he belongs in a circus with his amazing catches. Finally, the Arizona Cardinals continue to shock the world as they moved to 9-1 with their starting quarterback sitting on the bench. All these things happened in one weekend in the NFL. “Any Given Sunday” has never been more apparent in the NFL as it has this year and as we move to week 12, we have more story lines to follow. Will Josh Gordon help fantasy owners who have held on to him all year? Will Oakland ever win a game? These are a couple of the many questions that we have as we move to week 12, but there is one question we can answer right now.

Who are we going to stream for a defense this week!

Last Week’s Results:

In week 11 we decided to take a chance on teams that were coming off the bye. All three had favorable matchups and extra rest to prepare them for their opponent. The San Diego Chargers gave us double-digit fantasy points in by only allowing 6 points to the Oakland Raiders. They also got to David Carr twice. This week they face a Rams squad coming off a huge win but that should fall right back down to earth. I’m looking for a huge week out of the Chargers defense. The Houston Texans also provided good value if you streamed them off their bye. Allowing the Browns only 7 points and sacking Hoyer twice, the Texans gave owners 8 fantasy points in a crucial week before the regular season dwindles down. The huge disappointment of the week was my hometown Minnesota Vikings. While they did pick off Jay Cutler twice, they also allowed the Bears to score 21 points and didn’t record any sacks after recording 30 in the 4 weeks prior. Now they face a Green Bay Packer team that looks like one of the best in the NFL. The Vikings defense will take a rest on the waiver wire this week before a couple of good matchups in the fantasy playoffs.

Week 12 Targets:

The Chiefs have a great week 12 matchup against the Raiders ahead
The Chiefs have a great week 12 matchup against the Raiders ahead
  • Kansas City Chiefs: While Kansas City has to travel to the West Coast to play this game on Thursday night, I love the matchup. I had to double take when I saw that the Chiefs were only 60% owned in ESPN leagues. They are the 10th best fantasy defense and have not recorded a negative point total all season. If they are not owned in your league, you should plug and play them in week 12. This is my favorite matchup of the week!
  • Indianapolis Colts: Many owners saw that the Colts were playing the Patriots last week and clicked drop. Currently, the Colts defense is only owned in 25% of leagues. Let’s look at this matchup schedule the rest of the year: Jacksonville, Washington, Cleveland, Houston, Dallas. While I love the Chiefs matchup for week 12, you also have to love the matchup for Indianapolis against the Jaguars. The Jaguars give up the most points to fantasy defenses. If you are in playoff contention and need a defense to lead you the rest of the way, the Colts are your squad. While I believe the Chiefs might do better this week, the Colts will do owners better throughout the rest of the year. Go and get them!
  • Philadelphia Eagles: This seems like a weird sentence to type. The number one fantasy defense is available in 35% of fantasy leagues. Yes, the Eagles have been a season-changer for owners lucky enough to have them. Last week they faced the Packers and they struggled like many thought they would. Now, the Eagles get the opportunity to face the Titans, Dallas (twice), Seattle and Washington from now until week 16. While the Seattle matchup will be dangerous, the Eagles have done well against good teams this year and will be able to help you out as the playoffs begin in a couple of weeks.

I feel confident in my week 12 selections. The fact that some of the top defenses are sitting on the waiver wire as we head to the playoffs is an opportunity for owners to take advantage of their opponents. Play the matchups wisely and you’ll be the one holding the trophy at the end of the year.

Happy streaming, and good luck in week 12.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/VzYz1L

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Jared “Minnesota Nice” Hines is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Jared_Hines27!

Josh Gordon; Savior?

Josh Gordon is back! Is it possible to sell high on him before he's even caught a pass?
Josh Gordon is back! Is it possible to sell high on him before he’s even caught a pass?

Josh Gordon is coming back this week and all your fantasy troubles are going away. Or at least that is what many of you are thinking as you have held on to him for 11 weeks. Let’s step back for a moment and see what Gordon has actually done in the NFL:

Year Games Rec Targets Yards TD
2012 16 50 96 805 5
2013 14 87 159 1646 9

His numbers for 2013 put him at the top of the wide receiver leaderboard and he carried many a team to a title considering that he did all that in only 14 games due to a two game suspension. He was a beast and it didn’t matter who was throwing to him. The question you must ask yourself though is this: can he still put up top-5 numbers at his position over the remaining games?

Last season, Gordon was part of the vaunted Norv Turner system and the Browns did not have much of a running game. In 2013 the Browns averaged 42.6 passes per game, completing almost 24 of them for 253 yards per game. This happened while only rushing the ball 21.8 times per game. This year, Cleveland has taken a different approach. The 2014 version of this club is averaging 10 less passing attempts per game.

You may be able to talk yourself into the reason they are throwing less is because they don’t have Gordon and that is probably partially correct. However, I don’t see the Browns going pass heavy moving forward. They have three-headed running back by committee and I don’t think this changes much. It’s unlikely that Gordon suddenly changes their entire gameplan.

On the plus side, when Hoyer was throwing to Gordon in the two-plus games before he tore his ACL, Gordon averaged 7 receptions for 110 yds and had one touchdown on 28 targets. Thise are all very good numbers and I do think that Hoyer will look for Gordon and they will get him involved. I am just not counting on him putting up elite numbers for the rest of the season. I believe he will be a weekly starter and should put up top-20 numbers over the season’s final six weeks but let’s temper our expectations. He may not be the savior.

Here is the point where you can get crafty. How many of you have seen a highly touted Minor League baseball player that every expert says is a can’t miss prospect? Everyone in your baseball league covets this guy and they are willing to trade proven commodities so they can get the next shiny new toy. How many times have you seen the value skyrocket right as the shiny new toy gets called up to the show? Then he plays and you realize he will be a good baseball player but right now he isn’t worth that perceived value he had last week.

This is why I think this is a great opportunity to sell high on Josh Gordon. I know you have sat on him for 11 weeks and now I am telling you to trade him away. It’s bold for sure. This is primarily for a team that is on the playoff bubble and could use multiple pieces due to injury or bad luck. I wouldn’t take just anything but if you can prey on a team that is looking for that Hail Mary because their season hasn’t been great, maybe you can move Gordon for DeAndre Hopkins and Lamar Miller or straight across for an underperforming LeSean McCoy.

The bottom line is that Josh Gordon is a talent but he is somewhat unproven. He has had one great year in a good system, but his value will unlikely ever be higher. With fantasy trade deadlines fast approaching, trading him at peak value is definitely something to think about.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/9EpoFk

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Shane Gallimore is a fantasy football contributor and co-host of the live Sunday edition of The Fantasy Forecaster for The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Gally4!

Waiver Wire Wizardry: Pickups for Week 12

Quarterback:

Brian Hoyer (14% Y!): In terms of efficiency (20-50 on pass attempts), this was not a great game for Hoyer. However, he did have 330 yards passing, including a touchdown. Hoyer should be be added because Josh Gordon will be back in week 12! There’s also an outside chance that tight end Jordan Cameron gets back into the mix. Gordon has been practicing at the team’s facility and should be up to date on the playbook. Hoyer is a decent game manager and should be able to succeed with Gordon’s return. Andrew Hawkins sticks around as his possession receiver and we already know the Browns have three capable running backs. As we inch closer to the fantasy playoffs, Hoyer is a player I’m watching. His arrow is pointing up.

Mark Sanchez (53% Y!): I wouldn’t look too much into Sanchez’s performance on Sunday, as it was decent. The Eagles simply got outplayed by a red hot Green Bay team and could not keep Aaron Rodgers and company out of the end zone. Sanchez compiled most of his stats in garbage time (26-44, 346 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) against one of the tougher defenses in the NFC. Simply based on the scheme Philly runs, Sanchez should still slot in as an attractive fantasy option. Sanchez and his buddies get a poor Titans offense in week 12, making him a solid waiver addition at quarterback.

Running Back:

Jonas Gray (19% Y!): Have a day Mr. Gray! New England did a brilliant job of controlling the game and Gray was a big part of that. He rumbled for 199 yards on 38 carries, while scoring four times on Sunday night against the Colts. Gray has obviously earned the trust of New England’s coaching staff and at the very least has molded himself a role moving forward. Gray and the Patriots face tough rush defenses in the coming weeks and the New England game-plan is tough to predict any given day so it’s tough to predict what he does from here on out. Those in need of running back help should still make the add to acquire Gray, as he figures to at the very least get goal-line carries in the immediate future.

Tre Mason (50% Y!): Well, no one saw this coming. The Rams came out and…beat the Broncos? Tre Mason was a big part of this upset. He tallied 113 yards on 29 carries and it was the first time all season the Broncos allowed an opposing running back to reach the century mark. Mason continues to distance himself from the pack (which is basically only Benny Cunningham at this point) and has two great matchups ahead (Chargers, Raiders). Mason should be owned and used in all formats. Start him as a borderline-RB2 in week 12.

C.J. Anderson (65% Y!): Anderson was the starter on Sunday and while he only rushed for 29 yards on 9 carries, he had a great day receiving with 8 receptions for 86 yards. With the sudden rash of injuries to the Broncos, it’s going to be hard for Manning and company not to rely on Anderson in the coming weeks. Montee Ball re-injured his groin this past weekend and may not return until the playoffs and Ronnie Hillman is out at least another week or two. Anderson will enter week 12 as a borderline-RB1 and should be started in every fantasy league.

Wide Receiver:

Josh Gordon (77% Y!): Did you just get the internet or something?

Jordan Matthews (62% Y!): Matthews has scored 3 times in 2 weeks and has over 100 yards receiving in both games. He and Mark Sanchez have a nice little connection and Matthews should be one of the Eagles’ most targeted pass-catchers moving forward. The man is in the WR2 discussion and Philly has a nice week 12 matchup against the Titans. Take full advantage and add the dude!

Malcom Floyd (37% Y!): So far this season, Floyd has 50 targets, 32 receptions, 577 yards and 4 touchdowns. That comes out to a weekly average of 5.0 targets, 3.2 receptions, 57.7 yards receiving and 0.4 TD. Breaking it down even further, that means an average score of 11.3 points in PPR leagues and 8.9 points in standard leagues. Not bad for a guy who has been under the radar most of the season. He’s done all this despite a week 2 output of only 1 target. Floyd is a player to own as a lower-end starting wideout option for the coming weeks.

Tight End:

Coby Fleener (38% Y!): Fleener has taken Allen’s spot on my weekly waiver wire piece, and for good reason. He had 7 catches on 7 targets for 144 yards Sunday night against New England. This was because Dwayne Allen left the game with an ankle injury and did not return. If Allen has a serious enough injury that keeps him from playing next week, Fleener needs to be picked up. Given the shallow nature of the tight end pool, Fleener could be a top-10 weekly option if Allen misses time. Grab him just in case.

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content!

Doug Moore is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @DMM0822!

The Man, the Myth, the Legend: Jonas Gray

Jonas Gray
Damn, look at those guns

Guess who had 38 carries for 199 yards and 4 touchdowns this weekend? It wasn’t Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, Demarco Murray, Matt Forte or Arian Foster. It was Jonas Gray! If you have no idea who Jonas Gray is, don’t feel bad. The 5’ 9”, 230 pound bowling ball had more carries, yards, and touchdowns last night then he had over the course of his entire career.

Gray was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school and decided to take his talents to South Bend and play for the Fighting Irish. In 4 years at Notre Dame, Gray tallied 1,205 total yards and 12 touchdowns. He spent the majority of his time in college as a backup until his senior year where he split carries with Cierre Wood. Gray was having a breakout senior year until he tore his ACL in the Irish’s 11th game, ending his collegiate career. Prior to the injury, he was averaging 6.9 yards per tote. Despite the great numbers, the injury to his knee lowered his draft stock exponentially. Gray was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Miami Dolphins and spent the year on the PUP list while rehabbing the injury. Following a year of rehab, Gray was cut by Miami in August of 2013 and then signed with the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad two days later. After spending the 2013 season with the Ravens, Gray was signed to a future contract with the Patriots as they prepared for a playoff run. Entering 2014, Gray was a part of a very busy backfield in New England, consisting of Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and James White. Once again, Gray was cut, but then signed back onto New England’s practice squad.

Gray was finally given his opportunity when Stevan Ridley went down with a torn ACL in week 6. Following the injury to Ridley, he was activated to the Pats 53-man roster and saw his first NFL action against the Jets when he had 3 carries for 12 yards. Gray’s role continued to grow in the next 2 weeks as he was handed the ball 29 times for 119 yards. Heading into the bye, Gray had established himself as the Patriots’ top rushing threat while splitting time with excellent pass-catching back Shane Vereen.

Now that you know who Jonas Gray is, let me tell you why his performance wasn’t as surprising as it seems. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get him into my Boom or Bust column, which really took a beating this week, but I was able to get him into one of my lineups as a late substitution for Larry Fitzgerald. Let’s go back to January 11th, 2014 when the Colts and the Patriots faced off in the 2nd round of the playoffs. New England went with the game plan of pounding the ball with Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount, which lead to a 23 point victory. The stat line for the two backs read like this: 38 carries for 218 yards and 6 touchdowns. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? We all know that Bill Belichick is a hard coach to predict week to week but historically he uses the same game plan against the same opponent if he had success in the previous meeting. I can’t say I saw this big of a game out of Jonas Gray, but history was definitely on his side to at least contribute in some capacity.

Moving forward, Gray is going to be a very popular waiver wire add, but don’t forget Belichick’s game-plans are hard to predict. There is no question that Gray is the lead back for the Patriots rushing attack with Vereen serving as the back in passing situations. However, the Pats have the Lions, Bills, Dolphins, and Jets left on their schedule, all of whom have a defense ranked in the top ten against the run. Knowing this, the schedule may dictate a more heavy use of Vereen.

No matter what happens moving forward with Jonas Gray’s career, his performance last night was a great accumulation of hard work and perseverance in an NFL season that has been clouded by negative off-field happenings. Seeing a guy make the most of his opportunities after he could have decided to end his football career multiple times will make you feel good no matter which team you root for.

Stories like Gray’s remind us why we love the NFL so much.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/dmvid3

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content!

Payton is the newest fantasy football contributor to The Sports Script. Be on the lookout for more of his work in the coming weeks and follow him on Twitter @PaySand!

Ricky’s Week 11 Fantasy 5-Pack; Sleepers

Welcome! I give you 5 guys who I think can give you the best bang for your buck in daily fantasy. I provide one player per position who I think fits the bill that you can use on the cheap to fill your daily rosters (I play on DraftKings and FanDuel, so that’s where my pricing will come from).

QB: Andy Dalton vs. New Orleans Saints (DraftKings $5600, FanDuel $7900): Raise your hand if you have been bitten by the Dalton bug on daily fantasy! Yep, thought so. So why in the world would I trust him this week? Well it’s pretty simple, the matchup is tasty and I think Dalton has a chip on his shoulder. While I don’t think he is a very good real quarterback, i think he’ll do just fine this week. The Saints are terrible against the pass and Cincinatti’s speed will be too much for them on the fast-track. The value is nicer on DK, but his price on FanDuel is decent, too.Steven Jackson

RB: Steven Jackson vs. Carolina Panthers (DraftKings: $4400, FanDuel $6700): This is the steal of the week. He is a bargain-buster on DraftKings and bottom of the barrel on FanDuel. His week 11 matchup is super sexy. The Panthers have given up multiple touchdowns to opposing tailbacks in 4 of the last 5 games. Jackson will enter this game coming off a contest in which he had 81 yards on 16 carries (5.1 YPC). He’s also scored in each of last two games. The Falcons offense rolls much better when they get the running game going early. You would be insane not to have Jackson in your lineup this weekend.

WR: Mohamed Sanu vs. New Orleans Saints (DraftKings $6000, FanDuel $7300): Sanu had his worst output of the season last week against the Browns, catching only 2 passes for 20 yards. However, I like Sanu for the same reasons as Dalton. He has 7 or more targets in 7 straight games and has become a real catalyst in this offense, he is bound to explode in the dome and the Saints will likely focus on shutting down AJ Green this week.

TE: Travis Kelce vs. Seattle Seahawks (DraftKings $4000, FanDuel $5900): I’ll be 100% honest, Gronk will be in all my daily lineups this weekend but if you aren’t looking to pay the price, Kelce is your man. He had a tough week last week against the Bills but has a fantastic matchup against a Seahawks team that has been exposed by tight ends all season.

Defense: Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans (DraftKings $3300, FanDuel $5200): This matchup makes way too much sense for me. The Browns are coming off an emotional high beating the division rival Bengals and have a really soft matchup this Sunday against Houston. The Texans will be without Arian Foster and are throwing inexperienced quarterback Ryan Mallett into the fire. Love it.

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Ricky is a co-owner and fantasy sports writer at The Sports Script. Follow him on the Twitter machine @rickygangster!