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Pitta's fantasy value on the rise

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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening

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Posted Sept. 11, 2012 @ 12:59 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

With one week under your belt, it’s not too early to start making a few minor tweaks to your rosters. Perhaps you have decided an end-of-bench player simply isn’t going to pan out, or maybe injuries have forced your hand. In this week's Fantasy Ticker, we take a look at skill-position players who could help strengthen your depth — or perhaps even your starting lineup.

The suggestions below are a function of matchups, expected opportunities and other factors. As a general rule, we will focus only upon players available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

Quarterbacks

Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb (owned in 2 percent of leagues as of Monday night) — Look who saved the Cardinals’ bacon in Week One. Might not be a bad pickup in bigger leagues, particularly two-QB formats, what with John Skelton dealing with an ankle injury.

Vikings QB Christian Ponder (12 percent) — Performed well in the season opener, completing 20-of-27 passes for 270 yards. While he didn’t throw a TD, his accuracy was a positive, as was his yards-per-attempt average (10.0). In Week Two, he draws a shaky Indianapolis defense. Hmmm….

49ers QB Alex Smith (44 percent) — Was sharp in Week One, and he gets another good matchup Sunday vs. Detroit. The Lions’ secondary is banged-up. Figures to be a popular pickup this week. Not sure he’s someone you want to stake your fantasy season on just yet, but he’s a viable backup with a little upside.

Keep an eye on …

Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert (4 percent) — Really only an option in two-QB formats or giant one-QB leagues, but he did throw for a career-high 260 yards in Week One. Still a work-in-progress, but those in need of QB help with roster space wouldn’t be out of line stashing him.

Eagles QB Nick Foles (2 percent) — Look, we’re just saying …

Running backs

Steelers RB Jonathan Dwyer (18 percent) — He didn’t start at Denver in Week One, but he led the Steelers in rushing (43 yards). He had fewer touches than Isaac Redman (11-13) — but had twice as many total yards (54-27). Rashard Mendenhall figures to be the Steelers’ starter when he returns from a knee injury, but as long as he’s out, Dwyer and Redman are the main options in the backfield. The Jets struggled vs. the Bills’ ground game in Week One, making Dwyer an interesting “flex” or even a No. 2 RB option in very big leagues.

Redskins RB Alfred Morris (29 percent) — Not only did he get the start in the Week One win at New Orleans, but he got 28 of the 34 carries that went to Redskins running backs/fullbacks. Sure, the 96 rushing yards and two TDs didn’t go unappreciated by those who started him, but the sheer volume of work had to make them very, very happy, too.

Keep an eye on …

Bills RB Tashard Choice (0 percent) — Will be the primary backup to C.J. Spiller with Fred Jackson (knee) out several weeks.  

Titans RB Jamie Harper (0 percent) — He’s the top backup to Chris Johnson if Javon Ringer (elbow) remains out of the lineup. Johnson gained just four yards on 11 carries in Week One.

Lions RB Mikel Leshoure (34 percent) — Eligible to return after Week Two; those in bigger leagues might want to move now.

Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno (5 percent) — Got five carries and scored a TD backing up Willis McGahee in Week One.

Wide receivers

Jets WR Stephen Hill (16 percent) — His first NFL regular-season game went swimmingly (five catches, 89 yards, two TDs). The Jets’ offense won’t always hum like it did in Week One, but Hill is talented, and he’s worth a roster spot.

Packers WR James Jones (23 percent) — Not an every-week starter, but he’s good to have on the roster, particularly with Greg Jennings (groin, check status) hurting. Jones made the most of his targets in Week One, catching 4-of-6 passes for a game-high 81 yards and a TD. He can deliver bursts of playmaking ability. 

Chiefs WR-RB Dexter McCluster (14 percent) — Led the Chiefs in targets (10), catches (six) and yards (82) in Week One. That he may qualify as a wide receiver and a running back in some fantasy leagues increases his value.

Keep an eye on …

Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins (1 percent) — Surprisingly big part of the offense in Week One. Someone to monitor in PPR leagues.

Redskins WR Aldrick Robinson (1 percent) — Was the Redskins’ most targeted player in Week One (six). Value increases if Pierre Garcon (foot) misses any time.

Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (0 percent) — Targeted seven times in Week One, hauling in four passes for 74 yards, including a 39-yard TD in the final minute of regulation.

Tight ends

Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis (5 percent) — After a disappointing 2011 season, he started the ’12 campaign on a positive note, catching all five passes thrown his way (52 yards) and scoring a TD.

Steelers TE Heath Miller (24 percent) — Racked up 50 receiving yards and a receiving TD in Week One, and QB Ben Roethlisberger was looking his way near the goal line.

Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (2 percent) — Pitta, who missed the preseason with a broken hand, impressed in Week One, catching five passes for 73 yards and a TD. Surely he fell off the radar of most people because of the injury, but he figures to be a popular pickup this week, and there's a strong case to add him to the roster. Dating back to last season, and including the playoffs, Pitta has at least five catches and a TD in three of his last four games. 

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