Close-up ... meh
Their opponents will, naturally, play into Vitt's dealing. It might be a rainy weekend for their Oakland Raiders matchup in Week 11, which could present an opportune time to carry out their land war on the backs of Ivory and Ingram. Plus, they probably wouldn't want to put too much on Sproles' shoulders if he returns.
Their San Francisco 49ers clash in Week 12 points to a Sproles-heavy workload, considering the Bay Area brick wall. Their divisional showdown with the suddenly surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15 also points to that, given how much their between-the-tackles resistance has improved.
Their plowing mindset should resurface on their other remaining dates. They face the Falcons again in Week 13, and the suddenly battered New York Giants (Week 14, another potential weather speed bump) and Dallas Cowboys (Week 16) could yield happy days for Ivory and Ingram. Of course, those pass defenses are susceptible to Sproles, but these could be opportunities for them to keep those offenses on the sidelines by grinding it out.
The Carolina Panthers (Week 17) are a toss-up; their interior D has improved thanks to Luke Kuechly but isn't stalwart.
Expect frustration if you hop into this picture, but don't write off the big-money plays, especially if you need a new toter tune.
My rank the rest of the way: Sproles (when active), Ivory, Ingram and Thomas.
Sproles' natural fit in their most comfortable identity still gives him the edge. If they ditch this phase, he'd have the most to gain. The fact they'll be hard-pressed to shut him out even in this philosophy cements his status. He's already chiefly a point-per-reception contributor, and he'll still meet flex value there.
It'd be counterproductive to deactivate someone with Ivory's punishing style if they want to keep breeding their forward push. Ingram, on the other hand, must get upwards of 20 touches to maximize his less potent skill set. Ivory's breakthrough ability and possibility for an increased workload define the upside fantasy owners need this time of year.
Since Vitt might have other ideas, you should at least place one bet from this backfield to give yourself a chance of hitting.
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About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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