With several teams creating distance in their respective divisions, it's worth checking out the players that are most likely to gain value if starters begin to see some extra rest down the stretch.
Vereen dancing late in 2012?
Roddy White only leaves the field a few plays per game, and Julio Jones just came back from an ankle injury. If either player is selected to rest more frequently Harry Douglas, a respectable slot receiver, would fill in.
Depending on game situations, Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers are now playing nearly equal time. Jason Snelling is a decent runner and receiver and could fill either role if the Dirty Birds want to park their backs in the final weeks, particularly the aging Turner.
Jacoby Jones is making highlights in the return game while making the occasional big catch as a receiver. He would be a logical deep target replacement for Torrey Smith as the Ravens look to wrap up their division early. Look out for Tandon Doss, as well.
Bernard Pierce has received seven or more carries in three of the last four games. With the extremely high number of snaps Ray Rice is on the field for, he's an important player for the Ravens to consider resting should that opportunity present itself.
Will Peyton Manning submit to resting? Would Brock Osweiler or Caleb Hanie make Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker owners confident? Unlikely either way. Plus, not sure that they'd care enough to rest Moreno, considering how fresh he is at this point in the year.
They're saying they're not worried about his tote load, but Arian Foster leads the league in carries and would yield to Justin Forsett and the returning Ben Tate if and when the Texans clinch home field throughout the playoffs.
Owen Daniels has been banged up lately, and with one big game under his belt Garrett Graham has proven capable of filling in as the lead tight end.
In 2010, Wes Welker tore is ACL and MCL in a meaningless game at the end of the year. Julian Edelman would take over in the slot if the team elects to play it safe with their starters this time. Maybe Greg Salas, too. This would more realistically mean more targets for Brandon Lloyd, though.
Stevan Ridley is currently seventh in carries and has never seen this type of workload before. Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead would likely spilt touches in his absence, with Brandon Bolden mixed in whenever he returns from suspension and his knee injury.
Michael Hoomanawanui, Visanthe Shiancoe and Daniel Fells are more so long shots, but the Pats use their tight ends so well and can ill afford to be without both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski (broken forearm) heading into the postseason.
Gore could use rest as much as possible, but San Fran has been conserving him when necessary in the regular season. They're not in as good postseason shape as the others listed, but the Niners could deploy more James, Jacobs and Dixon from the backfield, which would be a fantasy mess. James has the most upside, but Jacobs and Dixon could hog goal line attempts.
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.
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