When Adrian Peterson went off on a cart in the second quarter Sunday, head in his hands, it certainly seemed like the end of the fantasy season for some. While the Vikings have struggled, Peterson has been a fantasy stud yet again this year, rushing for 872 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Peterson has a high ankle sprain. It's a Grade 1, the least severe type, but he'll still be in a walking boot until Thursday. SI.com's Will Carroll says he could miss 2-4 weeks. Peterson had been dealing with an ankle injury from earlier in the year, and it's easy to envision a scenario where he's out for the remainder or majority of the season. The Vikings are 2-8.
Toby Gerhart wasn't that successful in relief on Sunday. Peterson had only rushed six times for 26 yards and a touchdown before he sprained his ankle, but he had just broken a nice run before the injury and the Raiders' run defense hasn't been good this season.
Gerhart finished with just seven carries for 18 yards. The Vikings were down most of the game and were throwing; Gerhart just didn't get many opportunities. Could he be stronger in the coming weeks? The upcoming matchups for Minnesota aren't great: Atlanta, Denver and Detroit are good against the run; Detroit and Atlanta are 27th and 28th in fantasy points allowed.
Gerhart played only 85 snaps this season before Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus. (Hey, if anything he's fresh!) If he can get into a rhythm with regular playing time, he could put up passable numbers; the Vikings' offensive line is good at run blocking. There are probably better options if you're an Adrian Peterson owner, though.
Andy Dalton, Bengals (43 percent): Dalton had an OK performance against the Ravens defense without his top weapon, throwing for 373 yards and a touchdown but also three interceptions. The schedule doesn't get any easier the next few weeks, but Dalton has been good for at least a touchdown or two most of the season.
Alex Smith, Niners (48 percent): He tossed for two scores against Arizona on Sunday and has double-digit fantasy points in the last four games. Next week against Baltimore will be tough, but Weeks 13 (Rams) and 14 (Cardinals) provide enticing matchups.
Kevin Smith, Lions (19 percent): He likely seized the Lions' starting job with a 16-rush, 140-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Panthers Sunday. It's not a horrible matchup against Green Bay this week, and New Orleans gives up a lot of fantasy points to running backs the following week. Best could be back by then, but Smith could put up passable numbers if you're hurting for a running back.
Joseph Addai, Colts (37 percent): Addai could return to the Colts' starting lineup this week. The Colts offense has been awful this season, but they have an attractive matchup against a Panthers run defense that's allowing the most fantasy points in the league. If Addai doesn't return, Donald Brown (eight percent) was starting before the bye.
C.J. Spiller, Bills (17 percent): Spiller's only worth looking at if Fred Jackson's calf keeps him out of Sunday's game against the Jets. If Jackson's out, Spiller could be a decent spot-starter against the Jets.
Jabar Gaffney, Redskins (42 percent): Gaffney's value has increased now that Rex Grossman is the starter again in Washington. He was targeted 10 times on Sunday, catching seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. The week before, Grossman looked his way six times. Gaffney looks to be the beneficiary with Leonard Hankerson done for the season.
Early Doucet, Cardinals (44 percent): Doucet had an OK game against the 49ers on Sunday, catching six passes for 50 yards on 10 targets. He was targeted four times (with a touchdown) the week before, and six times before that. St. Louis and Dallas are decent matchups in the next two weeks.
Jerome Simpson, Bengals (30 percent): Simpson put up big numbers with A.J. Green out Sunday, turning 13 targets into eight receptions for 152 yards. The week before, he was targeted four times for 0 receptions; before that, 10 targets. He doesn't have great matchups coming up, but he has had double-digit points in three of the last five weeks.
Heath Miller, Steelers (45 percent): Miller has quietly come on a bit for the Steelers, who come out of the bye and face the Chiefs, Bengals and Browns the next three weeks. He's been targeted an average of six times per game the last four weeks. Only Cincy defends the tight end well out of those three, and Miller could be in for some decent days.
John Kasay, Saints (66 percent): The Saints are coming off a bye, so Kasay is available in more leagues than one might expect for the No. 3 kicker in fantasy. If he's available, go get him!
Olindo Mare, Panthers (5 percent): The Panthers play the Colts and Buccaneers the next three weeks, two teams with bad defenses that give up a lot of yards. He's available in almost every league and could have big fantasy days.
Broncos (8 percent): Aside from the Detroit debacle three weeks ago, the Broncos defense has put up respectable fantasy numbers the past six weeks. They finally had a big night against the Jets on Thursday, with Andre Goodman returning an interception for a touchdown. San Diego is a decent matchup this week.