Is there a fantasy find on the waiver wire in Green Bay?
Cedric Benson, who had been scoring in the low-double digits most weeks despite low yards-per-carry numbers, was carted off the field Sunday and seen in a walking boot after the game. He has a foot injury and will miss at least eight weeks. After Benson's injury, Alex Green rushed nine times for 55 yards, most of it on a 41-yard run in the fourth quarter.
While Green got the bulk of the carries after Benson went out, James Starks is in the mix, too: He's recovered from his turf toe injury but was a healthy scratch on Sunday and is probably the No. 2 back. Green suited up because Starks doesn't play special teams.
Mike Mularkey is usually content to let Aaron Rodgers throw the ball up and down the field, and the Green Bay running game hasn't been good this year. But the offense is strong enough that the Packers' starting running back still has fantasy value as a flex play or an RB2 in a deep league. There's the possibility of a breakout day, and whoever starts should at least score in the low double digits.
The Packers will probably end up employing a running back by committee. Houston's run defense is decent and neither guy is a great start this week, but the possibilities for a starting running back on the Packers is too good an opportunity to pass up. Go after Green first, then Starks as a second option.
Alex Smith, 49ers (51 percent owned): Smith shredded the Buffalo defense for his best performance of the season, going 18-for-24 for 303 yards and three touchdowns in the 45-3 win Sunday. If you need a bye week replacement this week, Smith is facing a subpar Giants secondary at home and could be poised for another big day.
Christian Ponder, Vikings (28 percent): Looking for a different one-week play? Christian Ponder went for 258 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Titans last week. On Sunday Minnesota faces a Washington team that has the worst pass defense in the league.
William Powell, Cardinals (2 percent): Arizona's running backs can't stay healthy. Beanie Wells has been out with turf toe. And now Ryan Williams will miss the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury. The job could fall to any one of three guys, but Powell is your best bet for the rest of the season. LaRod Stevens-Howling is not an every-down back, and Powell beat out the recently re-signed Alfonso Smith during the preseason. Powell looks especially good as a flex play against Buffalo's leaky run defense this week.
Brandon Bolden, Patriots (38 percent): Despite his late fumble Sunday, Stevan Ridley is the starter, but Bolden still got 14 carries (for 54 yards) and is useful in deep leagues as a handcuff.
Brandon Gibson, Rams (12 percent): Sam Bradford's No. 1 target, Danny Amendola, is out for a month with a shoulder injury. Gibson slides into the top role by default. He's an enticing pickup because he's really the only other option in St. Louis: Steve Smith has been inactive the last two weeks and the Rams don't throw to their running backs much. Gibson should see increased action this next month, making him a worthy fantasy starter.
Andrew Hawkins, Bengals (53 percent): Hawkins caught only five passes for 47 yards on Sunday, but he was targeted 13 times, tied with A.J. Green for highest on the team. The Bengals face the Browns' average pass defense and a Steelers' pass D struggling with injuries the next two weeks before the bye. Hawkins could rack up opportunities those two weeks and is worth taking a flier on if you need a third wideout.
Robert Meachem, Chargers (43 percent): Finally! Meachem caught two first-half touchdown passes, catching three balls for 67 yards on four targets. That's not a great output beside the touchdowns, and Denver next week is not a superb matchup, so only those in deep leagues will want to gamble on Meachem having another big game.
Randall Cobb, Packers (65 percent): He'll be the popular add this week, even though he was targeted only four times. Cobb made the most of his opportunities, though, catching all four for 82 yards and a first-half touchdown. James Jones (seven targets) and Jordy Nelson (five) saw the most looks from Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, even if Cobb led the team in receiving. He's a little inconsistent, but with Benson hurt his value could increase.
Mario Manningham, 49ers (30 percent): Manningham didn't get a ton of targets -- just five -- but he caught four passes for 26 yards and a red zone touchdown and is an option for a third or fourth wideout in deep leagues. If the San Francisco offense keeps chugging along, eventually Manningham's going to have a breakout game.
Earl Bennett, Bears (2 percent): Chicago's No. 2 wideout, Alshon Jeffrey, fractured his hand and will miss a few weeks. Bennett should return from his injury after the bye. Unless you're in a particularly deep or competitive league you can wait a week on Bennett, but he'll have a long time to prepare to return to the No. 2 spot and could become a factor in the Bears' passing game again.
Scott Chandler, Bills (47 percent): Chandler had a rough day, catching four passes for 40 yards, but he was still the Bills' leading receiver, yardage-wise, and was targeted by Ryan Fitzpatrick six times. The Bills didn't move the ball anywhere near the red zone on Sunday, which is where Chandler has his highest value. He'll bounce back.
Joel Dreessen, Broncos (7 percent): Peyton Manning tossed a touchdown pass to Dreessen for the third straight game; he caught all four of his targets for 42 yards and a score. Those aren't earth-shattering numbers, but a tight end who's a red zone threat can be valuable, especially if you're in a touchdown-heavy league. Jacob Tamme (59 percent) remains the top Denver tight end threat, though.
Greg Zuerlein, Rams (67 percent): Zuerlein remains the No. 1 fantasy kicker despite only hitting one field goal -- a 53-yarder -- against the Cardinals last Thursday. If he's still available in your league, pick him up.
Phil Dawson, Browns (13 percent): A young offense that moves the ball a bit but can't get it into the end zone is the recipe for a good fantasy kicker, and Dawson has made the most of his opportunities so far. He hit two more short field goals and three extra points and is 10-for-10 on the season.
Minnesota Vikings (56 percent): Sunday's victory over Tennessee was the Vikings' third straight solid fantasy game. Minnesota recorded two turnovers and sacked Matt Hasselbeck twice in the 30-7 win. Things get tougher against Robet Griffin III this week, but the Vikings are the No. 4 fantasy defense so far and have been remarkably consistent. They'll be good for the rest of the year.
Miami Dolphins (10 percent): The Dolphins' defense has been trending up the past few weeks and the upcoming schedule is not tough: Rams, a bye week, then Jets, Colts, Titans and Bills. Miami could conceivably be a top-five defense by the end of that stretch.