By David Sabino
October 07, 2010
Gridiron 11: Mid-Season Impact Players

It's a big week in fantasy circles. First and foremost, Randy Moss heads back to Minnesota, finally providing Brett Favre with his kind of receiver, one who's able to catch whatever the NFL's alltime leading passer throws up there. In Moss' wake back in Foxboro, Brandon Tate all of a sudden becomes a must-have pickup, while Aaron Hernandez, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski see their values soar. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see Hernandez become Tom Brady's top deep threat, with size that virtually no defensive back can handle deep downfield, giving him Antonio Gates-like value the rest of the way.

Also having huge impacts are the returns of Santonio Holmes to the Jets and Ben Roethlisberger to the Steelers (technically next week since Pittsburgh is on a bye). Obviously, if either is available (and since they have no stats this season, in some formats they might be hard to find, so it's possible), scoop them up. Their arrivals lead this week's list of players who haven't produced much, if anything, this season, but like Tate, Ryan Torain, Lance Moore, et al, will be worth plenty on their own and to the teammates soon.

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1 Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Welcome back Big Ben. Now make sure you stay on the field for the rest of your career, ok? In his absence the Steelers offense has been better than most, including me, expected it would be without the two-time Super Bowl champ, which largely was due to the constant feeding of Rashard Mendenhall. With Roethlisberger back at the helm, guys like Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and Heath Miller should see their productivity soar. And those of you who drafted Roethlisberger with the intention of trading him later should find a robust market.
2 Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets
Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets
Holmes is returning at the perfect time as the Jets have opened up their offense, allowing Mark Sanchez to throw down the field more. The former Super Bowl MVP is the Jets most accomplished receiver and should immediately have an impact on the offense. I'll go out on a limb and say Holmes will be more productive in his first game with the Jets than Moss will be in the same game with the Vikings. Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery take a hit, however, and are now borderline weekly starts.
3 LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers
Kicked off the Oregon squad (then reinstated) last year for throwing a punch after a loss to Boise State, Blount has emerged in the NFL as a top candidate to take the keys to the Bucs' rushing attack from Cadillac Williams. A 1,002-yard rusher with 17 touchdowns in 2008 for the Ducks, Blount should come out flying against the Bengals following Tampa Bay's reported bye week backfield shake-up. He's the next runner who'll go viral on the waiver wire, so don't delay in picking him up.
4 Dimitri Nance, RB, Packers
Dimitri Nance, RB, Packers
There are lots of comparisons being drawn between Nance and the man he's eventually expected to take over for, the injured Ryan Grant. Brandon Jackson has been a huge disappointment and John Kuhn is more of a short yardage back, enabling Nance, signed off Atlanta's practice squad when Grant went down, a shot at the spot soon. Remember that Grant was a Giants practice squad player before the Pack acquired him for a seventh-round pick. Nance is available now, but as we all know, one good game and everyone in your league will want him, so don't wait until it's too late.
5 Mike Bell, RB, Eagles
Mike Bell, RB, Eagles
Ryan Torain isn't the only ex-Broncos runner about to make a mark this season as Bell appears ready to take over as the Eagles primary runner after LeSean McCoy suffered broken ribs last week against the Redskins. You may remember Bell was the second-leading rusher on the Super Bowl champion Saints last season, and although he's bounced around the league a bit, he's still in his prime at 27 years of age. The Eagles are a pass-first, but the Niners are allowing 108 rushing yards per game, so the chances should be there.
6 Dexter McCluster, WR, Chiefs
Dexter McCluster, WR, Chiefs
Two weeks ago I wrote about the importance of multipurpose fantasy players in SI, and here's another. The superfast McCluster can line up as a running back, receiver and return man for the new-look Chiefs. While his output has been limited thus far (5 catches, 78 yards, 1 TD; four rushes, two yards; 94-yard punt return for a score) the speed and moves he's shown with the ball in his hands has been awe-inspiring. He's in the same class as Percy Harvin as an offensive threat who'll be integrated more and more into Kansas City's attack.
7 Michael Jenkins, WR, Falcons
Michael Jenkins, WR, Falcons
Part of the reason Roddy White has paced the league with 50 targets through four games has been the absence of Jenkins, the seventh-year wideout who has been sidelined by a left shoulder injury. His presence will give Matt Ryan another reliable outlet and his ability to block gives Michael Turner and Jason Snelling a bit of a boost.
8 Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys
Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys
Rumblings out of Dallas say Felix Jones will be getting more involved in the Cowboys offense from here on out, and it's about time. Another player who should be getting more run is Choice, the third-year back from Georgia Tech, who, despite gaining just 21 yards on eight carries this season, enters Week 4 with a career rushing average of 5.1 yards per attempt, which places him fourth among current running backs. Who's first on that list: Jones, who averages 6.2 yards per carry.
9 Arrelious Benn, WR, Buccaneers
Arrelious Benn, WR, Buccaneers
Since the Bucs chose Benn before Mike Williams in the 2010 draft isn't it safe to say he's better than Williams, one of the league's true breakout rookies? Not so fast, as Benn has just three catches for 33 years in his first three NFL games. But following a week off, don't be too surprised to see more Josh Freeman looks heading his way as more plays were installed for him.
10 Max Hall, QB, Cardinals
Max Hall, QB, Cardinals
We all knew Derek Anderson was going to cough up the Cardinals starting job at some point, but even the most skeptical couldn't have believed it would come this early in the season. Now the fantasy fate of Larry Fitzgerald lays in the hands of the undrafted rookie from Utah whose uncle, Danny White, knew something about running an NFL offense. Hall was a tackling dummy in Week 4, getting sacked six times while completing just eight passes in a loss in relief to the Chargers, but not every defense will be as buff as the Bolts. Hall has a long way to go, but he has a chance to be effective in at least six games left on Arizona's schedule (Carolina, Tampa Bay, Seattle twice, St. Louis twice).
11 Trent Edwards, QB, Jaguars
Trent Edwards, QB, Jaguars
Just weeks after being released by the Bills, Edwards will make his return to Ralph Wilson Stadium holding a clipboard and wearing a baseball cap as David Garrard's backup with the Jags. His knowledge of the Buffalo offense gives the Jags a huge advantage in Week 5, but it's his arm and a team-wide growing displeasure with Garrard that brought him to North Florida. In a couple of weeks Edwards should take the helm for the Jags, and with weapons such as Maurice Jones-Drew, Mike Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas at his disposal, he could become a viable option come fantasy playoff time.

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