FANTASY PLAYS: Gordon injury sets up look at Farrow
The injury hex hanging over the San Diego Chargers struck again Sunday, this time taking running back Melvin Gordon out of at least the game with a hip injury.
All eyes now fall on Kenneth Farrow, who ran 16 times for 55 yards in Week 14, while adding six receptions for 23.
WHO IS KENNETH FARROW?
The rookie running back for the Chargers is adept at two very important things for a Chargers running back. According to a 2016 pre-draft analysis by Pro Football Focus, Farrow is borderline masterful at pass-catching and blocking. PFF's Wes Huber noted that Farrow has ''next-level blocking chops'' and managed to secure every catchable target thrown his way over his final two seasons in college (Farrow caught all six of his targets Sunday in a loss to the Panthers).
With a 5-8 record, the Chargers aren't officially eliminated from playoff contention, but it's going to be a tough task to pick up more than one win the rest of the way, with games against Oakland and Kansas City among their last three. San Diego may find it wise to have Gordon sit out at least one game and see what they have in Farrow. For fantasy purposes, this makes Farrow a must-add, especially if he's going to be a threat in the running and passing game.
THEN AGAIN, THERE'S ALSO RONNIE HILLMAN
Inactive since the Chargers signed him just before Thanksgiving, Ronnie Hillman probably won't leapfrog Farrow on the depth chart, but he could see some carries if Gordon misses significant time. Fantasy analysts stress that owners should make sure their bench is full of handcuffs (the direct backup to running backs) during the playoffs. Hillman is likely the new handcuff to Farrow in San Diego, and should be a lower-level waiver wire target as we enter Week 15.
ONE FINAL CHARGERS NOTE
Antonio Gates is just two touchdowns away from tying the tight end-record of 111 career scores held by Tony Gonzalez. Gates hasn't had a touchdown in the last three weeks, so expect him to see plenty of red zone targets over this final 2016 stretch. Likely owned in most season-long formats, Gates is a smart play in daily fantasy football lineups going forward, at least as he's making a run at this record.
- Ryan Tannehill's torn ACL thrusts Matt Moore into the starting job for the Dolphins. This could be an interesting fantasy play in deep and daily formats, as Moore has a talented group of wideouts in Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and deep threat Kenny Stills.
- Terrelle Pryor picked a terrible week to have his worst game of the season, catching one pass for three yards on three targets Sunday against Cincinnati. While it's easy to point out that this was also Robert Griffin III's first game since Week 1 and he is the culprit, Bengals cornerback Adam Jones tore into Pryor in his postgame comments, suggesting that there was extra motivation to keep Pryor out of the game. Griffin's preseason connection with Pryor was what initially turned many fantasy drafters on to the converted quarterback, so expect Pryor to be back to normal against the Bills next week.
- Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is back from suspension this week, and it would be wise for owners to check their waiver wires for him, as he's only owned in 66 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. Some upset former owners may have released Jeffery, believing he'd be out for the rest of the season.
- Justin Forsett - who excelled in 2014 under Broncos coach Gary Kubiak in Baltimore (1,266 rushing yards and eight touchdowns) - was given the first carry Sunday against the Titans and eventually outgained Devontae Booker, six carries to three and 17 yards to 1, despite fumbling on that first carry. Forsett had success in 2014 partially because he had already played in the Kubiak system with Houston in 2012. This looks increasingly like a situation where Forsett could be the lead back for the Broncos going forward. A tough matchup in Week 15 against the Patriots isn't the ideal situation to trot out Forsett as your starting running back, but for teams that may have lost Melvin Gordon, he should manage 12-15 touches and produce in a system he knows.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com