Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL, and managing them is as big a part of fantasy football success as any aspect of the game. One player's misfortune is another's big chance. The following players have been presented opportunities as a result of injuries. Even as the regular fantasy season winds down, there's still time to take advantage of their contributions.
• Mario Manningham, WR,Giants
Instead of Big Blue, New York's receiver corps should be Big Black-and-Blue. Five of Eli Manning's projected top six receivers are either on injured reserve or sidelined. The last man standing is Manningham, who has touchdowns in four of the last six games while hauling in a team-high 20 passes in November. It will be a few weeks until Steve Smith (torn pectoral) and Hakeem Nicks (lower-leg procedure) return, leaving Manningham as Manning's primary target in the New Meadowlands.
• Maurice Morris, RB,Lions
December 6, 2010
The nine-year veteran has only six 100-yard rushing games and 13 touchdowns in his career, and until last week he had never scored twice in a game. While filling in for Jahvid Best (turf toe) and Kevin Smith (thumb, placed on IR) against the Patriots, Morris found the end zone twice and piled up 6.1 yards per carry. The performance earns him at least a share of Detroit's backfield duties the rest of the way. He'll have tough matchups in the next two weeks, with the Bears and the Packers, but in Week 15 he'll face a Bucs defense that is allowing 136.5 rushing yards per game.
• Jacoby Ford, WR,Raiders
The latest in Oakland's long line of burners who can stretch the field, the rookie from Clemson also contributes as one of the league's most dangerous kick returners. On Sunday against Miami he showed off both skills, returning the game's opening kickoff 101 yards and then finding the end zone again after making an excellent over-the-shoulder, 44-yard catch and run down the sideline. Two games earlier Ford torched K.C. for six catches and 148 yards and another return touchdown. He'll make a great third receiver against the Jaguars and the Broncos in Weeks 14 and 15.
• Joel Dreessen, TE,Texans
Playing for Owen Daniels, who's been sidelined by a hamstring pull, Dreessen has been one of the most reliable options at his position for the last four weeks. He has caught 14 balls for 212 yards and two touchdowns to rank in the top 10 in each category among tight ends. Houston's next opponent is the Eagles, who have given up big fantasy points to tight ends in five of 11 games. That gives Dreessen immediate value as a fantasy starter.
• Toby Gerhart, RB,Vikings
One of Leslie Frazier's first edicts as Minnesota's new coach was that all-world running back Adrian Peterson should get more touches. But Peterson injured his right ankle in the first half of last week's game, leaving Gerhart to carry the load against the Redskins. The '09 Heisman Trophy runner-up responded with 76 yards on 22 carries and his first TD. Peterson is likely to be back next week, but the Bills have the NFL's worst run defense, and Gerhart has earned a share of the action.
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