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Fantasy football: Look to acquire upside

New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray (35)

New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray (35) carries the ball down the field during the second half against the New England Patriots Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Photo Credit: MCT / Sam Riche

The fantasy playoffs are just around the corner, and at this point of the season every roster spot you have should be maximized with a focus on building a dynamic championship threat.

While players like Alex Smith (QB, Chiefs), Steven Jackson (RB, Falcons) and Greg Jennings (WR, Vikings) fulfill vital roles as short-term injury insurance and consistent bye week fill-ins in the middle of the year, most bye weeks are now over and these players can be dropped.

After all, just this week we saw the impact that an unknown player can have when opportunity emerges, as former practice squad RB Jonas Gray (Patriots) produced 201 yards and four touchdowns. While it is unlikely another random free agent will produce like that, there are likely other backup RBs available to be stashed in case the starter in front of them gets hurt.

So, don’t wait around for Montee Ball (RB, Broncos) or Doug Martin (RB, Buccaneers) to get healthy and return to a crowded backfield with an unclear role. Give up on aging players like Marques Colston (WR, Saints), Reggie Wayne (WR, Colts), Jason Witten (TE, Cowboys) and Vernon Davis (TE, 49ers) in favor for younger receivers who could pull together a late season resurgence. Cut replaceable passers like Joe Flacco (QB, Ravens), Eli Manning (QB, Giants) and Andy Dalton (QB, Bengals).

Even if you are nervous about an injury to your starter, you have to remember that you have to play and beat the best teams in your league in the fantasy playoffs. If forced into your lineup, these low-upside backups are unlikely to cut it. So, cut them loose now and don’t be afraid to gamble on lesser-known players capable of becoming the next Gray.

Alex Case is amNewYork’s fantasy football columnist.


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