With only four weeks to go until playoffs, fantasy football owners are in need of wins now more than ever. Week 9 showed that late-season pickups are the keys to success. Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams, playing in place of injured Le’Veon Bell, racked up 225 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, while Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte’s backup, Jeremy Langford, amassed 142 yards, a touchdown, and a two-point conversion. Time to turn to the key takeaways of this week in fantasy football:
Down goes Dion
New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis went down with a non-contact injury against the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon. The team later confirmed that Lewis had in fact torn his ACL and will be out for the season. The Patriots have been unstoppable this season, but losing Lewis and his electrifying game will surely take some wind out of their sails. Expect an even heavier usage of LeGarrette Blount going forward, while running backs Brandon Bolden and James White will slide into Lewis’ role.
Sammy Watkins rises from the dead
In his first appearance since Week 6, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins exploded for eight catches, 168 yards, and a touchdown in a win over the Miami Dolphins. Watkins has only suited up for five games in an injury-plagued season, but has proven to be a difference maker when healthy. With the Bills facing the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football in Week 10, Watkins presents an intriguing boom-or-bust fantasy option as he matches up against premier cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The Red Rifle keeps firing
There may be no player in the NFL with more critics than Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The fifth-year signal caller has had an up-and-down career that led many to question his poise under pressure and his viability as a long-term solution in Cincinnati. Now nine weeks into the 2015 season it appears those questions have been answered. Dalton’s three touchdown performance against the Browns this past Thursday puts him on pace for a career-high 4,452 yards and 36 scores. The Bengals will look to extend their record to a perfect 9-0 versus the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. The time may have passed to buy low on Dalton, but owners can expect top-five production going forward.
Danny Woodhead’s big day With wide receiver Keenan Allen on Injured Reserve, San Diego Chargers running back Danny Woodhead assumed a larger role in the offence on Monday Night Football. Although the Chargers fell to the Bears in the final drive of the game, Woodhead’s shifty moves and pass-catching abilities kept the Chargers afloat through most of the contest. Woodhead rushed six times for 33 yards, and caught six passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. He should continue to see an expanded role in the offence when the Chargers emerge from their Week 10 bye.