There are certain running back situations where Fantasy owners will speculate on handcuffs less because of the talent level of the backup than the perceived ability of the starter.
At times, Washington has felt like a similar situation.
Matt Jones' underwhelming rookie season left Fantasy owners underwhelmed about his prospects. Jones has shown flashes of improved play this season, but the door for another back to step up has seemed to remain open, especially thanks to Jones' fumble issues.
It was those issues that pushed Chris Thompson into a larger role in Week 7. Jones fumbled the ball for the third time in five games Sunday, and Thompson took advantage. Not only did he do his typical work in the passing game, hauling in seven passes for 40 yards, but Thompson also led the way on the ground.
He rushed for 73 yards on 12 carries, both of which led the team. Thompson has actually been successful running the ball in limited opportunities this season, racking up 193 yards on just 38 attempts, a 5.10 YPC average. There's no way of knowing if Thompson really will get a larger and more consistent role in the running game moving forward, but it wouldn't be a surprise if Jones' issues hanging on to the ball continue to lose him playing time.
Thompson may step into a larger role by default, but that isn't the worst thing in the world for Fantasy. We already know he can make plays out of the backfield as a receiver; maybe it's time to find out if he can do the same on the ground.
When Keenan Allen went down with a season-ending injury midway through last season, the Chargers offense largely fell apart. After averaging 23.9 points per game in eight games with Allen, they averaged just 16.1 in the final eight, as their lack of a go-to receiver was expose. This season, however, the offense has kept humming in Allen's absence, and we have to give Tyrell Williams a lot of credit for that. The Chargers' receiving corps as a whole has stepped up, but Williams has especially impressed. He was consistent early in the season, topping 60 yards in each of the first three games, but he took a big step forward over the last three games. He picked up 117 yards on five catches in Week 5, and then followed that up with seven catches for 140 yards in Week 7, both of which are career-best marks. Through seven games, Williams now has 31 catches for 526 yards and a pair of scores, and he seems to be getting better as the year goes on.
Like with running backs, tight end is a position where you have to jump at any sign of life. Jack Doyle has been one of the more successful streaming tight end options out there, with three touchdowns in the first six games of the season, but he may be announcing himself as something more than that with his recent play. He hauled in four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown in Week 6, and then took advantage of Dwayne Allen's absence Sunday with nine receptions for 78 yards and another score. With Allen dealing with what could be a multi-week absence and more bye weeks coming up, Doyle looks like an excellent target on the waiver wire.
The potential promised by Cordarrelle Patterson's physical gifts has already led to Fantasy players being burned once, when he shot up draft boards following his rookie season, only to finish the 2014 campaign with 384 receiving yards and just one touchdown. Patterson's impressive skill set remains, and he is a threat to take one to the house every time he touches it. However, is starting to show a bit more of late, emerging as more of a contributor in the receiving game, scoring in consecutive games with his touchdown in Week 7. More importantly, Patterson has been targeted at least six times in each of the last three games, including seven, for seven catches and 67 yards Sunday. The results haven't been stellar, but this might be a situation where you want to get in on the ground floor, because if Patterson keeps getting 6-7 targets per game, he is going to break a long play or two before long. You'll want to be there when he does.