CJ2K has fallen from the ranks of elite fantasy runners

Are we sure Chris Johnson wasn't on the cover of Madden? What type of production, if any, do you see from him moving forward? -- doc_dad (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: Maybe this is one of those "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" situations. Let's see -- Peyton Hillis was on the cover of Madden this season. His namesake, Peyton Manning, looks like he's going to miss all or most of the year with a neck issue. It's the first time the QB's ever missed games at the NFL level. Manning's team is in the AFC South -- and so is Johnson's! Alright that was pretty weak, but you get the picture. To be honest, I am out of excuses for CJ2K. We are entering Week 9, so the holdout situation shouldn't be an issue. I don't know, maybe he got paid and lost his motivation. Whatever the case, you can go ahead and feel free to bench him if you have better running backs. And when you consider that Johnson is 28th in fantasy points at his position and could be in a committee situation with Javon Ringer, well, there are suddenly a lot more attractive backs out there. I wouldn't drop him, but he's clearly lost the trust of fantasy owners -- he's even been removed from the undroppable players list on NFL.com. If you're looking for a silver lining, Johnson does have some favorable matchups down the stretch -- but he couldn't even take advantage of the Colts last week. If you have a stable of backs, don't be afraid to bench CJ2K.

Do you expect Jahvid Best to return after the Lions' bye week? I have Maurice Morris and Reggie Bush as my No. 3 and 4 running backs. Should I shop them both while their stock is high or hold onto them? -- E. Davis (via Facebook)

M.F.:Lions coach Jim Schwartz is not giving a concrete timetable for Best's return, due in large part to the fact that different players have different hurdles to clear when coming back from a concussion. He has missed two games since suffering the ailment in mid-October in a loss to the 49ers, and the Lions hope the upcoming bye will give him enough time to return for a Week 10 showdown against the Bears. It was a smart move to handcuff Best with Morris, but I don't see him having any trade value unless you're in an extremely deep league -- and his limited value is diminished even further since the Lions are off. As for Bush, you could always offer him up to the team that has Daniel Thomas in a potential handcuff trade. But much like Morris, I don't think you'll get much for an injury-prone running back who's value will tumble the moment Thomas is back at 100 percent.

Matthew Stafford is on a bye this week, so which quarterback should I start in his place: Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer or Tim Tebow? -- ChimalDios (via Twitter)

M.F.: I am going to get all kinds of smack talk from the Tebow haters on Twitter, but I think he's the best option of the three quarterbacks you have listed. I've said it all along -- he is not a good NFL QB at this point -- maybe he never will be -- but he puts up fantasy points. I don't blame Tebow alone for the beating his team took last week, but he was anything but effective against the Lions. Still, he scored 13.18 fantasy points on NFL.com. That was more than Drew Brees, Tony Romo and Joe Flacco and 2.74 fewer than Tom Brady. Tebow also has a favorable matchup against the Raiders, who have allowed an average of more than 17 fantasy points to quarterbacks. In his last start against the Raiders, which also came at Oakland, Tebow threw for 138 yards, rushed for 78 and scored two touchdowns in a 29-23 loss.

What is the status of Julio Jones? Should I drop him for someone like Darrius Heyward-Bey or Nate Washington? -- C. Allison (via Facebook)

M.F.: Jones, who has missed some time with an injured hamstring, has returned to practice and looks like a good bet to play this week. He'll be back just in time to face the hapless Colts, who have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. So barring a setback, Jones should be a solid starting option this week. If you do need another wideout, I would pick up Heyward-Bey off the waiver wire -- just not at the expense of Jones. The Raiders wideout goes up against the Broncos, who have surrendered the second-most fantasy points to the position.

I need a tight end this week with Greg Olsen on a bye. Any suggestions? -- FancoPeralta (via Twitter)

M.F.: The first player that comes to mind is Brent Celek. He's been a major disappointment for fantasy leaguers since Michael Vick took over the offense, but the two have been hooking up more often in recent weeks. In fact, Celek has 11 receptions and two touchdowns in his last two games. Celek also has a great matchup against the Bears, who have allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than any other team. Other potential options to consider are Jake Ballard, Jermaine Gresham (assuming he's active) and Scott Chandler. You might even find Kellen Winslow on the waiver wire in a smaller fantasy league.

I need a sleeper wide receiver this week. Any suggestions? Also, would you trade Fred Jackson for LeSean McCoy straight up? I have a friend in our fantasy league that's a huge Bills fan. -- P. Crawley (via Facebook)

M.F.: I mentioned Heyward-Bey earlier as a potential waiver-wire grab coming off a bye week -- he has a favorable matchup against the Broncos. If this is a smaller league, Mario Manningham could be available -- he has a nice matchup against the Patriots. Antonio Brown has been on fire for the Steelers and is still a free agent in many leagues, as is his teammate Emmanuel Sanders. Early Doucet is also a potential one-week replacement against the Rams, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. The Dolphins have also been vulnerable to the pass, so Jonathan Baldwin is worth a look. In terms of the trade, I would definitely make this deal. There aren't a lot of running backs I would deal Jackson to acquire, but McCoy is certainly one of them. He's one of the most versatile and productive players in the entire league.

What's your take on Miles Austin? Is he still recovering from his hamstring injury, or is his lack of targets a bigger issue? -- voziyan (via Twitter)

M.F.: I had Austin listed in the owners beware section of last week's Start 'Em & Sit 'Em because of a bad matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, so I'm not surprised that he did next to nothing (three catches, 27 yards) during that Sunday night debacle. What's disturbing is that it was Austin's second straight bad week, and the third contest where he hasn't found the end zone. What's even more of a concern is that Austin is averaging a mere four catches (18 targets) for 39 yards since getting back from an injured hamstring. I haven't seen a reason to believe that he's not 100 percent, so I would chalk it up to a bad statistical stretch that should end sooner rather than later. I'd continue to start Austin, in fact, he'll be in a good position to rebound at home against the Seattle Seahawks.

Would you start Palmer this week? I have Cam Newton on a bye, and Palmer is a free agent. I can also pick up someone like Matt Cassel. Also, I need to start two of the following four running backs: Frank Gore, Rashard Mendenhall, DeMarco Murray and DeAngelo Williams. It's a standard league. Thanks! -- J. Hawes (via Facebook)

M.F.: Palmer does have a great matchup against the Broncos, who have allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than any other team. However, I'd rather roll with Cassel, who also has a great matchup against the Dolphins -- their defense has allowed 0.34 fewer fantasy points than the aforementioned Broncos. Cassel is also a free agent in around 45 percent of NFL.com leagues. At running back, I would start Gore and Murray. Gore has been on fire after a slow start, rushing for 120-plus yards with one touchdown in four consecutive games. I'd also start Murray ahead of Mendenhall, who has been invisible over the last two weeks and has a tough matchup against the Ravens -- their defense has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Murray did have a disappointing stat line against the Eagles, but the Cowboys had to abandon the run in an attempt to erase an early deficit. The rookie did average a ridiculous 9.3 yards per carry in the contest, so he did thrive when give the chance.

Is it time to drop the entire Washington backfield? I have both Ryan Torain and Roy Helu, Peyton Hillis and Jackie Battle at running back. -- bwspfff (via Twitter)

M.F.: I don't know if I'd go that far just yet, but it's pretty evident that coach Mike Shanahan does, in fact, hate our fantasy teams. As if the Redskins' backfield wasn't already a headache, the team has now injected former Cowboy Tashard Choice into the mix. And if we've learned anything from Shanahan's past, it's that anyone in his backfield can be called on to play a prominent role -- remember the names Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson and Reuben Droughns from his Denver days? Regardless, I wouldn't play any Redskin runners this week against the surging 49ers. Their defense has allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs.

Last week I picked up the Titans' defense on your advice, and it worked out great. Now I need to know if I should stick with them this week, or drop them for another waiver-wire gem? -- S. Mustaine (via Facebook)

M.F.: The Titans aren't nearly as attractive this week against Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the surprising Bengals, so consider these options if available on the waiver wire. The Cowboys will be without CB Mike Jenkins this week, but defenses facing Tarvaris Jackson and the Seahawks have scored the most fantasy points at the position. The Cardinals are also worth a look against the Rams, and the Raiders could turn into a nice one-week replacement against Tebow and the Broncos. Defenses facing Curtis Painter and the Colts have combined to put up the fourth-most fantasy points at the position, so the Falcons have some appeal as well.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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