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Nov 20, 5:25 PM EST

FANTASY PLAYS: With byes over, time to drop benchwarmers


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AP Photo/Rusty Costanza

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Ryan's 2 TD passes enough as Falcons hold off Seahawks 34-31

FANTASY PLAYS: With byes over, time to drop benchwarmers

Ex-NFL receiver Terry Glenn dead after Dallas-area wreck

Broncos fire OC Mike McCoy; QB coach to take over

Early clinching strong possibility in several divisions

Now that the bye weeks are over, no need to keep players that you have no intention of starting. But you should consider picking up the true handcuffs for your star players. One such player is running back James Conner of the Steelers. During the bye weeks, you needed the roster space to claim players who would likely be active for your team at some point. But Conner's value to fantasy players with Le'Veon Bell on their roster is higher now as insurance in the event Bell suffers an injury. You hope that you never have to start such a player, but at least all would not be lost if Bell suffers an injury that would cause him to miss time.

Another decision you will need to make is whether to claim star players who won't return to the field until your fantasy playoffs; players like Aaron Rodgers, David Johnson, and Ezekiel Elliott. There is no guarantee that any of them will play again this season, but any one of them could lead you to a championship if they do return. It's certainly a gamble to drop a useful player for a roll of the dice, which is why you need to be honest with yourself before making such a move.

What are the odds that the player returns to the field? Regarding Johnson and Rodgers, their respective NFL teams could be out of the playoff hunt, which would make it unlikely that they return unless they are truly 100 percent healthy. You also need to ask yourself how comfortable you would be starting either player in their first game back from injury. There is no room for error during your fantasy playoffs. If they are rusty, you may not get a second chance for them to help your team. One last thing to consider would be to make sure you're not releasing a player who will be beneficial to one of your opponents.

AARON RODGERS, QB, Green Bay Packers (48 percent)

If you want to carry a backup quarterback, then consider taking a shot with Rodgers. It's a long shot that he plays again this season, and the earliest he could return is Week 15 versus the Carolina Panthers. Since your backup quarterback isn't likely to start for your team anyway, Rodgers could be a risk worth taking.

CHRIS CARSON, RB, Seattle Seahawks (10 percent)

Carson looked like he could be the answer to what ails the Seattle running game before he broke a leg. His rehabilitation is going better than expected, and he could return to the team in December. Running backs always have value, and while there is some question about how effective he will be when he returns, Carson may still be worth a waiver claim for your championship run.

COREY COLEMAN, WR, Cleveland Browns (34 percent)

Coleman was activated from injured reserve this past week and had a respectable game (six receptions for 80 yards on 11 targets) against Jacksonville, which may be the best defensive team in the NFL. Coleman's issues have always been staying healthy and the play of Cleveland's quarterbacks. The quarterback play may still be a problem, but Coleman should be a flex consideration as Cleveland will typically be playing from behind, which forces them to throw the ball early and often. As for Josh Gordon (45 percent), make no mistake, he is a huge unknown. Yes, Gordon had a monster season in 2013, with 87 receptions for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns, however, that was four years ago. It's just silly to think he's going to be that kind of player right away and lead you to fantasy gold.

JOSH DOCTSON, WR, Washington Redskins (43 percent)

Washington has lost a running back for the rest of the season in each of the past two games. First, it was announced that Rob Kelley would be placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury and then, Chris Thompson suffered a broken leg this past Sunday. Sure, Samaje Perine may do some damage, but Washington will move the chains and score points via the passing game. Doctson seems to be gaining the trust of quarterback Kirk Cousins with each passing week. With Terrelle Pryor seemingly no longer in Washington's plans, Doctson may be their top outside wide receiver.

O.J. HOWARD, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (36 percent)

The Bucs may have won Sunday, but their season is on life support; so, it would be prudent to get Howard more involved in the passing game. Tight end is not the easiest position to learn. In addition to memorizing all of the pass routes, you have to block effectively as well. Howard could be a mainstay in the Bucs starting lineup from this point forward.

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This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com

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