Those who added Domenik Hixon this week could be about to experience emotions that lead to fist pumps and body bumps with complete strangers.
All the early game inactives have been posted, and we’re going through the impact of the most notable absences/surprise actives. Let the bodies hit the floor.
Ramses Barden (concussion): Hakeem Nicks owners have known since Friday that he wouldn’t be available today, and fear is mounting that his knee/foot/glass body will be a lingering problem throughout the season. But now with Barden out too due to a concussion, Hixon ascends up the depth chart to become the No. 2 receiver for Eli Manning opposite Victor Cruz. Last week in the same role he had 114 receiving yards, including a 41-yard reception. Against a Cleveland secondary that’s playing its last game without Joe Haden who’s still sitting out due to a suspension, Hixon could be poised for another highly productive day, and he might even provide low-end WR2 value.
Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring): Massaquoi will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury. This could give Josh Gordon a few more looks, and an opportunity to keep pushing the struggling Greg Little.
Travis Benjamin (hamstring): Another Browns receiver dealing with a hamstring injury, the rookie had been beginning to click with Brandon Weeden a bit over the past two weeks. He had 70 receiving yards over Cleveland’s last two games, after having only 12 yards over the first two weeks. Deep leaguers or those in two quarterback leagues who were considering Weeden as a bye week fill-in after he impressed las week in a poor matchup against Baltimore should be much more hesitant now.
Dre Kirkpatrick (knee): After suffering a late preseason setback in his rehab, the Bengals’ first-round pick still isn’t quite ready for his rookie debut, although that could come next week. Cincy’s secondary has struggled without him, although they’ll get Leon hall back today along with Nate Clements. But with Jason Allen still out too, the Bengals’ depth is hurting in their defensive backfield, which bodes well for Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline.
Brandon Meriweather (knee): After being Mariano Rivera’ed in a pre-game incident last week, the assumption was that Meriweather would miss at least one game, and we were all right, because we’re always right. This weakens an already weak Redskins secondary (allowing 326.2 yards per game, and they’ve allowed a league worst 11 passing touchdowns) against Matt Ryan and his multiple elite targets.
Peyton Hillis (ankle): The Jamaal Charles vulture is out again. So rejoice now, Charles owners, because no Hillis means more touches, and more red-zone opportunities. But be scared, Hillis owners, because no Hillis means more touches. As impressive as Charles has been, today he’s still playing in only his fifth game after shredding his knee a year ago, and Hillis’ primary purpose on the Chiefs’ roster was to minimize the damage Charles has to sustain and keep him fresh.
Josh Cribbs (concussion): Hey look, a healthy Browns receiver. Cribbs has bounced back quickly after a scary hit last week, and with Benjamin and Massaquoi out, he’ll also receive more targets, but he’s still only a deep league flex play.
Derrick Johnson (groin): While he may be playing at less than 100 percent, the Chiefs’ tacklin’ machine who has 32 tackles so far this season after finishing with 131 last year is active. That’s bad news for Ray Rice owners, who were looking forward to a feast against a front seven missing its anchor.
Dwight Freeney (ankle): Freeney will make his season debut after dealing with an ankle injury for a month, and he’ll be greeted with a soft landing spot against a Packers offensive line that’s given up 16 sacks, and a unit that’s only a week removed from allowing the Seahawks to bring down Aaron Rodgers eight times in just the first half of their Week 3 game.
Coby Fleener (concussion): There was very little worry about Fleener today, because although he was officially listed as questionable, he was a full participant in Friday’s practice. You should be far more concerned about his production, since he didn’t have a catch in Week 3 prior to Indy’s bye, and he only has 16 receiving yards since Week 1 after finishing with 82 in the Colts’ opener. He’s a low-end bye week filler for Jason Witten owners in deep leagues.