This article is part of our NFL Barometer series.
The most critical time of year has arrived for fantasy owners, which makes it more pertinent than ever to identify who's heading in what direction in terms of their production and usage. There's plenty to dig into on both sides of the spectrum this week, with injuries and poor play opening up opportunities for some players. Without further delay, let's take the temperature of the fantasy landscape as we head into the thick of the playoffs.
Josh Johnson, Redskins: To say it was a long shot just a week ago that we would have considered ever uttering Johnson's name again in a fantasy context would be an understatement. Well, not only is he back on the radar for the first time since 2011, Johnson immediately earns the Trending Up label due to both his performance in relief of Mark Sanchez against the Giants last Sunday and the fact he's set to start the Redskins' final three games. The mobile veteran completed 11 of 16 passes for 195 yards with a touchdown and an interception versus New York, and he added 45 rushing yards and another score on seven carries. A remaining schedule consisting of the Jaguars, Titans and Eagles brings a mixed bag in terms of matchups, but Johnson is nevertheless a fantasy option due to his starting role.
Jordan Howard, Bears: Howard is still handling the same lead-back role he's carried all season, but he's finally started to find some