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Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to help your team from week to week while you strive
to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs and win the
elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While
I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster,
the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes
to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll
highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can
help your squad and may still be available in your league.
Cutler, CHI – Despite the comparison to Jesus by the
“Black Unicorn” Martellus Bennett, Cutler (40-50 percent owned)
is not the fantasy messiah you’re looking for. But he may be a
decent QB2 or bye week fill-in with the right matchup. He threw
for 281-2-1 in the comeback win over the Raiders and should have
Alshon Jeffery back soon.
Bradford, PHI – The Eagles QB is still available in
about 20-30 percent of leagues and had an impressive stat line
Sunday despite the loss to Washington, throwing for 270-3-0 with
no turnovers. He’s got a good matchup next week vs. NO.
Cousins, WAS – Cousins is capable of good numbers,
as he’s a much better fantasy QB than real-life signal caller.
He turned in a 290-1-0 passing performance and added a rushing
TD in the win over Philly, but faces a tough Atlanta secondary
next week. The Falcons have been scoring in bunches so it’s possible
Cousins gets caught up in a shootout and throws from behind in
the second half. He’s only 10-15 percent owned but worth considering
for Week 5.
Foles, STL – I can’t figure this guy out. Foles excelled
(from a fantasy perspective) against a solid Cardinals secondary
this week (171-3-0) but looked terrible last week in a prime matchup.
Having Todd Gurley obviously helps, so expect him to be closer
to 50 percent ownership after this week.
McCown, CLE – I’m not going to analyze this more than
I have to, because McCown threw the ball 41 times on Sunday, but
356-2-0 (lost fumble) is not a bad fantasy day. I can see having
him on deeper rosters and plugging him in the right matchup.
Bortles, JAC –Perhaps it’s time to
consider Bortles as a viable QB2 with upside as a bye week fill-in/DFS
plug-n-play. He’s just 30-35 percent owned and the Jags
are throwing a lot with their best athletes at the WR position.
He’s the 14th ranked fantasy QB through four weeks and faces
the Bucs in Week 5 – a favorable matchup.
Dalton, CIN – The Bengals QB compiled 321-1-0 with
16 rushing yards in the Week 4 win over the Chiefs, moving his
team to 4-0 on the season. Dalton boasts an embarrassment of riches
as receiving weapons and should be one of the top-scoring QBs
Mariota, TEN – Mariota was on a Week 4 bye and returns
this week to face Buffalo in Tennessee. It’ll be a test, for sure.
Taylor, BUF – Taylor could have salvaged a nice fantasy
day if a late-game TD pass to Charles Clay had held up, but the
Buffalo penalties killed any chance the Bills had to win against
the Giants. He and Mariota could be poised for a shootout this
week, though the Titans have played well versus opposing QBs thus
far this season.
Vick, PIT – Vick had a mixed performance on Thursday.
On more than one occasion he seemed ready to deliver a pass or
sprint for some yardage, but hesitation cost him. Don’t give up
on him yet, as the Ravens defense was a difficult first test and
he could have some big games coming.
Spiller, NO – His big play came on the second play
of overtime – an 80-yard TD reception that won the game – but
Spiller (60-70 percent owned) had four other catches for 19 yards.
He’ll never be a ball-hog, workhorse-type back or consistent fantasy
option, but he should be owned in all formats and could always
get more work with an injury to either Mark Ingram or Khiry Robinson.
Hillman, DEN – Hillman still looks sharper than C.J.
Anderson and turned in a nice game on Sunday with 103 rushing
yards and a TD on 11 carries. He’s got a similar ownership level
as Spiller, but with the opportunity for higher usage, and maybe
without some of the big play upside.
Johnson, CLE – The rookie (about 50 percent owned)
hadn’t shown much for fantasy owners to get excited about until
his big Week 4 output of 31 rushing yards (eight carries) and
9-85-1 receiving. He’s a nice passing down complement to Isaiah
Crowell, even off he doesn’t supplant him as the primary ball
Ward, ATL – Ward got most of his carries (19 for 72
yards, 1 TD) in garbage time after the Falcons jumped out a huge
lead, but could play a larger role if Tevin Coleman takes longer
than anticipated in his return. Devonta Freeman, meanwhile, has
a stronghold on primary duties after another three-TD game.
Dixon, BUF –Dixon would likely assume the bulk
of carries versus Tennessee, with Cierre Wood as the backup if
Karlos Williams (concussion; see below) can’t play in Week 5.
Bryce Brown could also be re-added to the roster, after being
released last month. Dixon is a smart, capable back, though he’s
not as talented as either LeSean McCoy or Williams, making him
an RB2 at best.
Robinson, IND –Frank Gore (foot, DTD) did not
practice on Monday, which means Robinson could be in line for
an increased workload Thursday night versus the Texans. Andrew
Luck (shoulder) is expected to play in that game, so the Colts
may not need Robinson to do much more than block if Gore doesn’t
go. Still, the ball security issues continue for Robinson, and
while there’s a possibility he’s a contributor, we expect Gore
to push through and get the start. RBs Tyler Varga and Zurlon
Tipton round out the Colts depth chart.
McFadden, DAL –The Lance Dunbar injury moves McFadden
back into fantasy relevance, as he’s always been a solid
pass catcher and runner in open space – something the Cowboys
need badly in the absence of talented playmakers. He’s still
about 50-60 percent owned despite limited usage the first few
weeks, but if there’s a silver lining to the Dunbar injury,
it’s that Run-DMC might finally be used effectively.
Williams, BUF – Williams scored for the fourth straight
game, but fantasy owners who took a shot on the rookie (and DFS
competitors intrigued by the low price) probably expected more
with a full workload. Williams had just 40 rushing yards on 18
carries but still projects as a workhorse for the Bills with LeSean
McCoy out an additional 3-4 weeks.
UPDATE:Williams is in the
concussion protocol, though this news didn’t come to light
until Monday night, according to general manager Doug Whaley,
who revealed the situation on WGR 550 SportsRadio Tuesday morning.
Sproles, PHI – Sproles had 17 rushing yards on four
carries but literally dropped the ball on three targets, finishing
with no receiving stats.
Johnson, ARI – Andre Ellington was inactive Week 4
and Johnson had 83 yards on 16 carries, adding 3-11-0 receiving.
He may continue to start for the Cards, but his fantasy appeal
is waning, especially with Ellington due back and David Johnson
looking good in the passing game.
Mathews, PHI – DeMarco Murray returned and Mathews
was a total bust, finishing with 20 yards on five carries and
losing a costly fumble.
Andrews, TEN – Andrews was on a bye Week 4, and could
be a big part of the mix facing the Bills next week.
Williams, NYG – Just when it looks like Williams will
supplant Rashad Jennings, the veteran turns in a good performance.
Williams had 35 rushing yards on 11 carries but isn’t getting
much work as a receiver and could be limited to usage as a TD-dependent
UPDATE:Rawls ran for 48 yards
on 17 carries, and while he’s been compared to Lynch since
college, he doesn’t have quite the same upside. The Seahawks
can’t wait to get Beast Mode 1.0 back.
Dunbar, DAL – The hits just keep on coming for the
Cowboys, who appear to have lost Dunbar for the season with a
UPDATE:The torn ACL has been
confirmed, so it looks like McFadden will likely assume Dunbar’s
role in the offense while Christine Michael continues to get reps
as he builds up to a more significant role.
Inconsistent at best, we need to see more
from Tavon Austin before he can be trusted as a WR3.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Austin, STL – I had Austin (about 20-25 percent owned)
in a boatload of DFS contests… in Week 3. The electric flanker
finished with 6-96-2 receiving and 20 yards on two carries in
the win over Arizona Sunday. There’s no doubting his talent, but
if the Rams can use Austin to his full potential there’s a chance
he has a breakout season.
Hurns, JAC – Hurns had 11-116-1 (15 targets) in the
loss to Indy on Sunday, with most of the coverage leaning toward
Allen Robinson. About 20-30 percent owned, Hurns could be a solid
sleeper play in the right matchup throughout the season.
Wallace, MIN – Wallace finally saw a decent target
total (10) and turned it into 8-83-1 for the Vikings in a losing
effort vs. DEN. If Charles Johnson (ribs, inactive) remains sidelined,
he could continue to see double-digit targets from Teddy Bridgewater.
Aiken, BAL – It’s obvious that the Ravens will need
to throw the ball to win games, since teams are stacking the line,
guarding the flats and daring Joe Flacco to throw it deep. Aiken
(5-77-1 on Thursday) could be the deeper threat the Ravens are
seeking and rookie Breshad Perriman’s (knee) continued absence
means Aiken will continue to see targets.
Royal, CHI – Royal snagged 7-54-1 on 10 targets Sunday.
He’s never been a consistent option but is Cutler’s only healthy
receiving option right now outside of Bennett and Matt Forte.
Harris, NYG – Harris is cementing himself as the Giants
third WR with Victor Cruz out, andhad 5-51-1 in the win over Buffalo
Sunday. He’s universally available, has some big-play allure (he
was always involved in the red zone and on special teams in Dallas)
and could help take some of the pressure off Odell Beckham Jr.
inside the 20.
Snead, NO –The young wideout caught all
six of his targets for 89 yards in the overtime win versus Dallas
on Sunday night, and now has 16-240-1 on 22 targets this season.
With Brandon Cooks relatively quiet and Drew Brees searching for
viable receivers, Snead (0-5 percent owned) makes an interesting
PPR pickup with some upside against the Eagles in Week 5.
Jamison Crowder, WAS –Largely unheralded
heading into 2015 fantasy drafts, Crowder is getting more work
in the Washington offense and had 7-65-0 on 12 targets Sunday.
As long as DeSean Jackson remains out, the rookie will see a significant
snap count and could be a decent sleeper in Week 5 facing the
Falcons, as Desmond Trufant will likely lock down Pierre Garcon.
Fleener, IND – Fleener (50-60 percent owned) had a
big Week 4 with Dwayne Allen and Andrew Luck inactive and 147-year-old
Matt Hasselbeck under center, hauling in 9-83-1. You can’t expect
too many days like this, as the game plan was wildly different
from the Colts’ norm.
Rodgers, GB – It’s time I start paying attention to
Rodgers (20 percent owned) since the second-year TE (5-45-1 on
Sunday) now has a couple TD receptions on the season and is getting
red zone looks from his stud QB.
Daniels, DEN – Though he had just 2-9-1 against the
Vikings, expect a big day from Daniels (19 targets over the last
three weeks) next week facing the Raiders, who simply can’t cover
TEs. Daniels is just 40-45 percent owned, so he could still be
out there in your league.
Wright, TEN – Wright was on a bye in Week 4 and returns
this week to face the Bills. He’s a marginal WR3/Flex play.
Randle, NYG – Randle had 3-31-1, a decent outing against
a tough Bills defense.
Britt, STL – Britt was limited in practice this week
with a shoulder injury and saw just one target and no catches
Jones, CIN – As usual, Jones disappeared after a big
week, hauling in just one catch for 4 yards on two targets from
Montgomery, GB – Montgomery has 3-15-0 and two carries
for 10 yards Sunday in the win over San Fran. He’s a longshot
WR4 with some upside in a potent offense.
Barnidge, CLE – For the second straight week, Barnidge
scored, turning in 6-75-1. McCown loves this guy, so he’s worth
adding as a TE1 going forward.
Clay, BUF – In the absence of Sammy Watkins, Clay (9-111-0)
was Taylor’s most popular target, seeing 13 looks from the
dynamic QB. Unfortunately, he had a late-game TD taken away by
a silly penalty, the story of the day in Buffalo.