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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.
Hoyer, HOU – Hoyer is owned in anywhere from 0-5 percent
of fantasy leagues, depending mainly on league waiver wire/free
agent pickup rules. He tallied 312-2-1 in relief of sour puss
Ryan Mallett during Thursday night’s game, and will start in Week
6 against the Jags. With DeAndre Hopkins and emerging WR Jaelen
Strong, he’s worth a long look as a bye week fill-in.
Kaepernick, SF – The embattled Niners QB finished among
the top 12 fantasy QBs in Week 5 and get the Ravens in Week 6
– a team that gave up a monster day to Josh McCown (more on him
later). It appears that Kaepernick could be on the upswing after
a 262-2-0 day in which he also rushed for 23 yards.
Cassel, DAL – Jason Garrett told reporters there could
be a QB change in the way in Big D, and that means Cassel could
get the nod when the Cowboys return from their Week 6 bye. He’s
not worth adding right now, but with Romo expected out until at
least Thanksgiving, he should be on radar in deep leagues.
UPDATE:It’s now being
reported that Cassel will likely be the Week 7 starter versus
the Giants. With the Cowboys on a bye and Weeden losing three
straight at the helm this season (and 11 in a row as an NFL starter),
the change comes at a good time.
McCown, CLE – I’m not going to overanalyze McCown’s
success in racking up big yardage this season, but he threw for
457-2-0 with a rushing TD against the Ravens, and now has 1,154-6-1
passing over his last three games.
Bortles, JAC – We expected Bortles could have a big
day, and he answered with 303-4-1 in the loss to Tampa Bay. He’s
got a couple of talented wideouts in Allen Robinson and Allen
Hurns, and the return of Julius Thomas should only increase his
value. He’s a viable backup and matchup-dependent QB with plenty
of upside, but suffered a Grade 1 AC joint sprain in his shoulder
on Sunday. Stay tuned; the Jags’ backup QB is Chad Henne.
UPDATE:For now, Bortles should
be considered on the 60-40 side of questionable to play against
the Texans. Henne is a severe downgrade.
Bradford, PHI – Bradford continues to make stupid mistakes,
but his 333-2-2 line was fine enough to pick up a blowout win
over the putrid stylings of the New Orleans Saints. If they figure
out a way to get Nelson Agholor (shin) the ball, the Eagles’ QB
would be an even hotter commodity.
Cutler, CHI – Cutler was okay on Sunday with 252-2-0,
even though he was without Alshon Jeffrey and Eddie Royal. Martellus
Bennett had a few drops and burned fantasy owners in what seemed
like a good spot, but Marquess Wilson stepped up with a big game
Cousins, WAS – Cousins looked sharp at times on Sunday
but threw a pick six in overtime, finishing with 219-1-2 on the
day. He’s facing a difficult matchup in Week 6 with the Jets coming
off their bye.
Foles, STL – Foles had a horrific day, tossing four
INTs on 11-for-30 passing and 141 yards (1 TD). He’s on a Week
6 bye and gets a better matchup in Week 7 against the Browns.
With Charles out for the year, Charcandrick
West will see plenty of opportunities in the KC backfield.
West, KC – Jamaal Charles is out for the season with
an ACL tear, and RB duties will fall on a committee involving
West (0-2 percent owned), Knile Davis (50 percent owned) and WR/RB
scatback De’Anthony Thomas. West would probably handle early-down
duties, with Davis picking up work on passing downs.
UPDATE:HC Andy Reid reportedly
likes West’s skill set – one that allows the Chiefs
to run the offense similarly to their approach with Charles. Still,
we could always see a hot hand situation emerge and Davis log
Davis, KC – There’s still a lot of shaking out to do,
but both backs make sense as waiver wire additions in the wake
of the Charles injury. Keep updated on news as it develops, though
the picture promises to be murky until we see some more in-game
action. My suspicion is that Davis has more big-play value, while
West should log most of the standard carries.
possible I have this thing wrong, but I still believe West is
the higher percentage play, while Davis could offer more big-play
capability. Reid has been cryptic thus far: “I'm not saying
who is or is not the feature guy, but we need both of them. Both
their games are different. We'll just see how that goes. You saw
both of them played today, so we'll get back to the drawing board
on that and get it right.”
Allen, BAL – Allen, a fourth-round rookie RB filling
in for Justin Forsett after the starter left following an ankle
injury, rushed for 58 yards on eight carries, mostly by way of
a 44-yard run in the third quarter. He’d likely see a heavy workload
if Forsett misses any time, especially with Lorenzo Taliaferro
struggling to get healthy.
UPDATE:The ankle injury suffered
by Forsett is not believed to be of the “high ankle”
variety, and he’s considered day-to-day. HC John Harbaugh
said Monday afternoon there’s a “good chance”
that Forsett plays at San Francisco.
Robinson, JAC – T.J. Yeldon left Sunday’s game with
a groin injury, which could mean an increased workload for Denard
Robinson, listed as the No. 2 RB on the Jags’ depth chart. Robinson
is by no means the type of workhorse back that Yeldon is, so it’s
likely that even if Yeldon can’t go, Robinson’s value will be
think the groin injury is serious, and Robinson is still nursing
a strained MCL, so he’s probably not worth a pickup this
week. Toby Gerhart hasn’t shown much at all since his days
in Minnesota. Perhaps this is a good week to steer clear of the
Jags running game and hope that Bortles/Robinson/Hurns/Thomas
provides all the offense.
Vereen, NYG – Vereen (60-65 percent owned) had 8-86-1
receiving and five carries for 24 yards in the win over San Francisco.
He’s still a member of the foggiest RB committee in the NFL, though
his role as a pass catcher is clearly defined. What makes it difficult
to trust Vereen is that in the previous two games, he was held
without a catch. He’s talented and slippery, but he’s far from
a workhorse and could be boom-or-bust even in PPR leagues.
with both Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle unavailable in the
fourth quarter, and remains a solid option if either s forced
to miss additional time. Stay tuned.
Sims, TB – He’s still playing second fiddle to Doug
Martin, who had a monster game in Week 5, but he tallied 51 rushing
yards on 12 carries and 4-85-0 receiving, decent numbers in their
own right. Sims is more of a slasher and McFadden-type of back,
while Martin provides a smaller, bulkier frame with a shiftier
type of running style.
Riddick, DET – Riddick is still the Lions’ favored
option on passing downs and caught 10-53-1 during Sunday’s loss
to Arizona. Given the state of affairs in Detroit, he could be
the only back with guaranteed value in PPR formats.
UPDATE:The more I think about
it, the more I’m starting to love Riddick as a flex option
against the Bears in Week 6. For me, he’s a viable alternative
to the popular, priority picks this week.
Reece, OAK – Another back who flourishes in the passing
game, Reece had 7-49-1 in the loss to Denver and is on a bye in
Week 6. He’s a hit-or-miss deep-league PPR flex option.
Dixon, BUF – The Bills offense struggled through much
of the first three quarters and Dixon finished with just 19 rushing
yards and 3-20-0. Assuming Karlos Williams and/or LeSean McCoy
are back soon, this may signify the end of Dixon’s fantasy relevance.
Robinson, IND – Frank Gore was fine for Thursday night,
finishing with 98 rushing yards and a TD on 22 carries. Robinson
is a deep-league handcuff without much upside.
McFadden, DAL – As expected, McFadden filled the Lance
Dunbar role in the Cowboys offense, and while much of his stats
came in garbage time (16 rushing yards on five carries; 9-62-0
receiving), he could be more involved if the Cowboys make a QB
switch. Stay tuned.
Spiller, NO – Spiller actually posted negative yardage
(-8) on his three catches Sunday and rushed three times for 10
yards. That’s six touches and 2 net yards, though most of the
blame here falls on the playcalling and poor play of Drew Brees,
who looks surprisingly close to retirement after five weeks.
UPDATE:Spiller can only be
counted on for Thursday night in super deep leagues – he’s
too reliant on the big play and is not integrated in the Saints
Hillman, DEN – The Broncos offense is scuffling, and
they’ve yet to find the right chemistry moving forward with the
Hillman/C.J. Anderson timeshare. Still – both backs retain modest
upside and are worth keeping in 12-team leagues.
Johnson, CLE – Duke didn’t have much going in the rushing
game 22 yards on nine carries) but contributed 6-55-0 and is a
must-own in PPR formats.
UPDATE:The Broncos defense
is formidable, but Johnson makes sense as a sneaky PPR option
since they’ll likely be checking down to him and trying
to get the dynamic back in space. Give him a whirl this week.
Ward, ATL – Tevin Coleman returned for a few snaps
and Devonta Freeman maintained his stronghold on the workhorse
role. Ward is a fantasy afterthought.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Johnson, IND – Johnson is the top scoring WR of Week
5 (in standards scoring, non-PPR leagues), with 6-77-2 on Thursday
night. He’s owned in about 50-75 percent of leagues but is even
sitting on the waiver wire in one of my most competitive 14-team
leagues. He’s starting to click in the Indy offense, so grab him
if he’s available.
Strong, HOU – Strong’s first two receptions in the
NFL were touchdowns. Pick him up, as this offense is likely to
get more aggressive (more red zone opportunities) with Arian Foster
back in the mix. He’s nearly universally available in redraft
leagues that lock Thursday performers until the next week in waivers.
Boldin, SF – Boldin (8-107-1 on 12 targets Sunday night)
is only available in about 15-25 percent of leagues, but he’s
been dropped in plenty of 10-team formats, right? Well – if the
Niners’ offense is really on the upswing, and the RB situation
remains this murky, he could be in line for 10-15 targets per
Wilson, CHI – Wilson’s 6-85-1 helped the Bears get
a tough win, but his value hinges on the availability of the other
Bears receivers. He’s only about 4-8 percent owned and could be
a steal with his size and athletic qualities.
UPDATE:It’s very possible
that with Jeffery’s setback with his injured hamstring (which
happened in practice last week), Wilson finds himself in a good
spot to produce for a while longer. Chicago heads to Detroit this
weekend, and the Lions (0-5) are not very good, folks.
Huff, PHI – He’s unlikely to be a high-volume target,
but Huff’s 4-78-1 included some red zone looks in the unpredictable
Eagles offense. Some of Chip Kelly’s game plans might just feature
the second-year WR more prominently as the season progresses.
UPDATE:Much of Huff’s
action came with Algholor off the field with an ankle injury.
If Agholor can’t go this week, it’s worth upgrading
Montgomery, GB – For the second straight week, Montgomery
saw five targets with most of the coverage shutting down a less-than-100
percent healthy Randall Cobb. Montgomery hauled in 4-59-1 from
Aaron Rodgers on Sunday and is good for about five targets per
game – some of them in the red zone.
UPDATE:Davante Adams is still
week-to-week and appears like he’ll miss more action. Montgomery
could be in line for another solid game working out of the slot.
Hogan, BUF – Hogan wasn’t the main hero on Sunday –
that was dynamic QB Tyrod Taylor, who filled up the fantasy stat
sheet quickly by leaning on Hogan with Sammy Watkins out again.
There’s not a ton of value here, but the third-year WR (3-52-1
on Sunday) is a sure-handed target with moderate flex value.
Barnidge, CLE – That Barnidge catch was NUTS, literally!
The veteran TE is getting his shot this season and hauled in 8-139-1
in the win over Baltimore. He’s a notch below Rob Gronkowski and
Tyler Eifert, but just as valuable going forward as many of the
Celek, PHI – Celek has TDs in consecutive weeks and
could be a factor moving forward, though it’s hard to trust any
single pass catcher in the Eagles offense aside from Jordan Matthews.
Tamme, ATL – Tamme broke out with 8-94-0 with Julio
Jones and Leonard Hankerson nursing injuries during Sunday’s game.
Expect more targets from Matt Ryan as the Falcons try to keep
grinding out victories without overexposing their WRs.
UPDATE:Julio Jones is looking
iffy for Thursday night against the struggling Saints, which means
Tamme will almost certainly see more targets. He carries lots
of risk but has some TE2 upside in this matchup.
Austin, STL – Austin had three carries for 22 yards
and 2-6-1 receiving, enough to make for a decent flex play. He’s
a game plan-dependent fantasy option.
Hurns, JAC – Hurns’ value could take a hit if Bortles
misses any time, but the Jags’ No. 2 receiver (70-80 percent owned)
hauled in 5-116-1 on Sunday.
Wallace, MIN – The Vikings were on a Week 5 bye and
return to face the Chiefs in Week 6.
Aiken, BAL – Aiken got off to a blistering start with
several early catches, then cooled off, settling for 4-78-0 on
nine targets in the Ravens disappointing loss to Cleveland.
Royal, CHI – Royal sat out Sunday’s game with an ankle
Harris, NYG – Harris had two key drops in the win over
San Fran, but provides a viable red zone option for the Giants,
notching 6-72-0 on Sunday night.
UPDATE:If Randle misses time,
Harris could be the Giants No. 2 receiver and will compete for
targets with Vereen and (presumably) a slightly hobbled Beckham.
Snead, NO – Snead’s 6-141-0 on 11 targets bodes well
for his value, but the Saints game plan could be changing with
little success coming in the win category. He’s a decent 12-team
flex option or WR3 moving forward.
Crowder, WAS – Crowder caught all eight balls thrown
his way for 87 yards in the OT game versus the Falcons. He’s the
clear No. 2 option behind Pierre Garcon with DeSean Jackson and
Jordan Reed still out but could run into a roadblock against the
Jets next week.
Fleener, IND – Fleener caught just two balls for 9
yards on three targets, and is a hit-or-miss option moving forward
with Dwayne Allen healthy. He can be safely dropped in shallow
leagues, but is worth holding onto in 12-team or deeper leagues.
Rodgers, GB – Rodgers had 6-45-0 but no scores in the
win over the Rams. He’s a low-end TE1.
Daniels, DEN – Daniels was targeted five times by Peyton
Manning but didn’t catch a single pass. He was the ultimate
plug-n-play bust facing a Raiders team that had struggled to stop