Great Bernard Scott, the injuries! Week 4 Waiver Wire Pickups with Boomers, Blahs, and Stashes

Seriously, guys, what’s going on out there? Are all the Jamaal Charles owners still stepping on cracks? Did the Kenny Britt owners walk under 50 ladders on their way to work Friday? We just can’t have nice things.

It’s time to remedy this.

I’ve divided this week’s pickups with boomers, players who have high ceilings but could never be productive again, and blahs, players who aren’t as exciting but could easily have a few good weeks this year.

BOOMERS

This could be the greatest thing to happen to you…or it could be a horrible mistake.

Torrey Smith

You saw him on Sunday. It’s hard to pass on a guy that had three touchdowns in one quarter, and the Rams had no solution for him until he injured his hamstring. But don’t forget that the Ravens went out and got Lee Evans to make these plays, and it remains to be seen how Evans will do when he’s 100 percent. Evans could be just as productive if he’s still the guy the Ravens thought he was when they traded for him.

Meanwhile, Smith should be stashed on a bench somewhere in every league. It’ll be interesting to see how he performs now that the league has tape on him and how he recovers from the hamstring injury that slowed him down this week, but the speedster should definitely be owned.

Victor Cruz

Unlike Smith, Cruz was a preseason darling but missed all of last year with an injury and did absolutely nothing so far this season. After the Giants signed Brandon Stokely, who was sharing a hoveround with Kerry Collins this offseason, Cruz decided to show up in Week 3 with an explosive performance against some of the leagues best corners. Once Manningham and Nicks are at 100 percent, it’s hard to say he’ll have another performance like this, but the door is certainly open.

BLAHS

Their stars are on the rise, and, granted, they could surprise, but best not to expect too much from these guys.

Bernard Scott

With Cedric Benson expected to miss some time, Scott should get his chance to shine. I thought he was a better fit for this offense at the beginning of the season. Now is his time to show it. But he’s entirely droppable if Benson’s three-game suspension is successfully appealed.

Nate Washington

With Kenny Britt out for the rest of the season, Washington is now Tennessee’s acting No. 1. He was getting a lot of passes before Britt’s injury, but he’s no Britt. Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins should fill in for Britt to a lesser extent.

Titus Young

He’s had two solid performances, but he’s not getting the touchdowns that Calvin Johnson gobbles up like Pac-Man. The scores will come, but it’ll be very hard to predict. Matt Stafford is throwing the ball to everybody, but Young is not nearly the threat in the red zone that Megatron and Tony Scheffler are. He’s more valuable in PPR leagues.

Ed Dickson

He’s winning the tight end battle so far in Baltimore against Dennis Pitta, and as long as he continues to progress, the scoring touches should come.

And as a bonus, a few players to throw on your bench…

STASHES

If you’ve got an opening on your roster, these are some guys worth hanging onto for the long haul.

Steve Slaton

Cut loose by the Texans, Slaton could end up in a more favorable situation. There are several possible landing spots, but the best one for him might be Cleveland, where a change-of-pace guy could help Hillis and himself. Remember that the Browns had signed Brandon Jackson as a third-down back this offseason, but they had to put him on injured reserve before Week 1. Slaton’s worth grabbing now until we know where he lands. Just pray that it’s not Washington.

Kendall Hunter

Frank Gore should continue to get the majority of touches, but he’s not being very effective with them. As many have pointed out, he’s dropped off over the past two seasons. Hunter, as the pick the new regime in San Francisco used to bolster the running back position, could easily start to see more touches as the season wears Gore down. He won’t have an immediate role unless Gore sits in Week 4.

Jared Cook

He stands to benefit from Kenny Britt’s injury, but we haven’t seen much out of him so far.

Montario Hardesty

He’s bound to see some action in the future. Hillis is surrounded by bad mojo — the Madden curse, his running style, the worst case of strep throat ever — and just asking to miss another game or two down the line. Hardesty’s worth owning, at least in deeper leagues, this week until we find out Hillis’ condition for Week 4. Assuming Hillis returns to start, he’s just a stash.

Stevan Ridley

One of the Patriots’ rookie running backs had some important carries in Week 3, but the only person who could tell you who to start out of the Patriots’ backfield is the guy who directed Bill Belichick: A Football Life —  and only then if he kept Belichick’s mic on while he talked in his sleep. If you’re in a deeper league or just have no confidence in your running backs, you might consider taking a chance on Ridley here. He might be stealing the clock-killing role from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, otherwise known as Law Firm, in this Patriots’ offense.

Donald Jones

If this Bills’ offense is legit (and it seems to be), it might not be a bad idea to get in on a piece of it. Jones name came up quite a bit this preseason, and he’s been seeing a lot of looks. If nothing else, he might be your last chance to buy some Buffalo stock.

James Casey

A bit of a wildcard, but Casey set a record for receptions by a running back for the Texans. He’s versatile as the Texans’ fullback and occasional tight end (and in fact, eligible as a TE or a RB in many leagues), which makes him an interesting stash, especially now that Slaton is out of the backfield in Houston. If Foster misses any more time and/or Ward continues to sit, Casey could have another day like he did Sunday.

Laurent Robinson

Look deep on the Cowboys’ roster, and you’ll find Robinson, who did get some  important looks last night and do well with them even though the offense wasn’t running on all cylinders. He could climb up the depth chart quickly if the Cowboys begin to lose faith in their young depth at receiver.

Vince Young

Well, it would be unusual for a backup quarterback to emerge in Philly and have more value than any of us expect…right?

Jamaal Charles owners: How to replace your stud running back

If you lost Jamaal Charles on Sunday, you don’t have a lot of options. He was your first round pick, and unless you play in a very small league, it’s unlikely you have someone else of Charles’ caliber on your roster to pick up the slack.

You also aren’t going to find many first-round quality players on the waiver wire. So at this point, you are left with the desperation options.

It’s time to beg, borrow, cheat, or steal.

One note before we start — you don’t have to do these in this order. Begging is for the worst off of the Charles’ owners, but all of us could benefit from “stealing,” even if we didn’t lose Charles. In fact, “stealing” is probably a good place to start for the majority of you. That’s why I put it at the end…

BEG

A trade is the fastest way to fix your roster when you face a catastrophic injury like losing Charles. You won’t ever have as strong a team as you had before, but just like getting burned on a bad investment, you have to take stock of what you have, package your assets, and sell off what you can to improve your net worth (in this case, your team).

Now I’m assuming you’re in dire straits without Charles. You might not have another running back capable of even RB2-quality production. Maybe you were rotating a stream of flex-level running backs in alongside Charles. Maybe the only other stud on your roster was your top-5 quarterback.

If you can field a respectable roster in Week 3 without Charles, hold off and move on to the less drastic strategies below. But if you’re rocking back and forth in the fetal position while screaming “Jamaaaaaal. WHY?!?,” stay with me here…

Hopefully, you drafted some good depth at at least one position. It’s probably safe to assume it’s not running back, so let’s pretend you have a little extra talent at quarterback or wide receiver.

It’s time to start talking to every owner in your league who has a hole at wide receiver or quarterback and a running back worth starting every week. Package what you have and shop it.

Start your negotiations by making a reasonable offer, but if that goes south, beg. Beg like you’re life depended on it. Play the pity card, and maybe someone will grant you a chance at their prize running back.

Target the owners of Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Arian Foster, and Shonn Greene, who may be disappointed in what they’ve brought to the box score so far. You don’t have the luxury of being disappointed in them. You just need high-ceiling starters.

Chris Johnson would be the first player I’d target. Foster or Jackson might come at a discount since they are currently injured, and Greene owners might be convinced that he won’t rise to the occasion this season either.

For the right price, I’d take a chance at Greene.

Float your starting-quality backup quarterback out there packaged alongside one of your WR2 or WR1-level wide receivers. If you feel good enough about your QB2, try offering your stud-level starter to the guy that drafted Peyton Manning.

It’s a great time to trade Matthew Stafford to the highest bidder if you smartly drafted a quality alternative in case Stafford didn’t make it a full 16 games. Maybe you’ll miss out on his breakout season, but you could end up with a fantasy stud to replace what you lost in Charles.

BORROW

If trading for a stud or potential stud doesn’t work, it’s time to look at the lesser options and “borrow.”

You’re not actually borrowing in this situation. You’re still trading, but you’re looking at the potential to upgrade this player down the road.

If left with no other options, go ahead and look at trading depth for depth. Maybe you could deal a backup tight end, WR3, or your backup quarterback to give yourself some more depth at running back.

Nabbing someone like Joseph Addai, Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Spiller, or Ryan Grant could still prove valuable. Don’t write anyone off. But don’t take any terrible deals either just to add a running back to your squad. You have to get a decent value for the package you put together. A bad trade would pretty much sink your season.

You might try to sneak a deal for a promising up-and-comer.

Make a play for Ben Tate whose owner may not need his opportunistic play for the next several weeks while Foster heals up as much as you could. Look for James Starks, who is rising in Green Bay. Maybe the rest of your league hasn’t noticed yet. Finally, it pays off to have a guy in your league who lives under a rock!

While getting a running back out of the deal would be preferred, it’s okay to consider a trade that upgrades your other positions. Anything that improves your team will help, and maybe that additional strength at quarterback or wide receiver could be turned into running back depth at a later date.

While you might not start these running backs right away or have no need for the additional depth at another position, these players are good to have. You can hold onto them for now, start them when they have decent matchups, and maybe somewhere down the road, they’ll have a big enough game for you to deal them again.

On that next trade, that’s when you might land a stud to replace Charles.

CHEAT

Okay, I realize most people don’t want to cheat. But some do. And I feel it’s my duty to cover this even if I don’t wholeheartedly endorse it. In fact, I’ll despise you if you pull it off. But hey, we’re in it to win it. So here goes…

This one’s the hard one. You might not have a chance at swindling an owner in your league, and even if you do, you might not get this trade past the rest of the owners in your league. But…rumors and misinformation might be a decent way to get a fantasy starter off another owner.

All it takes is a text, presumed to be a forward from Twitter, with “RT @AdamSchefter” in front, and you could have another owner thinking they need to sell high. (Kidding, of course. Who would do that?)

Haven’t you always wanted to be “that guy?”

You could make a play for Matt Forte by talking up Marion Barber’s upcoming return and his ability to vulture every touchdown from Forte the rest of the way. It is possible, even if it’s not probable. So it’s not a lie, MOM!

Sure, you still have to worry that it comes true, in some part, but Forte’s a decent recovery from losing Charles.

Steven Jackson owners might be willing to believe he’ll never be healthy again this season. He looked slow in the first game of the season, didn’t he? Might as well get a decent value for him rather than deal with his questionable status all season long.

Ryan Mathews certainly isn’t going to get enough touches to be worth anything in San Diego. So what if every analyst out there seems to believe he’s the better back. Tolbert is clearly the guy that’s going to get all the fantasy points, right?

Use rumors and speculation to your advantage, and you just might “negotiate” your way into a nice consolation prize.

But yes, if you pull this off, several people in your league will call you out for it. You’ll be cursed for the rest of the season, and you probably won’t even make it to the championship game due to karma. All wins have their price.

STEAL

There’s not going to be a lot on the waiver wire, but there’s enough. Now that you’ve lost Charles, it’s time to take everything you can and “steal” value for free off the wire.

First, your Kansas City replacements. Unfortunately, they’ll cost the most and probably produce the least.

Thomas Jones + Dexter McCluster + Le’Ron McClain

I covered this in this week’s waiver wire post, but Jones probably assumes the lead back duties here. He’s not exciting; in fact, he’s looked totally finished so far this season. But he’s the guy listed second on the depth chart, and he’s likely to get the goal line looks, at least initially.

Jones is the running back I’d try to pickup first, but don’t break the bank to get him. He’s not worth it, especially with how lackluster the Chiefs offense has been thus far. Thomas Jones is not going to spark anything for them.

Dexter McCluster’s been used as a gadget guy by the Chiefs and has gotten more touches than Jones so far this year up until Charles was injured. With his ability to act as a receiver or running back (not to mention his eligibility as both a WR and RB on some fantasy sites), McCluster may actually see the most productive touches in Charles’ absence. He’ll also come at a lower cost than Jones if you’re having to bid on McCluster in a FAAB.

The dark horse in this is Le’Ron McClain. We’ve seen him take more than his fair share of the work during his time in Baltimore, and now he’s in the mix in Kansas City.

Jones is old, and McCluster is undersized. So the bulk of the workload could easily land in McClain’s lap. Again, he’s not going to blow the doors off anyone, but he could be productive if the Chiefs pick themselves up off the floor.

Assuming you miss out on Jones and McCluster, stash McClain. You never know.

And here’s where the real stealing comes in. If you have the roster space, I’d claim every single decent handcuff back still on waivers that you can. That list includes Deji Karim in Jacksonville, Kendall Hunter in San Francisco, Delone Carter in Indy, and Michael Bush in Oakland.

Bush and Carter have carved a role of sorts on their offenses for now with the potential to do more, especially if there’s an injury. Hunter’s not getting a lot of touches, but he certainly looks like he could do plenty with them after leading the league in rushing during the preseason. And Karim will continue to protect Maurice Jones-Drew’s long-term health by taking a few touches each week until MJD suffers a setback or another injury.

If they’re out there, I’d go get Willis McGahee, who could end up winning John Fox’s favor if Moreno can’t stay healthy, and LaDainian Tomlinson, who still might be the most productive back on the Jets, first.

You’re goal with these backups is to be first in line to benefit when the next devastating injury hits fantasy owners. And in the meantime, you can tell your tale of woe over a campfire to the rest of your league to scare them into trading you for their own handcuff.

It’s not going to make you any friends, but this strategy is an act of desperation.

And if you can’t “steal” your way back into fantasy relevance, well…you better start trolling the waiver wire and maximizing every spot on your roster. You’re going to need every point you can get the rest of the way.

RIP Jamaal’s ACL. Pour some out for your homies’ knees. And fingers crossed this doesn’t happen to any other first-round picks this season.

http://youtu.be/dqHKf5NuVtg

And seriously, what’s going on in KC? Charles is their third ACL tear this season.

Give me Denarius Moore like this Week 2 Waiver Wire

What happened this weekend? This happened. But more importantly, here’s a few ways to get your team back into shape.

Thomas Jones / Dexter McCluster / Le’Ron McClain

The situation in Kansas City doesn’t look great, but if Jamaal Charles gets the dreaded ACL diagnosis we all expect this week, he won’t be taking the field again. A committee of Jones and McCluster would try to fill the void, but it’s free agent signing Le’Ron McClain who might have the best chance to stand up to the abuse the only offensive threat on the Chiefs will receive in Charles’ absence. The downside of picking up any of the Chiefs’ backfield is that you’ll have to rely on the Chiefs to make something of themselves. They haven’t done it so far through two weeks. And will they even be able to run? Without Eric Berry on the defensive side of the ball, they’ll be playing from behind most of the season.

Thomas Jones is the most reliable pickup, but if your chances of getting him are slim, go after McCluster or McClain. Any or all of them could have value, small as it may be on this Chiefs’ offense. We’ll have to see how the Chiefs use them in Week 3.

Cam Newton

It’s safe to say he’s looking promising. After hanging 400 yards passing on the Packers, we can no longer sweep him under the rug as a fluke. Some of his success in Week 1 could be written off on the Arizona defense. In Week 2, we could assume the Packers weren’t expecting the Panthers to come out throwing at them. But it’s time to pickup Newton. His Week 2 performance, even with three picks and only one touchdown, made for a decent fantasy start. Keep your fingers crossed that you aren’t starting him the week he comes back down to earth. To his credit, he’ll be improving and getting more accustomed to NFL speed while the rest of the league tries to figure out how to stop him. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

Daniel Thomas

Much to my dismay, the rookie running back had 107 yards rushing and 10 yards receiving Sunday while Reggie Bush sat on the sideline. I don’t like his “emergence” since it puts a damper on my Reggie Bush sleeper pick. That said, the Dolphins still didn’t win on Sunday, so there’s a very good chance they decide they need more Bush on the field. Thomas gives them a runner powerful enough to go up the middle and wear down defenses late in games, but he hasn’t shown very much  game-changing,  playmaking ability yet. Still, better safe than sorry. If he wasn’t drafted, make sure you get him on a roster this week.

Eric Decker

Decker might not get to stay on the field as much once Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal (injured Sunday) return from injury, but his 113 yards and 2 touchdowns will get him noticed by your league. He was one of my sleepers, and he’s made big plays in both of the Broncos’ games this season. That trend should continue while he’s on the field. So even though his opportunity may be limited if the Broncos get healthy, hes’ worth stashing to see if John Fox keeps him on the field. Denver certainly isn’t going to win by dominating on defense, and they’ll keep the more effective passer Kyle Orton under center at least until the Tebow-chanting masses storm the field.

Denarius Moore

Moore racked up 146 yards and a touchdown in impressive fashion Sunday. He didn’t hesitate to go up and grab the football on his contested touchdown grab, and Jason Campbell wasn’t afraid to put it up there for him either. Prior to this season, Moore was the talk of Raiders camp, which is why I made him a sleeper this season, and he woke up a little early this week with injuries to Jacoby Ford, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Louis Murphy. If the coaches saw what we saw, they’ll find a way to keep Moore on the field once the Raiders’ wide receiver corps are back to 100 percent. Ford and Moore might be the two greatest offensive weapons the Raiders have besides Darren McFadden.

Fred Davis

Rushing himself back from offseason surgery, Chris Cooley isn’t getting the targets he used to. Instead, they’re going to Fred Davis, and Davis’s making the most of them with over 100 yards in Week 1 and a score in Week 2. As long as Rex Grossman stays under center, Davis looks like he’ll be reliable enough to be a TE1.

Scott Chandler

It’s time we admitted that Chandler was legit. He’s now scored in two consecutive Bills games. He’s nothing special other than being a big dude, and Chandler has bounced around the league as a result. But the Bills seem intent on keeping him involved in the offense. I’d pick up more reliable options like Fred Davis before going out to get Chandler, but Fitzpatrick clearly likes the Great Big Scott in the red zone.

Really, guys, Week 1 is Too Early for a Waiver Wire

Some of you may have wondered why I didn’t post a waiver wire this week. I tried…but there just wasn’t much for me to get excited about in Week 1.

I covered my favorite waiver wire pickups in my late sleepers column. If you paid attention to that, you already knew about Aaron Hernandez. (See? I told you he’d be good.)

As for the rest of my sleepers, I’m still waiting on Ingram to have his big “coming out” game, but I still expect it to happen. I’m starting to keep an eye on Delone Carter, despite the Colts suckitude so far, as well. The only one of my sleepers I’m truly concerned about is Austin Collie. Kerry Collins under center for the Colts just looked terrible.

Now, one place where the Week 1 did provide a few juicy pickups was at the quarterback position. Rex Grossman, Chad Henne, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and even Cam Newton showed they could have some fantasy value this season.

Of all the likely undrafted quarterbacks who shined in Week 1, I’d have to say Fitzpatrick seems like the best bet for fantasy success. And it’s not just because he has his own theme song. Music, please…

He’s the most interesting Bill in the world. The Bills won’t win as big as they did in Week 1 every week…but when they do, Fitzy will have a big game. To me, he seems least likely to fall apart of all the quarterbacks that impressed in the opening weekend of NFL action. Plus, we know his track record from last season when he had a few games of fantasy relevance.

Grossman’s another good bet for now, but I have a feeling we’ll see John Beck start games for the Redskins this season, too. If you claimed Sexy Rexy, consider packaging him in a trade before we get too deep into the season. He’s got a nice matchup this week.

Henne seems like he’ll be another long-term, matchup-play QB2 if you miss out on Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins’ offense will have to produce some points this season if Tony Sparano wants to keep his job, and it looks like they’ve unleashed Henne to make that happen.

Reggie Bush, the lead running back in Miami (at least for the moment), is better when he catches the ball out of the backfield than when he tries to run it up the middle. So there’s a chance Henne gets credit for almost every yard the Dolphins get this season.

Cam Newton, while impressive, is not going to put up 400+ yards every week. He might not put up 300+ again this season. But he benefited in Week 1 from a Steve Smith reawakening in Carolina. Pick him up if you want a boom/bust guy at quarterback, but don’t expect him to become your weekly starter.

But, like I said, there weren’t many players to go crazy for on the wire this week. Sure, go get  Cadillac  Williams if you lost Steven Jackson in Week 1 or if you’re desperate for a running back, but I don’t love him against the Giants, especially with a banged up Sam Bradford under center. Caddy’s a starter, yes, but don’t go nuts to get him.

If you were unimpressed by your starting lineup, don’t get caught saying anything like what  I mocked on Monday. For a greater tale of woe than I can offer to persuade you to give your current roster some time to emerge, I suggest this Fantasy Douche reading. It’s a horrifying tale, and it makes the point well.

Take a deep breath, and we’ll see what Week 2 holds.

On the defensive front, some of you may be looking for waiver wire defenses. I like the Cowboys this week, and John Paulsen at 4for4.com has more recs. I think it’s a little bold to roll with the 49ers or Broncos this week, but if that’s all you got, that’s all you got.

On the Waiver Wire: Brian Westbrook LIVES, Week 13 Pickups, and a Massive Collection of Advice to Get Your Team Right for the Fantasy Football Playoffs

I hate handcuffing. I always feel like handcuffs are a waste of a roster spot, and I’d rather have a starting running back from another team than carry a guy who doesn’t play just in case my starter goes down. The backups are rarely as good or as big a part of the offense as their starting counterpart anyway. At least that’s what I told myself until this week.

Apparently, karma chose to teach me a lesson this season. My top picks in two leagues, Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson, were both hit with the injury bug this week just before I start my playoff runs in Week 14. I don’t own either handcuff.

Obviously, I drafted these two teams on Indian burial grounds. My two starting tight ends in these leagues were Dallas Clark and Jermichael Finley.

Beyond snagging the fantasy fallout from these two studs’ injuries, waiver wire pickups for the rest of the season depend on matchups more than ever. You’d be surprised how many owners don’t look ahead and decide which players they should cut ties with and which ones they should stash for the playoffs. As we round out the regular season, you should fortify your roster for Weeks 14-16, assuming that’s your fantasy football playoff.

Regular season wins don’t matter anymore. It’s all about the playoffs.

I’ll hit the highlights on a few guys I like the most that are readily available this week. As a side note, this post will be our last traditional waiver wire post for the rest of the season. If you’re in the playoffs, I assume you’ve strengthened your roster. If not, look back the last few weeks of “On the Wire” posts.

If you’re not in the playoffs, I’m guessing you don’t want to hear anything more about players that could have made your team better, but you can look back at the archives all the same. It’s always nice to play spoiler at the end of the year, even if you have nothing to gain but pride and a new in-season rival. In-season rivals are the best.

Brian Westbrook, RB, 49ers – He’s obviously the most high-priority add to come out of Week 12. With Frank Gore done for the year, Westbrook will become the engine of this offense. Troy Smith hasn’t been able to learn the full playbook since joining the 49ers, which has forced them to feed the ball to their running game. You’ll hear some warnings out there that Anthony Dixon has more value as the rookie with fresher legs to replace Gore, but I’m still choosing Westbrook over Dixon if given the choice. They went with Westy all night against the Cardinals until the game was out of reach, and I think they’ll continue to do more of the same. San Francisco would rather play it safe with Westbrook and his experience than hand the majority of their offense over to a rookie.

Anthony Dixon, RB, 49ers — That said, Dixon isn’t a bad add if you miss out on Westbrook or get Westy and want to make sure you lock up the 49ers rushing attack. Dixon will at least see some goal line looks, and he’s the better North-South runner at this point. Westbrook, while impressive against the Cardinals, hasn’t seen much playing time and is injury prone late in his career. We’ll know more about how these two runners will split the carries after we see them face the Packers in Week 13, having had a full week to practice together and work on the game plan, but I’m betting Westbrook gets as much as he can handle before Dixon gets his chance.

Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings — He’s next on the list even though I don’t believe he’ll have much value. The last reports on Adrian Peterson’s ankle injury say it’s only a sprain and that the Vikings fully expect to have him Week 13 against the Bills. Gerhart might see more work to give A.P. a light workload his first game back, but by Week 14 and 15, you won’t want to be relying on a backup running back. If you own Peterson, Gerhart is a must add. Otherwise, put him behind all the other backs listed as a stash in case Peterson’s injury ends up being more serious than what we’ve heard so far.

Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys — Choice is the running back of “choice” in Dallas now that Marion Barber will be out for at least two weeks. Fantasy veterans will remember how he exploded late in 2008 when Felix Jones and Barber both missed time. While Felix hasn’t shown any signs of slowing, Choice has talent and could carve out a portion of the running game for himself even if Jones continues to start for the Cowboys. He’ll at least see the goal line looks for two weeks with Barber out, and that makes him worthy of being added to rosters this week. You might hit the jackpot if Barber has a setback and if Jones is injured in the next two weeks. The Cowboys’ schedule is inviting with Indy, Philly, Washington, and then the horrible, horrible defense of the Cardinals in Week 16.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers — Like a brokeback cowboy, I just can’t quit The Daily Show. Mike Goodson’s been an awakening for the Panthers are running back, but Stewart was more effective with his carries in Week 12. Maybe some of Goodson’s workmanship productivity will rub off on Stewart. He wasn’t able to do much of anything prior to his concussion, but The Daily Show should earn back more and more of the running game as the season winds down.

Goodson will stay involved and has some value since he’s been so productive during Stewart’s absence, but both Stewart and Goodson are interviewing for jobs next season. DeAngelo Williams will be gone, and it’s probably going to be a split backfield with Stewart taking the lead duties and Goodson providing a burst on third downs and catching passes out of the backfield like Williams used to do. The schedule isn’t too kind in Week 14 or Week 16 for either Carolina back, but you’ll definitely want to start either Stewart or Goodson in Week 15 against the Cardinals.

Chris Ivory, RB, Saints – People keep saying that the Saints touchdown vulture is about to fall off the fantasy value cliff, but he’s stuck around. Even with Reggie Bush back on Thanksgiving, he got the touchdowns where it counted and put up decent yardage. I’m sure he’s owned in most touchdown-heavy leagues, but I’d consider picking him up in standard leagues for the fantasy playoffs.

Pierre Thomas may come back in the next two weeks, but with Thomas’ injury taking so long to heal, I don’t think they’ll want to put him in harm’s way near the end zone when they have a proven weapon like Ivory, who hasn’t disappointed. The Saints’ remaining schedule through Week 16 has them facing the Bengals, Rams, Ravens, and Falcons. Those last two are tougher than most, but I’d snag Ivory for this week against the Bengals and next week against the Rams. If the Saints’ offense can deliver him to the goal line for multiple scores in those two, I might even consider giving him a chance in Week 15 against the Ravens as well.

Danario Alexander, WR, Rams — I went on and on about Alexander when he had his first breakout game earlier this season. I loved his potential, and I still do. In his first game back, he was the leading receiver, even though he was only playing 20 snaps. He added that spark the Rams have needed. Outside of PPR leagues, he’s the Rams wide receiver I want to start, and if you look ahead at his matchups (Cardinals, Saints, Chiefs, 49ers), he’s not looking so bad outside of that Week 14 in New Orleans.

Take Alexander’s schedule, add that the Rams like to throw the ball, that Bradford emerged for his first 300+ yard game in Week 12 (with Alexander leading in yards and tied with two other receivers for most targets), and that the tight end Bradford loved the most, Michael Hoomanawanui, is now out with a high ankle sprain, and you have a recipe for another fantasy breakout for the young Rams’ talent.

I’d play him this week against the Cardinals, but all that said, I do have to caution that he is playing on borrowed knees–literally. His injury risk is red on the advisory system, but I’ll still give him the green light if you need that extra something for the playoffs at wide receiver.

Earl Bennett, WR, Bears — When Jay Cutler first got traded to Chicago, Bennett received a lot of talk as a sleeper. They were teammates at Vanderbilt, and Cutler, in a way, made Bennett into a star. In the NFL, the two have not connected as often. Bennett has been the second or third wide receiver on the Bears’ depth chart for some time, but the passing game has never been reliable or explosive enough to make Bennett a fantasy star. It looked like it was getting there in Week 12 against the Eagles.

Mike Martz may have finally settled into a playbook that suits the Bears. All of their weapons, including Devin Hester and Greg Olsen, got involved. Bennett scored twice. If you look at the remaining schedule for the Bears (at the Lions, Patriots, at the Vikings, Jets), they have a nice road ahead until Week 16 against the Jets. And even in that game, Bennett is less likely to get shut down as the No. 3 guy in many sets. If I’m short a wide receiver for the playoffs, Bennett is my second choice after Alexander. Johnny Knox is more reliable, but Bennett should get his looks, too.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Raiders — If no one picked up the speedster in Oakland, you should make a run at him this week. His playoff schedule is nice (Jaguars, Broncos, Colts), and he seems to be the only receiver who can inflict massive damage for the Raiders. As long as Jason Campbell looks his way in Week 13, I’d consider starting him in the playoffs as a WR3.

Blair White or Austin Collie, WR, Colts — Whichever one of these Colts’ receivers starts in any given week will have value. A very angry Peyton Manning will be suiting up against a decent but not formidable schedule in the fantasy playoffs (Titans, Jags, Raiders) and trying to destroy the world to get into Indy into the  real NFL playoffs. I wouldn’t want to stand  in his way. Both of these receivers have a nose for the end zone, and Manning will go to them without hesitation. The only issue I have with them is that they could just as easily have one catch for 7 yards and a touchdown as they could have five catches for 70 yards and three touchdowns.

Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins — Bess is very reliable as a PPR receiver as long as Chad Henne is the Dolphins’ quarterback, but his matchups are tougher than they look for the fantasy playoffs (Jets, Bills, Lions). I’d still consider starting him down the stretch if you need someone consistent, but as  a Marshall owner, I’m still hoping Marshall’s return will steal some of Bess’ thunder and production. Bess outperformed Marshall for a good part of this season, but the Dolphins best matchups in the playoffs (Bills, Lions) could become statement games for Marshall to prove trading for him was not a waste of the Dolphins’ draft picks–fingers crossed. Still, there could be scraps for Bess regardless of the matchup or Marshall’s contributions.

I dug deep for fantasy football advice all over the Web this week since I was trying to turn a dead but playoff-bound team (the one that just lost Frank Gore) into a fantasy zombie for Weeks 14-16. Now 21 waiver wire claims later, I feel pretty good about the team.

Below is my compiled list of waiver wire pickup recommendations, fantasy football playoff advice, and matchup analysis. It’s all worth a read if you have the time, but pay special attention the analysis previewing playoff potential and which players are getting hot at the right time, especially Fantasy O Matic’s look at defensive trends over the last five weeks, which I found especially interesting. H/T to FF Librarian for bringing it to my attention.

  • If you’re looking for something along the lines of an add/drop for the fantasy playoffs, SI’s Fire Sale column by Thomas Casale is it. It’s a great read, and you know I believe in Alexander’s and Bennett’s potential. It also may be time, as Casale notes, to give up on Vincent Jackson. He’ll miss two games, which puts him back to Week 15 as an effective start, and that’s assuming that his injury will heal right back to 100 percent. There are too many targets in San Diego, but if you have the room to keep him on your bench and wait, you might as well see what you have in him.
  • The FF Geek Blog hammers out another spreadsheet this week that lists more quarterbacks than most of the other waiver wire posts I’ve seen. If you’re in need of a playoff passer, take a look at their thoughts.
  • FF Toolbox touches on several of the big name adds, but I imagine most of these guys are taken in competitive leagues.
  • I think he sells a few of these guys short, but Lester’s Legends offers up his Get ‘em or Don’t Sweat ‘em for Week 13.
  • I like everyone Fanhouse and The Hazean tout as an add this week.
  • You’ll always find great links from the Fantasy Football Librarian.
  • NFL.com has some risky quarterback adds but, otherwise, presents a solid lineup of pickups.
  • Hatty Waiver Wire Guru talks through the week’s top pickups and players to watch if you’re still left wanting.
  • To think, last week I almost dropped Jay Cutler, and this week, he’s among the top adds on the waiver wire at Razzball. Glad I didn’t make that mistake.
  • I doubt most of SI’s “Decision Time” players for Week 13 are on the waiver wire, but a few like Jonathan Stewart might be available. Get them on your roster if you’re still trying to make the playoffs this week. SI’s waiver wire column also has some names to target.
  • Be aware that those “Points Against” rankings you’ve been looking at all season may not tell the whole picture. Fantasy O Matic broke down the defensive performances over the past five weeks and compared it to the season-long rankings to give a more accurate picture of who should flourish and who should suffer in the fantasy playoffs. It’s a must read for anyone playoff bound alongside their previous post on the best playoff matchups.
  • Rotoworld’s Chris Wesseling loves him some Westbrook this week and believes he’s capable of RB2 numbers the rest of the way. I missed out on Westbrook, so I’ll have to hope Dixon gets a piece of that.
  • The Fifth Down thinks Sam Bradford is ripe enough to start. I can’t really disagree with them this week as he faces the Cardinals.
  • Matthew Berry, ESPN’s TMR, pays tribute to Leslie Nielsen and plays back all the pickups he’s recommended over the last several weeks as well as the new guys like Westbrook and James Davis.
  • Pro Football Focus runs down all the hot prospects down to the sleepers and ones to watch the rest of this season.
  • The Scores Report may have covered every player that’s out there on waivers right now. Impressive.

Believe it or not, Peyton Hillis is the Juggernaut and More Scoring Leaders from Week 12

I believe it was Andrew Garda who started the #Juggernaut campaign for the Peyton Hillis’ nickname. Once again, it held true this week as Hillis ran over the Panthers for three touchdowns in brutal fashion. Nothing stops that guy. Nothing.

The proof of how great a nickname this is for Hillis is in the Wikipedia:

A juggernaut is a term used in the English language to describe a literal or metaphorical force regarded as unstoppable. It is often applied to a large machine or collectively to a team or group of people working together, or a growing political movement led by a charismatic leader, and often bears association with crushing or being physically destructive.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns: 131 rushing yards and 3 TDs, 6 catches for 63 yards vs. Panthers

Hillis crushed it in the first half of this one, and he didn’t have to do much the rest of the game to keep his fantasy owners happy. If you have Hillis, rejoice. If you don’t, well, at least you’re not Josh McDaniels. Not even a fantasy novice would trade Hillis for Brady Quinn. Complete fail there, Joshy Boy.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: 13 catches for 170 yards and 3 TDs vs. Seahawks

Bowe does. That’s the only thing I can say at this point. Just like those DROID commercials, Bowe DOES. He’s getting open against even stingy opponents (this one, for the record, not so stingy) thanks to the powerful run game that the Chiefs have put together. There’s no reason not to start him the rest of the way. I’m just as shocked as you are. I honestly didn’t think he, or Cassel, had it in him.

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: 341 passing yards, 4 TDs, 1 rushing yard vs. Lions

Brady put together one of those classic Brady games against the Lions on Thanksgiving. He made all the throws and had a fire raging inside of him both on and off the field. The offense is certainly clicking, but remember: this was the Lions. I don’t know if Brady will be able to produce these stats against the Jets, Bears, and Packers in the next three weeks. But if he gets you to the championship, he faces the Bills.

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs: 233 passing yards, 4 TDs, 28 rushing yards vs. Seahawks

Cassel lucked out when Bowe broke out this season. He should have continued to look overpaid and overstarted, but instead, he’s putting up multiple touchdown games like he’s the less mobile Michael Vick. Will you ride him into the playoffs? Other than the Chargers in Week 14…it seems reasonable to expect you can.

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: 247 passing yards, 4 TDs, 17 rushing yards vs. Eagles

Now THIS Is the Cutler I drafted, ladies and gentlemen. This week he gets the Lions, and I expect this streak to continue. If he could just start blowing people away like I thought he would all season, that’d be great, especially since I just lost Frank Gore.

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams: 308 passing yards, 3 TDs vs. Broncos

The rookie finally reached great heights, 300+ passing yards, even though it was just barely 300 passing yards. And there should really be a deduction when all the scores go to tight ends. Do you know what a wide receiver is Sam Bradford? Those things that can’t stay healthy for you. Well, there ARE still more on your team.

The rookie’s got a pretty nice schedule the rest of the way, if you’re daring enough to believe that this Week 12 performance was the start of his rise. I think this is a spike in his production, but it could carry over into Week 13 against the Cardinals.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: 59 rushing yards, 5 catches for 104 yards and 1 TD

Matchup proof? Just maybe. He was phenomenal when he last held the starting gig down in Buffalo, and he made it work this week against the Steelers rough defense. He’ll be tested further against a rejuvenated Vikings’ defense, the Browns, and the Dolphins. But if he’s the guy you have to lean on, I think you can count on consistent, if not spectacular, production.

Maurice Morris, RB, Lions: 55 rushing yards and 2 TDs, 5 catches for 20 yards vs. Patriots

Best really is done for the season, and Morris showed us what a healthy back can do in this offense. He was delivered to the goal line twice by the Lions offense and took advantage with his two scores. But now he’s really done for the year. There’s nothing pretty about the rest of his schedule.

Mike Goodson, RB, 55 rushing yards and 1 TD, 8 catches for 81 yards vs. Browns

The lone bright spot in this offense in recent weeks, Goodson looks like a future star. He shared time with The Daily Show John Stewart this week, but he should not lose more carries than he has already to the fellow runner. Goodson’s earning his spot for 2011, when DeAngelo Williams will probably be out-of-town. He’s not a bad start against the Seahawks in Week 13.

Deion Branch, WR, Patriots: 3 catches for 113 yards and 2 TDs vs. Lions

Branch’s precise routes and nose for the end zone made the Lions secondary, and especially Alphonso Smith, just look baaaad. Too bad you’ll never know which Patriots wide receiver not named Wes Welker is going to show up in the stats column in any given week.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Raiders: 13 rushing yards, 4 catches for 108 yards and 1 TD, 1 return TD vs. Dolphins

Ford looks like the only wide receiver worth trusting in Oakland. He had these numbers with Gradkowski at quarterback, but he have Campbell for the rest of the season. That’s still good news since Campbell was the one who “found” him a few weeks ago, but the Raiders would prefer to keep the ball on the ground if McFadden gets back to action. He still might because the Oakland schedule is pretty nice in Weeks 14-16.

Ben Obomanu, WR, Seahawks: 5 catches for 159 yards and 1 TD vs. Chiefs

The Chiefs were missing their best corner and let Obo break loose for a long score late in this one. Otherwise, his fantasy points wouldn’t have been nearly as generous. Still, he’s got significant value as long as Big Mike Williams is sidelined and retains some value even after he returns. It looks like Williams will be back for Week 13.

Earl Bennett, WR, Bears: 4 catches for 56 yards and 2 TDs vs. Eagles

Is this chemistry between the two former Vandy stars? Cutler sought out Bennett twice by the goal line, and while we can’t say it’s going to continue, Bennett isn’t a bad grab as the second wide receiver in this offense that finally seems to be clicking.

Billy Bajema, TE, Rams: 3 catches for 32 yards and 2 TDs vs. Broncos

Bradford loved his tight ends on Sunday, but Bajema is no great talent. He’s the only tight end in St. Louis with Hoomanawanui sidelined, but I still wouldn’t trust him in the fantasy playoffs.

Nate Kaeding, K, Chargers: 5/5 on field goals and 3 XPs vs. Colts

Not a bad game back for the recovering kicker. If your team is getting held back by a sub-par kicker, go snag Kaeding now that he’s back in action.

On defenses: The Chargers D/ST feasted on Peyton Manning’s interceptions in this one as he uncharacteristically turned the ball over a whopping four times. Don’t expect it to be so easy the rest of the season, but the Chargers D/ST has certainly come on at the right time for fantasy owners.

On productive Bills wideouts: Steve Johnson was not a winner on this list in Week 12, but I expect him to bounce back. As long as God doesn’t smite him for calling him out on Twitter, that is.

On the Waiver Wire: Mike Goodson, Scraps, and Sleepers for Week 12 Pickups

I think I covered almost everyone I would consider picking up from this point forward in the Week 11 waiver wire. So rather than try to dig deep and come up with a whole new list of names, I’ll just touch on a few impact players that impressed or failed to impress me this weekend.

Mike Goodson, RB, Panthers

He was productive against the Ravens, even with nothing else going on in the Carolina offense. The Ravens haven’t been the force they were in the past on defense this year, but they’ve still been among the top defenses in the league at points allowed to running backs. They’re certainly capable of stuffing a runner on a team like Carolina unless said running back’s got a little bit of talent.

That tells me he’s bound to do something else good down the stretch, and it doesn’t seem like Jonathan Stewart is going to get back to the field at 100 percent in time to do any damage anyway.

So Goodson is more of a pickup than I made him out to be last week, but he’s still not the greatest add for running back depth.

If you’re desperately seeking a flex, he’s not a bad call, but if you have a need for some serious running back help, you’re probably better off grabbing him and trading him away as part of a package for someone you can count on, maybe even someone in an offense that has a fully functioning quarterback.

Kevin Boss, TE, Giants

The New York Giants lost Hakeem Nicks on Sunday, which leaves them dangerously thin at wide receiver now. And to think, we thought they had too many good receivers on the roster back in Week 1.

Boss should play a larger role in the passing game until Steve Smith returns. That’s just a few weeks away, but that’s enough time to make him worth a fantasy play against the Jaguars this week. They’re terrible at tight ends. It’s one of those positions that their secondary doesn’t realize is on the field.

Troy Smith, QB, 49ers

You may have been scared away by his complete failure against the Bucs’ defense, but Smith still holds the starting job. He’s got a nice set of matchups down the stretch. There’s no reason to give up on him if you’ve got him on the roster now, and I’ll give him a pass for Week 11 if he gets back on track this week.

SLEEPERS

Danario Alexander, WR, Rams

I’m still a fan, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do when he takes the field in Week 12. (Or should I say IF he takes the field in Week 12.)

Arrelious Benn, WR, Bucs

He didn’t do much damage in this one, but it was also a blowout that the Bucs were winning right from the start. I’d wait to see what he does in Week 12 before moving on. His playoff schedule, if he gets hot at the right time, could make him worth the investment.

Seyi Ajirotutu, WR, Chargers

He’s no longer worth as much with Vincent Jackson returning for the Chargers and Malcom Floyd back from his injury. But Crayton did get hurt on Monday night and Floyd re-tweaked his hammy, leaving the door open for either Naanee or Seyi to step in and produce. I’d bet you can find a more reliable option to take into the playoffs rather than a sink-or-swim No. 3-4 wide receiver, but if Ajirotutu becomes a part of this offense again during the fantasy playoffs, he could have some upside. It might be smart to play a speedster in the passing game to keep double teams from keying in on Vincent Jackson.

More waiver wire for your Week 12 wire waivering:

Believe it or not, Scoring Leaders for Week 11: If you don’t have multiples, you’re just not trying hard enough

Your fantasy studs only scored once? Well, that’s just child’s play. The real studs scored twice or more on Sunday, and they should easily do the same a time or two before the fantasy football playoffs are over. Start ‘em if you got ‘em.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: 275 passing yards and 3 TDs, 55 rushing yards and 1 TD vs. Raiders

Much like a high school girl at her prom, Big Ben hates it when other teams dress up like the Steelers. The Raiders have been wearing black and putting teams away with a running game and a defense. That just won’t fly. So I guess Big Ben was trying to make a point when he exposed them on Sunday.

The Steelers walked all over the Raiders all day long. Roethlisberger benefited from the absence of Nnamdi Asomugha. When this offense is firing on all cylinders, as it seems to be now, they’re hard to stop.

Greg Jennings, WR, Packers: 7 catches for 152 yards and 3 TDs vs. Vikings

Aaron Rodgers reminded all Jennings’ owners why they drafted him: He’s the No. 1 wide receiver on a highly explosive offense. They got rolling against the Vikings in a blowout, and Jennings was doing damage in both big and small chunks.

It was good to see him targeted in the red zone in addition to his targets from long-range. He should continue to produce down the stretch since he is Rodgers’ most reliable target for now.

Steve Johnson, WR, Bills: 8 catches for 137 yards, 3 TDs vs. Bengals

I thought this Bills passing game would have cooled off by now, but just when you think they’re done, they come roaring back. Steve Johnson absolutely destroyed the Bengals in the second half.

Johnson’s probably going to end up being the waiver wire pickup of the year. He’s scored in almost every game he’s played in with Fitzpatrick under center. Those numbers are going to be hard to beat as long as this passing game stays red-hot throughout the playoffs, even as Buffalo freezes over.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: 301 passing yards and 4 TDs, 21 rushing yards vs. Vikings

A big fantasy day for Jennings means a big fantasy day for Rodgers, but you know this. He’s one of the top quarterbacks in fantasy. This stat line is what you expected out of him in easy matchups when you drafted him. He poured it on the Vikings, led by the man he replaced, Favre.

This game was like watching a little kid jump up and down on Brett Favre’s sandcastle, all while Brett had to watch his creation go to pieces. I kind of enjoyed it.

Without a doubt, we can say that the Packers made the right call in moving on from Favre to Rodgers when they did. No team that’s tried to make it work with Favre has succeeded.

The Packers have turned into a very scary team just at the right time as fantasy playoffs (and the real NFL playoffs) approach.

Jon Kitna, QB, Cowboys: 147 passing yards and 3 TDs, 40 rushing yards and 1 TD vs. Lions

I played it safe this week by starting Shaun Hill out of fear that the Cowboys would concentrate on their running game after establishing an early lead. They didn’t, unless you count that late rushing score by Kitna as the running game. Jason Garrett’s perfectly comfortable calling passing plays the whole game, and that works for Kitna’s fantasy owners.

Kitna ended the day without much yardage, but he scored a ton, making him the better play over Shaun Hill. It seems they’ll both be great plays down the stretch, as both the Cowboys and Lions love to throw the ball.

Kitna should be owned in all leagues and has a great schedule in Weeks 15 and 16 of the fantasy playoffs as long as Romo doesn’t return.

This part is the place where I would list Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, but I’ll skip them. I assume you know the drill when it comes to those guys.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills: 316 passing yards and 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 11 rushing yards vs. Bengals

What looked like a quiet performance turned into a fantasy explosion late when the Bills mounted a comeback. I don’t know whether to be impressed with how overpowering the Bills were in this one or to just acknowledge how absolutely horrid the Bengals are. No one wants to win badly enough in Cincy. Too bad.

Fitzpatrick has had a few rough patches along the way, but if he keeps playing this aggressively, it’s hard to say he won’t produce another fantasy day or two like this one in the next few weeks.

Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets: 7 catches for 126 yards, 2 TDs vs. Texans

Another week, another come-from-behind victory capped off by a Holmes touchdown pass from Sanchez. The Jets’ unpredictable performance in winnable games has become predictable again. And you can count on Holmes to remain the focus in the passing game from here on out.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: 116 rushing yards and 2 TDs, 3 catches for 13 yards vs. Bengals

Even Jackson got in on the fantasy field day to be had against the Bengals. His schedule isn’t so easy, and he faces the Steelers this week after they just completely stuffed Darren McFadden…but if you can see a light at the end of the tunnel, Jackson has a game like this left in him.

He still has matchups against the Vikings and Patriots on the schedule, and I’m not too worried about C.J. Spiller cutting into his production when he returns later this season.

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets: 315 passing yards and 3 TDs, 1 INT, 22 rushing yards vs. Texans

The Texans are horrible, and Sanchez took advantage. Moral of the story: Always start the quarterback playing the Texans. Enough said.

A note on D/STs that did well…

If you were looking for an impressive D/ST performance, you got it out of the Browns and Ravens. If they’re not owned, the Browns make for an intriguing play the rest of the way, and they face the Panthers this week.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: 6 catches for 109 yards, 2 TDs vs. Cardinals

Okay, okay. I keep saying he’s going to fade down the stretch, and yet, here we are with another huge fantasy day and multiple touchdowns for Bowe. I guess you have to start him until he cools off. That’s not such a bad problem to have, is it?

Believe it or not: Scoring Leaders from Week 10: Congrats on your win, Michael Vick owners

What’s this? A blast from your past? Well, since we didn’t get a chance to get to the top scores from Week 10, we’re giving it to you now. Maybe watching your team march towards victory in Week 11 will dull the pain of these performances that killed you just seven days ago.

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: 333 passing yards and 4 TDs, 80 rushing yards and 2 TDs vs. Redskins

I had clearly lost going into Monday night of last week by just four points. It was a bad week. But as a looked at my score one last time Monday just before kickoff, I saw that my opponent had done the unthinkable, the unfathomable, the un-understandable. He started the Redskins D/ST and Ryan Torain with a victory clearly assured.

Now, if you were a thinking man, you’d probably have a hard time comprehending any reason to do this, but my opponent, in this case, was actually working with some unusual, but logical reasoning.

Our dear commish had put in his head that he needed as many points as possible to compete in the total points scored race, the tiebreaker for playoffs spots in this league. So seeing that he had won, he still felt the need to start the Redskins D/ST because they had never scored negative points and because he’d also have Ryan Torain playing in the game anyway.

As we already know, that reasoning dissolved quickly. Torain struggled to loosen his hamstring before the game and was held out of the Monday night festivities, despite being declared active just minutes before the game. And Washington’s defense collapsed early and often against Michael Vick.

I needed 28 or more points from the Eagles to get to a tie. I got that much and more in the first half alone.

The 59-28 Monday night performance was one for the ages for Vick. It’s hard for me to understand how any team starting Vick could have lost Week 10, and if you didn’t start Vick…man, I bet that hurts.

That said, I don’t think we’ll see Vick perform like this again this fantasy season. After all, he’s done playing the Redskins this year. But Vick certainly established himself as one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the game. I wouldn’t consider benching him for anyone except the top quarterbacks in fantasy  (Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees).

Oh, and I won my Week 10 matchup with the tiebreaker. Thank you very much, Vick.

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: 350 passing yards and 3 TDs, 3 rushing yards and 1 TD vs. Steelers

We’re used to seeing this kind of stat line from the Brady of old, the Brady that had Randy Moss, but this game caught most off-guard. The Patriots have traditionally performed well against the Steelers, and Belichick once again had their number in this one.

Brady dissected the Steelers’ usually stout defense and made Rob Gronkowski look like a superstar. But just like everything Belichick and the Patriots do, this fantasy production was a product of the system, and that system changes every week. You never know when Brady will go off for big points, but when the matchup is right, he’s still got it.

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs: 469 passing yards and 4 TDs vs. Broncos

There’s a common theme developing in these top scores this week, or at least the ones I chose to highlight. Cassel did most of his damage during garbage time in a high-scoring affair as the Chiefs got blown out by the Broncos.

He rallied the troops to score four touchdowns, but it was all because they had to abandon the run. I’d expect Cassel to cool off as the season progresses. He just had a nice run of easy defensive matchups in recent weeks.

Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins: 80 rushing yards and 2 TDs, 4 catches for 50 receiving yards and 1 TD vs. Eagles

Shanahan could probably start himself at running back and score two touchdowns. Williams was just the latest guy to get the call. That doesn’t mean he won’t have another great game in his future.

He could as long as Ryan Torain and Clinton Portis don’t cut into his time, but with Portis back this week, I think Williams is on his way back to the shadows. Most of these points came in garbage time with the Eagles D/ST cruising towards a victory.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: 13 catches for 186 yards and 2 TDs vs. Broncos

As I noted under Cassel, Bowe’s dominance these past few weeks has been a result of easy passing matchups for the Chiefs. The schedule gets a little tougher down the stretch. So if you can  unload Bowe in a trade for someone like Darren McFadden, DO IT! I’m not sure you can rely on Bowe during your fantasy playoffs.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: 133 rushing yards and 1 TD, 6 catches for 37 yards and 1 TD vs. Lions

C.J. Spiller went down with an hamstring injury, and he left all the work to Jackson against the Lions.

When he’s been  given the chance, Jackson has impressed in the past. Remember his 2009 campaign? At one time, he was the top back in fantasy last season. But his matchups aren’t too pretty. We’ll have to see how much the Bills rely on him now that he’s the guy for the next few weeks.

If he really does become the unquestioned rushing force in Buffalo and if he gets plenty of targets in the passing game, he could be a great flex start for the rest of the season.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: 5 catches for 72 yards and 3 TDs vs. Steelers

The Patriots had the perfect game plan to attack the Steelers. Gronkowski was a big part of what made that plan so successful. But once again, the system is the only thing you can count on when it comes to the Patriots, and we may never see Gronkowski so involved in the offense as he was in Week 10.

Aaron Hernandez is likely to retake his role in the offense in Week 11 against the Colts, and Gronkowski, in that case, would return to being a all-or-nothing play at tight end, depending on whether he scores or not.

Don’t expect Gronkowski to get on the field this much in every game. He was part of the formation that the Patriots used to beat the Steelers, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be the answer to what other teams try to do to stop Tom Brady and his crew. There’s also a good chance that the next team the Patriots face will choose to cover Gronkowski more closely.

On the Waiver Wire: Remaining Week 11 Pickups, Fantasy Football Playoff Sleepers, Stashes

It’s getting to be that time when you just have to roll with what you’ve got, and there’s not much talent left on the waiver wire. So I took a few extra hours this week to peruse all the latest and greatest analysis to recommend just a few guys who I think should be owned in every league as we head down the stretch.

Some of these guys might help you in the playoffs. Some might help you right away. But the important this is that they are far more valuable than a backup kicker, second tight end or platoon of defenses at this point in the season.

If you have concerns about whom you should drop to claim these guys, leave your questions in the comments.

And don’t miss my roundup of waiver wire links at the bottom of this post. There were some great contributions this week from around the Web that offer up even more players than the ones I have listed here.

High Priority Adds

I bet these guys are on your radar, and in all likelihood, they’re on someone’s roster already. But if not, you need to make sure you get your hands on them because they should make an impact in the next few weeks.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers

I’ve mentioned Jackson the last several weeks as a player to add if someone dropped him while he was sitting out the season. By all accounts, he’ll be ready to go and in Pro Bowl form in Week 12 when he finally takes the field, and he’ll have Philip Rivers throwing to him plenty during those juicy fantasy playoff matchups. Get him while you can.

Mario Manningham, WR, Giants

As long as Steve Smith’s injury keeps him off the field, Manningham will be a true stud at wide receiver. His stat line in Week 10 with Smith out was no fluke. Make sure he’s on a roster.

Louis Murphy and/or Jacoby Ford, WR, Raiders

Murphy should return from his injuries this week to play the Steelers, but Ford was the wide receiver Campbell made into a superstar in Week 9, just before the Raiders’ bye. With Campbell remaining the starter, he could look to Ford again since he showed such trust for the speedster when the game was on the line. Ford could cut into Murphy’s snaps, but if the Raiders know what they’re doing, they’ll start Murphy and Ford at receiver, and push Darrius Heyward-Bey into the third receiver spot.

The Raiders have some great, GREAT matchups in the fantasy playoffs in which their explosive rushing attack with Darren McFadden will open up opportunities for these receivers. I’d stash one on your roster and see what develops. They should start quietly this week against the Steelers. I’d assume Ford is no longer on waivers after his big week last week, but if so, I’d choose him first and Murphy second.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

C.J. Spiller went down with a thigh injury in Week 10 and gave Fred Jackson the stage to show off his skills against the Lions. He didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t too long ago that Fred Jackson was making a name as one of the top backs in fantasy. Remember that? His schedule isn’t fantastic, but if Ryan Fitzpatrick uses him in the passing game like he’s used Steve Johnson, Jackson will produce enough to remind us of his 2009 production. He’s a startable option this week against the Bengals.

The Ones I Have to Mention

I don’t love them, but these players made a splash in Week 10, and I have to mention them. Otherwise, I have to give up my fantasy football blogging license, and that cost me a whole $5.

Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins

Shanahan has never played fantasy football…or does he? Did his team need some points from Rex Grossman when he decided it was time to bench McNabb for the two-minute drill?

Was his opponent starting Ryan Torain going into Monday night when he decided Torain couldn’t see the field if his hammy wouldn’t loosen up? Sure, this decision might have been out of his hands, but maybe Shanahan kept the team’s locker room a few degrees colder to make loosening that hamstring that much more difficult on his prized runner.

It sounds like something a guy in my league might do.

In reality, I think it’s safe to assume he just doesn’t care about how his coaching decisions affect fantasy teams, and so we saw a huge helping of Keiland Williams on Monday night. His final numbers were impressive, but he was about the only thing working in the Redskins offense after a miserable defensive showing allowed the Eagles offensive to have a record-setting first quarter.

He could start in Week 11 against the Titans, but by Week 12, I would suspect that Ryan Torain and/or Clinton Portis would be back in the mix and taking away from Williams’ value. There’s always the chance that Shanahan takes a liking to Williams and makes him his new favorite, but Torain has always had Shanahan’s eye. When he’s healthy, I think he’s the best back to own in this offense.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots

Don’t go nuts about his three-touchdown performance in Week 10. The Steelers weren’t stopping him, so the Patriots kept going there. Aaron Hernandez is still there and will get catches too as long as the Patriots don’t shift their offense in Gronkowski’s direction.

Gronk got so many passing plays (with a nod to Sigmund Bloom for pointing this out) because it was a package designed for Gronkowski, not Hernandez that kept beating the Steelers. I trust that the Patriots will continue to adapt and move away from that package as the season continues.

But if you’re in a touchdown-only league or a deep league with so little on the waiver wire that you’re taking chances at tight end, Gronkowski is not a terrible play. I just don’t like the idea of betting on Patriots to win me a championship.

Mike Goodson, RB, Panthers

I don’t love any Panthers as long as Jimmy Clausen remains their starter. The offense just won’t move well enough until he’s matured as an NFL quarterback. But Good son remains the starter this week against the Ravens.

The Panthers placed DeAngelo Williams on IR today, which means Goodson’s probably the guy until Sutton or Jonathan Stewart returns from their injuries. So he’s a starting running back, but there isn’t much to go with here. His schedule is brutal down the stretch. Other than two soft ones against Seattle and Arizona, the Panthers face the Ravens, Browns, Falcons (twice)  and Steelers the rest of the season.

Overlooked Playoff Quarterbacks

So you’re still holding onto Brett Favre? These quarterbacks could produce top 10 numbers between now and your fantasy championship. Don’t let them waste away on the waiver wire.

Shaun Hill, QB, Lions

The Lions throw the ball plenty, and Hill is the likely start the rest of the way. The schedule isn’t so nice once the fantasy playoffs start, but it isn’t too shabby right now. If you’re outside the playoff bubble, Hill might be able to get you in there.

Jon Kitna, QB, Cowboys

Don’t love the idea of betting on any Dallas player in these critical weeks, but we have at least one week of evidence to support a Jason Garrett revival in Big D. You can’t go wrong stashing Kitna on the bench and seeing what he’s worth. Plus, this week’s matchup with the Lions could be a great time to use him.

Troy Smith, QB, 49ers

You may not be convinced of his talent, but his schedule is something to believe in: Bucs, Cards in next two weeks; Seattle, Chargers, Rams during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16). He’s one sleeper quarterback I’d try to put on my bench if there wasn’t much out there.

Jason Campbell, QB, Raiders

I’m digging a little deep with this one, but he does have a fantastic playoffs schedule. With Louis Murphy and Zach Miller returning to the field, he could be that extra push you need to make it to a championship. In Weeks 14-16, the Raiders face the Jaguars, Broncos, and Colts — the last two of those at home in Oakland.

Lottery Pick Wide Receivers

These are the high-risk receivers who make me wish I had enough bench spots to hold onto them all…

Danario Alexander, WR, Rams

Alexander was a favorite of mine when he finally got his chance to start for the Rams. I loved the guy. Not only because of the opportunity in that offense but also because of his work ethic.

He went down with injury, and that may have forced some owners to let him go during the byes. But now that he’s back on the practice field, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to grab him. He could shine again if he gets back on the field against the Broncos, Cardinals, Chiefs, or 49ers in the coming weeks.

Seyi Ajirotutu, WR, Chargers

Vincent Jackson’s the sure thing in the Chargers passing game, and Malcom Floyd is your second best bet. But if you can’t land either one of those receivers, I don’t think taking a chance on Ajirotutu is such a bad idea.

What if he stays on the field as the third receiver? We all know Naanee could stand to have someone push him for playing time. And the Chargers passing game is far too valuable to overlook with the Chiefs, 49ers, and Bengals on their playoff schedule Weeks 14-16.

Arrelious Benn, WR, Bucs

Benn was drafted higher than Mike Williams this year, even though it’s taken him longer to get on the field. He’s got plenty of talent, and he’s shown it through his efficiency.

I don’t believe he’s dropped a pass yet, and he’s gotten a touchdown for two weeks straight. If you take a chance on him, you could cash in when he faces the Redskins, Lions, and Seahawks in Weeks 14-16. He just needs to get more passes his way from Josh Freeman.

Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings

Sure, he’s talented, but Brett Favre is falling apart on the field. So Rice may just go onto IR rather than risk further injury in a lost season for the Vikings. Besides, that playoffs schedule is not kind.

Tight Ends to Tie Up Loose Ends

I fell victim to the double tight end curse this season by drafting both Dallas Clark and Jermichael Finley. I’ve managed to make it as far as I have with the likes of Marcedes Lewis, Tony Moeaki, and Brandon Pettigrew. If you’re hurting even worse and need some help at that position, here’s a list of names I like. I don’t necessarily have any favorites, but I’ll list them in order of my trust of them and their potential.

Benjamin Watson, TE, Browns, looks like Colt McCoy’s favorite target the rest of the way.

Anthony Fasano, TE, Dolphins, could be emerging and was once an understudy to Jason Witten when he was a Cowboy. Thigpen could show him some love throughout the fantasy playoffs.

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals, one good week does not a stud make, but he’s got plenty of wide receiver talent around him that should prevent him from getting any defensive attention.

Delanie Walker, TE, 49ers, not quite the talent level of Vernon Davis, but Troy Smith has given him plenty of love lately. He’s got a chance to steal some of that production. (H/T to The Audible for bringing Walker to my attention)

More waiver wires I liked from around the Web:

  • The FF Geek Blog: One spreadsheet to rule them all.
  • The Scores Report: Goes deep at every position, including a few tight ends that could save you at that position for the playoffs and a great list of wide receivers ranked in the order you should pick them up.
  • Pro Football Focus: So many names, you’re bound to find an answer to your roster woes.
  • ESPN’s Matthew Berry: A great look at the players with playoff potential and whom you need to use to get you there.
  • The Hazean: Gives us a list of names that might be there to help you these next few weeks.
  • NFL.com: Hits the highlights.
  • Sports Illustrated: Scraping the barrel on running backs, and don’t neglect to check out the Fire sale, a hidden gem of players who are rising, falling, and the ones who could win for you this week.
  • Fanhouse and  Razzball suggest some names that may still be out there, even as teams start to strengthen their bench rosters and drop those bye week fills. (You should be doing the same!)
  • FF Librarian is boycotting Vick and compiling even more fantasy waiver wire links to enjoy.
  • Hatty Waiver Wire Guru: Building suspense by listing your waiver wire targets in video form.
  • FF Toolbox: Most of these names will be snatched up or were snatched up last week, but there’s always a chance, right?