Old Vikings Marching Down a Street

Week 4 Pickups: The One With All the Vikings

Old Vikings Marching Down a StreetI’m 0-3 in one league, and I can’t stand it. So I’ll be all over the wires this week. You stand to benefit from my helpful or misguided research.

Obviously, we had an eventful weekend of football. Or whatever you call the sport the replacement refs are now calling for us.

Unfortunately for us all, there isn’t too much on the wire unless you’re in a very shallow league. Leshoure is probably owned. Brown probably got snatched before his start Thursday night. That leaves slim pickings if you’re in need of a running back because the injuries don’t seem too severe to the starters who went down Week 3.

As always, my pickups are listed in the order I would go after them and with FAAB estimations.

Week 4 Pickups

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions (75%+)
If you waited this long, sorry. I talked about him before he hit the field. You’re going to have to luck out to land Leshoure, who looks to be the Lions’ preferred rusher. At least until Jahvid Best returns.

Andre Brown, RB, Giants (25%)
You probably missed your chance at him by now, but Brown could continue to see action even when Bradshaw returns from his injury.

Jerome Simpson, WR, Vikings (15% if need be)
There’s a lot of hype around Simpson’s return from suspension this week with the Vikings offense moving the ball this year. I think you have to jump on him before he breaks out. He’s my top recommendation this week besides Leshoure.

Jake Locker, QB, Titans (10-15%)
This is the kind of potential we’ve been waiting to see. With Britt getting healthy (and MAYBE a running game showing up sometime soon), Locker should put together a nice season as a QB2 with QB1 upside.

Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings (10-15%)
To follow his new WR target, I’d offer up the Vikings QB, who looks good enough to enter QB1 territory these next few weeks. His schedule is excellent if you’re looking for bye week replacement help.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings (10%)
Rudolph caught two touchdowns this week, which probably serves as his coming out party, but Rudolph is worth owning in all leagues as we enter the byes. He’s a great target for Ponder near the redzone. And Simpson’s return should open up this offense, not take opportunities away.

Andrew Hawkins, WR, Bengals (5-10%)
The Hawk can play. I’m ready to grab him now, and you should, too. He’s shown he can produce with few targets. I expect inconsistency, but he’s solid enough to be rostered.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Falcons (<10%)
Stash him now before anyone else sees him. I’m high on Rodgers, and as a result, high on the demise of Michael Turner. Turner can’t even drive fast.

Donnie Avery, WR, Colts (5-10%)
Without Austin Collie for the rest of the year, Avery now gets my confidence.

Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (<5%)
He looks to be a lot more involved in the offense this year than years past. He’s worth acquiring as the reigning No. 3 fantasy tight end.

Leonard Hankerson, WR, Redskins (<5%)
He’s secured a starting spot, even when Garcon returns. For now, he’s getting to run as the first read for Robert Griffin III. Just don’t do anything crazy like I did this weekend if you pick him up.

Ryan Williams, RB, Cardinals (15%)
I don’t love the Arizona running game, but Williams looks to be the best part of it.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins (10-15%)
Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins (5-10%)

The more explosive and dependable of the two Dolphins running backs, I think Miller can emerge if given the opportunity. Daniel Thomas will probably get more action, but he may be owned in most leagues.

Tashard Choice, RB, Bills (10%)
Whoever starts in Buffalo is going to rack up yards. They just run the ball well up there. But there is no guarantee Choice even gets this one start in Week 4 if Fred Jackson can get in a full week of practice. Be careful how much you bid on him here.

Shaun Hill, QB, Lions (<10% if you own Stafford)
If you’re in a very deep league and want to make sure you get points for the Lions’ passing game, you might need Hill to play safe with Stafford’s injury. But it sounds as if Stafford could make the start Week 4 if the team lets him.

Stashes

I’m not yet ready to bite on Nate Burleson (maybe in PPR), Brandon Stokley, Jacoby Jones, or T.Y. Hilton, but they may be worthy stashes if you have the roster room. Cecil Shorts is hard to buy as long as he’s still in Jacksonville.

Brandon Myers and Jordan Cameron look like they can ball, but the tight end position is DEEP this season.

I’m not sure what to think of Ronnie Hillman or Lance Ball just yet if McGahee sits out Week 4, but I think I’d rather stash Ball if I’m a McGahee owner.

Don’t forget about Bilal Powell just yet, but I don’t think it’s an emergency that you get him on your roster. Especially not when he faces the 49ers this week.

Drops

Austin Collie (sadly), Stephen Hill, and Greg Little are all droppable if you have a more promising guy on the waiver wire. David Wilson is bordering on droppable territory, but we’ll have to see how he’s used once Ahmad Bradshaw returns to the field.

Free Handcuffs with every frame bed

Unleash the Handcuffs: Andre Brown, Bilal Powell, Daryl Richardson are Week 3 Pickups

Free Handcuffs with every frame bed
Week 2 brought the injuries, now didn’t it? I can’t say I enjoyed watching Steven Jackson sit through the second half…especially after he was doing so well before he sat down.

Aaron Hernandez owners may still crying after seeing him go back to the locker room without putting any points on the board. Of all the less serious injuries, Ahmad Bradshaw’s neck injury seems to be the only one that hasn’t been clarified since the games were played.

But let’s not dwell on the negative. I did that already this week.

Let’s get better. Say it together…WITH FEELING!

Just like last week, these are presented in the order I’d go after them. Dollar dollar bill FAAB suggestions are also listed beside each player.

Week 3 Pickups

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions (<5%)
If no one owns him yet, you should be able to pick him up on the cheap. Kevin Smith doesn’t have the full confidence of this team. That much we could see as the Lions went with Joique Bell on several touches in Week 2. There’s a good chance Leshoure returns in Week 3 and makes this job all his own, and Lions RBs are good for fantasy points.

Andre Brown, RB, Giants (10%)
When Ahmad Bradshaw went down, we all expected to see David Wilson. Instead, we got Brown as the workhorse back, and he performed well. He’ll be the RB to own if Bradshaw misses any time this week and probably keeps a good portion of the work if Bradshaw misses additional time. Wilson’s got some work to do to get himself out of the doghouse.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Giants (5%)
Bennett has quickly become the third option in this Giants’ offense and one of the top tight end options through the first two weeks. Make sure he’s not in the pool, especially if you’re sitting on a lesser option like Fred Davis.

Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens (5%)
He’s getting a ton of looks in this offense. While some of it may be game plan, two weeks is enough to notice the trend, which makes him worth a grab. The rumor is that he’s Flacco’s best friend on the team, and you know how that works out for tight ends. *COUGH* Witten *COUGH* I’d look to fill your Aaron Hernandez hole with Pitta or Bennett this week.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings (<5%)
You’re still letting this guy sit on the waiver wire? He’s on the radar after scoring this week, and I expect his big breakout game to happen sooner rather than later.

Greg Little, WR, Browns (0%)
He lives. But the Browns aren’t going to be producing like this week to week. Still, if you’re looking for a WR3 with potential, he’s worth stashing in all leagues for bye weeks and potential garbage time production.

Brent Celek, TE, Eagles (0%)
Celek might not have as high a ceiling as the tight ends listed above, but he still might be an upgrade for Fred Davis owners/sufferers.

Bilal Powell, RB, Jets (0%)
Powell has been on my watch list all season. When Shonn Greene went out of the game, he took the carries and did more with them. Powell’s worth stashing as we wait for the Jets to look past Greene on the depth chart for something with a little more punch.

Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams (0%)
When Jackson didn’t return after his ball-spiking penalty in the second quarter, we all thought he was being punished. Turns out, it was only his fantasy owners getting the punishment as Jackson suffered a groin injury that prevented him from reentering the game. It was Richardson, not Isaiah Pead, who took over the game for the Rams when Steven Jackson went down. We can safely say that Richardson is the handcuff for Jackson, and he’ll be the RB to own if Jackson can’t go in Week 3. For now, all signs point to Jackson being back in the lineup Week 3, which makes Richardson just a stash.

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams (0%)
So maybe the Rams aren’t so terrible? I’m undecided, but Bradford certainly had good numbers against the Redskins. Washington suffered several injuries on the defensive side of the ball in this one, which took some pressure off of the Rams offensive line that needed the help. In short, swap your backup QB out for Bradford if you’re worried about your current guy.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals (0%)
I know he had a good showing against the Browns, but I just don’t think Dalton is dependable as anything more than a QB2. That said, you might look to Dalton during the bye weeks if your QB2 isn’t looking so hot.

WATCH LIST

Andrew Hawkins, WR, Bengals
The shifty wide receiver has made his mark two weeks in a row now. He’s worth keeping on your radar as a potential WR3, and he is worth stashing if you’re in a PPR league.

Jackie Battle, RB, Chargers
I see Battle’s stats from this week as a flash in the pan just before the return of Ryan Mathews. When Mathews takes the field, I don’t think we’ll see Battle get this many touches. His usage in Week 2 is probably a result of how little Ronnie Brown has left in the tank. If Mathews doesn’t return in Week 3 or goes down with another injury, keep your eye on Battle.

Say Helu to Week 13 Pickups

Watching the Giants get utterly destroyed by the Saints on Monday Night Football forced me to dwell on one of my mistakes this season — I never should have dropped Victor Cruz.

While he looked like a fluke after his big breakout performance, Cruz has come through the byes as one of the best wide receivers in fantasy football. If you started him in Week 12, I’m sure you’re happy with the result.

Unfortunately, at this point in the season, a lot of the pickups are like Cruz. You may have dropped them, but if you’re lucky, you’ll find them on the waiver wire this week as you move towards the playoffs. Rather than divide the pickups by position, I’ll include them all in one list this week since we don’t have too many to talk about.

ROY HELU (Redskins)
Could it be? Has Shanahan finally handed the lead back duties to his most productive back? It certainly seems that way, and Shanahan is at least saying what we’d expect him to say if he was going to give Helu his chance to shine.

At first glance, you’d still want to be skeptical about Helu’s chances, but Shanahan might as well see what Helu can do with consistent touches every week now that the Redskins have nothing to play for but next year. His quarterbacks aren’t going to win Washington any games down the stretch on talent alone.

Helu should have his chance to shine, and he should excel in his remaining favorable matchups with his involvement in the passing game. While he might never reach sure-thing RB2 status, Helu could be a strong flex option in the fantasy playoffs.

GREG LITTLE (Browns)
He finally found  pay dirt  in Week 12, and while he’s not likely to do that again…at all…the rest of the season, he is one of the most targeted receivers over the last few weeks. If Colt McCoy puts up a fight in the tough stretch the Browns are about to enter (and tries to convince the Browns that they already have their quarterback of the future), Little could finish the year on a high note. Little faces Arizona’s weak pass defense in Week 15. At the very least, he should be a useful fantasy backup if you need him then.

DAMIAN WILLIAMS (Titans)
I’m not a huge fan of the Titans passing game, but you can’t argue with a playoff schedule that includes the Bills, Saints, Colts, and Jaguars. Williams has been getting the looks that count in Tennessee for the past few weeks.

MARION BARBER (Bears)
The Bears will continue to run the ball even more than they have been to keep Caleb Hanie from losing games for them. As a result, Barber should be more reliable as a fantasy flex play. He’s been getting the touchdowns, and now he might get enough yardage to make it worth retaining him for the fantasy playoffs. If Matt Forte were to get hurt, Barber would be a great asset to have.

KYLE ORTON (Chiefs)
We can’t know for certain when he’ll take over in Kansas City, but Orton’s got a nice schedule when he does. If you’re looking for a QB2 who could potentially spot start for your team during the fantasy playoffs, Orton’s not a bad stash right now.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS D/ST
They play the Colts. That is all.

Thank you Murray much, Week 7 Pickups

If you were hurting for a tight end, Week 7 is the week to snatch one up off the waiver wire. Don’t sleep on these options.

Tight End Party

FRED DAVIS (Redskins)
With Chris Cooley shattering his finger (ouch) on Sunday, Davis stands to see a lot more passes his way in this Redskins’ offense. Assuming John Beck takes over, he may have less of a tendency to throw a cannon downfield like Rex Grossman was prone to do.

JAKE BALLARD (Giants)
The Giants found themselves a tight end this season. After two solid weeks of top-10 production, Ballard is a must-add for any tight end needy team. He’s on bye this week, which might make him more costly to grab in a popular bye week, but I believe he’ll be worth the sacrifice.

LANCE KENDRICKS (Rams)
An early-season sleeper of mine, Kendricks finally flipped the switch this week and had a nice game with 70+ yards. We, of course, would like to see more out of him before we buy-in completely again, but he’ll cost you a lot more to add once he goes off for a big game. We’ll have to see how Brandon Lloyd changes the passing game in St. Louis and how much of a drop it takes while A.J. Feeley fills in for Sam Bradford (high ankle sprain).

Rest of the Field

DEMARCO MURRAY (Cowboys)
Felix Jones will miss a few weeks with a high ankle sprain, and in his absence, Murray got the majority of carries. He’ll likely share time with Tashard Choice, but he faces a very nice schedule, starting with the Rams in Week 7.

CARSON PALMER (Bengals…RAIDERS!)
It looks like the Raiders have managed to pry Palmer out of the Bengals’ hands. While he’s faded as a starter in recent years, Palmer’s a big upgrade over Kyle Boller and possibly even an upgrade over Jason Campbell. We can’t be sure how he’ll do until we see him hit the field, but with Oakland’s receiving talents (Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore) are hitting their stride and a running game to take the pressure off him, Palmer could have immediate QB2 value. I’d stash him for now until we know the trade is final and until we see him in real game action.

GREG LITTLE (Browns)
He started for the first time on Sunday, and Colt McCoy targeted him plenty. While the Browns aren’t the most potent of offenses, it never hurts to own a team’s No. 1 guy.

JEROME SIMPSON (Bengals)
A.J. Green’s getting a lot of attention in Cincinnati, but Simpson’s had a couple of nice weeks as well. If you’re looking for a WR3 with upside, take a chance on Simpson.

ARRELIOUS BENN (Bucs)
Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams has been a disappointment thus far, as has the entire Bucs’ passing game. But Benn’s shown promise with the few touches he’s received. In the last two weeks, he scored big against the Saints and had another near touchdown negated by penalty. He had a quiet first few weeks as he was returning from his injury last season, but now his run after the catch ability looks 100 percent. If you’re looking for a WR3 on the rise, Benn’s looking like a nice grab. Just note that he’s a boom-bust guy. You’ll have to play matchups with him.

MARK CLAYTON / DANARIO ALEXANDER (Rams)
Brandon Lloyd’s arrival in St. Louis makes Mark Clayton’s return from the PUP a tad less exciting. It also demotes Danario Alexander to a specialty role again. Still, both receivers should find a way to have an impact, and the Rams schedule gets easier down the stretch. Clayton was Sam Bradford’s favorite target before his injury last season, but unfortunately, it’ll be A.J. Feeley under center for several weeks until Bradford’s back on the field. We can’t be sure who Feeley will favor, but it’s likely we see Lloyd and Clayton as the starters in St. Louis after a few weeks. Alexander, for now, is back to being a stash in redraft until we know how much he’ll see the field with these two back, but he’s still got a huge ceiling when he’s healthy.

DEMARYIUS THOMAS (Broncos)
With Lloyd moving on to the Rams, Thomas should become a starter alongside Eric Decker. He’s returning from a broken finger he suffered in the preseason. Thomas has had a hard time staying on the field, but his measurables make him a worthy gamble. I wouldn’t drop Eric Decker for him, but I’d gladly stash him and hope for the best if all other waiver wire options were taken.

Tim Tebowing is half the Battle in the Week 6 Pickups

The big names are Tim Tebow and Jackie Battle this week, but it’s really all about Tebow. He was a stud when he got the chance to start last season. Time for him to do it again.

This week’s pickups are listed in the order I’d try to acquire them. Feel free to ask any add/drop questions in the comments below.

Tim Tebow (Broncos)

He was the top quarterback in fantasy through the final weeks of last season because of his role as both quarterback and goal-line back for the Broncos. Now that he’s been named the starter, we can safely assume he’ll be a fantasy factor in Week 7 when the Broncos return from their bye.

He’s not quite in Cam Newton territory yet, but he’s close. Feel free to add him as a potential QB1.

Not to oversell here, but Tebow might be one of the last “season saving” waiver wire claims we see emerge from the free agent pool this season.

Ryan Torain (Redskins)

In case no one grabbed him last week while he was on bye, Torain’s the latest pick in the Shanahan running back lottery. If he doesn’t take over the lead back duties this week, all bets are off, but he was impressive two weeks ago before the Redskins entered the bye.

Picking up Torain is trusting Shanahan to stick with the hot hand.

Jackie Battle (Chiefs)

A big back with little going for him until his Week 5 opportunity, Battle could be the answer for the Chiefs at running back in Jamaal Charles’ absence. He’s nothing spectacular as far as skills go, but he’ll get the job done for the Chiefs when they are moving the ball through the air like they did in Week 5.

Don’t rush out to snag him, especially because he’ll be on bye in Week 6, but Battle looks like the back to own in Kansas City.

I’d trade him in a heartbeat if anyone offered anything of value for him. The Chiefs just aren’t going to get a lot of rushing yards this season, no matter who is doing the rushing.

Victor Cruz (Giants)

If he’s been wasting away on your waiver wire, don’t let that happen again.

Darrius Heyward-Bey (Raiders)

For two weeks, he’s looked like the wide receiver the Raiders drafted him to be. I still doubt he is, but you can’t just ignore two weeks of production. Denarius Moore is still the receiver I’d prefer to own in this offense, but take a chance on DHB if you’re looking for help in that department.

Steve Breaston (Chiefs)

The Chiefs broke out the passing attack in Week 5 against the Colts. Don’t expect it to be that easy for Matt Cassel against many other opponents, but when it is, he’s obviously got an eye for Breaston this season.

Alex Smith (49ers)

Nobody’s calling him a starting fantasy quarterback just yet, but Smith turned in a nice day in Week 5 and has spot-starter value moving forward. He could have more if Crabtree gets back to 100 percent health. Without Josh Morgan, Smith’s fantasy prospects might take a dip otherwise.

STASHES

Greg Little (Browns)

A sneaky play this week, Little became a starter during the Browns’ bye week. He was already seeing the most snaps before being named a starter, so this move likely means they’ll be focusing more on him in the offense. He’s the only Browns receiver I’d feel the need to own in standard leagues.

Damian Williams (Titans)

Williams is starting opposite Nate Washington, and he’ll share in those touches Kenny Britt used to receive now that Britt is on IR.

Doug Baldwin (Seahawks)

He’s making plays for the Seahawks, and that should keep him on the field. But I like him better when Charlie Whitehurst is under center than I do when Tarvaris Jackson returns.

Delone Carter / Donald Brown (Colts)

It isn’t pretty, but if Addai misses any time, these two would split carries. I have liked Carter as a sleeper and as the goal-line back in Indy, but he hasn’t shown the coaches anything to inspire confidence in him thus far this season. On the other hand, Brown’s already underwhelmed the coaching staff on multiple occasions.

If given the choice, I’d stash Carter.

Bernard Scott (Bengals)

It’s starting to look more and more hopeless to hold onto Scott for a chance to benefit when Cedric Benson’s suspension is finally enforced. If and when that suspension comes, Scott will still probably split time.

Unless you’re really desperate for the help, I wouldn’t hold onto Scott. You can reconsider grabbing him after his Week 7 bye for a potential start in Week 8 if we know Benson’s situation by then.

Jonathan Dwyer (Steelers)

He looked good in Week 5 and broke a big run, but Dwyer won’t see the ball much once Mendenhall’s healthy. Mendy’s expected to return this week, and that makes Dwyer a deep stash at best.