I’ve coined a new fantasy football term this season: “getting Shonn Greened.” Sadly, it’s to describe the miserable performance of my own fantasy team.
I drafted well, according to most rankings, guides, and general opinion, but my team manages, time and time again, to play down to my opponent. They underwhelm when everyone expects them to have a huge week, and they never text me to let me know ahead of time.
This week, the failings were all on my team. I lost because Larry Fitzgerald didn’t get the ball to break the plane against the 49ers Monday night on his fourth down dive…or because Dez Bryant was a fingertip too far into the endzone against the Giants when he came down with the game-winning pass.
Fingertips…I mean, what are they good for?
So needless to say, I expect my team to continue to underachieve and/or inspire my opponent to have his best game of the year. Trust that I’ll be getting Shonn Greened all season.
Week 9 Pickups
Considering that we’re halfway through the year, I’m dropping our usual format. Instead, I’ll just be listing a few names with the most important of those coming off the top. Skim through these names and add as you see fit.
This late in the season, you may be looking for stashes rather than immediate one-week plugins, so I leave the choice to you as to which of these guys is most worth adding on your roster.
The high priority pickups are names we’ve talked about previously. Jonathan Dwyer (Steelers RB) could hold onto the early down role in Pittsburgh despite the return of Rashard Mendenhall. The Rams expect Danny Amendola (Rams WR) to try returning to active duty this week, and I expect him to immediately become Sam Bradford’s favorite person ever. Titus Young (Lions WR), in his first game filling in for the injured Nate Burleson, scored twice. So if he wasn’t good enough you to pick him up last week, maybe he’s changed your mind.
Cecil Shorts (Jaguars WR) appears to be the No. 1 guy in Jacksonville and has a schedule worth watching the rest of the season. You might not like watching the Jaguars passing game, but Shorts has WR3 potential. While many of us forgot about Dustin Keller (Jets TE) while he was hurt, Mark Sanchez did not. As long as he’s the Jets’ quarterback, Keller will remain a big part of the passing game.
Josh Gordon (Browns WR) continues to receive the most looks in Cleveland. While he didn’t get in the endzone against the Chargers, you shouldn’t hold that against him. On the other hand, Ryan Broyles (Lions WR) made it to pay dirt for the second straight week. He’s no Titus Young, but if the Lions’ offense turns around, Broyles will retain his value as an important part of the offense near the goal line.
On the quarterback front, Josh Freeman (Bucs QB) has emerged as a solid bye week option with three straight three-touchdown weeks. This week, he gets to face the Raiders, who are still without their top corners.
There’s not a lot of talent emerging at this point in the season, but you might find a few names on the waiver wire who disappointed their owners early in the year. Jacquizz Rodgers (Falcons RB) logged his best game of the season in Week 8, but he may never live up to the hype he had coming into 2012. DeAngelo Williams (Panthers RB) would have value if traded, but it seems unlikely considering his hefty contract. LeGarrette Blount (Bucs RB) might see his number called before the trade deadline, but he’d have to land in Green Bay to have starter value.
I’ve been hearing all about how much Green Bay likes Steven Jackson (Rams RB) this week, but I’ve also been hearing that the Packers won’t be willing to part with the money it would take to bring a big name in to shore up their running game.
And lastly, Peyton Hillis (Chiefs RB) returned to the field this past week. Hillis had several good runs while the Chiefs were neglecting Jamaal Charles on Sunday. The Chiefs may mix him in more often to keep Charles healthy and add some kind of variety to their offense.
Whether it’s karma or the careful plotting of the rest of the league, Ruxin’s had a string of bad luck ever since he brought home the championship last season. He hits rock bottom in this, the last episode before the season finale.
It’s easy to say he had it coming. I mean, he ended last season with a “Suck it!” to the entire league and a reign of terror that darkened the skies of Chicago. Now, as his champion season comes an end, Ruxin’s been beat down, abused, and put in his place more than once.
With Pete and Ruxin both one loss away from playing in the Sacko Bowl, Pete hatches a noble scheme to bring an end to the guilt and suspicion they’ve had to deal with all season.
Pete decides to commit “Shivacide.”
If Pete loses, it doesn’t matter whether Ruxin wins or not. The two of them, due to tiebreakers, will have the two lowest records in the league, and Pete is confident he’ll best Ruxin in Week 16, assuring Ruxin will take home the Sacko.
From first to worst. The perfect end to Ruxin’s reign of terror.
While Kevin protests at first, such a selfless gesture cannot be ignored. After all, Kevin’s full of guilt about allowing the league to change the draft order after they drew Ruxin’s name first. So he agrees to allow “St. Pete” to make the great sacrifice for the good of the league.
But allowing this further transgression against Ruxin doesn’t clear Kevin’s conscience. After meeting with Pete, he decides to simulate an alternate league scenario based on the original draft order — a parallel universe where fairness mattered.
Much to his excitement, when the calculations are done, Kevin still would have made the playoffs with the original, correct draft order. This must just be his season, outside of that small incident last week.
But now that he knows the truth, Kevin’s put everyone at risk by creating evidence that the league colluded against Ruxin, a secret they’ve successfully hidden the entire season. At Pete’s urging, Kevin agrees that his notes on the alternate league scenario must be destroyed…as soon as they find them.
Not to be distracted from his distractions by fantasy football, Taco’s moving forward with his plans for Taco Corp. And by moving forward, I mean he’s actually making it a “Corp.” by incorporating it.
To do so, he needs Ruxin’s help, which Ruxin’s not very willing to provide until he sees that Taco has first priority on the waiver wire.
Knowing he could assure himself the chance to grab Felix Jones as long as Taco doesn’t put in a claim, Ruxin changes his tune and assumes his role as lawyer and longtime consigliere of Taco and Taco Corp. to go “business dinnering” with Taco at Obscura, the new downtown restaurant in complete darkness.
As if gropers needed a more accommodating setting.
The darkness of Obscura works in Pete and Kevin’s favor as they don night vision goggles in search of Kevin’s misplaced alternate league notes in the briefcase Taco stole for “business dinnering.”
They get in and out of Obscura without getting caught by Taco, Ruxin, or the blind host with a supernatural sense of smell, but the briefcase is full of nothing but Taco’s peppermints.
The search continues…
To liven things up in their playoff matchup, Kevin and Jenny decide to make a wager, and Kevin sets the terms — he wants to make another baby with Jenny if he wins. Can’t say that’s what I would have gone with.
Andre, fighting to stay relevant in his Sacko season, decides now is a good time to campaign to be everyone’s ICE, or emergency contact.
Alas, most of the league would rather Doak, the homeless guy who answers any walkie-talkie call on channel 6, be their emergency contact than admit on record that they’re that close to Andre.
Andre forces his way into Pete’s phone. And, of course, Pete is happy to abuse it by calling Andre to pick him up at Kevin’s house, fetch him beers, and worse until he sees fit to trade Andre to Taco in a package with Jason Witten.
It’s after this trade that Andre finally gets a proper opportunity to reciprocate. Pulled over for texting while driving when he was, in fact, making a last minute waiver wire addition before kickoff, Andre discovers that cops only get angry when you persistently ask them to help you decide whether to start Jabar Gaffney or Lance Moore.
With his car impounded, Andre’s forced to call Pete, who refers him to Taco, but Taco’s no help. He arrives via a ride from a girl he doesn’t even know with no money and no transportation to Pete’s house. So they walk.
On the plus side, Jason Witten gives Taco the points he needs to advance to the Shiva Bowl.
At Pete’s house, Ruxin arrives to learn that Pete is losing his matchup with only Mike Tolbert, the vulture, left to play. But the vulture is sick…and he hasn’t been seen since the first drive of the game. Kevin’s “sick vulture” sound is too much for Ruxin to take, and he runs away in tears.
But out of his anger, the evil rises.
Ruxin suspects that there must have been some sort of collusion going on for him to have failed so miserably. When Ruxin storms off to Ellie’s room and, in Ellie’s words, starts “being a real dick” to her frog, Ellie gives Ruxin several new reasons to flip the switch back to his dark side.
First, she hands him Kevin’s “hair pills,” also known as Propecia, and explains that he takes them everyday.
And second, she reveals her latest school project, a presentation board explaining why her daddy, Kevin, is her hero. On that board, she’s pasted the alternate league draft order and the playoff results Kevin calculated.
It’s hard to disagree with Kevin: “This is why I wanted a new kid. This one’s no good.”
With only minutes left in the last NFL game of the week and with Taco already a lock for the Shiva Bowl, Jenny has the lead over Kevin. It looks like it’s going to be Jenny facing Taco for the championship.
But as luck would have it, just as Kevin looks away to catch Jenny, falling off a ladder while decorating the tree, the Ravens D/ST gets an interception and takes it back to the house for a pick-six.
The point swing sends Kevin to the Shiva Bowl, and he Shiva Blasts after telling Jenny to “Suck it!” like a true gentleman.
His celebration, however, is short-lived.
Armed with Ellie’s project, clearly showing the treachery that the league committed against him to start the year, Ruxin will take no excuses. Ranting about how the entire season is null and void, he storms off spouting gibberish, eventually collapsing in the snow outside of Kevin’s house while trying to talk to Sofia on the phone, who just assumes it’s another dropped call.
His frozen Ruxin face suggests stroke. He’s barely even strong enough to resist mouth-to-mouth from Andre.
Is Ruxin…dead? Should we celebrate or cry?
Memorable quotes from Episode 12:
JENNY: “Did you just check the TV? While I’m choking?” KEVIN: “No, I, you know…there was just a little ticker at the bottom about LeGarrette Blount.”
KEVIN: “So strong when you’re angry.”
RUXIN: “The app I want for my phone is ‘Phone.’”
ANDRE [on dropped calls]: “All of a sudden everyone becomes a cell phone Columbo.”
ANDRE: “You blew up the house…” KEVIN: “You should call you ICE!” ANDRE: “I don’t have one.”
PETE: “I’ve decided to commit Shivacide.”
KEVIN: “Saint Peter.” PETE: “Bless you, my son.” KEVIN: “Lunch?”
PETE: “Andre, you accepted your own Facebook invitation to me?” ANDRE: “Yes, it was sitting there for ages.” PETE: “No, seven years.”
TACO: “…you remind me of a young me.” RUXIN: “You’re younger than me.”
RUXIN [to Taco]: “It’s like talking to a block of marble.”
TACO: “The crotchal region is not flattering, but it’s accurate.” KEVIN: “It’s inappropriate, is what it is.” TACO: “Are you upset about the bend? Look, that’s a MacArthur family tradition.” KEVIN: “No, it’s a lilt, first of all.” ANDRE: “Whoa! That’s a bend. Anything past 19 degrees is a bend. I can fix that if you want.” KEVIN: “No.” ANDRE: “Technically, that’s a medical emergency.” KEVIN: “You are never touching my dick again.” ANDRE: “You give me the sign, I’ll do it at night.”
TACO: “I gave it an extra inch…because it’s about hero worship, right?”
TACO: “Yeah, dicks: Great at drawing them. Balls: Not so much. Faces: Not at all.” KEVIN: “Why don’t you just concentrate a little more on faces?” TACO: “I still have a lot of work to do on dicks. But then again, I’m my harshest critic.”
TACO: “Last week, I business dinnered with Doak.” RUXIN: “Taco, business dinner is not a verb.” TACO: “Yes it is. Like ‘moonwalk’ or ‘karate’”
RUXIN: “I can pay, Taco. ‘Cause you’re basically a homeless person.”
TACO: “No, no, no, I’m used to being in the dark.”
COP: “Jabar sounds like a wizard to me.”
RUXIN: “If I keep making this finger, you think it’ll freeze this way, too.”
TACO: “I made a Cheerio fart.”
RUXIN: “Propecia? Is that why his hair goes halfway down his forehead like teen wolf?”
RUXIN: “Your daddy’s your hero? … You should aim higher like a low-end bookie or a spare tire.”
KEVIN: “You know, I did not set up this league to have a trophy end up with my wife’s name on it or as a bong in my attic.”
KEVIN: “This is why I wanted a new kid. This one’s no good.”
TACO: “I think we’re supposed to pee on him…Might not help, but it can’t hurt.”
It’s already Week 9. Week 9! That’s just four weeks away from the fantasy football playoffs for most of us. It’s time to start tightening up those rosters. As you exit your bye weeks, consider picking up extra running backs, wide receivers, and maybe a bang-or-bust fantasy playoff quarterback. These players could be the extra push you need to win in the playoffs, or they could do absolutely nothing for you. At least you’ll use your bench spots wisely.
When picking up free agents, you should also consider whether their current hype could get you a proven veteran with a great schedule for the fantasy playoffs. MJD, anyone?
Could Steve Johnson and your backup quarterback steal — if you got Big Ben at a discount, for example — land you MJD and a lesser receiver for Weeks 14-16? If it can, consider that deal.
If you’re a lock to make the playoffs, start planning your wins for Weeks 14-16. It’s that time. Now, on to the pickups.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Bucs
Get him? Got him? Good. I hope you’ve been listening to all the Blount I’ve been talking for weeks. He’s a starting running back the rest of the way on a winning team and getting a hefty, at least in Week 8, amount of carries with more than 20 touches.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills
He’s legit, and he seems to always find his way to the end zone. His size makes him the best Buffalo’s got when they get deep into enemy territory.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Colts
Is it fair that the Colts have a mini-Dallas Clark just waiting in the wings for a chance to play? No. But it is nice for Dallas Clark’s former fantasy owners.
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts
He’s working his way back into the offense in Indianapolis, but the absence of Austin Collie leaves the door wide open for him to contribute in a big way each week.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings
There’s a slim chance he’s available in your league since someone probably drafted him and held onto him all season, despite my best efforts to convince them to let him go. But if Rice is out there, he might be able to make an impact during the fantasy football playoffs now that Moss is out of Minnesota.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Raiders
It’s unlikely that he’ll repeat his Week 8 performance, but in a way, he’s all the Raiders have in the passing game. McFadden’s challenging the defenses to use additional blockers to stop the run, which should free things up for DHB if he can break the big one AND catch the ball. It’s harder than it looks for DHB.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings
Without Randy Moss, Brett Favre could turn back to his tight end. Shiancoe started off the season with two strong performances before falling off the map and becoming completely irrelevant after Moss’ arrival. If Favre can still be effective with his injuries, both physically and to his ego, Shiancoe could become the Vikings best red zone target. But that’s could become, not will, until we see the Vikings passing game come back to life post-Moss.
Troy Smith, QB, 49ers
Maybe the 49ers just started the season with the wrong Smith under center. Smith threw for one touchdown and ran for another in his London debut. He’s on a bye this week, but as long as he keeps the starting job when he returns, he’ll face the Rams, Bucs and Cardinals before he hits a harder stretch against the Packers, Seahawks, and Chargers.
Brandon Tate, WR, Pats
It was Tate, not Deion Branch, who made the big plays on Sunday. Branch was dealing with an injury, but the spark that Tate provided won’t go unnoticed. Maybe those who wrote off Tate after the Patriots acquired Branch spoke too soon. While unreliable, Tate should be owned in deep leagues. But until he gets more attention from Tom Brady, I’d hold off on starting him.
Derek Anderson, QB, Cardinals
Arizona turned to the veteran again on Sunday after Max Hall failed to get the offense moving. With Anderson under center, the Cardinals looked a little bit like a shadow of their former selves — just a little bit. Assuming Anderson gets the start next week, he’d be a fine stash. The schedule gets much brighter for the Cardinals the rest of the way. They play the Broncos, Panthers, and Cowboys in Weeks 14-16, typically fantasy playoffs.
Razzball suggests a few team defense plays in addition to the usual waiver wire suspects in this week’s Waivering Wire
The Big Lead digs deep at every position in their Week 9 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Blount Trama and recommends jumping on the Tarvaris Jackson train if Brett Favre finally goes down. But that man is like a cockroach — nothing keeps him from starting.
There are a few head-scratchers in this mix. So don’t get too excited on the waiver wire, but here are a few of the week’s top performers.
David Garrard, QB, Jaguars: 260 yards, 4 TDs, 1 fumble, 2 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD vs. Cowboys
Unfortunately, you can’t trust Garrard. Ever. He’ll have a game like this against the now-quitting Cowboys and follow it up with a stinker against a pitiful defense. If this performance convinces any owner to pay a decent price for his services, SELL SELL SELL.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: 9 catches for 101 yards, 3 TDs vs. Redskins
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: 212 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT vs. Redskins
A huge fantasy day for these two young Lions’ stars made plenty of owners happy. The good news: Stafford should keep getting the ball to Megatron on a regular basis. Shaun Hill was putting up numbers like a top fantasy quarterback until he went down, and Stafford is more talented. Next week against the Jets, the Lions will face a greater challenge, but Stafford’s a clear must-own the rest of the way.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots: 112 yards, 2 TDs, 1 catch for 11 yards vs. Vikings
Just when we thought Danny Woodhead was the back you wanted to own in the Patriots’ offense, they change things up and go back to the “Law Firm” (BenJarvus Green-Ellis). It’s impossible to know what Belichick is thinking, but those in need can take a chance on Green-Ellis until the next Belichick tinkering hands off the ball to someone else.
He’s capable of much more if only he didn’t have to share the rock with Thomas Jones. Maybe this lack of opportunity is all to keep Charles fresh for the playoffs, but it’s got to be incredibly frustrating for Charles and his fantasy owners. He’s bound to see increased touches as the season goes on. Haley’s got to be thinking the same, right?
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos: 7 catches for 169 yards, 1 TD vs. 49ers
It’s always good to see your studs get back on track. Lloyd put together another amazing performance in this one after a couple of quiet weeks. Clearly, Orton only has eyes for Lloyd in this offense, and that’s a good thing for all the Lloyd owners out there.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans: 102 yards, 1 TD, 9 catches for 65 yards vs. Colts
Speaking of back on track, this stat line was not quite as amazing as Foster’s last performance against the Colts, but he didn’t disappoint any owners. Foster should keep on rolling unless he gets injured enough to give way to Derrick Ward.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Bucs: 120 yards, 2 TDs vs. Cardinals
I told you that you shouldgrab him. Now, it’s probably too late. It looks like Blount will be the workhorse running back for the Bucs from here on out.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jags: 8 catches for 153 yards, 1 TD vs. Cowboys
With Garrard returning to the field, Sims-Walker returned to fantasy relevance. His owners have to hope this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship — between their Sims-Walker and the end zone. But keep in mind that Marcedes Lewis remains in the mix when the Jags get in the red zone, and he scored twice on Sunday against the Cowboys. His emergence as a touchdown machine will hurt Sims-Walker’s production all season long.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: 6 catches for 72 yards, 2 TDs vs. Bucs
Yes, he’s alive.
Dan Carpenter, K, Dolphins: 5/5 FGs, 1 XP vs. Bengals
A kicker among the scoring leaders? It seems to happen every week. The Dolphins’ Carpenter has a great leg, if you’re looking for that kind of thing. It’s just hard to get excited about fantasy kickers.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Raiders: 5 catches for 105 yards, 1 TD vs. Seahawks
DHB was really the only Raiders’ receiving target left standing this week, and with no one to compete with for catches, he actually did something. His Week 8 performance showed us what he’s capable of if the stars align and if he catches the ball. More to come? To be determined. But he’s worth a grab as stash/sleeper play going into Week 9. The Raiders are likely to keep Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens out until after their bye week in Week 10.
The pain continues. We lost a lot of good men out there.
If you were already struggling to replace Jermichael Finley (like me) or fill the hole left by Dallas Clark (like me), I hope that you weren’t also relying on Tony Romo (again…like me) who is now out for the rest of the fantasy season. He may be back in time to play two games when most of us are in the fantasy playoffs, but that will only happen if — and that’s a big if — the Cowboys are in still in the running to make the playoffs. Plenty would have to break their way for that to happen.
Look at your quarterback’s schedule right now. If he fapicapces the Giants at any point this season, it’s time to strengthen your backup quarterback position. The New York Giants have already knocked five quarterbacks out of games this year after taking out Romo on Monday Night Football, and they’ll continue to attack.
Make sure you hang on to Kevin Kolb. Vick will face the Giants in Week 11.
If you a Favre owner, you might as well jump on the new quarterback bandwagon as well. Old Favre-ful hasn’t been putting up the numbers he did last season, and he looked terrible on Sunday night against his old team. His ankle can only get more fractured. Without a bye week in his future, I have to say it’s all downhill from here. Take a stab at adding one of these “Romo replacement” quarterbacks before the Romo owner does.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Detroit quarterbacks have been the unsung heroes of fantasy through the first part of the year. Until the Giants knocked Shaun Hill out, he was keeping up with the elite of the quarterback class. Stafford, in case you forgot him, is the starter in Detroit, which implies that he’s even better than Shaun Hill, the backup. This week, he gets to play the 31st ranked pass defense in Washington. This could be the beginning of a beautiful quarterback savior-ship.
Jon Kitna, QB, Dallas Cowboys
The most immediate gainer from Tony Romo’s injury, Kitna is now in control of the offensive weapons in Dallas. This group is the most talented that Kitna has ever had at his disposal, but he’s also probably past his prime as a quarterback. Time will tell what he’s able to do with Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Dez Bryant, Felix Jones…and the less than stellar offensive line that the Cowboys have struggled to work behind this season. At least this week he gets the Jaguars, which shouldn’t pose much of a challenge. If you can’t get your hands on Stafford, go get Kitna as a safe alternative.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo Bills
Fitzpatrick seems to have emerged as a consistent fantasy starter. He’s had 20 fantasy points or more (standard scoring with 6-point passing touchdowns) in his last three games, and he somehow managed to throw four touchdowns against the Ravens formidable pass defense — and two against the Jets. As long as the Bills continue to play from behind, Fitzpatrick will have value, and as I said in the Scoring Leaders post this week, he could rise to fantasy fame just like Tyler Thigpen did under Chan Gailey’s system in Kansas City not too long ago. But if you take a chance on Fitzpatrick, know that he’s a candidate to fall off a fantasy cliff at any moment, as the Bills are apt to do. He has his doubters. So while he’s doing well now (and you should ride it while you can), he’s a riskier pickup this week than someone like Kitna or Henne. I’d still take that chance. If you’re a gambler, you could even go with Fitz over Kitna.
Troy Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have passed over David Carr just like the fantasy gods did and named Troy Smith the starter for Week 8. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. As long as Alex Smith is held out with his separated shoulder (2-3 weeks) and maybe even after, Smith will be worth owning. And Singletary must have seen something he liked in Smith since they acquired him in order to jump him over Carr, the backup quarterback, to be the starter and to be bold enough to go into Week 8 with just two healthy quarterbacks, Carr and Smith, on the active roster. In the next four weeks, San Francisco faces Denver, a bye week, and then St. Louis and Tampa Bay. If Smith performs well in Week 8, the 49ers could adjust their offense over the bye and go into Week 10 with Troy Smith as the official starter, keeping the job even after Alex Smith is back to 100 percent. Just saying, it could happen. The 49ers have talented receiving weapons in Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and Frank Gore, who catches plenty of passes out of the backfield, and Alex Smith was putting up serviceable numbers before his injury.
Chad Henne, QB, Miami Dolphins
Henne’s not going to come close to the elite most weeks, but he’s doing plenty of passing in Miami right now. He may not be on the waiver wire, but if he is available, I’d slot him behind Stafford, Fitzpatrick, and Kitna as a guy to target to replace Romo or Favre. And I think I’d rather start Henne than Matt Cassel, who just doesn’t inspire confidence in me yet.
Other Romo replacement considerations: Matt Cassel (QB-Chiefs), Josh Freeman (QB-Bucs), Sam Bradford (QB-Rams), and Matt Moore (QB-Panthers)
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Blount got his fair share of carries this week against the Rams with Earnest Graham injured and Kareem Huggins out for the season, and he made good use of them. Tampa Bay’s coaches now say he’ll be splitting time with Cadillac Williams in the backfield, and he’s started to pick up the blitz well enough to protect Josh Freeman. Make sure you get your hands on him now before he takes over the entire Bucs rushing attack. Cadillac isn’t going to put up much of a fight with his age and past injuries weighing him down.
Danny Woodhead, RB, New England Patriots
I’ve mentioned him before, so why haven’t you gotten him yet? He’s now an integral part of the Patriots’ offense, and he’s worth owning, especially in PPR leagues. His slow day against the Chargers may have led owners to dump him, but I think he’ll get back on track.
James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers
Donald Driver finally seems to be slowing down, and Jones is ready to take his role and run with it. Like the Colts, if you can get a piece of the Packers’ offense, you want it.
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Reports of his “tweak” this weekend seem to be false, and all signs point to Gonzalez returning to the Colts roster this weekend, just in time to replace an injured Austin Collie. He should start ahead of Blair White if things go as planned, but be sure to check his status later in the week to make sure he’s playing. Without Dallas Clark, the Colts’ wide receivers should receive some extra attention from Peyton Manning for the rest of the season.
Blair White, WR, Indianapolis Colts
If Gonzalez doesn’t go, he’s your guy. Collie’s out, and White was able to jump straight into this offense as soon as he was signed from the practice squad. He should hold value until Austin Collie returns or Anthony Gonzalez unseats him. But this kid has staying power. As a walk-on in college, he eventually rose to team captain.
Steve Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills
If you believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick, believe in Steve Johnson. Other than Lee Evans, who had a huge week, Johnson has benefited the most from Buffalo’s rejuvenated passing attack. And he’s getting into the end zone consistently.
Mike Williams, WR, Seattle Seahawks
The big guy in Seattle has shown enough to be trusted after two games of 10+ points, and he’s got a nice schedule the rest of the way with Matt Hasselbeck.
Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers
What? The Packers are finally letting him run with it? So they are. If you’re still holding onto Jackson from earlier in the season, keep him. If someone in your league dumped him after his weak first half of the year, go get him. As the weather turns in Green Bay, he could turn into a reliable fantasy option to end the season. Just like I said about James Jones, if you can get a piece of this Packers offense, you want it.
David Gettis, WR, Carolina Panthers
The rookie wideout landed on a lot of fantasy radars this week with his two-touchdown performance and with Matt Moore returning under center. Steve Smith will continue to receive most of the defensive attention, which could open up the other side of the field for Gettis, but I’d like to see him do it one more time before I rely on him. He’s a stash with great potential now that this offense is moving with Moore.
Dexter McCluster, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Chambers is out, and it seems McCluster is in. He’s finally being used in this offense, so it’s time to join the bandwagon. I don’t put much faith in Matt Cassel, but with the way the Chiefs are running the football and playing defense, surely he can manage a few plays in the passing game, especially with that nice schedule.
Chester Taylor, RB, Chicago Bears
I’m not too high on him, but he gets an upgrade this week with the Bears saying he’ll be handling goal-line duties moving forward. I agree with FF Toolbox that this probably doesn’t hurt Forte much. It just makes Taylor an interesting stash or wait-and-see guy when the Bears come out of their bye week.
Don’t forget about a few wait-and-see players I’ve named in past weeks: Danario Alexander (WR-Rams), James Starks (RB-Packers), and Arrelious Benn (WR-Bucs), just to name a few.
More waivering and wiring from around the fantasy football Web-u-verse…
Week 6 dropped a few gifts into our lap as a result of recent injuries and trades, which comes at a very opportune time in the midst of bye weeks
I normally do a little digging on players I list on the waiver wire in order to assess their potential. Sometimes I share a little tidbit of this info, but I rarely go into great detail. In one case today, I think it’s necessary, so I went the extra mile on the Rams latest prospect. I think you’ll see that the background of this wideout makes him an even more appealing grab than his stat line on Sunday would attest.
You may not have seen the Rams’ game on Sunday, but I think this is name you’ll want to remember.
Danario Alexander, WR, St. Louis Rams
Let me introduce you to Mr. Alexander, the actual beneficiary of Mark Clayton’s absence who stole our hearts Sunday with four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Alexander had an injury-plagued college career at Missouri, which included two ACL surgeries and a wrist surgery, but when he was able to stay on the field for his entire senior season, he amassed 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns and had the most receiving yards per game in FBS football in 2009. [Source: Wikipedia]
Unfortunately, Alexander suffered another injury the week of the Senior Bowl and had to have surgery in February 2010, which prevented him from showing his skills to any pro teams prior to the 2010 NFL Draft.
So, with concerns about his heatlh, he went undrafted, but the Rams thought enough of him to bring Alexander in and develop him as a project. When he didn’t make the team due to his health, the Rams placed him on the practice squad to rest up and continue to devlop for the long-term.
After the final roster cuts, Alexander began the year on the practice squad and worked on strengthening his left leg. The problem wasn’t the left knee per se, the one that has been operated on four times. It was atrophy in the muscles around that knee — particularly the quad muscle. The left quad was smaller than the right, and the fear was that Alexander might suffer an injury compensating.
It just so happened that his left leg size, measured by the St. Louis staff throughout his recovery, got up to par with his right leg just this week and just in time for him to contribute in the absence of Mark Clayton, who was knocked out for the season with an knee injury in Week 5.
Of note, the Rams signed Alexander to the active roster prior to Week 6 with a four-year deal. That’s pretty good for someone who wasn’t even drafted and unusual for a guy signed off the practice squad. But it just reveals how much the Rams want to hold onto this guy. They may not have given him much money, but they’re fully invested in making him a part of this young franchises budding offense.
His impressive, out-of-nowhere day gives us some idea of what he’s capable of as a top target for Sam Bradford. He’s got the physical tools that no other Rams’ wide receiver can offer — size and speed. He’s on par with Jahvid Best in the speed department.
Some fantasy owners might shy away from him because this was just one performance…by a rookie…against a Chargers defense that was unprepared for him. The defense had no film on him. (They certainly do now.)
But I’m not afraid to go after Alexander on the waiver wire this week, even with reports that his knee was a little sore after the game. He’s the potential No. 1 on an offense that throws the ball a lot more than any of us expected the Rams to this year. He’s shown a commitment to the game and his craft as a receiver, and he’s won the favor of his coaches enough for them to shove him straight into the first-team offense off of the practice squad.
If he starts looking like the Danario Alexander that scored 14 touchdowns in 2009 for Missouri, I want a piece of that. So Danario Alexander is my No. 1 recommendation off the waiver wire this week.
If you need a WR3 with WR2 upside, go get him. He could be the Sidney Rice of 2010.
Danny Woodhead, WR/RB, New England Patriots
I mentioned Woodhead just before the Patriots went on bye when the Jets’ favorite little running back first became a part of the Patriots’ offense. After the bye week and with the Randy Moss-less offense, he looks to be an every week contributor for the Pats. As an added bonus, depending on which site you use to manage your league, you may be able to take advantage of him as a wide receiver. I’d take Woodhead over most WR3s on the board so go get him if no one else has discovered this loophole yet.
Chris Ivory, RB, New Orleans Saints
He ran hard on Sunday, possibly hard enough to earn a role even after Pierre Thomas returns. Clearly, he’s the best back to own in New Orleans until then, but don’t count on him to be a factor all season long. Ivory will have to learn how to share with both Thomas and Reggie Bush when they are both back to 100 percent.
Deion Branch, WR, New England Patriots
Did you see Belichick run over to hug Branch after the game? It seems that Brady and Belichick really wanted Branch. They love Branch, and while he might not score every week, he should remain a pivotal part of this New England offense. We know New England’s game plan changes every week, but Branch should be owned in every league. He looks like a great WR3 to start for the rest of the season.
Nate Burleson, WR, Detroit Lions
It never hurts to play second fiddle to Calvin Johnson, and we know the Lions are going to be playing from behind a lot this season and forced to throw. Burleson is a decent WR3 and borderline WR2 for the rest of the year as long as he keeps taking advantage of his opportunities by getting in the end zone.
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers
The Packers felt comfortable rolling with what they had at running back after Ryan Grant went on IR because they knew Starks was on his way back to the active roster. He still needs time to work his way into the offense, but if you’re hurting at running back, you might as well stash him now. He may not unseat Brandon Jackson for the starting job, but he could end up stealing touches and fantasy points from the Green Bay ground game. There aren’t a lot of those to go around the way the Packers have been passing the ball this season.
Before you go grabbing Starks to put on your bench, make sure you grab the “instant gratification” stashes first like LeGarrette Blount.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Speaking of Blount, I mentioned him so I might as well note that Kareem Huggins and Earnest Graham were injured in Week 6. The door is wide open for Blount to contribute on the field against the Rams in Week 7, and I don’t think that Cadillac will stop him from carving out a role in this offense once he gets started. The only potential setback for Blount is that he still needs to learn how to pick up the blitz and protect Josh Freeman.
Derrick Ward, RB, Houston Texans
Arian Foster, you have been Kubiak-ed. The Texans coach now says Ward has earned a larger role in the offense moving forward. That probably just means a few touches here and there, but he will get the chance to score every now and then like he did on Sunday. Pick him up if you own Foster or if you just another warm body at running back.
More fantasy football waiver wire goodness from around the Web:
This week changed my opinions about a few of the guys I recommended last week (Torain, Benn), and we had some breaking news with Marshawn Lynch’s move to Seattle. I think I’m more excited that all the rumors about Lynch being traded or not being traded will stop.
If you’re looking to fill some empty or useless spots on your roster this week, I also have some nice speculative pickups worth reserving on your roster right now in hopes that they turn into fantasy gold.
Ryan Torain, RB, Washington Redskins
He was on last week’s waiver wire, but I like Torain much better now. I was reluctant to push for Torain last week because Mike Shanahan cannot be trusted when it comes to running backs. But since last week, the Redskins have cut Keiland Williams, the other young back in Washington, and Clinton Portis has injured his hamstring. As long as Portis sits out, Torain is the guy in Washington, and you can feel pretty good about starting him. The Packers aren’t a pushover this week, but the Redskins face the Colts (YES!), Bears (OK, not so good), and the Lions (oh, so nice!) throughout the rest of October.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Another one from last week — don’t forget about Blount just because the Bucs were on bye last week. If your league left him on the wire, go get him now. The Bucs admitted this week that they need to reduce Cadillac Williams’ role and mix in both Blount and preseason all-star Kareem Huggins. According to that report, that split will include using Huggins mostly for passing-down work:
Whereas Blount may be used primarily in short yardage and goal line situations against the Bengals, Huggins’ role is likely to be on third down or to provide an explosive play utilizing his speed.
I still prefer Blount in this RBBC situation because I feel that he has the most long-term potential. Huggins is coming off a hamstring injury, and we’ve seen how other change-of-pace backs have struggled to find a role in this league. But you can hedge your bet on Blount this week by also picking up Kareem Huggins. At this point, it might even be safe to drop Cadillac to pick up both Huggins and Blount. He’s clearly past his prime, and I don’t think he’ll be making the big plays for the Bucs moving forward.
Michael Bush, RB, Oakland Raiders
Both Darren McFadden and depth running back Michael Bennett injured hamstrings this past week. That opens the door wide for preseason darling Michael Bush to return in a big way as he’s recovered from his hand injury. McFadden has been running very well for the Raiders, but his injury history makes it unlikely that they’ll push him to go, even if this hammy injury isn’t as bad. I like his chances to do well during this stretch and win a larger chunk of the carries once McFadden returns to full strength.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Buffalo Bills
We’ve heard plenty of rumors about where Lynch would end up or if he would be traded at all. The Bills finally got a deal done today, and they sent Lynch to Seattle for a fourth round pick and a conditional pick. Lynch should complicate things in Seattle, where Justin Forsett was getting most of the work, but the Seahawks did let Julius Jones go, at last. Lynch should be the top dog and, therefore, have the most opportunity out of all the Seahawks’ running backs, but as I said on Twitter, I don’t know how much better this situation is for his fantasy value. The Seahawks’ offensive line is not much better than the Bills’ line, and the quarterback play is only sometimes better in Seattle. At least we know he won’t be thrown back into the RBBC doghouse that he was in and out of in Buffalo. He’s a starting NFL running back once again, and it’s never bad to have a few of those on your fantasy roster.
Want speculative pickups? Sure, I got those…
Max Hall, QB, Arizona Cardinals
I just feel like Max Hall has to be better than Derek Anderson. If nothing else, he gets Larry Fitzgerald to throw to. But Hall is the reason the Cardinals decided to pull the trigger on releasing Matt Leinart, and he outplayed both Leinart and Anderson in the preseason. Why not give him a shot? This could be his time. There are worse speculative pickups at quarterback this week. He could turn into a low-end QB2.
Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams
Lots of love for Sam Bradford around the Interweb this week and a nice profile and prediction at Roto Arcade. But he’s still a rookie, and he’s faced fairly weak opponents. I remember how excited everyone got about Mark Sanchez last year until he fell apart against tougher defenses. So I’ll hold off on endorsing him as anything more than a low-end QB2, even though he does get the Lions this week.
Mike Bell, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
If LeSean McCoy can’t go, Mike Bell will get the call, but there are better options out there if you’re looking for something long-term.
Tiquan Underwood, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Mike Thomas has been productive in Mike Sims-Walker’s absence (and by absence, I mean lack of catches), but Underwood is the wide receiver that intrigues me right now. Thomas is likely on many a roster right now. But Underwood was getting some good reviews last season as the understudy to Torry Holt, then with the Jags, and he caught all the important passes on the Jags final drive. Let’s play back those final minutes:
After his big return, Underwood had a pass from David Garrard fall incomplete. On the very next play he caught a 6-yarder, then followed with a 22-yard 3rd-down reception on which he tight-roped the sideline before stepping out at the 41.
Garrard’s next pass was almost intercepted, but Underwood stripped the ball and kept the Jags dream alive. Sims-Walker first broke onto the Jags passing scene by catching the third-down balls for Garrard, but it seems that Underwood now has that trust, which would explain why Underwood may be getting snaps instead of Sims-Walker. Consider Underwood a speculative pickup and keep an eye on him and Thomas.
Arrelious Benn, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m backing off Benn, who was in last week’s waiver wire recs, now that the Bucs have come out to say he won’t actually take over the starting job right away post-bye week, but keep your eye on him. He could easily be the starter in a couple of weeks.
It’s been three weeks. Time to take a long hard look at your team and the “sleepers” you chose on draft day. If they haven’t woken up yet, chances are that they aren’t going to wake up anytime soon.
On the waiver this week, there are several running backs to take a chance on, but here are a few I think could have some real long-term value. Let these be your new sleepers.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you want a shot at another starting running back, Blount is my pick this week. He’s big, he’s young, and he’s got burst. Those are three things that the Bucs’ current starter, Cadillac Williams no longer has. Blount is my favorite player on this list.
Blount started the season with the Titans running behind Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer, and there was talk of them keeping him on the team for the regular season. But when it came time to cut down the roster, he didn’t make it and, instead, ended up in Tampa Bay. We can only hope whatever he picked up from the Titans running attack came with him.
We know he came with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. You may have heard of him already because he kind of decked a guy in the face back in college at Oregon. So he gets a B- in discipline, but that checkered past could motivate him to prove that he can handle a starting role in the NFL and that those who overlooked him on draft day made a mistake.
Kareem Huggins got all the preseason hype, and there was enough confidence in him as a runner for the Bucs to let Derrick Ward go this preseason. But a hamstring injury has kept Huggy sidelined all season. He’s also a smaller runner, not immediately seen as someone who could carry a full load for a team like the Bucs, a team that must run the ball with power in order to keep more explosive, experienced offenses off the field.
I am not one to immediately write a guy off for being a small running back, but just given the current state of the run game in Tampa, I’d rather bet on Blount than Huggy going forward. Blount is healthy and ready to contribute. Plus, he’s got one nice showing against the Steelers defense under his belt going into a bye week.
Earnest Graham can take carries here and there, and Cadillac won’t fade into the night. But the Bucs want to get younger at every position with a young quarterback and two rookie receivers. They’ll get young at running back, too, and right now, Blount is their best option.
Stash him on your bench now, and hope for the best when the Bucs come back from their bye Week 5 to take on the Bengals.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Cleveland Browns
I mentioned him earlier this season on the waiver wire, and he makes this list today after having a historical performance, 100+ yards against the Ravens.
We heard about the Browns offensive line this offseason, but Jerome Harrison wasn’t able to take advantage of their skills during the early part of this season. Without him in the mix, Hillis proved he could.
He’s run well during his time and in Denver, and his skills as a rusher and pass-catcher have come to be appreciate in Cleveland as well.
No one can say for sure, but Hillis might have just earned himself the job as the No. 1 back in Cleveland for the rest of the season. That may not be a huge value, but a starter is a starter in this league.
Ryan Torain, RB, Washington Redskins
Shanahan’s prized, “prodigal son” prospect has returned to him, and he’s actually getting playing time.
In Denver, Torain showed promise in several games before a knee injury landed him on IR and then off the roster post-Shanahan. Lost in the shuffle of the 2005 All-Star backfield Shanahan brought together in Washington, Torain was cut alongside Willie Parker before the regular season, but now he’s back.
Rumor has it that the Redskins have more confidence in Torain carrying the full load than Keiland Williams, who was backing up Clinton Portis since the Redskins cut Larry Johnson. And the Redskins last-minute sign-and-play of Torain in Week 3 seems to suggest that the rumor is true.
Keep in mind that Shanahan is Shanahan, so this backfield won’t be reliable each week. But for now, it looks like Torain is the guy you want. He’ll be in demand on the waiver wire.
For the record, I haven’t given up on Keiland Williams either. So if you miss out on Torain this week and want to play the Shanny sweepstakes, Williams ain’t a bad bet either. He was, after all, important enough to stay on the roster when Torain got cut to start the year.
One thing I know for sure: Anyone could be the next big rushing star when Shanahan’s running things.
Other backs who could have an impact later this year:
Bernard Scott, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: Cedric Benson’s backup should be more than that this season. The Bengals want to work him in more as a larger part of the offense and a speedy complement to Benson’s pounding style. Benson hasn’t been the dominating back he was last season, but don’t expect Scott to take the job over full-time unless Benson is injured.
Javon Ringer, RB, Tennesee Titans: The Titans have admitted that they need to get Ringer more involved in the offense so that Chris Johnson can remain healthy, happy and dominating all season long and for many years to come. It remains to be seen how many carries he’ll get, but in the right matchup, Ringer could be a flex play. For now, he’s simply a handcuff to Johnson and a long-term investment for the rest of the season.
Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens: He’s no spring chicken, but McGahee’s been getting touches even while Ray Rice was healthy. No that Rice has banged up his knee, McGahee could have an expanded role, especially short-term but possibly long-term as the Ravens try to keep Rice healthy for the playoffs and maximize the stable of running backs they have on the roster, also including LeRon McClain.
If you’re hard up for a running back who could become a “smelling of rich mahogany” big deal by year’s end, these backs are my current picks. Stash ‘em now. Thank me later.