Matchups has it all.
Certified advice from Keepers says you can start Eli Manning this week and dislikes Antonio Brown’s chances against Joe Haden. Does Haden have an island yet?
Corny title. Check.
It’s never fun when you lose your stud quarterback — or any stud for that matter — this close to the playoffs. It hurts.
But those unfortunate enough to lose Aaron Rodgers to injury can take solace in the wealth of quarterback options that have emerged to take his place. If you aren’t in one of those horrible deep bench leagues, you probably have a shot at making a run without your main mustachioed man.
I normally try to add notes about FAAB, or free agent acquisition budget, spending limits for each player, but this week, it’s really up to you.
There aren’t too many more weeks for you to play it conservative. It’s time to go big…or stay home while someone else goes to the fantasy football playoffs. I’ll suggest the minimum amount you probably need to acquire a player, but you can spend your whole bank if you have the conviction. Don’t let your favorite players end up on another roster. It’ll be doubly bad to see them started against you in these final, critical weeks.
So let’s get to it. Continue reading
Forgive me for the punny title. I didn’t get a lot of sleep this weekend, and I think I’m still operating on Oakland time.
But that said…don’t you want four time slots of NFL football EVERY Sunday? Personally, I loved being able to go straight into another one after Sunday Night Football wrapped up, even if I did lose a little sleep. Honestly, I’d probably enjoy it if Roger Goodell taped my eyelids open and sat me in front of the TV for 48 full hours of NFL action.
For the receiver needy, your prayers may have been answered this week as a few young options emerged and could be ascending to the top of the ranks. Continue reading
Yes, yes. We never got to pickups this week. But if it’s any consolation, we didn’t have much to work with. Danny Woodhead is stashed in many a league and has been mentioned previously. Rashad Jennings isn’t exactly exciting.
Zac Stacy makes for a sneaky play or stash this week as he could potentially get the majority of carries for the Rams this week. And Justin Blackmon returns from suspension to save the day if Blaine Gabbert can deliver him a pass.
It’s getting too late in the season to be reading this unless you’ve already got a playoff spot. I hope you do. But if you’re reading this with no hope of making it to the big dance, I commend you.
So what if your team imploded early in the season? You made a commitment to play 13 weeks, and I respect that. The best thing you can do when your team disappoints you early in the year is to keep making moves and improving your roster. Maybe those wins don’t matter down the stretch, but there’s nothing like knocking someone out of the playoffs when you have no shot of getting there yourself.
The best leagues have teams that remain competitive every year.
Not to mention, you’re only going to get better if you practice, practice, practice at making moves and building a team that can compete. By playing out your full string of games, you’ll figure out what you did wrong.
So what did we do wrong last week?
Knowshon Moreno was the surprise starter and workhorse back for the Broncos Sunday. While Ronnie Hillman is the explosive rookie, we all must have forgotten John Fox loves his vets.
Moreno does a better job of protecting the Broncos’ biggest asset on offense, Peyton Manning, so he’ll be getting most of the work in Willis McGahee‘s stead. Readjust your waiver claims and go all-in for Moreno. He’s no RB1, but decent yardage and the occasional score is totally on the radar. He’s a RB2 in the right matchups (and assuming Hillman doesn’t get anything more than a few touches per game moving forward).
Bryce Brown hit the fantasy football world in the mouth Monday night with a two-touchdown performance against the Panthers.
While he’s only the Eagles’ starter until LeSean McCoy returns, it sounds like McCoy could be out for an extended period of time. He still hasn’t passed Phase 1 of the concussion tests, which places him behind Michael Vick in terms of who’ll return to the field first.
In his place, Brown showed us he’s got RB1 ability, and he might even keep some of that workload if/when McCoy comes back. Go all in with any leftover FAAB you got stashed if you need a temporary RB2 with RB1 upside.
Since Andre Brown is out of the year, David Wilson should be back on your radar. He’ll be Ahmad Bradshaw‘s reliever for the next few weeks with a chance to start when Bradshaw eventually injures himself enough to miss time. But knowing how the Giants’ coaches feel about Wilson, they may bring in veteran depth if that happened.
And Jalen Parmele‘s time in the sun has passed. His groin injury sent him to IR this week and left us with the utterly disappointing Rashad Jennings. Claim ’em if you gotta.
Outside of these shifts in the running back pecking order, there’s a whole collection of young wide receivers to stash if you need some receiver depth for the playoffs. Tops among them are Ryan Broyles and Chris Givens. I tend to like Broyles more because he’s shown playmaking ability all over the field and should remain a starter next to Megatron for the rest of the year. But Givens has a beauty of a schedule. Both could be WR3s or decent WR2s the rest of the way.
After Broyles and Givens, there’s Mohamed Sanu, the slow but sure-handed compliment to A.J. Green these past few weeks. He’s quietly making his living in the end zone and doing it well. Standard-scoring leagues take note, and PPR leagues should stash him for depth as he could continue his hot streak in the playoffs. He has WR2 upside when he’s scoring every week.
The options are a little more risky after that. T.Y. Hilton was explosive on Sunday, but he’s hard to trust while still splitting time with Donnie Avery.
Jarius Wright will fill in while Percy Harvin remains sidelined, but Kyle Rudolph seems to benefit more than Wright from Harvin’s absence.
In Week 12, we find ourselves with a good supply of new faces. Injuries to LeSean McCoy, Willis McGahee, and Rob Gronkowski have not only opened doors but will also be sending several fantasy owners in every league scrounging to the wire. So be prepared for some competition.
I won’t break down the FAAB bids for each player this week, but considering how late in the game we are, you should be spending any amount you need to guarantee you get the players you need. Blowing 80% or 90% of your budget on players at this point isn’t a concern as long as you get the depth or starter that you need to win in the playoffs.
And beyond these names I’ll list below, you should be carefully analyzing your roster this week and dropping any players you no longer need to carry as dead weight. Instead, pick up handcuffs who could be worthwhile starts later this year. If anyone stashed Ronnie Hillman in your league before Week 11, it’s already paid off for them.
Ronnie Hillman is the obvious get now that the Willis McGahee will miss the rest of the fantasy season. Lance Ball will also get some work, and Knowshon Moreno could even see the field occassionally. But it’s Hillman you want to own. He’s already had goal-line opportunities even before McGahee’s injury and has the talent to reach RB2 status in the right matchup. Anyone who plays the Broncos is going to be more concerned with stopping Peyton Manning than shutting down the Denver run game.
If you have FAAB left…it’s time to spend it. Most, if not all, of it. Even if you don’t need Hillman, he could be fantastic trade bait at your league’s trade deadline, which should be coming up soon.
Hopefully, you’ve been reading every week and took my advice on getting Danario Alexander. He’s still available in many leagues, so if you haven’t yet, make sure you claim him now. Philip Rivers finally has a favorite target, and he’s not at all afraid to throw his way.
LeSean McCoy owners and those who love to watch them cry should go after Bryce Brown. He’s talented enough to reach flex status or dance with RB2 level production if the Eagles ever get their offense together again. Brown should be owned in all leagues heading into this week considering McCoy’s concussion and the possibility they shutdown their feature back since there’s little left for the Eagles to play for this year.
Jalen Parmele replaced Rashad Jennings as Jacksonville’s primary runner in Maurice Jones-Drew‘s absence and did enough to convince the coaching staff he’s a better option moving forward. Just enough.
I doubt he’ll blow us away as a weekly starter, but Parmele will at least be a decent flex this week against the Titans woeful defense, especially if Chad Henne continues to spark the Jaguars’ offense into NFL relevance.
Speaking of Chad Henne’s effect on the Jaguars, Justin Blackmon finally sprang to life with Henne throwing the ball, and he did it in a big way, almost matching Andre Johnson‘s massive performance on Sunday. Blackmon has to be owned in all leagues until we see whether the Jags can duplicate their Week 11 performance.
Chad Henne also deserves consideration if you’re in need of a quarterback this week. Against the Titans, he’s a decent fill for those of you waiting on Ben Roethlisberger to return or for any other ailing quarterback.
It’s horrible to watch your stud running back go down with an injury. It’s especially horrible when you don’t own his backup.
But it’s incredibly joyful for all of us surfing the waiver wire.
After DeMarco Murray went down last week and opened the door for two potential running back pickups Felix Jones and Phillip Tanner, Maurice Jones-Drew injured his foot this week.
Rashad Jennings, who steps into his place, should be the hottest pickup of the week.
So let’s drop the chatter and get right to the pickups.
As always, FAAB percentages are guesstimated next to each player.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars (40% or more)
Maurice Jones-Drew will miss some time with his foot injury, which makes Jennings an automatic RB2 just because of the workload he inherits in Jacksonville. You might have to break the bank to get him, even though MJD’s injury doesn’t look as severe as it could have been. I set the FAAB at 40%, but that’s only because it’s about the minimum I expect Jennings to go for in leagues where he isn’t already owned.
Phillip Tanner, RB, Cowboys (10-15%)
With Felix Jones a little banged up after only one game, Tanner should be added and makes for a desperation start this week if Felix Jones still starts.
Ryan Broyles and Titus Young, WR, Lions (5-10%)
Nate Burleson broke his leg in Week 7 and opened the door for one of these young receivers to emerge. Young should slide into the starting role in Burleson’s place, but Broyles may have a better chance to contribute as a more refined receiver. Both guys are worth taking a chance on if you need a receiver to finish out the season, but I’d put my FAAB dollars down on Young first since he’s slotted to see the field more often.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers (5%)
If Stewart’s been dropped, it looks like he’s getting a chance to be the feature back for Carolina at long last. Might as well make sure you benefit if he finds a way to turn around the Panthers’ run game.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins (<5%)
It looks like Moss is the playmaker RGIII needs while Garcon continues to recover from his mysterious foot injury. But there’s a lot of competition in the Redskins’ wide receiver corps. Moss isn’t worth spending a lot of money or waiver picks on acquiring. So don’t get too excited.
Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns (<5%)
Hardesty could be the lead back if the Browns decide to sit Trent Richardson as he nurses his rib injury. Hardesty should be stashed until we hear how the Browns will handle Richardson this week.
Donald Brown, RB, Colts (<5%)
Probably won’t return until Week 9, but you could stash him this week to guarantee you have him when he gets back on the field.
Jake Locker, QB, Titans (<5%)
Don’t forget that he was promising before his injury. He’s a nice safety QB2 with QB1 upside.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Chiefs (0%)
Hillis returned to practice this week and could resume his role as Jamaal Charles’ hammer and the Chiefs’ touchdown maker. Considering his failures before getting injured, he shouldn’t cost you anything to stash in case he returns from the bye with some value.
In less than 48 hours, real, NFL football returns. Oh, how I have missed you.
I’m sure that you have your fantasy football team in tip-top shape, ready to go for the season, but before you call it the total package, I have some names for your watch list. I’m doing this in place of this week’s “On the Wire” waiver wire feature. These players are names that shouldn’t be left in the free agent pool long this year. So if you’re holding onto a backup tight end or defense as we enter Week 1, consider claiming these guys early.
Kareem Huggins, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No one puts Kareem Huggins in the corner. Ever since the Bucs cut Derrick Ward, Huggy’s fantasy star has been climbing, but he’s still not drafted in every league.
Cadillac Williams may have a deal with Father Time (or the father of knee injuries, if there is one), but unless he runs with a lot more speed and energy than he did last season, he’s not going to blow many defenses away. Instead, the Bucs may see fit to inject a little Huggy Bear in the offense. Keep him on your radar.
Dexter McCluster, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
There’s plenty about this converted running back that intrigues me. Sure, I mentioned him when I made fun of all the Wes Welker comparisons we’ve gotten this offseason, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he could actually be a Wes Welker. At his small size, he’s probably capable of being a Darren Sproles clone as well.
The Chiefs clearly want to use him in every way possible. He’s practiced in almost every position on the field, and he’s been lined up as their Wildcat quarterback. The Chiefs may not score very many points this season, but McCluster could be on the field quite a bit when they do.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
He’s not the sexiest pick on the block, but Maurice Jones-Drew’s backup got a lot of attention when it was rumored MJD had gone under the knife this preseason. While he makes a great handcuff for MJD, it remains to be seen how much he’ll really do this season unless MJD goes down.
For now, I’ll keep my expectations low and only suggest you keep him on your watch list unless you’re relying heavily on MJD this year.
James Davis, RB, Cleveland Browns
Forgotten on the Browns roster, Davis had all the hype in the world last season as a rookie. Injury kept him from showing anything to us in 2009, and when the Browns drafted Montario Hardesty, everyone scratched James Davis off their sleeper lists.
Well, that may have been a bit too soon. With Hardesty out for the year, Davis will be the one waiting in the wings behind Jerome Harrison and Peyton Hillis. He had a strong preseason, and even though I feel that Hillis will see the field on a regular basis more than Davis, Davis is the long-term investment with the highest payout.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
I don’t know if you remember how Tom Brady used to throw to his tight end. Ben Watson trailed off in New England in recent years, and a platoon of veterans muddled the stat lines during the Randy Moss and Wes Welker era. But when he has a target on the field, Brady likes to use it.
Gronkowski is that new tight end target. The rookie has had a great preseason, and if you waited to take a tight end, Gronkowski might just be the upgrade you’re looking for after Week 1.
Isaac Redman, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Say what you will about Rashard Mendenhall’s chances to be a full-time back this season, but I’m worried. Mike Tomlin says Redman will be used in short-yardage, and I believe that.
I was already a bit of a Mendenhall doubter, and this news makes me feel even more uneasy about the young Steelers running back. While Redman’s not exactly a handcuff, I’d strongly consider snagging him on your roster if you’re also carrying Mendenhall just to cover all your bases until this shakes out.
Mike Williams, WR, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks cut T.J. Houshmandzadeh and promoted Williams to the starting lineup. It seems this big (and I do mean big) wide receiver has finally lost the pounds and become a prospect worth keeping an eye on.
Seattle doesn’t boast the most potent offense in the land, but if Hasselbeck stays healthy, there’s a chance Pete Carroll could turn this former USC wideout into everything he was supposed to be coming out of college.
Deon Butler, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Along those same lines, you could see Butler emerge as a receiving threat this year if Hasselbeck stays upright. We don’t know how much he’ll see the field right now, but he’s a burner and could add an explosive element to this offense down the field. Since no one really knows who he is, you can probably just keep him on a watch list for now.
Now if that’s not enough for you, you’ll find more sleepers to pad your roster in David Sabino’s 11 fantasy sleepers at SI.com. I like his picks, but keep in mind that many of them are long shots — hence, sleepers.
So. Excited. For. Football.