Don’t expect much immediate, dynamic help from the waiver wire this week. Jeez, Mark Sanchez’s ascension back into our lives probably makes for the most intriguing play.
Mark Sanchez, Eagles
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Once or twice a year, a backup QB steps to the plate and projects to high-end QB2 status. Sanchez is not by any means a great QB, but neither is Nick Foles, who posted 16+ fantasy points in his seven full games. The Chip Kelly scheme simply inflates offensive production with its high volume (second in plays/game with 72.1) and big-play tendencies (no QB threw deep at a higher rate than Foles’ 18.9%). The result is a real chance at some QB1 weeks for Sanchez, who will likely start for the remainder of the season. Now, Sanchez is unlikely to run-n-gun the way Foles did. He’s always been turnover-prone and iffy outside the hashes, which is likely why the Eagles went so dumpoff-heavy once he came into the game. So Foles’ upside isn’t quite there, but it’s hard to believe Kelly will thoroughly ditch the deep ball. And besides, the Eagles are stacked with playmakers who turn screens and dumpoffs into big plays, so Sanchez won’t be starving for yardage. He’s more of a matchup-based streaming or DFS option at this point – the Eagles face the Panthers next, then the Titans, the Cowboys twice, and Washington down the stretch – but yearly owners in need of QB help should take notice now. If you’ve been struggling with consistency from Cam Newton or Matthew Stafford, Sanchez could be a platoon option thanks to his favorable schedule. If you’re in that boat, don’t be afraid to bid up to 15-18% of your FAAB, and cut ties with a QB2 like Ryan Fitzpatrick or Mike Glennon.
Alfred Blue, Texans
I’m tired of writing about the opportunity Blue steps into in the event of an Arian Foster injury. Only the Cowboys have run the ball more than Houston, and just barely – should Foster miss time with his groin pull, Blue looks like a 15-20 touch guy weekly. He’s not a special talent, but the volume is all but guaranteed and the Texans like to run in the red zone. (And bear in mind, they may soon be easing in a QB who’s never taken a snap.) You should’ve added Blue by now, but if he’s somehow still on your wire, feel free to bid about 15-18% of your FAAB in these bye-addled, RB-starved times. If Foster sits at all, you’ll certainly want/need him more than some piece of iffy depth clogging the bottom of your roster; cut loose a Jordan Cameron or Malcom Floyd type for Blue.
Chris Johnson, Jets
Sure, go ahead. I’d bet at least 60-70% of you need a RB, for either depth or a spot start during Bye Season, and CJ0.5K is probably the surest thing on your waiver wire. He’s posted 13+ touches and double-digit fantasy points in two of the last three weeks as Chris Ivory’s change-of-pace caddy. And here’s a secret: few teams (if any) face a softer RB schedule during the fantasy playoffs. In Weeks 15 and 16, the Jets face the Titans and Patriots, who are coughing up the 4th– and 2ndst-most points to opposing RBs. That said, he doesn’t have much of a place on your roster. If you’re going to start Chris Johnson in the fantasy playoffs, you’re probably not going to be there in the first place, creating a kind of paradox. You’d also have to keep him through his Week Eleven bye. Please don’t take these thoughts as license to burn more than 10-12% of your FAAB on Johnson, whose floor and ceiling are both pretty low. But if you’re starved for a RB/flex this week and Blue isn’t available, Johnson could find his way to a cheap 12-point line. He’s a somewhat safer option than a dice roll on Zac Stacy or Marion Grice.
Chris Polk, Eagles
Just a guy I love from a talent/opportunity standpoint. If LeSean McCoy goes down, hoo boy. Polk is a versatile back with 7.4 YPC and 12.4 YPR for his career. Small sample sizes, sure, but he’s a fine player and a bona fide RB1 candidate if Shady misses time – yes, he’s probably better than Bryce Brown was or is. (I’m sure Darren Sproles would remain in his role with little shift.) Polk ran as McCoy’s clear-cut caddy Sunday and racked up an 8-50-1 line, which isn’t out of reach on a weekly basis even while running as a backup. Teams with deeper benches are advised to add Polk on a handcuff basis alone, while those in more conventional leagues should only pounce if they can spare 5-7% of their budget and shake loose someone like Matt Asiata.
Even with Lamar Miller looking very iffy due to an AC sprain, I don’t want these guys. We need our roster spots this late in the season, and not every semi-starting NFL player deserves one. Thomas is a career 3.6 YPC plodder, a supposed power back who doesn’t generate yardage after contact – just 1.81/attempt as a pro. He’s a decent receiver, but won’t be utilized enough to cover for his likely blah rushing production and return more than low-end flex value. He’s a desperation play for 5-7% of your FAAB. Williams is a semi-promising rookie, beloved by RotoViz and seemingly staring at a nice opportunity. But Joe Philbin seems to love Thomas, so I don’t foresee Williams topping 10 touches in a game, even when Miller’s out. He’s a super-speculative play for 5% of your FAAB. And neither is startable in Detroit this week, regardless of whether Miller plays.
Even in the wake of Brian Quick’s tragic injury, I’m not going nuts over either of these guys. This Rams team just has no interest in targeting one guy more than the others – even the mega-talented Quick only commanded 16% of their targets. On Sunday, with every opportunity for another wideout to absorb Quick’s looks and establish themselves, nobody saw more than Jared Cook’s five targets. 1416 Britt was the most logical choice to do so, considering he’s the most gifted and closest to Quick physically, and right on cue he disappointed with just two catches on four targets. But Bailey was the one I was really watching. He’s got a tremendous college pedigree, with 186 catches and 37 TDs over his last two college seasons alongside Tavon Austin. And he was a red zone dynamo in school, a measure that works well in projecting NFL success. I do believe Bailey has a notable NFL career in his future, if only as a Johnnie Morton-esque possession and red zone receiver. But at this point, the Rams are simply too enamored of spreading the ball around to trust any of them. Deep leaguers and dynasty folk are advised to bid 5-8% of their FAAB on Bailey, bur redrafters can back off until he shows he’s part of the game plan. As for Britt, he’s probably worth 10% of your FAAB if you could use a potential starter over the next few weeks. As long as you’re not expecting a miracle worker.
Last week I reviewed the sorry and unlucky TE landscape in 2014, and why a proactive jump at Eifert was a shrewd move for a guy with upper-tier TE2 potential. This is probably the week to make that move, at around 12-15% of your FAAB, if you can spare the space. Both are now expected to return in Week Eleven, so you probably can’t sit on this for another week. Between the two, I vastly prefer Eifert – he’s more talented, has a better QB, and has more opportunity – but either should provide a sizable upgrade if you’ve been chasing and starting names like Tim Wright or Charles Clay.
Mychal Rivera, Raiders
The former Vol isn’t a great talent, but he’s highly regarded within the Raider organization. Ex-coach Dennis Allen reportedly considered him an offensive cornerstone, and even though Allen is long gone, Rivera’s usage is making him pretty streamable. He’s seen 20 targets from Derek Carr over the last two weeks, turning them into a 15-121-2 line. Rivera is certainly worth a look for those in need of TE help; around 10-12% of their FAAB seems pretty appropriate.
DUMPSVILLE, POPULATION: YOU
Which healthy guys are being dropped? And should they be?
RB Branden Oliver, Chargers – I laugh at the simple-minded folk who have declared Oliver “the new and improved Darren Sproles! They wear the same jersey number OMG!!” over the last few weeks. There is one Darren Sproles, and when the sun burns out, there will have been one Darren Sproles. Oliver made for a nice short-term story, but with the Charger line sucking so badly and Ryan Mathews due back imminently, there’s not a ton of value left for the guy. I’d keep him around for sure, as he’s likely to handle all passing downs and has an outside chance at Danny Woodhead value.
WR Donte Moncrief, Colts – Redrafters can probably move on from Moncrief now that Reggie Wayne is back. One week after his explosion against Pittsburgh, Moncrief saw just nine snaps before garbage time Monday and may have fallen back behind Hakeem Nicks in the pecking order. That would be silly and inexplicable, but Nicks saw a lot more time Monday. If you have the space, Moncrief is worth holding because any Colt WR injury launches him back into WR3 consideration, and that upside is just monstrous. But if you’re needing the space, go ahead and (painfully) make the move.
RB Andre Williams, Giants – As I said above, not all handcuffs are desirable because not all #2 backs project well into the #1 role. And while Williams has some positive indicators as an NFL back, he’s just startable in fantasy, even if Rashad Jennings weren’t due back imminently. Williams is a plodding big back with no trace of passing game value; even as the feature back, he’s overmatched on both the NFL field and the fantasy one. If Jennings indeed returns this week as expected, redraft owners need can safely part ways with Williams.
TE Jordan Reed, Washington – If you cut Reed after his one-catch Week Nine (and 4,253 Yahoo! owners did), then please join my leagues next year. As many as possible.
WEEK TEN QB STREAMERS
Michael Vick, Jets – The Steeler offense has drawn the headlines, but the defense has remained very blah against opposing passing games. Quarterbacks have averaged 322 yards/game over the last three weeks. And the Jets suddenly have offensive weapons! Assuming Vick is healthy and starting, he could provide low-end QB1 production.
Mike Glennon, Buccaneers – Glennon may be in the process of losing his job, as turning back to Josh McCown would be a very Lovie Smith thing to do. But assuming he holds the gig another week, I can see him playing very well against a pathetic Falcon defense in Week Ten.
Derek Carr, Raiders – The Broncos have big names up and down their pass defense, but they’re no strangers to being lit up by opposing passing games. Of course, garbage time figures tremendously into that, but I feel it’s safe to assume garbage time will be rearing its head this week. Carr has a very live arm, some intriguing weapons, and will be trailing for most of Sunday.