It’s another sad stretch for the scrounging type, as the last two weeks have produced Mark Sanchez and Kyle Orton as arguably the top waiver wire options. Yecch. Still, there are a few intriguing mid-roster assets to be had – starting with the Broncos’ C.J. Anderson.
PRIORITY WAIVER WIRE ADDS
Kyle Orton, Bills
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Orton is probably available in your league – he’s only 15% owned on Yahoo – and you’d do well to scoop him up if your QBs are underachieving. He’s very quietly topped 258 yards in four of his five starts, including big performances against some strong pass defenses (308 at Detroit, 299 vs. New England, and 259 vs. Kansas City). His lowest fantasy output of the season (17.3 FP) came Sunday, and he still registered as the day’s #10 QB. Owners who banked hard on Nick Foles, Jay Cutler, Colin Kaepernick, or Carson Palmer may be treading water right now, and Orton looks like a strong matchup play as the Bills’ running game woes continue. Note that he hosts the Jets and Browns in Weeks 12-13, then draws the Raiders in the all-crucial Week 16. Orton should already be rostered, but if he’s not, and you’re starving for a start-worthy QB, don’t be afraid to dedicate 15-18% of your FAAB budget to his acquisition. (That’s probably all it will take, as most fantasy owners run screaming from the mere mention of his name.)
C.J. Anderson, Broncos
What a sick, sick carousel this has been. Many of us invested heavily in Montee Ball this offseason, figuring he possessed by far the best combination of talent and consistency in the Denver backfield and would have zero trouble holding off his replacement-level backups. By Week Six, Ball had sludged to a pathetic 3.1 YPC and badly injured his groin. While Ronnie Hillman posted some big weeks in his absence, he’s a limited player. Of the 48 RBs to take at least 25% of their team’s rushes, Hillman currently sits dead last in yards/rush after contact and 34th in elusive rating; in other words, he’s not forcing missed tackles and goes down as soon as he’s hit. Anderson stepped in for Hillman after a bad ankle tweak and ran with the opportunity, totaling 163 yards and a TD on 20 touches for the day. (His 51-yard swing pass TD was a thing of beauty.) As a result, neither Ball nor Hillman are anything close to a lock to regain the starter’s workload at any point, but Anderson is nothing more than a speculative add for about 16-18% of your FAAB budget. He’s the type of homerun possibility that warrants your attention, but there are far too many variables at play to make him a priority add. We’re likely looking at a full-blown committee/hot hand approach here – remember that Juwan Thompson is also kinda in the mix – with none of the four looking like more than flex plays going forward and no discernable rhythm to their production. Of the group, Ball and Anderson look like the strongest plays, but when will you feel confident enough to play them? Any are just as likely to see ten snaps as 50, and you don’t need me to tell you that the Broncos are a pass-first team in the red zone.
John Brown, Cardinals
Expected to serve as a lightly-used deep threat as a rookie, Brown has inserted himself solidly into Bruce Arians’ downfield-oriented offense. Brown is certainly an exciting talent, and one the Cardinals love – they took him in the third round, higher than any projection I saw. Hell, he’s out-targeted Michael Floyd 56-52, and has seen 9+ looks twice over his last three games. And you shouldn’t even be overly frightened of the ripple effect from Carson Palmer’s injury:
Brown doesn’t look like much more than a WR5 lottery ticket going forward, but there’s real potential here. This is a guy who blazes a 4.34 40 with great shuttle and cone times. A guy who scored 17 TDs on a 19.6 YPR mark in his final college season. And a guy who seems to be creating more opportunities for himself in his offense than Floyd. Target Brown at 13-15% of your FAAB budget and ditch whatever Greg Jenningses you’ve got lying around.
Jarvis Landry, Dolphins It’s no huge surprise that Landry seems to be overtaking Brian Hartline as the Dolphins’ #2 WR option. But he’s also sneaking up on the disappointing Mike Wallace in the pecking order (thanks to the great Matthew Freedman for pointing this out):
Now, Landry is no great shakes in this little game of ours. He’s a reliable chain-mover with limited athleticism; in other words, more valuable to the Dolphins than to you. But he’s on the upswing as the clear second look on an ascending offense whose only real running game threat is dinged up. Consider Landry a PPR WR4/5 type with a hint of upside, and bid around 10-12% of your budget if you’re building depth. He won’t win your league, but he could be a nice fallback should disaster strike.
Preston Parker, Giants
Parker’s not a bad slot receiver. He’s tough to the ball and does have a 40-catch season on his resume (with Tampa Bay in 2011). But don’t allow yourself to fall for any guy who sees targets; they’re all bound to post a seven-catch game, but not all of them have the talent to start in fantasy. Parker has seized the slot job for the Giants, but there’s little upside to be had here, with a very low floor; he totaled a 3-26 line in the previous two tilts following Victor Cruz’s injury. This is becoming Odell Beckham’s passing game, and Parker also remains embedded behind Rueben Randle and often Larry Donnell in the pecking order. Even if you could use the WR6 help, leave Parker on the wire and target more potential.
Mychal Rivera, Raiders
It’s impossible to know week-to-week who will be on the targeted end of the most Derek Carr shots-in-the-dark. Each Raider game is a fresh new lost cause, each with its own unique methods of failing offense. But Rivera is climbing the charts and could be sitting pretty in low-end TE1 status by season’s end. After Week Nine’s two-TD outing, he was viewed as more streamer than waiver target, so he’s likely available in your league (only 34% owned on Yahoo). Now he’ll cost you something; tight ends have been disappointing us all year, and a guy who’s gone 21-179-3 over the last three weeks could ignite a bidding war. Rivera may be worth it. He’s second on the team in targets over that span, working the short zones with a lot of success (23 catches on 27 looks 0-9 yards downfield) in providing a real security blanket for Carr. Former coach Dennis Allen considered Rivera a cornerstone piece of the offense, and it’s promising that the offense still has a hefty role in mind under a new regime. If you need a startable TE2+ in the short term, don’t be shy about bidding 12-15% of your cap for Rivera. There’s lots more garbage time in store for Raider pass catchers.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Buccaneers
Rookie TEs typically don’t provide much, and Sefarian-Jenkins has had a quiet debut, but I love the guy’s potential. The player looks good: the 6’6, 271 freak posted a 14.4% TD rate at Washington and reportedly ran a stunning 4.56 40 during a private workout. The opportunity looks OK: beyond the twin tower wideouts, Josh McCown doesn’t have a lot of options through the air. And the breakout might be underway, as he’s scored in two of his last three games and saw nine targets Sunday. He’s a much better dynasty target than redraft, but makes for an interesting streamer and TE2 target at around 8-10% of your budget.
DUMPSVILLE, POPULATION: YOU
RB Bobby Rainey, Buccaneers – It would be silly to cut Rainey loose until we see what role the Bucs have in mind for Sims, a rookie who missed the season’s first nine games. Rainey is wildly inconsistent, but could hang onto half the workload and turn in some usable lines. That’s not ideal production from your RB4 at this stage in the season, but he probably deserves another week.
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens – It doesn’t look like the team has much use for Taliaferro’s modest talents as long as Justin Forsett is running out of his mind. John Harbaugh is on a vendetta against fumbling this year, and since Taliaferro’s big cough-up against Pittsburgh, he’s seen just one carry outside of garbage time. He’s a solid dynasty hold but no longer a redraft asset.
WR Andre Holmes, Raiders – How the mighty have fallen. We’ve gushed over Holmes’s skillset since his early-season breakout, but he’s falling out of favor in this offense, having drawn just 18 targets over the last four games. And the production isn’t good – he’s only caught 10 of them for 131 yards and a score. I don’t like the idea of cutting such an intriguing talent in such a talent-starved offense. Holmes deserves another look this week in San Diego, whom he carved up for 121 yards and two scores in Week Six.
WEEK ELEVEN QB STREAMERS
Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings – The Bears are in the midst of a sheer free-fall, particularly on the defensive side, where opposing QBs have averaged a jaw-dropping 34.4 FP over their last three matchups. Bridgewater hasn’t been throwing TDs (just three across his five starts), but he’s averaged 255 yards over his last two. The touchdowns will come, and at the moment there’s nowhere better than Chicago to expect regression to kick in. In a rocky week for streamers, Bridgewater looks like a high-end QB2 candidate.
Zach Mettenberger, Titans – Good Lord, is this ever the Year of the Rookie. Now I’m telling you a shaky freshman could make for a decent spot start against notorious rookie killer Dick LeBeau? Yes, I am; these are not your dad’s Steelers. They’re not even your slightly older cousin’s Steelers; these guys can’t defend the pass to save their lives. And the matchup only gets juicier if Troy Polamalu continues to sit. From at least a fantasy perspective, Mettenberger has shown reasonably well thus far, posting a strong debut (18.9 FP vs. HOU) and an uneven follow-up (11.0 @ BAL). He returns home to face a Steeler team that struggles mightily on the road – even against the dregs of the league. The Titans could easily win this game, and Mettenberger is certain to eclipse the 132 yards posted by Michael Vick – who finished as Week Ten’s #9 QB.