It’s that time of year. No, not the holiday season. Why does Lowes already have Christmas stuff on display? I mean the time of year where seemingly every player you drafted is hurt. Fantasy leagues are won and lost through the waiver wire — here are your last second pick ups to fill your needs.
The obvious choice: Andy Dalton – CIN
Andy Dalton is owned in a majority of leagues but if he’s available in yours and you need a real beefy QB play; look no further. Dalton is playing against the Browns this week, needn’t I say more? Dalton is owned in ~75% of ESPN.com leagues and ~88% in NFL.com leagues — he may be available in yours. The Browns pass defense is 31st in the league and allows an average of 20 points to opposing QB’s. I like to consider a 100 point week from your fantasy team a solid one, and if you can get 20 out of your QB, you’re well off to the races.
Marcus Mariota – TEN
Remember Matt’s fantasy rule he instilled? Start all possible players against the Colts. With Mariota playing at home against Indy, this is a no-brainer. Mariota has averaged a stellar 28.5 fantasy points per game over the last two weeks against poor defenses. This Indy defense is just another one of those for him to tear apart. I like Mariota for a vast majority of his remaining games and should be a trade target or waiver claim in all 2 QB leagues, and even looked at as a borderline QB1 in standard leagues. Mariota is owned in 57% of ESPN.com leagues and 81% of NFL.com leagues — c’mon ESPN leagues. Step it up. ESPN players, go get this guy.
Joe Flacco – BAL
I like Joe this week (if he plays) against a NYJ defense that I feel the Ravens’ offense matches up well against. The Ravens have some burners at WR and that’s primarily where the Jets have struggled. If Flacco can hit a bomb or two, he can come out of the woodwork to be a huge play this week to. We know he’s capable of it, we’ve just yet to see it this season. Flacco is only owned in 20% of NFL.com leagues and 32% of ESPN.com leagues; chances are he is available for you in a pinch.
The stretch: Tyrod Taylor – BUF
Tyrod has seriously stepped his game up on the field recently; that Bills team is ticking. I like them against a sketchy Miami defense riding their high-horse out of Pittsburgh. There will be a lot of off-tackle running and I imagine quite a bit of option-plays because Suh in the middle of the Miami D-line will likely be avoided for the most part. This bodes well for Tyrod getting a rushing TD, and the back end of that Miami defense without Reshad Jones is even more vulnerable to deep balls. Tyrod is owned in 71% of NFL.com leagues and 59% of ESPN.com leagues — you can get one of these guys for sure.
The obvious choice: Mike Gillislee – BUF
With LeSean McCoy out this week (most likely), Gillislee is in a position to shine. Remember Karlos Williams last year in relief of McCoy? He was an animal. This Bills team is on a tear, and that’s almost entirely due to ground-and-pound approach they’ve taken since Anthony Lynn stepped in a took over the offensive coordinator position. We learn early on that if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The Bills will continue this approach and you should expect RB1 production out of Gillislee this week if McCoy sits. If he doesn’t sit, Gillislee will still get more than normal touches. Oh, and he’s only owned in 5% of ESPN.com and 8% of NFL.com leagues.
Jacquizz Rodgers – TB
This dude toted a ton of touches last week, and handled it well. With Martin out another week, count on another strong performance from Jacquizz. He’s running against a 49ers defense that is 31st against the run this year. They’ve also given up an average of 31 points to running backs in the last 4 weeks; 31! Now, temper expectations that he’ll give you about that many points; but do expect a great show from Jacquizz. Also, he’s only owned in about a third of both NFL.com and ESPN.com leagues; so he’s likely there for you.
James White – NE
Brady loves his satellite backs. With still no sign of Dion Lewis at practice, James White is the passing down option. Last week, White had 2 scores and 60 total yards. White is a stretch play because of how unpredictable and volatile the Patriots gameplan is; but the one thing that is constant is Tom Brady — and yes, he loves throwing to his backs. White also earned 7 touches last week for added value. His ownership percentage has definitely been trending up with Brady back — 65% at ESPN.com and 31% of NFL.com leagues.
P.S. Why such discrepancies between NFL and ESPN leagues? Is there information out there only 1 side is privy to? Interesting…
The stretch: Mike Davis – SF
With Carlos Hyde very likely out this week (listed as doubtful), I think Mike Davis is the back to own here. Davis is the bigger back between him and Draughn and even if they split touches, Davis likely gets the red zone looks. There’s a solid chance there’s a committee or hot-hand approach here, but against a 25th ranked run defense in Tampa Bay, there is a lot of upside here to like. Davis is unowned in about 97% of leagues; he’s a great sleeper play with upside.
The obvious choice: Kenny Britt – LA
Kenny Britt is averaging almost 7 targets a game. That’s a solid target-load for a flex play. Britt is quietly a freak athlete — big, strong, fast, and Case Keenum has taken a liking to him. WR in general has been volatile this year so seeing a consistent workload for a receiver means a lot. Britt will be up against a somewhat forgiving Giants secondary and could definitely find the end zone due to his size. Britt is owned in 41% of ESPN.com leagues and 38% of NFL.com leagues.
Michael Thomas – NO
This rookie started his showing in the preseason as Brees quickly took a liking to him. He’s quick and shifty and gets his share of looks. The Saints have utilized Thomas in the short pass-game as well as deep down the field which presents a lot of upside for the rook. If Brees and Thomas hook up on one of those bombs, day complete. Thomas has gotten in the end zone in the last 3 weeks and KC has the 23rd ranked pass defense. He’s a solid start this week.
Jeremy Kerley – SF
Believe it or not, this dude is targets galore. Unfortunately, not all targets are created equal; but what’s reassuring to me is that even with Colin Kaepernick starting, Kerley still got 7. Obviously Kerley has a low floor being in that offense, but you can’t ignore opportunity, especially against the squishy Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked 26th in the league against the pass. I consider Kerley to be a low end flex option, but has a good bit of upside.
The stretch: Pierre Garcon – WAS
Pierre Garcon was a magician in Indianapolis. Big, agile, and just dominant. He’s never really been that kind of guy in Washington. I’m not here saying he will become that, but in Jordan Reed’s absence this Sunday and a banged up DeSean Jackson (listed as questionable), all signs point to a lot of footballs being thrown is his direction. The Redskins have been able to get the running game going, giving the passing game more space. Space that Kirk Cousins is yet to truly take advantage of; look forward for him to do that against a weak Lions defense.
The Kicker: If Pierre Garcon is shadowed by Darius Slay, it could get troublesome for Garcon this Sunday.
The obvious choice: Vernon Davis – WAS
Vernon Davis will be filling into the TE1 position in that Redskins offense while Jordan Reed is out with a concussion. Davis made his millions running by people in San Francisco. He may not be the same caliber player now, but he can still move. Cousins looked toward Davis in the red zone the same way that made Jordan Reed a top TE fantasy option. If you can’t get someone like Hunter Henry of your wire, target Vernon Davis against the Lions, a defense who gives up an average of 12 points to opposing TE’s. Vernon is only owned in 7% of NFL.com leagues and 27% of ESPN.com leagues.
Charles Clay – BUF
I have always seen Clay as a guy who could break out at any second and with his receiving abilities could become a Delanie Walker-esque tight end.He’s gotten 5 catches in each of his last 4 games for an average of 50 yards per game. If he can get to that 50 yard mark and get in the end zone, that’s a solid fantasy day for a TE. The Bills play the Dolphins this weekend, Clay’s old team. He’ll be looking for revenge against that bad defense this week in Miami.
Jack Doyle – IND
Jack Doyle is likey that “never heard of ” guy. He’s the number 2 option behind Dwayne Allen in Indianapolis. While Allen is out, Doyle is a receiving option that Luck loves in the red zone. Doyle put up double-digit numbers last week in Allen’s absence and I have a feeling he will have a great day in Tennessee in a game I see being a shoot out. Even when Allen has been healthy, it hasn’t stopped Luck from looking in Doyle’s direction. Doyle is owned in less than 15% of both NFL.com and ESPN.com leagues.
The stretch: C.J. Fiedorowicz – HOU
If I told you C.J. was the leading receiver over the last 3 weeks for a Texans team with the likes of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller III catching footballs, would you believe it? Well, it’s the truth. Fiedorowicz has a total of 14 receptions for 194 yards and 2 touchdowns through that time and is turning into a crutch for Brock Osweiler. The reason he’s stuck in my stretch category is because he is up against the Broncos this week, and C.J. is no burner, so those safeties may be able to handle him if Talib or Harris can shut down Hopkins without safety help.
Defense / Special Teams
The obvious choice: Baltimore Ravens
It’s got to be tough to be a New York Jets fan. The turnover-happy Ryan Fitztragic is being replaced by the turnover-happy Geno Smith. Count on quite a few turnovers and quite a few sacks as the not-so confident Geno Smith takes too long to make decisions. The Ravens will send pressure and different looks at Geno all day — this could be an ugly game to watch.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is the play I went for this week. It’s almost warranting of the stretch play, but I need to see more out of Kaepernick before I consider the 49ers offense anything to fret about. But, this Bucs D is no joke. Gerald McCoy should come back this week to stuff the middle along with Lavonte David. If they can make the 49ers offense 1 dimensional, the Bucs can own this game. I like this play because of the points potential, or lack there of. This should be a low scoring, low yardage game; keeping the point floor high for the Bucs.
New York Giants
The Rams have been such an odd team this year. The offense either can’t get in the end zone, or can’t do anything but get in the end zone. The Giants were the top-spending team this offseason; that money was spent entirely on defense. This “100 million dollar” defense has shown up some weeks, and others they haven’t. There’s been a lot of critcism on their pass rush with JPP and Olivier Vernon, but the Rams had the 31st ranked offensive line moving into the season, so this could be their week to shine. Much like the Bucs, I see this decent defense holding a sub-par offense to little yardage and few points, setting a high floor to build off of.
The stretch: Philadelphia Eagles
Hear me out here… Yes, they’re playing an undefeated Minnesota team. But, I really don’t buy that an Adrian Peterson-less, Sam Bradford run offense is high-powered. Sam has to revert back to his old self, much like Fitzpatrick has this year. Regardless of whether or not the Eagles win this game, I can see this Eagles team getting some turnovers and sacks here to earn them enough points to warrant a start.