Week 6 Fantasy Football: Top 10 Waiver-Wire Pickups for 12-Team Leagues

Jay ClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterOctober 9, 2012

Week 6 Fantasy Football: Top 10 Waiver-Wire Pickups for 12-Team Leagues

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    The following countdown touts the top 10 waiver-wire pickups heading into Week 6 (12-team leagues).

    Obviously, free-agent quarterbacks like Brandon Weeden, Christian Ponder, Kevin Kolb and Matt Hasselbeck are the likeliest candidates for most points from Sunday to Sunday.

    But I would also place an equal or higher priority on landing possible dynamos at receiver, running back and tight end...ahead of a quarterback who may only draw two or three fantasy starts from this point forward.

    For a full listing of Week 6's top 30 free agents, click here.

10. QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

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    2012 Stats: 1,269 Yards Passing, 3 Total TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Even with last Sunday's conservative passing day (26 attempts), Ryan Tannehill is still averaging 34.2 passes per game. This is an encouraging sign for fantasy owners—especially since the Dolphins have two wins and two close losses.

    2. Tannehill's 431-yard effort against the Cardinals in Week 4 stands as a Dolphins passing record among rookies, meaning that neither Bob Griese (1967) nor Dan Marino (1983) could match that number in their inaugural NFL campaigns.

    3. As established in HBO's Hard Knocks over the summer, Tannehill and Miami assistant Mike Sherman had an excellent working relationship at Texas A&M. Tannehill's grasp of the Dolphins offense far exceeds that of a typical rookie.

    4. Tannehill has the size, athleticism and arm strength to be a viable fantasy starter in 16-team leagues, sooner than later.

9. WR Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns

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    2012 Stats: 9 Catches, 175 Yards, 2 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. In Week 5 against the Giants, Josh Gordon took a significant step forward in his development as an NFL receiver, catching two balls for 82 yards and two touchdowns.

    2. Gordon has collected six-plus targets in two of his last three games.

    3. The youthful Browns have limited options at wide receiver with Greg Little, Jordan Norwood and Josh Cribbs. In effect, all signs point to Gordon (21 seasonal targets) emerging as the No. 1 wideout.

    4. With upcoming games against the Bengals, Colts and Chargers, Gordon could be a stealth flex starter (12- and 14-team leagues) during the bye-ravaged period of Weeks 6-8.

8. RB Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers

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    2012 Stats: 224 Total Yards (201 Rushing), 1 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Kendall Hunter has rushed for 137 yards and one TD (on only 19 carries) in the last two weeks. These are the benefits of being a top-flight backup on an elite NFL club.

    2. Given Hunter's recent success, it's plausible the 49ers may limit some of Frank Gore's weekly touches as a means of keeping him fresh for the whole season—and the NFC playoffs.

    3. You can never have enough quality assets; and if Gore should sustain a long-term injury, Hunter has the goods to immediately become a top-20 tailback in standard-scoring leagues.

7. WR Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals

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    2012 Stats: 20 Catches, 268 Yards, 4 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Andre Roberts has incredibly collected nine or more receiving targets in three games. This is the calling card of a wideout primed for a season-long breakout—particularly in points-per-reception leagues.

    2. In his last two games, Roberts boasts 11 catches, 19 targets, 157 yards and two touchdowns.

    3. With running backs Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams (done for the year) sidelined with injuries, the Cardinals will likely be more dependent on Roberts, rookie receiver Michael Floyd and, of course, Larry Fitzgerald over the next few weeks.

    4. With four touchdowns this season, Roberts obviously has a superb nose for the end zone.

    5. Thanks to Fitzgerald's presence, Roberts won't likely see a double team from this point forward.

6. QB Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns

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    2012 Stats: 1,288 Yards Passing, 5 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. In his last four games, Brandon Weeden has per-outing averages of 293 yards passing and 1.25 touchdowns.

    2. In just five pro games, Weeden has already eclipsed the 320-yard passing mark twice.

    3. For the season, Weeden is averaging 40.5 pass attempts per game, a stat that should be music to the ears of rookies Josh Gordon and Trent Richardson, one of fantasy's most complete backs.

    4. The Cleveland coaches obviously have faith in Weeden despite the 0-5 start. By extension, they'll likely authorize 35-plus passes in the Browns' next three games (Bengals, Colts and Chargers).

5. TE Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

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    2012 Stats: 22 Catches, 293 Yards, 1 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Greg Olsen has already collected seven-plus targets three times, including a 14-target explosion in Week 3 (seven catches, 98 yards).

    2. For Weeks 3 and 4, Olsen combined for 13 catches, 21 targets, 187 yards and one touchdown.

    3. For reasons unknown, I watched a sizable chunk of Seahawks-Panthers on Sunday. And throughout the broadcast, the FOX announcing team of Chris Myers/Tim Ryan roundly praised Olsen for getting open downfield against Seattle (even though he wasn't targeted much).

    Bottom line: Assuming Cam Newton can negotiate more time in the passing pocket, the Newton-Olsen relationship should bear fruit in the coming weeks.

4. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders

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    2012 Stats: 9 Catches, 98 Yards, 1 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. By all accounts, Darrius Heyward-Bey has fully recovered from the vicious hit he suffered against the Steelers in Week 3.

    2. The 1-3 Raiders have fallen behind early in all four games, minimizing the effectiveness of Darren McFadden and the running attack. In turn, this has created more target opportunities for the receiving corps.

    3. With Carson Palmer as his quarterback, Heyward-Bey collected 60 targets in his final six games last season. Within that span, DHB also scored three touchdowns and posted four straight efforts of 70-plus yards (including two 100-yarders).

    4. When healthy, Heyward-Bey is on the short list of the NFL's fastest players.

3. QB Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings

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    2012 Stats: 1,082 Yards Passing, 7 Total TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. There are few tangible excuses for Christian Ponder being a regular free agent in 12-team leagues. In his first five games, the Minnesota QB either passed for 270 yards or scored multiple touchdowns four times.

    2. Even with the Vikings' 4-1 record and Adrian Peterson resembling his old dominant self (coming off major knee surgery), Ponder still had the green light for 35 passes three times. That's a stellar figure for a run-first offense.

    3. The strong-armed and athletic Ponder has had a completion mark of 60 percent or higher in all five games.

    4. The Redskins, the Vikings' Week 6 opponent, are the NFL's second-worst defense against the pass.

2. LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals

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    2012 Stats: 15 Total Yards, 1 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. The 4-1 Cardinals won't have the services of tailbacks Ryan Williams (done for the season) and Beanie Wells anytime soon, paving the way for Stephens-Howling's battlefield promotion within the Arizona offense.

    2. Heading into Week 6, fantasy owners don't have time to see if Stephens-Howling can handle the workload of a primary back. They'll simply grab him off waivers and hope to win the proverbial lottery.

    3. This lofty but lukewarm endorsement comes with a major caveat:

    If the Cardinals should trade for a veteran back or sign a prominent street free agent before Saturday, be prepared to dump Stephens-Howling at a moment's notice.

1. RB Alex Green, Green Bay Packers

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    2012 Stats: 65 Total Yards (57 Rushing)

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. With Cedric Benson out with a Lisfranc foot injury (I'll be surprised if he returns this season), opportunity knocks for second-year back Alex Green to assume a featured role with the Packers.

    2. Don't let Green's middling career stats (82 total yards) fool you: This kid is an explosive, hard-charging runner with tremendous upside.

    3. If Green succeeds with the Pack, he likely won't have to split carries with Brandon Saine, James Starks or any other rusher from this point forward.

    Bottom line: Green has a golden chance to significantly boost his real-world and fantasy profile. And I would pay any reasonable price to acquire him in 12-, 14- and 16-team leagues.