For fantasy football owners, using the waiver wire is a weekly opportunity to relive childhood memories of going to the toy store.
You go to the waiver wire (toy store), pick out your favorite player (item) and complete the transaction (pay the cashier). And what's the first thing you want to do? Put the guy into your lineup (play with the toy) and hope that you've become the next fantasy savant.
Sometimes, that's an advisable strategy, as your waiver-wire pickup is bound to have a great performance. On the other hand, other times you put your guy into the lineup, he bombs (breaks) and you're left kicking yourself for ever picking him up in the first place.
Today, we'll be talking about the latter experience. Though these players are certainly ownable in all formats, owners should avoid the frustrating anger that will come with starting them.
With that in mind, here are a few waiver-wire pickups that should be owned, but left on your bench in Week 9.
LaRod Stephens-Howling (RB, Arizona Cardinals)
Well, that one week of fantasy relevance was nice for you Stephens-Howling owners out there, huh?
One week after putting up 149 total yards against the Minnesota Vikings, a team that came into that matchup a respected defense, the Cardinals running back came through with a 38-yard dud against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 8.
A performance like that should end all talk of Stephens-Howling becoming some second-half marvel.
Nonetheless, Stephens-Howling is an NFL starting running back who stands to get the bulk of the carries for the foreseeable future. That's a rare commodity, meaning it's a little asinine that the Cardinals back is owned in just 28.9 of ESPN leagues.
If Stephens-Howling is available in your league, jump to pick him up. But whatever you do, don't put him in your starting lineup this week against the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers boast the 12th-ranked run defense in the league. While that's not exactly the most intimidating fact, remember that the 49ers are only seventh—even after Stephens-Howling's abysmal performance last week.
There is just too much risk to justify the reward, even with teams on bye. However, if Stephens-Howling breaks out, his performance against the 49ers might turn out to be an aberration.
Cecil Shorts (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars)
On the other side of the performance spectrum, there may be no hotter name on this week's wire than Shorts.
The second-year wideout has had two strong performances in a row, combining for 12 receptions, 195 yards and a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers.
With a great matchup against the Detroit Lions coming on Sunday, it's undoubtedly tempting to put Shorts into your lineup. However, until he proves himself for at least one more week, I'm not buying that he can stay productive—even as a flex play.
Remember, the value of a wide receiver wholly depends on his quarterback. Shorts' quarterback is Blaine Gabbert, who currently leads unquestionably the worst passing offense in the NFL.
Though Gabbert passed for 303 yards last week, it was just the second time he had gone over the 200-yard mark all season. Until we see some consistent play from the second-year quarterback, there is no reason to trust any of his receivers.
Jonathan Dwyer (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers)
Two starts and two 100-yard rushing performances later, Dwyer may be the most disrespected player in fantasy.
The Steelers running back is owned in just 37.2 percent of ESPN leagues, a fact that is as confusing as it is lucky for owners that can pick Dwyer up on waiver wire.
Despite my co-signing of Dwyer as a player that should be owned in nearly all formats, he's just not a smart play this week against the New York Giants.
Coming into Week 9, the Giants rank just 19th in the NFL in run defense, but have markedly improved lately. The team held Felix Jones to just 19 yards last Sunday and stifled the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6.
Granted, the Redskins eviscerated New York sandwiched between those games, but the Steelers' running attack is markedly dissimilar from Washington. Couple that with the fact Dwyer is listed on the injury report and Isaac Redman looks ready to return on Sunday, and this a matchup you're better off avoiding.