Scouring the waiver wire is a lot like bargain shopping at a yard sale—you might find a few knick-knacks for a reasonable price, but more than likely you're just browsing through junk.
But you don't really mind, do you, because there is always a chance that you might strike gold.
I'm here to help you in that search. Here, you'll find a comprehensive look at all of the waiver wire targets that have perhaps caught your eye, and recommendations on whether to buy or browse your way to another potential diamond in the rough.
Note: All fantasy stats via ESPN standard leagues.
Let's get one thing out of the way—if you are an Eddie Lacy owner, you have to add James Starks this week. Don't take the chance that Lacy will play and allow someone else to snag him on the waiver wire.
While the Packers next opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, are pretty tough against the run, Starks' shocking 132 rushing yards and a touchdown last week makes him handcuff gold for Lacy.
If you aren't a Lacy owner or aren't in desperate need of a running back, you probably want to avoid Starks, or only add him on waivers if you know you can move him in a trade. We won't know more on Lacy's status until Wednesday, but depending on the severity of the injury, it's possible he could miss more than one week.
More than likely, however, he'll only be out for Week 3. Starks is only owned in 3.4 percent of leagues, so he'll be available, but if you have better options at running back already, save your waiver priority for a different player.
There are going to be two schools of thoughts on Eddie Royal after his amazing start to the 2013 season. The first is that his five touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season aren't sustainable. There's some truth in that—would you be shocked if he failed to score five touchdowns the rest of the season?
No, you wouldn't be. But ignore the touchdowns for a moment, and look at his usage. Royal already has 10 receptions, but more importantly, he has been targeted 14 times, tying him for most on the team with Antonio Gates.
Even if you take away the touchdowns, Royal still has 114 receiving yards on the year. There is value to be had here. And with Malcom Floyd out indefinitely, his usage should increase.
From Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
#Chargers WR Malcom Floyd, who was carted off, getting a 2nd opinion. But out indefinitely, source says. In a neck brace for at least a week— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 16, 2013
At some point, I expect Vincent Brown will become the primary weapon in San Diego's passing attack. But for now, not only should you pick up Royal, but feel free to throw him into your flex spot in deeper leagues. He's only owned in 14.5 percent of leagues, so he's out there for the taking.
So here's the question—if you are going to handcuff Steven Jackson, who do you choose?
Jackson could miss two-to-four weeks, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
More not-so-great news for the #Falcons? RB Steven Jackson (thigh) may miss 2-4 weeks, source says. Officially viewed as week-to-week though— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 17, 2013
In his stead, Jacquizz Rodgers rushed 11 times for 17 yards, while catching four passes for another 28 yards. Jason Snelling had two rushes for 19 yards and a touchdown, and also caught four passes for 41 yards.
On the plus side for Rodgers, he appears to be the next man up if Jackson can't go. On the plus side for Snelling, he's a pretty good receiver and would appear to be the logical option at the goal line. Plus, he's there for the taking, as he's owned in just 0.4 percent of leagues (compared to Rodgers at 80.9 percent).
On the downside for fantasy owners, a platoon between these two if Jackson is sidelined seems likely.
If you're going to add one, go with Rodgers, even after his shoddy performance on Sunday. Just don't expect big numbers.
Believe it or not, Martellus Bennett is available in 15.1 percent of ESPN leagues.
If he's out there, add him immediately. With 10 receptions (and 16 targets) for 125 receiving yards and three touchdowns, it's clear he and Jay Cutler are on the same page.
The touchdowns aren't sustainable, but he's still a tight end that should be rostered in all leagues in every format. Only Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas have more fantasy points to open the season at tight end.
I love Alex Smith this week. LOVE HIM. Believe it or not, I have him at No. 11 in my quarterback rankings, because I'm crazy like that.
Let me explain.
The Philadelphia Eagles secondary is atrocious, and made Philip Rivers look like Joe Montana on Sunday. They're giving up an average of 24 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week in ESPN standard leagues, sixth-worst in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Smith has quietly averaged 18.5 fantasy points per week, throwing for 396 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and also rushing for 82 yards. Smith isn't a sexy fantasy player, but against the Eagles, he'll dink-and-dunk his way to a big game.
Drop him after this week if you must, but if you don't have a top-10 quarterback, add and start him this week. He's only owned in 17.5 percent of ESPN leagues, so you can go out and get him.
Guess who leads the Miami Dolphins in receptions (14), receiving yards (182) and targets (23)?
That's right, it's Brian Hartline.
Obviously, he's still the No. 2 wideout in Miami behind Mike Wallace. But he's developed a nice rapport with Ryan Tannehill and could be a nice WR4 or even WR3 in the bye weeks to have rostered. He's hardly a sexy pickup, but if you are hurting at wide receiver, he's a good get.
He's owned in 57.4 percent of leagues, so this is probably the week to bring him on board, especially in deeper leagues.
Jordan Cameron is available in 31.9 percent of ESPN leagues, which I don't understand at all. He already has 14 receptions (20 targets, only Greg Little has more) for 203 yards and a touchdown, and it's obvious that he's Brandon Weeden's most trusted target.
Maybe—maybe—Josh Gordon's return from suspension will eat into his production slightly, but don't count on it. And maybe—maybe—Jason Campbell will ignore him if he's forced into action for Weeden.
But for my money, Cameron looks like the real deal at tight end, and should be rostered in all leagues.
There's an old adage in football that if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any. Well, here's an addendum to that old adage—if you have two running backs splitting carries, you don't have any worth your while in fantasy.
Over two games, Chris Ivory has 22 carries for 69 yards and no touchdowns. He is owned in 100 percent of leagues. Meanwhile, Bilal Powell has 25 carries for 77 yards and a score. He is owned in 37.6 percent of leagues.
If you have to own a New York Jets running back—maybe you are in a deep league, or you're already battling injuries at the position—go get Powell. But honestly, until one of these guys seizes the job and the Jets prove they can do anything at all on offense, I'd avoid them both.
You're probably looking at DeAndre Hopkins' 12 receptions for 183 yards and a touchdown and getting excited at the prospect of adding him to your team. He's only owned in 64.4 percent of leagues, so he might be available.
But I'm even more excited about the fact that he's been targeted 19 times in the first two weeks, which trails only Andre Johnson on the Houston Texans.
Go out and get this guy if he's available in your league.
In Week 2, Andre Ellington had 12 fantasy points, which will likely put him on a few radars. Ignore the urge to inquire further—yes, his 62 total yards and touchdown might intrigue you. But on the season, he has four rushes for 20 yards.
Meanwhile, Rashard Mendenhall has 31 carries for 126 yards and a touchdown. Ellington might get some play here and there, but Mendenhall is firmly entrenched as "the man" in this backfield.
With Anquan Boldin gone and Dennis Pitta hurt, there is a clear void on the Baltimore Ravens of a No. 2 receiving threat. Enter rookie Marlon Brown.
He's certainly started strong, with eight receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns. His 12 targets are a bit concerning—Torrey Smith, Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark all have more—but it's pretty clear who the second-best receiving option on this team is.
He's only a WR4 for now, but he's only owned in 4.9 percent of ESPN leagues and is a pretty good stash option before he gets more expensive. In deeper leagues, he's definitely a player worth considering.
Please don't add Charles Clay to your fantasy team because he had five receptions for 109 yards and a rushing touchdown this week. There are more talented tight ends available (the position is surprisingly deep this year) and, quite simply, Clay probably won't have a game this good the rest of the way.
Bernard Pierce is rostered in 89.9 percent of leagues, so chances are he isn't available for you. But if he somehow is on your waiver wire, go pick him up, just in case.
Just be aware that Ray Rice's hip flexor isn't all that serious, and there's a very good chance he'll play in Week 3. From Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun:
Ray Rice didn't get an MRI for left hip flexor, indication that "it's not really serious," Harbaugh says day to day— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) September 16, 2013
Still, Pierce is the sort of guy you want on your team, if you can get him. If something more serious happens to Rice, Pierce becomes, at the minimum, an RB2.
Despite his three receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown (and 10 targets) against the New York Jets, Aaron Dobson still will end up buried down the receiving pecking order once Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola return from injury.
Add in Julian Edelman, and Dobson is at best the fourth receiving option on this team in the long term, and that's not including Kenbrell Thompkins, whom most people feel is the better player at this juncture. Avoid Dobson.
In a word, that's how I feel about this New York Giants backfield right now. Blech. Here's the breakdown of what the three running backs on this team offered on Sunday.
- David Wilson: Seven carries for 17 yards.
- Brandon Jacobs: Seven carries for four yards and a touchdown.
- Da'Rel Scott: Five rushes for two yards, two receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown.
Did I say blech yet?
Basically, Wilson is likely the primary back, but he's on an incredibly short leash. Jacobs is the goal line back, while Scott will be utilized on third downs. Don't bother with Jacobs or Scott—Wilson will eventually earn Tom Coughlin's trust and see far more touches than he got on Sunday.
Besides, Jacobs and Scott really aren't bringing much to the table. Stay away.
Fantasy owners may be tempted to add Austin Pettis this week after he caught eight passes for 78 yards and a score. Ignore the urge. Pettis is the No. 4 option on this passing attack, behind Tavon Austin, Chris Givens and Jared Cook.
Pettis is currently second on the team with 17 targets (Austin leads with 19), but Cook has proven to be a playmaker and Givens is a dangerous deep threat (he averaged 16.6 yards per catch last year, and has improved to 18.9 yards per catch this year).
Keep Pettis on your radar but don't bring him aboard just yet.
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