Week 4 Waiver Wire: Breaking Down Most Intriguing Pickups

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2013

Week 4 Waiver Wire: Breaking Down Most Intriguing Pickups

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    When I love something, I tend to nerd out on it pretty hard.

    I lost more hours than I care to admit completing every available side quest in the Mass Effect series. Once I finished binge-watching Battlestar Galactica on Netflix, I gobbled up every movie, spin-off (oh, Caprica), web series and comic book (yes, there are comic books) I could find. I own the Parks and Recreation book. I've been to at least 20 shows to see my favorite band, Dr. Dog.

    And when it comes to fantasy football, I obsess. 

    That obsession leads me to investigate every possible angle on the waiver wire each and every week as I mutter words like "upside" and ask myself questions like, "Would he improve my WR4 slot?"

    I'm thinking three weeks in advance. I'm analyzing every bit of data I can find. 

    On this slideshow, I'll let you in on what I've uncovered. Hopefully, my obsession will lead to a few fantasy wins for you. 

    Note: All stats, points against and ownership percentages based on ESPN standard-scoring leagues.

Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns

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    Jordan Cameron is available in 25.3 percent of leagues, which blows my mind. His 49 points are second among tight ends and more than every wide receiver in the NFL

    If he's available in your league, add him right now. Seriously, what are you waiting for? He's the real deal—do it! 

Jason Snelling, RB, Atlanta Falcons

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Jacquizz Rodgers is more widely owned (82.8 percent of leagues compared to Jason Snelling at just 15.3 percent), but Snelling is the Atlanta Falcons running back I'd rather have. Take a look at their stats from the past two weeks:

    • Rodgers: 35 touches for 141 yards and no touchdowns, 14.1 fantasy points
    • Snelling: 21 touches for 171 yards and two touchdowns, 29.1 fantasy points

    Snelling is a much bigger factor in the passing game, and thus far that has proven to be enough to make him far more valuable as a fantasy commodity. In a matchup against the New England Patriots that could easily become a shootout—and given Steven Jackson's worsening injury prognosis—Snelling is a must-add.

Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets

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    Of all the possible wide receivers you could add this week, Santonio Holmes is the most experienced and seems the most likely to sustain a decent level of production now that he's fit, as the British would say.

    His 16 targets over the past two weeks are the most on the New York Jets, during which time he's caught eight passes for 205 yards and a touchdown. He's established a rapport with Geno Smith, and we know he has talent.

    Go out and get him. 

Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets

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    With Chris Ivory injuring his hamstring and likely to miss time, per Dan Hanzus of NFL.com, Bilal Powell will earn the lion's share of the carries for the New York Jets. After rushing 27 times for 149 yards in Week 3, Powell earned the right to be the workhorse. 

    If this guy is available in your league—he's owned in 59.1 percent of leagues—go out and get him immediately. Mike Goodson returns in Week 5, but if Powell runs like he has been all season, it won't matter and he could lock down the starting gig even when Ivory returns.

EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills

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    I really like EJ Manuel as a QB2 pickup. He's averaging 16.3 fantasy points per week and has weapons at his disposal in C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Steve Johnson and Robert Woods.

    As I wrote in a separate piece on Monday, I also like the fact that he's steadily produced solid fantasy numbers despite rushing for just 76 yards and no touchdowns. He's an athletic dude, and there's room for fantasy growth if he starts using his legs more.

    I wouldn't recommend starting him this week against a Baltimore Ravens defense that has regained its mojo, but consider him a QB2 from here on out. 

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Oakland Raiders

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    He has the athleticism to get out of the pocket and make plays with his legs, but he's also shown the patience and maturity to stay in the pocket when possible and keep his eyes downfield when flushed out, looking to make a play. Color me impressed. 

    Okay, enough of the scouting report.

    Even if Terrelle Pryor can't play next week—he left the game against the Denver Broncos late in the fourth quarter with a concussion—he's proven to be a viable QB2 this season, currently 15th among quarterbacks in standard-scoring leagues. He now has two performances of at least 18 fantasy points this season. 

    Plus, he has the look of a garbage-time all-star given how poor this Oakland Raiders defense has been. 

    And if he is cleared, his Week 4 matchup against Washington makes him a really enticing starter, seeing how dreadful that pass defense has been (allowing 27.0 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week). If you have Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton on bye and don't like your backup, Pryor is a good option.

Willis McGahee, RB, Cleveland Browns

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    I know his eight carries for nine yards in Week 3 weren't impressive, but he was a mid-week signing, folks—let the man knock some rust off. 

    The fact that Willis McGahee led the Cleveland Browns in carries days after being added is a pretty clear indication this will be his job moving forward. Yes, his value is capped given the Browns' struggles running the ball, but he's a player worth having for depth as the bye weeks hit.

    He's available in 72.9 percent of leagues—if you are hurting at running back, he's an obvious addition if you miss out on Snelling or Powell. 

Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Brian Hartline might not be the sexiest option on waivers, but he's certainly been steady, leading the Miami Dolphins in targets (29), receptions (18) and receiving touchdowns (two). He's worth rostering in all formats, though there's no reason to insert him into starting lineups just yet.

Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets

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    Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

    I'd rather have Holmes than Stephen Hilll. Holmes is more polished and his superior Pro Football Focus (subscription required) average depth of reception (aDOT for short), 18.5 to 16.9, suggests Holmes is being targeted deeper down the field. But Hill could be a very solid consolation prize.

    Though raw, he's an excellent athlete that could burn a few defenses over the top. And seeing as he's been targeted 23 times through three weeks, Smith is certainly looking his way. He's probably still a WR4, but there is the potential for him to be a productive WR3. 

Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots

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    Brandon Bolden looks as though he'll slide into the change-of-pace role that Shane Vereen fulfilled before he went down to injury, meaning Bolden could hold some real value for fantasy owners while Stevan Ridley continues to split carries with LeGarrette Blount.

    Remember, before going down to injury, Vereen rushed 14 times for 101 yards and caught seven passes for 58 yards. There is value as Tom Brady's checkdown option in this offense, and Bolden compiled 100 yards from scrimmage in his first work this season. 

    He's worth an add in deeper leagues. 

Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots

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    Let's compare these two for a moment before deciding which one is the better addition. 

    • Kenbrell Thompkins: Nine receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 28 targets, owned in 35.4 percent of leagues.
    • Aaron Dobson: 10 receptions for 108 yards and one touchdown on 20 targets, owned in 7.9 percent of leagues.

    Both Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola could be returning in Week 4, limiting Thompkins' and Dobson's value, but if you are looking for wide receiver depth, Thompkins is the better option.

    Until one of these two produces more consistently, however, you'll probably want to avoid the pair. 

Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans

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    I don't think you should be rostering Kendall Wright just yet unless you are in a deeper league—though he is owned in 49.7 percent of leagues, which seems high to me—but this is a public service announcement to keep a close eye on him. 

    In the past two weeks, Wright has been targeted 17 times, catching 13 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. He's coming on, folks. Add him to your watch list, or stash him a week or two before other owners catch wind of him if he continues to produce. 

Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos

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    Knowshon Moreno is clearly the starter in Denver, but Ronnie Hillman played quite well on Monday night, with 10 touches for 78 yards and a score. Given the fact that Montee Ball has now fumbled in consecutive weeks and should be heading to the doghouse, Hillman could be in line for an expanded role. 

    I wouldn't add him this week, but like Wright I think he's a player worth monitoring closely. If anything happens to Moreno, Hillman will be the next man up until Ball improves his ball security. 

Johnathan Franklin, RB, Green Bay Packers

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Here's how you handle Johnathan Franklin this week since the Green Bay Packers are on a bye: Don't pick him up on waivers, but rather wait to see if he slides into the free-agent pool. Pick him up without sacrificing your waiver place and stash him. 

    I don't love Franklin—Eddie Lacy will be back after the bye, and he's clearly the man in Green Bay—but I'd rather have Franklin as a handcuff than the brittle James Starks. In really deep leagues, he's worth rostering, and he certainly looked promising on Sunday, rushing 13 times for 103 yards and a touchdown (and one costly fumble). 

    But don't lose your waiver placement for him when he's on a bye just because you are hell-bent on bringing him aboard. He's just not worth it this week. 

Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn, WR, Carolina Panthers

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    You'll want to heed my advice on the Franklin slide here—don't lose your waiver placement, but rather wait until Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn become free agents—since the Carolina Panthers are on bye this week. 

    But which of these two players would you want?

    Believe it or not, I think it is Ginn. While they each have 13 targets, Ginn has become a dangerous deep weapon in this offense, with seven receptions for 143 yards and two touchdowns. His aDOT of 26.0 is the fourth highest in the NFL at wide receiver, and the three players above him have a combined total of three receptions. 

    Steve Smith isn't the dominant weapon he once was—his 14 receptions and 25 targets still suggest he's the top dog at receiver, but he's no longer a must-start each week—and Ginn's ability to take the top off a defense should keep him involved. Ginn is a sneaky pickup. 

    Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, make ill-fated NFL predictions and tweet cheesy jokes. Buffalo wings not included.

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