For a week that saw plenty of exciting action and high scores across the NFL, the fantasy football waiver wire should be relatively silent this week. The players who were supposed to play well did, and even the relative surprises were players already picked up in a majority of leagues.
You all should know who Le'Veon Bell is by now. I thoroughly look forward to him being the next in a long line of Pittsburgh Steelers running backs who average three yards per carry but are relevant just because they're a starting NFL running back.
On the bright side, there were a few players who stood out as deep-league adds. And that was particularly the case among pass-catchers, as the weekly muck of "who's who?" seeped its way into tight end and wide receiver.
Because these are adds mostly for deeper leagues, I'll just say this: Don't go dropping superstars or even relative stars for the players we're about to discuss. If you're bummed out that Roddy White is pretty much a mere decoy in the Atlanta Falcons offense, that's OK. But do not drop Roddy White for Nate Washington.
Maybe, if you have an extra roster spot available, you could start Washington over White for a week or two. I repeat: Do not drop Roddy White for Nate Washington.
With that caveat out of the way, here is a quick breakdown of a few players worth putting a waiver claim in on this week.
Nate Washington (WR, Tennessee Titans)
I know, we've all been here before. Nate Washington has burned more fantasy owners than defensive backs in his career. Every year, he has one or two performances that make him a hot waiver pickup. And invariably, everyone winds up regretting their decision the next week, as he finishes with two catches for 15 yards.
I understand your pain.
But this time, he might be for real. Washington caught four passes for 105 yards in the Titans' 38-13 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. Included in that outing was a four-yard pitch and catch to Washington from Jake Locker and a 77-yarder from Ryan Fitzpatrick that resulted in touchdowns.
This was the second straight week Washington performed from a fantasy perspective. He had eight receptions for 131 yards in Tennessee's win over the San Diego Chargers two Sundays ago.
While it's unfair to judge fantasy value from one game against an atrocious defense and another that was highly predicated on touchdowns, I'm in on Washington being a must-add for this week.
Locker has looked slightly improved from his 2012 self thus far, though we'll have to see what his status is going forward after suffering a hip injury on Sunday. Even if Fitzpatrick has to take for at least a couple weeks, Washington has been getting open and catching the balls thrown his way.
More than anything, though, my faith in Washington is rooted in Kenny Britt's murky future with the franchise. Britt was inactive Sunday after suffering a cracked rib against the Chargers in Week 3, which would make Washington an interesting play in and of itself.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the more intriguing thing, though: The Titans could look to trade Britt before the Oct. 29 trade deadline.
Because we live in a post-Trent Richardson NFL, it seems folks have started clamoring for megatrades. These aren't going to happen. Yet with Britt, it probably makes sense for both sides to look for a better situation. He's a free agent after the 2013 season, and the Titans coaching staff is obviously fed up with his maturity issues.
Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright will be the long-term benefactors of Britt's departure. For the rest of this year, though, Washington might wind up being the top target by default.
Sean McGrath (TE, Kansas City Chiefs)
Can you say bye-week fill-in? Well, you're reading this, so I would hope so.
Listed as the third tight end on Kansas City's depth chart, McGrath was about as relevant to fantasy owners as Sylvester Morris heading into the season. If there is anything we learn about fantasy football every week, it's just how much things can change.
McGrath has been called into extended duty throughout the season due to circumstance, and he's responded in kind by becoming quietly relevant. He had five receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown in the Chiefs' abject destruction of the New York Giants on Sunday, more than doubling his previous yardage output.
If you think that's a fluke, well, it probably is. It's unlikely that McGrath is a breakout star who churns out 12-point fantasy weeks from here until Christmas. However, with four teams (Washington, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Tampa Bay) going on bye in Week 5, guys like McGrath should get long looks, especially in deeper leagues.
The Chiefs will look to extend their record to 5-0 next week against Tennessee. Travis Kelce is still recovering from a fracture in his knee, and his prognosis gets more disconcerting by the minute. Anthony Fasano has missed the past two weeks and his status is still up in the air.
That leaves McGrath.
While Tennessee's resurgent defense would normally be something of a concern, it's not really here. Alex Smith is a conservative checkdown machine who keeps winning ball games because he's unbelievably efficient at what he does. He loves hitting underneath crossing patterns and quick slants up the seam—the type of routes tight ends typically run.
It's unfair to say Smith is the kind of quarterback who only throws to his tight end, but he certainly makes them more valuable. McGrath isn't a long-term solution by any means. Just stick him in this week against the Titans and hope for six points. Outside of Jimmy Graham and Jordan Cameron, that's about all you can hope for anyway.
Jerome Simpson (WR, Minnesota Vikings)
We obviously take all things Jerome Simpson here with a grain of salt. His career has essentially been a salt shaker. But with half of his Vikings games ending with seven receptions and more than 100 yards, perhaps it's time Simpson finds his way onto rosters in 12-team and 14-team leagues.
While everyone was left fawning over Greg Jennings after his return to fantasy relevancy, Simpson was actually the more impressive receiver this past week. He caught seven of his 11 targets for 124 yards against a Steelers secondary that is far better than the team's 0-4 record would normally indicate.
You can poke holes in Simpson's outing because it came in London; that's definitely a fair assessment. But the problem with him has never been talent; it always comes down to opportunity and consistency.
For better or worse, Leslie Frazier has given Simpson the opportunity. Cordarrelle Patterson hasn't been integrated into the offense at this point in the season; he's very clearly struggling as a rookie. Jennings caught two touchdowns on Sunday, but he definitely hasn't looked like a top wideout by any stretch of the imagination this year.
The question in Minnesota is what happens next with the quarterback situation and how it will invariably affect Simpson's value.
Matt Cassel isn't anything resembling a savior, obviously. But he was very good against Pittsburgh, throwing for 248 yards and two touchdowns while managing the game well. We've seen him be an effective NFL quarterback in two different seasons; that was quintessential solid Cassel.
Christian Ponder, the Vikings starter who sat out Sunday with a rib injury, has even less of a track record. He was half-effective for part of last season before falling off a cliff. Minnesota is more invested in Ponder than Cassel, though, having used a first-round pick on him three years ago.
If Frazier sticks with Cassel going forward, Simpson is a decent flier even in some 10-team formats. If Ponder is the guy, well, I have no earthly idea then.
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