Week 6 Waiver Wire: Top Pickups
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Last Tuesday, we lamented a weak crop of waiver-wire options in fantasy and the fact we had a stable of elite backs headed to byes, including Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris and Le'Veon Bell. Well, Week 6 is paying us back.
Our horses are rested and ready to go, and this waiver pool looks a lot more bountiful for everyone.
Newly tapped Rams starting running back Zac Stacy is going to be the most added player in all formats, but there are a number of intriguing wide receivers who have emerged as fantasy starters during the bye season as well. Also, Andy Dalton is a solid one-week fill-in against the Bills, and a number of stopgap quarterback starters figure to enrich the pool of streaming defensive options.
We break down all the fantasy goodness that is available to us now, position by position, in this six-part slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Buy Low on Andy Dalton and Monitor Nick Foles
Quarterbacks to Add
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
He hasn't been quite as productive as projected, but the Bills defense remains one of the matchups you can exploit with fantasy sleepers. Dalton is available in one-fifth of CBS Sports leagues, and he is a potential starter in all formats this week. Use him if you have Matt Ryan on bye.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
The Raiders gave up 400-plus yards to Philip Rivers, so there is hope for Smith to have a 200-yard, three-touchdown day against their defense in Week 6. Smith has legitimate touchdown threats in Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe at his disposal, and he should play closer to his Week 4 form than what he showed in Week 5.
Geno Smith, New York Jets
You might not have liked what you saw against the Titans, but Smith looked like a fantasy option against a solid Falcons secondary Monday night. The Steelers loom in Week 6 and we wouldn't necessarily start Smith for that matchup, but he is good enough to pick up in deeper leagues now. When the bye weeks come in bunches, Smith could emerge as a gem fill-in.
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
Despite the exciting production right now, you cannot start him against the Chiefs or Steelers, the next two opponents on the schedule. The Eagles (Week 9) and Giants (Week 10) matchups are the reasons to roster him in the 50-plus percent of CBS Sports leagues in which he is still available.
Quarterbacks to Monitor
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick (hamstring) is questionable to doubtful for Week 6 and Foles showed enough against the woeful Giants to leave the door open to win the starting job going forward, Chip Kelly said in his Monday news conference. We still see Vick as the starter when healthy, but you have to get the jump on the competition and add Foles in all two-quarterback formats this week.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
He is heading into his bye week, but the Bills loom in Week 7 and Tannehill has shown enough against good competition to be considered a solid starter in favorable matchups like that one. If you need a bye-week replacement, Tannehill might be your man in the next month and a half.
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
You have to love the potential of Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon more than you like Weeden, but the fact Brian Hoyer (knee) is out for the season should make Weeden intriguing in deeper leagues again. Weeden has had his moments, both good and bad, so consider him a potential bye-week replacement over the unknowns at the position.
Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Blaine Gabbert's time has to be over, right? Henne might get the start this week and, with Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon working in concert, there might be some intriguing garbage time to come in Denver. Don't trust Henne right now, but do watch to see if he can win the starting-quarterback job.
Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It will be interesting to watch what the strong-armed rookie can do now that he has had a whole bye week to take first-team reps. The suspect Eagles secondary is also on tap. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are a nice set of weapons in that favorable matchup, so Glennon could emerge as a viable sleeper in fantasy circles here.
Quarterbacks to Ignore
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
So much for the excitement of the Titans and their wide range of targets. Fitzpatrick had a fantasy-starter-worthy performance in Week 5, but don't dare trust him at Seattle. That is a fantasy-quarterback graveyard.
Josh Freeman, Minnesota Vikings
You can like Freeman's talent and potential to rise up the Vikings depth chart past Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder, but you cannot like his fantasy prospects in one-quarterback formats even when he is starting. You are likely wasting a roster spot in one-quarterback leagues by adding this guy at this point.
Ignore the Matt Schaub-benching talk. Neither Texans quarterback will be good enough to consider outside of two-quarterback leagues in any matchup.
Thaddeus Lewis, Buffalo Bills
Um, yeah right. No one goes from the practice squad to fantasy viability.
Running Backs: Jump on Zac Stacy and Ignore Pierre Thomas
Running Backs to Add
Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
They kept him a secret in the season's first four weeks, but the Rams might have found an identity with their maligned running game. Yes, Daryl Richardson will still serve as the third-down back, but Stacy's style is that of a bull and he will get the starts, bulk of the carries and the all-important goal-line work for the Rams now.
Isaiah Pead and Benny Cunningham are no longer worth owning in any fantasy leagues. Stacy is the man, Jeff Fisher told ESPN's Nick Wagoner, naming the rookie back out of Vandy his starter against the Texans:
Would've liked to [have] seen him get more carries, but that was the way the game went. He was hitting the hole and he had yards after contact -- the violent yards, we refer to them at the running back position. He got to what he needed to do in the passing game and I thought in protection he was excellent.
Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns
He is available in almost 30 percent of CBS Sports leagues still, but he shouldn't be. He got his feet under him in Week 5, rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown. The Browns now face a Lions team that has given up the sixth-most points per game to fantasy running backs to date. He is a starter in all leagues right now.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
He doesn't get enough credit in fantasy circles, mostly because everyone is drooling over Giovani Bernard's potential. The thing is, though, Bernard is not ready to be a feature back, and the rookie had a costly fumble against the Pats. BGE is still going to get the bulk of the workload and the important goal-line touches. He is a must-start in all leagues at Buffalo.
Running Backs to Monitor
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Brown rose to fantasy viability when Vick Ballard went down for the season, but the acquisition of Trent Richardson put an end to that. Now, Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) might be facing a year-ending injury, so Brown is back on the fantasy radar. The touchdown against the Seahawks certainly helps, as does the Colts' desire to pound the rock and rotate their backs.
The problem with Brown in Week 6 is the Chargers are the third-best team in fantasy against running backs. You only need to own him as a Richardson handcuff this week, especially with another solid run defense (Denver) looming in Week 7 and the bye in Week 8.
Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
The rookie has stepped forward into a timeshare with Rashard Mendenhall, rushing seven times for 52 yards and catching four passes for 31 yards last week, but that is about the limit of his work, particularly for as long as Mendenhall stays healthy. Ellington is a complementary back, not a feature one, according to head coach Bruce Arians, who said at his weekly news conference (courtesy of ArizonaSports.com):
I think that's his workload. He's not that body type. If you're going to stand and hand it to him 30 times, he'd probably play two weeks. You have to be smart with these guys. He's a space player and a really good one. As he continues to find his niche he's only going to get better and better.
Anthony Dixon, San Francisco 49ers
We have been pumping the fantasy value of Kendall Hunter this season, but Dixon has been taking a chunk out of Frank Gore, too, along the goal line. Dixon got another short touchdown in Week 5, and he should continue to get goal-line touches. The problem is those are not guaranteed, particularly with Gore and Hunter both healthy. If you own LaMichael James, you probably need to drop him for Dixon as a flex player during the bye season, though.
Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders
He is only an add if Darren McFadden (hamstring) and Rashad Jennings (hamstring) are listed as questionable or worse on the Week 6 injury report. The Chiefs have a good enough run defense for you to be wary of any of the Raiders backs this week, regardless of the injuries. Then, they have a bye in Week 7, too.
Running Backs to Ignore
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Thomas did pick up a pair of touchdowns against the Bears, but the Pats run defense looms in Week 6 and the bye week follows in Week 7. After that point, Mark Ingram (toe) might be healthy enough to send Thomas back to a timeshare. Thomas is owned in 75 percent of CBS Sports leagues, and that is about the limit of his value for the next few weeks.
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
The Pats running game has little rhythm right now, and there is little rhyme or reason to it, either. LeGarrette Blount (only a desperation add in his own right) will get the short-yardage and clock-grinding work, while Stevan Ridley (knee) will still be the starter and feature back, when he's active.
That leaves mere scraps for Bolden, who is little more than a Ridley handcuff for the next few weeks. With the Patriots facing a tough Jets run defense in Week 7 and byes more plentiful in Week 8 (six teams out), Bolden is a waste of a reserve spot right now.
Jason Snelling, Atlanta Falcons
Snelling got into the end zone again Monday night on a shovel pass from Matt Ryan, but his fantasy value is mitigated by the pending return of Steven Jackson (hamstring). Jacquizz Rodgers is going to get the work Snelling was doing, while Jackson will handle the feature-back role. Also, the Falcons have a bye this week. Snelling's outlook isn't great going forward.
Wide Receivers: There's No Shortage of Talent, Fantasy Options Here
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Wide Receivers to Add
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
After those 10 catches for 218 yards and a touchdown, it is clear Jeffery is a burgeoning fantasy superstar for Jay Cutler and coach Marc Trestman's now-pass-happy Bears offense. Jeffery has the benefit of single coverage opposite Brandon Marshall, and he is a must-start in all leagues against the Giants on Thursday night, despite being available in almost one-fifth of CBS Sports leagues.
Vincent Brown, San Diego Chargers
Brown was a preseason darling who lost status because of Eddie Royal's quick start to the season. That was a function of game plan, as the Chargers focused on the underneath routes of Royal in the early going. Brown is Philip Rivers' field-stretcher, and he will eventually emerge as the go-to man. Catch this rising star before it is too late.
Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
We have to change course on Seattle's No. 1 fantasy receiver now that Sidney Rice has posted back-to-back stinkers. Tate was great in Week 5 (5-61-1) and is available in over 35 percent of CBS Sports leagues. Russell Wilson is going to make someone productive in the Seahawks passing game and Tate is that man now.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
If you read this writer, you already know how much we have gushed about the emerging prospects of Allen. You saw it in Week 5 to the tune of 6-115-1. Rivers showed he can still get the ball downfield when the game plan calls for it, and Allen is a starter for the Chargers in three-receiver sets. The rookie is a nice sleeper play against the Colts on Monday night.
Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets
The fact Santonio Holmes (hamstring) is out certainly helps Kerley's fantasy value as much as his own health right now. Geno Smith also looks like a legit NFL starter again. Kerley is a solid starter in all leagues as long as Holmes is out. Kerley is certainly available, as he is owned in a mere 13 percent of CBS Sports leagues.
Wide Receivers to Monitor
Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans
As apparent as it may be that Kenny Britt and Nate Washington are not true fantasy options after their Week 5 dud performances, we still have a mess to sort out with the Titans receivers. Ryan Fitzpatrick showed he favored Wright in his underneath passing, but the Seahawks secondary looms on the schedule. Don't start Wright in any leagues in that matchup, even if we consider him the one Titans receiver to own going forward.
Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
If EJ Manuel (knee) wasn't out for an extended period, we would be a lot more excited about the prospects of the rookie Woods. Instead, Thaddeus Lewis will be activated from the practice squad to start in Manuel's place. That is a desperate move, one that puts Woods just off the fantasy radar in standard leagues. It is too bad, because Woods was looking really interesting as a bye-week fill-in.
Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
The rookie had a huge day (4-151-1) as Tony Romo set career bests against the Broncos in a shootout, but Williams' fantasy value is tied to Miles Austin's (hamstring) health (or lack thereof). Williams will only be a consideration if Austin is out again. The good news is the awful secondaries of the Redskins (Week 6) and the Eagles (Week 7) loom on the schedule.
Rueben Randle, New York Giants
You can gush about Randle's long-term potential all you want, but the facts are the Giants are a bad football team that cannot protect the passer, and there are already two elite receivers ahead of Randle to feed in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Eli Manning is no longer elite enough to support three consistent fantasy wideouts, no matter how many shootouts a terrible defense leaves the team in.
Austin Pettis, St. Louis Rams
The two touchdowns last week are nice, but the Rams offense spreads the ball around so much, and Sam Bradford is not good enough to support so many fantasy options in their passing game. Also, the Texans defense is bound to finally show up in Week 6. Pettis is still behind Tavon Austin, Jared Cook and Chris Givens in Bradford's pecking order. You cannot trust Pettis week to week in standard leagues.
Wide Receivers to Ignore
Rod Streater, Oakland Raiders
He had a nice start last Sunday night, but the Raiders don't project to be consistently good enough offensively, particularly when it comes to the passing game. Streater is the second option behind Denarius Moore and a marginal one at that. You cannot use him at Kansas City this week, but the bye week ensues and he will be available to you before Week 8. Ignore him right now.
Donnie Avery, Kansas City Chiefs
We already went through this a few weeks ago: Avery surprises, then goes out and lays a fantasy egg. Look away.
Kris Durham, Detroit Lions
Sure, he might be intriguing with Calvin Johnson (knee) ailing, but Megatron should be back in Week 6 and Ryan Broyles is still the second target for Matthew Stafford. The Lions should have been a lot better against the Packers secondary, so don't get excited about Durham's touchdown in Week 5.
Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys
His performance (4-47-1) makes him appear fantasy-worthy, but he is too far down the depth chart to be a viable add in any league. Austin will get healthy and Romo will focus on Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and others before Beasley.
Tight Ends: Positional Roller-Coaster Ride Bottoming out of Late
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Tight End to Add
Jeff Cumberland, New York Jets
That was an eye-opening performance Monday night, and the Jets have gone to Cumberland over Kellen Winslow much more in recent weeks. The Jets and Geno Smith should prove to be tight-end-friendly, and Cumberland has gotten into the end zone in back-to-back weeks. That is enough to consider him a sleeper in fantasy during the bye season at this position.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
He will still have to deal with Joseph Fauria stealing his thunder and red-zone targets from time to time, but Pettigrew has been better in recent weeks. That Matthew Stafford-led Lions offense will still be pass-heavy, even if the backs are taking a bit too many of the targets right now. Pettigrew is the tight end to add if you don't trust the likes of our other sleepers/breakouts like Coby Fleener or Rob Housler.
Tight Ends to Monitor
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
We will admit he is a lot more viable in fantasy than we have given credit, but the Dolphins are on a bye in Week 6. Clay should remain on the waiver wire outside of being a bye-week replacement at the roller-coaster tight-end position.
Sean McGrath, Kansas City Chiefs
With Anthony Fasano (ankle/knee) and Travis Kelce (knee) still out, McGrath has been productive in Alex Smith's rhythm passing offense. Consider McGrath a bye-week fill-in option for you, especially if Fasano and the rookie Kelce are inactive again.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
He got into the end zone against the Giants, but that is just child's play given the current state of their defense. The good news is Celek has outdistanced rookie Zach Ertz enough to be the Eagles' leader of the two tight-end targets.
Lance Kendricks, St. Louis Rams
Those in love with Jared Cook's potential have to hate the fact Kendricks is stealing red-zone looks right now for the Rams. Kendricks is a solid tight end in his own right, but the fact Cook is still the better of the two options on a team with the inability to support so many targets keeps Kendricks just off the fantasy radar in most leagues.
Tight Ends to Ignore
Levine Toilolo, Atlanta Falcons
The sole purpose of his touchdown Monday night was to cause Tony Gonzalez owners to pull out their hair. The rookie Toilolo should not be rostered heading into the Falcons' Week 6 bye.
Jim Dray, Arizona Cardinals
We have been hyping Rob Housler as a sleeper and, trust us, he will emerge. Dray will not, despite the touchdown reception Sunday.
Tony Scheffler, Detroit Lions
He got some targets, catches and yards, but it was a function of Calvin Johnson's (knee) absence. The veteran Scheffler is a third tight end behind Pettigrew and Fauria for a Lions team that hasn't used the tight end enough yet.
Defensive/Special Teams: Some Bad Quarterbacks Can Be Taken Advantage Of
Defense/Special Teams to Add
They were likely cut in your league heading into that matchup against the Patriots, and now the Bills, who are starting Thaddeus Lewis off the practice squad, await. How tasty does that matchup look? The Bengals should be active in all leagues for this one.
They weren't great against the Cardinals, but the Vikings have been among fantasy's bottom 10 performers against defenses, and they have a shaky quarterback situation. The Panthers are available in 32 percent of CBS Sports leagues and are a viable streaming option this week in that matchup.
New York Jets
They held up surprisingly well Monday night against the Falcons, and the Steelers are next up on the schedule. Pittsburgh has been the fourth worst against opposing fantasy defenses and the Jets return home. If you don't like your No. 1 defense's matchup, you should consider the Jets here.
Defense/Special Teams to Monitor
St. Louis Rams
They had a solid performance in Week 5 and the error-prone Matt Schaub is on the docket for Week 6. Opposing defenses have feasted on the Texans to the tune of the second-most fantasy points, mostly because of Schaub's pick-six affinity. We are going to go out on a limb and say that streak ends here. The Rams are a matchup play in fantasy, and this matchup isn't quite as favorable as it looks.
We still think they will prove fantasy-viable before the season is out, but starting the Falcons against the Jets didn't work out Monday night. We probably cannot feel too confident the 0-4 Steelers are going to be able to score fantasy points against the Jets, despite their bottom-six standing against defenses in fantasy.
They can stop the run and they have Joe Haden to take an elite receiver out of the game plan, so there is something here for fantasy owners with the Browns. We don’t like advising anyone to use this unit against a potentially potent Lions offense, though.
Defense/Special Teams to Ignore
They are coming off a great week against the Panthers, but the 49ers are one of the toughest opponents for a fantasy defense (sixth best). The 49ers don't pile up yardage—at least not since opening week against the Packers—but they can run the ball, control the clock and keep turnovers to a minimum. It is going to be a bad week to jump on the Cardinals defense.
San Diego Chargers
This is a matchup-play unit and the Colts have been one of the worst matchups for fantasy defenses to date (third best). Look elsewhere.
Kickers: Why Did You Ignore Us on Mason Crosby and Alex Henery?
Kickers to Add
Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
You ignored us last week on the prospects of this kicker. His five field goals Sunday should get you to fall in line. He is a start in all leagues, despite being owned in just 39 percent of CBS Sports formats.
Alex Henery, Philadelphia Eagles
Ditto here. Henery is coming off the highest-scoring week for kickers this season, and the Bucs have allowed an average of three field-goal attempts per game. Henery is among the top 12 kickers this week.
Ryan Succop, Kansas City Chiefs
You have to be a believer in Andy Reid's Chiefs by now. Succop is an elite fantasy option kicking for a team that can move the ball on anyone and has a quarterback in Alex Smith who doesn't project to be a surgeon in the red zone.
Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
The Giants are terrible. Gould should get plenty of opportunities Thursday night, if you were using one of the two kickers who are hitting the bye week and you miss out on those above.
Kickers to Monitor
Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons
That Falcons offense doesn't look as impressive now as it did coming into the season, but Steven Jackson (hamstring) and Roddy White (ankle/hamstring) should be healthier after the bye week. Everyone is going to be dropping this potential top-five kicker. If you have an extra roster spot later this week, you might want to stash him for the stretch.
Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins
He is headed into his bye week, but his strong leg and improving supporting cast in Miami can make him a solid set-and-forget play come Week 7 and beyond.
Kickers to Ignore
Billy Cundiff, Cleveland Browns
There are too many productive offenses to consider a kicker for the Browns. Sure, Brandon Weeden is likely to stall in the red zone, but you cannot be sure he can lead his team into it enough, either.
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders
We had him pegged as a bust because of the Raiders offense's perceived lack of potential to start the season. Now that the offense looks decent with Terrelle Pryor at the helm, SeaBass is underperforming for fantasy owners. The Chiefs also happen to have allowed the fourth-fewest points to kickers to date.