Week 9 Waiver Wire: Breaking Down Most Intriguing Pickups
The second week in a row with six teams on bye weeks means hitting the waiver wire hard will once again be vital for fantasy owners.
Unfortunately, the pickings are looking pretty slim this week.
While there still appear to be a few excellent options on waivers, there isn't a great deal of depth to choose from this week. Nonetheless, I think I've uncovered a few diamonds in the rough this week as injuries and bye weeks continue to make fantasy lineups thin.
Notes: All point totals for standard-scoring leagues. Ownership percentages and points against stats via ESPN. The Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars are all on a bye.
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Ownership: 21.1 percent
Analysis: Andre Ellington certainly made himself a prime waiver target this week after rushing 15 times for 154 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, the third time in four weeks he's scored eight or more fantasy points.
Despite being on a bye this week, if you are going to add Ellington, you'll need to do it now. The question is, what exactly will you be getting?
Well, probably a timeshare approach in Arizona once Rashard Mendenhall returns from injury, according to head coach Bruce Arians (via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com):
Arians didn’t say anything Monday that would set in concrete Ellington would stay the starter at running back. He didn’t say anything that would set in concrete Mendenhall would stay the starter either. He reiterated that Ellington would get the touches they had planned for him to get (he had 17 Sunday on 33 snaps, and that’s about what the Cardinals would like to do each week) and that if Mendenhall plays, he would take the work back from rookie Stepfan Taylor, who had 14 carries Sunday.
“We’ll see how that plays out when (Rashard) comes back,” Arians said, later adding, “I’ll evaluate it when he comes back but I’m sure he will resume his role, as long as he’s full-speed.”
Ellington is the running back you want in Arizona, but he'll continue to be just a flex consideration given his limited snap count.
Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Ownership: 1.1 percent
Analysis: No player will be added in more leagues this week than breakout star Marvin Jones, who is fresh off of a four-touchdown performance on Sunday.
But should you be wary of the Cincinnati Bengals wideout? My answer to that question was "yes" in a full breakdown of his fantasy forecast moving forward (found here), but I'll provide the bullet points from that article on this slide.
- In the last three weeks, Jones has 63 fantasy points and six touchdowns, meaning touchdowns have represented 57 percent of his fantasy value, a ratio that isn't sustainable for top performers.
- According to Rotoworld, he's been targeted six times in the red zone this year, resulting in six touchdowns. That perfect ratio will be difficult to sustain.
- According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), via Rotoworld, Jones played on just 19 snaps against the New York Jets. Moreover, he's played on just 33.4 percent of the Bengals' offensive snaps in the past three weeks. That usage makes his current level of production very unstable.
- He's still second fiddle to A.J. Green, who has 26 targets the past three weeks to Jones' 19.
I absolutely think you should add Jones on waivers this week, but I think a solid comparison for him is Rueben Randle of the New York Giants, a weekly flex consideration but not worthy of WR2 status.
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
Ownership: 21.7 percent
Analysis: This is the fourth-straight week that Stacy appears on this list, in large part because he is still widely available, at least in ESPN leagues. Stacy now has 42 fantasy points in his four starts, averaging out to a cool 10.5 fantasy points per week.
With all of the upheaval and injuries at running back this year, that makes him a must-own player. Yes, he has tough matchups the next two weeks against the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts, but I said the same thing about this week's game against the Seattle Seahawks, and he rushed 26 times for 134 yards.
Go out and get him.
Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints
Ownership: 1.1 percent
Analysis: Coming into Week 6, Kenny Stills had a total of 12 fantasy points. He doubled that total against the New England Patriots, however, catching three passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, good for 12 points.
So that gave him 24 points heading into the bye and eventually a Week 8 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. Stills again doubled his total in that game, catching three passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns, good for 24 fantasy points.
So, logically, it holds that Stills should score 48 points this week the New York Jets.
Okay, okay, so that's ridiculous, but Stills is definitely worth a look. There are two reasons why he isn't an Eddie Royal (aka a player who has a few big weeks then disappears) in waiting:
- He's a young, developing player. A slow start to the season isn't surprising.
- Jimmy Graham is battling a partially torn plantar fascia and Marques Colston is missing in action at this point. There is a bigger role to be had in this passing game, and Stills seems to be seizing it.
Like Jones, adding Stills means you are adding a weekly flex consideration. Remember, he has just six receptions and seven targets in his past two games, so his current rate of production seems unstable unless Drew Brees looks his way more often.
But based on Stills' play in recent weeks, I'm guessing Brees will do just that.
Mike James, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ownership: 14.3 percent
Analysis: Mike James was stifled by a tough Carolina Panthers defense, finishing the Thursday night game with just 64 yards from scrimmage, no touchdowns and 6.4 fantasy points. Now, he gets another tough matchup against the Seahawks.
It doesn't seem very positive, but based on the following bit of news regarding Doug Martin's status, James nonetheless remains a must-add player:
James is obviously a must-own handcuff for Martin owners, but in general, his current status as a starting running back gives him fantasy value at a pretty thin position this season.
Owning him may not pay off this week, but he looked good in spurts against the Panthers and could end up being a nice player to have to throw into your flex spot in weeks to come.
Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants
Ownership: 18.2 percent
Analysis: Andre Brown is your sneaky add for this week.
According to Tom Rock of Newsday, Brown is pining for the chance to get on the field in Week 10 against the Oakland Raiders since he will be eligible to come off of injured reserve before the game. It remains to be seen if he'll be ready for that game, but he's definitely worth a speculative stash this week in case he is.
Upon his return, Brown should be the starter, at least until David Wilson returns. If you can afford to use your waiver priority on a player that won't help you this week, Brown is the perfect player to target.
Tennessee Titans Defense/Special Teams
Ownership: 24.7 percent
Analysis: I generally don't put defenses on this list, since I rank a top 10 at every position on Mondays and generally don't think you should start a defense that isn't in the top 10 for that week (or top 12 in 12-team leagues).
But this week, I wanted to reiterate just how smart it would be to add the Tennessee Titans defense.
For starters, Tennessee comes into this week as the No. 8 fantasy defense, averaging 9.6 points per week in standard-scoring leagues. So there's that.
But even better, the Rams allow 8.5 fantasy points to opposing defenses per week and have given up 27 fantasy points the past two weeks. With Kellen Clemens under center, the Titans defense should be rolling in fantasy points this week.
Oh, and the Titans play the Jaguars next week, meaning your defense slot will be taken care of for the next two weeks. Add it all up, and the Titans defense is a great add this week.
Mike Tolbert, RB, Carolina Panthers
Ownership: 17.3 percent
Analysis: Yes, I know that Mike Tolbert has scored a total of 36 fantasy points in the past three weeks, in large part because he's gotten goal-line work (two rushing scores) and has been utilized in the passing game (six receptions for 69 yards and two more scores).
If he was in a strict timeshare with DeAngelo Williams, I'd be more apt to glowingly recommend him.
Ah, but there's the rub. See, Jonathan Stewart has already said he expects to return for this week's game against the Atlanta Falcons. Fantasy value can be shared amongst two running backs. Amongst three?
Not so much. If Stewart does return, Tolbert looks like the most likely candidate to be the one that loses his fantasy value.
Houston Texans Backfield
Analysis: So, here's what we know—Arian Foster (hamstring) and Ben Tate (ribs) are both battling injuries and may not be available in Week 9's divisional clash against the Indianapolis Colts (though Tate insists he'll play). Thus, the Houston Texans signed Ray Graham, Deji Karim and Dennis Johnson on Monday.
At this point, it's impossible to know if Tate will be able to play or which of the three running backs signed would get the start if Foster and Tate are sidelined. I would guess Graham, who the team had on the practice squad, but it's a bit early to tell.
This is a "monitor closely" situation. We probably won't know which (if any) of these players is worth adding on waivers, but they could end up being a nice free-agent pickup on Friday or Saturday once more is known on Foster's and Tate's status.
Timothy Wright, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ownership: 0.4 percent
Analysis: Timothy Wright was a garbage-time hero on Thursday night, scoring a late touchdown to give himself fantasy relevance. He should continue to see plenty of garbage-time work with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers proving to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season.
Wright and rookie quarterback Mike Glennon have seemed to click, as the tight end has 14 receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown in the past three weeks. It's safe to consider Wright a TE2 at this point, and he's a nice pickup in two-tight-end leagues or for owners who will have their top tight end on bye in the upcoming weeks.
Tiquan Underwood, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ownership: 0.1 percent
Analysis: In the NFL, injuries mean opportunity for backups, and with Mike Williams done for the season with a torn hamstring, wide receiver Tiquan Underwood should be in line for more usage in Tampa Bay.
From Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com:
Coach says Tiquan Underwood is the next guy up with Mike Williams out. The third receiver spot is not as clear.— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) October 28, 2013
Underwood doesn't have a ton of upside, even as the No. 2 wideout in Tampa—Williams had just 22 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns this season—but he's definitely worth monitoring or adding in really deep leagues.
Dexter McCluster, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Ownership: 2.0 percent
Analysis: Dexter McCluster now has 19 fantasy points and 11 receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown in the past two weeks. He is also third among wide receivers in targets (40) and has clearly become a bigger part of the Kansas City offense in the past two weeks.
While I tend to think any production from McCluster should be filed away in the "Eddie Royal Fool's Gold" section of the waiver wire—he has five or more receptions in just two games this season—his recent production makes him worth monitoring.
David Nelson, WR, New York Jets
Ownership: 0 percent
Analysis: David Nelson has really come on in the last two weeks, with 12 receptions for 160 yards, with a cool 80 yards each week. The New York Jets are really lacking for weapons in the passing game and aren't optimistic Santonio Holmes will be able to return this week, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN, so Nelson looks like a decent add in PPR leagues for owners desperately thin at wide receiver.
Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, commiserate with you over underachieving players and muse over how terrible it must be to get stuck in line next to an impatient Dez Bryant at the DMV.