Week 11 Waiver Wire: Top Pickups
The grind of the fall has tested the depth of our fantasy rosters and those of NFL teams. Not only have the stars gone down for the season—like Arian Foster (back), Doug Martin (shoulder) and David Wilson (neck) this week—but their backups are falling, too.
Now we are left picking through the likes of Dolphins receiver Rishard Matthews and Bucs reserve running backs Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey, each of whom was impressive Monday night.
It is the bazaar for the bizarre, the fantasy football waiver wire, and we help you pick through the weekly swap meet in this six-part, position-by-position slideshow.
Quarterbacks: It Is a Good Time to Buy Low on Carson Palmer...for One Week
Quarterbacks to Add
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
He has hardly been good, much less great, in fantasy terms yet, but a matchup against the Jags is on the schedule this week. Facing the Jags coming off a victory is like buying a stock at its basement.
Facing the third-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks, Palmer should be good for his first 300-yard game since Week 1. Three touchdowns are possible, too. Consider him the bye-week replacement play of the week if you have Tony Romo idle or Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) in the infirmary.
Case Keenum, Houston Texans
It was another productive week for Keenum in fantasy, despite a loss. He does a great job pumping the ball into the end zone—for the right team—unlike Matt Schaub. Keenum also has lost Arian Foster (back), so the passing game in a lost season is going to be leaned on the rest of the way. Keenum has the targets and a favorable home matchup against the Raiders working for him, too.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
You might have been burned by Smith as a spot starter in some weeks, but the Broncos figure to push the pace against the Chiefs this week and force Smith to throw more than he is usually asked. The bye week should have served Jamaal Charles well, and Andy Reid certainly has worked extensively on finding ways to get the ball to Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs' No. 1 receiving threat.
Smith can go for 250 yards and multiple touchdowns here, particularly since the Broncos are third worst against the pass.
Quarterbacks to Monitor
EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
It wasn't a great return, but Manuel had some big fantasy moments earlier this season, and the lost Bills figure to have garbage time working in their favor down the stretch. Manuel is a must-start in two-quarterback formats and a potential sleeper in others when the matchup is right. A matchup against the Jets doesn't cut it, but Week 13 (vs. Atlanta) and Week 15 (at Jacksonville) do.
Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
The Bears rushed Jay Cutler (groin) back too soon, and McCown is going to be back at the helm for a pass-friendly Bears offense under West Coast guru Marc Trestman. A matchup against the Ravens isn't a good one, but if Cutler is out for another few weeks, McCown can prove valuable to fantasy owners.
Scott Tolzien, Green Bay Packers
The Packers are down to their third quarterback and have signed Matt Flynn off the street. It looks like a disaster, but Tolzien wasn't terrible with his limited snaps a week ago. It will be interesting to see what he can do with the full game plan this week against the Giants.
Quarterbacks to Ignore
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker (foot) is the Glass Joe of fantasy football, but Fitzpatrick still isn't a great option in standard leagues. The Titans couldn't beat the Jags, so it will be hard to trust Fitzpatrick against anyone else.
Kellen Clemens, St. Louis Rams
Ignore the big plays by Tavon Austin. Clemens is still a dink-and-dunk passer in a ground-and-pound Rams offense. He is also heading to his bye in Week 11.
Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
He might have saved his NFL job in the short term, but he cannot salvage much value for fantasy owners. The Vikings offense is still Adrian Peterson left, right and center.
Running Backs: Ravens Hinting They Might Go from Ray Rice to Bernard Pierce
Running Backs to Add
Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice has been so frustrating, even coach Jim Harbaugh is questioning his health, according to a tweet by Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. That's bad news for Rice owners, but good news to Pierce owners in the 36 percent of CBS Sports leagues he is owned. You will want to join that group if you are a Rice owner, no matter what you think of the Ravens' offensive line and 30th-ranked rushing attack.
Jeff Zrebiec of the Sun tweets the Ravens are going to go with the hot hand moving forward. With Rice running like a "kid in a snowsuit"—as Matt Vensel of the Sun so entertainingly tweeted—you will want Pierce on your roster going forward, especially with the Bears' 31st-ranked rush defense next on the schedule.
Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The loss of rookie Mike James (fractured ankle) for likely at least a month puts the ball in the hands of Leonard and Rainey now in the Bucs offense. Leonard got the majority of the carries, but Rainey had the touchdown and bigger fantasy score between the two Monday night. We would lean toward the more-experienced Leonard first on the waiver wire if you need a back, but both are viable, particularly since the Bucs face the fifth-worst rush defense (tied) in the NFL next week—Atlanta.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Brown has almost entirely taken over as the Colts' receiving back, and Trent Richardson's struggles with ineffectiveness and ankle woes have Brown on the verge of taking over the rushing touches, too. Available in almost 50 percent of CBS Sports leagues, Brown is a solid addition in all leagues, particularly PPR formats.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
He was underwhelming against the 49ers in a tough defensive struggle, but you should figure he gets more of the workload as the weeks wear on for the now-contending Panthers. Stewart is a must-have for DeAngelo Williams owners, and he is still a better start than hoping for goal-line back Mike Tolbert to vulture a one-yard touchdown.
Running Backs to Monitor
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
He erupted for the best game in his young career, but he is still the third man in the Saints backfield going forward. Pierre Thomas starts, and Darren Sproles is the leading pass receiver. Also, you cannot expect Ingram to muster much of any garbage time against the 49ers coming off a loss. Yes, Ingram is an intriguing talent, but he still isn't in a great situation to help fantasy owners.
Dennis Johnson, Houston Texans
Johnson rose in fantasy intrigue once Arian Foster (back) was reported to have decided on season-ending back surgery, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Ben Tate will still get the majority of the work, but Tate also has a fractured rib and multiple bruised ones. That makes Johnson real close to being a feature back in an offense that was supposed to be one of the most run-oriented ones in football.
Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans
The Titans are awful with their usage of Chris Johnson—always have been—so Greene will get more carries than he deserves on a weekly basis. Greene gets the goal-line work, too. We wouldn’t be too excited about Greene against the Colts, though. Indy is in fantasy's top 10 against running backs.
Running Backs to Ignore
Benny Cunningham, St. Louis Rams
He picked up 72 yards rushing spelling workhorse Zac Stacy, but we see that performance being a function of the score. The Rams won't blow many teams out going forward; it will be all Stacy. Cunningham is a mere Stacy handcuff at this point.
Jordan Todman, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags called Denard Robinson the backup to Maurice Jones-Drew coming out of the bye, but it was Todman who reached the end zone spelling MJD. If anything happens to the veteran starter, Todman will have more value than Robinson, but owning Jags starters is tough enough this time of year in fantasy, much less stashing their backups.
Wide Receivers: Pick Up Rishard Matthews over Tavon Austin? Targets Say So, Yes
Wide Receivers to Add
Rishard Matthews, Miami Dolphins
Colin Kaepernick's collegiate receiver enjoyed a huge breakthrough on Monday Night Football, reeling in 11 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Wallace has become an afterthought, and even Brian Hartline wasn't getting the targets Matthews was getting.
We cannot be sure this will be an every-week thing, but the production certainly will lead the Dolphins to put the ball in Matthews' hands going forward. Also, a matchup looms against San Diego, fourth worst in fantasy against wide receivers.
Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer hasn't done much to excite fantasy owners this season, but a matchup against the Jags is next on the schedule. It should mean big things for the upstart Cardinals, especially the likes of Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts as the secondary options to Larry Fitzgerald.
Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers
Wondering how Boykin outproduced a healthy Jordy Nelson and recovering James Jones this week? Look to the phenomenon of a backup quarterback having a rapport with the reserve receivers. Scott Tolzien and Boykin worked together most of the early part of the season on the scout team, and now they are working together in the Packers' live games. Consider Boykin more intriguing with Tolzien than he was with Aaron Rodgers (shoulder)—seriously.
Wide Receivers to Monitor
Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
Everyone is going to look at the 138 yards and the two touchdowns. What you really need to look at are the mere two catches and the snap count of just 15, according to ESPN's Nick Wagoner.
Austin has game-breaking ability—we all knew that from draft day. What we want to see is more significant usage by the Rams and fantasy consistency. Austin is someone to stash but not start until he shows the latter.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
For those about to jump on Crabtree this week—FantasyPros.com ranks him No. 1 this week—take note of Mario Manningham's performance returning from knee surgery: three catches for 30 yards. Manningham isn't in Crabtree's class of talent, but his injury is far more common to come back early from than the Achilles surgery Crabtree underwent in May.
It will be weeks before Crabtree is worthy of being active for the 49ers, much less fantasy-worthy. Hold off and pick up Manningham instead.
Wide Receivers to Ignore
Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks
He has had some fantasy-worthy performances this season, but the pending return of Percy Harvin (hip) will slide him to a mere fourth on the depth chart for a run-heavy Seahawks team. Harvin, Golden Tate and even Doug Baldwin warrant being owned before Kearse, despite the 75 yards and a touchdown Sunday.
Jerricho Cotchery, Pittsburgh Steelers
He reeled in another touchdown, but we still should put more fantasy importance on Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders going forward. Ben Roethlisberger was merely mediocre against the Bills, so don't expect many of the 400-yard, four-touchdown games he posted against the Pats going forward. Cotchery is a third or fourth option for the Steelers—if you count tight end Heath Miller—so don't bother with him amid this sneaky streak.
Tight Ends: Rob Housler Is About to Emerge as a Steady Fantasy Option Here
Tight Ends to Add
Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals
Housler's season got off to a slow start because of a high-ankle sprain, but now he is ready to take off. Not only is Housler coming off his first career touchdown, but he is also drawing the third-worst team in fantasy against tight ends in Week 11.
Housler is an outstanding fill-in if you are a Jason Witten or Jared Cook owner. Heck, Housler might be a top-12 fantasy option down the stretch in all leagues, regardless.
John Carlson, Minnesota Vikings
You can dislike Christian Ponder all you want, but he does do a decent job of getting the ball to the tight end. Carlson is that man now in Minny with Kyle Rudolph (foot) out. Seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown make Carlson the flavor of the week at the roller-coaster tight end position.
Tight Ends to Monitor
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
After some early-season touchdowns by rookie Joseph Fauria, Pettigrew has gotten a bigger piece of the Lions' passing pie. We wouldn't play him against the Steelers' No. 4-ranked pass defense, but he could prove to be a sleeper for a tight end-needy owner down the stretch of his contract year.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
He won't be a first option for replacement quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the passing game, but he will be a red-zone target. That is enough to consider him in deeper leagues. Don't bother with him against the Colts, though. They have allowed just one touchdown to the position and the second-fewest receptions to tight ends (29) to date.
Tight Ends to Ignore
Brandon Bostick, Green Bay Packers
Like Jarrett Boykin, Bostick had a solid game with his scout-team quarterback, Scott Tolzien. Expect Tolzien to work more of the Packers' primary options into the game plan this week as he gets first-team reps in practice.
Chris Gragg, Buffalo Bills
His four catches and a touchdown Sunday were the firsts of his career. It is more likely they could be his last than a sign of things to come.
Logan Paulsen, Washington Redskins; Ryan Griffin, Houston Texans; and Taylor Thompson, Tennessee Titans
One catch for a touchdown is not enough to get any of this trio picked up in fantasy leagues. Look away.
Defense/Special Teams: Time to Go the Well on the Jets and Texans Defenses
Defense/Special Teams to Add
New York Jets
They return from their bye in time to face the Buffalo Bills, the sixth-worst team in fantasy against opposing defense/special teams units. Rex Ryan is sure to have his defense prepared for this divisional matchup.
They have fallen on the hardest of times, but a matchup at home against the Raiders should cure all that ails. The Texans can still play defense and get after the quarterback. This is a great week to stream them in all fantasy leagues.
Defense/Special Teams to Monitor
St. Louis Rams
If not for a bye week, this might be the most-added unit in fantasy after what it did to dismantle the Colts—in Indy no less. The Rams have some stars on that defense, and they will play offense to placate to it in the season's final weeks.
San Francisco 49ers
They have been mostly disappointing for fantasy owners, and a matchup against the potent Saints in the Superdome might get them cut in some leagues. Jump all over this unit, which will play hungry and nasty down the stretch.
Defense/Special Teams to Ignore
That was a disappointing performance against the Bucs in prime time, and now the Chargers come to town. You cannot trust the Dolphins in that matchup.
Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There are some defensive stars on these units, but they are facing bad matchups in Week 11 and haven't been consistent scorers in fantasy. They are low-end options the rest of the way, even when facing favorable opponents.
Kickers: Fantasy Owners Need to Turn Back to Phil Dawson and Nick Folk
Kickers to Add
Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers
He is coming off a three-field-goal week, and a potential shootout against the Saints looms. The 49ers can hit the Saints with the run and move the ball into the red zone a lot more than the Cowboys did a week ago. Expect not only a big week for Dawson, but a great stretch run, too.
Nick Folk, New York Jets
The fourth-highest-scoring kicker in fantasy returns from his bye to face a team that is the third most forgiving in fantasy against the position, allowing a league-high 25 field-goal attempts. The bye has left Folk available in almost 60 percent of CBS Sports leagues, too.
Kickers to Monitor
Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings
The frustrating sophomore cracked double digits in Week 10, so you might consider this big leg an option to help down the stretch. You just shouldn't trust him against the Seahawks in Week 11, though.
Shaun Suisham, Pittsburgh Steelers
If the running game and defense in Pittsburgh get going like they did in Week 10, Suisham can return to being a trustworthy fantasy option. He needs a few more weeks of consistent production to reach that status, though.
Kickers to Ignore
Jay Feely, Arizona Cardinals
He has had some productive weeks in fantasy this season, but we could see the Cardinals blanking the Jags 28-0 and Feely finishing with a mere four extra points this week. Don't trust him in that matchup.
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders
Despite the big name, he has finished among the top 12 scoring kickers just twice through 10 weeks. That's just 20 percent useful, despite his 40 percent ownership in CBS Sports leagues.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.
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