Week 12 Waiver Wire: Hyped Pickups Who Won't Be Worth a Starting Nod

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2013

Nov 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown (12) calls a play against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

We're all children at heart, so it's only natural that we like showing off and playing with our new toys.

When we're young, new toys take priority over everything. You can't wait to head over to your neighbor's house across the street to show off your new item and share it because "haha, my parents are better than yours because I got a new trampoline, so [flips the double bird]."

We mature a bit as we advance in age but not all that much. Adults show off their new cars, houses or freshly built patios within mere days of the completed purchase, and other adults only put up with this because they know one day they will get to rub their possessions in your face. It's all cyclical and icky and fun.

These same principles apply to fantasy football ownership. Everyone wants to feel like they're the smartest owner in the league beginning on draft night, where we often overrate sleepers to the point that they're no longer sleeping but instead wide-awake organisms sucking the life from your squad. 

During the season, the same principle manifests itself on the waiver wire. Every week there are any number of players worth picking up, and by the time the process goes through or bidding concludes, every owner has deluded themselves into thinking theirs is the best. And they can't wait to show it off by putting the new guy into the starting lineup.

Sometimes it's a good move made at the perfect time to replace a struggling or injured player. Others, the emphasis on "new" backfires instantly, and you're left sitting on the Pontiac Aztek of fantasy purchases (seriously, these were a thing).

Today, we talk about the latter. With that in mind, here's a check-in on a few popular pickups who aren't worthy of your lineup in Week 12.

(Note: All fantasy-related stats are per ESPN.com)


Josh McCown (QB, Chicago Bears)

Nov 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown (12) makes a pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Josh McCown, real life quarterback, may wind up driving Jay Cutler out of a job. The 34-year-old quarterback has been stellar almost every time out this season, compiling five touchdowns without an interception while completing over 60 percent of his passes. While he doesn't have enough reps to qualify, McCown's 81.3 QBR would rank behind only Peyton Manning extrapolated over an entire season.

But the idea that McCown is a potential fantasy starter—or, frankly, even worthy of a pickup outside two-QB leagues—is laughable. In his three extended appearances this season, McCown has averaged just over 15 fantasy points. Remember, we live in an era where 15 points from a quarterback is incredibly "meh," and a good amount of that average can be attributed to his 20-point outing against Green Bay in Week 9.

Keep in mind that the Bears' predilection is to shorter and intermediate routes. Marc Trestman is perfectly happy with McCown protecting the ball, throwing for 220 yards and a touchdown or two and getting out with the win. As he should be. But that isn't helping your fantasy team win a week; it's merely a middle-of-the-road performance.

Plus, Chicago heads to St. Louis this week to take on a very underrated Rams secondary. Janoris Jenkins has developed into one of the finest young corners in the game, and St. Louis ranks 10th in the league at defending opposing fantasy quarterbacks. While they give up a bit more yardage than you'd like, the Rams have allowed only 15 touchdown passes against 11 picks. 

With Robert Quinn and Chris Long rushing McCown on every play, one has a difficult time seeing him being a usable option this week. At best, he hangs somewhere around the 15-20 range among fantasy quarterbacks. At worst, everyone remembers that he's Josh McCown, 34-year-old career backup.

Either way, it's not worth your time.

Better pickups than McCown: Case Keenum, Scott Tolzien (egads!),


Donald Brown (RB, Indianapolis Colts)

Nov 14, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown (31) rushes against Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Zach Brown (55) during the second half at LP Field. Indianapolis won 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

You know that Donald Brown is better than Trent Richardson. I know that Donald Brown is better than Trent Richardson. Somewhere, deep down, I suspect that Trent Richardson knows that Donald Brown is better than him.

The question is whether the Colts do. Or, rather, whether they're willing to admit it yet and begin cutting bait on what's looking like an increasingly misguided trade. It's been more than a month since Richardson rushed for a gain longer than eight yards. He's averaged more than four carries in one game all season long, and the Indy offense has looked infinitely better with Brown behind Andrew Luck.

Despite that, I expect the answer is no. For now.

Nov 10, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson (34) runs the ball during the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Rams won 38-8. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

When the Colts traded for Richardson, they weren't investing in a short-term stopgap like Maurice Jones-Drew, who could have been had for a mid-round pick. They were investing in someone they saw as the Edgerrin James to Luck's Peyton Manning, a franchise back worthy of giving away a first-round draft choice.

No matter how misguided that was at the time—running backs just aren't worth first-round picks anymore—or how wretched the deal looks now, Indianapolis is pot-committed to Richardson. Pep Hamilton's preferred style of offense doesn't just involve establishing the running game, but it involves establishing a power running game. 

Brown is now a "power" back. He's Donald Brown, the dude responsible for having Manning curse him out in the middle of a play because he's a bad pass-blocker. Hamilton and Chuck Pagano are unlikely to be swayed into permanently benching their prized pony to give the ball to Brown 20 times a game, no matter whether or not he looked impressive last week against Tennessee.

The cost-benefit analysis doesn't check out. We have a large sample of Brown being at best a mediocre running back and at worst a glaring liability.

The Colts may look to get Brown and Richardson in more of a timeshare going forward, and he's worth stashing, but you want no part of either of these guys. Just save yourself the hassle.

Better pickups than Brown: Rashad Jennings, Bobby Rainey, Pierre Thomas, Andre Ellington


Jerricho Cotchery (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)

Nov 17, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (89) runs after a pass reception against Detroit Lions strong safety Don Carey (32) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 37-27.  Mandato
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

There's not enough liquor in the cabinet for me to even think about that. Sorry dude.

Cotchery has come back onto fantasy radars over the past few weeks after suddenly becoming Ben Roethlisberger's favorite goal-line target. He's caught five touchdowns over the past three weeks, scoring at least once in each contest, and fantasy owners have a longstanding relationship with him. It's not exactly a positive one—he never quite eclipsed underrated PPR status with the Jets—but not entirely negative, either.

With three straight weeks of touching paydirt and a matchup against the Browns corner not named Joe Haden coming up on Sunday, the process behind considering Cotchery a startable flex or possible WR2 in deep leagues is superficially sound.

It's also easily popped like a bad zit on a teenager. We're all grown-ups at this point. Fantasy football has but a few universal rules that everyone knows—or at least everyone should know.

When it comes to wideouts, the simplest one is that you never trust a receiver whose entire value is based on touchdowns. Sure, Cotchery has scored each of the past two weeks. He's also combined for 79 yards and five receptions on seven total targets. Roethlisberger has targeted him five or fewer times in half of the Steelers' games this season and five of the last six Sundays.

Yes, that whole period where Cotchery suddenly became fantasy catnip. The Steelers' passing offense has never been a unit to which you want to hitch your wagon—Antonio Brown aside—and nothing changes here. 

Don't let a couple touchdowns obscure your judgement. Cotchery may score for a fourth straight week, or he may catch two balls for 18 yards while you shop at Wal-Mart for a replacement for your broken remote.

Step away from the liquor cabinet, and go with a more reliable option.

Better pickups than Cotchery: Michael Floyd, Michael Crabtree (stash!)


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