You have to feel for Rob Gronkowski, and you have to feel for his fantasy owners, too.
After missing the first six weeks of the regular season, Gronkowski returned and was tearing it up at tight end, rewarding those owners who patiently stashed him. But on Sunday, Gronk tore his ACL and MCL and is out for the season, a major blow to the New England Patriots and fantasy owners alike.
Thus, you'll find that my weekly round-up of the most intriguing waiver targets this week has a tight end feel to it, as I try to identify the best players to add for the Gronk owners out there. His loss during the fantasy playoffs is a major blow, but it doesn't mean all is lost.
There are players out there worth adding. With this slideshow, you won't miss out on them.
Percent Owned: 1.0 percent
Analysis: With Adrian Peterson unlikely to play this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles with a sprained right foot, according to Ben Goessling of ESPN, Toby Gerhart becomes easily the top waiver target this week.
The bruising runner certainly made the most of his opportunity this week, rushing 15 times for 89 yards and a touchdown when Peterson left the game in the second quarter. If he played anywhere other than Minnesota, Gerhart would probably get a lot more work, so don't be surprised if he has a very nice game against the Eagles.
If you have waiver priority this week, he's absolutely the man to add.
Percent Owned: 36.8 percent
Analysis: In Week 14, Julian Edelman played in all 82 offensive snaps for the New England Patriots according to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, while Danny Amendola played in 62. It would appear that the more valuable receiver to own right now is Edelman, not Amendola.
The numbers back it up. Edelman has 47 fantasy points in the past three weeks, while Amendola has just 15. Widely available in ESPN leagues, Edelman is the wide receiver you'll want to target this week.
Percent Owned: 1.4 percent
Analysis: Welcome back, Dennis Pitta.
In his first game back this season, Pitta was a major part of the Ravens offense, catching six passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. Pitta's absence was felt in Baltimore this season, and you can bet Joe Flacco will continue to look his way early and often.
For Gronk owners, Pitta should absolutely be your top priority this week on waivers.
Percent Owned: 5.2 percent
Analysis: Despite battling a torn ligament in his ankle, Daniel Thomas was on fire this weekend, rushing 16 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. Now, with the possibility that Lamar Miller could be out this upcoming week after sustaining a concussion against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Thomas could find himself as the primary option in Miami's backfield.
He's still a risky play—and if you can get Gerhart, do it—but Thomas is a nice consolation prize for those owners needing a back who can't land the Vikings bruiser.
Percent Owned: 1.1 percent
Analysis: Starting to notice a theme at running back?
According to Michael DiRocco of ESPN, Maurice Jones-Drew "will not practice until Friday at the earliest and his status for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills is in doubt because of a hamstring strain."
So you MJD owners might want to make sure you are handcuffing him with Jordan Todman this week.
It isn't a sexy waiver addition, I know—he rushed just seven times for 14 yards in relief duty, though he did add a 21-yard touchdown reception—but with MJD looking unlikely to play, owners needing a spot start at running back could do worse.
Percent Owned: 33.4 percent
Analysis: Garrett Graham is Captain Inconsistency, but boy, when he shows up, he really shows up.
On Thursday night, Graham caught eight passes for 73 yards and a touchdown, the second time in the past four weeks he had 13 or more fantasy points. Of course, in the other two games during that span he had a total of six fantasy points, so he's a boom-or-bust option.
If you have the stomach to handle that roller coaster, get on board. If you want someone a little safer to replace Gronk, well, I wouldn't blame you.
Percent Owned: 16.9 percent
Analysis: Like both Gerhart and Thomas, James Starks has potential value due to an injury ahead of him on the depth chart.
While Eddie Lacy was able to return to the game on Sunday after spraining his ankle, his status for this week remains up in the air. If he can't go—or if he is limited in any way—Starks would see his role increase dramatically.
It's a risky waiver addition—you'll probably want to wait to check on Lacy's status until later in the week, as it appears he's more likely to play than not—but Starks is worth monitoring.
Percent Owned: 1.9 percent
Analysis: Wright has been consistently inconsistent throughout the year, if that makes sense. He's scored seven or more fantasy points in five of the past nine weeks but has scored just one fantasy point in every other game.
His upside is low—his season high in points scored is 11—but you basically have a 50 percent chance of getting solid production from him. Feeling lucky?
Percent Owned: 6.8 percent
Analysis: As long as Matt McGloin remains the starter, Rod Streater will continue to have fantasy value.
Since McGloin took over as the starter in Week 11, Streater has 45 fantasy points in four games. When you consider that he had 44 fantasy points in his first nine games, it's not hard to see that he and McGloin have chemistry.
The eventual return of Denarius Moore should limit his value somewhat, but for now Streater is one of the most valuable wide receivers likely available on waivers.
Percent Owned: 36.4 percent
Analysis: He ain't a sexy addition, but he has been pretty hot of late.
Brian Hartline has 42 fantasy points in his past four games, including touchdowns in consecutive weeks. His upside is generally limited, but he also is virtually guaranteed to get you about five points if you start him.
If you don't have a taste for risky wide receivers at the expense of upside, Hartline is your guy.
Percent Owned: 14.4 percent
Analysis: Yup, another running back whose value might be bolstered by injury.
With Willis McGahee suffering a concussion against the New England Patriots, his status for Week 15 is up in the air. Chris Ogbonnaya isn't normally a player you'd want to start, but a matchup against a Chicago Bears team giving up 20.9 fantasy points to opposing running backs, 30th in the NFL, is certainly appealing.
He should be a bit down your waiver wish list, but he could be in line for a solid day if McGahee can't play.
Percent Owned: 3.7 percent
Analysis: The exciting and young Ladarius Green went without a catch this past week, but he's still carved out a role on the San Diego offense.
Look, his real value comes in keeper and dynasty leagues, but if you think the game between the Chargers and Denver Broncos this week will be a shootout, Green could be worth the gamble, especially after totaling 24 fantasy points in Weeks 12 and 13 combined.
Percent Owned: 0.4 percent
Analysis: Marcedes Lewis has suddenly awoken, with 18 combined fantasy points in the past two weeks. Of course, 12 of those points have come from two touchdowns—and he has just five catches during that time—so his value is tied to touchdowns.
That makes him very, very risky but still worth consideration for Gronk owners in deep or two-TE leagues if the pickings are slim at tight end.
Percent Owned: 5.0 percent
Analysis: Cordarrelle Patterson is going to be a popular sleeper in drafts next season. His talent is electrifying, and he's continued to grow as a player in his rookie season. But can you trust him yet this season?
Maybe, maybe not, but a matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles—currently allowing 28.2 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, worst in the NFL—is certainly appealing. Add in the fact that AD will likely miss the game and the Minnesota Vikings may in turn make Patterson a focal point, and you have a strong case for flexing Patterson in deeper leagues.
Percent Owned: 0.1 percent
Analysis: Like Patterson, Da'Rick Rogers is going to be a very popular sleeper pick next season. His talent is immense, he'll have more of a chance to develop a rapport with Andrew Luck and he gave folks a taste of what could be in his future in Week 14, catching six passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns on nine targets.
He has more overall talent than LaVon Brazill and could take some serious pressure off T.Y. Hilton in the passing game if he continues to produce. It would be a pretty big gamble to start him, but for owners in dynasty leagues looking for a stash option, Rogers has the potential to be a star.
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