The trading deadline has passed in your fantasy league. The only way to improve and impact your roster now is via the waiver wire. And surprisingly, this late in the season, the cupboard in my fantasy leagues is not bare.
As fantasy leagues enter the crucial last week or two before the playoffs begin, making the right waiver wire selections is paramount. Picking the wrong running back or receiver could cost you a playoff berth, prize money, a championship and some of the side bets you made with the owners in your league.
Here are four players who should be picked up for the stretch drive in fantasy leagues:
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots (RB)
Players who behave badly should not be rewarded. Jonas Gray found this out when he overslept and went from a four-touchdown fantasy darling to a no-carry bust in one week. He is the walking advertisement for the mantra, “You snooze, you lose!”
But Blount was rewarded for his bad behavior. He was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers after selfishly leaving the field before the end of Pittsburgh’s victory over the Tennessee Titans, and he ended up re-signing with his old team and slithering right into a starting spot.
Blount rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns in his first contest back with the Patriots. He had the advantage of not having to learn an offense or get comfortable with his teammates, and with Gray benched for his tardiness, it gave Blount extra opportunities for carries.
Gray will not be Rip Van Winkle every week, so I am sure between his re-emergence and Shane Vereen’s all-around ability that Blount will be hard-pressed to get more than a dozen carries per week.
But Blount will be the back getting handed the ball near the goal line and in fourth quarters when the Patriots are holding onto their leads. He is definitely the best back available on fantasy free-agent lists right now…in the leagues where he has not been picked up yet.
Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans (QB)
It is harder to find a decent quarterback on the fantasy waiver wire this late in the season than it is to find an Xbox on Black Friday.
Mettenberger has been piling up plenty of passing yards since taking over as Tennessee’s starting signal-caller. He is averaging 271 yards per game in his four starts. He also has seven touchdown tosses compared to four interceptions, so his goods have outweighed his bads.
Mettenberger has a strong arm, but that is not what has made him a fantasy force since he took over as the starter. One thing he has going for him is an above-average receiving corps (Justin Hunter, Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker and Nate Washington) that is so happy they finally have a decent quarterback throwing to them they probably do cartwheels onto the field every Sunday.
Another thing that has helped is that the combination of Tennessee’s mediocre running game and head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s talent for grooming quarterbacks, which means Mettenberger has had plenty of chances to chuck the ball. More pass attempts means more yards and touchdowns, unless you are a New York Jets quarterback.
Tennessee’s next four games are against Houston, Jacksonville and both New York teams. All of them have below-average pass defenses and secondaries at the moment. That bodes well for Mettenberger and his fantasy worth down the stretch. Pick him up.
Daniel Herron, Indianapolis Colts (RB)
Herron wasted no time jumping into Ahmad Bradshaw’s spot and jumping into Trent Richardson’s way to a higher fantasy value. Herron had 12 carries for 65 yards and five receptions for 31 yards last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Herron looked good during the preseason and was rewarded with some raves, but he had been hidden on the depth chart until now. With Bradshaw out for the season and Richardson not having the speed or tools to be a 25-touch-a-game running back, Herron is now in a prime position to put up some fantasy points.
Richardson should be trusted as much as your average car salesman or politician. He has squandered every opportunity afforded him since he has been in Indianapolis. Forget about him being a poor man’s Edgerrin James. He is more of a poor man’s Dominic Rhodes.
Herron could end up getting more touches than Richardson and averaging 50-80 yards and a score per week from here on out, or he could end up being Richardson’s backup and get single-digit carries for zero fantasy value. I am inclined to predict the former will happen and not the latter.
Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (WR)
While Mike Wallace has finally started earning some of his millions this year thanks to his seven touchdowns, the more interesting receiver fantasy-wise the past month has been Mr. Landry.
Landry has four touchdown receptions over his past four games. Trust me, that is not easy to do when Ryan Tannehill is your quarterback. And Landry has been tearing it up in PPR leagues with 24 catches during that month-long span. The LSU product has quietly passed by the comatose Brian Hartline on the target chart.
Landry is not a game-breaker (9.2 YPC?), but the ball has been finding his hands and he has been finding the end zone. Look for Landry if you are in touchdown leagues or PPR leagues, but do not bend over backwards for him in leagues where his 50 yards per week is not overly helpful.