Injuries continue to be a huge factor this year and have affected some of the best players in the league. But even though these things can suck the life right out of your team, you deal with them and move on because, hey, this is fantasy football—not fantasy badminton.
Still, with guys like Darren McFadden, Ahmad Bradshaw and Miles Austin all recovering at a snail's pace, along with Adrian Peterson being banged up and now Fred Jackson out for the season, what do you do?
Hopefully, you stashed a little depth on your squad that you can plug right in there—but what if you didn't?
This is where the all-important waiver wire comes in handy and why you need to know exactly who's worth picking up and who you can ignore.
At this point in the game, most of the players on lists such as these are guys that are highly unlikely to be available but may have either been dropped in your league for various reasons or are simply out there on the waiver wire by sheer chance.
Is Matt Moore actually good?!?!
Well, I think the more appropriate term would be "serviceable," but if you happened to have had Matt Schaub or Michael Vick running as your QB1 for most of the year, he might be worth a look with each of the Dolphins next four opponents (Oakland, Philadelphia, Buffalo, New England) ranking in the bottom nine teams in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs.
The Chiefs grabbed Kyle Orton and his $2.8 million price tag off waivers for a reason—to be their starter for the rest of the season.
It's more than obvious just how bad Tyler Palko is under center as his arm is clearly no better than a schoolgirl's and because of that, I expect to see Orton in there as soon as possible regardless of whether he knows the playbook or not.
If Kansas City didn't have a good WR corps, I would maybe let him sit on the wire until he proves himself, but Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin make up a pretty solid squad, so go ahead and take a chance on Mr. Neck-Beard.
Yes, T.J. is just a rookie with only a couple quarters of experience at this point, but being able to throw to Andre Johnson or dump the ball off to Arian Foster gives him immediate fantasy potential.
If you have a spot for him and are looking to take a chance, Yates may be your guy.
It's clear Caleb Hanie won't be winning games for the Bears with his arm, so I expect the Chicago offense to switch to a predominantly run-heavy scheme until Cutler returns.
They've already worn Matt Forte down to the bone during the first 11 games, so look for Barber to be used quite a bit over the next month in order to keep Forte fresh enough for the playoffs.
Besides, Marion the Barbarian has five touchdowns in only eight games played so far this year, so it's not that it wasn't scoring some decent fantasy points beforehand anyway.
With Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford still out, along with RB Taiwan Jones being a bit banged up, Reece has taken on a bigger role in the offense and responded very well.
He was one of Palmer's main dump-off options against the Bears on Sunday catching five balls on seven targets for a team-high 92 yards.
So, if you're in a deep league and looking for a quick filler on your team, Reece could be your guy for a week or two if need be.
I'm mentioning Donald Brown one more time even though he's likely already been snatched up in your league.
However, one reason why he might still be available is because nobody knew what would happen in the Colts backfield with the return of Joseph Addai this last weekend.
The answer to that question is also the reason why I'm telling you to pick him up now because when it came down to it, the Colts liked what Donald had been showing them enough to basically sit Delone Carter all game long while getting Brown twice as many touches as Addai.
Brownie also has three touchdowns in his last six games and at least 15 touches in his last three. Not too shabby.
Washington's backfield has no doubt been a mess (to put it lightly) all season long, but it seems Coach Shanahan has finally found himself a winner.
Of course, the chance Helu is still available in your league is slim-to-none, but I thought I'd mention him one more time just in case.
Johnny Knox has ALWAYS been the best play-making wide receiver on this team, but it looks like the Bears coaching staff was the last to know.
If Johnny had never before had a game-changing day like the one he just had on Sunday, I might call it a fluke and tell you to stay away. However, he has, and will probably have at least one more of them with the Bears suddenly needing a guy like Knox now that Cutler is out for awhile and with defenses likely loading up against the run.
With his speed, he's certainly worth a flier as a plug-in WR3/flex at this stage of the game.
Baldwin is probably still on someone's team in your league, but it's also possible he was dropped recently due to his lack of production and erratic play.
With Sidney Rice suffering another head injury, Baldwin should consistently lead the team in targets while he's out and could be a nice pickup for deep or PPR leagues.
I'm listing both Avant and Cooper here as a tandem because it will be tough to predict which one of these guys will have a better game this Thursday night with Maclin still unlikely to suit up.
Two weeks ago, it was Cooper who stood up grabbing the game-winning touchdown while also leading the team in targets with 12. Last week, it was Avant leading the way with 14 targets, eight catches, 110 yards and a TD.
Avant will have more value for the rest of the season as Jeremy Maclin will make it back onto the field at some point, thus sending Cooper back to the bench.
When the Bills lost WR Donald Jones for the season, their plan was simply to go with Naaman Roosevelt as they had when Jones was out earlier in the season. However, when Roosevelt was deemed to be out this past weekend, they asked the insanely athletic Brad Smith to step up and take his place.
Smith responded by leading the team in yards with 77 while also making one of the more acrobatic/athletic touchdown catches of the year.
He's a long shot to make an impact for your team in most fantasy formats, but he's at least a great pickup for return-yardage leagues if that's how you roll.
Davis is a shot in the dark for the most part, but with Caleb Hanie under center for the Bears, he could start to see more targets on check-downs going forward.
Besides, Kellen played basketball for Michigan State a few years back and is a huge target for Hanie to throw to out there standing 6'7" and weighing around 270 pounds.
It never hurts to have something in common with Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham, right?
Click here to see the Full List of Waiver Wire Pickups and Drops from every week of the season
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