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.
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.
Also on this list are guys who you may not normally think of as a viable pickup, but their schedules over the next few weeks (the Fantasy playoffs) will at least make them useful for teams in deeper leagues.
I know—"Bad Rex" came out of his cave last weekend, but going up against the New York Jets (unless your name is Tom Brady), a poor showing is pretty much par for the course and certainly doesn't mean "Good Rex" is now dead and buried.
Sexy Rexy may have a bit of a hard time getting used to life without TE Fred Davis (suspended for the final four games of 2011), but his schedule for the rest of the season is mouth-watering enough to consider starting him in your upcoming fantasy playoffs with all four teams in the bottom-12 in terms of QB fantasy points allowed (Weeks 14-17: New England, NY Giants, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
This is obviously pure speculation at this point, but with backup QB Caleb Hanie pretty much screwing the pooch the last two games, the Bears may look elsewhere for a QB to lead them into the playoffs.
The more enticing reason to watch for a Bears' move here is their remaining schedule.
Weeks 14-17 feature three of the worst four defenses at defending the pass with Denver (fourth-worst) up next in Week 14, followed by Seattle (21st), Green Bay (first) and Minnesota (third).
If you own Matt Forte, this pickup is a no-brainer. Barber isn't what he used to be, but he'll handle the ball quite a bit over the next two to four weeks and will undoubtedly retain his goal-line job.
Chicago doesn't have a very favorable schedule against the run the rest of the way, but like I said, if you were depending on Forte, you just might need the Barbarian.
The Packers running backs, as a whole, have been teasing owners all season in this offense. However, with James Starks injured yet again, either Brandon Saine or Ryan Grant is going to get a chance to do a little something as the Packers will likely shut Starks down for a week or two so he can make it back healthy for the playoffs.
There are two reasons I'm going with Saine here instead of Grant:
First—because it's pretty much clear as day to anyone who watches football on a regular basis—Ryan Grant sucks. He lacks both speed and hands and can barely break a tackle anymore.
Second, and more importantly, Green Bay's remaining schedule is better set up for a running back who is good at catching passes out of the backfield...a situation in which Saine is FAR better suited for than Grant is.
In fact, at some point during the Packers-Giants game, one of the TV announcers said that he heard Aaron Rodgers actually claim that Brandon Saine has the best hands on the entire team!
I'm not sure I believe it, but at least, Rodgers seems to like him.
This is a pickup meant more for owners playing in 16-man leagues than anything else, with it being yet another situation where you would be looking at the team's schedule as opposed to the actual player himself.
In this case, Rashard Mendenhall's backup, Isaac Redman, becomes a viable option down the stretch due to the Steelers matchups in Weeks 14, 16 and 17 (Cleveland, St. Louis, Cleveland).
Redman has been seeing a decent amount of carries in relief of Mendy this season, and if Pittsburgh wants to keep their workhorse healthy and fresh for the NFL playoffs, they may use Redman even more.
Defenses have been sliding double- and triple-coverage onto Calvin Johnson for a good month or so now, thus leaving both Nate Burleson and Titus Young quite a bit of room to get open in the secondary.
Burleson has been the one making the most of it catching an average of almost six balls a game over the last five weeks, but Young hasn't been too shabby either grabbing a couple of touchdown passes and nearly equaling Burleson in fantasy points.
Besides the Megatron factor, Detroit also owns a sweet remaining fantasy schedule against the pass facing Minnesota, Oakland, San Diego and Green Bay in Weeks 14-17.
I mentioned Brad Smith as a pickup last week, and to be honest, I wasn't quite sure if he would be worth it (though I did mention he would be a long-shot outside of return-yardage leagues).
As it turns out, my eye test and instincts on him were right on.
Against the Titans this past weekend, Smith led all Bills receivers in targets (10), receptions (seven) and yards (72), so it seems Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken quite a liking towards him as well.
With Buffalo looking at San Diego, Miami, Denver and New England over the next four weeks, you could certainly do worse than having Smith as your flex, or possibly, as a WR3 in deep leagues.
Demaryius Thomas has all the intangibles you look for and is likely the most talented of the Broncos' receivers (Eric Decker is awfully close, however), though we won't get to see performances like the one he had against the Vikings very often while Tim Tebow is under center.
Don't get me wrong because no matter what you think of him, Tebow is a full-fledged winner and certainly the right man for the job at this point. However, Denver only throws the ball around 15 times with him running the show, so Demaryius' opportunities to shine are extremely limited.
That said, the Broncos DO happen to play a few more teams susceptible to the pass over the next four weeks highlighted by a Week 15 matchup against the Patriots, so not all is lost for the 6'3" former first-rounder.
When Sidney Rice was put on IR last week and subsequently done for the remainder of the season, a starting receiver spot was suddenly up for grabs in the Seahawks offense.
The initial thought was that Ben Obomanu would be the guy, and Seattle would pretty much go with him, Mike Williams and Doug Baldwin as their top three receivers the rest of the way.
Not so fast, because here comes playmaker extraordinaire, Golden Tate.
Tate has a touchdown in two straight games now and actually leads the team outright with three on the year.
Coach Pete Carroll said before the season that he was intent on getting Golden more involved in the offense this year and sees him as one of the Seahawks' starting WRs for the future.
With a relatively easy schedule against the pass over the next four weeks, Tate may finally begin to live up to expectations.
McCluster is one jittery little guy out there on the field and has become more and more involved in the Chiefs offense lately because of it.
Well, that and the fact that the Chiefs don't have a running back and their quarterback can't throw the ball 30 yards.
Whatever the reason, Dexter has seen an uptick in both his yardage and touches over the last handful of weeks and should continue the trend over the remainder of the season.
With Kansas City facing Green Bay, Oakland and Denver in Weeks 15-17, owners in deeper fantasy leagues should give McCluster a real hard look if he's still on waivers.
Rudolph has finally emerged as the more talented tight end on this Minnesota Vikings team and could be worth a look if you were depending on Fred Davis for the remainder of the season.
He's a bit of a long-shot, but if you play in a 14- or 16-man league and the waiver wire is short on tight ends, Rudolph could be your guy.
I'm adding in Dallas Clark simply as a reminder to owners who might be in leagues where Clark was dropped either due to a lack of production or because of his injury.
He should be back this coming weekend, so with QB Dan Orlovsky playing pretty well and Washington tight end, Fred Davis, almost certainly done for the season (four-game suspension), you just might need him.
Click here to see the Full List of Waiver Wire Pickups and Drops from every week of the season
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