At this juncture of the NFL season, many fantasy football owners are gearing up for their playoff games. Meanwhile, many others are gearing up for 2012.
You can never have enough depth and talent on a dynasty fantasy football roster. That’s why the winning fantasy owners are always looking out for players to pick up, just like Peyton Manning is always looking for another product to endorse. And if you are in a dynasty league where you carry over your entire team from year to year, you are always searching for young talent whose fantasy values could be on the rise in future years.
So here are four players you need to grab off your dynasty league waiver wire this week:
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots (RB)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis does the grunt work and gets the red-zone handoffs, and Danny Woodhead runs the shotgun draws and catches the passes out of the backfield for New England. But looking forward to 2012, Ridley is the one who might be most intriguing to fantasy owners long term.
Rookie Ridley was drafted in the third round this year after an 1,147-yard breakout season with LSU. He possesses superior speed and big-play ability, but he is built low to the ground a la Michael Turner. Ridley has played sparingly, yet he is averaging five yards per carry for the Pats and is coming off a 65-yard outing against the Denver Broncos.
Heading into the 2012 campaign, New England could really use someone to step up and become the top tailback so its running game could be more consistent. When the Patriots were winning Super Bowls they had workhorses like Corey Dillon and Antowain Smith carrying the rock 20 times a game. Ridley has a better chance of being the next workhorse over Woodhead and Green-Ellis.
This Notre Dame product has taken his sweet time making a dent in the fantasy football landscape. The former second-rounder was supposed to help a receiver-starved Seahawks squad as soon as he hit the field, but instead has watched from the sidelines while seemingly lesser-talented receivers like Mike Williams, Doug Baldwin and Ben Obomanu have taken his targets.
Tate is finally showing some signs of life, though. With Williams and Sidney Rice out with injuries, Tate has found the field more often and responded with 11 receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown over his past three games. These are not Jerry Rice-like numbers obviously, but it is the most productive Tate has been in two years.
Some receivers take longer than others to learn how to run routes, understand their offensive schemes and figure out how to separate from defensive backs. So maybe Tate is on the verge of turning a corner—and burning many corners. Plus, you have to assume that there will be a better quarterback than Tarvaris Jackson starting in Seattle next season, which would also help Tate immensely.
Titus Young, Detroit Lions (WR)
With Calvin Johnson drawing double and triple teams, and with Matthew Stafford improving steadily and on the verge of superstardom, the stars are aligning for Young to break out like a bandit in 2012.
Young was quiet during the early portion of the season, failing to find the end zone in his first seven games, but over the last seven he has scored four touchdowns. Stafford is also throwing in Young’s direction more often, a good sign that the franchise quarterback trusts the rookie receiver.
Young is a speedster who is the perfect compliment to the NBA-sized Johnson. It would not be a surprise next season if he takes his fantasy worth to the next level and has an 800-yard, seven-TD type of year.
Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans (TE)
Cook has been an underwhelming underachiever since Tennessee drafted him in the third round of the 2009 Draft. He has hardly made any Titans fans forget about Bo Scaife.
But after failing to record a catch in back-to-back games against Buffalo and New Orleans to kick off December, Cook torched hapless Indianapolis for nine receptions and 103 yards, causing fantasy owners to let out a collective sigh/groan.
So is Cook ready to become the above-average pass-catching tight end many pundits believed he would be? His numbers have steadily increased in each of the past two years. If the trend continues in 2012, Cook could pile up 750 yards and six scores, maybe more.
If you could use some tight end depth on your dynasty roster, pluck Cook off the waiver wire if he is available and maybe you will get lucky if he turns into a gem in the coming seasons.