Greetings, Jaguar fans!
This is my first column in what will be a recurring series. Please bear with me this time, as I'm still getting the format down. The purpose of this column will be to give fantasy football players some insight into which players are worth their waiver spots on a weekly basis. Let me answer the most likely question to be asked:
"Why should we trust you? You're just a guy."
You're right, I AM just a guy. Fantasy sports are weird in that it's difficult to legitimately be an "expert"; it's fairly unpredictable and random. I've been playing for ten years and have won numerous leagues, but that's still no reason I know any more than you do. The fact is that you should make decisions for yourself; I'm just trying to help if you want it. If I say you should pick up Danario Alexander, but you have a gut feeling about Deon Butler, pick up Butler! It's YOUR team; I'm just here to try to help.
For this week, I'm simply naming the column "Fantasy Football"; I want you guys to tell me what you want it to be called. Give me suggestions in the comments, and rec any suggestions you think are the best. The one with the most recs by the time I post next week's column will be the winner. Anyway, let's get to the players!I wanted this column to be in a slightly different format than a usual waiver wire pickup column; usually it's divided by position and ranked accordingly. I want to set it up my way, so let me know how you like it. Here we go!
Need a handcuff?
Is your player (handcuffs are almost always only for RB) injured, or does his backup have significant value? Some people don't believe in handcuffs; that's fine...until your Michael Turner goes down with a sprained ankle and the guy battling you for a playoff spot picks up Jason Snelling. If you make sure you have solid backups, handcuffs can be more valuable than flyers on your roster. Make sure these guys aren't sitting on the wire if your guy misses time.
Derrick Ward, RB, HOU - Season Stats: 18 rushes, 143 yards, 3 TD; 2 catches, 24 yards, 3 targets
If you have Arian Foster on your roster, Derrick Ward should be high on your waiver priority list. Sure, Foster has looked great so far, but Ward has run well when given the chance; he's scored in each of the past three weeks and is averaging 7.94 yards per carry. In addition, Foster has a history of injuries dating back to his days at Tennessee. Obviously this number wouldn't hold up if Ward were starting, but suffice to say that he'd easily be a top 15 back if Foster went down with an injury. Gary Kubiak has suggested that Ward will continue to have a role in the offense, so he may have some value even if Foster stays healthy. If I had Foster and the #1 waiver spot, Ward would be my pick.
Javon Ringer, RB, TEN - Season Stats: 29 rushes, 161 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches, 17 yards, 2 targets
I can't imagine owning Chris Johnson without making sure I had Javon Ringer. If he's there and you have Johnson, this should be your #1 waiver claim. He's averaging 5.6 yards per carry and has looked very good, as I'm sure you noticed last night. I'd consider adding Ringer as a flyer even if I DIDN'T have Johnson.
Jason Snelling, RB, ATL - Season Stats: 56 rushes, 261 yards, 2 TD; 13 catches, 86 yards, 1 TD, 16 targets
Snelling is almost as effective as Turner in the Falcons' offense, and he's a bigger part of the passing game. If Turner goes down, Snelling is a must-have. I hope you've already handcuffed Turner, but if you haven't Snelling is a guy you should grab immediately.
Chris Ivory, RB, NO - Season Stats: 44 rushes, 277 yards, 1 TD; 1 catch, 17 yards, 1 target
If you have Pierre Thomas, I hope you already have Ivory. He is clearly the go-to guy with Thomas out, and there's no guarantee Thomas returns in the next couple weeks. Ivory's upside is limited due to a tough matchup against the Steelers coming up as well as the Saints' bye week, but this coming week he plays against Cleveland, so if he's healthy he'd be worth a pickup. Keep an eye on his injury status though, as he was shaken up on his last play of the game Sunday.
Mike Hart, RB, IND - Season Stats: 26 rushes, 93 yards, 1 TD; 1 catch, 5 yards, 1 target
Joseph Addai left Sunday night's game with an injury, and the sense was that he'd very possibly be missing time after the Colts' bye this week. Mike Hart has played fairly well in his absence, and though Donald Brown is probably the primary backup, he's banged up as well. In addition, if you don't already have Brown there's a decent chance someone else in your league already has him. Hart isn't a super-high priority on the wire, but if I had Addai I'd want to make sure I had some sort of protection.
Chester Taylor, RB, CHI - Season Stats: 41 rushes, 140 yards, 0 TD; 8 catches, 68 yards, 12 targets
Taylor has a small amount of value on his own, but his usage suggests that should Matt Forte go down, Taylor would basically take over Forte's entire role in the offense. Make sure you have Taylor if you have Forte, though it's not necessary to use a high waiver spot on him.
Note: This section will NOT be this big in future weeks; I will assume that the obvious ones get picked up pretty quickly. I may briefly reiterate the ones that definitely need to be picked up, but it'll usually be for less often handcuffs like Hart.
Need a fill-in?
Some people get hit hard by bye weeks and desperately need a guy to play NOW. These are more desperation plays than general solid waiver wire adds; that's why guys like Roy Williams won't show up here. Here are a couple guys worth playing if you're desperate for a starter this week:
Matt Cassel, QB, KC vs. JAX - Season Stats: 78/135 completions, 851 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT; 10 rushes, 25 yards
As we all know very well, the Jaguars' pass D is horrible. Cassel put up over 200 yards and 3 TD against a similarly horrible Houston pass D, so he's worth a spot start if needed at home vs. Jacksonville.
Sam Bradford, QB, STL @ TB - Season Stats: 133/234 completions, 1357 yards, 7 TD, 8 INT; 9 rushes, 18 yards
Tampa Bay's pass D hasn't exactly been horrific, but its numbers are bolstered by a good game against Carolina and their disastrous QB situation. Drew Brees picked them apart in the first half last week. Bradford shouldn't have problems getting it done this week against the Bucs.
Danny Woodhead, RB, NE @ SD - Season stats: 22 rushes, 141 yards, 1 TD; 6 catches, 63 yards, 1 TD, 8 targets
Woodhead is one of the better waiver options out there. New England likes to share the wealth at RB, so don't count on too much, but Woodhead is a solid option out of the backfield, helping fill the void left by Kevin Faulk's season-ending injury. In addition, Woodhead is likely eligible at both RB and WR in many leagues, making him slightly more valuable. This week's matchup against SD is very tough, so don't expect too much, but Woodhead would be my choice if you're desperate for a RB.
Correll Buckhalter, RB, DEN vs. OAK - Season stats: 38 rushes, 82 yards, 1 TD; 12 catches, 83 yards, 1 TD, 19 targets
There's next to nothing on the wire in terms of spot starts, but if you're really desperate, Buckhalter could be an ok play. The Raiders have been the worst in the NFL against the run in terms of fantasy points, and Buckhalter will still likely get about ten touches. Hope he gets in the end zone if you take the plunge, though it wouldn't be high on my list of recommendations.
Jason Avant, WR, PHI @ TEN - Season Stats: 18 catches, 180 yards, 26 targets
Avant will be filling in while DeSean Jackson sits with a concussion. Tennessee's pass defense looked fine against Jacksonville last night, but I have a feeling the Eagles will match up better than the Jaguars did. Jeremy Maclin will draw most of the attention, leaving Avant to run routes underneath. I'd expect something between 50 and 80 yards, and possibly a TD.
Patrick Crayton, WR, SD vs. NE - Season Stats: 11 catches, 211 yards, 16 targets
With Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates, and Legedu Naanee all banged up, Crayton was the guy on Sunday, hauling in 6 catches for 116 yards. New England's pass D has been pretty awful this year, and with Philip Rivers slinging the ball as well as any QB in the league Crayton is definitely worth a matchup play.
Danario Alexander, WR, STL @ TB - Season Stats: 4 catches, 72 yards, 1 TD, 5 targets
Though he's really only played one game, Alexander looked outstanding Sunday. He's a big target with great athleticism that people thought might've been sapped by knee injuries, but he looked like the guy to take over for Mark Clayton as Sam Bradford's best target this season. Against the Tampa Bay defense, Alexander is worth a play.
Benjamin Watson, TE, CLE @ NO - Season Stats: 29 catches, 318 yards, 2 TD, 44 targets
Watson has been worthy of being on a roster regardless, but he looked especially good playing with rookie QB Colt McCoy Sunday against a tough Pittsburgh defense. Watson has been pretty consistent all year; if you need a TE, he's your guy.
Todd Heap, TE, BAL vs. BUF - Season Stats: 21 catches, 259 yards, 1 TD, 36 targets
Heap has been pretty frequently targeted this year anyway, and with a pitiful Buffalo defense coming to town, look for Heap to find the end zone once. He should put up a decent day either way.
Seahawks D/ST - Season Stats: 5 INT, 3 FR, 17 sacks, 1 safety, 1 TD, 2 kick return TD
The Seahawks have only played two home games, but the least fantasy points they've put up in those two games is 19 (in my league, anyway). Seattle is a historically tough place to play, and Arizona comes in with rookie QB Max Hall making his second career start.
Best of the rest
These guys don't fall into either of the other two categories, but they should be on rosters for sure. As I said before, the fill-ins section is only for one-week guys; this is for guys you want on your roster period.
Chad Henne, QB, MIA - Season Stats: 107/170 completions, 1195 yards, 7 TD, 5 INT; 7 rushes, 9 yards
Henne has quietly put up 899 yards passing and 6 TD over the past three weeks, and though he's also turned the ball over 5 times in that span he's definitely worth an add if you need a backup QB or are looking to trade your starter. Henne can be a top 15 option the rest of the way if the Dolphins let him.
Steve Breaston, WR, ARI - Season Stats: 14 catches, 183 yards, 1 TD, 20 targets
A sneaky add...Breaston compiled those stats in only three games for an average of about 7 targets and 5 catches for 61 yards per game. He's scheduled to return from his injury this week, but due to the injury you should be able to sneak him onto your roster without using a high waiver claim. With Max Hall at QB, Breaston should do a little better than with Derek Anderson at the helm. I'm sure people have forgotten about Breaston to this point...he's a great stash if he's available.
Derrick Mason, WR, BAL - Season Stats: 24 catches, 309 yards, 1 TD, 43 targets
Joe Flacco is still finding Mason underneath, and his 8 catches for 100 yards this week proves he's still a part of the Ravens' game plan. Though he's anything but consistent at this point, he's worth having on a roster.
Deion Branch, WR, NE - Season Stats: 22 catches, 210 yards, 2 TD, 30 targets
He's baaaaaaaaaaack...Tom Brady's former favorite target is back on the scene, and Brady looked for him often this week. Branch started in his first week back in New England, and looks to be a big part of the Patriots' offense going forward.
Mike Williams, WR, SEA - Season Stats: 21 catches, 261 yards, 0 TD, 34 targets
Though his season stats aren't that great, Williams blew up Sunday for 10 catches and 123 yards against Chicago. He's still got talent, and he's worth having on your roster.
Roy Williams, WR, DAL - Season Stats: 21 catches, 306 yards, 5 TD, 31 targets
Williams has turned into a red zone weapon for Dallas, catching 5 TD in the past four weeks, including four straight games. Though the TD pace may not keep up, Williams is still starting in Dallas, and Dez Bryant hasn't done enough to take the starting spot away from Roy.
These are, all other things equal, my top ten waiver pickups for the week. This does NOT include handcuffs; these are guys I'd pick up if I was told I could have an expansion team in your league but had to start with nothing but waiver wire fodder. Here you go:
1. Roy Williams, WR, DAL
2. Danny Woodhead, RB, NE
3. Chad Henne, QB, MIA
4. Deion Branch, WR, NE
5. Mike Williams, WR, SEA
6. Steve Breaston, WR, ARI
7. Ben Watson, TE, CLE
8. Derrick Ward, RB, HOU
9. Chris Ivory, RB, NO
10. Derrick Mason, WR, BAL
In addition to this column, I'd also like to try to answer fantasy questions if anyone has either lineup questions or trade questions. I am available most often on Twitter at @californiajag, so if you have a question send me a tweet and I will always get back to you the same day. If you post questions on here I'll do my best to get to them, but I don't have a ton of time on my computer and am on my phone a lot more often. Thanks for bearing with me as I hash out the format, and please post your ideas for the column name! Go Jaguars!