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The Waiver Wire Matinée: Volume 10

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Michael Crabtree has a lot of catching up to do if he wants to reach fantasy stardom again, but his opportunity is rapidly approaching. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
Michael Crabtree has a lot of catching up to do if he wants to reach fantasy stardom again, but his opportunity is rapidly approaching. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

We are nearing that point in the season where some people are hanging it up for the year, and others are gearing up for the fantasy playoffs. The return of many high-caliber players who were injured before or early in the year could be the difference maker in the coming weeks.

I welcome you all to Volume 10 of The Waiver Wire Matinee. Make sure you pay close attention to the names gracing this list in the coming weeks, because there is more than backup talent scattered throughout waiver wires across the fantasy landscape right now.

Next to each name you will find a rating from 0-5 stars, and the rating exemplifies the priority you should place on this pickups during the respective week.

5 Stars: Must-own player.

4 Stars: Strong acquisition, and room should be made if possible.

3 Stars: On the radar, and worth consideration.

2 Stars: Borderline droppable players, rostered in deep leagues.

1 Star: Barely worth calling a roster filler.

0 Stars: Drop immediately.

Suspense: Stay On The Edge Of Your Seats

Ryan Fitzpatrick (2 Stars) – It looks as if Jake Locker's season may be done, and Fitzpatrick is next up to command the Titans offense. He looked great in relief of Locker during Sundays game, and was able to throw for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns. Although he looked solid in this outing, there are just too many quarterback options out there this season to have to worry about picking up Fitzpatrick. With guys like Case Keenum, Terrelle Pryor, and many others stepping up, there isn't a need to stash a guy like this on your bench. He could be a great addition in 2QB leagues, and deeper leagues with larger rosters. Fitzpatrick will be nothing more than a low-end QB2 moving forward.

Thriller: Big Play Potential

Tavon Austin (2 Stars) – Austin's fantasy output is quite deceiving from this past weekend, because his 138 yards receiving and two touchdowns only came off of two receptions. His third touchdown came off of a 98-yard punt return. Unless you are gaining points off of return yardage, Austin isn't going to be the most reliable option. Yes, he is capable of taking it to the house on any given play, but his opportunity just isn't abundant enough to trust him in your starting lineups. I would hesitate to plug Austin into your lineups next week expecting anything near what he was capable of doing this past weekend. Austin is still nothing more than a WR4/5 with the targets he is seeing.

Mystery: Will The Success Continue?

Riley Cooper (3 Stars) – The impact Cooper has made during his last few games has been directly correlated to the success of Nick Foles. Cooper has quickly become a go-to big play option for Foles, and he is making defenses pay for giving him the opportunity to devour single coverage down the field. He now has to be considered the second receiving option for the Eagles, and needs to be in WR3/Flex discussions as the season moves forward. It is a bit concerning that Cooper only had three receptions, but two of them went for touchdowns and he finished with over 100 yards receiving. If you are looking for receiver depth and could use a fill-in, Cooper could be a solid acquisition.

Drama: Watch As It Unfolds

Michael Crabtree (3 Stars) - The acquisition of Crabtree is a complete shot in the dark for this season, because nobody knows when he will be healthy enough to flash the agility and skill set that he provided the 49ers before his injury. You should absolutely be considering stashing him on your bench at this point if you are capable, because if he does come back and begins to make an impact, you could have yourself a legitimate starter for the fantasy playoffs. We all know the kind of rapport Colin Kaepernick and Crabtree had before the injury, and that should pick up right where it left off once he returns. Don't expect a sure thing, but Crabtree could be a difference maker in a few weeks.

Action: The Workload Will Be There

Mike Brown (3 Stars) – Brown was starting to gain value before the Justin Blackmon suspension, and now he has reached must-own status. The Jaguars have proven that they are still fantasy relevant even amidst being a very sub-par football team, and the garbage time production has kept Cecil Shorts in starting lineups all year long. Brown is a talented youngster who is going to assume Blackmon's role in the offense for the remainder of the season, and could be a very consistent producer with the Jaguars forced to throw the ball so often. I'm tagging Brown as an immediate WR3 due to his opportunity, and owners could be pleasantly surprised at the upside he is going to bring in this pass-heavy offense.

Horror: Be Afraid

John Carlson (2 Stars) - Kyle Rudolph is going to be out for an extended period of time, and it looks like Carlson has solidified himself as a serviceable replacement for the hopeful tight end. The Vikings have been playing quarterback roulette all season, but they haven't been able to establish a consistent receiving game no matter who is under center. Carlson commanded a team high seven targets on Thursday, and was able to turn then into nearly 100 yards and a touchdown. The sub-par quarterback situation should continue to keep Carlson at least relevant, and he should be the safety valve for whoever is throwing the football for the Vikings. The problem is that he wasn't able to turn the corner for the Seahawks in his multiple years with the team. Carlson is to be considered nothing more than a low-end TE2 in the absence of Rudolph.

Dennis Johnson (1 Stars) – There is going to be a lot of scrambling from Arian Foster owners after the news of his season-ending back surgery. The only lingering value that I see Johnson having is a major injury to Ben Tate. Tate does have the broken ribs, but has been able to play the past few games with this issue. The Texans are slowly turning to a pass-first offense with Case Keenum under center, and Johnson is going to be very limited as far as touches are concerned. There is no need to go out and waste a claim on Johnson unless you are in deeper leagues or own Tate. Johnson is nothing more than a RB4/5 at this point in the season.

Independent Stream: Not The Big Name, But Worth The Look This Week

Arizona Cardinals Defense (3 Stars): The Cardinals defense has looked very good this season, and was able to put up some points against the Texans last week. The Jaguars are next up, and we all know that any defense is capable of feasting in a match up with the Jags. Justin Blackmon is now done for the season, and the Jaguars are heavily lacking in offensive power, and the Cardinals defense will put plenty of pressure on Chad Henne looking for mistakes to be made. Maurice Jones-Drew is not the running back we once knew, and it won't take much to keep him locked down, and turning the focus to stopping the passing game. Look for Arizona to be a top tier defense this upcoming week.

Box Office Bomb: Hopes Were High, But The Points Were Low

Peyton Hillis (1 Stars) – There was a lot of talk over the past week about Hillis hanging onto the starting role when Andre Brown returned, but that was completely proven false during Brown's first game back. Hillis saw nothing more than a handful of carries compared to Brown's 30, and he wasn't very effective with the touches he received either. It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize this was going to happen sooner than later, but you can pretty much chalk up the value of Hillis from this point on barring Brown's health. It is safe to say you can drop Hillis and move on at this point.

Blockbuster Of The Week:Must-See And Own

Andre Brown (5 Stars) – This is now the third straight week I've attempted to emphasize the importance of making sure Brown is owned in every format possible. The window to steal Brown off of the waiver wire is slamming shut as I write this. The talk of Peyton Hillis maintaining the starting running back job was ludicrous, and it only took one week to shake the truth out of those comments. Brown was fed the football 30 times for 115 yards and a touchdown in his first game of the season. He didn't look rusty at all, and was very efficient in short yardage situations. Brown is now the workhorse back for the Giants moving forward, and should be considered an immediate RB2. Peruse your waiver wire options in all leagues and make sure this guy is owned in each and every one.

Bonus Pickups: Just Can't Ignore

Mark Ingram (2 Stars) - It is really tough to gauge what to expect from Ingram, because it had looked like he would be a forgotten man in the NFL, but he ran with the true potential we expected from him on Monday Night. He was able to show that tenacious running style that landed him in the NFL, and was very productive with his touches. The problem is that Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas looked good as well, and that is a lot of mouths to feed in a pass-first offense. Ingram is worth a flier if you are scarce at running back, but I wouldn't invest too much faith in a guy who could disappear from week to week. Ingram is still nothing more than a RB4 at the current moment.