The Waiver Wire Matinée: Volume Seven
By John Kerwin
The crazy that I was talking about at the beginning of last week's article was only emphasized this past weekend. Injuries seemed to be devastating fantasy owners across the country, unsung heroes were showing up all over the place, and many big name fantasy players let us all down. Welcome to the game we love and hang on tight because we have the entire second half of the season ahead of us. I welcome you to Volume Seven of the Waiver Wire Matinée, and get out your notepads because I have some names you may want to remember. I hope last week's article came in handy and I hope this week's edition will be even more useful. I wish everyone the best of luck and remember to keep checking back each and every week, especially the way injuries has been spreading like the plague this season.
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.
Drama/Suspense: Stay On The Edge Of Your Seats
Case Keenum (2 Stars) – The Texans have finally looked past TJ Yates, who I recommended nobody to buy into in last week's article and gave the youngster an opportunity. Keenum had a fairly productive day with 271 yards passing and a beautiful 29-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins. Unfortunately the stubborn Gary Kubiak has announced that Matt Schaub is still their starting quarterback and the team is on bye this upcoming week. Those are the only reasons holding me back from making Keenum more than a two star value. I still think Schaub is bound to lose his starting job sooner than later and Keenum showed a lot of promise on Sunday. If you are a Cutler owner, or in desperate need of a backup quarterback, it may not hurt to stash Keenum. He is a serviceable QB2 moving forward if he somehow gets the nod over Schaub. Keep an eye on this situation, but don't get too excited about a backup that is playing for a run-first football team.
Thriller: Big Play Potential
Harry Douglas (4 Stars) – The Atlanta Falcons managed to go from projected preseason offensive juggernaut to fantasy wasteland in a matter of six weeks of the NFL season. Matt Ryan had been moved down many quarterback rankings after the loss of Julio Jones for the season and hamstring injury to Roddy White. Steven Jackson looks like his hamstring injury could end up as a season-threatening issue as far as fantasy is concerned and then there was Douglas. Ryan had a masterful day with 273 yards and three touchdowns, finishing with a 148.4 quarterback rating. Douglas was the primary receiver to benefit from this impressive performance. He produced like a WR1 with his seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. Even when Roddy returns I expect Douglas to continue to be productive and even benefit from the defensive attention Roddy is able to garner. Douglas is a WR3 moving ahead during the season and could be a great backup wide receiver option for owners.
Mystery: Will The Success Continue?
Roy Helu (3 Stars) – Many of us will never forget the frustration that Mike Shanahan has caused across fantasy landscapes throughout his career and we got a plate full of that potential on Sunday. Although Alfred Morris was very efficient on his 19 carries with 95 yards, Helu was able to vulture three touchdowns and receive 11 carries of his own along with a couple targets. The Redskins have consistently found themselves behind in games and have been forced to play Helu as the superior receiving threat in the backfield. The problem for Morris owners is that Helu has been able to take advantage of his opportunity. As long as the defense continues to give up major points, Helu is going to get playing time and touches. Unfortunately, his upside is capped by Morris' health, because he is still the starting running back, but it definitely wouldn't hurt to stash Helu as a handcuff or flex fill-in. I see Helu as nothing more then a low-end flex option at this point, but could come in handy in deep leagues and for bye weeks.
Drama: Watch As It Unfolds
Jarrett Boykin (3 Stars) – This new category was originally created for Ben Tate on Sunday immediately following the hamstring injury to Arian Foster, but unfortunately Tate ended up breaking four ribs before that game ended. Amidst the Packers receiving corps falling like flies, Boykin was a great addition to this category. With Randall Cobb out, James Jones still battling a knee injury, and Jermichael Finley sustaining a serious neck injury on Sunday, the Packers are in desperate need of players to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers. In stepped Boykin, who was able to haul in eight receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown in his first start of his career. Boykin is an immediate solid WR3 while Jones is out and could be relevant for the rest of the season with the barrage of injuries across the Packers offense. Boykin was a high recommendation of mine for many people looking for a late-week flier this past weekend and I expect him to continue to make an impact. Consider Boykin a WR3 for the time being with flex capability even when Jones returns. Boykin should be the number two wide receiver priority on waiver wires right behind Harry Douglas this week.
Action: The Workload Will Be There
Chris Ivory (3 Stars) – I really expected this type of workload to come sooner for Ivory, but we finally saw the Jets use their offseason acquisition as a workhorse. Bilal Powell was an afterthought on Sunday as Ivory saw 34 carries. The Jets are actually a decent team this season with Geno Smith at quarterback and they would love to have some consistency in the backfield to take the pressure off of Geno. Ivory has the talent and ability to be their starting running back, but he just has to stay healthy. I expect to see the Jets continue to feed the rock to Ivory as long as he is active. I still wouldn't trust Ivory as more than a RB3 with possible upside. He is definitely worth the depth as an add to rosters in need of a running back, but I would like to see a couple game stretch of a workload of 20-plus carries before considering him as a starter.
Mike James (3 Stars) – As if Doug Martin's season wasn't disappointing enough, he added a labrum tear (left shoulder) this past Sunday. The reports have ranged from 1-2 missed games to done for the year. While the entire picture is cloudy (hey, control room, focus!) Martin will be out indefinitely, making James a must-own in all leagues. The immediate schedule is difficult, and James isn't exceptionally talented, but when you have a running back with 15-20 guaranteed touches per game, you have someone worthy of flex consideration each week.
Horror: Be Afraid
Thad Lewis (1 Stars) – There was a bit of buzz surrounding the surprising play by Lewis last week, but he is only a short-term answer in the absence of EJ Manuel. Manuel is the franchise quarterback of the future for the Bills and Lewis is only biding time while Manuel is out. I would feel much more comfortable going and grabbing Jake Locker if he is on waivers from his previous injury. Lewis adds a few points with his running ability, but he is more of a game manager than a playmaker within the Bills offense. Lewis is a low-end QB2 even with Manuel out.
Brandon Gibson (2 Star) – I just simply don't trust Dolphins wide receivers on a consistent week-to-week basis. We have seen the roller coaster ride that is Mike Wallace this season and we have seen Brian Hartline have some stout games, but none of these receivers can be trusted. Gibson was able to accumulate 40 yards on five catches to go along with two touchdowns this past weekend, but he could easily disappoint many owners looking for these kind of points moving forward. Ryan Tannehill still isn't a very trusted quarterback and the Dolphins just can't seem to get an established running game going. I see Gibson as no more than a WR4 at this point and a risky flex option at best. There are plenty of other wide receivers like Harry Douglas, Jarrett Boykin, Terrance Williams, and many others that I would recommend before Gibson.
Independent Stream: Not The Big Name, But Worth The Look This Week
Carolina Panthers (3 Stars): I'm not one to toot my horn very often, but I continue to be on the money with my weekly defensive stream this season. The last three weeks alone, I have recommended a defense that has put up 20-plus points for owners that were wise enough to plug my choice in. It only took the Panthers a few minutes into this past week's game to put a defensive touchdown on the board and they continued rolling after that. This upcoming week is looking a bit more difficult to gauge a solid defense, but I'm going to make it easy for you readers that listened to me last week. All you have to do is not drop or change the team I hope you plugged in last week, the Panthers. The Panthers will face a depleted Buccaneers offense on Thursday. We all know how ugly Thursday games can be and the Bucs will be without Doug Martin. Mike Glennon has looked good the past few weeks, but the Panthers defense has been stout and that defensive line has been flat out nasty. I expect this defense to completely shut down whoever the running back is receiving carries on Thursday and it is going to make it much easier to focus on Glennon and the passing game. If the Panthers can manage to keep Vincent Jackson in check, it is going to be a long night for the Buccaneers offense. Keep this unit in your lineups for the second week in a row.
Box Office Bomb: Hopes Were High, But The Points Were Low
Nick Foles (2 Stars) – Foles was absolutely horrendous on Sunday after looking like he was going to push Michael Vick for his job the previous two weeks. It wasn't like Foles was up against an extremely difficult defense, because the Cowboys had been giving up the most fantasy points per game to fantasy quarterbacks, but they completely shut down Foles before he left the game due to a concussion. Matt Barkley looked just as bad in relief and it looks like the job is going right back to Vick once he is healthy. Foles was missing open receivers all day before his injury and was tough to watch at times. Foles can safely be dropped in all redraft formats and I wouldn't advise wasting a waiver pickup on Matt Barkley either.
Blockbuster Of The Week: Must-See And Own
Jordan Reed (5 Stars) – In what turned out to be a shootout against the Bears, Reed turned in the greatest game of his short career and ascended himself into fantasy prominence with a monster breakout game. Hauling in nine receptions for 134 yards and a beautiful touchdown catch in the right corner of the end zone from Robert Griffin III, Reed showed his versatility and instant rapport he has been building with RG3 over the past few weeks. He has quickly become the second target behind Pierre Garcon and is getting very equivalent looks from RG3. I was a very big fan of Reed coming out of Florida and knew it was just a matter of time before Fred Davis fizzled away and Reed showed his abilities. I expect this type of success to continue for this up and coming tight end and I highly suggest you do whatever it takes to get him on your roster off of waivers. Reed now needs to be considered a TE1 moving forward and should be started in place of anyone not named: Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron, and Vernon Davis.