The Waiver Wire Matinée: Volume 12
By John Kerwin
If you’re reading this article, there is a good chance you are still in playoff contention. The biggest issue with waiver wire moves this late in the year is that you don’t have time to take a flier and hope it works out. Everyone I am recommending at this point on has the opportunity to assist you by making an immediate impact, but be careful because some have the capability of crippling your championship hopes.
I welcome you to Volume 12 of The Waiver Wire Matinée and encourage every reader to think wisely before making any roster decisions moving forward. You can eliminate the thought of building depth, and focus on strengthening your starting lineups and fine-tuning your rosters for a championship push. I wish everyone the best of luck and hope playoffs berths are plentiful for all of our readers.
Next to each name you will find a rating from 0-5 stars, and the rating exemplifies the priority you should place on these 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
Bilal Powell (2 Stars) – We have been down this road earlier in this year, and the ankle injury to Chris Ivory isn’t surprising to most. The self-described high and low ankle injury is quite alarming for a very brittle Ivory, and Powell would resume his starting role he held earlier in the year if Ivory misses extended time. The Jets are somehow still in the thick of a wild card race, but unfortunately have been too far behind in recent games to rely on the run as much as they’d like. Powell could be a reliable RB3/Flex option if Ivory misses time, but game flow the way the Jets have been playing could hinder this greatly.
Thriller: Big Play Potential
Justin Hunter (2 Stars) – This may be more of a great dynasty value than immediate impact player for the final weeks of the fantasy season, but Hunter looked exceptional for the Titans on Sunday. Outside of Kendall Wright, the Titans haven’t had much help in the receiving department lately, and Hunter’s 109 yard performance on six receptions was topped off with a critical touchdown in the Titans win. Hunter wasn’t even the best receiver from his respective college team coming out of the draft this year, but his 6’4” frame bodes well against NFL defenders. He is going to be a great addition next to Wright for years to come, and may even help some fantasy owners down the stretch as a low-end option. I wouldn’t look at Hunter as anything more than a WR3/Flex at best, but we all saw what he was capable of on Sunday.
Mystery: Will The Success Continue?
Benny Cunningham (3 Stars) – It hasn’t been difficult to realize that the Rams have slotted Zac Stacy as their starting running back moving forward, but his concussion on Sunday may set things back. Stacy left Sunday’s game against the Bears and did not return. Benny was able to rack up over 100 yards rushing on 13 carries filling in for Stacy, but we must not forget how pathetic the Bears run defense has been of late. Even as bad as their defense was, Cunningham will be very relevant in the fantasy world if Stacy is not cleared by next weekend. The Rams have shown they want to solidify a running game with the loss of Sam Bradford, and Benny is the next man up in the rotation. I would be grabbing Benny as a Stacy owner, and even as an owner looking to keep him away from others in the event Stacy misses time.
Drama: Watch As It Unfolds
Montee Ball (3 Stars) – You are probably questioning why Ball is on this list after another fumble in which we saw him take a backseat to C.J. Anderson as Knowshon Moreno’s backup, but the ankle bruise that Moreno sustained on Sunday night leaves question marks for next week. Moreno is said to be day to day, and should see the practice field by the end of the week, but the fact that he left the stadium on crutches and in a walking boot leaves room for concern. Ball may have knocked himself down a notch with that fumble, but the Broncos would have to turn back to him if Moreno were unable to go this week. This is a very potent offense that will create production for any player filling in as the primary back. There is nothing definitive, but I would surely be grabbing Ball if I’m a Moreno owner with limited options.
Action: The Workload Will Be There
Nate Burleson (3 Stars) – I commend you if you had the foresight to get Burleson into your lineups this past weekend. Most people have been scrambling for the past 24 hours to place their claims for the second receiving option in a potent passing offense. He did most of his damage in the first half, but still finished with a solid 77 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. The return of Burleson finally creates a viable option opposite of Calvin Johnson, and it was quite evident that he is going to be capable of producing down the stretch. The Lions are battling for their division, and will continue to lean on the passing game as they do so, and it would be a very wise decision to grab Burleson if you have the opportunity. He is going to be a solid WR3/Flex option the rest of the way, with an even higher ceiling in PPR formats.
Horror: Be Afraid
Dennis Johnson (2 Stars) – The Texans in general are turning into a laugher this season, and it didn’t get any better on Sunday when they lost to a woeful Jaguars team. Ben Tate, who has been perceived as one of the most talented backups in the NFL for years, was dreadful. He was only able to accumulate one rushing yard on seven carries, and was benched in favor of Dennis Johnson. Johnson was able to rack up 74 yards on 13 carries, and was the lone bright spot for the offense on the day. It looks as if Johnson has earned his right to get touches the rest of the way, but the problem is the Texans are simply horrendous, and a timeshare in a sub-par offense isn’t going to be too promising. I would stay away from this backfield situation as the fantasy season winds down.
Brandon Bolden (2 Stars) – We saw glimpses of Bolden’s talent last season, but the running back roulette for the Patriots doesn’t leave much promise. Stevan Ridley coughed up the football once again on Sunday night and it looks like he will be in the dog house for quite some time, but there are just too many routes the Patriots can go with Ridley kicked to the back burner. Shane Vereen is healthy and the best option out of any backs for the Patriots, and LeGarette Blount is still getting touches too. Bolden will only be useful if you get lucky and he finds the end zone, or in deep formats. I can’t see Bolden as anything more than a low-end RB3 even with the trouble Ridley has gotten himself into again.
Independent Stream: Not The Big Name, But Worth The Look This Week
Miami Dolphins Defense (3 Stars) – The Dolphins defense wasn’t too bad to begin the year, and they get a major boost this upcoming week against the Jets. Geno Smith has failed to throw a touchdown pass in four straight games, and has managed to pile up seven interceptions over that span. He has been a complete turnover machine, and the Jets playoff hopes have been unraveling as of late. Ivory will likely be sidelined with an ankle injury, and there isn’t much else to speak of on the Jets offensive side of the ball. Look for the Dolphins to get after Geno and cause multiple turnovers in this game, and expect some quality points out of this unit this week.
Box Office Bomb: Hopes Were High, But The Points Were Low
Bobby Rainey (2 Stars) – Rainey has managed to go from a hero to zero in a matter of a week. Welcome to the NFL. After his monstrous performance the week prior, everyone around the fantasy world was boasting about the possibilities of such a waiver wire acquisition this late in the season. It only took one week to realize he was bound to come back down to earth. Rainey is a great change of pace back, but he isn’t going to give you the consistency you need. The Buccaneers are playing inspired football, but Rainey just isn’t worth starting outside of the flex spot in these crucial final weeks. If there is a player on that offense you want off the wire right now, it is Mike Glennon.
Blockbuster Of The Week: Must-See And Own
Julian Edelman (3 Stars) – We could have gone through a laundry list of wide receivers that would’ve headlines Sunday night’s game before arriving at Edelman. The simple fact is that he outshined Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Danny Amendola, and every last receiver on the field the other night. His 110 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions was astounding, and can’t be overlooked moving forward. Edelman looked to be the second favorite target behind Rob Gronkowski for Tom Brady, and was on the field for an astonishing 74 snaps compared to Amendola’s 59. If we can get the type of production we were seeing early in the season from Edelman, you can lock him right back into your lineups as a solid WR3 as the fantasy season culminates.