Despite looking high and low, I’m forced to ditch the ‘Smokin’ Hot’ category this week. From time to time this happens, nothing out there available that I feel strongly about. A few guys I see as Solid Pickups, and a half dozen or so are On the Radar…but based on my analysis, nothing Smokin’ Hot. This doesn’t mean you should abandon this week’s waiver wire. The bye weeks are starting up, so depth is going to be tested. If you have room at the bottom of your roster, make a move if for nothing else than to keep players away from others in your league.
On to this weeks Waiver Wonders…
WR Victor Cruz, New York Giants
Cruz backed up his 100+ yard, two touchdown breakout effort in week three by catching six balls for 98 yards this past week against the Cardinals. Still owned in less than 50% of leagues, I’ve seen enough to recommend him as a solid pickup. There have been discussions about moving Cruz into the slot once Mario Manningham returns, so we very much like Cruz’s long term fantasy potential.
RB Stevan Ridley, New England
In what many consider to be a breakout performance, Ridley lit up the Raiders for close to a hundred yards and a touchdown on only ten carries. I have my expectations of Ridley set a little lower, though he is currently performing the best out of all the options the Patriots currently have. With Danny Woodhead dinged up a bit, Ridley was able to split time with BenJarvus Green-Ellis against one of the worst run defenses in the league. Bill Belichick, like Mike Shanahan, has a funny way of handling running backs from one week to the next. Next week it could be Green-Ellis, or it could be an entirely aerial show where New England doesn’t bother with the running game. At some point, Danny Woodhead will be back handling third down. A crowded situation that is going to be tough to read, if you have the roster room and don’t need to give up much to pick him up, then Ridley is worth adding.
On the Radar
WR Preston Parker, Tampa Bay
Parker found the end zone this past week, catching five passes for 70 yards, which is enough to get noticed and added to the radar. His single catch performance in week three confirms that Parker’s numbers will vary from week to week. Filling in for the injured Sammie Stroughter in the slot, Josh Freeman looked in Parker’s direction on several occasions so the potential for 5-7 catches per week is a possibility.
WR Jacoby Jones, Houston
Owned in only 28% of leagues, we’re tabbing Jones as the wideout most likely to take some of Andre Johnson‘s production if he should be limited or miss some time. The Texans will surely turn to the running game for most of their offensive production (especially this week against the hapless Raiders’ run defense), but there will be some aerial scraps that we see as going in Jones’ direction.
QB Curtis Painter, Indianapolis
In general, it takes a lot for a quarterback to make this story, but I have a good feeling about Painter. A decent opening performance of 281 yards and a couple of touchdowns. He was able to avoid interceptions, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. There will be bumps in the road and there will be turnovers. In only one game, he’s proven that he’s a better fit for the Colts’ offense than Kerry Collins and Indianapolis certainly has the talent at wideout to help him. Couple that with the fact that the Colts are likely to be playing from behind a lot, 250 yards on average is not out of the question for Painter.
RB Ryan Torain, Washington
Coming literally out of nowhere (not a single touch of the ball in 2011 prior to Week 4), Mike Shanahan surprised the fantasy world by giving Torain the bulk of the duty against the Rams. To which, Torain responded with 135 yards and a touchdown. Part of this work was because Shanahan was hiding the injury status of Tim Hightower, which once again proves that the guy simply hates us fantasy leaguers. This will be an ugly situation to predict, with Shanahan likely going with the hot hand between Torain, Hightower, and Roy Helu; a hot hand that will change from week to week without notice. Unless you are desperate at the position (or a Tim Hightower owner), leave Torain out on waivers for someone else to have to deal with.
RB Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh
Rashard Mendenhall‘s injured hamstring will dictate the playing time for Redman, and at this moment, his status is up in the air. Redman is worth owning, especially for those Mendenhall owners. The starting back for the Steelers has high fantasy value, should Mendenhall end up missing some time, Pittsburgh will not hesitate to give the ball to Redman.
WR Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
Brown has caught 13 passes in the last four games, which certainly isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s consistent for the third option for the Steelers. He was thrown to on 10 instances this past week, so we see his numbers staying in the 5-7 catch range going forward. Ben Roethlisberger‘s health could put a damper on those expectations, but for the time being we’ll keep Brown on the radar.
Deep and/or Dynasty Only
WR Kevin Walter, Houston
With Andre Johnson potentially being out for a couple of weeks, that would normally be a sign that the guy to replace him would be higher on the survey this week. Not the case with Kevin Walter. He’s owned in only 16% of leagues, and we do see him as the top option with Johnson out, but that means he’ll be drawing top coverage from the defense. He was held without a catch this past week, so we can only list him here for those that are in deep and/or dynasty leagues.
TE Kevin Boss, Oakland
A healthy Boss caught four passes for 78 yards against New England this past week, so that gets him a mention in this week’s column. His two game totals aren’t much to write home about, but for those of you in deep leagues with a need at the position, Boss has the potential to be a regular offensive target for the Raiders.