A bit of an uptick in the quality on the waiver wire this week. We’re bringing back the Smokin’ Hot category, as I see a trio of players that are not only worth picking up, but are candidates for starting in your flex position. Sometimes you need to strike while the iron is hot by taking a chance and getting the hot hand of the week into your starting lineup while he’s still a viable starter.
This has been a year where it has been extremely difficult to differentiate between the hot flashes (ie. one week wonders) and the slow burning embers. The player listed in this space last week may already be yesterday’s news, the players listed here might be here only to collect their five minutes of fame. You need to continue to keep a close eye on the last couple of spots on your roster and determine who might be worth dumping them for. Even if you can’t use someone off waivers in your starting lineup, you would be keeping them away from your opponent.
On to this week’s waiver wire wonders …
RB Laurence Maroney, New England
Last week in this space, we talked extensively about the runningback situation in New England. I couldn’t recommend anyone, though I thought that Maroney and Sammy Morris were rosterable (albeit, on ‘someone else’s roster’). All I can say is, “And then there were two.” Morris left this week’s game in the first offensive series and did not return. With Fred Taylor already out for an extended period of time, that left Maroney and Kevin Faulk to share the load. With the weather in New England frightful (it’s still October, right?), it was Maroney that was a monster. He ran for over a hundred yards, including a long run for a touchdown where he outran the Titans secondary. He even caught three balls out of the backfield. As has been said before, Maroney is capable of doing the job, especially in poor weather conditions. Without question Maroney should be owned in all leagues, and if Sammy Morris is out for any time, Maroney is a capable flex starter going forward.
RB Mike Bell, New Orleans
I see that Bell is available in many leagues, probably because owners of him figured he’d go back to the shadows with the return of Pierre Thomas. He’s not going to get the volume of carries that Thomas will, but if this week was any indication, anytime the Saints get near the goal line it will be Bell that gets the call.
WR Michael Crabtree, San Francisco
We mentioned Crabtree in this space last week as I expected him to get significant playing time in week 7. The 49ers have taken it a step further, announcing that he’ll be inserted directly into the starting lineup. He’s available in quite a few leagues, given that the wide receiver position has been so unpredictable this season, he should be owned in all formats. I’d even go so far as to use him as a flex starter this week if you are having bye week difficulties. He’ll want to make an immediate impact.
TE Zach Miller, Oakland
Jamarcus Russell’s inability to hit a Raider wide out is Zach Miller‘s gain. He lit up the Eagles this past week to the tune of 139 yards and a touchdown. Don’t be afraid to use Miller as a bye week filler, or even as your starter in deep leagues.
WR Lance Moore, New Orleans
Moore looks to be healthy again, as Drew Brees hooked up with him six times for 78 yards and a touchdown this past week. Difficult to predict from week to week how the Saints wide outs will perform, but Moore should not be left on the waiver wire. Grab him and hope he shows enough consistency to be a flex starter.
WR Lee Evans, Buffalo
Remember this guy? Used to be a monster, one of the best fantasy players at his position. Though he’s probably not even the best on his team anymore, 68 yards and a touchdown is enough to get a mention in this column. With Terrell Owens garnering most of the defensive attention, that leaves room for Evans to roam. Buffalo has come very favorable matchups in the coming weeks (Carolina, Houston, Tennessee), Evans looks to be emerging as a sneaky flex start depending on your bye week situation.
RB Justin Fargas, Oakland
Fargas is still available in many leagues, he’s worth a roster spot in all formats. He ran hard this week, 87 yards on 23 carries, so look for him to continue to see a large role in the Oakland running game. In addition, the news on Darren McFadden hasn’t been good so far, so the race is on to lay claim to the backup role if/when McFadden does return.
On The Radar
Eli Manning is making the Giants wide outs look like gold this season. With Mario Manningham getting the defensive attention, that has left some room for Nicks. Five catches for 114 yards and a touchdown against the Saints this week had him as the Giants leading wide out again this week. He gets most of his production via the big play, but lately he’s been busting a big one on a regular basis.
A bit of a reach to have Cribbs on the list, especially since his main role in Cleveland is to return kicks. Of course, he does that very well, running one back for a touchdown this past week. The Browns got him the ball six other times during the course of the game, so they are either showcasing him for a trade to a better situation, or they have realized he’s one of the few players on the roster that can do something exciting when they have the ball in their hands. Worth a look in deep leagues.
At some point this season, the Titans will need to see what they’ve got in Vince Young. While it might be too late to get him on the field to provide a spark, the owner is starting to make noise that he wants to see Young on the field. I continue to be amazed at Tennessee’s season, it’s been a perfect storm of games, and not in a good way. They didn’t stand a chance in that weather in New England this week. Those of you hard up for a backup QB, Young won’t be on the bench for very long.
We’re digging extremely deep here, trying to find a potential one week starter for you to cover a bye week. King has been getting a steady two catches per week, but he’s hit pay dirt in each of the last two games. Some points out of a starting tight end is better than none.
Deep and/or Dynasty Only
WR Deion Branch, Seattle
Buried down the depth chart in Seattle, Branch is only catching two balls per week. Could a reunion with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots be in his future? He’s certainly not long for being a Seattle Seahawk.
RB BenJarvis Green-Ellis, New England
As the Patriots continue to lose runningbacks, guys on the depth chart continue to get bumped up closer to being on the field. Bill Belichick doesn’t like to go with a single guy, in fact, he likes to go with at least three if he can. At the moment, Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk are the only two healthy runners, that opens up some room for Green-Ellis to see the field. Working in garbage time this week, he ran for 67 yards so he is capable of carrying the ball. Deep and/or dynasty leagues only need apply here, but if Maroney gets nicked, Green-Ellis would become a hot commodity.
RB Gary Russell, Oakland
Extremely rare that I have a fullback on this list, especially one that signed with their current club less than three weeks ago, but he’s here. As mentioned above, the Raiders have a hard time getting the ball to their wide outs, as Russell caught five passes for 55 yards this past week. Oakland is having depth difficulties, with McFadden still on the mend, so Russell is in line to see a bit of action continue to come his way. Deep and dynasty PPR leagues should have Russell on the radar to fill out the bottom of their roster.