Waiver Wire: Week 9

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Injury Roundup: Week 10
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Chet Gresham looks at all the relevant injuries from Sunday's NFL games

There are six teams on a bye again this week, including offensive dynamos like the Broncos, Lions and 49ers. Hopefully you’ve built up some good depth on your bench by grinding the waiver wire, because the players available this week aren’t going to make the neck hairs stand up.

Speaking of the wire grind, think about the team we could have right now made up solely of waiver adds. The All Waiver Team at the midway point:

QB – Philip Rivers
RB – Knowshon Moreno
RB – Andre Ellington
WR – Terrance Williams
WR – Harry Douglas
WR – Keenan Allen
TE – Julius Thomas
FLEX – Jordan Reed
D – Kansas City
Bench – Terrelle Pryor
Bench – Zac Stacy
Bench – Danny Woodhead
Bench – Jarrett Boykin
Bench – Alshon Jeffery

Not too shabby, right? Stay on the hustle, keep churning the roster.

On to this week’s assets. Here is how I would rank the top players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues at each position. Notes and recommendations on each player will follow below.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 9. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.

Quarterbacks
1. Terrelle Pryor
2. Jake Locker
3. Carson Palmer
4. Case Keenum

Running backs
1. Shane Vereen
2. Andre Brown
3. Ben Tate
4. Montee Ball
5. Jonathan Stewart
6. Mike Tolbert
7. Daryl Richardson

Wide receivers
1. Darrius Heyward-Bey
2. Marvin Jones
3. Kendall Wright
4. Aaron Dobson
5. Nate Burleson
6. Lance Moore
7. Drew Davis
8. Kenny Stills

Tight Ends
1. Coby Fleener
2. Tim Wright
3. Joel Dreessen
4. Ben Watson

Defense/Special Teams
1. Raiders
2. Titans
3. Cowboys

Kickers   
1. Adam Vinatieri
2. Justin Tucker
3. Graham Gano


QUARTERBACKS
1. Terrelle Pryor, Raiders – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
Just for a second, let’s assume Terrelle Pryor was a running back. He’s averaging 8.8 carries for 65.1 yards per game and has one touchdown. Note that there are only 13 running backs in the entire NFL averaging more rushing yards per game. Now let’s throw in the fact that despite the Week 8 clunker against a very good Pittsburgh secondary, he’s improving as a pocket passer and is still at 191.5 passing yards per day. And finally, let’s sprinkle in a home Week 9 matchup with the Eagles’ improving yet still leaky defense. We have a guy in Pryor that should be 100 percent owned, not available in 74 percent of leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Jake Locker, Titans – Owned in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues
Making an early return from a hip injury in Week 7, Locker went 25-of-41 for 236 yards with two touchdowns and added three rushes for 29 yards against a very good 49ers defense. Now he’s had the bye to get healthier and gets a soft matchup against the Rams Sunday. As an excellent runner with rapidly improving pocket presence, a penchant for throwing deep and perhaps even some improved accuracy (61.8 completion percentage on the season), Locker is a solid plug-n-play for owners in need. He also has a very nice upcoming schedule: at Rams, vs. Jags, vs. Colts, at Raiders, at Colts, at Broncos, vs. Cardinals and at Jags in Week 16.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Carson Palmer, Cardinals – Owned in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues
In last week’s Waiver Wired, I talked about the Cardinals’ upcoming schedule. In Week 8, we saw how much confidence a good matchup can instill in an offense. Carson Palmer had perhaps his best game of the season at home against the Falcons, going 13-of-18 for 172 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. His stats could have been much bigger if Bruce Arians wasn’t sitting on a 21-6 halftime lead. After a Week 9 bye, which Larry Fitzgerald should use to get healthier, Palmer will face the Texans, Jags, Colts, Eagles and Rams. Despite being on the verge of washed up, he’ll be a QB2 for those matchups.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

4. Case Keenum, Texans – Owned in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues
Matt Schaub (ankle) is healthy enough to play, but coach Gary Kubiak (whose job may be on the line) is going with undrafted rookie Case Keenum anyway. That should speak volumes. Keenum was extremely impressive in Week 7, going 15-of-25 for 271 yards with one touchdown and one fumble in a brutal spot at Kansas City. Note that he became the NCAA’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions while playing in the University of Houston’s fastbreak offense. The concern is that with a week of tape to prepare, a defense as good as the Colts’ will make adjustments to the undersized Keenum. He’s just a QB2 flier.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Nick Foles, Ryan Tannehill, Geno Smith, Jason Campbell, Josh McCown, Chad Henne – If Foles (concussion) can get cleared, he’ll start at Oakland. Matt Barkley is brutal. It’s a decent matchup for Foles. … If the Dolphins could protect Tannehill, he’d produce far bigger numbers. But they’re incapable. … It’s been one game on, one game off for Smith all season. So inconsistent. … Campbell impressed at KC and has two special weapons. He’s on my radar. … McCown has good athleticism and a QB-friendly scheme. On the radar as well. … Henne is now averaging 265.0 passing yards per game in his five starts.

Editor’s Note: For more waiver thoughts and news from around the league, follow Adam Levitan, Rotoworld Football and our dominant News Page. RUNNING BACKS
1. Shane Vereen, Patriots – Owned in 39 percent of Yahoo leagues
Nothing is certain when dealing with the Patriots and injuries, but signs point toward Shane Vereen (wrist) returning to action when first eligible in Week 11. He’ll quick assume a major role. Over the last four weeks, fill-in “passing back” Brandon Bolden has played on 153-of-298 (51.3 percent) of the snaps. He’s a replacement level talent though, so the production and touches haven’t been there. Vereen will soak up all that work, plus do some “joker” things in the passing game and get some base carries as an early-down back. In Week 1, he racked up 14 carries for 101 yards and seven catches for 58 yards. Vereen was going to have a monstrous year if not for the broken wrist.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Andre Brown, Giants – Owned in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues
Over the last two weeks, Peyton Hillis has literally come off his couch and touched the ball 46 times for 166 total yards with one touchdown. In the week before that, Brandon Jacobs got 23 touches and racked up 114 yards with two scores. That’s a ton of production for two washed up, stiff running backs that look like they’re running on ice skates. Now, Andre Brown is certainly no Earl Campbell, but we can confidently predict that he’ll flash far more talent than the aforementioned duo. He’s fully on track to return in Week 10 off that broken leg and the Giants offensive line is finally plowing some holes (too late for David Wilson owners). Brown, who had eight touchdowns in 10 games last year, will be a non-PPR option right away.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

3. Ben Tate, Texans – Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues
Arian Foster (hamstring) is very questionable for Sunday’s home game against the Colts. Ben Tate is also questionable due to four broken ribs, but he vowed to play Monday and said he actually feels better than he did when he played through the injury in Week 7. It sets up a plausible scenario in which the talented Tate will finally get a chance to carry a full workload, with only practice squadder Ray Graham and a couple of newly signed backs (Deji Karim, Dennis Johnson) behind him.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

4. Montee Ball, Broncos – Owned in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues
One of fantasy’s bigger draft busts is back on the radar for two reasons. First of all, Ronnie Hillman was a healthy scratch in Week 8. And second, the Broncos are now making a concerted effort to ease Knowshon Moreno’s workload a little bit. The idea is that less Moreno now will mean he’ll have more juice in the playoffs as the Broncos chase the Super Bowl. That led to 11 carries and a touchdown for Ball against the Redskins on 30 snaps, while Moreno got 20 touches on 38 snaps. Perhaps most interestingly, Ball got three of four goal-line chances and converted one. He’ll be a monster if Moreno goes down and he’ll have some deep flex appeal if not.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

5. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – Owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues
The latest update we have on Jonathan Stewart (ankle) is that he’s optimistic he’ll finally return in Week 9. We don’t know how healthy he’ll be, but we do know he’s the best natural talent in Carolina’s backfield. Yes, far better than DeAngelo Williams, who is averaging 4.18 YPC on the season. And certainly better than Mike Tolbert, who is discussed below. Stewart isn’t a must-add because of his ever-iffy health and how he’ll be eased back into a hot offense, but there’s certainly upside with a back of this caliber.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

6. Mike Tolbert, Panthers – Owned in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues
Everyone saw Mike Tolbert blow up the Bucs for 11 touches, 64 total yards and a touchdown on Thursday Night Football in Week 8. He now has five touchdowns in his last five games, clearly operating as the goal-line back at a beer kegesque 5’9/245. And Tolbert has another good shot at a touchdown this week as the Panthers will host the Falcons. However, prospective owners should note that Tolbert is averaging just 8.7 touches per game on the year and Jonathan Stewart (ankle) could be back as soon as this week. If Tolbert doesn’t score, he’s a fantasy liability.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

7. Daryl Richardson, Rams – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
Wildly impressive Zac Stacy sustained an ankle sprain late in the Monday night loss to the Seahawks. He appeared to be in a lot of pain and was hobbling around, missing the majority of the final drive. Ankle sprains often get worse overnight, so we can’t assume he’ll be able to play in a nice matchup with the Titans in Week 9. That would put Week 1 starter Daryl Richardson back in the saddle as Isaiah Pead remains in the doghouse. Richardson has proven he’s not a plus runner between the tackles, but he catches well and has good speed. There some big-play appeal.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues or as a Zac Stacy handcuff

Watch List: Ray Graham, James Starks, Daniel Thomas, Donald Brown – Graham could end up starting this week if Arian Foster and Ben Tate both sit. … Starks is healthy and the clear handcuff to monster workhorse Eddie Lacy. … Thomas continues to play reasonably well while getting half the reps. … Brown has outplayed Trent Richardson over the last few games. There’s no reason to think that will continue, but it’s worth watching.   WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Colts – Owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues
The bye week has come and gone for the Colts as they digested Reggie Wayne’s ACL tear. The only move they made at wideout was to promote Griff Whalen off the practice squad, which can be viewed as a vote of confidence in new No. 1 wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey. As mentioned last week, DHB was already playing 75.2 percent of the snaps, but was seeing just 4.8 targets per game. He’s going to see a bump in looks and has an emerging superstar in Andrew Luck at quarterback. Heyward-Bey isn’t going to do what Wayne did because he’s about 10 percent as good, but WR3 value is possible based on 7-9 targets per game.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Marvin Jones, Bengals – Owned in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues
We need to be careful with players whose usage/role hasn’t changed but the production has. Yes, Marvin Jones had eight catches for 122 yards and four touchdowns against the Jets. But he played on just 19-of-58 snaps. And over the last three weeks while he’s been on this tear, Jones has played on just 33.4 percent of the snaps. That’s not any different than the first five weeks, when he played on 43.4 percent of the snaps and totaled a paltry nine catches for 119 yards with one score. And now talented slot man Andrew Hawkins (ankle) is on the verge of returning and taking some targets. OK, but can’t a player’s role grow because he’s playing well? Of course. Jones is a clear red-zone beast that’s going to continue to see tons of single coverage while lining up opposite A.J. Green. It’s a good spot, but it’s not a volume spot. And that’s going to lead to inconsistency, making him a bye-week fill-in rather than every-week WR3.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

3. Kendall Wright – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
This one isn’t rocket science. Kendall Wright has at least five catches and 54 yards in six straight games as his team’s best receiver. Jake Locker (hip) should be 100 percent and is playing with improved accuracy. And the Titans have a dream schedule coming up, as noted above. Wright is flying too far under the radar.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team PPR leagues

4. Aaron Dobson – Owned in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues
We’ve seen a changing of the guard at the X receiver position in New England recently. Over the last three weeks, Aaron Dobson has played on 174-of-235 snaps (74.0 percent) and produced 13 catches on 22 targets. Kenbrell Thompkins played on just 14-of-68 snaps in Week 8 and has five catches for 61 yards over the last three weeks. With Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola back, it looks like the Patriots’ preferred three-wide set is Amendola, Julian Edelman and Dobson.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

5. Nate Burleson, Lions – Owned in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues
Nate Burleson’s pizza nightmare is almost over. He’s on track to return in Week 10, at which point he’ll quickly slide back in as the No. 2 wideout opposite Calvin Johnson. It’s a role Burleson averaged 6.3 catches for 79.6 yards before his car accident. Kris Durham can be tossed back to the scrap heap.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team PPR leagues

6. Lance Moore, Saints – Owned in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues
Coming off a Week 3 wrist injury, Lance Moore returned in Week 8 with three catches for 34 yards and one touchdown on four targets. His playing time was reduced as he was eased back in, resulting in 28-of-73 snaps. That number is going to rise, especially if Jimmy Graham (foot) continues to be severely limited. In 15 games last year, Moore totaled 65 catches for 1,041 yards with six touchdowns. He’s a WR4 and has a chance for more as we move along.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

7. Drew Davis, Falcons – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
In the first game following the Falcons’ Week 6 bye, Drew Davis played on 43-of-48 snaps but managed just one catch for 24 yards. In Week 8, he did far more with the Julio Jones role. Davis hauled in five passes for 77 yards with a touchdown as Matt Ryan slung it 61 times. There’s definitely an opportunity for sustained value here as the Falcons are going to be trailing a ton going forward and there’s no sign of Roddy White (hamstring, ankle).
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

8. Kenny Stills, Saints – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
Let’s be realistic about Stills’ role. He’s the No. 3 wideout on the Saints, playing the old Devery Henderson or Robert Meachem spot. It’s essentially a situational deep threat and that means wild ups and downs, as evidenced by Stills’ game log and target count. He’s averaging just 3.2 targets per game and has been held under 40 yards in four of seven contests. Stills is worth a WR4 play if you’re desperate for upside, but the floor will be very low.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Mike Brown, Lavon Brazill, Tiquan Underwood, David Nelson, Rishard Matthews – The Jags are trying to use three-wide as their base and Brown is playing well. … Brazill is the new situational deep threat in Indy. … Underwood steps in for Mike Williams, who is done for the season. … Nelson is emerging as Geno Smith’s favorite target. … Matthews steps in for Brandon Gibson, who is also done for the year. TIGHT ENDS
1. Coby Fleener, Colts – Owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues
On Sunday, we’ll get our first look at the Colts’ offense in a post Reggie Wayne world. I’m expecting a solid bump in targets for Darrius Heyward-Bey, but Indy should be concerned that he can’t do much with them. Perhaps Andrew Luck will rely more on Coby Fleener, his old pal from Stanford who is averaging 3.1 catches for 33.5 yards with three touchdowns on just 4.7 targets per game so far. Few TE2s will yield more upside.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

2. Tim Wright, Bucs – Owned in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues
Owners are going to be slow to jump on Tim Wright because he’s an undrafted rookie that plays for the dumpster fire known as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the situation is growing more and more ideal by the week. Wright is a converted college wideout with tremendous movement skills. He has an excellent rapport with Mike Glennon (26 targets over last four weeks) as both spent time with the backups during the offseason. The Bucs will be trailing a ton the rest of the way, leading to lots of passing formations and garbage-time opportunities. And finally, red-zone maven Mike Williams (hamstring) is now done for the year. At 6’3/220, Wright can help fill the void there.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Joel Dreessen, Broncos – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
Pass-catchers getting snaps with Peyton Manning are going to be fantasy stars. We saw it in Indy with the likes of Jacob Tamme and Austin Collie, and we’ve seen it this season with Julius Thomas. Unfortunately for Thomas’ owners, he went down with an ankle sprain in Week 8. It doesn’t sound too serious, but this is a guy that has had a long history of foot/ankle woes. If he misses time Dreessen is going to produce. He had a goal-line touchdown after Thomas left the win over the Redskins.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 14-team leagues or as a Julius Thomas handcuff

4. Ben Watson, Saints – Owned in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues
Here’s what we know about Jimmy Graham’s partially torn plantar fascia: Doctors have told him it can’t get worse, so it’s just a pain tolerance issue. It might not get better until the tissue completely tears, but no one knows when that will be. And Graham played just 18 snaps in Week 8, mostly in the red zone. The Saints sound like they currently don’t intend to give him time off, but either way Ben Watson is on the deep league radar. Graham is a shell of himself right now, leading to 80 snaps over the last two weeks for his backup. During that span, Watson has produced six catches for 106 yards on seven targets. He’s not a playmaker and won’t get goal-line fades like Graham, but Watson is a reliable veteran for Drew Brees.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 14-team leagues or as a Jimmy Graham handcuff

Watch List: Garrett Graham, Scott Chandler, Dallas Clark, Ladarius Green – Could the Texans offense run smoother with Case Keenum? It sure looked that way in Week 7, when Graham got eight targets. … Chandler is quietly averaging 3.6 catches a game. … Clark needs volume to succeed, meaning he’s a TE2 when we can project the Ravens to be trailing. … If Antonio Gates were to ever go down, the talented Green would beast. 

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS
1. Raiders – Owned 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
Michael Vick (hamstring) won’t play and Nick Foles (concussion) is questionable. The Raiders are a good stream if Foles starts, but they’ll be really strong if Matt Barkley gets the call. Making two relief appearances this season, the fourth-round rookie has gone 28-of-46 for 287 yards with four interceptions, a lost fumble and no touchdowns. He also had another pick called back by penalty. His sideline throws are so weak they are asking to get pick-sixed and he has shown no decisiveness in the pocket. The underrated Raiders D, which is giving up just 21.4 points per game (12th in the league) will eat up Barkley – or Foles – in the Black Hole.

2. Titans – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
As everyone saw on Monday night, Kellen Clemens can’t play. He’s inaccurate, indecisive and not on the same page with his receivers. Now he has a short week to get ready for a Titans team that is coming off a bye. He might not have much of a running game either, as Zac Stacy (ankle) is in doubt.

3. Cowboys – Owned in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues
Clearly, we’re not streaming Dallas because they’re a good defense. They’re ranked dead last in yards allowed per game. But they’re at home and facing a Vikings team that has three inept quarterbacks on the roster and can’t figure out a way to use its best weapon in the passing game (Cordarrelle Patterson).  Dallas’ D is quietly 14th in sacks and has forced 19 turnovers through eight games.

KICKERS  
1. Adam Vinatieri, Colts – Owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Colts come out of their bye and head to Houston in a game projected to feature a respectable 45 points. Adam Vinatieri is 15-of-17 on the season, including 3-of-3 from 50+ in his last two games.

2. Justin Tucker, Ravens – Owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues
Per ESPN, the Ravens are 5-0 following a bye under coach John Harbaugh. They’ve won each of those five games by double digits. It’s a trend that we can grasp onto as the Ravens figure to get their offense back on track despite a tough matchup at Cleveland this week. That means opportunities for Justin Tucker, who is now a sparkling 45-of-50 on field goals in his two-year career.

3. Graham Gano, Panthers – Owned in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues
Graham Gano has attempted just 10 field goals this year even though the Panthers rank 12th in points per game at 24.3. It’s an outlier that will be corrected as we move along, starting this week with a dreamy home matchup against the Falcons.

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