It’s the week of Thanksgiving and hopefully your team is thankful for a shot to make the playoffs, if you haven’t already sewn a berth up already.

If you’re on the fringe of making the playoffs, this column should hopefully help you avoid turkeys on the waiver wire and help you find the players that are worth more than a parking spot at the mall on Black Friday. Speaking of Black Friday, can someone send that running back from New England a clock? He had an issue with his phone dying out on him and he wound up getting benched for it.

Running Backs are going to be all the rage this week, so we’ll start with them.

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If you didn’t know the name Jonas Gray before 8pm Eastern Sunday night, nobody would blame you. If you forget his name when you’re putting in your waiver claims for the week, you’ll never forget it. Gray went off in huge fashion this past week with 199 yards and four rushing touchdowns against the Colts. It took him from fantasy afterthought to fantasy pick-up of the week status, and he certainly is that for us. Gray has managed to supplant Shane Vereen as the top man in the New England backfield and should be getting the majority of the work going forward.

You’ll have to put up with a tough week this week, as Gray and the Patriots take on a stiff Detroit defense. The defense held Arizona running back Andre Ellington to less than 50 rushing yards last week. After Week 12, Gray’s schedule turns much easier with games at Green Bay, at San Diego, Miami, at the Jets, and Buffalo to close out the season. (Keep in mind we put the full 17-game schedule out there when we talk about remaining games, since some leagues go the full distance.) Excluding the Dolphins, you’re looking at four of the top-12 rush defenses in the NFL for Gray. The match-ups are going to be tough, so you could pick him up now, let him go off against Green Bay, and try for a late sell-high deal depending on your league’s trade deadline. (Yes, most deadlines will pass in the near future but it’s still worth mentioning.) These games should be winnable for New England so Gray should get carries to keep the clock and the chains moving. Eventually, he will find the end zone, but don’t expect anything close to his output against Indianapolis.

This is also the final week of byes with Carolina and Pittsburgh sitting out this week. This is key for one reason. It’s time to get rid of the guys on your team who are non-producers and/or have poor match-ups the rest of the way. This is the time of year when you want your decisions on who to start to be incredibly tough since you have to pick from talent, talent or talent.

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This week’s waiver wire column is going to explore the returning player. The focus is on the players who are coming back off lengthy layoffs after injuries. Of course, we’ll still try to catch lightning in a bottle too and help your team that way. That said, let’s dive in.

First, let’s talk about Adrian Peterson. He’s not coming back from an injury, but from a suspension… or so we hope. There is going to be some legal wrangling this week over whether or not Peterson can come back to play this season or not, so it will need time to play out. Hopefully a decision gets made this week to give us some clarity. Even if he’s not 100% ready to go, you need to stash him on your roster. If nothing else, ensure that other owners don’t get their hands on him. With his talents and a plush schedule, Peterson could be the ultimate shot-in-the-arm add to any fantasy team. If he doesn’t pan out, you can toss him back and try again. If it does, you have fantasy gold. The thing to keep in mind is there is some internal strife within the Vikings front office about whether or not to bring him back. Minnesota is 4-5 and three games behind 7-2 Detroit for the top spot in the NFC North. Sure, there are other factors at play, but it is worth giving consideration to adding AP. I’ve been picking him up much as in the same way it’s time to get another guy in the same boat.

That other guy is Cleveland wide receiver Josh Gordon. It’s worth checking the wire to see if the dynamic wide receiver is there. He would make awesome trade bait if you can pick him up. Things set up nicely for Gordon with his schedule (HOU, ATL, BUF, IND, CIN, CAR, BAL) and that matchup against Carolina on championship week is inviting. We saw Mark Sanchez abuse the Carolina defense last night and Gordon could go nuts.

Realistically, it would be difficult to see either of them being available on the waiver wire but we mention them anyways. Take a second and scan anyways. Let’s go to reality now.

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The injury bug strikes again, and this time it’s a quarterback who takes the beating. Philadelphia will be without the services of quarterback Nick Foles for several weeks after breaking his collarbone in Sunday’s game against Houston. Mark Sanchez, yes he’s still in the league, came in and helped the Eagles the rest of the way to a win over the Texans. So who can you turn to now? Six teams have a bye this week in Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego and Washington. There’s a ton of talent to replace and that’s before we jump into injuries. Let’s get into it and see who you can pick up this week to help your team out…

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This week sets up to be one of the most complex and challenging one on the waiver wire of the entire season. There are a few reasons for this. First, this week has six teams (Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Green Bay, Detroit and Tennessee) on bye. It’s the most since we had six sit out Week 4. Second, the trade deadline is at 4PM Eastern this afternoon. Rumors are flying around, and you’ll want to wait until the dust settles before making any kind of move to your fantasy roster. My gut feeling says this will be a trade deadline with a couple of big moves that will make ripples across the fantasy landscape. Third, you have to decide if you want to be in on the first wave of claims or wait and see who gets dropped and make a move on reverse waivers. Decisions, decisions…

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Normally, I start with a little opening about the week and dive into the picks for the waiver wire. This week, I’m going to go a little different to open…

It’s one thing to get waiver advice from this site. It’s another thing to get it from someone who is in first place. It’s even nicer when they’re the same person. That is exactly the case right now in the Razzball Writers League, where I am the top banana by myself at 6-1. Hooray for me at the halfway point. Enough chest-thumping, let’s get into the meat of the column.

This week is going to be a very key one on the waiver wire. This is Week 8 and each of the next two weeks feature six teams on bye. If you make the right move this week, you can potentially sit back and reap the benefits while your opponents scramble each week trying to make moves. First, the byes. This week, it’s San Francisco and the New York Giants. Week 9 features Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Tennessee sitting out. Week 10 has Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego and Washington at home on the couch. Week 11 is a little easier with Baltimore, Dallas, the Jets and Jacksonville on a bye. And Carolina and Pittsburgh close it out on Week 12.

We’re going to have to keep this in mind as we evaluate our selections.

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The 2014 NFL season looks more and more like a demolition derby of humanity with each passing week. In Week 6, Victor Cruz of the New York Giants was the biggest name to see his season end. He ruptured the patella tendon in his knee on a fourth-down play and that was it. The night didn’t get any easier for the New York Giants as they lost Jerrel Jernigan for the season, which put them down two wide receivers. Losing 27-0 to the Eagles on Sunday night seemed to be secondary. Things worsened for the Giants in one day but is your fantasy team dealing with injuries? Of course it is. If you haven’t had a player get hurt you’re either extremely lucky or it’s a total fluke. Either way, we’ll help you get through this difficult time of the season.

Let’s look back and see the big fantasy-relevant names who got hurt on Week 6…

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This past week was brutally tough on running backs. We saw several of them get injured and there are lead backs who will miss multiple weeks from the Denver Broncos and New York Giants. Factor in Kansas City and New Orleans are on bye this week, and it makes for a minefield of running backs to work through. We’ll help you get through it in this week’s column. Here we go.

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We’ve survived the first bye week with six of the better teams in the league on a two week vacation. It led to unusual results and other players taking a turn in the other spotlight. Miami and Oakland are the only teams on bye in Week 5 after they beat up on each other in London, so there aren’t that many players you need to replace this week. Oakland also needs to replace its coach, but that’s another story. But there is one player that needs to go immediately, and his name is Tom Brady.

Brady has been shoddy at best this season, and it’s got to be killing fantasy teams. For the season, he has 791 passing yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions, and has failed to break the 250-yard barrier this season. It hit a low point last night when he was replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo, who was put in during the fourth quarter of the Chiefs’ 41-14 a**-kicking of New England. Brady just doesn’t look right. He still has Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, but after that, there is little else in the way of receiving talent that he can utilize. His tackles aren’t protecting him well, and the ground game isn’t getting the holes it used to. Brady can still dink and dunk, but without a good deep threat, it looks ugly for the 37-year old signal caller from Michigan. He’s on pace for career lows for a full season and he has a Sunday night game with 3-0 Cincinnati and it’s tough defense in Week 5, before Buffalo and the New York Jets in a five-day span.

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As if the injuries weren’t bad enough, now we get to add in bye weeks to the train wreck known as Fantasy Football in 2014. This week, you’re missing Arizona, St. Louis, Seattle, Denver, Cleveland and Cincinnati to pile on with the problems. Let’s dive in and see who can help your team out on a bumpy Week 4.

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