The Internet nearly broke this week when the Cleveland Browns announced they were going to start rookie Johnny Manziel at quarterback… or so we think. It looks like Brian Hoyer might be sent to the bench to give the Browns a spark, according to published reports. But is he worth it from a fantasy standpoint? We’ll examine that and more as we take a dive into the waiver wire. There are three or four weeks left in your fantasy season, so this is the time to make the solid moves that will get you into the playoffs. So, what about Manziel? Yes, he was a change of pace for the Browns, as he rushed for a touchdown last week, but let’s see why you don’t want him. Tight end Jordan Cameron is questionable for this week after missing his last five games with concussion symptoms. Miles Austin is still hospitalized after taking a hit to his lower back and hurting his kidneys. Andrew Hawkins is the best receiving threat the team has right now that’s healthy. Yes, Josh Gordon is there too, but I would want to see how Manziel works with all of his weapons before seeing how much he impacts fantasy values on Lake Erie. The Browns finish the season with Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Carolina in Week 16 and Baltimore in Week 17. The chances are there for Manziel to throw it a bunch and get the all-important rushing yardage as well with a pair of weak rush defenses during the fantasy playoffs. Dare we say it, Manziel could be a nice play down the stretch if you want a quarterback with a good situation that you can pick up now.
Let’s see what other quarterbacks are out there as we start our positional breakdown for the week:
Zach Mettenberger of the Titans was ridden hard into the turf by JJ Watt of the Texans last week and was replaced by Jake Locker…who promptly threw an interception on his first pass. Locker has the benefit of a good schedule as he takes on both New York teams, Jacksonville on Week 16 and Indianapolis on Week 17.
It’s a nice situation for him to be in but Locker doesn’t appear to have the talent at quarterback to capitalize on that nice set up. He also won’t have Justin Hunter who is sidelined with a ruptured spleen after a crushing hit by the Texans defense this past week. The Titans ground game is of little help so this makes Locker one to leave on waivers.
Mark Sanchez is not a guy to play this week against Seattle but has one of the best playoff schedules with divisional games against Washington and Dallas. Nick Foles isn’t cleared yet for contact and the Eagles would be wise to hold him out until the playoffs, assuming they make it as a wild card. Check your wire for Sanchez and snap him up if he is there.
We’ll take a minute and stop the column to let you pick up Tre Mason, the key to fantasy victory.
So here’s why you did that. Mason shredded Oakland for 164 total yards and three touchdowns as part of a 52-0 romp over the Raiders. Yes, its going to be tougher this week against Washington but Mason still has Arizona coming in on a short week and the New York Giants on Week 16 before ending with Seattle. The Cardinals look vulnerable as of late as they allowed a 100-yard runner for the first time in early two seasons and the Giants are just awful.
Tre Mason, folks. Go get him now.
If you miss out on Mason, find the Boom known as Dan Herron of the Colts. Trent Richardson of the Colts had 16 carries and picked up 12 yards; Herron had 16 carries and had 88 rushing yards including a 49-yard scamper for a touchdown. Edge: Boom by a bunch. Herron looks like the kind of back who can pound out the yardage in place of the injured Ahmad Bradshaw and is the back to own in Circle City. Herron and the Colts have Cleveland, Houston, Dallas in Week 16 and Tennessee in Week 17. The chances are there for him to shine down the stretch in terms of schedule and Richardson’s ineffectiveness.
Don’t forget about Oakland running back Latavius Murray. He missed last week with a concussion but was a dynamo against Kansas City in Week 12. Of course, when you’re taking on San Francisco, Kansas City, Buffalo and Denver in that order his value is going to go up with each game as we get closer to the playoffs. If the Raiders are smart, Murray should get the chance to showcase his talents as Oakland tries to figure out its running back situation for 2015.
Arizona running back Andre Ellington is questionable with a hip pointer. If he can’t go for some reason, it would likely be Stepfan Taylor taking the bulk of the snaps against the Chiefs this week. Marion Grice would be the change-of-pace back and Michael Bush is lurking in the backfield as well. Factor in an offense that only ran it 11 times against Atlanta and two offensive linemen battling ankle injuries and this becomes a giant mess to pass on.
Rashad Jennings of the Giants hurt his ankle late in the embarrassing loss to Jacksonville. If he misses time, it could be worth it to get a hold of Andre Williams. They have a favorable matchup this week with the Titans but it gets tougher with Washington and St. Louis before the finale with Philly. Williams becomes a one-week play at best.
Chris Johnson ran for 105 yards last night but is too inconsistent to trust right now. The Jets ran the ball 48 times against the Dolphins so keep that in mind when you float back to reality on Johnson’s real value. Doug Martin scored just his second touchdown of the season last week but is also not worth hitching your wagon to this late in the season.
Stills has put up solid numbers and the Saints close with Carolina, Chicago and Atlanta in Week 16 so you should be drooling at the chance to get him on your roster. Stills has taken advantage of the gap left by Brandin Cooks going on IR and is a nice play for the rest of the season.
Stedman Bailey of the Rams had 100 yards in the first quarter against Oakland. The key thing to remember about him is that he has 12 catches on 14 targets with Shaun Hill under center in the last two weeks. He looks to be a consistent late threat for the Rams who have a good schedule in terms of passing in the next few weeks. We’d recommend starting him only in larger, deeper leagues.
Andre Roberts of the Redskins is a sneaky pickup after DeSean Jackson was carted off with a lower leg injury. His value is better after Colt McCoy threw for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts. The Redskins have the Rams and the entire NFC East to finish the season so the potential is there for both of them. It dries up immediately if you hear the phrase “Robert Griffin III will start.”
Jordan Reed of the Redskins is the best option here. With McCoy calling the shots, Reed has seen his value shoot up. Reed has 20 targets and 16 catches in the last two weeks for 163 yards and a touchdown. Opportunities will be there for Reed to continue to pile up the points and help your fantasy team win big games late in the season.
Kyle Rudolph of the Vikings continue to see his stat lines go up each week and has the Jets this week. He makes a slight sleeper play but can make the difference for teams that could see their games go either way this week.
Use the weekly point spread to find the ones with the most potential. It’s a simple rule and is pretty effective. Connor Barth of the Broncos looked good in his debut with chip shot field goals to help Denver pound out Kansas City on Sunday night.
Defense & Special Teams
Here are the five for this week to target:
Arizona against Kansas City (Chiefs offense looks miserable, WRs still have no TDs this season).
Kansas City against Arizona (Cards went 11 quarters without a TD until final two minutes at Atlanta).
Houston against Jacksonville (or anyone against Jacksonville not from the Big Apple).
New Orleans against Carolina (Panthers aren’t moving the ball well and gave up two blocked kicks returned for TDs).
As always, play reverse waivers and if your gut says to pick someone up, go for it.