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…
Let’s take a look at one player who will be key to the entire waiver process in Tampa running back Doug Martin. Martin is in the throes of a terrible season. The 1-6 Bucs are last in offense and near the bottom in defense. He has 58 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown this season. Martin also left the last game with an ankle injury of some sort. Martin’s name has been tossed around in trade rumors as well so you don’t know what’s going to happen to him. That also blows back on Bobby Rainey and Chris Sims. Rainey would be a solid pickup this week against a porous Cleveland defense if you need a short-term answer. Sims is more of the long-term answer if you can stash someone on your roster. Sims has been on designated-to-return injured reserve and is set to potentially make his debut this week.
How much would it impact how you decide who to pick up if Martin is still there in Tampa Bay? Told you this wouldn’t be easy.
Carson Palmer of Arizona is still out there in too many leagues. He was able to beat the Eagles last week with a 329-yard passing performance that included a pair of touchdown passes of 75 yards or more. Palmer and the Cardinals take on Dallas this week and they made Colt McCoy look good last night so Palmer should be picked up in nearly every format.
Speaking of Dallas, Brandon Weeden could be a stash if you’re desperate. Tony Romo took a knee to the back in the Cowboys overtime loss to Washington that caused him to miss a couple quarters. While I can appreciate the grit that Romo showed coming back on to the field, it makes you question how healthy he really is. The Cardinals just surrendered more than 400 passing yards to Nick Foles and the Eagles so if Weeden starts, he can be a spot starter.
Mike Vick gets the start this week for the Jets against the Chiefs. He looked much better than Geno Smith did against Buffalo but is nothing more than speculative at this point. Joe Flacco is performing nicely as of late and gets a Pittsburgh defense that gave up 34 points to the Colts last week so he could be a sneaky play.
Besides the Tampa duo above, it looks like the state of Florida has produced another legitimate running back for now in Denard Robinson. Robinson is the hot hand in the Jacksonville backfield right now and is coming off of a 108-yard day against Miami. He gets the Bengals next and they haven’t proven they can stop much of anything on the ground this season. For now, he’s the one to own in Jacksonville but that could change at practically anytime.
Jonas Gray of the Patriots turned in a solid outing against Chicago and looks like, for now, that he has the backup spot behind Shane Vereen in New England as he ran for 86 yards on 17 attempts. The problem is that you never know how Bill Belicheck is going to use his running backs from week to week but Gray seems to be the best option out of the backups in Foxboro.
Johnathan Stewart of Carolina had a good game with 79 yards against Seattle last week but is supposed to have DeAngelo Williams back in the backfield for Thursday’s game with New Orleans. If there was no D-Will, we’d be much more enthusiastic about Stewart.
Keep an eye on who the Arizona Cardinals add to their roster at running back. Stepfan Taylor is dealing with a calf injury and there’s no way Andre Ellington can last the whole season getting 30 touches a game.
Brandon LaFell has turned things around in the last few weeks in New England. LaFell, a former after thought in Carolina, turned in a great game against the Bears with 124 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches. It has to make you wonder about the usage and value of Julian Edelman going forward since LaFell has suddenly turned it on. LaFell is the deep threat Tom Brady has been missing and since the debacle in KC the Pats look much much better. Pick up LaFell and take advantage of it while you can.
Odell Beckham Jr. of the Giants is back from his bye and is the top receiving threat for Big Blue. I think he’ll get going again quickly in the second half of the season since his running back situation is a little murky now between Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings’ sprained knee ligament.
Allen Robinson of Jacksonville continues to be solid each week despite Blake Bortles also throwing touchdown passes to the other team. Robinson went 5-82-1 against Miami and has scored in two straight games. He has four catches in every game this season so he has more value in PPR leagues.
Doug Baldwin has emerged as the top receiver in Seattle so he can make a good add. People might not be high on him now since the Seahawks had a clunker against Carolina last week so it’s your chance to add him on the cheap.
Dwayne Allen of the Colts has become an integral part of the offense and should be owned in every league. Allen has touchdowns in six of his eight games this season and is a hot commodity at what looks like a thin position.
Ah heck, just pick one. [Jay’s Note: Amen brotha!]
Defense & Special Teams
The first rule is anyone against Jacksonville, just like what the Dolphins did this past week with two pick-sixes. The Chiefs should be a solid play against the Jets and their unpredictable offense. Check for San Francisco on the waiver wire if they got dropped last week when they were on bye. St Louis doesn’t look like they can intimidate anyone right now and the 49ers are a great add.
This week is tough, no doubt about it. The question is what’s your strategy going to be? For me it varies from league to league but I would look for more off the radar adds since I have a better chance of getting them.