Did your first-round pick tear a muscle you can’t pronounce? Is your top running back doing more sucking than running? Welp, Let’s look for sleepers and waiver wire gold together, and be wrong together, and cry together.
In August when Jake Locker was officially named the Titans’ starter, he was set up to be the perfect sleeper at a position where there are very few of them. Now he’s still widely available, and he’s cashing in on that potential and becoming the ideal spot starter with bye weeks beginning.
Also and most importantly, he’s making me look good.
1. Jake Locker: Locker is still getting little support from Chris Johnson, but what’s encouraging is that in Week 3 against a strong Lions pass rush led by Ndamukong Suh, that didn’t seem to matter. He wasn’t sacked, posting a zero in that column for the second straight week, and he looked comfortable and poised in the pocket while passing for 378 yards, which was only 12 yards behind Ben Roethlisberger last week, the Week 3 passing leader. He did that on nine yards per attempt, and all of these impressive numbers in a less than ideal matchup for a quarterback making only his third career start will only improve significantly if, god willing, Locker gets any backfield help. Any at all.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 39%, ESPN – 7.4%
2. Kevin Kolb: No, you shouldn’t expect Kolb’s run of success to continue. There’s a better chance of pigs flying in a frozen hell. But similar to Locker, he’s the ideal add for the cautious Matthew Stafford owner. Stafford will likely play this week after straining his hamstring, but with Kolb throwing to Larry Fitzgerald there’s always the potential for a scoring opportunity and an explosive play (he threw two touchdowns last week). More importantly, Kolb has exhibited better care with the ball, which is something you want from a backup in fantasy and reality. In three game appearances (two starts) and 59 pass attempts, he hasn’t thrown an interception yet. He threw one for every 28.1 attempts last year, finishing with nine overall.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 5%, ESPN – 3.1%
3. Shaun Hill: So about that Stafford replacement. As his backup, Hill is another much more obvious option for the concerned Stafford owner in your life, and he needed just 13 pass attempts to throw two touchdowns Sunday against Tennessee. He’s a desperation option, which is the state you may arrive at quickly depending on the depth of your league if either of Kolb, Locker, or Christian Ponder (who’s still somehow available in 86 percent of Yahoo leagues) aren’t available, and Stafford’s situation worsens.
Percentage owned: Yahoo - 2%, ESPN – 0.3%
1. Daniel Thomas: The continued weekly running back carnage is stretching the wire thin, but Thomas is a no-brainer move for any Reggie Bush owner. Given his injury history — and more importantly, his history with knee injuries specifically — the Dolphins will be overly cautious with Bush after his latest knee scare Sunday against the Jets. Since he’s already been ruled out for this week and there’s a very strong possibility he’ll be out for at least another game, the Dolphins could opt to nurse Bush’s knee and hold their primary playmaker out until after their Week 7 bye. That possibility makes adding Thomas even more important, and last year he had 202 rushing yards over just the seasons’ first two games before suffering an injury of his own and remaining out until Week 6.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 14%, ESPN – 58.0%
2. Tashard Choice: Another obvious injury insurance pick up, this time for the owner of any Buffalo Bills running back. C.J. Spiller will be out for several weeks after going down with a shoulder injury, and while Fred Jackson will practice this week and there’s a 70-75 percent chance that he’ll play, those odds aren’t favorable for a 31-year-old running back. Choice has shown some burst over the last two weeks while playing behind Spiller, and then being the primary option when the starter was injured this past Sunday. He’s averaged 4.6 yards per carry since Week 2, and he had 91 yards last week.
Percentage owned: Yahoo 11%, ESPN – 0.4%
3. Bilal Powell: This is very much a flier, and it isn’t a short-term play with the Jets taking on two tough run defenses over the next two weeks (San Francisco and Houston). But as we discussed earlier today in our exploration of Shonn Greene and his gradual plunge into irrelevancy, Powell is slowly moving in the opposite direction. He’s been gradually receiving more carries (only three in Week 1, and 10 last week), and he has the build to vulture short yardage and goal-line work.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 4%, ESPN – 1.1%
1. Andrew Hawkins: This is our first repeat entry from last week, and for Hawkins, that’s puzzling. Surely there’s room on your roster for a No. 2 receiver who is seeing plenty of open space with secondaries keying on A.J. Green, and a speed threat in the slot who now has 208 receiving yards this year despite only four receptions over his past two games. Hawkins has back-to-back games with a receiving touchdown of 50 yards or more, meaning in most leagues on those plays alone he would have given you about nine points. Yet the universe still wants him to remain unemployed in fake football.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 28%, ESPN – 6.3%
2. T.Y. Hilton: This move would be made with an eye beyond this week because of both the battle between Hilton and Donnie Avery for Andrew Luck’s eye and, well, the Colts have a bye this week. We’ve discussed the merits of Hilton at length and why he may eventually surpass Avery in catches and targets as Indy’s No. 2 wideout. He makes an especially intriguing speculative add for those in keeper leagues. If this season gets out of hand for the Colts (and it will, eventually) leaning more heavily on the rookie third-round pick to develop the team’s future makes much more sense than keeping Avery in a more prominent roll. But hey, the Irsay family and common sense have been enemies ever since the Mayflower left Baltimore.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 2%, ESPN – 0.2%
3. Ramses Barden: If Hakeem Nicks was still out, Barden would easily lead this list. But alas, Nicks will return in Week 4 after nursing his foot injury for a week while Barden stepped up in his absence and had nine receptions for 138 yards. Still, Barden likely did more than enough to move ahead of Domenik Hixon on the Giants’ WR depth chart, so he’ll get looks in three-receiver sets, and he’ll still present a periodic home run threat.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 0%, ESPN – 0.7%
1. Kyle Rudolph: His ownership is a little scattered, which likely reflects Rudolph’s lack of receiving yardage through three games while he’s playing with a young quarterback who still isn’t airing it out deep down the field consistently (he has 138 yards). But that’s fine, because you don’t need a tight end you’re taking a flier on to eat up chunk yardage. You need him to score, and Rudolph has three touchdowns over his last two games, making him an ideal filler a week from now with Jason Witten and Brandon Pettigrew owners preparing for a bye week.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 41%, ESPN – 14.2 %
2. Brandon Myers: Carson Palmer has developed a love for tight ends. The position, of course, and the latest object of his affection is Myers, who’s averaging 68.7 receiving yards per game, and remarkably his 206 total yards thus far is third among tight ends behind only Brent Celek and Tony Gonzalez.
Percentage owned: Yahoo 5%, ESPN – 1.1%
3. Greg Olsen: Another case of very scattered ownership, but it’s still amazing that Olsen is out there in nearly half of Yahoo leagues. This is a tight end who had 98 receiving yards last week — his highest single-game total since the divisional round of the 2010 playoffs — and he did it in a game when he was asked to do what any good tight end does. He was consistently open as his quarterback’s safety valve, and he produced despite a 35-7 drubbing at the hands of the Giants.
Percentage owned: Yahoo 51%, ESPN – 16.6%