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.

Putting a claim in on Felix Jones is the easiest decision you’ve ever made. Or maybe the decision to eat a pack of Nibs for breakfast this morning was easier (#bloglife).

There are many, many other ways in which the waiver wire this week is both not easy, and painfully thin. Strap on your snorkel, let’s go exploring.


1. Christian Ponder: I’ve lost track of how many times Ponder has appeared in this space, but until his ownership gets to at least 50 percent across the board, you’ll keep reading his name here. During this doom week for quarterback byes with Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and even everyone’s favorite rising rookie Ryan Tannehill sitting out, there’s really no excuse to not give in to Ponder’s handsome gaze and long, flowing locks. Alright maybe there’s one reason: his matchup against the Cardinals defense, and their 19 sacks and opponent’s passer rating of 70.7. But please recall that earlier this year against an equally strong 49ers defense, Ponder’s passing yards may have been lacking (198), but he scored three times, one of which came on the ground where he had 33 rushing yards.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 36.7%, Yahoo – 40%

2. Sam Bradford: I get it, you guys. Average isn’t sexy. But as our own Oliver Macklem noted last week while documenting the renaissance of Heath Miller, there’s nothing wrong with average. A pepperoni pizza is average, and partly cloudy is an average forecast. Sam Bradford is an average quarterback, which explains his continued availability. But when the fear from the aforementioned byes sinks deep into your pores — especially for those of you in deep-ish leagues — suddenly average is cool again. Then you remember that Bradford just had a passer rating of 91.3 and 8.1 yards per attempt against a daunting Dolphins pass rush capable of applying pressure whenever it pleases.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 44.9%, Yahoo – 19%

3. Jake Locker: After two solid plug and play options we turn to a deeper add, and an opportunity to stash valuable depth beyond this week. Skip onwards if you’re in a 10-team league, and occupy yourself by teasing the dog for a few minutes (a stick that’s not a stick but is instead a tree root always works). This claim isn’t for you, as we’re looking forward here with Locker still sitting out this week with his shoulder injury, but likely returning for Week 8. But those in 12 or 14-team leagues with a lower waiver priority may want to give him a long look. In his last healthy game Locker passed for 378 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions, and he’ll face an equally weak secondary in Week 8 when the Titans host Indianapolis.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 8%, Yahoo – 22%

Running backs

1. Felix Jones: This is an easy decision for any DeMarco Murray owner, but more importantly for any non-Murray owner with a high waiver priority and a running back need due to byes or injuries. You can address that need while also blocking a rival or maybe even an opponent this week, forcing the Murray owner to dig further into a waiver wire that’s as thin as a waiver wire should be at the running back position in Week 7. Despite his open-field burst, Jones has been inconsistent throughout his career, which is why the Cowboys have kept naming running backs who aren’t Felix Jones as the starter. However, when Murray went down last year he started four games and rushed for 268 yards after flopping as the starter earlier in the season, with the bulk of that yardage coming in weeks 14 and 15 (214 yards on 38 carries).

Percentage owned: ESPN – 51.3%, Yahoo – 25%

2. Montario Hardesty: The thing about injuries is that they suck. But hey, at least they make your waiver decisions on Tuesday night easy, right? Ugh. As an owner of both Murray and Trent Richardson in separate leagues, the pain runs deep here. Richardson has a rib injury, and his status for Sunday is being called “uncertain.” That’s a terrible, dirty word, and the next word to be associated with Richardson will likely be “limited” at best regarding his practice status tomorrow. Make the Hardesty play on the wire, and do it with a whole lot of confidence after Shonn friggin Greene gashed the Colts — Cleveland’s opponent this week — for 161 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 0.4%, Yahoo – 4%

3. Daryl Richardson: Maybe Richardson’s nearly 50-50 workload split with Steven Jackson in Week 7 was due to a gameplan that called for a heavy lean on the run game to neutralize a strong Dolphins pass rush. That’s what Rotoworld suggests, and it makes sense. But even if that’s true, Richardson is easily the league’s most valuable backup, and he’s inching towards being a consistently intriguing flex play option after vulturing a goal-line carry Sunday, and having 76 yards to Jackson’s 52, far more production on nearly even touches. One running back is fading in St. Louis, while the other is quickly rising. Embrace truth, Jeff Fisher. We are.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 4.1%, Yahoo – 15%

Wide receivers

1. Brandon Gibson: We knew Gibson would likely ascend to become the Rams’ No. 1 receiver with Danny Amendola out. We just didn’t know exactly what that meant, and if he was able to be trusted with a roster spot. Now we know. He had 91 yards on seven catches against the Dolphins, including this week’s edition of absurd one-handed catchery. Unfortunately, St. Louis’ schedule is dotted with poor matchups for any top wideout on any team, with two dates against the 49ers upcoming, along with some blanketing from Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson during games against the Jets and Cards. But hey, we’re in flex play territory here, and Gibson is costing you nothing. Look at your upcoming byes, and assess how much you’re in need of a flier at the position.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 24.8%, Yahoo – 22%

2. Stephen Hill: I hear you. Why the hell should you want anything to do with any Jets receiver, or any receiver on any team that’s attempting only 30 passes per game, and averaging just 184.3 passing yards? The answer, skeptical friend, is simple: every No. 1 receiver has value, even if it’s just as a red-zone target as you hope for a fluke touchdown. Mark Sanchez has to throw the ball to someone when he does throw, and Hill was limited in his first game back last week as he returned from a hamstring injury, playing in only 18 snaps. Yet still the large-bodied target managed to snag a red-zone touchdown, his third in just two games.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 15.1%, Yahoo – 16%

3. Emmanuel Sanders: While he’s a budding prospect in reality, in fantasy Sanders still isn’t an option due to his lack of targets behind Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. But those targets are rising, as he has 17 receptions, while last year through six games he was stuck at just eight. And with the glut of high-end receivers on byes this week (Roddy White, Julio Jones, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Dwayne Bowe), the embargo on Sanders claims and plays in deeper leagues has lifted.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 1.7%, Yahoo – 5%

Tight Ends

1. Joel Dreessen: When you’re Peyton Manning’s favorite target at any position, you’re a friend of mine. Although he didn’t score last night, Dreessen came into Monday night with a touchdown in three straight games, and during the Broncos’ ridiculous second-half comeback against the Chargers he was targeted seven times for five catches and 57 yards, while Jacob Tamme was targeted only twice. After starting the season with only one fantasy point over the first two weeks, Dreessen has since averaged 7.3 weekly, which is solid production from a tight end who’s supposed to be splitting touches.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 5.1%, Yahoo – 14%

2. Brandon Myers: Nearing the top of the free agent pool of another position where the wire gets razor thin once we’re past Canadian turkey time and getting closer to American turkey time, Myers is averaging 58 receiving yards per game. He’s only had one game below 50 yards, and in that one game his lone reception was a 22 yarder. Now if he could only score…ever.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 1.6%, Yahoo – 6%

3. James Casey: And thus the tumble to obscurity begins on the tight end waiver wire, but Casey could still be a sneaky claim in deep leagues for those who are wandering aimlessly into the night while coping with Tony Gonzalez’s bye. As Macklem noted over the weekend, Casey has dual value and is listed as both a tight end and a running back, and he’s receiving a reasonable amount of targets behind Owen Daniels in the Texans’ passing offense. Last year he had 18 receptions throughout the entire season, a mark he’s already matched this year over just six games, and 91 of his 162 receiving yards on the season have come over the last three weeks.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 2.3%, Yahoo – 2%