(*Licks finger, raises it in the air*) Yuuuup, it’s about that time. Early-round picks are dropping, waiver claims for their backups are failing, and fear is growing. It’s mid-October, do you know where your running backs are?
During this week’s trip through the murky depths of fake waiver wires we meet two running backs that you need to claim right now if you own either Maurice Jones-Drew or Trent Richardson, and a quarterback play that will make you feel pretty good about yourself.
Due to some time constraints today we had to stop one position short, and forgo an in-depth look at the tight end wire. Trust me, you’re not missing much. Desperate Fred Davis owners might be able to get lucky in a league where Jacob Tamme isn’t owned (owned in 43% of Yahoo leagues, and 67% of ESPN leagues), but your odds are much better in one of the many more leagues where Brandon Myers and his 55.7 receiving yards per game are still available (3.2% in ESPN leagues, 13% of Yahoo leagues).
Anywho, let’s do this.
1. Brandon Weeden: This isn’t a heavy week for quarterback byes, with Matt Schaub the only QB sitting out who’s kind of, sort of, sometimes a regular starter for someone out there. But Weeden is easily the top add if you’re grasping for a spot start and if you’re not happy with the matchup facing your regular starter. His connection with Josh Gordon has continued to grow, as the rookie supplemental pick has four touchdowns over just his last three games, two of which were for more than 60 yards. But what’s most appealing about Weeden’s plug and play status this week is his matchup against the 25th-ranked Chargers secondary.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 8.8%, Yahoo – 17%
2. Matt Hasselbeck: Hasselbeck will make at least one more start with Jake Locker still recovering from his shoulder injury, and he’ll do it against a Colts defense that allowed the aforementioned Weeden — a rookie quarterback passing primarily to a rookie wide receiver during a game when his rookie running back didn’t play the second half — to finish with a passer rating of 96.3 while throwing two touchdowns.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 15%, Yahoo – 12%
3. Brady Quinn: I’ve never hated myself more than what I do right now. But hey, here’s a known fact about Quinn’s opponent this weekend, those lowly Raiders: they’re just sort of blah against the pass, allowing 254.7 yards per game (22nd). And while that’s wonderful, it’s only the requisite amount of blah-ness for a quarterback who’s competent, and whose career interception total (11) isn’t higher than his touchdown total (10). Break this glass case only in truly trying times in deep leagues.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 0.7%, Yahoo – 2%
1. Rashad Jennings: Last week, Felix Jones was the pickup that required about four seconds of thought. And while he then proceeded to cause us great pain with only 44 rushing yards at a pace of 2.9 per carry before getting hurt because of course, the alignment of celestial bodies was correct for a productive day from Jones. The Cowboys have a competent quarterback, wide receivers that may not be elite but they’re still significantly above replacement level, and a top tier defense to supply good field position. The Jaguars have none of those things, but Jennings is still a required claim for the MJD owner, especially with your stud set to miss “significant” time, whatever the hell that means.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 13.7%, Yahoo – 30%
2. Montario Hardesty: In this exact same spot last week, Hardesty was just a mere suggestion. Or precaution, if you will, because at the time we were unsure if Trent Richardson would play. Welp, now he’s back, and he’s a required add because Richardson’s injury is much worse than you think (no really, just ask him…or don’t ask him because he desires to say nothing to you). After he didn’t play in the second half against the Colts, the Browns are reportedly thinking about sitting T-Rich out for three weeks until after their Week 10 bye. That makes sense for a team which already has seen its slim post-season hopes nearly evaporate, so exposing their backfield anchor for hopefully the next decade isn’t a wise idea. But yeah, it sucks for you.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 8.5%, Yahoo – 10%
3. Jonathan Dwyer: It’s surprising how little Dwyer is owned after both Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman were ruled out well before the Steelers’ game against the Bengals Sunday. Any Steeler running back is a running back who has an opportunity to produce, and produce immediately, which is exactly what Dwyer did with 122 rushing yards on only 17 carries (a rather ridiculous 7.2 YPC). However, Dwyer could quickly slide back into the grasp of a three-headed monstrosity of a rotation this week after head coach Mike Tomlin said today that both Mendenhall and Redman “have a chance” to play in Week 8. Still, if you have a lower waiver priority and you’re a Ray Rice or Arian Foster owner (both on byes), make this claim, and then use witchcraft on Mendenhall and Redman, hoping they remain out.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 18.5%, Yahoo – 25%
1. Titus Young: It seems every week there’s a claim you have to make if you have even the slightest need for depth at the position in question. This is one of those times, as with Nate Burleson out for the year, Young immediately becomes the Lions’ No. 2 receiver. And when a team’s top receiver is named Calvin Johnson, the second guy is set to get a lot of looks, with opposing secondaries keying on Megatron. That’s what happened last night, and the result was Johnson nearly shutdown completely (only three receptions for 34 yards), forcing Matthew Stafford to look Young’s way far more often. Young then finished with 81 yards on six catches, after having less than 20 yards in four of Detroit’s other five games.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 51.2%, Yahoo – 27%
2. Jeremy Kerley: As we discussed yesterday, although Mark Sanchez doesn’t throw deep often (or really, throw ever), when he does attempt to throw a football down the field and cover a considerable distance, Kerley is almost always on the other end of said throws. The Jets have completed only two passes for 40 yards or more, and they’ve both gone to Kerley, who has quickly emerged as the primary speed option with Santonio Holmes gone. His value is about to climb quickly after his seven receptions for 120 yards against the Patriots Sunday, so grab one of the few relevant Jets while you can.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 43%, Yahoo – 45%
3. Greg Little: My hatred for Greg Little is only slightly below the venom I have reserved for Brady Quinn. He’s just a ball of wasted potential, as he’s been blessed with freakish length, but he continually drops routine passes and he’s now likely about to fall behind Josh Gordon and become the No. 2 receiver on the Browns’ WR depth chart. But in a way, that may be beneficial for Little, especially if Gordon continues down his fruitful yet also somewhat dangerous Mike Wallace path, becoming solely a deep option. With Gordon dominating that down field real estate, Little could see more looks while running intermediate routes, and we may have seen the roots of that trend this past Sunday when he had six receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown. The production is there, even if it’s coming at a porous 8.7 yards per catch.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 16.7%, Yahoo – 29%