It’s true, sort of, maybe a little bit.
This is the first time that Blaine Gabbert has ever mattered as a fantasy commodity, which says two things about the waiver wire this week:
1. It’s a dark, depressing place.
2. It hates you.
So with that ringing endorsement, let’s take a look.
1. Matt Moore: This is an automatic claim for those in two QB leagues, an environment where any and every starting quarterback has value. For the rest of us, if you have a low waiver priority and you’re fighting through Tom Brady’s bye, Moore is an appealing filler with his potential matchup against the Colts if Ryan Tannehill can’t play. Indy doesn’t give up chunk yardage, but the Colts defense has still been pass friendly, allowing a passer rating of 103.4 to opposing quarterbacks.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 1%, ESPN – 0.2%
2. Blaine Gabbert: This hurts, and it burns deep. But Gabbert is slowly — ever so slowly — showing signs of competence. Two weeks ago before leaving Jacksonville’s loss to Oakland with a shoulder injury he completed eight of his 12 passes at an average of 9.2 yards per attempt, and then he had a career high 303 yards last week.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 4%, ESPN – 3.9%
3. Sam Bradford: A frequent guest in this spot, Bradford suddenly has receiving options who are filled with the youthful piss and vinegar your grandfather always talked about. He’ll be getting Danny Amendola back following the Rams’ Week 9 bye, and Chris Givens became the first rookie to have a catch of 50 yards or more in each of his first five games. Bradford is average, or maybe just above average as a fantasy option. But he’s also safe, and a trustworthy plug and play QB with high upside if you run into injury trouble during the playoffs.
Percentage owned: Yahoo- 21%, ESPN – 44.5%
1. Jacquizz Rodgers: In a world where sanity matters, Rodgers would at minimum receive an even split with Michael Turner in the Falcons’ backfield, especially after Turner had another week when he looked about as old as the first rock ever created against the Eagles in Week 8, rushing for just 58 yards on 24 carries (2.4 YPC). In that same game, Rodgers needed only eight carries for 60 yards. We’re not much on math around here, but that means Rodgers had 16 fewer carries, and still two more yards. Rodgers also added 20 receiving yards for eight total fantasy points. Since reaching is a theme today (see: below) flexing Rodgers in a deep league against a Cowboys defense playing without Sean Lee isn’t crazy.
Percentage owned: Yahoo 31%, ESPN 10%
2. Joique Bell: Reaching? Absolutely. But if you’re hurting while trying to fill the vacant spot created by byes from either Steven Ridley, Frank Gore, or Steven Jackson, there’s some fine economy to be found with Bell. He had 58 all-purpose yards last week (25 rushing, 33 receiving) against a tough Seahawks defense. All of those rushing yards came in the fourth quarter too, showing that he’s being leaned on as the Lions’ pounding, clock-eating closer, with head coach Jim Schwartz later saying that he was given carries over Mikel Leshoure because the temperature of his hand(s) was rising.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 11%, ESPN – 2.7%
3. Ronnie Hillman: So yeah, it’s a dreadful week for running backs on the wire. But if you’re in a deep-ish keeper league, your window of opportunity to own next year’s possible breakout running back with Willis McGahee aging could be closing quickly after Hillman showed his explosiveness with a 31-yard run Sunday night in Denver’s win over New Orleans, finishing with 86 rushing yards overall.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 6%, ESPN – 0.6%
1. Titus Young: The only true gem on this week’s wire, Young has quickly emerged with Nate Burleson out for the season, and with Calvin Johnson shut down over the past two weeks. The blueprint for success when Megatron is stonewalled seems to be a throw to the other side of the field, and often. The result of that has been 181 receiving yards and two touchdowns over the past two weeks for Young, and regular, steady targets, leading to a career high nine receptions against the Seahawks.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 44%, ESPN – 49.8%
2. Justin Blackmon: As the Gabbert rises, so does the Blackmon. After he had just seven receiving yards a week ago, 18.7 percent of Blackmon’s receiving yardage for the season came on his 36-yard grab against the Packers, a game in which he had a season high 67 yards overall. Let there be life, Blackmon said, and lo, it was beautiful. Similar to Hillman above — but far, far more talented and important, and in a much greater position to contribute — this could be one of your last chances to own Blackmon as his connection with Gabbert flourishes (maybe).
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 23%, ESPN – 48.4%
3. Chris Givens: You can wait on this since he has a bye. Or maybe you can’t, depending on the depth of your league. Either way, whether it’s this week or next, you’ll want to roster a wide receiver who’s averaging 29.5 yards per catch, and he should continue with his Josh Gordon impression when Amendola comes back, taking the attention of opposing secondaries elsewhere.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 13%, ESPN – 2.9%
1. Dustin Keller: Your hatred for Jets — any Jet — is justifiable for anyone not named Jeremy Kerley or Dustin Keller. Since he finally returned from a hamstring injury that cost him a quarter of the season, Keller has been a consistent security blanket for Mark Sanchez. He was targeted 11 times Sunday and posted a solid 67 yards on seven catches, a week after he also had seven grabs for 93 yards. The Jets have a bye this week, so making this claim requires some forward looking. Keller will continue to be targeted and featured heavily, making him well worth the investment.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 45%, ESPN – 51%
2. Greg Olsen: I once touted Olsen as one of the best sleepers at the position this year, and possibly even a breakout candidate to flirt with 1,000 receiving yards following the departure of Jeremy Shockey. And maybe he’ll turn it around, and make me and others look halfway intelligent. The problem is that right now, success is out of his control. As Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense struggles, so too will Olsen. After a two-week stretch starting in Week 4 when he had 187 receiving yards, Olsen’s averaged just 29 yards in his three games since. Still, you could do worse if you’re desperate at the tight end position and maybe still trying to fill that Fred Davis void. Bad endorsements are bad.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 56%, ESPN – 27%
3. Dwayne Allen: Coby Fleener is hurt again and nursing a shoulder injury, and when he left Indy’s win this past Sunday over Tennessee, Allen had 56 yards on four catches. Andrew Luck goes deep, and does it often, which hasn’t been a friendly formula for both Fleener and Allen so far this year. But with one of them either limited or out, the other — in this case, Allen — has a chance to produce deep flex numbers against a Dolphins defense that will make Luck rely more heavily on his safety valve with the pressure they bring in the pocket.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 3$, ESPN – 0.6%