There are so many average to mediocre to sort of OK running backs on the waiver wire this week that every league everywhere should have at least nine players claimed at the position. That may be only a slight exaggeration in many corners of fantasyland, a mystical place where suddenly DeAngelo Williams may actually matter.
So come with me on our weekly journey. Just like every week, consider the peer into the great beyond that is the waiver wire to be sort of like those first minutes when you walk into an apartment you may soon rent. Your first reaction is to smell, and check for obscure odors.
1. Chad Henne: Yeah, there were moments this week when he started to look like Chad Henne again, because when an animal is put in its natural habitat it tends to revert to basic instinct. Beavers make dams, sharks eat stuff, and Henne throws incompletions. But those moments were surprisingly scattered, and countered by more deep connections with Cecil Shorts, comfort in the pocket, and a continued rejuvenation of the Jaguars’ offense. Henne had a passer rating of 108 against the Titans while averaging 10 yards per completion and finishing with 261 passing yards overall. Henne’s also needed just one start and 97 pass attempts to accumulate 15 completions for 20 yards or more, a quick pace helped significantly by Shorts and his love for running far distances after catching a football. The only reason why Henne is still so widely available is because we’re into Week 13 now, two weeks removed from the end of bye weeks. But there are enough still desperate Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick owners out there to make his ownership rates climb a little higher than what you see below.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 6.9%, Yahoo – 11%
2. Colin Kaepernick: We’ve written about this fellow quite a bit over the past week or so, because as you may have heard, there’s this perception of a quarterback controversy of some kind right now in San Fransisco. Oh also, Kaepernick could win your fantasy league, whether he’s on your team, or rostered by some other chump. So there’s that too. He’s included here again because while Henne’s ownership rates should be a little higher, it’s simply baffling how low Kaepernick’s numbers remain. I understand some of you are conservative and cautious, because those are firmly-embedded traits in the DNA of every fake team manager. Fine, but pick him up then, and don’t start him. Plant him on your bench until your faith accumulates after this week, god willing. Two factors make his over 60 percent availability especially absurd: his performance against the Bears came before last week’s waiver period, and we all knew that he’d be the starter in an unbelievably inviting matchup against the Saints long before kickoff Sunday. Fix this please.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 27%, Yahoo – 36%
3. Ryan Tannehill: Since Sam Bradford is preparing to be painted with grass stains by the 49ers this week and Jake Locker will be doing the same against the Texans, we’ve arrived here. Tannehill has been, at best, wildly inconsistent, with 15 fantasy points in weeks 9 and 12, surrounded by weeks with zero, two, and five points. But he’s a decent desperation option for those Roethlisberger and Vick owners this week while drawing the Patriots, an improved yet still vulnerable secondary. It’s a matchup that comes a week after Tannehill posted 253 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception against a strong Seahawks secondary, with a per attempt average of 9.2 yards. But most notably, he had 33 rushing yards, easily a season high.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 11.4%, Yahoo – 9%
1. Knowshon Moreno: As I wrote yesterday, you’re not making this Moreno claim with immediacy in mind. No, patience is your virtue, friend, and if it’s a more immediate return that you seek in your running back claim this week, then please see below. Moreno will likely and almost definitely get stuffed by a Buccaneers defense that’s still the best against the run, allowing only 81.5 yards on the ground per game. But if he can navigate that treacherous road and come out on the other side with his starting job, there’s some serious sweetness awaiting on the Broncos’ schedule, with the Raiders, Ravens, and Browns teed up. Combined those three run defenses are giving up 126 rushing yards per game.
Percentage available: ESPN – 1.5%, Yahoo 23%
2. Bryce Brown: Is he good, or are the Panthers bad? Can we pick both? Yes, yes we can. Look, we’re aware that the Panthers have been generally awful against the run, which happens when a rookie is your only effective tackler. Brown exploited the Panthers last night in a similar fashion to the gashing given to them by another Brown rookie — Andre — back in Week 3. He’ll face a much better Cowboys rush defense this week, so expecting repeat results will end in disappointment. And there’s also the matter of DeSean Jackson’s absence turning the attention of defenses more solely to Brown and Nick Foles. He’ll still produce, and he’ll still burn linebackers with his burst. But suddenly a fumble-prone rookie has become the sole playmaker in a crippled offense. Not good.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 5%, Yahoo – 41%
3. Rashad Jennings: ‘Tis the week of the mediocre running back, and for our final, very prestigious spot I was between Jennings, DeAngelo Williams, and David Wilson, two of which now have starting roles again. Well, Jennings does for one week at least with Jalen Parmele out for the season after tearing his ACL, and Maurice Jones-Drew likely set for a Week 14 return. Williams ascends to a starting role with Jonathan Stewart out, and he’ll be motivated by a chance to save his career, and still play football for a living. Meanwhile, Wilson will see a swift uptick in carries with Andre Brown out for the season, and Ahmad Bradshaw due to shatter soon. All three would be fine in our No. 3 hole, and they’ll give you exactly what you purchased if you claim and then deploy them as a desperate flex play. However, Jennings wins and gets my coveted recommendation because of his matchup against the Bills, a team with an improved rush defense since their Week 8 bye, but nonetheless they’ve been trampled enough this year to be the tie breaker in any waiver decision between three replacement-level players such as this one.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 40.4%, Yahoo – 39%
1. Ryan Broyles: Hey, do you like winning? How about championships? What about losing? No? You don’t like that? Dammit, that NFL Network blue suit elf won’t stay away from my keyboard and die like the Noid when he tries to steal freshness. But he does have a point. If you like winning, you’ll claim Broyles now and immediately plug him in as your WR3, a title he’ll epitomize throughout the rest of the season, especially with the widespread speculation from Lions beat writers that when Titus Young does stop being an uber douche, Broyles will still be the Lions’ No. 2 receiving option opposite Calvin Johnson. That comes after he was targeted 12 times on Thanksgiving Day against the Texans, catching six of those balls for 126 yards, an average of 21 yards per catch. In his first start those receptions included catches of 25, 37, and 40 yards.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 1.3%, Yahoo – 23%
2. Pierre Garcon: Dropped by those who couldn’t afford to waste a roster spot on him as the Redskins receiver missed the majority of the season with a foot injury, Garcon has become a hot commodity due to the quick rekindling of his connection with Robert Griffin III. That injury is actually a blessing now, because it’s lead to his over 40 percent availability. Garcon has played two fully healthy games (Week 12 and Week 1), and in those two games he has 202 receiving yards and two touchdowns, with catches for 88 and 59 yards included in that yardage.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 60.1%, Yahoo – 56%
3. Dwayne Harris: Much love to the deep league Miles Austin owners. Austin is going through his yearly fight against breakage, and right now as we sit with our cup of brandy here on a Tuesday evening, we can’t be fully confident that Kevin Ogletree will return from his concussion this week, as the Ogletree of Life has said that he’s only hopeful to be cleared for practice tomorrow. So enter Harris, who received more looks when Austin went down early during Dallas’ Thanksgiving Day game, ending in a career high four receptions for 71 yards. Consider Harris an insurance add, and only make this claim if you’re waiver priority is lower.
Percentage Owned: ESPN – 0.1%, Yahoo – 0%
BONUS: The big letters mean this is important. More reaching wide receiver claim possibilities here.
1. Rob Housler: Yeah, usually I’d rather walk over hot coals before falling through ice than own anyone who’s receiving passes from Ryan Lindley. But the tight end is the exception, as wayward rookie quarterbacks often lean on their warm, cuddly security blankets. That’s why Housler had 11 targets in Week 12 that he turned into eight catches for 82 yards, all season highs. With the crappy Jets playing crappy Lindley, this is your scouring pickup of the week, former Rob Gronkowski owners who are now tight end streamers.
Percentage Owned: ESPN – 0.75, Yahoo – 1%
2. Tony Moeaki: Need more indisputable evidence that tight ends in offenses led by quarterbacks who only recently mastered the spiral still have value? Welp, Moeaki is catching passes thrown by Brady Quinn, and yet he still has 181 receiving yards over his last three games.
Percentage Owned: ESPN – 0.7%, Yahoo – 2%
3. Dallas Clark: It’s 2009 again, and Clark is just the coolest. We all want to be him, but alas, there can only be one. After having less than 350 receiving yards over the past two years while battling significant injuries, Clark already has 320 yards with six games remaining in the Bucs’ schedule, 123 of which have come over just his last two games.
Percentage Owned: ESPN – 4.2%, Yahoo – 16%