When I picture an insurance salesman, usually it’s a scrawny beanpole-y fellow with unkempt hair, and a loose Daffy Duck tie. No, you just described yourself.
Kirk Cousins may fit that frame in another life (retirement?), but for now he’s in a whole different kind of insurance business. Namely, he’s handing out waiver wire quarterback insurance. What a nice man.
Watch your step in the creaky waiver wire rungs below as we roll onwards to championship weekend, or the opening of a championship matchup. There’s value in some spots, but in many others it looks like a waiver wire in Week 16. Barren, and lifeless.
1. Kirk Cousins: It’s insulting to call Cousins merely impressive during his rookie debut. He completed 70.3 percent of his passes for 329 yards at a pace of 8.9 yards per attempt, and he finished with a passer rating of 104.4. Hell, he even added 22 rushing yards. Toss in his two touchdowns with an interception, and he had 21 fantasy points. Every league has a Robert Griffin III owner, and therefore every league also needs to have a Kirk Cousins owner. Griffin’s knee is improving, and he’ll surely be at least a limited participant in practice all week. But there will still be a lot of uncertainty entering the weekend, and Cousins has a favorable matchup against the Eagles, and their defense that’s surrendering an average of 28.1 fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last five weeks. However, there’s still some apprehension with that matchup since the Eagles’ defense has improved over their last two games since abandoning the Wide 9, highlighted by holding Andy Dalton to just 4.2 yards per attempt last Thursday. But if you’re a Griffin owner who’s still made it through to your championship, not claiming Cousins tonight is sheer negligence.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 2.2%, Yahoo – 4%
2. Russell Wilson: Yeah, we’ve spoken of Wilson before around these parts. But for reasons only known to the inner workings of the fantasy football machine (it sort of looks like a roided up trapper keeper) Wilson remains highly available, even though he’s another ideal fall-back option for RG3 owners. This is the same Wilson guy who rushed for three touchdowns last week, and they were also his first three rushing touchdowns of the season. He’s also had 25 or more fantasy points in two of his last three games. Of course, this week he faces the 49ers and their defense which is much stronger than the Bills’ D, a unit which decided long ago that defense is for losers. That makes Wilson a below average claim on an already thin QB waiver wire after the Niners held him to a season low passer rating of just 38.7 back in Week 7. But monitor Justin Smith’s elbow injury closely all week, because his potential absence could significantly impact Wilson’s production. When Smith left San Fran’s win over the Patriots on Sunday, New England scored 28 unanswered points.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 27.3%, Yahoo – 36%
3. Greg McElroy: Yeah, it’s come to this. I’d plug Brandon Weeden in here, but he’s set to be pile driven repeatedly by the Broncos defense and Von Miller. I’d list Jake Locker here, but he’s Jake Locker. And I’d slot in Ryan Tannehill, but sometimes I crave a little variety, and he’s appeared in this coveted space far too many times. Realistically, if you’ve come this far down the list then claim Tannehill first, but McElroy may be in for a day that’s not terrible against the Chargers, and their defense that’s given up 39 fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last two weeks. Yeah, I just wrote that, and I’m recommending a clawing, reaching claim on a Jets quarterback. Desperation is a hell of a drug.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 0.1%, Yahoo – 0%
1. Curtis Brinkley: The Chargers are hurting, and not just because their quarterback is quickly transforming into Mark Sanchez. No, they’re hurting in a literal sense, with Ryan Mathews gone for the remainder of the season with a broken clavicle, and Ronnie Brown still fighting through a hamstring injury. That leaves Curtis Brinkley as not just the next man up, but pretty much the only man up. Jackie Battle will steal goal-line work against the Jets and their 138.7 rushing yards allowed per game, but when Mathews went down this past Sunday Brinkley had 54 yards on just nine touches, while averaging seven yards per carry.
Percentage owned: ESPN – o.3%, Yahoo – 1%
2. Alex Green: Again, I try to strive for variety around here. But fantasy points and wins are much more important than my obsessiveness, and Green still remains widely unowned. That’s mostly because he plays for the Green Bay Packers, a team with an offense that runs only out of a sense of obligation. Green’s now sharing carries with Ryan Grant too, but he’s still on the high end of that split, averaging 12 carries over the Packers’ last four games. Now he’ll face a 25th-ranked Titans run defense that just allowed Shonn Greene to average 5.2 yards per carry, the same plodder who’s averaging 3.9 YPC overall this year.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 29.5%, Yahoo – 28%
3. Montell Owens: Beyond Brinkley and Green there’s only deep, searing pain on the waiver wire at running back. Championship week ain’t for chumps, ya’ll. Owens makes the cut here only because he could still be the unquestioned starter in the Jaguars’ backfield with Jalen Parmele and Rashad Jennings still out. However, there’s a chance Jennings could return from his concussion, but regardless, they’re both awful plays against the Patriots’ front seven and Jon Gruden’s favorite set of SEC linebackers (SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC). Always happy to be the bearer of bright news.
Percentage owned: ESPN — 11%, Yahoo – 27%
1. Greg Little: It seems Little is all grown up now, and he’s finally learned how to firmly grasp a football while moving quickly in a forward direction. Little’s habit of putting balls on the ground has slowly subsided, and the support of Josh Gordon has surely helped to ease the pressure. He was targeted nine times during Cleveland’s loss to Washington Sunday — his highest target volume since Week 4 — and over the last two weeks he has 143 receiving yards. Now, about those touchdowns…
Percentage owned: ESPN – 14%, Yahoo – 25%
2. Harry Douglas: This is only a deep league flex play, but it could be an effective one if Roddy White’s knee injury continues to linger. With White struggling somewhat in Week 15 Douglas had 83 receiving yards, which was easily a season high. Prior to that Douglas had failed to eclipse the 50-yard mark through 13 games, and one of his receptions Sunday (a 37-yarder) was longer than his total receiving yards in 10 games this year.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 0%, Yahoo – 1%
3. Riley Cooper: He’s been behind Jeremy Maclin during the Nick Foles era of offense in Philadelphia, and mostly behind Jason Avant too. But Cooper still retains some value due to his red-zone usage and his ability to elevate. Of the five touchdown passes Foles has thrown during his five starts, two of them have gone to Cooper. And despite Avant getting deeper looks (he’s a week removed from catching seven balls for 133 yards on 12 targets), Cooper is still targeted often on intermediate routes, with 16 targets over the last two weeks.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 0.1%, Yahoo – 1%
1. Dennis Pitta: Hey, remember when Pitta wasn’t the most overrated dirtbag at his position? Ahh yes, I recall fond memories of Pitta’s value over the season’s first three weeks, a time when the Ravens TE had 188 receiving yards and two touchdowns, and a stretch which included a game when he was targeted 15 times by Joe Flacco. He immediately followed that with zero catches on only two targets in Week 4, at which point we said fogetaboutit. Yeah, um, sorry about that. He then had less than 35 yards in six of his next 10 games, resulting in seven games with less than five fantasy points. Welp, that’s changed over the last two weeks, as Pitta’s had 171 receiving yards (125 in Week 15) and three touchdowns.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 29.8%, Yahoo – 33%
2. Anthony Fasano: Ryan Tannehill has thrown only 10 touchdowns this year, a lowly number, but still a very expected number from the quarterback or the Miami Dolphins. But here’s a fun fact: half of those touchdowns have landed in Fasano’s hands, two of which have come over the past two weeks. Tannehill really enjoys tight ends.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 2.5, Yahoo – 5%
3. Lance Kendricks: What is a Clay Harbor, and how does it work? This Harbor we speak of had 52 receiving yards and a touchdown against the Buccaneers two weeks ago, and when we combine his production with Jimmy Graham’s, Tampa has allowed 121 yards and 16 fantasy points to tight ends over the past two weeks. That’s pretty convenient, because Kendricks is up next.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 0.3%, Yah00 – 1%