Just over a week from now otherwise well-meaning souls will be beating each other with iPads after all-night Wal Mart camp outs. That mass of swarming retail humanity usually signifies something glorious for fake footballers: the end of bye weeks.
Yes, they will mercifully conclude this week, with the Seahawks, Bills, Eagles, and Bengals giving us one last go around on the waiver wire replacement craps table. Let’s get to it then…
1. Mike Glennon: After setting highs in his young career against the also horrible Falcons in yards per attempt (10.0), completion percentage (87.0), and passer rating (137.5), Glennon now draws the Lions, who are very much in the same area code of defensive Suckville (a warm and friendly town) with the third worst secondary in the league. As J.J. Zacharison gleefully reminds us, the Lions have been even leakier over their last four games, with four passing touchdowns and 1,257 passing yards allowed. Glennon is easily the best bye-week replacement at his position.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 2%, Yahoo – 11%
2. Scott Tolzien: Yes, this is happening (again). You’ll have to tolerate the interceptions, of which there were three in Green Bay’s loss to the Giants. But with defenses now stacking up to stop Eddie Lacy (only 27 yards on his 14 carries Sunday), passing has been something Tolzien has had to do often, and that’s resulted in lots of fun yards. Tolzien has now started essentially two games after coming in for Seneca Wallace following only one series last week, and in those games he’s thrown for 619 yards, including 339 in Week 11 at a pace of 10.0 per attempt. Now he gets to continue that chucking in a dreamy matchup against the Vikings, and their secondary that’s allowed the most passing touchdowns (23) while generously giving out yards in chunks (280.1 per game).
Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 4%
3. Matt McGloin: I’d love to get really jacked about McGloin, and his three touchdowns in his first career start with no interceptions (which made some history). But realistically, if you’re a Nick Foles or Russell Wilson owner slugging through the merciful end of bye weeks, Tolzien and Glennon are better options, and Case Keenum below could be too. Why? The Titans, that’s why. They’ll get the chance to tee off on McGloin in his second start, and Tennessee has allowed only seven passing touchdowns, a league low.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 1%
4. Case Keenum: After a befuddling benching that made no sense whatsoever, Keenum draws the Jaguars. You know, the Jaguars, the defense that’s giving up nearly a first down per pass attempt (8.0 yards allowed), and the same defense that just watched as Carson Palmer’s sailing balls ended in 419 passing yards for a quarterback who was averaging 239.3 prior to Sunday. Keenum continually shows up here as a mighty fine streaming option because his crappy team leads to an abundance of passing (he threw 43 times against the Cardinals in Week 10), and between the Raiders and now Jaguars he keeps getting swell matchups.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 17%, Yahoo – 49%
5. E.J. Manuel: If you’re like me, it’s difficult to think past two hours from now. But try real hard to think long-term for a second, and when you do you’ll see that Manuel — who just completed 71.4 percent of his passes in a win over the Jets, a steep rise from his 56.4 percent while spraying throws everywhere the week before — runs the gauntlet of Atlanta, Tampa, and Jacksonville after Buffalo’s Week 12 bye, and the highest ranked pass defense of those three belongs to the Bucs at 18th.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 10%, Yahoo – 8%
1. Donald Brown: We witnessed the death of Trent Richardson last Thursday. Not the person, the running back. When clock killing was something that desperately needed to happen in the fourth quarter against Tennessee, placing a supposedly brutish runner on the bench was deemed the best course of action. Instead during that final Colts drive to seal a win, Brown was given six of his 14 carries, and three of those went for 10 yards or more, including an 11-yard touchdown. The guard, it’s changing.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 7%, Yahoo – 27%
2. Chris Ogbonnaya: He had a season-high 99 total yards Sunday, 43 0f which came on one carry against a Bengals run defense that had only given up three carries for even 20 yards prior to Week 11. What’s even more promising is that in a blowout game — which could become a very common occurrence for these Browns soon with New England and Chicago lined up — Ogbonnaya was targeted 12 times as a receiver. Now he faces a 23rd-ranked Steelers run defense that’s giving up 125.2 rushing yards per game, and they’ve allowed the second most rushing touchdowns.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 7%, Yahoo – 11%
3. Chris Ivory: This only applies if you’re in a Yahoo league, but that’s many of you. I looked up Ivory’s availability as a joke that only I could laugh at. It went something like this in my head “haha there’s no way a running back who’s rushed for 237 yards over his last two games at a pace of 7.2 yards per carry with two touchdowns and runs of 69 and 52 yards would really be out here.” Yeah, I’m a real comedian, and so are most of those in Yahoo leagues evidently, because his availability there is at 40 percent. Now, I get that you may be at least a little apprehensive because half of his yardage over the Jets’ last two games has come on just those two booming carries. But that’s always been Ivory’s game in the rare times when he’s healthy. It’s very Chris Johnson of him, with the difference being that you’re spending either waiver priority or cash, and not a second-round pick (*smashes everything*).
Percentage owned: ESPN – 85%, Yahoo – 60%
4. Pierre Thomas: Herein lies the opposite of the Ivory, though the effect is still the same. A running back who has a not quite Ivory-level but still mighty fine 195 total yards over his past two games is available in nearly half of ESPN leagues. You’re familiar with the backfield in New Orleans, and how there’s really no order whatsoever. Just a weeks ago in this very space I wrote sweet nothings about Mark Ingram when he rushed for 145 yards with a touchdown. How did he follow that up Sunday against the 49ers? With just 25 rushing yards, of course, going from 21 fantasy points to two. Thomas, meanwhile, is the more consistent presence, even if he’s not necessarily a significant one. He’s had at least 50 yards from scrimmage in eight games — which is fine deep-ish league flex production — and although he’s not on Sproles’ level as a pass-catcher out of the backfield because no one is, Thomas has been targeted 56 times, which he’s turned into four catches for 20 yards or more (his career single-season high is five).
Percentage owned: ESPN – 57%, Yahoo – 77%
5. Daniel Thomas: I hate myself so much for even suggesting this, but the reality is that if you’re in a deep league and own any of the elite running backs who are causing you great stress during the final week of byes (C.J. Spiller, LeSean McCoy, and Marshawn Lynch), you could do a lot worse for a desperation plug and play. You likely know the drill in Miami by now: the workload split between Thomas and Lamar Miller is wildly uneven, and over their last five games the Dolphins have given Thomas three double-digit carry outings, and Miller’s had two. But Sunday against San Diego in Week 11 Thomas turned 10 carries into 57 yards (a season-high 5.7 YPC), and his frequent goal-line touches provide promising flex value. Of course, that value is highly limited this week against a Panthers defense that’s allowed only three rushing touchdowns. Hey, I did say this was a reaching desperation sort of thing.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 5%, Yahoo – 13%
1. Miles Austin: Jerry Jones said Austin could have played last week, but the Cowboys were quite understandably cautious and held him out through their bye. Now he could quickly step right in front of Terrance Williams and his meh 118 receiving yards over the last three weeks. In the only game when he was truly and completely healthy this year (way back in the before time, in Week 1), Austin was featured prominently and targeted 12 times.
Percentage owned: ESPN 67%, Yahoo – 27%
2. David Nelson: The Jets are thinking about benching Stephen Hill, and so they should be after he didn’t catch any of his seven targets against the Bills Sunday, and he’s now gone catch-less in two straight games. Earlier this season when he was also the next man up with both Santonio Holmes out, Nelson had back-to-back games with 80 receiving yards.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 0%, Yahoo – 1%
3. Aldrick Robinson: With Leonard Hankerson maybe and possibly out for, well, a while and in need of LCL surgery, Both Robinson and Santana Moss are fine adds. I’ll side with Robinson, because his bones aren’t nearly as creaky, and he’s readily showcased his speed with two +40 yard catches despite only six receptions this season in total. One of them came this past Sunday against the Eagles, when he finished with 60 yards on just two grabs after Hankerson went down.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 0%, Yahoo – 0%
4. Ace Sanders: When Mike Brown left Jacksonville’s loss to Arizona, the result was many more balls for Sanders and his slot shiftiness. Specially, 10 targets, which is six more than his total looks over the Jags’ last three games combined. If we assume Brown misses Week 12, Sanders becomes a nice little low-cost flex option with 60-70 yard potential.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 0%
5. Markus Wheaton: Emmanuel Sanders says he’s fine after leaving with an ankle injury, but a speculative Wheaton add to plug into a flex spot doesn’t hurt in deep leagues. Even if Sanders is healthy and playing, Wheaton could be a nice deep sleeper with the Steelers traveling to Cleveland, and Joe Haden set to eliminate Antonio Brown. However, if the Bills weren’t chillin’ on couches this week either T.J. Graham or Marquise Goodwin would be a better short-term play here. At the right cost (see: next to no cost), those two may still be nice Week 12 stashes if Robert Woods remains out.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 1%
1. Garrett Graham: You’re about to notice some re-runs from last week. No, you’re an unimaginative and lazy hack. These guys are going all beast mode and grinding or whatever the kids are saying, and they’re still all ready for your plucking pleasure. Graham is chief among them, though let’s approach his 136-yard breakout game on 13 targets and seven catches against Oakland with some caution, because right now it’s a glaring outlier. His highest target total this year prior to Week 11 was eight, and his best single-game yardage was just 69. But hey, he does get to face the Jags and their woe in Week 12, which is why Graham occupies this coveted perch.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 19%, Yahoo – 26%
2. Rob Housler: A healthy Housler lately has been a productive Housler, with 127 receiving yards over his last two games. Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald remain the top two targets in Arizona, but passing volume will help Housler, of which there’s plenty. Carson Palmer has met or exceeded the 35 attempt mark in seven games.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 2%, Yahoo – 13%
3. Delanie Walker: Another holdover from last week, and another great streaming option for those who enjoy plugging oft-targeted tight ends into their flex spot. Since Ryan Fitzpatrick and his pasta arm took over following Jake Locker’s season-ending injury, Walker has been targeted 18 times, including a season-high 10 last Thursday. He’s turned that volume into 153 yards, and a touchdown in two straight games
Percentage owned: ESPN – 12%, Yahoo – 22%
4. Brandon Myers: If you’re able to roster a tight end who will be running and catching against a defense giving up 72.5 receiving yards per game to the position, you make the necessary clicks. Brandon Myers is that tight end, and the Cowboys are that defense.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 68%, Yahoo – 26%
5. John Carlson: I enjoy variety in life, but I enjoy winning more. So yet again we return to a familiar face around here over the past few weeks, because John Carlson is just so damn ready to be owned by you, or anyone really. Look at those ownership numbers below while noting that since Kyle Rudolph went down, Carlson has 167 yards in just two games, after only 26 yards throughout the rest of the season.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 10%