Wow – what a messy weekend of fantasy football! For my part, Week 9 was about as off as I have been in my analysis and advice at any point this season. Accepting all and any hate mail coming out of that fiasco….
Moving on to Week 10, we are only four weeks away from the start of the fantasy playoffs in many leagues. A number of important issues are affecting fantasy owners as they prepare for this coming weekend and the playoffs. One of the most pressing issues is the unexpected absence of Aaron Rodgers, who will likely be out of action for 3-6 weeks. And then there is the question of who will start at quarterback in Philadelphia – the “7 touchdown wonder” Nick Foles or the normal starter, Michael Vick.
Here are a few ideas on how to use the waiver wire this week to handle these issues and prepare for your league’s fantasy playoffs.
Ideally, owners of Aaron Rodgers already have a viable option to turn to on their bench while he recovers. If not, keep in mind that E.J. Manuel is about to return to action in Buffalo. He’s not Aaron Rodgers (not even close), but he had some respectable production early this season. And for those who can handle the ups and downs of Jay Cutler, he is likely to return to action for Chicago this week. Obviously Nick Foles also holds promise, but keep in mind that the Eagles have not yet settled the question of who starts at QB when Michael Vick returns. So fantasy owners need to be willing to accept some risk in chasing after Foles this week.
Case Keenum is an exciting option to some fantasy owners. He was certainly on fire in the first half of Sunday night’s game. But keep in mind that he is still relatively inexperienced in this league. Also note that he thrived under the play-calling of head coach Gary Kubiak, and not-so-much when Wade Phillips was running the show. It is unclear how long Kubiak will be away from the game, so you might want to exercise some caution in pulling the trigger on making a move for Keenum.
Quite a few good wide receivers are worth pursuing at this point. Aaron Dobson seems to have demonstrated that he will be part of Tom Brady’s winning combination. He has a bye this week, but now is the time to get him if he is available in your league. He is a solid WR3 with upside going forward. Another good WR3 option coming out of Week 9 is Philadelphia’s Riley Cooper. He won’t get you three touchdowns every week, but his production has been solid 3 of the past 4 weeks. And then there is Seattle’s Doug Baldwin. As long as Percy Harvin remains on the sidelines (unlikely to play in Week 10), Baldwin makes for a good WR3 with upside.
For those who still have San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree available in their leagues, now is the time to grab him. Crabtree begins practicing with the 49ers this week after recovering from a torn Achilles. He might not play for another 2-3 weeks, but he may no longer be available on your waiver wire by the end of this week. He is a solid WR2 with upside if he comes back in decent shape, and could be a valuable part of many rosters during the fantasy playoffs.
At tight end, Tampa Bay’s Tim Wright has been quietly making a name for himself. He has had a touchdown in each of the last two weeks, and now merits TE2 consideration in most leagues. In some leagues, he possesses the rare multiple position designation of TE and WR. He is worth picking up as a decent replacement for Rob Gronkowski in Week 10 for those Gronk owners who do not have a TE1 to fill the bye week gap.
Finally, the pickings are a bit slim these days at running back. But fantasy owners should consider Oakland’s Rashad Jennings as a low-end RB2 pickup now that teammate Darren McFadden appears to have re-injured his hamstring. The injury to Aaron Rodgers raises the value of Packers RB James Starks, who is likely to shoulder a heavier running load with Eddie Lacy until Rodgers gets back. Starks makes for a high-end RB3 with upside until then. And Houston’s Dennis Johnson is a serviceable RB3/flex play while Arian Foster recovers from his latest injury. Backup Ben Tate is still nursing a rib injury, so Johnson could provide a few fantasy points in a pinch for fantasy owners. And don’t forget about Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart as he comes back to playing form. He has the potential to become an RB2 in the next couple of weeks.
As you pursue players on the waiver wire this week, make sure you begin looking ahead to your league playoffs. You don’t want to have to fight off your fellow owners to get the guy you need at that point. It could be too late. Remember, preparation makes for domination….