Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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The Talented Mr. Ridley

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


This week’s priority on the waiver wire comes down to team need. Ryan Torain is the most valuable asset for Weeks 6-8 with fantasy friendly matchups looming against three teams in the top-10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. Torain isn’t going to help those owners already dealing with a bye-week crunch, though, because his team is off this week as well.

For Week 5 value alone, Isaac Redman has the upper hand. Rashard Mendenhall was knocked out of last week’s game with a hamstring injury that is not believed to be serious. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the same tune the Texans were singing after Arian Foster tweaked his hamstring in August. As we saw with Foster as well as Beanie Wells, running backs often need at least a week -- if not more -- to recover even from a minor hamstring pull. If the Steelers do push Mendenhall to play this week, Redman would be more of a flex option with an increased role. If Mendenhall sits out, Redman is looking at 20-25 touches as an every-down back with Mewelde Moore (high ankle sprain) also sidelined.

Over the long haul, though, Patriots rookie Stevan Ridley looks like the pick of the litter. After impressing in two second-half series against the Bills in Week 3, the coaching staff promised to reward Ridley as long as he continued to improve week-to-week while "developing a level of consistency.” Mission accomplished. Ridley’s snaps increased again in Week 4, leading to a season-high 100 yards on just 11 touches. Explosive to the edge with a burst through the middle and soft hands, Ridley is a major upgrade on BenJarvus Green-Elllis. Averaging 8.0 yards every time he touches the ball, Ridley has been a tackle-breaking machine even going back to preseason action. Even if this remains a committee attack, Ridley is a good bet to emerge as the lead dog in a high-scoring offense. Of the three top waiver candidates this week, Ridley’s upside is the highest.


On to the players. Here is how I rank the top players at each position as we head into Week 5. Full writeups of each player are below.


Editor’s Note: Join subscriber only chats, get weekly rankings before anyone else, plus exclusive weekly projections, stat tools, dynasty ranks, columns, and much more including the Rotoworld Oracle in our Season Pass.

Running Backs
Ryan Torain
Stevan Ridley
Isaac Redman
Bernard Scott
Montario Hardesty
Ricky Williams
Joe McKnight
Keiland Williams

Quarterbacks

David Garrard

Tim Tebow
John Beck
Alex Smith
Tarvaris Jackson
Curtis Painter

Wide Receivers
Victor Cruz
Michael Crabtree
Jacoby Jones
Danario Alexander
Kevin Walter
James Jones
Lee Evans
Preston Parker
Doug Baldwin

Tight Ends
Ed Dickson
Jermaine Gresham
Jared Cook
Kevin Boss

Defense/Special Teams
Bengals
Titans
49ers

Running Backs

Ryan Torain, Redskins - Coming off 135 yards and a touchdown against the Rams, Torain heads into the bye week as the leader in a committee backfield. Fantasy owners decry the recent trend toward a “hot hand” approach in NFL backfields, but Mike Shanahan has been at it since Terrell Davis blew out his ACL in 1999. For Week 6,  expect to see Torain as the primary early-down runner, Tim Hightower on passing downs, and Roy Helu as an 8-10 touch change-of-pace runner. The “hot hand” mentality should work in Torain’s favor, as the Redskins draw the Eagles, Panthers, and Bills (Nos. 1, 5, 10 in fantasy points to opposing backs) coming out of the bye week.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Stevan Ridley, Patriots - Coach Bill Belichick made a concerted effort to move away from his one-dimensional offense in Week 4, leading to an increased role for Ridley in the second straight game. Showing an impressive burst and an ability to power through would-be tacklers, Ridley has averaged 7.9 yards on 19 carries this season as opposed to 4.0 yards on 49 carries for BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Ridley is clearly the most well-rounded and elusive back in New England, and his role is only going to continue to expand at the expense of both Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Isaac Redman, Steelers - Rashard Mendenhall’s hamstring is the headline injury, but Mewelde Moore’s high-ankle sprain also factors into Redman’s Week 5 value as a potential three-down back. Mendenhall’s hamstring injury is not believed to be serious, which sounds a lot like Arian Foster’s in training camp. Even if Mendenhall manages to suit up this week, Redman will take a bigger share of the workload. In the best-case scenario, Redman will see 20-25 touches as a solid RB2 against the Titans with Mendenhall and Moore both sidelined.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Bernard Scott, Bengals - At this point, no one has a clue as to the outcome of Cedric Benson’s convoluted suspension appeal. ESPN’s John Clayton, who has misread this one from the beginning, offered Tuesday that Benson’s status is “still up in the air” because it’s a “complicated deal” involving the NFLPA. Clayton does say that a ruling on Benson “could happen” as soon as Tuesday. Now that we’ve reached the bye week crunch, Scott should be owned in 12-team leagues as Benson insurance.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.  

Montario Hardesty, Browns - Coach Pat Shurmur said Monday that the Browns need to get Peyton Hillis more snaps and touches after Hardesty played in a two-back rotation in Week 4. Despite four dropped passes, Hardesty still has 13 targets the past two weeks while maintaining the confidence of his coaches on passing downs. He’s proven capable of producing should Hillis miss time.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Ricky Williams, Ravens - Ray Rice is in the discussion along with Darren McFadden and Arian Foster as the best back in the league behind Adrian Peterson. If Rice goes down, though, Williams would likely step in as a three-down back in an offense tailored to the ground game. Ricky has averaged an impressive 4.7 yards per on 33 carries, continuing to laugh at Father Time.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

Joe McKnight, Jets - A “furious” Rex Ryan has reportedly decided to scrap his pass-heavy offense while returning to the ground ‘n’ pound formula of Mark Sanchez’s rookie season. The Jets will presumably saddle up an ineffective Shonn Greene, averaging 3.08 yards per carry behind an increasingly shoddy offensive line. At some point, Ryan will realize that running Greene into the pile isn’t working, either. Despite speculation to the contrary, McKnight remains ahead of rookie Bilal Powell on the depth chart and would seem likely to get the first crack at an increased role.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Keiland Williams, Lions - Jahvid Best deep-league owners must be driving themselves batty trying to figure out Detroit’s No. 2 back. It was Jerome Harrison in Week 1, Williams in Week 2, a three-man combo in Week 3, and back to Williams in Week 4. If Best goes down with an injury, we’d see a timeshare, with Williams likely handling carries deep in the red zone.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Watch List: Bilal Powell, Tashard Choice, Marion Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers, Steve Slaton, Brian Leonard


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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