Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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The Blunt Truth on Tight Ends

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


Running Backs

Marion Barber, Bears - Even with Matt Forte (MCL sprain) out, it’s conceivable that Barber’s fantasy production could actually come down from where it was a couple of weeks ago. With Forte and Jay Cutler out of the lineup, the Bears will struggle to find goal-line opportunities for MBIII. On the other hand, it’s awfully hard to find available backs who could touch the ball 15+ times in Weeks 14-16. Barber is playing better this year than last, and should be owned in all leagues with Forte out. Leave Kahlil Bell on the waiver wire in all but the deepest leagues.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Brandon Saine, Packers - I’m going to part ways with the estimable Gregg Rosenthal on this one. With James Starks’ (ankle) status in doubt for Week 14, Rosie suggested picking up Ryan Grant as a desperation matchup play against a Raiders defense allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing fantasy backs. Grant doesn’t take goal-line carries, doesn’t participate in the passing game, and hasn’t had a 10-yard run or a 30-yard rushing game since Week 3. After the coaching staff and beat writers talked up Saine during the week, the undrafted rookie out-played Grant in the win over the Giants. Saine wasn’t limited to any specific plays after Starks went down, and he should have the distinct advantage of the passing-down role in Aaron Rodgers’ unstoppable attack. At the very least, there’s flex potential here if Starks sits out.

Recommendation: Worth a look as a matchup play.

Maurice Morris, Lions - Coach Jim Schwartz doesn’t believe Kevin Smith’s ankle sprain is “in a worse spot” than it was at this time last week. The Lions are noncommittal on Smith’s Week 14 status early in the week, so Morris’ role versus the Vikings is up in the air. Even in a best-case scenario, he’s purely a flex option. In a worst case scenario, he touches the ball only a few times behind Smith.

Recommendation: Worth a look as an injury replacement.

Montario Hardesty, Browns - Hardesty is the fallback starter for Thursday's game against the Steelers if Peyton Hillis (hip) can't go. Coach Pat Shurmur revealed that he held Hardesty out of last week's game with an eye on the short week. At this point, Hillis is expected to play. If that changes, Hardesty would be a mere flex option against the Steelers' No. 7 run defense which is allowing just 3.16 yards per carry over the past five games.   

Recommendation: Worth a look as an injury replacement.

Ricky Williams, Ravens - Coordinator Cam Cameron is finally saddling up Williams and Ray Rice to match a dominant defense of late. Williams is coming off a season-high 16 carries and 76 in a game where the Ravens controlled the ball throughout. There’s a decent chance for more of the same this week against the Colts as well as in Week 16 versus the Browns. You could do worse for a flex play in deeper leagues.

Recommendation: Worth a look as a matchup play in deeper leagues.

Dexter McCluster, Chiefs - McCluster’s 13/107/1 line from Week 13 was artificially inflated by a 38-yard Hail Mary going into halftime, but he still managed a season-high with 61 rushing yards. If you insist on owning a Kansas City running back, McCluster is the clear choice. Just don’t expect much even in PPR leagues against the Jets this week. Scoring opportunities will be few and far between in Tyler Palko’s offense.

Recommendation: Worth a look in PPR formats.

Kendall Hunter, 49ers - Week 17 alert: Although coach Jim Harbaugh says he won’t rest Frank Gore in the coming weeks, that could change by the season finale. With no incentive to risk injury to key players versus the Rams in the final regular-season contest, Hunter could see double-digit touches against a defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing backs.

Recommendation: Worth a look in leagues that use Week 17.

Isaac Redman, Steelers - Week 17 alert: It’s quite possible that Pittsburgh will be resting starts for a good portion of the rematch with Cleveland in the season finale. The Browns defense has rolled over for 1,044 rushing yards (5.35 YPC) and seven TDs over the past six games. If Redman sees 12-15 touches in the finale, he’s going to merit top-30 consideration.

Recommendation: Worth a look in leagues that use Week 17.

Watch List: Chris Ogbonnaya, Kahlil Bell, Stevan Ridley, Tashard Choice, Mossis Madu

Obgonnaya and Bell will function as “satellite” backs behind Hardesty and Barber -- if Hillis sits out this week. … Ridley led the Pats in carries last week, but that was a function of Bill Belichick’s mad-scientist experimentation against a winless Colts team. … Choice is the clear No. 2 to C.J. Spiller. … Madu could be usurping Kregg Lumpkin’s passing-down role.

Cut Bait: Joe McKnight, Jackie Battle, Johnny White, Marcel Reece, Kregg Lumpkin

McKnight is nursing an elbow injury while falling back to third on the depth chart. … The plodding Battle is once again taking a backseat to Thomas Jones. … White can’t pass Tashard Choice for the No. 2 gig. … Reece was a one-game wonder. … Lumpkin is losing snaps to Madu.

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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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