Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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Turn on Your Hartline

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


“Let it shine wherever you go.” Yes, this week’s column title comes from the 1982 hit song by the Jewish Elvis inspired by the movie E.T. Better trivia: Did you know British reggae group UB40’s 1980s smash Red Red Wine was actually a cover of Neil Diamond’s 1968 hit?

OK, back to football. Can you believe Brian Hartline became the 16th player since the NFL-AFL merger to top the 250-yard receiving mark? Hartline couldn’t believe it himself.

Is he here to stay as a fantasy stud? As Grantland’s Bill Barnwell points out, the other 15 receivers to accomplish the feat went on to meaningful careers -- with one exception. Redskins receiver-returner Anthony Allen’s 255-yard performance represented one-third of his career receiver yards, but that game was marred by replacement players during the 1987 strike.

Hartline may not a dynamic talent, but that has not stopped other players from emerging as volume-based fantasy stars. Hartline now has 100-yard performances in two of the past three weeks. Only Dwayne Bowe and Victor Cruz (49) have more targets this season than Hartline’s 48. His 455 yards lead all NFL receivers.

Hartline isn’t going to be a touchdown monster in Miami’s subpar offense like Miles Austin was after his 250-yard breakout performance three years ago, but the yards and receptions should stay relatively consistent. If I had a need at receiver, I would use the No. 1 waiver priority on Hartline this week.

**If Rashard Mendenhall and Greg Zuerlein are available, be sure to pick them up this week. It’s laughable to suggest, as Peter King did Monday, that Zuerlein has been a more valuable rookie than Robert Griffin III, but the “Legatron” has been a dynamite fantasy kicker. He’s the first kicker in NFL history to drill a pair of kicks of at least 58 yards in the same game.

The rookie from Missouri Western State, also known as “Greg the Leg” and “Young G.Z.” threatens to shatter the record for kicker nicknames.

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

Wide Receivers
Brian Hartline
James Jones
Domenik Hixon
Andre Roberts
Leonard Hankerson
Davone Bess
Justin Blackmon
Jerome Simpson

Quarterbacks
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Tannehill
Matt Hasselbeck
Kevin Kolb
Brandon Weeden

Running Backs
Brandon Bolden
LeGarrette Blount
Jackie Battle
Bilal Powell
Lamar Miller
Ronnie Hillman
Joique Bell
William Powell

Tight Ends
Greg Olsen
Scott Chandler
Marcedes Lewis
Anthony Fasano

Team Defense
Rams
Vikings

Wide Receiver

Brian Hartline, Dolphins - Hartline leads the NFL in receiving yards and is just one target away from tying for the league lead. He’s fifth in fantasy points at the quarter-season mark. Hartline isn’t a dynamic enough talent to flirt with double-digit touchdowns, but the volume is going to be there for a 1,000-yard season as Ryan Tannehill’s No. 1 receiver. Pick him up and plug him in as a WR3 the rest of the way. Hartline has an inviting matchup against the Bengals banged-up secondary in Week 5.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

James Jones, Packers - Greg Jennings may shut it down for a week or two after aggravating his groin injury versus the Saints, leaving Jones as the starter opposite Jordy Nelson. Jones flunked his previous starting assignment versus the Bears in Week 2, but has been a top-25 fantasy receiver through four games. Jones is a legit WR3 option versus a Colts secondary that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing receivers thus far.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Domenik Hixon, Giants - Hixon had 11 targets to Ramses Barden’s four versus the Eagles and won the snap-count battle 62-43. The Giants don’t sound confident about Hakeem Nicks’ availability for a dream matchup versus the Browns in Week 5. Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback Joe Haden is suspended for one more week. In the meantime, the Browns secondary has been toasted, allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

Andre Roberts, Cardinals - Leading all receivers in touchdowns, Roberts is seventh in fantasy points at the quarter-season mark. The Arizona coaches love his work ethic and believe he has similarities to Hines Ward. Roberts isn’t going to keep scoring touchdowns on a weekly basis, but he will have a chance to remain on the WR3 radar with Larry Fitzgerald drawing constant double teams.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

Davone Bess, Dolphins - After a mediocre showing in the first two games, Bess has turned 19 targets into 12 receptions and 209 yards the past two weeks. He’s not going to get in the end zone, but it’s reassuring that Ryan Tannehill has progressed enough to put Bess back on the PPR-league radar.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Leonard Hankerson, Redskins - Pierre Garcon returned to his “X” spot, but Hankerson started over Josh Morgan as the “Z” receiver and led the team with 11 targets versus the Bucs. Hank Time went over the middle without fear and separated from defensive backs while gaining RGIII’s trust. He should be locked in as the starter opposite Garcon going forward.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

Justin Blackmon, Jaguars - Blackmon caught six passes in Week 4 after combining for just four in his first three games. It’s worth noting the Bengals were playing without both starting cornerbacks, but it’s still encouraging to see Blackmon finally getting open. With Laurent Robinson coming off concussions in back-to-back games, Blackmon should be locked in as the No. 1 receiver for the foreseeable future. Pick him up in deeper leagues if he was dropped after the slow start.

Recommendation: Worth a look if he was dropped.

Jerome Simpson, Vikings - We suspected that OC Bill Musgrave would dial up Simpson early and often in Week 4 to put a vertical threat on tape for opposing defenses. The result was two pass interference penalties and a team-leading 50 yards versus the Lions. This offense will continue to run through Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson, leaving Simpson as an inconsistent deep threat.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.

Watch List: Vincent Brown, Michael Floyd, T.J. Graham, Chaz Schilens

Eligible to return in Week 7, Brown (ankle) is worth a look in deeper leagues. … Floyd quietly racked up eight targets while Andre Roberts blew up. … Fellow rookie Graham also saw eight targets in Week 4. Make him do it again. … Schilens will pick up playing time with Santonio Holmes out of the lineup.

Cut Bait: Dexter McCluster, Golden Tate

McCluster has just 66 yards in three games since his 82-yard performance in the opener. He’s losing looks to Jon Baldwin. … Tate was a one-game wonder, as suspected.


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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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