Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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The Best Option

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


I’ve been playing fantasy football for nearly two decades. The waiver wire options of the first five weeks of 2012 have generated less excitement that any year I can recall. That is in large part due to the dearth of potential running back studs available for free.

Even with the injuries to Ryan Williams and Cedric Benson, that’s not going to change this week. The Cardinals have rarely run the ball successfully under Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm, and they’re averaging just 2.69 yards per carry behind the league’s most overwhelmed offensive line. William Powell is a mediocre talent likely to be mired in a committee attack. I wouldn’t expect the Cardinals to establish a reliable ground attack at any point this season.

On the heels of Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Rashard Mendenhall, Packers 2011 third-rounder Alex Green is the latest running back to flash pre-injury explosiveness while returning from ACL surgery. Green looked better in relief of Benson last week than he did in preseason action and has the highest upside of the backs on Green Bay’s roster.

Even with Benson out at least eight weeks, though, Green is unlikely to forge reliable weekly fantasy value. Aaron Rodgers and John Kuhn are the goal-line runners of choice on the rare occasions when the Packers forego the pass in the red zone. Green isn’t trusted in pass protection, and coach Mike McCarthy suggested that James Starks, Brandon Saine and Kuhn could turn this into a four-man backfield.

The Packers will reportedly consider starting Starks due to his experience edge. We’ve seen the James Starks show before, and it bears little fantasy football fruit. Green is the better choice if only because he's yet to fail.  

When it comes to choosing amongst a group of waiver wire options, the deciding factor should be upside in a best-case scenario. It’s with that mantra in mind that I would pick up Jahvid Best over the likes of Green and Powell.

Best isn’t guaranteed to pass his battery of concussion tests this week, but we will soon have a more definitive read on his status for the rest of the season. If he does gain clearance, Best is expected to be used in the Darren Sproles role while splitting time with Mikel Leshoure. Arguably even more explosive than Sproles after the catch, Best was a top-10 fantasy back in five games last year before his third concussion ended his season prematurely.

On to the players. Here is how I rank the top players at each position as we head into Week 6. Full write-ups of each player are below.

Quarterbacks
Christian Ponder
Kevin Kolb
Brandon Weeden
Kirk Cousins
Brady Quinn

Running Backs
Jahvid Best

Vick Ballard

Kendall Hunter
David Wilson
Alex Green
Brandon Bolden
William Powell
Beanie Wells
LeGarrette Blount
Ronnie Hillman


Wednesday Update: Added Vick Ballard with Donald Brown out at least 2-3 weeks. 


Wide Receivers
Randall Cobb
Jeremy Kerley
Robert Meachem
Darrius Heyward-Bey
Josh Gordon
Kendall Wright
Rueben Randle
Chris Givens

Tight Ends
Scott Chandler
D.J. Williams
Dwayne Allen
Joel Dreessen
David Thomas

Team Defense
Bills
Bucs

Quarterbacks

Christian Ponder, Vikings - Ponder’s fantasy upside is limited because the Vikings are following the 2011 49ers’ blueprint with dominant defense and a grind-it-out offense. This week’s matchup favors Ponder, however, versus a Redskins secondary that has been burned repeatedly for big plays while allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. It’s easier to beat the Redskins through the air than on the ground.

Recommendation: Worth a look as a matchup play.

Kevin Kolb, Cardinals - The Bills defense has surrendered 1,201 yards the past two weeks, the most in the NFL since the 1950 New York Yanks allowed 1,227 in Weeks 9 and 10. The meltdown hasn’t been limited to run defense. Buffalo also allows the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Kolb is averaging 278.3 passing yards over the past three games and will have to shoulder even more of the burden with Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells out.

Recommendation: Worth a look as a matchup play.

Brandon Weeden, Browns - Weeden’s pocket presence and decision making have left a lot to be desired, but he’s showing improvement by the week. Showing off a stronger arm than expected, Weeden has averaged 292.5 yards over the past four games. He’s a legit QB2 option versus the Bengals in Week 5.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Kirk Cousins, Redskins - Coach Mike Shanahan has yet to decide if Cousins or Rex Grossman will get the call should Robert Griffin III (concussion) miss this week’s game versus the Vikings. Cousins showed poise early in his bullpen stint last week before sealing the Redskins’ fate with a pair of late-game interceptions. He would be purely a desperation option against a surging Minnesota defense allowing just 11 points per game over the past three weeks.

Recommendation: Worth a look in two-quarterback leagues.

Brady Quinn, Chiefs - Coach Romeo Crennel deemed Matt Cassel (concussion) “highly unlikely” to play at Tampa this week, leaving Quinn as the presumptive starter. In 15 NFL games, Quinn has posted a dreary 52.5 completion percentage, 5.4 YPA, 10:9 TD-to-INT ratio and 67.3 passer rating. His 12 career starts have produced an average of just 154 yards per game with five outings under the 100-yard mark. Use him at your own risk.

Recommendation: Worth a look in two-quarterback leagues.

Watch List: Colin Kaepernick, Tim Tebow, Matt Flynn, John Skelton, Nick Foles

The 49ers are increasing their use of the WildKaep, which is worth noting in deeper two-quarterback leagues. … Tebow will replace Mark Sanchez at some point. … The same could be said for Flynn and Russell Wilson if the rookie doesn’t improve. … Skelton will get another shot at some point if the Cardinals can’t protect Kevin Kolb. … Foles could get a late-season start or two if Michael Vick continues to turn the ball over at an incredible rate.

Cut Bait: Blaine Gabbert, Matt Cassel

Gabbert is regressing as he enters his bye week. … Cassel (concussion) is unlikely to play at Tampa.


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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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