Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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Deadline Darlings?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Although endlessly hyped, the NFL’s trade deadline disappoints fans and fantasy leaguers more often than not. Last year was actually an exception to the rule, with Brandon Lloyd joining former head coach Josh McDaniels in St. Louis.

It’s reasonable to expect a slight uptick in backroom discussions this time around with the deadline pushed back two weeks -- and further delayed by Hurricane Sandy for two days. As a general rule, though, minor names stand a much better chance than major stars of changing teams at the season’s mid-point.

Let’s break down the names that have been bandied about leading up to the deadline.

Steven Jackson, Rams - In another incident of ESPN-on-ESPN crime, the ultra-reliable Adam Schefter reported the Rams have already fielded multiple offers on Jackson only to have John Clayton claim a day later that there’s “no action right now” on the veteran back. The rebuilding Rams aren’t likely to welcome the impending free agent back in 2013, so it makes sense to listen to deadline offers. The biggest hangup remains the $3.705 remaining on S-Jax’s salary.

Should the Rams succeed in dealing their team leader to a contender, Darryl Richardson would be the primary beneficiary. The coaching staff has used Richardson primarily as a pass-catcher and outside runner, which suggests they may view him as a timeshare back. Isaiah Pead finally flashed a hint of ability last week and would likely be elevated to the 1B role behind Richardson’s 1A.

Chance of a trade: 25 percent

DeAngelo Williams, Panthers - It’s telling that Williams was demoted as the Panthers overhauled their running scheme and fired the GM that handed him an unreasonable five-year, $43 million contract. The Charlotte Observer believes Williams’ days in Carolina are numbered, so it makes sense to listen to offers.

The hurdles to a Williams trade are two-fold: (1) He’s unlikely to accept a paycut on the remaining $2.779 million due this season. (2) A trade would count $9.6 million against the Panthers’ 2013 salary cap whereas a post-June 1 release would count $3.2 million against the 2013 cap and $6.4 million against the 2014 cap. At least one playoff-contending team has reached out to the Panthers, but those salary-cap permutations are legit.

Chance of a trade: 20 percent

LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers - According to ESPN’s John Clayton, Blount has emerged as the most likely candidate to be moved at the deadline. Stuck behind emerging star Doug Martin and third-down back D.J. Ware, Blount has no role in the Bucs offense. Unlike Jackson and Williams, salary ($540,000 prorated) is not an issue and Blount is a restricted free agent after the season.


Blount is arguably the least effective passing-down back in the NFL, struggles in short yardage and leaves a lot to be desired in ball security. To regain fantasy relevance, he’s going to need a clear-cut path to the early-down role in a high-scoring offense. Unless he lands in Green Bay, I wouldn’t hold out hope for a 2012 renaissance.

Chance of a trade: 50 percent

Chris Ivory / Mark Ingram, Saints - Unless interim coach Joe Vitt was playing hard to get, Ivory is going to be stuck in purgatory at least through the end of the season. Vitt insisted Ivory is “going nowhere” at the deadline.

A strong argument can be made that Ingram is the more sensible candidate to be moved, as his trade value is higher and the Saints have no use for a true feature back in their offense. NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell recently opined that Ingram would be a “wonderful foundation back” if plugged into the right offense. It’s hard to imagine the Saints trading GM Mickey Loomis’ 2011 first-rounder, though, while he’s serving his Bountygate suspension.

Chance of a trade: 10 percent.

Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs - It’s highly unusual for a high-profile receiver to change teams at the deadline, much less a franchise player. Lloyd made sense for the Rams last season because he had already mastered Josh McDaniels’ offense in Denver. Bowe would be learning a new offense wherever he goes, which would obviously hamper his chances of making an impact down the stretch.

Equally as prohibitive is Bowe’s prorated salary of just over $5 million the rest of the way. Any team looking to acquire his services would have to fork over $11.418 million next season to apply the franchise tag. If the Chiefs do beat the long odds in finding a trade partner, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for Jon Baldwin or Dexter McCluster the rest of the way. Newly anointed starter Brady Quinn isn’t going to support a weekly fantasy asset.

Chance of a trade: 10 percent.

On to the players. Here is how I rank the top players at each position as we head into Week 9. Full write-ups of each player are below.

Quarterbacks
Nick Foles
Blaine Gabbert
Russell Wilson
Matt Moore

Running Backs
Jonathan Dwyer
Darryl Richardson
LeGarrette Blount

James Starks

Joique Bell
Ronnie Hillman 
Ronnie Brown
Jacquizz Rodgers
Daniel Thomas

Wide Receivers
Danny Amendola
Titus Young
Cecil Shorts
Ryan Broyles
Chris Givens
Brandon LaFell
Alshon Jeffery
Dexter McCluster

Tight Ends
Dustin Keller
Greg Olsen
Brandon Myers
Dwayne Allen
Kellen Davis

Team Defense
Chargers
Dolphins

Quarterbacks

Nick Foles, Eagles - We haven’t heard as much as a peep out of Philadelphia Tuesday morning. The last we heard Monday night, neither Michael Vick nor Foles had been informed of a quarterback switch. It makes all of the sense in the world for the Eagles to stick with Vick, who has shown better than usual accuracy over the past three games.

 

If Foles gets the call, however, he immediately becomes relevant in fantasy circles versus a historically bad Saints defense. New Orleans is not just the first team in NFL history to allow 400+ yards in seven consecutive games; they’ve also allowed more yards through seven games (3,321) than any team in NFL history. Foles would be a risk/reward QB1 option if coach Andy Reid opts to turn the page.

Recommendation: Worth a look in all leagues.

Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars - After a career-high 303 yards at Green Bay, it can be argued that Gabbert has shown promise in three of the past four games -- with the lone exception coming against the Bears’ shut-down defense. Gabbert produced a career-high 67.6 completion percentage in Week 4 (Bengals), was knocked out of the Week 7 Raiders game with a career-high 123.6 passer rating and notched his first 300-yard game a week ago. While fantasy owners should remain skeptical, Jaguars GM Gene Smith has to be thrilled that Gabbert is finally looking like a legit prospect.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks - In a rare turn of events, it was Seattle’s vaunted defense that let down the passing attack at Detroit. Wilson showed veteran savvy in command of the offense and decision-making. After failing to top 200 yards in any of the first four games, Wilson has averaged 218 over the past four. He’s a decent QB2 option against a Vikings defense allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Matt Moore, Dolphins - Starter Ryan Tannehill’s Week 9 status is up in the air after being diagnosed with a left knee bone bruise and deep thigh bruise on Monday. Moore was an effective game manager in relief of Tannehill last week. If he gets the starting nod at Indianapolis, Moore is fantasy option only in two-quarterback leagues. The Dolphins will go with a run-heavy game plan regardless.

Recommendation: Worth a look in two-quarterback leagues.

Watch List: Matt Cassel, Tim Tebow, Jake Locker

With Brady Quinn (concussion) out on a short week, turnover machine Cassel will be under center versus the Chargers. The Chiefs QB is only relevant in two-quarterback leagues. … The Jets are sticking with Mark Sanchez for now, but he’s fallen apart at the seams any time there’s been a hint of defensive pressure in the pocket. Sanchez has over- or under-thrown 23.4 percent of his passes this season, the highest rate in the NFL. The leash can’t be long. … Yet to receive medical clearance, Locker isn’t going to play before the Week 11 bye.


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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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