Adam Levitan

Waiver Wired

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Tuesday, September 03, 2013


RUNNING BACKS
1. Isaiah Pead, Rams – Owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues
Daryl Richardson did not win the Rams’ starting running back job due to Isaiah Pead’s one-game suspension. Richardson earned it with superior play over the last two years. Still, that doesn’t mean he’ll put a stranglehold on the job all season long. Richardson fumbled three times last year, stands just 5’10/192 and sometimes leaves yards on the field. Pead, who brings a better pedigree and arguably better natural talent to the plate as a 2011 second-round pick, fits nicely in the Rams’ new spread offense. He’s a solid hold while we see how hard he can eventually push Richardson.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all 12-team leagues

2. Isaac Redman, Steelers – Owned in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues
If we were deep into the season, battling byes and injuries, then Isaac Redman would be leading this column. But right now, talent-deficient, short-term plug-n-play running backs are not a priority. Yes, Redman has a shot to produce RB3 value against the weak Titans front as the Steelers starter this week. But he’ll be splitting time with Felix Jones/LaRod Stephens-Howling and clear-cut starter Le’Veon Bell (foot) could be back as soon as Week 2 or 3. Redman had a chance to impress last year, but couldn’t separate from Jonathan Dwyer (who was cut Saturday) while averaging just 3.72 YPC and scoring two touchdowns on 110 carries. The Steelers travel to Cincy and their league-best front-four in Week 2.  
Recommendation: Should be considered a desperation Week 1 plug-and-play or roster stash

3. Roy Helu, Redskins – Owned in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues
As a short-term feature back in 2011, Helu rushed 151 times for 640 yards (4.23 YPC) with two touchdowns and added 49 receptions for 379 yards with another score. His 2012 season was railroaded by toe and Achilles’ issues, but the preseason tape shows he’s all the way back now. Helu is an ideal zone-blocking scheme runner, exploding off his plant leg with unique burst. He’ll start off as the third-down back giving him a little more standalone value than someone like Christine Michael, but the real value will come if Alfred Morris were to get injured. Helu would explode if given the chance to touch the ball 15-18 times a game.  
Recommendation: Should be stashed in 12-team leagues with added value in PPR

4. Joique Bell, Lions – Owned in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues
Owners that haven’t been paying attention think Mikel Leshoure is Reggie Bush’s backup. They’re wrong. Joique Bell seized control of that title early in the offseason and has not let go, giving him plenty of handcuff appeal. Bush hasn’t exactly been a picture of health in his career, missing 16 games between 2008 and 2010. Also, considering how well Bell fits as a pass-catcher in the Lions scheme (he caught 52 passes last season), there’s room for him to be a desperation PPR play at some point.
Recommendation: Should be stashed in 12-team leagues with added value in PPR

5. Mike Tolbert, Panthers – Owned in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jonathan Stewart (ankles) will miss at least the first six games of the season and could very well be sidelined the whole year. That leaves FB/HB Mike Tolbert and scatback-like sixth-round rookie Kenjon Barner behind clear-cut starter DeAngelo Williams. Tolbert is the one with the NFL resume. Remember that while with the Chargers in 2010 and 2011, he rushed 303 times for 1,225 yards (4.04 YPC) and scored 19 rushing touchdowns. He also added 79 catches for 649 more yards. Williams is just a guy at this point in his career, meaning the Panthers won’t hesitate to give Tolbert 8-10 touches a game. He’s a capable ball-carrier.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

6. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos – Owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Broncos know what they have in Knowshon Moreno. He’s a reliable pass protector that’s coming off a knee procedure and gets what’s blocked in the run game (last year, that equated to 3.80 YPC). That’s why they are reaching for higher, using a second-round pick on Montee Ball and talking up Ronnie Hillman as a possible starter for months on end. The problem is that both Ball and Hillman have their warts, leaving Moreno lying in the weeds. If the youngsters keep making mistakes, Moreno could vault from third-down back status to starter quickly. He looked strong while running with the second-stringers in the preseason, picking up 56 yards on 11 carries and catching four balls for 41 yards.
Recommendation: Should be stashed in 12-team leagues

7. Stepfan Taylor, Cardinals – Owned in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues
We haven’t even hit Week 1 yet and Rashard Mendenhall’s knees are already acting up. If I had any confidence at all in one of his backups or the Cardinals’ ability to open running lanes, we’d have an ideal handcuff situation. The first problem is that first-round LG Jonathan Cooper (broken leg) is already out for the season, leaving Paul Fanaika as a starter. The next problem is that Ryan Williams’ knees still aren’t right, Andre Ellington flubbed his way to 2.59 YPC in the preseason and Alfonso Smith is a special teamer. Taylor, a grinding fifth-round rookie, at least has the potential to be a Vick Ballard type in Bruce Arians’ scheme. He posted a 39/145/1 line in the preseason.
Recommendation: Should be stashed in 14-team leagues

8. Michael Cox, Giants – Owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues
Thanks to Andre Brown’s latest injury, Michael Cox and Da’Rel Scott are in the on deck circle behind David Wilson for now. If the Giants don’t add a veteran back to the roster this week, we’ll know they have some level of confidence in Cox. He’s a 6’1/214 seventh-round rookie with some power that can complement Wilson’s explosiveness. Scott is more of an injury-prone speedster than NFL running back.
Recommendation: Should be stashed in 16-team leagues  

Watch List: Christine Michael, Kendall Hunter, Bobby Rainey, Andre Brown, Kenjon Barner, Da’Rel Scott, Felix Jones, Daniel Thomas

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Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
Email :Adam Levitan



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