Adam Levitan

Waiver Wired

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Waiver Wired: Week 3

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Not all injuries are created equal. When Ray Rice goes down, we have a gold mine on our hands because Bernard Pierce is a talented player that will hog the running back snaps. But when Maurice Jones-Drew misses time, we’re stuck with a timeshare between a couple of journeymen.

Surprisingly, the injury carnage we saw in Week 2 is not going to yield a lot of fruit for most of us on the waiver wire. Think about the backup situations for the following players who went down Sunday: Rice, Jones-Drew, Reggie Bush, Eddie Lacy, Malcom Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Andre Johnson, Steven Jackson and Vernon Davis. How many of their backups are both unowned in your league and capable of production?

In fact, the players on the Week 2 waiver wire were far more worthy of burning FAAB dollars or priority on. Julian Edelman, Marlon Brown, Julius Thomas and Joique Bell all paid immediate dividends and will continue to do so. I can’t make the same promises with most of the Week 3 options.

On to the assets. Here is how I would rank the top players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues at each position. Notes and recommendations on each player will follow below.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week, $250,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 3. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.


1. Sam Bradford
2. Terrelle Pryor
3. Ryan Tannehill
4. Philip Rivers
5. Alex Smith

Running Backs
1. Bernard Pierce
2. James Starks
3. Jacquizz Rodgers
4. Bilal Powell
5. Isaiah Pead
6. Pierre Thomas
7. Brandon Jacobs
8. Danny Woodhead
9. Jordan Todman
10. Andre Ellington
* Knowshon Moreno is owned in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues. He’d be my No. 2 add if he’s available.

Wide Receivers
1. Marlon Brown
2. DeAndre Hopkins
3. Andre Roberts
4. Eddie Royal
5. Nate Burleson
6. Rod Streater
7. Kendall Wright
8. Cordarrelle Patterson
* Josh Gordon is owned in 63 percent of Yahoo leagues. He's be my No. 1 add if he's available.

Tight Ends
1. Coby Fleener
2. Tyler Eifert
3. Charles Clay
4. Heath Miller
5. Brent Celek

Defense/Special Teams
1. Jets
2. Titans
3. Vikings

1. Garrett Hartley
2. Caleb Sturgis
3. Alex Henery

1. Sam Bradford, Rams – Owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues
Sam Bradford’s Week 2 stats that included 352 yards and three touchdowns were inflated because the Rams fell behind 21-0 in Atlanta. But that doesn’t take away from the schematic shift we’re seeing in St. Louis. Rams running backs have rushed 34 times for just 103 yards (3.02 YPC) and have scored zero touchdowns this season. The keys to the offense are in Bradford’s hands and he’s proving capable with a 63.4 completion percentage and 5:2 TD-to-INT ratio. Bradford will be a fine bye-week fill-in most weeks – and especially in Week 5 (home vs. Jax) when Robert Griffin III is on a bye.  
Recommendation: Should be owned as a backup in 10-team leagues

2. Terrelle Pryor, Raiders – Owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues
Some owners will drop Terrelle Pryor following his zero-touchdowns and 126 passing yards in Week 2. Don’t do it. The key here is that the Raiders were actually winning from wire-to-wire, turning Pryor into a game manager instead of a playmaker. He still salvaged some fantasy points by picking up 50 yards on the ground. Most weeks, Pryor will be dropping back a ton more which will lead to more pass attempts, more rush attempts, more scrambles, more broken plays and more points. Pryor is now averaging 70.3 rushing yards per NFL start.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a backup in 10-team leagues

3. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins – Owned in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues
As noted in last week’s Waiver Wired, Ryan Tannehill had a reasonably productive Week 1 even though he didn’t use Mike Wallace. That changed in Week 2 as the Dolphins fed their big purchase to the tune of 9/115/1. Tannehill has also found a weapon in tight end Charles Clay, who is flashing more speed than we thought he had. Upcoming tasty matchups vs. Atlanta (Week 3) and at New Orleans (Week 4) will have Tannehill on the front side of the QB2 radar.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a backup in 12-team leagues

4. Philip Rivers, Chargers – Owned in 39 percent of Yahoo leagues
Philip Rivers has taken to new coach Mike McCoy’s offense well. By getting the ball out quickly, he’s hiding both his offensive line and his declining arm. Rivers is fantasy’s No. 4 QB through two weeks and has matchups with the Raiders, Colts, Jags and Redskins between Weeks 5-9.  Still, only owners in deeper formats should take the bait. Rivers lit up the Eagles Sunday by exploiting overpaid Cary Williams and a safety duo (Nate Allen, Patrick Chung) that couldn’t cover a pot. Philly was also playing without starting corner Bradley Fletcher (concussion). Without Danario Alexander (injured reserve, knee) and possibly Malcom Floyd (week to week, neck), Rivers is lacking weapons.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a backup in deeper 12-team leagues

5. Alex Smith, Chiefs – Owned in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues
We can’t ignore Alex Smith’s production under pass-happy head coach Andy Reid. He’s attempted 60 passes through two games, completing 60.0 percent of them with a 5:0 TD-to-INT ratio. The problem is that Smith continues to play conservatively to a fault, living up to his Captain Checkdown reputation while averaging just 9.4 yards per completion. His 396 yards rank just 27th in the league. Despite plus matchups with the Eagles, Giants and Raiders over the next month, Smith won’t be anything more than a desperation play.
Recommendation: Should be owned in two-quarterback leagues

Watch list: Josh Freeman, Geno Smith, Jake Locker, Jason Campbell  -- Freeman is regressing on the field and losing the trust of the coaching staff off it. … Smith has plenty of moxie but his “weapons” are brutal. … Locker would be more exciting if he were using his athletic ability more. Just seven carries for 13 yards and no TDs through two games. … Campbell could draw the start in place of Brandon Weeden (questionable, thumb).  

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Adam Levitan is in his seventh 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.
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