Adam Levitan

Waiver Wired

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Waiver Wired: Week 3

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


RUNNING BACKS
1. Bernard Pierce, Ravens – Owned in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues
This ownership percentage here is nothing short of shocking. But sometimes we get caught in our Rotoworld bubble and forget that there are actually people out there not reading the site (gasp). Anyway, Bernard Pierce should be 100 percent owned because he has standalone value even when Ray Rice is healthy. Since Week 16 of last season, Pierce has averaged 12.8 carries for 61.6 yards a day (including playoffs). And if Rice misses time with this hip issue, Pierce will be a top-12 running back play weekly. He has a wicked stiff arm that Chris Wesseling has compared to Corey Dillon’s and elite burst through the hole. The Ravens are ready to ride him.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. James Starks, Packers – Owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues
There was a time not too long ago when James Starks was thought of as the Packers’ savior at running back. But constant injuries coupled with the emergence of DuJuan Harris and the selection of Eddie Lacy shattered that dream. Now Starks is 100 percent healthy, fresh off the best training camp of his career and the clear No. 2 back in Green Bay. When Lacy went down with a concussion on his first carry against the Redskins Sunday, Starks responded with 20 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown to go with four catches for 36 yards. He handles himself well on third downs (John Kuhn is nursing a hamstring injury) and can get a little more than what’s blocked. The bad news for Starks is that the Packers have a tough matchup at Cincy in Week 3 and then have a bye in Week 4. It’s likely Lacy will be back and starting by Week 5, leaving Starks with mostly handcuff appeal. He’s not worth reaching too far for.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

3. Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons – Owned in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues
Steven Jackson (thigh) is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. Note that Jackson – now 30 years old – has a history of early-season soft-tissue injuries. In 2011 he pulled a quad in Week 1 and in 2012 he pulled a groin Week 2. In theory, that opens up a nice opportunity for Jacquizz Rodgers. The problem is that three NFL seasons, he’s averaging a pathetic 3.55 YPC. That includes an 11-carry, 17-yard performance in relief of S-Jax Sunday. Rodgers will start, but he'll be a desperation flex option in PPR leagues. The Falcons will go even more pass-heavy and Jason Snelling could get any goal-line looks.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team PPR leagues

4. Bilal Powell, Jets – Owned in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues
Through two weeks, Powell has played 95 snaps and gotten 31 touches. Chris Ivory has played 49 snaps and gotten 22 touches. Powell has a chance to sustain that split because he excels in blitz pickup, plays on all third downs and can be a safety valve for Geno Smith. Deeper PPR owners could do worse for a bye-week fill-in.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

5. Isaiah Pead, Rams – Owned in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues
Pead came off suspension in Week 2 and immediately turned Zac Stacy into a healthy scratch. Pead got just three touches against the Falcons, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He played on 30-of-77 snaps while starter Daryl Richardson played 39 snaps. Furthermore, Richardson is averaging just 3.26 YPC on his 30 carries so far this season. Pead is a good bet to turn this backfield into some kind of timeshare eventually.   
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

6. Pierre Thomas, Saints – Owned in 43 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Saints are currently running their usual three-headed monster between Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram. Despite that mess, Thomas is worth hanging into because Ingram is useless to New Orleans. He’s an alleged power back that runs with no power and is easy to scheme against because he can’t play in the passing game. Eventually, the Saints should give up the ghost of Ingram and give Thomas all the base carries. He’s averaging 5.14 YPC this season and has eight catches in two games.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

7. Brandon Jacobs, Giants – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues

Brandon Jacobs came off the street and immediately assumed all short-yardage and goal-line duties for the Giants. The result in Week 2 was seven carries for four yards with one touchdown on 14 snaps. He did get a little work between the 20s, but the Giants have to see that this 31-year-old is not the answer. If they want to spark their running game, giving David Wilson more snaps than the 24 he saw against the Broncos is the answer. Also, Andre Brown (leg) will be back in Week 10 to take back the goal-line job.
Recommendation: Should be owned in touchdown-heavy 14-team leagues

8. Danny Woodhead, Chargers – Owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Chargers made a wise switch in Week 2, moving Danny Woodhead (41 snaps) ahead of Ronnie Brown (15 snaps). Woodhead is tremendous in pass protection, has soft hands and has more wiggle after the catch. He proved it against the Eagles, recording eight receptions for 37 yards to go with nine rushes for 27 yards. Woodhead did this even though the Chargers were in a close game. When San Diego is in comeback mode – as I think they’ll be often this season – Woodhead will certainly be getting the snaps. Ryan Mathews doesn’t play on any third downs or four-minute situations.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team PPR leagues

9. Jordan Todman, Jaguars – Owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues
Maurice Jones-Drew’s ankle injury is certainly concerning – especially because it’s on the same side as his 2012 Lisfranc. He’s questionable for a hands-off Week 3 game at Seattle. And considering the Jags’ season is already circling the toilet and MJD won’t be back in Jacksonville next year, there’s at least a chance he’ll hang it up early this season. Jordan Todman rushed five times for just seven yards against the Raiders in Week 2, but he has far more talent than that. The 2011 sixth-rounder was one of the preseason’s stars, rushing 29 times for 223 yards (7.68 YPC) with two touchdowns. Todman would initially start in a committee with Justin Forsett if/when MJD sits, but he’d be a good bet to eventually get the lion’s share of the work.
Recommendation: Should be stashed in 14-team leagues

10. Andre Ellington, Cardinals – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
A favorite of our own draft guru Josh Norris, Andre Ellington has surged ahead of both Stepfan Taylor and Alfonso Smith. The rookie was second in snaps behind Rashard Mendenhall in Week 2 and helped his team earn a win with a handful of impact plays  – including a 36-yeard touchdown catch on a wheel route. Ellington is currently an explosive third-down back that Bruce Arians says can be an every-down player.
Recommendation: Should be stashed in 14-team PPR leagues

Watch List: Justin Forsett, Jason Snelling, Da’Rel Scott, Donald Brown – Forsett is going to be the lesser half of a committee if Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle) sits. … Snelling will be the lesser half of a committee if Steven Jackson (thigh) sits. … Da’Rel Scott is just the passing-down back for an 0-2 team that projects to get more leads going forward. … “Dammit” Donald Brown is an Ahmad Bradshaw injury away from a feature back job.

Cut Bait: Vick Ballard, Ronnie Hillman, Stepfan Taylor, Mark Ingram, Zac Stacy, Leon Washington, Shonn Greene – Ballard is done for the year after blowing out his knee in practice. … Hillman played two snaps in Week 2. … Taylor has fallen behind both Andre Ellington and Alfonso Smith. … See the Pierre Thomas segment for thoughts on Ingram. … Stacy was a healthy scratch with Isaiah Pead off suspension. ... Even with Shane Vereen out, Washington played just 14 snaps Week 2. … Greene is out a few weeks after a knee scope.

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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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