Adam Levitan

Waiver Wired

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Waiver Wire: Week 4

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


RUNNING BACKS
1. Bilal Powell, Jets – Owned in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues
Bilal Powell wasn’t simply handed the starting running back job. He earned it by outplaying Chris Ivory in camp. That triumph led to 16 touches in Week 1 and 15 touches in Week 2. But the real party came in Week 3 as Ivory aggravated a hamstring injury that had bothered him in August, and left after four snaps. Powell stepped up in a big way, ripping through holes for 149 yards on 27 carries. Now Ivory is out indefinitely, meaning Powell will be an every-down back for at least the next couple weeks. He won’t get a softer spot than he had against the Bills decimated defense, but he does get plus matchups against the Titans and Falcons. Powell is a plug-n-play flex option in the short-term and has a chance to extend his lead in this committee over the long term. I wouldn’t consider Mike Goodson (due back Week 5) a real threat with Powell playing so well.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Pierre Thomas, Saints – Owned in 45 percent of Yahoo leagues
Even before Mark Ingram went down with a toe injury, there was speculation that Pierre Thomas would start moving ahead of the former first-round pick. Then trade rumors popped up Sunday. Add it up and we have Thomas and Darren Sproles sharing time in the Saints backfield, using short passes as an extension of the run game. It’s a far better fit than trying to ram Ingram’s square frame into a round hole. Thomas played on just 34.2 percent of the snaps in Weeks 1 and 2 combined, but got a bump to 53.9 percent in Week 3 as Ingram sat. If the toe injury lingers or a trade goes down, Thomas is going to be a PPR dynamo with upside in standard leagues because of his ability in the screen game. Even if Ingram returns, Thomas projects to keep his snap count up around 50 percent.  
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

3. Brandon Bolden, Patriots – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
Don’t take this as a shot at Stevan Ridley. Although Brandon Bolden goes 5’11/220, the Patriots actually see him in their passing-back role. Ridley and Bolden each played 26 snaps in Week 3. But when Bolden was in, they called 21 passes – leading to five catches for 49 yards. Ridley shared the early-down and clock-killing runs with LeGarrette Blount. In other words, Bolden has quickly carved out a role for himself despite missing the first two games of the season with a knee injury. Shane Vereen won’t be back until Week 11, giving Bolden plenty of room to run with his opportunity as a poor man’s “joker.”
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team PPR leagues

4. Isaiah Pead, Rams – Owned in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues
Pead was the No. 1 running back on this list ahead of Week 1, No. 6 in Week 2 and No. 5 in Week 3. That was because we knew he’d come off suspension after just one game and immediately start pushing Daryl Richardson for snaps. The talent gap between these two just isn’t that great. Things took an unexpected turn early on Sunday when Richardson got his injured foot stepped on and left after two snaps. That left Pead to play 42 snaps and Benny Cunningham to play 22. Pead responded with seven catches for 43 yards and six runs for 20 yards. After this week’s tough Thursday night matchup against the 49ers, the Rams host the Jags in Week 5. That will be Pead’s big chance to put his footprint on this committee. The status of Richardson’s foot is unclear right now, although he says he’ll play Thursday. He was tagged as a limited participant in Monday’s practice.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

5. Danny Woodhead, Chargers – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
As noted following Week 2, Danny Woodhead has seized the majority of four-minute and third-down duties from Ronnie Brown. Ryan Mathews never got a sniff there under new coach Mike McCoy. It’s led to a ton of PPR production for Woodhead (15 catches over last two weeks) as the Chargers are executing a quick-hitting offense to hide their offensive line and Rivers’ arm decline. The scary part is that the Chargers haven’t even been trailing much this season. Each of their two losses has come via comebacks from their opponents. If/when the Chargers are getting bludgeoned, Woodhead will have an even bigger role.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team PPR leagues

6. Jason Snelling, Falcons – Owned in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues
Steven Jackson (thigh/hamstring) is expected to sit out through the Week 6 bye. It’s not a surprise as he’s 30 years old and has a history of struggling with soft-tissue injuries. And as we saw in Week 3, the Falcons are capable of getting production by alternating at the running back spot. Despite a tough matchup at Miami, Jacquizz Rodgers started and got 20 touches on 43 snaps. Jason Snelling got 15 touches on 34 snaps. Still, the Falcons have two tough matchups coming up (vs. Patriots, vs. Jets). Rodgers and Snelling are middling talents that will be sharing reps on a team that projects to throw. Both are risky plays. I'd give Snelling the slight -- and I mean slight -- edge as the more productive player and the one more likely to get a touchdown.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

7. Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
See above for details.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

8. Christine Michael, Seahawks – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
There was some question as to exactly who is Marshawn Lynch’s handcuff. Those questions got answered Sunday. When Seattle called the dogs off of the Jags and took Lynch out in the third quarter, Robert Turbin stayed in the third-down role. It was Christine Michael – a more explosive and talented runner -- that came on as the feature back. And while we’re talking about handcuffs, be sure you have yours in line. Reggie Bush and Ray Rice owners that didn’t have Joique Bell and Bernard Pierce in Week 3 are hating life. Other handcuffs I wouldn’t live without are Ben Tate, Bryce Brown, Michael Bush, Kendall Hunter, Roy Helu and Fred Jackson.
Recommendation: Should be owned as handcuff in 12-team leagues

9. Andre Ellington, Cardinals – Owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues
Here’s the Cardinals RB snap count from Week 3: Andre Ellington 27, Rashard Mendenhall 23, Alfonso Smith 18, Stepfan Taylor 1. There are certainly circumstances here – Mendenhall was nursing a toe injury and the Cardinals played from way behind for most of the game. But we can’t deny that Ellington gives the Cards more juice in the open field and a better check-down option for Carson Palmer. Coach Bruce Arians has also said he believes Ellington is capable of being a three-down back.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 14-team leagues

10. Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jonathan Dwyer was the best running back on the Steelers Sunday night. Yes, it’s a little like being crowned the best member of Hanson or the coolest chick on Real Housewives. But Dwyer did seize a role going forward by standing up blitzers in the passing game and running for 39 yards on 12 carries. Felix Jones lost a bad fumble. However, Dwyer’s appeal won’t last too long. Le’Veon Bell (foot) is practicing and reportedly will play in Week 4. Bell will have a very good shot at being 100 percent after the Week 5 bye, making Dwyer a mere stash in deeper formats.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 16-team leagues

Watch List: Jonathan Stewart, LeGarrette Blount, Johnathan Franklin, Jordan Todman, Khiry Robinson – Stewart (ankle) is expected to return as a timeshare back for Week 7. ... Stevan Ridley should leave Blount in his wake soon. … Eddie Lacy (concussion) says he’ll be back after the Week 4 bye. John Kuhn (hamstring) and James Starks (knee) could be as well. That’s not good news for Franklin, who showed well but lost a crippling fumble against the Bengals. … Todman continues to play ahead of Justin Forsett. Maurice Jones-Drew is going to take a ton of hits this year. … Robinson is capable of handling power back duties should Mark Ingram get traded.

Cut Bait: Donald Brown, Felix Jones, Bobby Rainey, Da’Rel Scott, Ronnie Brown, Robert Turbin, Isaac Redman, Zac Stacy, Mikel LeshoureTrent Richardson’s arrival confirms the Colts have no faith in Brown. … Felix fumbled, got outplayed by Jonathan Dwyer and Le’Veon Bell should be back soon. … Rainey saw just 22 snaps even though Willis McGahee just arrived. … Scott is just a passing-down blocker. … Brown is well behind Danny Woodhead. … Turbin is a mere third-down back whether Marshawn Lynch is healthy or not. … Isaac Redman played seven snaps in Week 3 and Le’Veon Bell (foot) is coming back soon. … Zac Stacy is behind Benny Cunningham. … Leshoure played zero snaps even though Reggie Bush was inactive.

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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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