Fantasy Football 2011: Waiver Wire Scoops

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Quarterback

Cam Newton- There are quite a few reasons not to like Cam Newton as a fantasy asset. The Cardinals were blowing coverage on Steve Smith all game long and are one of the worst defenses in the league. It's really hard to rip a guy that had one of the best debuts ever, so let's not do that.

Newton is a force (that one's for you Physics nerds). The pros of his debut outweigh the cons by a ton and he obviously impressed even those that felt he shouldn’t have been picked in the first two rounds of the draft. Cam started out slow in this game and was holding onto the ball a little bit longer than he should. As the game progressed, Cam seemed to be maturing and learning from every snap by sliding in the pocket, motioning the H-back and slot receivers for protection and a couple other small things. Besides the obvious highlights from Cam’s monster game, the most impressive play might have been when Cam and the Panthers had about eight seconds to get a play off before the two-minute warning. Cam got on the same page with his first and second reads in the slots and delivered a key throw that led to a first down. When a guy throws for 422 yards in his very first game as a pro, it is most certainly going to get a load of hype. Most of the time it would be easy to say ignore these numbers and chalk it up to beginner’s luck. Cam has the tools to be a great quarterback and a lot of his successful will be based on whether he match those tools with his skills between the ears. If Cam’s your man or you’re one of those people that compares him to JaMarcus Russell, the upside is undeniable and he’s the top option on the waiver wire for the week for standard leagues.

Ryan Fitzpatrick- Do you know which quarterback led the week in passer rating? Considering this is about Ryan Fitzpatrick, I guess he’d be the most logical choice. Fitzpatrick had a monstrous 133.0 passer rating thanks largely due to his four TD’s and 17-of-25 passing. The Harvard alum only had 208 yards in the most surprising blowout of the weekend. Things should get better for Fitzpatrick in the yardage department. The Bills defense is horrible on paper and one would have thought Jamaal Charles would have gashed them for close to two bills on the ground (Bills had a league-worst 162 rushing yards against last year). The Bills should be trailing in a lot of games this year and Fitzpatrick should have to air it out 40 times in at least five games this year. He’s a darkhorse to be a top-10 QB and should be owned in all leagues.

Chad Henne- Tom Brady stole the show with his 517 yards passing, but Henne wasn’t too shabby with 416 yards passing with 30 completions on 49 attempts. Henne was throwing the ball well throughout the game with a wide variety of throws. He utilized the flat more than he has in the past couple years and tried to hit Brandon Marshall and Clyde Gates on several fly routes. Clyde Gates has a pretty cool name for a guy with his speed. But I digress. Tony Sparano does have a reputation for being a run-first coach, but he has to come to grips that his team doesn’t have the personnel to accomplish that. They do have one of the best tackles in the league in Jake Long, but they weren’t able to open up holes in the A and B gaps for Reggie Bush and Co. all night against New England’s front. Mr. Bush should also help Henne’s fantasy value. Bush was targeted 10 times and caught nine balls for 56 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins will want to get Bush in space and there’s a good chance that they’ll be practicing more slip screens and other ways to get Bush the ball besides handing it to him. His main target, Brandon Marshall, was getting down the field a heck of a lot more than in 2010. B-Marsh had only 11 yards per catch in 2010, but on Monday he averaged 19.9. Yes, the Dolphins were losing for essentially the last three quarters, but Henne is looking pretty good on hypothetically as a potential top-15 QB.

Rex Grossman- Sexy Rexy probably didn’t get some of the pub he deserved following the humongous win over the rival Giants. Grossman accounted for 305 yards passing in 21-of-34 attempts, two touchdowns and no picks leading to a 110.5 passer rating. The passer rating was his highest since 2006 and he had not completed over 60 percent of his passes since 2007. Rex’s numbers against a banged-up Giants defensive unit are slightly misleading though. They were clearly the most injury-plagued unit in the entire league with injuries at every level of defense. Despite the depletion, Grossman was sacked four times and was also hit seven times in the win; the lack of protection could be his undoing. It was also a bit surprising that Shanahan went with a 34-to-26 pass-run ratio even though were up by seven points with 13 minutes left in the third quarter and never relinquished the lead. Rex’s horrendous career numbers, lack of weapons in the passing game and low upside make him attractive in just deeper leagues.

Running Back

Willis McGahee- He should already be owned in just about every league. McGahee did gain some value last night with Moreno needing an MRI and also coughing up the rock. Someone needs to come up with a vaccine for that. Well, this one's for you, shallow leagues.

Cadillac Williams- It sounds like Steven Jackson isn’t going to suit up Monday night against the Giants. S-Jax left Sunday’s game early with the quad injury which allowed Caddy to get 19 carries that yielded 91 rushing yards (4.8 YPC). Williams, and the two ACL injuries on his resume, are really tough to like as a long-term asset, but when he gets 19 carries and nobody else on the team has no more than three carries, it should certainly grab your attention. Caddy separated himself from Jerious Norwood as Steven Jackson’s handcuff and he should be owned in most leagues.

Ben Tate- Fantasy owners that were left in a pickle and were forced to start Ben Tate Office Running Back were rewarded with his 116 yards and a touchdown in the destruction of the Colts. Tate did come up lame on a play, but he was able to gut it out and finish the game. He did miss all of last season with a broken ankle and he already has a brittle feel to him as a fantasy running back. Derrick Ward was dealing with an injury as well and could only run the rock 11 times for 35 yards and a TD. Tate is clearly the more talented runner and the second-best option behind Arian Foster. Foster owners HAVE TO own Tate and if you have to overpay a little to get him in a trade, then go for it. The Texans have one of the best lines in the league and they are going to score a ton of points.

Darren Sproles- Sproles made big play after big play for the Saints in the loss. He had a huge third-down conversion in the second quarter along with the punt return for a score as his two biggest plays. The former Kansas State Wildcat is never really going to amount to RB2 status (unless injuries occur) in most weeks because the Saints are going to employ a three-headed monster at back, but he's a nice low-upside flex in some formats. Furthermore, it’s not like they’re going to get their behinds handed to them like the way Green Bay did. This forced them to turn to the pass most of the game.

Deji Karim- Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t get hurt and looked pretty nifty out there against the Titans, so Karim is not exactly going to garner new attention in standard fantasy leagues. He should have already been owned in deeper formats, but Sunday’s game gave him some new value along with the reinforcement of what we already knew. Karim was not very good with just an average of 2.4 YPC, but 14 carries when the starter is healthy speaks volumes. The Southern Illinois product also added three receptions for 39 yards to show his upside for PPR leagues. Meniscus Jones-Drew’s medial meniscus is worn down coming into the season, so that means his knee won't be able to absorb shock as well as it normally would. Yes, MJD looked great, but he is still one of the most likely backs to suffer a big injury. Karim should be owned in competitive 10-team leagues.

Derrick Ward- Ward was mentioned earlier as the third option for Houston. While he might not have too much value now, Tate and Foster are both looking like decent bets to miss time to injuries. Even if Tate and Foster both miss time, there’s a small chance Ward wouldn’t be featured with Steve Slaton getting a handful of carries. Ward is more of an option as a flex in deeper leagues or an emergency play for Foster owners that can’t get their hands on Tate.

Earnest Graham- Graham shockingly had eight catches against the Lions on Sunday and was able to muster 58 receiving yards in the loss. For those that didn’t know, LeGarrette Blount had a pathetic 14 yards receiving all of last year and is completely useless in passing situations. Raheem Morris did mention this will be a time-share scenario and Graham earned his share in limited action. Even more shocking, Graham led the team in carries with just six. This isn’t a huge development or anything (or he’d be listed first), but he put himself on the map for owners in deeper leagues that are relentlessly searching for a back.

Dexter McCluster- The Ole Miss product could have passed the workout warrior known as Thomas Jones on Sunday. McCluster ran the ball four times for 42 yards and caught all five of his targets for 25 yards. Thomas Jones was useless by carrying the ball just two times for three yards. McCluster could be used like Percy Harvin was back at Florida. The Chiefs will like to get him the ball in the space with WR screens, short slants and they will also give him a portion of Charles' carries. Return-yardage leagues might also like McCluster because if Sunday was any indication, the KC D looks terrible.

Wide Receivers

Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson- For some reason Meachem is only owned in 57 percent of Yahoo! leagues. If he’s out there, make him your top waiver claim and then go try to recruit more owners for your league next year. Meachem is a high-end WR3 at worst in 10-team leagues. Lance Moore is another guy that is considered as a must-own WR. Marques Colston broke his clavicle and he is expected to miss a large chunk of time. Devery Henderson played a great game even when Colston was in the lineup and accounted for an even 100 yards on six catches with a TD. Devery is one of the best deep threats in the league and Brees looks for him quite often when trying to get a big play. Henderson did a much better job than usual by going over the middle and was targeted nine times. There is a whole lot to like with him and he should be snatched up in most competitive leagues while Colston is out of commission. 

Jacoby Jones- Kevin Walter bruised his shoulder and it’s looking like he is going to miss some time. Walter is usually the X receiver when the Texans are in two-wide sets, which will immediately be filled by Jones starting Sunday against the Dolphins (yes the same Dolphins that just allowed 517 yards through the air on Monday). Jones does have some experience as a starter and even had 115 yards in the Fantasy Championship (16th week) on five catches. He won’t be getting even half of the looks that Andre will be getting, but Jones should have some decent value with just six or seven targets per game.

Brandon Gibson- Danny Amendola is going to miss an enormous portion of the season with a dislocation of his elbow. The former star of Hard Knocks was almost a lock to become he leader in targets for the Rams with over 100, but those targets will have to go elsewhere for the time being. Brandon Gibson didn't do much to stand out from the crowd of receivers with just 50 yards on three catches. The Rams do get a bit of a free pass with the stout pass D of Philly led by Asante Samuel, Nnamdi Asomugha and DRC. The Rams won't have much of an excuse against the Giants since Rex Grossman was able to clear the 300-yard barrier. Gibson has a high upside and should be owned in most 12-team leagues.

Mohamed Massaquoi- What a mess with the Cleveland WR corps. Greg Little was the sleeper du jour of a lot of people (not me), but he looked completely lost on both offense and special teams. Little is losing steam fast, so feel free to cut him in most leagues.Massaquoi didn’t exactly set the world on fire with three catches for 77 yards. He was targeted seven times and had a bit of a tough time with Leon Hall sticking him. Massoquoi does have a fairly strong grip on the WR1 spot and there’s decent enough upside for him with a QB that emerged in the preseason.

Darius Heyward-Bey- Caddy Williams, Rex Grossman AND DHB? What a world. What a world. Heyward-Bey led the Raiders in targets and had one of the biggest catches of his career with by converting a first down late in the game to almost put the game on ice. The man who ran a 4.27 at the combine pulled down four receptions for 44 yards. Even though Jacoby Ford had a down night, he is the prefered option over DHB for now. Heyward-Bey does have some upside and owners could do worse

Antonio Brown- Emmanuel Sanders will probably get a bit of a spotlight for fantasy analysts that didn’t read between the lines thanks to his TD, but it is looking a bit more likely that Brown is Ben’s third-favorite target for the season behind Hines and Mike Wallace. Brown’s nine targets tied him for 14th in the league compared to Sanders’ three. Colonel Sanders’ six piece (that’s a TD) didn’t come with biscuits or gravy with only 20 yards on two catches. The Steelers as a whole looked pretty bad, so it’s hard to put too much stock into this game. However, when a player gets nine targets in a high-powered offense, there’s reason to make the appropriate adjustments to your roster.

Jabar Gaffney- Those of you that played fantasy football last year might remember that Jabar Gaffney was a popular sleeper since he was listed as the WR1 for Denver. Of course Brandon Lloyd quickly unseated him and led the league in yards. This year Gaffney looks to be the second option behind Santana Moss for Rex Grossman. He’s worth a shot as a matchup WR3 in fantasy leagues when he takes on teams like the Cowboys.

Early Doucet- First of all, it's pronounced "do set" not what Antonio Cromartie called Tom Brady. He did have a pretty cool Uggz commercial last night... As we get back on task here, Doucet had a big 70-yard TD that the Cardinals absolutely needed to get the win over the Carolina Newtons. Doucet outplayed Andre Roberts, but Roberts' four looks were one more than Roberts. Early is really not anyone most fantasy owners should consider just yet.

Eric Decker- Decker scored on a punt return, but the reason why we find him in this section is that Brandon Lloyd needs an MRI on his injured groin. Decker did a good job of sitting down in zones and was able to come up with 53 yards on five receptions. He has some very nice appeal in return leagues.

Doug Baldwin- You know what sucks about being a Baldwin? No. Not nothing. It sucks that he is in Seattle. The Hawks arguably have the worst line as well as the worst passer in the league in Tarvaris Jackson. Sidney Rice is having major issues staying healthy and the WR1 could be Baldwin's for the taking should Rice remain on the sidelines. Baldwin had one big play for a score, but the uncertainty of the Seahawks at receiver gives him a chance to produce in what figures to be an inconsistent offense.

Tight Ends

Lance Kendricks- Kendricks had two very easy drops in the first half, one of which would have likely led to a score. The news on Amendola makes Kendricks the best safety valve for Bradford and he has huge upside in the St. Louis offense.

Aaron Hernandez- Hernandez was a freak last night. It seemed like Brady had a homing beacon on him when he was down the field and it's hard to believe this guy is considered as a TE. Tim Tebow's former homeboy also had 10 targets. However, with all the weapons Brady has, I'd slightly prefer Lance Kendricks

Rob Gronkowski- Hernandez seems like he has more upside, but Gronkowski might be a safer bet for more touchdowns.

Jermaine Gresham- The Bengals surpassed all expectations on offense. Andrew Dalton had a solid outing and there could be some improvement on the horizon. Gresham  be the biggest beneficiary.

Fred Davis- The former Trojan had 105 yards on five catches and looks better than Chris Cooley.

Thanks for reading and we'll be back with the IDP guys later today. In the meantime if you're not sure about which guys you should cut to make a move, hit me up on Twitter and I'll get back to you ASAP.

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