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Fantasy Football 2011: Waiver Wire Scoops

Denarius Moore's upside is about this high.
Denarius Moore's upside is about this high.

It wasn't a fun weekend for quite a few fantasy owners. The concussion monster showed its ugly head by striking fantasy starters Michael Vick and Mario Manningham. While it's a bit unclear on how much time the two will miss, fantasy owners have to be prepared to go through Week 3 without them (Vick seems likely to play and Manningham does not).

Of course the biggest injury was Jamaal Charles tearing his ACL. Before we get down to business with the waiver wire, let's go over some strategy for replacing him:

If you're like me and decided to load up on receivers after selecting an elite back, then chances are the new RB2 on your team is not a reliable one. Personally, I wouldn't be willing to ship an elite starting receiver for RB2-type players. Other owners in your league are going to smell the blood in the water and expect to rip you off because you "need a back badly". To quote Mike Gundy, THAT'S NOT TRUE! So get your facts straight.There are other ways to replace him rather than changing your weakness to receiver.

What do you trade? The secret is out that it is a passing league with guys like Chad Henne, Cam Newton and Ryan Fitzpatrick being in the top five for quarterbacks in most fantasy formats. I would recommend shopping a quarterback. It's more important to find the right trade partner than getting back a particular player. Teams with Vick, a weak starter or no back-up QB are your best partners. Owners could try to swap bench receivers for bench running backs as well.

It's tough to rely on trading, so those with a hole at running back need to dedicate about half of their bench with lottery tickets at running back. It will take quite a fantasy season to overcome the loss of your first-round pick in the second week of the season, but it can be done.

Let's get to the guys that might be available for a scoop:

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Andy Dalton- Andy Dalton quietly ranks eighth in QB rating with 105.7. That's 15 points higher than Mr. Cam Newton. While I'm not saying Dalton should be owned over Newton (not even close), Dalton has built himself up as a serviceable QB in deeper leagues. The Cincy defense should give up points and the Bengals have a better-than-average schedule.

Bottom Line: Dalton is a backup in 12-team leagues and a match-up play in two-QB leagues.

Jason Campbell- Campbell had a huge fantasy afternoon in Buffalo with 323 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and a rushing TD against Buffalo. Oakland is a running team and Campbell's upside is pretty low. He is someone to think about for when he has to take on a high-powered offense like San Diego.

Bottom Line: He should be owned in 14-team leagues and could be a bye-week option.

Mike Kafka- Personally, I'm not buying Kafka at all. It won't be a smooth metamorphosis for the Northwestern product and he will likely see a ton of pressure from the Giants. The Philly offensive line is arguably their weakest link on the team and I'd expect Tuck and Pierre-Paul to force some turnovers.

Bottom Line: Avoid him.

Running Back

Daniel Thomas- The Kansas State product was hastily cut in some leagues. He had 115 yards on the ground and should be owned in all leagues. Period.

Roy Helu- Before I send Tim Hightower owners to go looking for antifreeze, a cliff or a noose, Hightower's job is safe. They should also remember that no noose is good noose. Hightower was a bit tired in Sunday's game and that allowed Helu to account for 74 rushing yards on 10 carries along with three catches for 38 yards. Timmy has never missed a game in his career and shows no signs of that occuring this year. If he does lose his job, it will likely be because of ball security. Hightower coughed it up nine times in his last two season (296 combined carries). He hasn't fumbled just yet and owners should give him the benefit of the doubt.

Shifting back to Helu, the Redskins have been able to move the ball and Shanahan will want to have more run in his run-pass balance.

Bottom Line: Helu should be owned in all leagues for his high upside and should be a middle-class man's version of Jonathan Stewart (ignore the fact that Stewart is outplaying Williams for now).

Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones- I'm pretty sure you've already been beaten to death with this issue by now, so let's keep it simple. Thomas Jones is 33 years old and is in the final year of his two-year contract. Jones didn't show much of the burst and aggressiveness that he once showed in New York when he ran for 1,400 yards.

On the flip side, there's McCluster. First of all, he represents a very nice opportunity for owners that want to come up with a new fantasy name with the name "McCluster F**ks". He is really a smaller version of Jamaal Charles and he certainly will never be able to pry away the goal-line duties from T.J. If you've watched the Chiefs defense, it's pretty clear that they're going to be playing from behind in just about every game. That means more passing attempts, which gives the edge to McCluster over Jones.

Bottom Line Paragraph: McCluster has the higher upside and should rack up more yards from scrimmage compared to Jones. The older Jones, however, should remain as the goal-line back for the season and has very good durability. McCluster gets the nod in PPR, yardage and upside; Jones is your man for a safer and TD-heavy league. When it comes to adding guys through the wire, it's all about upside. The Chiefs came up with a multitude of ways to get McCluster in various positions on the field and he looks like the better add overall.

Delone Carter- Carter has yet to make much of a splash. He carried the rock 11 times on Sunday (he had seven carries in the opener) and now has 71 yards on the season. His arrow is pointing upward and he should also be owned in almost every competitive league.

Bottom Line: Carter owners need to be patient ride this thing out for the whole season.

DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice- It sounds like Felix Jones will miss some time with a seperated shoulder. There hasn't been bad news with no reports of a subluxation (partial dislocation) or labrum damage, so Felix owners should be patient and try to weather the storm rather than selling low. While there are some similarities to the scenario in Kansas City, it's important to remember that Felix is not out for the season and neither guy is a must-grab at this time.

Bottom Line: Deeper league owners will probably only want to grab one of the two and I would rather have Murray. Murray is a more attractive option for his PPR skills and upside being a younger player. The Cowboys have already seen a larger enough sample out of Choice to know he is not capable of being a featured back.

Javon Ringer- There was a collective yelling of expletives among CJ2K owners when Javon Ringer scored the only rushing touchdown on the season for the Titans on Sunday. Ringer looks healthy and Jamie Harper is fading a bit. There have been a ton of injuries and the fact that Chris Johnson missed most of camp could lead to him pulling a muscle. Ringer could assume a featured role with the Titans should that happen.

Bottom Line: Ringer is a solid handcuff and should be owned in most competitive 12-team leagues.

Toby Gerhart- Adrian Peterson runs prettay, prettay hard. While this usually leads to positive results 99 percent of the time, there could be one time where he hurts himself. Gerhart has looked very good in the reserve role with two carries for 36 yards and a 42-yard catch against the Bucs on Sunday.

Bottom Line: He's only a handcuff, but he's looking like a top-10 one.

Isaac Redman- Mendenhall's handcuff had a solid fantasy day with 49 yards on the ground, two catches for 12 yards and a touchdown in the domination of the Seahawks. He's obviously not going to hurt Mendenhall's value. Mendy did get a boat load of carries last season and he did suffer a season-ending shoulder injury in his rookie season The point is Mendenhall isn't indestructible and Redman would get the lion's share of the carries in his absense.

Bottom Line: Mendenhall owners might want to grab him before they wind up like owners that had Jamaal Charles.

Justin Forsett- Marshawn Lynch is horrible. I ranked him at 50 for my RB rankings last week and he didn't disappoint with 11 yards on six carries. Lynch is averaging 2.3 YPC on the season and had just 3.5 YPC last season. It might not be long before Lynch is on the hot seat.

Bottom Line: This is pure speculation and is only for owners in deep leagues.

Wide Receivers

Denarius Moore- Moore lit up the Bills like he was the Joker from The Dark Knight. Why so serious? Well, Moore's monster game included five catches for 146 yards and a ridiculous TD in crunch time. I've spent all preseason saying how there are major questions with Oakland's receivers and how there's a good chance that one of these guys will bust out for a huge year. Jacoby Ford, who figures to be the favorite for a big season, could still miss more time with his hamstring injury. I mentioned Heyward-Bey last week, but he suffered a knee injury in practice which kept him from playing. I'll be the first to admit that I'm higher on Moore than most.

Bottom Line: Moore should be owned in all competitive leagues. Although I wouldn't play him against the stingy Jets pass defense.

David Nelson- Nelson was targeted 13 times(!!) and reeled in 10 of them for 83 yards on Sunday in the most thrilling game of the day. Nelson runs great short routes and has a knack for finding the hole in zone coverages. In case you haven't heard, the Bills are running specials on 40 burgers (39.5 PPG) in their two games. Their defense figures to be horrendous which translate to Fitzpatrick and company to have to sling it in the second half.

Stevie Johnson is dealing with a sore groin. In fact, he said he can feel the injury even when he is just walking. If Johnson misses Sunday's date with the Pats, then Nelson should lead the team in targets.

Bottom Line: Nelson has a huge upside as Fitz's second option. He should be owned in competitive 10-team leagues.

Side Note: If Johnson misses time, Donald Jones can be a nice stop-gap options in deeper leagues.

Danario Alexander- Besides the Raiders and Seahawks, two teams that don't project to pass much, the Rams have the cloudiest depth chart at wide receiver. Sam Bradford faced a myriad of blitzes and he was still able to get the ball down the field to the Mizzou product. Alexander looks to be ahead of Brandon Gibson for the time being.

Bottom Line: Alexander should be owned in 12-team leagues. Owners should beware of his injury history and should sell high in the event he continues to play well.

Eric Decker- The Minnesota Golden Gopher handed the Bengals a double-decker taco with extra hot sauce with his two-TD performance. Decker added 113 yard on five catches as well. He was mentioned in Waiver Wire Scoops last week, so we don't need to go over the details him again.

Bottom Line: Decker should be owned in most 12-team leagues. However, he is kind of a sell-high candidate since Brandon Lloyd is expected back next week. Decker owners can expect an average line of five catches, 75 yards and 0.5 TDs. Solid numbers.

Jabar Gaffney- He's another guy I mentioned last week. He kept the party going against Arizona with eight targets that amounted to five catches for 62 yards. These aren't eye-popping numbers, but eight targets bodes well for his value.

Bottom Line: He should be owned in competitve 14-team leagues (12-team PPR leagues).

Jerome Simpson- While A.J. Green certainly deserves almost all of the attention for his 14-target, 10-catch and 124-yard showing on Sunday, Simpson wasn't too shabby. The Coastal Carolina alum had a team-high 136 yards on four catches against the Broncos. Dalton looked his way nine times and many of them were of the deep-ball variety. Simpson is going to be a bit of a boom-or-bust guy and it will take a ballsy owner to start him in even a 16-team league.

Bottom Line: It's been so far so good with Dalton and Simpson looks like a lock to be his second option. He should be owned in 14-team leagues.

Domenik Hixon- Mario Manningham could miss time with a concussion. Hixon has stepped up his play to this point and could become Manning's second target sans Mario.

Bottom Line: He's a stop-gap option for owners in 14-team leagues.

Brandon LaFell- Steve Smith is setting the world on fire by leading the league in receiving, but LaFell was the only Panther to haul in a TD on Sunday. He is head and shoulders above Naanee and is likely going to be Cam's third option behind Smith and Greg Olsen. Steve Smith does have quite a few injuries on his resume and it could be just one misstep away from missing time.

Bottom Line:- LaFell is more of a speculative add for 16-team leagues at this point.

Kevin Ogletree- Jesse Holly got all the headlines for his play that essentially won the game for Dallas. Ogletree did get more targets with four (to Holly's three) and figures to be a much more dependable option.

Bottom Line: This is more for 16-team league owners looking for a plug-n-play receiver.

Tight Ends

Allow me to preface this by saying there are almost too many tight ends to even mention. Instead of the usual format, I'm just going to rank the tight ends that are not 100-percent owned in ESPN leagues:

Jimmy Graham

Dustin Keller

Rob Gronkowski

Jared Cook

Kellen Winslow

Greg Olsen

Lance Kendricks

Fred Davis

Scott Chandler

Evan Moore

Tony Gonzalez

Marcedes Lewis

Jermaine Gresham

Tony Scheffler

Thanks for reading and feel free to post your questions about possible adds or drops in the comments below. You can also send me a tweet on Twitter for a quicker response.