Today is Mr. Belding's birthday. Who is Mr. Belding you ask? Only the greatest television principal of all time! For those of us who spent our 20's and 30's waking up hungover on Saturday mornings and watching Saved By The Bell, Mr. Belding represents our generation. A little bit of wackiness. A little bit of anxiety. And most importantly - always the voice of reason for the students of Bayside High. Here then, is a look at the top waiver plays for week 12 with their corresponding Bayside student doppelgänger. Gee whiz ... you didn't think I could keep writing this column week after week without a gimmick, did you?
Josh McCown - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (21% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
I was down on McCown (rhyme alert!) in pre season. I knew a QB who had never been a starter in his previous nine season could step into the starters role and all of the sudden take off like he did in the eight games he filled in for Jay Cutler in Chicago last year. Lovie is a vastly different coach than Trestman and just like Nick Foles 27/2 TD to INT ratio, McCown's Chicago numbers were unsustainable. Now, with the emergence of Mike Evans and the steadiness (I am using that term generously) of Vincent Jackson, McCown is a legitimate streamer. Play him when the matchup is favorable. He is the Jesse Spano of this column. Put him next to Kelly Kapowski and he doesn't look so good but when you match him up with Lisa Turtle? He's a winner!
Jonas Gray - New England Patriots (23% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
Gray is the consummate underdog. A time share RB coming out of Notre Dame, he was cut by the Dolphins in 2013. He spent some time on the Ravens practice squad and then landed on the Patriots practice squad. He was given the opportunity to fill the Stevan Ridley role when Ridley tore his ACL and last week ran for 199 yards and 4 TDs. I am an advocate of Gray's just as I was an advocate of Ridley's before the season. He will be the latest Patriot enigma. He is game plan dependent so if you can figure out the matchups for the Pats and whether they will ground and pound (Gray) or pitch and catch (Vereen) he can be a solid addition. Although his closest counterpart would be A.C. Slater for the muscle, one interesting tidbit about Gray is that he is an amateur stand up comedian and once was the opening act for Screech Powers (Dustin Diamond)
Kenny Britt - St. Louis Rams (16% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
With Brian Quick sidelined for the season and Shaun Hill in at QB, Britt was targeted 7 times and turned that into a 4-128-1 line last Sunday against the Denver Broncos. Britt is the Zack Morris of this list. He has enormous talent but can't seem to stay out of trouble. Since joining the NFL, Britt has had nine - yes NINE - incidents with the police including a car chase, resisting arrest and a stabbing incident. Even this year, he had a sex video posted on his Instagram account. It is worth noting, however that Britt's most productive NFL years came when he was with current coach Jeff Fisher as a Tennessee Titan. Let's hope Britt, like Zack Morris, can continue to walk the line but always come out on the right side of the law!
Isaiah Crowell - Cleveland Browns (23% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
It is hard for me to understand why this guy isn't more highly owned. Yes, the Browns backfield is a disaster but this guy has talent and has been getting the rock lately more often than the others. Two weeks ago he had a 12-41-1 line and last week in a surprise move the Browns started him. He had 61 yards on 14 carries and added two receptions for 30 yards as well. Perhaps, most importantly, his 16 touches were the most in the backfield by far as he was in on 66% of the offensive snaps. Crowell leads the Browns in YPC and in runs of more than 20 yards. Scouts were praising his talent during the NFL draft this year but he had some behavior issues that kept him down. Coach Mike Pettine praised his work ethic last week. The other drawback with Crowell is that he will put the ball on the ground. He has lost three fumbles this year. This makes him the A.C. Slater of the group. He has enormous talent but falls a little short on the execution. Slater couldn't pull off a prank with out his buddy Zack. Talent will rise up in the end, but sometimes it needs a bit of help to get going.
UPDATE TUESDAY AM: The Browns cut Ben Tate today which leaves them with a committee of Terrance West and Crowell in the backfield. There is the boost Crowell needed. I expect him to get the bulk of the new opportunity.
Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (15% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
Brandin Cooks broke his thumb last Sunday which opens up the door for both Stills and Marques Colston. While Colston is probably widely owned in your leagues, Stills can still (pun alert!) be had at 15% ownership. He hasn't done much this year because of lack of opportunity but he did put up a 23 point PPR performance against a touch Detroit defense in week 7 and he scored a TD to go along with 4 receptions after Cooks went down last Sunday. Just like Bayside High's Lisa Turtle, the boys all go for Kelly Kapowski and Jesse Spano but when they are taken Lisa Turtle is the next woman up. That's Kenny Stills right now - Next man up!
You will notice there is no Kelly Kapowski in my waiver wire column. That is because I don't see any player so hot that I must have. (INSERT - Maybe Crowell now that Tate is gone) What I do see are players - that if they make the most of their opportunities - can catapult you to the playoffs and win you Super Bowls. There are others out there that can make that difference but they are more widely owned. The criteria for this list is 50% ownership or less in Yahoo! leagues, but if you want some steady eddies - some Mr. Belding's if you will - take a long look at Josh Gordon (78%), C.J. Anderson (66%), Jordan Matthews (63%) or Kyle Rudoph (51%)
Good luck this week. Playoff time is coming rapidly! Did I mention ... I'M SO EXCITED! As always, please comment below or hit me on Twitter @iambradstrong. Hope you win all of your matchups this week!