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Pickups of the Week

Brad Evans
Special to Yahoo Sports

Pickups of the week

This week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brad Evans looks at four intriguing fantasy football players, and a defense, likely to be available on the waiver wire in fantasy leagues.

 

Matt Cassel

Matt Cassel (QB) Minnesota Vikings
Cassel is the third QB to take first-team reps for Leslie Frazier’s Vikings. No question, he’s been the best. Prior to Week 16’s sidestep, the journeyman averaged 296.7 passing yards and totaled six touchdowns against Philly, Baltimore and Chicago. Far more accurate than his predecessors (Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman), he’s gotten Greg Jennings more involved, completing passes, for the most part, crisply and accurately. Minnesota’s horrendous defense has also greatly enhanced his production, a boost fantasy owners in deeper leagues have certainly benefited from. This week, matched against a Detroit team doing its damnedest to fire Jim Schwartz, he could be an unsung championship hero. The Lions, off making Eli Manning look somewhat productive (256-1-1), have allowed seven QBs to score at least 20 fantasy points in standard leagues this year. A final line in range of 280-2 is completely feasible. FAAB ($100 budget): $5

 

Donald Brown

Donald Brown (RB) Indianapolis Colts
Occasionally this season, Brown has shown flashes of brilliance. Trent Richardson was supposed to be the primary workhorse when acquired from Cleveland back in October, but the underappreciated backup has actually been more productive as evidenced Sunday in KC. On just 12 touches, he sprinted his way to 110 total yards, gashing a fading Chiefs D for TD scampers of 51 and 33 yards. Only 43-percent owned, he’s still widely available in shallow leagues. Though Brown’s workload will be far from exhaustive, he’s a highly employable FLEX option this week against Jacksonville. The Jags, rock solid against the run prior to Week 16, were pounded by Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene Sunday, giving up 182 rushing yards to the Titans. Another 70-plus yards and a score are in Brown’s future. FAAB: $21

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Marvin Jones (WR) Cincinnati Bengals
Contributing meaningful numbers for the third-straight week on Sunday, Jones should again prove to be a very useful WR3 in 10-team and deeper leagues in Week 17. Seeing action on over 70 percent of the Bengals’ snaps the past two weeks, he’s attracted 15 targets, catching 12 passes for 133 yards and a score. Drawing a Ravens secondary that’s executed at a high level since yielding seven TDs to Peyton Manning in Week 1, Jones will have his work cut out for him. But at home, a place where QB Andy Dalton has thrived, with major playoff implications on the line, Jones should be relied upon. Roughly five catches for 60-plus yards and a TD are attainable. FAAB: $15

Ryan Griffin

Ryan Griffin (TE) Houston Texans
Talked up by the ‘expert’ community last week, Griffin didn’t disappoint, especially for those in PPR leagues. Filling in for injured starter Garrett Graham, he and Matt Schaub connected five times (on five targets) for 66 yards. Though the end zone was elusive versus Denver, his output was certainly encouraging. If Graham is again sidelined, the elevated backup should churn out a TE1-worthy line. Because of Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty’s clamp-down ways on wide receivers, Houston’s Week 16 opponent, Tennessee, has given up substantial fantasy points to tight ends. Eight different plus-sized targets have found the end zone against it, including Marcedes Lewis last week. Give him a go in challenging formats. FAAB: $6

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers Defense/Special Teams
If the dominoes fall just right, Pittsburgh may improbably sneak into the playoffs. Beat Cleveland and receive help from Cincinnati (at Bal), New York (at Mia) and Kansas City (at SD) and it punches a ticket for the second season. The latter pieces may be difficult, but look for the Steelers to take care of business at home, particularly on the defensive end. The Browns offense has sputtered over the past couple weeks, held in check by Chicago and New York. In those defeats, Jason Campbell was sacked three times and committed five turnovers. Yes, several of the Steelers defenders were alive for the first Christmas, but expect them to sip from a fountain of youth in Week 17. FAAB: $5

 

Additional Pick-Ups: James Starks, GB, RB, LeGarrette Blount, NE, RB, Edwin Baker, Cle, RB, Jerrel Jernigan, NYG, WR, Nate Washington, Ten, WR, Miami D/ST

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