Waiver Wire: Week 11

Adam Levitan
November 12, 2013
Waiver Wire: Week 11
Adam Levitan has notes on 33 players to consider adding to your squad, including Bucs RB Brian Leonard

Depth is not what we need at this time of year. Two teams are on a bye this week (Dallas, St. Louis) and four teams are off in Week 12 (Buffalo, Cincy, Philadelphia, Seattle). After that, it’s all full slates the rest of the way as we careen toward the fantasy playoffs.

What we do need at this time of year is wins. We can cut low-upside hangers-on in favor of one-week plug-n-plays. If our starting lineup is in good shape, the best stashes are handcuffs and then lottery tickets that are one injury away from difference-making status.

On to this week’s assets. Here is how I would rank the top players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues at each position. Notes and recommendations on each player will follow below.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 11. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.

1. Case Keenum
2. Josh McCown
3. Carson Palmer
4. Scott Tolzien

Running backs
1. Andre Brown
2. Shane Vereen
3. Rashad Jennings
4. Brian Leonard
5. Bernard Pierce
6. Bobby Rainey
7. Dennis Johnson
8. Shonn Greene
9. Mark Ingram
* Chris Ivory is owned in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 2 add at RB.

Wide receivers
1. Riley Cooper
2. Rishard Matthews
3. Nate Burleson
4. Andre Roberts
5. Jarrett Boykin
6. Mike Brown
7. Mario Manningham
*Aaron Dobson is owned in 55 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 1 add at WR.

Tight Ends
1. Tyler Eifert
2. John Carlson
3. Rob Housler
4. Vance McDonald
5. Levine Toilolo

Defense/Special Teams
1. Texans
2. Jets
3. Saints
4. Giants

1. Nick Folk
2. Shaun Suisham
3. Ryan Succop
4. Alex Henery


1. Case Keenum, Texans – Owned in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues
Case Keenum has now played in three NFL games. He has a poor 55.9 completion percentage, but a strong 14.4 yards per completion rate and 7:0 TD-to-INT ratio. They are the numbers of a young quarterback playing a streetball kind of style, and that can pay big dividends in fantasy. Keenum’s ability to hit a very good Cardinals defense for three scores on the road speaks volumes and suggests he’ll light up the Raiders at home this week. After that, he’ll face Jacksonville. There aren’t many better plug-n-plays out there.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

2. Josh McCown, Bears – Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jay Cutler has a high-ankle sprain and has already been ruled out for Week 11. It suggests he’s going to miss at least a few weeks. Backup Josh McCown has been very impressive in three appearances this season (two relief and one start), completing 42-of-70 passes (60.0 percent) for 538 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s certainly capable, but it’s the system that makes me think he can sustain this level of play. The Bears are committed to protecting the quarterback, Marc Trestman schemes guys to get open and Brandon Marshall/Alshon Jeffery are elite. McCown won’t be a good stream against the Ravens this week, but he gets the Rams in Week 12, the Vikings in Week 13 and the Cowboys in Week 14 (if Cutler isn’t back yet).
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Carson Palmer, Cardinals – Owned in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues
We’ve discussed Carson Palmer’s immobility, punctured arm and poor offensive line plenty. But as he’s shown over the last couple weeks, he can put up numbers in the right matchups. And over the next five weeks, he gets the following schedule: at JAX, vs. IND, at PHL, vs. STL, at TEN. That’s what we call a cupcake. Palmer isn’t capable of explosive days anymore, but he has a 100 percent Larry Fitzgerald, Bruce Arians and these plus matchups in his corner.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

4. Scott Tolzien, Packers – Owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues
Filling in for Aaron Rodgers in Week 15 of the 2010 season, Matt Flynn threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns against the Patriots. He did it again in Week 17 of 2012, lighting up the Lions for 480 yards and six scores. And as we’ve seen since then, Flynn is a borderline NFL quarterback. So what can Scott Tolzien do with a couple week stint in the Packers scheme? He looked capable of doing Flynn-like things in relief of Seneca Wallace against the Eagles while throwing for 280 yards and a score. Tolzien gets plus matchups against the Giants and Vikings before Rodgers is expected back.
Recommendation: Should be owned in two-quarterback leagues

Watch List: Jason Campbell, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith – Campbell’s ribs are fine as he comes out of the bye. He faces a ravaged Bengals defense this week. … Jake Locker is done for the year, leaving Fitzmagic with some low-upside QB2 appeal. … Geno Smith comes out of the bye as well and gets a good matchup against the Bills.   

Editor’s Note: For more waiver thoughts and news from around the league, follow Adam Levitan, Rotoworld Football and our dominant News Page. Keep reading for notes on running backs, wideouts, tight ends, defenses and kickers.

1. Andre Brown, Giants – Owned in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues
Everyone knew Andre Brown would quickly take over feature back duties for the Giants. We just didn’t know it would be in his first game since November of 2012. Brown took advantage of an early Peyton Hillis fumble and gave the Giants run game some actual life, rushing 30 times for 115 yards with a touchdown and catching a four-yard pass. With David Wilson on IR and Hillis/Brandon Jacobs inept, there’s no competition here. Brown is the early-down, third-down and goal-line back for a team that will face the Packers, Cowboys and Redskins over the next three weeks. He’s a top-20 play for me.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Shane Vereen, Patriots – Owned in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues
Nothing has changed since we discussed Vereen last week. Yes, Stevan Ridley is officially out of the doghouse and running like a beast. But that doesn’t change the way we should feel about Vereen’s potential impact as he’s expected to return this week. The two backs essentially play different positions, as evidenced by Brandon Bolden’s 45.0 percent of the snaps over the last five weeks. Vereen will soak up all those “passing back” reps, get a few base carries, line up out wide a few times and do some other Joker things. It’s going to add up to 10-14 touches for a very explosive player.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

3. Rashad Jennings, Raiders – Owned in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues
Darren McFadden’s hamstring aggravation had the look of a multi-week injury when it happened and we’ve seen nothing to suggest otherwise. It means the Rashad Jennings party will rock on. Over the last two weeks, he’s rushed 35 times for 190 yards (5.42 YPC) with one touchdown and added nine catches for 93 yards. That’s been enough to prompt coach Dennis Allen to say that Jennings has “earned more touches” going forward – even when McFadden gets back.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

4. Brian Leonard, Bucs – Owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
Doug Martin (shoulder) is on injured reserve and Mike James is about to join him after fracturing his ankle. In Monday night’s win over the Dolphins, FB/RB Brian Leonard stepped in with 22 touches. He’s going to be in a timeshare with Bobby Rainey (nine touches) going forward, but Leonard is the one to own. He’s the one Greg Schiano knows/trusts from Rutgers, he’s the one that excels in pass protection and he’s the one that can take more of a pounding at 225 pounds. Think of this as a situation something similar to what we’ve seen in Arizona and Cincy this season -- Leonard in the Rashard Mendenhall/BJGE role, Rainey in the Andre Ellington/Gio Bernard role. We can project 8-12 carries and a handful of catches for Leonard going forward.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

5. Bernard Pierce, Ravens – Owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues
Ray Rice just isn’t getting it done. Maybe it’s his hip, maybe it’s his offensive line or maybe he’s just exhausted after four straight seasons with 300+ touches. Rice has no lateral quicks anymore and is averaging 2.51 YPC. The ineptitude has led coach Jim Harbaugh to admit he’s willing to consider a “hot hand” situation in the backfield going forward. Rice will still start, but if Bernard Pierce can churn up some yards, he’ll get more work. The second-year back is talented enough to do just that.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

6. Bobby Rainey, Bucs – Owned in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues
Bobby Rainey is clearly more explosive than Brian Leonard. But he goes just 5’8/205 and just joined the Bucs three weeks ago off waivers from the Browns. Yes a Browns team that is starting Willis McGahee cut Rainey. Although Rainey got a ton of fourth-quarter work and scored on a 1-yard touchdown Monday night, he’s more likely to be the change-of-pace option behind Leonard in this new committee. Expecting more than 6-9 touches per game is wishful thinking.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

7. Dennis Johnson, Texans – Owned in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues
Arian Foster (back) is done for the year, Ben Tate is gutting it out through broken ribs and Cierre Wood was booted off the team. It’s left Dennis Johnson as the No. 2 man, with only the banged-up Tate in front of him. So even though he undrafted rookie out of Arkansas lacks special talent, he could be getting a major opportunity in an effective run scheme very soon.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

8. Shonn Greene, Titans – Owned in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues
Sneaky owners used Shonn Greene as a plug-n-play against the Jags in Week 10, counting on a handful of goal-line chances. It didn’t happen that way as Jacksonville jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back. Still, owners should be encouraged that Greene still got nine carries and three catches. If the Titans can get lead against the Colts on Thursday night, he’ll get more work. And we know any goal-line chances will belong to Greene.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

9. Mark Ingram, Saints – Owned in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues
I’d be rare careful about chasing Mark Ingram’s 14 carries, 145 yards and one touchdown from Sunday night. First of all, the game was a blowout which allowed Ingram to get extended reps. Second, a leaky Cowboys defense was without stud MLB Sean Lee (hamstring) for much of the game and DeMarcus Ware (quad) was hobbled. Third, this was the best game of Ingram’s three-year career – in his previous 29 games he averaged 10.3 carries for 38.8 yards with 10 scores. And finally, the Saints will face the elite defenses of the 49ers, Seahawks and Panthers in three of the next four weeks. Add it all up and we have a desperation flex in non-PPR leagues only.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

Watch List: Jacquizz Rodgers, Montee Ball, Donald Brown, James Starks – Steven Jackson is on his last legs. If the Falcons watch the tape, they’ll make it an even timeshare with Quizz. … Ball is clearly the No. 2 back and one of the game’s best lottery tickets. … Brown has thoroughly outplayed Trent Richardson ever since the trade. … Eddie Lacy has carried the ball 22 times or more in six straight games. Owners need to have Starks as a handcuff.

1. Riley Cooper, Eagles – Owned in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues
OK, this Nick Foles to Riley Cooper connection is officially for real. Foles and Michael Vick have attempted roughly the same number of snaps this season. But Cooper has an 8/93/1 line with Vick and an absurd 15/393/6 line with Foles. It’s not that Cooper suddenly became a great NFL receiver or gained some newfound speed. It’s that Foles is willing to chuck it up and hope for the best. That’s led to Cooper making some nice adjustments on balls and allowed him to use his 6-foot-3 frame to win some jump balls. Expect a regression, but Foles is here to stay and the matchup against the Redskins this week is right. Cooper is a WR3.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Rishard Matthews, Dolphins – Owned in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues
In the six games before his injury, Brandon Gibson was averaging 4.8 catches for 53.6 yards with two touchdowns on 7.0 targets per game. After he blew out his knee in Week 8, the Dolphins turned to Rishard Matthews as their slot receiver. It’s a big role in this offense because the offensive line can’t block, leading to tons of short throws. Matthews, a second-year player who was Colin Kaepernick’s favorite target at Nevada, erupted for an 11/120/2 line on Monday night. A reasonable route-runner that now has gobs of Ryan Tannehill’s trust, there’s PPR appeal here.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Nate Burleson, Lions – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Nate Burleson (arm) practiced last week as he attempts to return from his late September car accident. The thinking is that he’ll be back for this week’s game against the Steelers. Burleson may be eased in a little slowly at first, but he’s going to be an every-down No. 2 receiver down the stretch. It’s a role in which he averaged 6.3 catches for 79.6 yards before his injury.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

4. Andre Roberts, Cardinals – Owned in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues
Andre Roberts has played behind Michael Floyd on the outside and Rob Housler on the inside all year long. But when given opportunities, we know this guy is going to make plays. He showed it in Week 10, as Floyd left with a shoulder injury in the first quarter and Roberts responded with a 5/72/1 line on a team-leading eight targets. Floyd has been diagnosed with an AC sprain, and injury that players can sometimes play through. But if he sits, Roberts will be a solid WR3 against the Jags Sunday.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a potential plug-n-play

5. Jarrett Boykin, Packers – Owned in 43 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jarrett Boykin has repeatedly proven that he’s not just a fill-in, journeyman receiver. Even playing with Scott Tolzien in Week 10, he consistently won at the catch point on high balls and did well when targeted on screens. And despite not having Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are still using three-wide a ton (Boykin played 48-of-80 snaps, James Jones played 74-of-80). With Jermichael Finley (neck) done for the year and Randall Cobb not eligible to return until Week 15, there’s plenty of room here for Boykin.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

6. Mike Brown, Jaguars – Owned in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues
Let’s not overreact to Mike Brown’s disappointing 2/40/0 line on four targets from Week 10. We know that the majority of value in owning a Jaguars receiver is in garbage-time points. Of course, the Jags stunningly took a lead at Tennessee early on and ended up leading wire-to-wire. That left Brown without a real chance. Still, he played on 51-of-60 snaps, confirming that he’s the new Justin Blackmon. There will be plenty of garbage time over the final seven games for the 1-8 Jags.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

7. Mario Manningham, 49ers – Owned in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues
Here’s another guy that wasn’t eased in as he came off the PUP list. In his first game since a December 2012 ACL tear, Mario Manningham played on 45-of-57 snaps – immediately assuming No. 2 wideout duties from Kyle Williams. Manningham only produced three catches for 30 yards, but he was facing a dominant Panthers defense and led the team in targets with six. In potential shootouts – like the one at New Orleans next week – Manningham will be able to do more damage. He’ll get an extra big boost if Vernon Davis (concussion) can’t get cleared.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Santonio Holmes, Julian Edelman, Miles Austin, Marquise Goodwin, Jerricho Cotchery, Tavon Austin, Michael Crabtree – Holmes is expected to make his return as a WR3 candidate this week. … Edelman remains the clear-cut No. 3 WR in New England. … Miles Austin will likely return from his hammy pull after the bye. … With Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods banged up, Goodwin is getting a big chance. … Cotchery somehow keeps producing, but he’s going to lose snaps to Markus Wheaton soon. … Tavon only played 15 offensive snaps on Sunday. Don’t overreact. … Crabtree is practicing and should be back for Week 13, but is coming off a very serious injury and has a brutal schedule.

1. Tyler Eifert, Bengals – Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
With Jermaine Gresham (groin) sidelined in Week 10, Eifert played on 91-of-91 snaps and saw a season-high 10 targets. In the nine games before that, he played on 62.3 percent of the snaps and averaged 4.3 targets per game. So we can see just how much Eifert’s role grows when Gresham doesn’t play. The groin injury doesn’t appear serious, but with the bye looming in Week 12 the Bengals could play it safe. It’s a situation to monitor as Cincy preps for the Browns.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

2. John Carlson, Vikings – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
In the first game since Kyle Rudolph’s foot injury, John Carlson put a 7/98/1 line on the Redskins. It was more yards than Rudolph had in any game this year and more catches than the starter had in all but one game. Carlson may be a backup, but this is a guy that was the No. 38 overall pick in 2008 and got a five-year, $25 million contract from the Vikings in 2012. He has more upside than a standard second-stringer. Carlson will at least be a red-zone threat going forward, making him a TE2.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Rob Housler, Cardinals – Owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
We’ve always known Rob Housler had gobs of athleticism and is a strict pass-catching tight end. But his role in the offense is in constant flux. He’s starting to get more consistent looks now, averaging 4.0 catches for 39.0 yards with one touchdown over the last four weeks. Housler had something of a breakout game in Week 10, catching four passes for a season-high 57 yards with his first career touchdown. “It should be a great confidence boost for him,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Carson was looking for him a number of times.” And if Michael Floyd (AC sprain) sits in Week 11, there will be more chances to go around.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

4. Vance McDonald, 49ers – Owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues
After Vernon Davis left with a concussion in the first half of the Week 10 loss to the Panthers, Vance McDonald stepped in as an every-down player. He nearly had a deep catch down the seam, but Luke Kuechly made a great play to break it up late. McDonald, the No. 55 overall pick in this year’s draft, was an oversized slot receiver at Rice. He has pass-catching ability and drew some Jason Witten comparisons during the draft process.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a desperation Vernon Davis handcuff

5. Levine Toilolo, Falcons – Owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues
Tony Gonzalez is nursing a toe injury of unknown severity and is considered questionable for Week 11. If he sits, a fourth-round rookie by the name of Levine Toilolo will draw the start. He goes a massive 6’8/260 and isn’t very fleet of foot, but has been talked up as a red-zone option. Toilolo is a name for desperate Gonzalez owners to put in their brain.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a desperation Tony Gonzalez handcuff

Watch List: Brandon Pettigrew, Brandon Bostick, Dennis Pitta, Kellen Winslow, Ladarius Green – Tight ends torch the Bears every week, so don’t read too much into Pettigrew’s Week 10. … Bostick finally got going in Week 10. He’s a true pass-catcher unlike Andrew Quarless, who is a blocker. … No new news on Dennis Pitta (hip) yet. … Winslow is off suspension, but will likely play limited snaps behind Jeff Cumberland. … This is your weekly reminder that Ladarius Green is going to go off if Antonio Gates ever misses time.

1. Texans – Owned in 56 percent of Yahoo leagues
In terms of yards allowed per game, the Texans are the No. 1 defense in the entire league. In terms of points allowed, they’re 28th. That has a lot to do with all those pick-sixes thrown by Matt Schaub earlier in the year. Now J.J. Watt and company get to face a Raiders team with a hobbled Terrelle Pryor (knee) and probably no Darren McFadden (hamstring). Over the last four games, Pryor has thrown eight interceptions against one touchdown.

2. Jets – Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
I normally hate going against the Bills in Buffalo, but this Jets defense is really excellent. Rex Ryan has had two weeks to scheme as they come out of a bye, and has some serious horses up front in Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. With C.J. Spiller (ankle) still hobbled, Stevie Johnson (groin) in doubt and Robert Woods (ankle) questionable as well, E.J. Manuel is missing too many weapons.

3. Saints – Owned in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues
The 49ers will certainly be salty after they embarrassingly managed just nine points against the Panthers and Colin Kaepernick definitely projects to play better going forward. But going to the Superdome is not the place to turn things around. The Saints are 5-0 at home, and are giving up just 15.0 points per game during that span. Rob Ryan’s defense may give up some yards and points in this one, but they’ll make big plays as well.

4. Giants – Owned in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues
Given the circumstances, Scott Tolzien played reasonably well in relief of Seneca Wallace on Sunday. But he still threw a pair of bad interceptions, one of which was nearly returned for a touchdown. Now Tolzien has to go on the road for his first career start and face a Giants defense that appears to be rounding into form. They rewarded streamers last week by blocking a punt for a TD, forcing two turnovers and sacking Terrelle Pryor four times. Jason Pierre-Paul is back.

1. Nick Folk, Jets – Owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues
Nobody is striking the ball better than Nick Folk this season. He’s 24-of-24 on field goals – including 11-of-11 from 40-49 yards out. He also has at least three makes in three straight games. Just keep an eye on the conditions in Buffalo ahead of Sunday’s game.

2. Shaun Suisham, Steelers – Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Steelers offense has sprung to life over the last couple weeks, averaging 27.0 points per game. Shaun Suisham has quietly gone 19-of-21 on the year and has at least three attempts in four of his last five games. Now he gets to kick at home again, this time against a Lions defense that gives up tons of yardage (376.2 per game).

3. Ryan Succop, Chiefs – Owned in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues
A reliable kicker in the thin air of Mile High? Sounds good. Ryan Succop is 18-of-21 on the year, including one make from 51 yards out. His range will be extended on Sunday night.

4. Alex Henery, Eagles – Owned in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues
With Nick Foles and the Eagles offense operating in high gear, Alex Henery’s floor is very low in this week’s game against the Redskins. He’s only 16-of-21 on the year, but kicking at home should be comforting.