TOYOTA TUNDRA – PICKUPS OF THE WEEK
This week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brad Evans looks at eight intriguing fantasy football players, and a defense, likely to be available on the waiver wire in fantasy leagues.
Moderate Buy (12-teams plus) Another 'Skins rookie passer could make noise
Kirk Cousins (QB) Washington Redskins
Redskins and fantasy fans alike wait with baited breath in regards to RGIII's status. The standout rookie left Sunday's game against Baltimore in the fourth after his leg whiplashed. Initial reports revealed it's a mild knee sprain, but Griffin is no guarantee to start. If he's unable to go in Week 15, Cousins is a very interesting replacement. The playoff hungry 'Skins take on Cleveland, a team that, though it's shown significant improvement defensively, is an exploitable unit. On the year, the Browns have yielded nine 20-point fantasy QBs. Cousins doesn't boast the mobility of Griffin, but he's no fixed object. His strong downfield arm, plus accuracy within 20 yards and field vision are top-flight attributes. When thrust into pressure-packed situations, like last week, he's performed impressively. In shallow leagues, he's not a sterling option, but for owners scrambling for QB help in challenging formats, slap some 'Skin.
Solid Buy (12-teams plus) Timeshare plowshare flexy sexy in Tennessee
Bilal Powell (RB) New York Jets
For most of the season, the Jets offense has been the central subject of constant ridicule. The vitriol is justifiable. Mark Sanchez would struggle hitting the Statue of Liberty from 10 yards out. But the ground game deserves some credit. Due to Sanchez's ongoing inconsistency, Rex Ryan has reverted to a ground-and-pound style, splitting time between Shonn Greene and Powell. In recent weeks each has delivered starter-caliber numbers in deeper formats. Since Week 11, the latter rusher has crossed the chalk four times in four games, kicking in 62.3 total yards per contest. Likely to again rack 12-15 touches, Powell is a recommended FLEX option in 12-team and deeper leagues. Tennessee has given up 4.3 YPC this season and the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs. Jump on the Jet.
Strong Buy (10-team leagues plus) Down Brown, Ballard shines against Titans
Vick Ballard (RB) Indianapolis Colts
Ballard is yet another rookie making an impact in a year where first-year players have dominated headlines. With Donald Brown on the sidelines against the Titans, the Mississippi State product rolled up 101 total yards on a season-high 21 touches in Week 14. He isn't the most explosive runner, but his brawn between the tackles and above average versatility make him an employable commodity even in shallow formats. Even if Brown is active this week, Ballard should be relied on as a RB2, despite what seems to be an unsavory matchup against Houston. The Texans have allowed just three rushing TDs in their past 15 games, but have conceded 4.0 yards per carry to RBs since Week 9. Saddle the Colt.
Solid Buy (12-team leagues plus) Former fourth-stringer next man up for Jags
Montell Owens (RB) Jacksonville Jaguars
Once the fourth option on the depth chart, Owens proved he was no pushover in his starting debut. Versus the Jets, he totaled 91 rushing yards on just 14 carries, including a 31-yard TD scamper. Run-blocking continues to be an issue for the Jags. No teal-clad rusher had surpassed the century mark in rushing yards since Week 3. From a skill set point of view, Owens isn't a world-beater, but any rusher in line for at least 15-20 touches is worth flexing, even when the matchup is unfavorable. Jacksonville takes on intrastate rival Miami Sunday, a club that's allowed a mere 3.6 yards per carry to RBs on the year.
Strong Buy (10-team leagues plus) Wilson finally on the map
David Wilson (RB) New York Giants
It took an uncharacteristically long time, but, finally, Ahmad Bradshaw submitted to the menacing injury imp, exiting early Sunday with a knee injury. Though he was able to return to action, the rookie took advantage of an increased role, blowing up for 326 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns against the 'Aints. His explosiveness, break-tackle ability and plus versatility were on display as he rocketed past would-be tacklers on special teams and in the ground game. Now that he's earned Tom Coughlin's trust, and given Bradshaw's general fragility, Wilson should command upwards of 14-16 touches this week at Atlanta. The Falcons, one of the more accommodating run defenses of late, have yielded 4.3 yards per carry and 138.8 total yards per game to plowshares since Week 10, equal to the sixth-most fantasy points allowed. Another house call isn't out of the question. If you have FAAB cash left, smash the piggybank.
Solid PPR Buy (12-teams plus) Receiver's chemistry with Foles bubbling
Jason Avant (WR) Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles' rapid maturation and the absence of DeSean Jackson has the overlooked Avant on an upward swing. Historically, the third or fourth option for Michael Vick, Avant has become a primary weapon with the rookie under center. Over the past two weeks, he's attracted 17 targets, catching 11 passes for 212 yards. The vet isn't particularly fast or overly physical, but he makes up for his inefficiencies in the route-running department. Quick, decisive and cunning, he is hard to stick, particularly against zone defenses. Philly's Week 15 opponent, Cincinnati, is rock solid against the pass, but the possession receiver is a WR3 flier worth an audition in deeper PPR leagues.
Solid Buy (12-team leagues plus) Off the practice squad and on the radar
Kris Durham (WR) Detroit Lions
In a surprise move Sunday night, Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan turned to a former fourth-round pick on his second team in two years to fill the void left by the injured Ryan Broyles. Most anticipated Mike Thomas would garner additional targets, but Durham's size (6-foot-6, 216 lbs) made him the better fit opposite Calvin Johnson. Though he didn't light the world on fire (4-54-0) and looked lost at times, his nine targets are a strong indication he could contribute meaningful numbers over the regular season's final three weeks, provided Schwartz stands by him. After all, Megatron, nearing Jerry Rice's single-season yardage record, will continue to be the focus of defensive game- plans. Matched against a Cardinals defense exhausted by offensive ineptitude, he could post Shocker Special worthy numbers in Week 15.
Moderate Buy (12-teams plus) Former Hawkeye could carry owners into black
Tony Moeaki (TE) Kansas City Chiefs
Stealthily, Moeaki continues to churn out useful numbers without much press. Since Week 8, he's averaged a quality 50.3 receiving yards per game. Though he only has one touchdown during that stretch, he's become an integral part of an improving Chiefs passing attack, netting 4.7 targets per contest. Brady Quinn, though awful a week ago, has performed light years better than Matt Cassel. Assuming his judicious ways continue, he and Moeaki are in line to surprise in Week 15. KC travels to Oakland to face an overly generous Raiders pass defense. Oversized weapons have compiled 9.2 fantasy points per game against it, the sixth-most in fantasy. Frustrated Antonio Gates owners should give him a long look.
Solid Buy (12-teams plus) Week 15 Plug 'n Play QB
Carson Palmer (QB) Oakland Raiders
The veteran suffers from a split personality disorder. Routinely, he's underperformed early in games, crumbling under intense heat. But because of Oakland's horrendous defense, Palmer, who's faced a high number of insurmountable deficits, has thrived when opponents soften. Amazingly, 21 of his 22 touchdowns have occurred in come-from-behind situations. He's not just a Garbage Time All-Star, he's team MVP. His 22.1 points per game average ranks No. 12 among passers, ahead of notable names Josh Freeman, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Schaub. This week matched against a Chiefs secondary that's surrendered six multi-TD passers in its past eight games, he's a legitimate QB1 in 12-team leagues. Though he's long gone in competitive leagues, raid the wire in shallow formats.
Strong Buy (all leagues) Week 15 DEF Plug n' Play
Detroit Lions Defense/Special Teams
In fantasy, guarantees are few and far between, unless they involve a team defense matched against the laughable Cardinals. Currently in the midst of a nine-game slide, Arizona is a club with a lame-duck coach, disgraceful offense and little depth. Though the Ryan Lindley era appears to be permanently on ice (maybe), newly reinstalled starter John Skelton isn't much better. Blessed with the elusiveness of a Saguaro cactus, he's been dragged to the turf repeatedly this season. In total, Cards QBs have been sacked 50 times, nine more than Philadelphia passers. 'Zona has also turned the pill over 28 times, the third-highest amount in the league. Suh must be salivating. Throw the Lions a steak in all formats.
Other Week 15 Pickups: Russell Wilson, Sea, QB, Nick Foles, Phi, QB, Chad Henne, Jax, QB, LaMichael James, SF, RB, Tashard Choice, Buf, RB, Riley Cooper, Phi, WR, Josh Gordon, Cle, WR, Dwayne Harris, Dal, WR, Kevin Ogletree, Dal, WR