Waiver Wire: Week 13

Adam Levitan
Adam Levitan has notes on 30 players to consider adding to your squad as the fantasy playoffs approach

Waiver Wire: Week 13

Adam Levitan has notes on 30 players to consider adding to your squad as the fantasy playoffs approach

Considering how deep we are into the season, there’s a lot to chew on this week – especially at the running back spot. It’s a rare treat for owners still in need of help.

For the rest of us, it’s time to stash potential assets for the playoffs. Use Evan Silva’s rankings for Weeks 14-16 and think hard about what you need on your bench. There’s a good chance Jay Cutler, Michael Crabtree and Dennis Pitta are worth more than someone like Nate Washington or a bench quarterback like Case Keenum.

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.

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1. Josh McCown
2. Jay Cutler
3. Matt Flynn
4. Ryan Tannehill
5. Carson Palmer

Running backs
1. Montee Ball
2. Benny Cunningham
3. Bilal Powell
4. C.J. Anderson
5. Chris Ogbonnaya
6. Ronnie Brown

Wide receivers
1. Nate Burleson
2. Cordarrelle Patterson
3. Rod Streater
4. Michael Crabtree
5. Julian Edelman
6. Miles Austin
7. Kenbrell Thompkins

Tight Ends
1. Ladarius Green
2. Rob Housler
3. Tim Wright
4. Dennis Pitta
5. Jacob Tamme
* Delanie Walker is owned in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 3 add at tight end.

Defense/Special Teams
1. Browns
2. Dolphins
3. Bills
* The Cowboys D/ST is owned in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, they’d be my No. 2 add.

1. Nick Novak
2. Dan Carpenter
3. Graham Gano
4. Jay Feely
* Steven Hauschka is owned in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 1 add.

1. Josh McCown, Bears – Owned in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jay Cutler (ankle) has already been ruled out of Week 13, putting his Week 14 status in some doubt as well. Owners scrambling for quarterback help won’t do any better than Josh McCown as a plug-n-play this week. In three full games this year, McCown has gone 77-of-119 (64.7 percent) for 840 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. This week, he’ll face a decimated Vikings pass defense that ranks 29th against the pass and may not have top corner Xavier Rhodes (concussion). If Cutler isn’t back by Week 14, McCown gets a home game against Dallas.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

2. Jay Cutler, Bears – Owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues
If you’re looking to the waiver wire for your quarterback at this point in the season, I’d strongly recommend you use a bench spot to stash Jay Cutler. He’s out for Week 13 and iffy for Week 14, but there aren’t any other difference-making quarterbacks available on the wire. In fact, needy owners can just use Josh McCown and Cutler in a handcuffing tandem given the following matchups: Week 14 vs. DAL, Week 15 at CLE, Week 16 at PHL. For what it’s worth, Cutler said he’d be disappointed if he couldn’t play on Monday Night Football Week 14.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Matt Flynn, Packers – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
Matt Flynn came on in relief of an ineffective Scott Tolzien midway through the third quarter of Sunday’s tie with the Vikings. He quickly fell back into his old Packer form, running the no-huddle en route to a 21-of-36 for 218 yards with one TD, zero INT performance. Once again, he suggested that elbow issues were the reason he’s performed so badly since leaving Green Bay – and added that those problems are behind him now. With Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) out for Thanksgiving and questionable for Week 14, Flynn should be getting a big chance. Note that Flynn is facing the Lions as a Packer. The last time that happened (Week 17 of 2011), he completed 31-of-44 passes for 480 yards with six touchdowns and one interception.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a potential plug-n-play

4. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins – Owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues
There was a lot to like about Ryan Tannehill’s Week 12 performance. Even though he wasn’t very accurate on long bombs, he showed a willingness to chuck it deep to Mike Wallace and good things happened. That should encourage him to do it more and the spot can’t be better. The Jets No. 23 pass defense is extremely susceptible to big plays with Antonio Cromartie struggling through a hip injury, Dee Milliner busting and Ed Reed unable to move. We know the Dolphins won’t be able to run the ball against the Muhammed Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and friends, so we can safely project a ton of attempts for Tannehill.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a potential plug-n-play

5. Carson Palmer, Cardinals – Owned in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues
When Carson Palmer faces bad defenses, he shreds them. He did it again in Week 11, lighting up the Colts for 314 yards and two scores. Over the last four games, Palmer is averaging 286.5 yards with eight touchdowns and two picks. Now he gets an Eagles defense that is improved, but is still dead last in the league in passing yards allowed per game.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Watch List: Brandon Weeden, Mike Glennon, E.J. Manuel– Weeden is getting his 397th chance as the Browns starter and gets to face the Jags at home. He’s still a weak QB2. … Glennon is hot, but has to face the Panthers in Carolina this week. … Manuel remains raw, but gets Stevie Johnson/Robert Woods back and will face the Falcons in a dome.

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 RBs, WRs, TEs, K and D.

1. Montee Ball, Broncos – Owned in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues
A few weeks back, the Broncos pledged to use Knowshon Moreno less now in an effort to keep him healthy for the playoffs. They’re wishing they listened to themselves. Moreno sustained a significant bone bruise in his lower right leg while carrying the ball an absurd 37 times in Sunday night’s overtime loss to the Patriots. It’s not thought to be a long-term injury, but we can be sure the Broncos will play it safe with the playoffs just five weeks away. The next man up is expected to be Montee Ball despite three fumbles on the season. Ronnie Hillman has been a healthy scratch for the last month, C.J. Anderson is an undrafted rookie and Ball has shown well (outside of the MNF fumble) while mixing in as a goal-line option and change-of-pace back over the last four weeks. He has a real chance to start and touch the ball 14-18 times against the Chiefs on Sunday. We can be sure Peyton Manning will set him up with runs against soft fronts, a big reason Moreno is fantasy’s No. 3 back on the season.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Benny Cunningham, Rams – Owned in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues
Zac Stacy was on his way to an absolute monster game against the Bears in Week 12 until he was sidelined by a concussion. Benny Cunningham came on and didn’t miss a beat, rushing 13 times for 109 yards with a touchdown. Note that Isaiah Pead didn’t even get a carry and Daryl Richardson was a healthy scratch. There’s no reason to think Cunningham won’t be the unquestioned feature back again in Week 13 if Stacy can’t get cleared. The bigger concern is the matchup – the Rams are on the road against the 49ers. Cunningham would be a low-end RB2 kind of plug-n-play.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

3. Bilal Powell, Jets – Owned in 39 percent of Yahoo leagues
In the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Ravens, Chris Ivory sustained an ankle sprain. He stayed in the game and finished with nine carries for 35 yards, but was headed for a Monday MRI to determine the severity of the damage. The injury thrusts Bilal Powell back onto the fantasy radar in all formats. This is a guy that put a 27/149/0 line on the Bills in Week 3 and has 23 catches on the year – he’s capable of doing damage. If Ivory sits, Powell would be a reasonable flex candidate against the Dolphins Sunday.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

4. C.J. Anderson, Broncos – Owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues
C.J. Anderson is a squatty 5’8/224 back that ran a 4.60 forty at the combine and therefore went undrafted out of Cal in April. But he has some short-area quicks and can muscle up well between the tackles. The Broncos kept him on their roster despite a preseason MCL sprain, which speaks volumes. Anderson has been active ahead of Ronnie Hillman in four straight weeks, meaning he’d be the No. 2 back behind Montee Ball if Knowshon Moreno (ankle) sits Sunday. And given Ball’s fumble issues, it’s not out of the question Anderson would see significant work. He’s worth owning as we see what develops.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

5. Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
In Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, Chris Ogbonnaya had a disappointing six touches on 33 snaps. Willis McGahee had four touches on seven snaps and Fozzy Whittaker had seven touches on 39 snaps. It’s ugly out there. The only silver lining is a home Week 13 matchup with the Jaguars No. 29 run defense. Ogbonnaya has more upside than Fozzy or McGahee because of his skills as a receiver (36 catches in 11 games).
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

6. Ronnie Brown, Chargers – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
When Ryan Mathews went down with an aggravation of his right hamstring pull, the Chargers didn’t just go to Danny Woodhead on every play. They used 31-year-old Ronnie Brown for the base runs, leading to six carries for 23 yards. They’re likely concerned about overusing the 5’8/200 Woodhead, who hasn’t topped nine carries in a single game this year. That means that if Mathews sits out against the Bengals Sunday, the washed-up Brown would be in line for 8-10 low-upside carries. He’d be a desperation kind of RB3.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 14-team leagues

Watch List: Brandon Bolden, Donald Brown, Mike Gillislee, James Starks, LeGarrette Blount, Ronnie Hillman, Dennis Johnson – With Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount both fumbling machines, it’s very possible that Bolden starts this week. … Gillislee is the Dolphins new No. 2 back with Daniel Thomas (ankle) likely done for the year. … Starks is on here as a handcuff reminder. Eddie Lacy is handling very hefty workloads, as are Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson and others. … Johnson outplayed Ben Tate Sunday and the Texans proved they’re willing to go with the hot hand.

1. Nate Burleson, Lions – Owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues
Talk about a seamless reintegration back into the lineup. Making his first appearance since Week 3, Nate Burleson played on 72-of-80 snaps and posted a 7/77/1 line on 10 targets. He won’t get to face the Bucs’ shoddy slot defense every week, but he will see single coverage all day long. Burleson has at least six catches in all four games he’s played in this season and is averaging 6.5 catches for 79.0 yards with one score. In full PPR leagues, he’s a very strong WR3.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings – Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
It’s taken 11 games and a 2-8-1 record, but the Vikings are finally starting to feature the guy they took 29th overall in the draft. Cordarrelle Patterson has started at split end ahead of Jerome Simpson in each of the last two games, racking up 20 catches during that span. He’s clearly developing chemistry and trust with Christian Ponder. Although the vast majority of the targets are of the quick-hitting/screen variety, just getting the ball in this guy’s hands is going to yield results. The Vikes appear to realize that now. Patterson will be a WR4 with serious upside going forward.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Rod Streater, Raiders – Owned in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues
Undrafted rookie Matt McGloin has actually breathed some life into the Raiders passing game, throwing for 457 yards and four touchdowns over the last two weeks. His main man is Rod Streater. During those two starts, Streater has 11 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets. That includes Sunday’s 5/93/0 line against the Titans’ elite corner duo in Week 12. On Thanksgiving, he’ll get a Dallas defense ranked 31st in the league against the pass. The hip issue that bothered Streater against the Titans is not a real concern.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

4. Michael Crabtree, 49ers – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
The 49ers are expected to start easing Michael Crabtree back into the mix in this week’s game against the Rams. That sounds exciting. The concern is that he’s coming off one of the most serious injuries an athlete can have (Achilles’ tear) and he’ll likely see limited snaps at first. Then, in Week 14, he gets Seattle’s Legion of Boom. And in Week 15, he’d likely see outside corner Darrelle Revis – as long as Revis’ groin is healed. That’s a lot of obstacles to overcome if fantasy owners are going to count on him. Perhaps the best reason to add Crabtree is for a Week 16 home matchup with the Falcons. Stashing him and seeing what happens ahead of that dream matchup is a fine play.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

5. Julian Edelman, Patriots – Owned in 39 percent of Yahoo leagues
It’s getting nearly impossible to predict how Tom Brady will distribute his throws beyond Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen. Everything is matchup and gameplan dependent. In the Week 12 win over the Broncos, Edelman was the one that led the way with nine catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets. He played on 74-of-88 snaps, well ahead of Danny Amendola (59 snaps). Will that usage continue in Sunday’s game at Houston? Only the Patriots know, making Edelman a boom or bust WR4 type.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

6. Miles Austin, Cowboys – Owned in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues
The good news is that Austin showed no hamstring issues while playing on 48-of-65 snaps in Week 12. He’s practicing in full ahead of the Thanksgiving game against the Raiders. The bad news is that Austin saw just three targets and caught one pass for 17 yards while rotating with Terrance Williams (41 snaps). Still, there’s upside here because Dez Bryant sees so many double teams and Austin is far more polished than the rookie. The Cowboys have at least hinted that they see Austin’s ability out of the slot as a key to their offense.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

7. Kenbrell Thompkins, Patriots – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
During the first half of the Week 12 win over the Broncos, things at the X receiver spot for the Patriots were quiet. Aaron Dobson was playing just about every snap there, as expected. The only surprise was that he had no catches. Then things got crazy, as Dobson played just two snaps after the half and Kenbrell Thompkins posted a 6/56/0 line. It looks like a benching, not an injury situation. Therefore, it’s possible that Thompkins will reemerge as the every-down X man come Sunday.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Robert Woods, Justin Hunter, Ace Sanders, Marquise Goodwin – Woods is back from his ankle injury, but will he lose snaps to the impressive Goodwin? … Hunter is emerging as the clear-cut No. 3 wideout ahead of Damian Williams. He’s talented, but that’s not a consistent role in a Ryan Fitzpatrick offense. … Sanders will start opposite Cecil Shorts again if Mike Brown can’t go.

1. Ladarius Green, Chargers – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
The “Free Ladarius Green” movement is on. A true athletic freak who runs a 4.4 at 6’6/238, Green is forcing the Chargers coaches to see the light. Over the last three weeks, he’s played on 72-of-212 snaps – a reasonable 33.9 percent. That includes a career-high 30 snaps and 41.6 percent in the Week 12 wild win at Kansas City. With snaps will come production. Green has seven catches for 161 yards with one touchdown over the last two games and also had a 35-yard catch called back by a bogus ineligible receiver penalty. It’s rare that No. 2 tight ends get on the borderline TE1 radar, but that’s the case with Green. Even Antonio Gates sees the torch being passed.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Rob Housler, Cardinals – Owned in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues
Nothing has changed with Housler over the last month. He continues to play roughly 60 percent of the snaps, operating as a strict pass catcher for a hot Carson Palmer. Housler had a quiet 4/51/0 line against the Colts in Week 12, but it could have been more if the Cards needed him. He now has at least four catches and 50 yards in five of his last six games and gets the Eagles’ league-worst pass defense Sunday.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

3. Tim Wright, Bucs – Owned in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues
Tim Wright has gone from Waiver Wire darling to alleged bust and back again. The important aspect to note is that his role never changed. Wright didn’t produce in the box score during Weeks 10 and 11 because the Bucs were rolling. Mike Glennon didn’t need his primary pass-catching tight end. Against the Lions, Wright got loose for an 8/75/0 line and Tampa lost TE Tom Crabtree to a season-ending biceps injury. Wright has a tough matchup at Carolina this week, but there’s an opportunity for garbage-time stats – a spot he’s previously excelled in. Remember, this is an NCAA wideout turned tight end with excellent athletic skills. It gives us upside that the plodding tight ends don’t have.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

4. Dennis Pitta, Ravens – Owned in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues
Dennis Pitta finally practiced last week for the first time since July surgery to repair his dislocated hip. It’s a serious injury, one that the Ravens will be cautious with. The earliest Pitta will be back in action will be Week 14 and if that happens he’ll likely be on a snap count. But the reason Pitta is worth a speculative stash in deep formats is because of his upside. I mean, a washed up Dallas Clark and an inept Ed Dickson have combined for 78 targets already this year. Pitta would have been a serious candidate for 80 catches as Joe Flacco’s top possession receiver if he had been healthy. In a best-case scenario, owners will watch Pitta put something in the box score Week 14 and then unleash him in Week 15 (at Detroit).
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

5. Jacob Tamme, Broncos – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
With Julius Thomas (knee) sidelined on Sunday night, Jacob Tamme posted a 5/47/1 line on five targets while playing 30 snaps. Virgil Green had 1/3/0 on one target and 56 snaps. Joel Dreessen surprisingly airballed with one target and five snaps. So it’s pretty clear who the Broncos see as their backup at the move tight end spot. Thomas is fully expected to play in Week 13, but his owners won’t find many better options on the wire than Tamme. When Thomas suits up, you play him. If he sits, Tamme is a fine back-end TE1.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a Julius Thomas handcuff

Watch List: John Carlson, Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham – Carlson is averaging 4.7 catches for 56.6 yards with one TD since the Kyle Rudolph injury. It’s a reasonable expectation. … Daniels (leg) is still targeting a Week 14 return. Until then, Graham will be a desperation TE2.

1. Browns – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Browns fantasy defense has been a disappointment this year because they have just eight interceptions and five fumble recoveries through 11 games. But it’s still a quality unit that boasts an excellent front seven. The Browns rank fourth in yards allowed per game (306.1) and have a shutdown corner in Joe Haden that should be focused after getting whipped by Antonio Brown in Week 12. Haden figures to eliminate Cecil Shorts and the Jags offense often falls apart when that happens. Let’s not overthink this – home vs. Jacksonville equals money.

2. Dolphins – Owned in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues
The opening total on the Dolphins at Jets game is 38.5 points. By today’s NFL standards, that’s absolutely miniscule. Both defenses are interesting options for streamers, but the Dolphins get the significant edge because Geno Smith is so careless with the football. He’s thrown 18 interceptions against just eight touchdowns on the year, and has also fumbled nine times. Chris Ivory (ankle) may be limited or inactive.

3. Bills – Owned in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Bills are at “home” against the Falcons Sunday, but the game will actually be played at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. It’s a big blow. Not only will the fans not be as rabid, but the elements will be taken out of the mix due to the dome – which happens to be the same environment as the Falcons’ home field. Still, the Bills are coming off a bye and facing a team with an atrocious offensive line that is averaging just 14.8 points per game over the last five weeks. The Bills are tied for first in the NFL in both sacks and interceptions.

1. Nick Novak, Chargers – Owned in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Chargers offense moves the ball on everyone. So getting Nick Novak in ideal conditions at home against a Bengals defense that has been decimated by injury is a dream. He’s made at least two field goals in three straight games.

2. Dan Carpenter, Bills – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Don’t worry about those Buffalo winds, this “home” game is in the Rogers Centre dome in Toronto. There’s also little reason to worry about opportunities as E.J. Manuel has led the team to at least 20 points in six of his seven starts. The Bills will easily move the ball on the Falcons leaky defense, meaning points for Dan Carpenter (22-of-24 this season on field goals).

3. Graham Gano, Panthers – Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
There’s always some risk in using Graham Gano because Riverboat Ron loves to go for it on fourth downs. But he shouldn’t have to gamble too much in a home spot against a Bucs team on back-to-back road games. Gano has made six field goals of 50-plus yards already this year.

4. Jay Feely, Cardinals – Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
Oddsmakers have set the over/under for the Cardinals at Eagles game at 48.5. Expect a shootout featuring plenty of opportunities for the red-hot Jay Feely. Over the last five games, he’s converted 13-of-14 field goals, including two from 50-plus. If the elements weren’t a concern, Feely would be higher on the list.

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