We’re entering the second half of the fantasy year, and your waiver priority could determine the acuity of your make-believe football misery for the next two months.
Let’s jump right into it, and see which waiver wire wonders are going to prolong your winning ways or provide a temporary reprieve from your Sunday afternoon teeth gnashing routine.
Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers – I recommended the former fat guy in this space last week, right before he chainsaw massacred the putrid Saints’ defense to the tune of 420 yards and three touchdowns. Freeman is playing a middle-of-the-road pass defense Thursday night when the Vikings come to town and play a rejuvenated Bucs’ offense on a short week. You can’t rely on Freeman chucking the rock 42 times this week, as he did against the Saints, but he’s a solid play and a nice plug and play.
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts – Luck is only available in 6 percent of NFL.com leagues, but if a frustrated owner has pulled the plug on the Colts’ rookie, snatch him up immediately. Luck plays mostly high school-caliber defenses from here on out, including this week’s matchup against the lowly Titans’ defense, which really isn’t a defense so much as it is a collection of men in matching shirts and pants.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Browns – I also spoke glowingly of the geriatric Cleveland rookie last week, and he posted a nice line against the Colts. He takes on the Chargers in Week 8. San Diego is the proud owner of the NFL’s 25th-ranked pass defense, and with Weeden throwing with more confidence every week, he’s a fine option for bye-week purposes.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars – Unless you’re bursting at the seams with elite running back options, Jennings must – MUST, in all caps – be your No. 1 waiver wire priority for Week 8. Maurice Jones-Drew will miss multiple weeks with some unspecified foot injury, and Jennings has proven himself more than capable as a starting running back. He has decent elusiveness, he’s tough to bring down, and has above-average lateral quicks. He averaged 4.5 yards per tote on 46 preseason carries, and he won’t have much competition for carries while MJD sits. Three of the Jaguars’ next four games are against sub-par run defenses. Jennings, I think, will save a lot of fantasy seasons.
Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns – Trent Richardson’s rib injury is ruining the lives of fantasy owners who thought they had landed a stud. Richardson is still an unquestioned beast of a runner, but he might miss the next three weeks, according to breathless reports Tuesday afternoon. Hardesty is, well, very limited when it comes to setting defenses aflame, but we should never turn up our snobby fantasy noses at workhorse runners, and that’s precisely what Hardesty would be for the next month if TRich’s ribs remain tender.
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns – How dare you question me. I told you Gordon would deliver against the Colts last week, and he did. Forget his end zone drop that gave me an out-of-body experience, floating above my couch, clinically dead for a few seconds. Look, Gordon is a mismatch for nearly anyone who single covers him, and I expect him to continue his deep shot opportunities this week in San Diego. Gordon is becoming more than a bye-week filler. Grab him while he’s there.
Chris Givens, WR, Rams – Sam Bradford has, in large part, funneled his Danny Amendola targets toward Givens over the past month, leading to four consecutive weeks of Givens breaking 50-yard gains. The man is shifty, and he looks determined out there, as he did against the Packers’ secondary. The Patriots – the Rams’ Week 8 opponents – are allowing a whopping 26 points per game to receivers. I see no reason Givens won’t continue his nice little October run this week.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, Redskins – Pierre Garcon’s footpocalypse is in full swing, with the Skins’ best pass catcher expected to sit a few more weeks. Hankerson has been the beneficiary of Garcon’s absence, racking up eight targets that he converted into 70 yards against the Giants in Week 7. Hankerson has played the X position in the Washington offense when Garcon has missed time, making him RG3’s first read – a fine position for any receiver, but especially one as talented as Hankerson. Facing the Steelers’ secondary this week isn’t the best news for Hank, but you could do much worse.
Brandon Myers, TE, Raiders – With Halloween approaching, consider Brandon Myers, the larger, well mannered brother of famed serial killer and mask enthusiast Michael Myers. The big man has drawn the third most targets on the team, trailing Darren McFadden by only five and Denarius Moore by eight. Myers leads Oakland in receptions and receiving yardage, and against a Chiefs defense giving up 6.2 points per game to tight ends – with safety Eric Berry struggling in coverage all season – I think this is the week Myers finds the end zone. Give him a look if your tight end is on a bye.