Waiver wire advice for standard scoring fantasy football leagues:
Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues)
For the fifth time this year, LeGarrette Blount led all Patriots in rushing. Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden are the other three to earn that distinction this year. They are also the only three remaining backs on New England’s roster. Ridley was inactive for Week 13’s contest in Houston, and head coach Bill Belichick said that starting Blount was “the best decision for the football team in that game to try to win. Along with every other decision on the team that I make, it’s made with what gives our team, in my opinion, the best opportunity to win on Sundays.” It remains unknown which of the four-headed backfield will give Belichick the best chance on the next Sunday to cross the calendar, but Blount is as good a guess as any. He also hasn’t fumbled since Week 12, which is more than the former starter can say. Ridley had fumbled in each of his last three games before Week 13.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Jay Cutler tore his groin in week seven against the Redskins. Through the first six games in the new Marc Trestman offense, the eight year veteran was on pace for his best statistical season. Cutler was more accurate than ever, completing 65.9 percent of his passes. And he was on track for his second most passing yards (4,346.7 yards), and a solid ratio of 32 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. He played again in week nine with spotty results, starting the game 12-of-18, but finished with just 21-of-40 passes complete before being benched with an ankle injury. The starter may return this week for the first time since that game. Whoever starts for Chicago will get to face the 31st (Dallas), 32nd (Philadelphia), and 22nd (Green Bay) ranked pass defenses in three of the next four games.
Texans quarterback Case Keenum (owned in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Case Keenum holds the NCAA records for passing yards (19,217), touchdowns (155), completions (1,546), and total offense (20,114 yards). He owns each record by a huge margin as well, leading these respectively by 2,145 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, 143 completions, and 3,204 total yards. After six NFL starts, the collegiate standout would be on pace for a 16 game season of 3,821.3 yards, 21.3 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Not bad for a guy who had never thrown an NFL pass before week seven. His next three games include rematches against Jacksonville and Indianapolis, followed by Denver at home. The Jaguars held Keenum to only 169 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. But Denver is ranked 29th against the pass, and Keenum threw for 350 yards and three scores when he played the Colts. The former Houston Cougar is worth a look, not just as a playoff plug-and-play, but for 2014 and beyond.
Browns running back Willis McGahee (owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues)
After leading the team in rushing for two weeks, Chris Ogbonnaya has taken the backseat once again. Meet the driver of Cleveland’s backfield, Willis McGahee. This ten-year veteran was the lead back of the AFC’s 2012 top seeded Denver Broncos eleven months ago. After Cleveland traded away Trent Richardson in what now looks like a brilliant sell-high, McGahee was picked from the street and dusted off like a manufacturer refurbished appliance. He has only averaged 2.8 yards per carry this year, while eclipsing 50 rushing yards just twice. That said, McGahee dominates the goal line work for the Browns. On the season, the former Miami Hurricane has made 28 red zone rushing attempts. Second on the team is Ogbonnaya with a measly five. Cleveland faces the two worst rush defenses in their next two games. And although the Jets (Week 16) own the top rush defense, they allow the 25th most points, which benefits a goal line style workhorse.
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (owned in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues)
With Aaron Dobson sidelined Sunday, Julian Edelman returned to fantasy relevance. In the last two games, Edelman has earned 23 of Tom Brady’s targets, for 18 receptions, 211 yards and two scores. That’s good enough for the NFL’s fifth best in targets, and second only to Josh Gordon in receptions (24) during these two weeks. Tom Brady has been absolutely on fire as of late, which bodes well for anyone wearing Pat Patriot on their helmet. Over the last four weeks, Gisele Bundchen’s Uggs-loving husband has averaged 360.8 yards, 2.5 touchdowns and 0.5 interceptions. If Edelman seems unworthy of your flex hole, another playoff team will gladly take the opportunity.
Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Zach Ertz has now outproduced veteran tight end Brent Celek in three of the last four, and five of the last seven contests. Celek has only seen more targets than Ertz once since week four. On the season, Ertz has turned 40 targets into 26 receptions for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Celek has received 37 targets for 23 catches, 319 yards and four touchdowns. The rookie is on pace for 34.7 receptions, 456 yards and four scores. Philadelphia faces some weak pass defenses in the final weeks of the season. Left on the Eagles’ slate are Detroit (26th ranked pass defense), Minnesota (30th), Chicago (14th), and Dallas (31st).
Steelers tight end Heath Miller (owned in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Heath Miller missed the first two weeks of the season with a knee injury. Since week three, he has ranked fifth among all tight ends in both targets (65) and receptions (46). The ninth year veteran has begun lighting it up even more lately. Over the last three weeks, Miller has converted 25 targets into 21 grabs for 194 yards. Among tight ends, that places him third in targets and first in receptions during this span. Miller is on pace for 61.3 catches and 624 yards this year, which would be the fourth best for this two-time Pro Bowler.
Chargers tight end Ladarius Green (owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Last year, then-rookie Ladarius Green started just one game and totaled four receptions for 54 yards on the season. In the last three weeks, Philip Rivers has been paying more attention to the second year tight end. Green has seen 16 targets for 9 catches, 206 yards and two touchdowns during these games. Green leads all Chargers in receiving touchdowns (2) over the last three weeks, and only Keenan Allen has caught for more yards (275). Rivers is on pace to throw for more yards than ever before (4,844), along with 30.7 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. San Diego will be facing the 19th, 26th, and 21st ranked defenses over their next three games.
Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (owned in 57 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Despite Giovani Bernard currently being owned in 94 percent of Yahoo leagues, BenJarvus Green-Ellis remains the Bengals’ starter. Look no further than the depth chart on the team’s website, which — sure enough — lists the six-year veteran above the famed minivan-loving rookie. In point of fact, Pro Football Focus has recorded Bernard as having played 437 snaps on the season, compared to Green-Ellis’ 370. But chances are, your league doesn’t hand out bonuses for high snap counts. Just ask Trent Richardson owners. With 12 games in the books, the starter has made 176 attempts (3.5 yards per carry) for 614 yards and four touchdowns. Bernard has carried the ball 119 times for 521 yards (4.4 yards per attempt) and four scores. Since week five, Andy Dalton has handed off to Green-Ellis 123 times, and Bernard only 87. In the last two weeks, Green-Ellis has made 36 carries for 154 yards and a touchdown. Bernard has rushed 24 times for 102 yards and no scores during these games. Hard to imagine, but 43 percent of readers are in a league where Green-Ellis is available today.
Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson (owned in 43 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Nate Burleson started 2013 off to a monstrous tear. Over the first three weeks of the season, the eleven year receiver had made 19 receptions for 239 yards. He was on pace to catch 101.3 passes for 1,274.7 yards. Then he got the munchies. In what may have been the first (reported) pizza-induced injury in NFL history, Burleson totaled his car while returning home with his dinner. In an attempt to rescue a sliding box of pie, the receiver flipped his vehicle in a single-car wreck, breaking his arm in two places in the process. In his first game back in week 12, Burleson snagged seven balls for 77 yards and a trip to the end zone. Fill in your own joke here, but Burleson was held without a single target in week 13. On the bright side, the 32-year old was given a year’s supply of DiGiorno pizza, so he could “skip carry out.” Detroit faces the Eagles (32nd ranked pass defense), Ravens (12th), Giants (13th), and Vikings (30th) during their closing run.
Players still relevant from previous weeks include Andre Brown, Donald Brown, Rashad Jennings, Montee Ball, Bobby Rainey, Chris Ogbonnaya, Michael Floyd, Ace Sanders, Matt McGloin, Brandon Bolden, Emmanuel Sanders, Nick Foles, Jordan Reed, Rueben Randle, Keenan Allen, Andre Ellington, Shane Vereen, Charles Clay, Rishard Matthews, and more. Catch some waives from past weeks (week 13, week 12, week 11, week 10, week 9, week 8, week 7, week 6, and week 5).
Stats and data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com, footballguys.com, and profootballfocus.com.
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