Those of you who started Dallas wide receiver Miles Austin, I commend you for your foresight and brilliance! For those of you who believed Austin to be a marginal cog in the grand roto-scheme of things? You were not alone.
Let’s see what usable parts remain.
Assuming your league boasts owners with IQs above the Fahrenheit freezing point, useful fantasy signal callers have all been snapped up. Starting-caliber and QB2 types have almost certainly been roster-ized, though a point-impoverished Jake Delhomme (because his game has fallen off a cliff), JaMarcus Russell (because he has no business starting) or David Garrard (because he’s frustratingly inconsistent) may be found on your league’s waiver wire. As with everything pertaining to fantasy football, availability is predicated upon the number of teams in your league.
Chad Henne: Listed in this column last week but still unclaimed in a large number of leagues due to his pedestrian opener against the Bills, Henne carved the 4th-ranked Jet secondary apart Monday night. He went 20 for 26 for 241 yards and two TDs, and recorded a staggering 130.4 passer rating. More impressive than Henne’s numbers? His poise and presence as he led the Dolphins downfield in a waning minutes touchdown drive. Chad Henne showcased his big arm when he hooked up with Ted Ginn for a 56-yard TD strike, and that big arm opens the entire Dolphin O up. Henne is certainly competent enough to start as a QB2 in two-QB leagues and could become as good as a low-end #1.
Kyle Orton: Available in six-team and possibly eight-team leagues only, Orton has stepped his game up as the season has progressed and has banked 573 passing yards, 4 TDs and 1 INT over the last two games. More significantly, however, is the fact that the Bronc’ slinger dropped back a whopping 48 times and threw for 330 impressive yards in Sunday’s OT win over the Patriots. In addition, Orton and oft-maligned but infinitely-talented WR Brandon Marshall have developed a nifty throw and catch rapport that resulted in two TDs Sunday and four total TDs over the past four games.
Nearly vanished … endangered … virtually invisible. Only those of you in six-team and some eight-team leagues can expect to find a runner of value on your league wire. But always, always look. You never know what biscuit-head waived Tashard Choice or Donald Brown in order to fill a bye-week slot.
Jonathan Stewart: Surprisingly, I found Jonathan Stewart available in two of my five fantasy leagues (between Yahoo and Sandbox). With DeAngelo Williams averaging a paltry 55 rushing YPG and being underwhelming to say the least, a now healthier Jonathan Stewart (Achilles) steps into the breach. Stewart averaged nearly 4 YPC on his 10 totes, hauled in a pass for an additional six yards and found his way into the end zone for the first time this year. Should DeAngelo continue to struggle, Stewart could see his workload increase from 10-12 touches per game to a more robust 15-18 touches per game. Carolina will, however, give D-Will some more rope, seeing as how the dude did notch 18 scores last season. Should Stewart be wire-available in your league? Rectify that situation immediately and stick him on your bench. With an upcoming slate that includes Tampa, Buffa-Blow, Arizona and New Orleans, a healthy Jonathan Stewart could see his value skyrocket.
Sammy Morris: I think we can safely toss Laurence Maroney onto the trash-heap of “coulda’/shoulda’-beens.” But Maroney’s loss becomes Sammy Morris’s opportunity. Taking advantage of that opportunity has been a challenge, however, and the results have been something less than eye-popping (thus far, anyway). Morris tallied 107 total yards on 19 touches this past Sunday. With Not-So-Fast Freddy Taylor’s season ended by those pesky torn ankle liggies’ and BenJarvus Green-Ellis a no-show, Sammy Morris is the default Pat back. His value is currently marginal, but if a rusty Tom Brady returns to Trusty Tom Brady, the running game should follow suit.
Garrett Wolfe: I jokingly listed Wolfe on my first wire piece; alas, the Roto-Gods have a wicked sense of humor! Bear backup Adrian Peterson’s strained MCL catapults Wolfe to temporary “fantasy bench” status. Still not practicing, “the other Peterson” paced the sidelines as Wolfe took his six touches for 34 yards and a TD in Week 4 against Detroit. If Peterson is unable to go, Wolfe is usable in only the deepest of leagues as a “Flex” due to upcoming tilts against the Falcons, Bengals, Browns and Cardinals.
This is where value really lies, especially in specific matchup scenarios. Only owners in six-team leagues can expect to find difference-making runners on the ‘Wire, same for quarterbacks. But due to the depth at the position, owners in all leagues can find pass-catching gems amidst the numerous baubles.
Miles Austin: Austin’s 10/250/2 line would have been excellent … for a quarterback. As it stands, dude’s 10-reception game set a record for the storied ‘Poke franchise, and it did come out of the blue. At 6-3/215, Austin’s no pipsqueak, and he handled the press and bump-and-run coverages quite well. Detractors will point out that the prolific pass-catching game came against a hapless Chief franchise, and they’re correct. Nevertheless, the Chiefs are still an NFL franchise and 250/2 is still 250/2. Austin can get separation and has another gear, out-running coverage on TD grabs of 59 and 60 yards. Yes, Roy E. Williams is expected back following the team’s Week 6 bye, but Roy E. Williams has done absolutely nothing to impress, while Austin has.
Jeremy Maclin: This year’s first-round pick caused eyebrows to crawl up foreheads with his 6/142/2 line against the Bucs Sunday. Now, the Buccaneers aren’t a lockdown D, but DeSean Jackson banked bupkiss Sunday (one reception), and it was the Jeremy Maclin show. The rookie out of Mizzou is worth an immediate grab should he be available.
Austin Collie: Last week, the Colt pass catcher of appeal was WR Pierre Garcon, who still retains his appeal. However, QB Peyton Manning locked in on young Austin Collie to the tune of 8/97/2. The rook’ receiver was able to break tackles, and he fought for every post-catch yard. Over his last two games, Collie’s grabbed 14 balls for 162/3 and is an intriguing talent. Comfortable and clearly effective operating out of the slot, it will be interesting indeed to see how the Colts bring touted WR Anthony Gonzalez back into the pass-catching fold. I like Collie moving forward, as I do any receiver who has won P-Mann’s confidence.
Hakeem Nicks: Mentioned in a previous piece, all Hicks did was bank 4/49/1 Sunday. Mario Manningham was also brought back into the scheme against the solid Raider secondary and rewarded his owners with a TD and 36 receiving yards. With the high-scoring (generally speaking) Saint offense next on Big Blue’s slate, Nicks and Manningham each retain modest pass-catching value.
Andre Caldwell: I’m electing to mention Caldwell only because he plays within the potentially potent Cincinnati offense. A physical 6-0/204, Caldwell caught 2 balls for 33 yards and a touch’ against Baltimore Sunday, and Houston’s next on the Bengal docket. His talent eclipses that of veteran WR Laveranues Coles, and Caldwell snared the game-winning pass Sunday. Should the coaching staff elect to go with talent over tenure, or should Coles suffer injury, Caldwell’s value takes a serious bump.
Jermichael Finley: Guy has fluid hips, gets separation and runs like a wide receiver after the catch. Finley received Frequent Flyer miles on the “Air-ron Rodgers Express” in Week 4, slicing through the vaunted Minnesota defense as if they were mannequins. Rodgers and Finley should be able to flourish given the upcoming light schedule: Detroit, Cleveland, Minny again and Tampa. Elite-level productivity wouldn’t be a shock from the 6-5/248 pass catcher.
Vishante Shiancoe: Brett Favre adores his tight ends, and Shiancoe has a nifty set of mitts, racking up a 4/49/1 line against the “St. Loosing” Rams. Shiancoe has TE2/bye-week value.
I'm the Head of Youth Services for the Edgewater Free Public Library; I place great value on education and literacy... hell, I proof-read everything. Ever proof a Chinese Food Take-Out menu? I do, great for a laugh. Anyway- A long-suffering Minnesota Vikings fan... I harbor hopes, however slender, that my beloved Vikes' will claim a SuperBowl trophy during my lifetime.
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