I’m “thankful” (gobble, gobble) to be taking on the role of calling each week’s best waiver wire grabs. I have to give credit here to R.J. White for doing all the grunt work: calling waiver picks throughout the season – especially at the onset of the season – is no easy task. And you wonderful fantasy owners let him know every time you disagree with his predictions. Fair enough. I trust you to give me the same treatment. Please, don’t hold back. Otherwise, this newb might never improve. Now on to the wire …
1. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
This one’s a no-brainer. Did you see this guy Sunday? How about a 68-yard kick return TD, 58 yards receiving, and even a rush for 47 yards? I’m not one to chase the points of a fluke week, but this was no fluke. Wild Bill was getting Edelman more involved by design. Deion Branch is gone. Brandon Lloyd has been demoted. It’s Wes Welker/Edelman from here on out. He proved he’s worthy of it, and I might grab him in my league. Who wouldn’t want Tom Brady’s No. 2 wideout, especially considering Rob Gronkowski is likely out for at least four weeks? The Pats have some good matchups and some not-so good ones, but Bill Belichick’s offense is both match-up proof and unashamed of running up the score. As far as fantasy playoffs go: 49ers (Week 15), Jaguars (Week 16), Dolphins (Week 17). Today he’s owned in 0.4% of NFL.com leagues. Don’t miss this train.
2. Chad Henne, QB, Jaguars
Stuck with Nick Foles? Christian Ponder? Alex Smith? Byron Leftwich? Ryan Fitzpatrick? Jay Cutler? Ben Roethlisberger? I’ve got two QBs for you this week, and the first one is Chad Henne. Coach Mike Mularkey (best coach name since Coach Cutlip from “The Wonder Years”) said that he isn’t sure how bad Blaine Gabbert’s elbow is. He also said he’s not sure which one he would start if Gabbert was cleared. Henne threw for 354 yards and 4 TDs against Houston’s third-ranked passing defense (now knocked down to No. 7). Wow. They almost beat Houston, and the schedule from here out is easy: TEN, @BUF, NYJ, @MIA, NE, @TEN. With the exception of Week 13’s duel with the Jets, I don’t think it gets much better than this for a QB. If Henne gets his shot, you’ll be the savvy owner who picked him up this week and scored big points now and through the fantasy playoffs. You think Mularkey is going to bench Henne for Gabbert? And just imagine if the offense you saw Sunday gets a boost from a possible return of Maurice Jones-Drew in the coming weeks? Mularkey is full of malarkey if he leaves Henne out to dry, because Floridians don’t take too kindly to hanging chads.
3. Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers
R.J. called this last week on his “Week 11 Waiver Wire Pick Six,” and some of you scoffed at him. Shame on you! If Jim Harbaugh gives the reins back to Alex Smith next week, he’s out of his mind. I don’t think he will. The one thing keeping the 49ers from being the best team in football, both last season and this season, is a competent QB who doesn’t panic when the pocket collapses. Kaepernick gives the 49ers confidence and poise under center, as well as that dual-threat capability. Randy Moss and Mario Manningham were used how they were intended to be, and Vernon Davis got involved again. The 49ers made the Bears D look like a Pop Warner team with Kaepernick throwing the ball. Harbaugh probably won’t leak any info about a starting QB going forward, but look for it just in case. That makes this Week 12 pickup the biggest risk, but also the one with the highest upside. If he can do it against the Bears defense, you shouldn’t be worried about any other matchup the Niners have from here on out. Kaepernick is owned in 0.4% of leagues.
4. Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos
Willis McGahee is done for the rest of the fantasy season with a torn MCL and a broken leg. Ronnie Hillman will become the main back in Denver. McGahee was averaging 18 carries per game before Sunday. Hillman might not get targeted in the passing game like McGahee did, but he will certainly get the carries. Lance Ball could see some touches as well, but Hillman will be the man in Denver. He is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry, so don’t expect much more than flex-play productivity out of him. Still, it’s hard to not roster a starting RB when the first-string guy is out for the season.
5. Brandon Myers, TE, Raiders
Gronkowski owners everywhere were sobbing in unison Sunday night with the news of their TE’s broken forearm. Yeah, Gronk could be out for the rest of the regular season, but stop yer whinin’. Fix this problem with Brandon Myers, who is somehow is still owned in only 12.2% of all leagues. If he’s on your waiver wire and you need a solid tight end, he’s your guy. Brandon Myers has reached paydirt three times over the last three games. In the first five games of this season, Myers was targeted 24 times. In the next five games, he’s been targeted 43 times. He maintains a 75% completion percentage throughout this season, and more than half of his 11 red-zone targets (tied for sixth overall for all receivers) came in his last three games. Myers is on fire, with production continuing to rise. He needs to be owned in every league.
6. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
Donnie Avery is out with a concussion, Andrew Luck is legitimately the real deal, and Hilton recorded 100 yards and two TDs when given his shot this Sunday. Need I say more? Okay, I will. Hilton averaged over 10 yards per catch Sunday, and the remaining regular season schedule is favorable to WRs: BUF, @DET, TEN, @HOU, @KC, and HOU. We don’t know the extent of Avery’s injury, but we do know that Indianapolis and Luck won’t ignore a guy who is capable of a performance Hilton gave this Sunday.
Some other serious considerations this week: TE Dallas Clark, TB (4.2% owned); RB Bryce Brown, PHI (0.2% owned); RB Jalen Parmele, JAX (0% owned); RB Marcel Reece, OAK (34.7% owned); WR Justin Blackmon, JAX (50% owned); WR Danario Alexander, SD (3.9% owned).
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