By: Ken Mahoney @Turning2Sports
Stretch Run Pickups
Well Fantasy Footballers, we now find ourselves wrapping up the NFL Week 10 weekend. Whether you’re 9-0, 7-2, 5-4, or 2-7, you are inevitably looking toward that Week 13 playoff matchup. Getting there is one thing, but it’s what you do once you’re there that matters. If you are 2-7, you may be able to stop reading this article now as I’ll only serve to depress you. However, if you are in the thick of the playoff hunt and going for that gold, you need to stay on top of your league’s waiver wire.
Most people tend to assume the waiver wire dries up at about the halfway point of the season. While there is some truth to that, let’s not forget that some very prominent fantasy assets can be scooped up around this time.
Just last season Adam Thielen came out of nowhere to become a serviceable WR2 in almost all formats for the stretch run. It started with a 5/65/1 line in Week 11, and circumvented with a 12/202/2 line in the Week 16 fantasy finals!
My point being, it’s not about how you got to where you are currently, it’s about how you end up. We here at Turning Two Sports play in extremely deep, 14 team keeper leagues. Every week on our waiver wire is like the end of the season waiver wire in a traditional league. Rather than hogging all the end-of-season gems for ourselves, we’re here to provide you with a list of players who may still be available on your waiver wires who could turn out to be league-winning transactions. Of course, this assumes you play your cards right.
Without further ado, let’s break down the list. These are guys that are available in the majority of deep leagues whom may provide you with some additional boost for your stretch run.
Case Keenum – Right now you are reading the article of a fantasy owner who drafted Aaron Rodgers, then traded for Carson Palmer after the Rodgers injury. Needless to say, the last 6 weeks have been a major headache. From Rivers, to Tyrod, to Eli we struggle to find ourselves a week-in and week-out starter for the QB position. Let’s stop ignoring Case Keenum. I get that the schedule is not optimal rest of season, but he’s leading the NFC North leading Vikings to the playoffs. This Vikings team is really good, and they have a ton of weapons for Keenum to use at his disposal. Given the state of quarterbacking this season, you could do a lot worse.
Jay Cutler – This may be the last name you want to rely on, but there’s merit to stashing Cutler on a quarterback needy team. He has a very friendly rest of season schedule, going from TB, @NE, DEN, NE, @BUF, @KC. None of those scare me anymore, especially given how susceptible Denver has been to big plays this year. Cutler could rejuvenate his season and end strong with a schedule as friendly as that.
Blake Bortles – I will start by saying that I do not love Bortles as an every week quarterback, but I do love him as a potential streamer in some of his easier matchups. That starts with a Week 11 date against Cleveland, who can’t stop the pass to save their lives. He also ends the season with Houston and San Francisco, so there is definitely some merit to rostering Bortles if you are in a conundrum.
Austin Ekeler – Firstly, if you own Melvin Gordon shame on your for not cuffing him. Secondly, do not leave Ekeler on your waiver wire going into Week 11. Ekeler has clearly surpassed Branden Oliver on the depth chart, and has carved himself out a solid PPR role. Think of him as a poor man’s McKinnon or Drake. He may not always be reliable, but he’s a solid flex play in a deep league each and every week. He almost single handedly won the game for the Chargers yesterday, and was given many reps in the 4th quarter. Gordon out touched him by a mere margin of 21 to 15. If you play in 14+ man league, 15 touches does not belong on the wire.
Jamaal Williams – It’s no secret that Jamaal Williams hasn’t look good in his rookie campaign. In fact, he’s looked flat out mediocre. That allowed Aaron Jones to grab the starting job and bury Williams on the depth chart. Well, now we are talking about a re-injury to Ty Montgomery’s ribs and a sprained MCL for Aaron Jones. That means Jamaal Williams should get a crack at being the bellcow back for the foreseeable future. With his next three bouts against Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay he could have a chance at RB2 numbers. Those are three below average defenses against the run. Stash Williams and see what happens, especially if you were relying on TyMont or Jones.
Rex Burkhead –Now that he’s healthy, Burkhead is looking like a Swiss army knife for Tom Brady and the Patriots. He can run, he can catch, and he’s a prominent redzone figure for this Patriots club. Mike Gillislee might as well be dropped in all leagues, leaving Rex to battle with Dion Lewis and James White for RB touches. Lewis and White thrive in the pass catching role, so that could leave Burkhead to get the lion’s share of carries in crunch time. I’m not comfortable leaving him on any of my waiver wires. While Patriot’s running backs have traditionally been a headache, Burkhead does a little of everything and that could make him independent of the game flow.
Corey Clement – While he was on bye, a report came out from Eagles camp that praised Clement’s pass-protection skills. That is not Ajayi or Blount’s area of expertise. With Smallwood no longer relevant, I think Clement can carve out a passing down role on this high-flying Eagles squad. He’s not going to score three touchdowns every week, but he should very well catch a few balls and get anywhere from 8-10 carries. That makes for a solid starter in 14 teamers.
Corey Davis – I am sensing a breakout on the horizon. Who remember the last rookie wide receiver who missed a chunk of the early season, only to break out down the stretch and ascend into fantasy stardom? That would be Odell Beckham. I see some faint similarities in Davis. For one, they are both freakishly talented. For two, Davis has made his return and instantly become a target sponge. He netted 10 targets yesterday and nearly had a phenomenal touchdown grab that would have him ascend the waiver wire priority rankings. The 10 targets were a team high, and it looks as though the Titans are dedicated to seeing what they have in Davis. That should be making all his fantasy owners salivate. Do NOT leave Davis on any waiver wires, even in 12 teamers.
Dontrelle Inman – Are we looking at the new #1 wide receiver for the Chicago Bears? Yes, I believe so. Inman was always a solid pass catcher in San Diego before it got overly crowded, so it makes sense that he would thrive in a role where there is literally a lack of bodies to throw to. The Bears are extremely reliant on the run, which does cap the upside of Inman. The Bears also stink though, which means they will need to throw throughout the game. Inman should benefit with that as he continues to develop chemistry with Trubisky.
Dede Westbrook – It looks like Dede could make his return in Week 11. He has a tremendous rest of season schedule outlook with @CLE, @ARI, IND, SEA, HOU, @SF to round out the fantasy season. He’s a big play wide receiver that could break out at any given moment. Think of a Corey Davis, Mike Williams type of player. The sky is the limit for Dede. With Hurns leaving in a walking boot yesterday, it seems unlikely he is ready to play anytime soon. That leaves Dede to play opposite Lee and hopefully soak up some of those targets. If he can catch 5 passes a game, consider him PPR relevant.
Jermaine Gresham – Drew Stanton seems to like him. While it’s probably due to Stanton not being very good and needing a safety net, you take the fantasy production anywhere you can get it. This now makes two straight weeks of Gresham finding the end zone in yet another case of a backup quarterback locking into a tight end. The issue is whether Stanton is ready to go for Week 11. If he is, no worries. If he isn’t, we’re looking at Blaine Gabbert. While I’m not as excited with Gabbert under center, he is another below average backup who may also look to his tight end for safety. I mean, how much of a difference can there be from Stanton to Gabbert?
Hopefully this list of players helps you sew up your rosters for that playoff push. You never know when the next Adam Thielen is going to come out from the cracks and become an instant fantasy difference maker. Good luck to you all in your quests for greatness.