Hot Off the Waiver Wire: Week 6

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Article by Paul Charchian and Jonnie Carlyle

Running Backs

Aaron Jones (49% availability)

Ty Montgomery owners last week, as he was doing everything he could to get on the field, including wearing a Kevlar vest: Just rest up Ty, we need you healthy for the stretch run. Ty Montgomery owners Sunday night: Oh, f***. It’s very unlikely Jones has supplanted Montgomery as the starting back, but the days of Ty handling 90% of the snaps like he did Weeks 1-3 are probably over. Jones was spectacular in Dallas on Sunday, posting 6.6 yards per carry on 19 (of a possible 21) carries and one touchdown. Those 19 carries by the way, three more than Montgomery’s ever had in 25 career games. Jones also had five carries of 10+ yards on Sunday, which is five more than Montgomery has in the entirety of the 2017 season. You wouldn’t know it from his invisible line, but Jamaal Williams—one carry, one yard—was both healthy and active on Sunday. Didn’t matter and there’s nothing to suggest that changes going forward. Jones is a must add for the short term and potentially for the long term. Rib injuries are excruciating, the sickle cell trait Montgomery is stricken with could delay his return and re-injury is well within the realm of possibility given the nature of the position. The Packers could decide to hold Montgomery out through the bye, which means Jones nets at least two more starts, including a putrid New Orleans defense in Lambeau in two weeks.

Blind bidding recommendation: 60%

Jerick McKinnon (63% availability)

There is probably a heavy dose of numbers and situations I could mold to fit whatever narrative I wanted here, but if you’ve ever watched Latavius Murray you don’t need any of that fluff. It really is as simple as Murray is awful and McKinnon is slightly less so. Murray looks a bit like one of those Easter Island statues with movement physics comparable to Keith Henderson on “John Madden Football 1992”. Sharp cuts and explosive movements need not apply here. It’s so bad Mike Zimmer pondered destroying the vision in his other eye just so he didn’t have to watch Murray run the ball. Cooler heads prevailed and Zimmer decided to turn keep his one good eye and turn to McKinnon instead, where after halftime the two backs production was as follows: Murray, 7 touches for 9 yards and McKinnon, 13 touches for 104 yards and a touchdown. Yep, it was as bad as it looked. And even if McKinnon inexplicably finds himself playing second fiddle on Sunday, his ability as a pass-catcher is a nice floor in PPR leagues with considerable upside with rational coaching. In McKinnon’s last seven games without Cook or a comparable back in front of him, he’s averaged 5-38 with two receiving touchdowns.  

Blind bidding recommendation: 40%

Marlon Mack (46% availability)

Frank Gore isn’t going anywhere and even if he was it might take him a couple months to get there, so this isn’t me shoveling dirt on the grave of one the most durable backs the NFL has ever seen. But if you’re trying to get from point A to point B and your choices are an Elon Musk designed rocket or a literal fossilized dinosaur, there really isn’t a decision at all. After missing the last two weeks with a shoulder injury, Mack returned to the field and looked very much the rocketship as he averaged a whopping 10 yards per carry—a number Gore hasn’t seen since 2010—and had three carries of 20+ yards. Not surprisingly, Chuck Pagano is talking about getting Mack more involved going forward, too, which suggests Mack could bring some flex appeal even if the backfield is being shared. Add a healthy Luck to the equation in the near future and suddenly you have an explosive back on one of the best offenses in the league. Maybe not this week or month, but at some point Marlon Musk is going to win out and when that day comes you want to be holding the keys to the rocket.

Bind bidding recommendation: 20%

Adrian Peterson (26% availability)

Traded to the Cardinals on Tuesday, Adrian Peterson finds himself in one of the few places where he has bona fide fantasy viability. Even at this stage of his career, Peterson is Arizona’s best back, easily surpassing Kerwynn Williams and The Undead Corpse Of The Tap Dancing Nancy™ (TUCOTTDN). Peterson may not have a tangible impact as early as this weekend, but it’s easy to see him earning the majority of the work shortly thereafter. Peterson doesn’t run well from the shotgun, and Carson Palmer plays 54% of his snaps under center. The schedule is mostly favorable with upcoming games against the Bucs, Rams, bye, and 49ers.   Those teams rank 9th, 29th, and 24th against running back rushing yards. 

Blind bidding recommendation: 20%

Elijah McGuire (65% availability)

Count adding the once 3rd-string running back for the New York Jets to the list of things I never expected to suggest, but 2017’s been that kind of year (Sunday’s matchup with the Patriots is a battle for 1st place in the East, so yeah, things are weird). And if you’ve been paying any attention to the Jets running game (don’t blame you if you haven’t) and McGuire, he’s a worthy add. McGuire has nearly twice the rushing yards (176) Forte (94) and his turf toe have, with just 11 more carries. He’s also averaging a half yard more per carry than Powell (5.2 vs. 4.7) and most importantly of all, is the only back healthy enough to get on the field. Should he remain the only healthy back on Sunday, McGuire will be featured against a porous New England defense. The Pats are allowing 5 yards per carry, have allowed the 6th-most receptions, the most receiving yards and receiving touchdowns to the position. 

Blind bidding recommendation: 15%

Matt Breida (68% availability)

We all know about Carlos Hyde’s second life as Mr. Glass from that M. Night Shyamalan movie that wasn’t “The Sixth Sense”. But in a twist no one saw coming, it wasn’t Hyde’s ailing hip that saw him watching from the sidelines on Sunday but instead a coach’s decision to ride the “hot hand”. That’s probably a lie given Hyde is the best offensive piece they have, but be it hot hands or fragile bodies, Matt Breida was the beneficiary of Shanahanmalan’s decision on Sunday. He was the only back to reach double-digits in carries, averaged 3.5 more yards per carry than Hyde did and was targeted five times in the passing game. No one’s starting Breida in the current landscape, but should Hyde miss any games this season—he’s missed 14 in 4 years and at least 2 in every season of his career—Breida has value. San Francisco is averaging 26 rushing attempts and 7 targets to the position per game, with the lead back handling 16 of those attempts and 5 of the targets. When Hyde inevitably misses time (and he’s already ailing mind you), those 20-ish touches will be Breida’s and that’s volume owners simply cannot ignore.  

Blind bidding recommendation: 5%

Wayne Gallman and Orleans Darkwa (55% and 85% availability)

So if things weren’t already bad enough for this backfield for owners, Sunday provided no clarity moving forward. Both were surprisingly effective—Gallman: 11-57, 5-25 and Darkwa: 8-69-1—but who’s to know if last week’s success is the new norm or an anomaly. There’s also the matchup quagmire—Denver and Seattle in the next two weeks before a bye—for an offense that lost their top 4 receivers last week. Truth be told, it’s hard to envision a scenario where you’re starting either Gallman or Darkwa outside of the deepest of leagues in the near future. However, you shouldn’t be leaving backs that have shown flashes (both have) on the wire. Assuming you have the room and it can be done cheaply, look to Gallman first because of his pass-catching abilities (7 receptions in a game and a half) and then Darkwa if you’re especially desperate.

Blind bidding recommendation: 5% and 1%, respectively

Wide Receivers

Devin Funchess (20% availability)

The Charles Clay of receivers, Funchess has made the list three weeks running, but somehow he’s still available in 20% of leagues. This one will be short and sweet, but any wide receiver averaging 6-60-1 on 9 targets in his last three weeks should absolutely be rostered in every league. Funchess’ rise correlates to Olsen’s injury and he’s still weeks removed from returning. Funchess will continue to be a major piece in an ascending offense that’s averaging 30 points per game in the last two weeks and faces two bottom-five pass defenses—Eagles and Bucs—in the next three weeks.

Blind bidding recommendation: 40%

Danny Amendola (31% availability)

If I said you could add a receiver catching 85% of his targets, with at least 6 catches in three of four games and his quarterback was Tom Brady; is there any chance you wouldn’t want that guy on your team? Here, let me help you out. No. Sure, Amendola is not without his warts, but the most glaring is his sketchy health and that’s not currently an issue. He’s played in three straight and is only playing half the team’s snaps to ensure his impact in the passing game can be maximized. And given the Patriots protection issues—Brady’s already been sacked 15 times—Amendola’s role is both going nowhere and could see an uptick as New England tries to keep Mr. Bundchen and his Uggs upright.

Blind bidding recommendation: 30%

Mike Wallace (37% availability)

The spokesman for Boom-Bust, Inc., Wallace has been more boom than bust in recent weeks. He’s compiled 9-188-1 on 13 targets in the last two weeks after opening the season with three straight games of less than 10 receiving yards (true story, folks) and 3 total catches. Wallace is the only playmaker on a passing offense that has featured Ben Watson, AFTER an Achilles tear, in multiple games. Imagine that, dude is old enough to be Vinatieri’s dad and is coming off a major knee injury and yet, the Ravens thought, ‘we need more Ben Watson in our game planning’. Irrational coaching aside, Baltimore seems to have seen the light and is using Wallace’s speed and Flacco’s rocket arm to inject some life into this anemic offense. Wallace has to face a tough Viking defense in two weeks, but has three favorable matchups sandwiched around it in Chicago, Miami and Tennessee.

Blind bidding recommendation: 5%

Nelson Agholor (39% availability)

As consistent as his hand’s have been in the past, Agholor isn’t exactly trustworthy on a regular basis but he could worth a look for a desperate owner short on options due to bye week issues. I won’t try to sell you on volume—he’s topped five targets just once—but Agholor does seem to have a knack for the end zone with a receiving touchdown in three games and has posted at least 58 receiving yards in three games, too. The Panthers are an unfavorable matchup on Thursday, but he will get a Josh Norman-less Washington defense and the hapless 49ers, in the two weeks after. Agholor has two catches of 40+ yards—the 2nd-most in the NFL—and San Francisco has allowed four such plays.

Blind bidding recommendation: 1%

Ricardo Louis (91% availability)

Looking for comfort in any Cleveland receiver will only lead to shame *bells ringing* shame *bells ringing* shame, but if you’re a glutton for punishment and/or play in a 14+ team PPR league, Louis might just be the receiver for you. Louis leads all non-running backs in every statistical category and has compiled the majority of his production in the last two weeks. Over that stretch, he is averaging 5-68 on 9 targets with only Duke Johnson averaging more than 3 targets in that same time period. Britt being sidelined helps everyone’s outlook, but even when Britt was on the field two weeks ago, Louis posted more targets, receptions and yards.

Blind bidding recommendation: 1%

Tight Ends

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (53% availability)

Maybe you just lost Clay or you’re the streaming type; whatever your story may be Seferian-Jenkins should be on your radar headed into next week’s matchup with New England. The Patriots have allowed the 4th-most catches, 8th-most yards and 3rd-most touchdowns to the position, including a tight end touchdown in four of five games. Seferian-Jenkins hasn’t exactly set the world on fire (it’s the Jets after all) since returning from his suspension, but he’s averaged a solid 5-35 on 6 targets and just notched his first touchdown of the season last week. Sunday, he likely tops all of those in what should be a pass-heavy game script.

Blind bidding recommendation: 20%

Ed Dickson (90% availability)

More of a Cam Newton and Panther passing offense endorsement than an Ed Dickson one, but the rising Newton tide has managed to lift the most anchored of ships in the USS Dickson. 237 receiving yards on just 8 catches in the last two weeks and has more yards in that stretch than Jimmy Graham, Cameron Brate and Martellus Bennett have on the season. That likely doesn’t continue, but as long as Newton continues to shred opposing pass defenses Dickson will garner some of that pie.  

Blind bidding recommendation: 1%

David Njoku (44% availability)

Nothing about the Cleveland offense inspires and given the turnover it’s not exactly surprising. But if you’re here, you’re desperate and I might just have the play for you. Pay no attention to the targets, catches or yards and just focus on the touchdowns. Njoku has a touchdown in three of the last four weeks, culminating with a ridiculous one-handed grab last week that reportedly gave an entire Cleveland-area retirement home heart attacks as they’d never seen such sorcery in a Browns game before. He’s raw and too-touchdown reliant at the moment, but Njoku is the only thing with upside this passing offense has and especially so in the red zone. His involvement will grow, it has to, and when it does you’ll be ahead of the curve. Or he’ll go the way of every Browns player ever and he’s an easy cut for some other generic tight end amongst the mass of generic tight ends. 

Blind bidding recommendation: 1%