Waiver Wire: Full circle for Bell, Jackson
Two familiar running backs from early this season are making a late push for Fantasy relevance. Our Jamey Eisenberg talks up Mike Bell, Fred Jackson and others in his Playing the Waiver Wire.
Once again the recurring theme is injuries at running back, and Week 12 could have a similar feel to the beginning of the season. That's because Mike Bell and Fred Jackson might be returning to prominent roles.
Reggie Bush (knee) missed Week 11 at Tampa Bay, which opened the door for Bell to shine against the Buccaneers. And Marshawn Lynch (shoulder) was carted off the field at Jacksonville, which could mean Jackson is starting again for Buffalo.
We also had Ladell Betts (torn ACL, MCL) get severely injured at Dallas, and Brandon Jacobs (knee) left the game against Atlanta, although he should be fine. With Ronnie Brown (foot) out for the season along with Brian Westbrook (concussion), Clinton Portis (concussion), Cedric Benson (hip), Michael Turner (ankle) and Julius Jones (ribs) out in Week 11, Fantasy owners are scrambling.
We'll start with Bell, who is owned in 64 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com. He had 13 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns and one catch for 5 yards at Tampa Bay.
Bell shared carries with Pierre Thomas (11 carries for 92 yards and three catches for 11 yards), and that would continue if Bush's knee injury lingers. We'll get a better idea this week on Bush's status, but Bell is worth adding in all leagues. The Saints have plenty of confidence in Bell, especially late in games as a "closer."
In the first two weeks of the season with Thomas out, Bell was a solid Fantasy option. He had 28 carries for 143 yards with a fumble against Detroit in Week 1, and he had 17 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown at Philadelphia in Week 2.
He then missed two games with a knee injury and hasn't been as productive since with Thomas and Bush leading the way, but that could change with Bush injured. New Orleans plays host to New England in Week 12, and Bell could be a useful option against the Patriots, especially in the red zone.
For the Bills, Jackson (59 percent ownership) came on for the injured Lynch and had nine carries for 35 yards and four catches for 20 yards against the Jaguars. Jackson is used to replacing Lynch. He started the first three games of the season when Lynch was suspended and could return to that role again depending on Lynch's injury. When Lynch was out, Jackson was a standout Fantasy running back.
He had 140 total yards, a touchdown and a fumble in Week 1 at New England, 188 total yards and a fumble in Week 2 against Tampa Bay and 97 total yards in Week 3 against New Orleans. He was still a part of the offense once Lynch returned, but he didn't come close to double digits in Fantasy points until Week 10 at Tennessee when he threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Lee Evans .
Buffalo plays host to Miami in Week 12, and Jackson could be a solid Fantasy option depending on Lynch's status. It also helps that the Dolphins are without key run stopper Jason Ferguson (quad).
Of course, as we told you last week and witnessed in Week 11, some of the other replacement options could continue to play well. It's just a matter of who is still out there.
Bernard Scott (64 percent) started for Benson at Oakland and had 21 carries for 119 yards and caught three passes for 32 yards. Jason Snelling (74 percent) started for Turner at the Giants and had 25 carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns and three catches for 13 yards. And Justin Forsett (78 percent) started for Jones at Minnesota and had eight carries for 9 yards and a touchdown and caught eight passes for 80 yards.
If all three start again in Week 12, they would have tremendous matchups. Scott would face Cleveland, Snelling would face Tampa Bay and Forsett would play at St. Louis.
In Washington, if Portis is out again, and with Betts done for the season after suffering a torn MCL at Dallas, Rock Cartwright (1 percent) could start in Week 12 at Philadelphia. Portis is expected to miss at least another week with the concussion, so Cartwright is worth adding in all leagues.
Cartwright had 13 carries for 67 yards and seven catches for 45 yards at the Cowboys. He would get the majority of touches for the Redskins, and that gives him increased Fantasy value against the Eagles.
In deeper leagues, with Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle) continuing to be hampered by injury, D.J. Ware (1 percent) is worth adding as insurance.
In case you haven't noticed ... Anthony Gonzalez (knee) might return soon after being out since Week 1, but Pierre Garcon continues to shine. He is only owned in 76 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com, but he has put up solid stats the past two weeks. Garcon had six catches for 108 yards at Baltimore in Week 11 and has nine catches for 158 yards and a touchdown in his past two games. The best thing is Peyton Manning continues to look for Garcon, who has 35 targets in his past four games. Garcon is getting plenty of single coverage playing next to Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark , and that will continue until Gonzalez returns. Look for Garcon to play well in Week 12 at Houston.
Each Tuesday we will highlight players who might be available in your league and whether you should consider picking them up off waivers based on their recent performances. The players chosen are based on the percentage of ownership in CBSSports.com leagues.
, WR, Philadelphia
Owned: 10 percent of leagues
Week 11: Caught four passes for 28 yards and a touchdown at Chicago.
Analysis: Avant has played well the past two games with 12 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers and Bears and could help the Eagles replace the injured Brian Westbrook (concussion) in the passing game. Donovan McNabb appears to have faith in Avant, and he's worth adding as a No. 4 wide receiver in deep formats. Remember, McNabb has thrown the ball 87 times the past two games, and all of his passes can't go to DeSean Jackson , Jeremy Maclin , Brent Celek or the running backs.
, TE, New York Giants
Owned: 57 percent of leagues
Week 11: Caught five passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns against Atlanta.
Analysis: Boss is finally playing at the level we expected for him this year and even last season when he replaced the departed Jeremy Shockey . He has four touchdowns in his past three games with 10 catches for 163 yards over that span. Eli Manning is looking for Boss in crucial situations, and he was targeted eight times against the Falcons. Boss doesn't have a great schedule coming up in the next two games since Denver and Dallas do well against opposing tight ends, but he should thrive against the Eagles in Week 14. He had three catches for 70 yards and a touchdown at Philadelphia in Week 8.
, WR, Kansas City
Owned: 56 percent of leagues
Week 11: Caught four passes for 119 yards against Pittsburgh.
Analysis: We told you to add Chambers after he signed with the Chiefs in Week 9 and had three catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns at Jacksonville. Now, with Dwayne Bowe out for four games with a suspension, you see how vital Chambers is to Kansas City's offense. The Chiefs will likely be throwing most weeks based on their style of play, and Chambers is now the No. 1 option in the passing game. In three games with his new team, Chambers has 10 catches for 249 yards and the two scores. And he has a great matchup in Week 12 at San Diego, the team that released him.
, TE, Green Bay
Owned: 36 percent of leagues
Week 11: Caught seven passes for 54 yards against San Francisco.
Analysis: Finley returned after missing three games with a knee injury and played well against the 49ers. He was targeted 10 times, and Aaron Rodgers will continue to look in his direction. The Packers have plenty of weapons in the passing game with Donald Driver , Greg Jennings , Jordy Nelson and James Jones , but Rodgers likes using the tight end. Spencer Havner had four touchdowns in the time Finley was out, and Finley has a great matchup in Week 12 at Detroit. The Lions have struggled with tight ends all season, and Finley had five catches for 54 yards against Detroit in Week 6.
, WR, New Orleans
Owned: 46 percent of leagues
Week 11: Caught two passes for 10 yards and two touchdowns at Tampa Bay.
Analysis: Meachem has become the ultimate red zone threat for the Saints. He has three catches in his past two games, all for touchdowns. He also has four touchdowns in his past three games, and he's playing like a solid No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver. The key for Meachem remains when Lance Moore (ankle) is out. Moore has missed the past three games, so Drew Brees continues to rely on Meachem since he's getting the extra playing time. If Meachem could put together a complete game and not just get one or two catches he would become a must-start option in all formats.
, RB, Chicago
Owned: 0 percent of leagues
Week 11: Had four carries for 81 yards against Philadelphia.
Analysis: Bell was on the practice squad prior to this game, so don't expect him to push Matt Forte for carries. He had a great 72-yard run against the Eagles, but Forte will still get the majority of touches in the offense. Now, if Forte gets hurt, Bell's value will change. But this isn't a handcuff situation since Forte has struggled to run behind this offensive line. There are better running back options available to stash on your roster unless we're talking about a 16-team league or more.
, QB, Oakland
Owned: 1 percent of leagues
Week 11: Completed 17 of 34 passes for 183 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, one fumble and had 8 rushing yards against Cincinnati.
Analysis: If you're in a deep two-quarterback league and need help then Gradkowski is worth adding because it appears like he will start for JaMarcus Russell the rest of the season. But Gradkowski should not appear on anyone's roster in standard leagues even if he's the best quarterback in Oakland since Kerry Collins . The Raiders face some tough opponents in pass defense the next four games against Dallas, Pittsburgh, Washington and Denver, and Gradkowski will likely post mediocre stats at best. Remember, even though he's better than Russell, he's still the Raiders quarterback.
, QB, Cleveland
Owned: 6 percent of leagues
Week 11: Completed 21 of 33 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns at Detroit.
Analysis: Even with potential injuries to Kurt Warner (head) and Ben Roethlisberger (head), don't get enamored with Quinn's performance in Week 11. After all, it was the Lions, and everyone plays well against the Lions. It was nice to see Quinn throw the ball downfield. But he still has mediocre receivers, and this was only the third time he topped 100 passing yards in six appearances. Quinn won't play like this in Week 12 at Cincinnati, and his only chance at another decent performance will be Week 15 at Kansas City. Since that is Fantasy playoff time, there's no chance you're starting Quinn even with a good matchup.
, WR, St. Louis
Owned: 6 percent of leagues
Week 11: Caught five passes for 61 yards against Arizona.
Analysis: We had Gibson as an avoid last week, but his role has expanded with Keenan Burton (knee) out for the season. It was evident against the Cardinals with 17 targets, which tied Wes Welker for the most passes thrown in his direction in Week 11. Keep in mind we're still talking about the Rams passing game with Marc Bulger (leg) now out, but you can't ignore the targets. If that continues, Gibson could worth stashing at the end of your bench.
, RB, Miami
Owned: 10 percent of leagues
Week 11: Had four carries for 24 yards and caught two passes for 7 yards at Carolina.
Analysis: With Ronnie Brown (foot) out for the season, Hilliard moves up the depth chart as the No. 2 running back behind Ricky Williams . You see how important it is to handcuff running backs on good running teams based on all the recent injuries, and Hilliard could have plenty of value if the 32-year-old Williams suffers an injury. Rashad Jennings (7 percent) falls into this category also in case something happens to Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville. And Leonard Weaver (7 percent) is playing behind LeSean McCoy with Brian Westbrook (concussion) out for at least another two weeks, if not longer. If you have an extra roster spot, it's not a bad idea to stash these running backs now.
, TE, New Orleans
Owned: 0 percent of leagues
Week 11: Caught four passes for 66 yards and a touchdown at Tampa Bay.
Analysis: Thomas is starting to play well as the No. 2 tight end for the Saints. He has nine catches for 111 yards and a touchdown the past two weeks against St. Louis and Tampa Bay. He might not post outstanding stats going forward with Jeremy Shockey still the starter, but he is worth keeping an eye on. Shockey has never played a full 16 games in his career, and he was limited to 12 games last year due to injury. If Shockey goes down, Thomas would become a No. 1 Fantasy tight end since it's clear Drew Brees has faith in him.
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