Waiver Wire: Pass catchers worth your time
It's never too early to look for ways to improve your Fantasy team. As Jamey Eisenberg writes in his season debut of Playing the Waiver Wire, there are plenty of tight ends and more than a few receivers getting the attention of owners.
The worst-case scenario happened at Carolina in Week 1, and we're not talking about Jake Delhomme performance, although that was pretty bad.
We're talking about Donovan McNabb getting hurt.
The Eagles quarterback suffered a cracked rib against the Panthers, which ruined a productive outing for Fantasy owners. Despite only passing for 79 yards with an interception, he threw two touchdowns and ran for another score, which is when he was injured.
The question now becomes what happens with McNabb in your lineup. Early reports are he's expected to be out for Week 2 against New Orleans, although he's going to try and practice this week. It would be easy to say add Michael Vick , who was signed for just this scenario, but Vick is still suspended until Week 3, which means Kevin Kolb is the likely starter against the Saints unless newly-signed Jeff Garcia gets the nod.
Now, unless you're in the deepest of leagues and desperate, you're not picking up Kolb or Garcia as a starter. Instead, here are some alternatives if you don't already have a capable backup.
Joe Flacco is owned in 81 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com, and he appears poised for a breakout season after a dominant Week 1 performance against Kansas City. He passed for 307 yards, three touchdowns and one interception and rushed for 18 yards. In a standard-scoring league, he was the No. 3 overall quarterback.
Flacco finally has healthy targets in Todd Heap , Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason , and he would be worth starting in Week 2 at San Diego. It's not as good as the matchup against the Chiefs, but he's a quality replacement if you lost McNabb.
If you want to play the matchups, some available quarterbacks with favorable opponents this week include Shaun Hill against Seattle, Kerry Collins against Houston and Byron Leftwich at Buffalo. Hill (46 percent), Collins (32 percent) and Leftwich (12 percent) all finished as Top 16 quarterbacks in Week 1.
Jason Campbell (51 percent) didn't play well in Week 1 at the Giants, but he also has a good matchup in Week 2 against St. Louis. The same goes for David Garrard (69 percent) in Week 1 at Indianapolis, but he should do better in Week 2 against Arizona, which is coming from the West Coast to the East Coast for a 1 p.m. start. The Cardinals struggled in that scenario last year, as did most West Coast teams.
If McNabb is out for an extended period of time, there are two quarterbacks who are worth picking up right away as well. The first is Mark Sanchez (58 percent), who looked much better than your typical rookie in Week 1 at Houston when he passed for 272 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Sanchez has a tough matchup in Week 2 against New England, but whether you're a McNabb owner or not, Sanchez is worth adding if you have the roster space. He could have a similar rookie season to Matt Ryan or Flacco, who had their moments for Fantasy owners last year.
The other quarterback to add would be Vick, who is only owned in 27 percent of leagues. If McNabb misses Week 2 as expected, then the Vick watch will be on heading into Week 3. You can get a jump on the rest of your league by adding Vick now.
Gonzalez goes down
McNabb wasn't the only big injury in Week 1. The Colts lost starting wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez to a knee injury, and he could miss up to six weeks.
Austin Collie (3 percent) and Pierre Garcon (2 percent) will get an increase in playing time, but they should be put on the monitor list for now. Don't add them yet until we see Peyton Manning start throwing in their direction on a consistent basis, and then we have to see who Manning favors more.
Instead, the receivers to add would be Patrick Crayton (67 percent), Justin Gage (57 percent), Earl Bennett (52 percent), Devery Henderson (48 percent), Nate Burleson (48 percent), Isaac Bruce (47 percent), Mark Clayton (25 percent) and Laurent Robinson (12 percent). Crayton, Henderson, Clayton, Gage and Burleson finished in the Top 15 of receivers for Week 1.
Bennett (13), Gage (11), Robinson (10) and Clayton (nine) were among the top targets for the first week, and all these receivers have either elite quarterbacks (Crayton, Henderson, Burleson and Bennett) or are still the No. 1 options on their respective teams (Gage and Bruce). Bennett and Jay Cutler regained the rapport they had as college teammates at Vanderbilt, and Clayton has proven, when healthy, that he and Joe Flacco have great chemistry.
In placing your waiver claims, put them in this order: Clayton, Gage, Burleson, Bennett, Bruce, Crayton, Henderson and Robinson.
Some receivers to avoid this week despite outstanding Week 1 performances would be Antwaan Randle El (13 percent), Robert Meachem (11 percent), Brandon Stokley (4 percent) and Michael Clayton (2 percent). Stokley had the fluke play to beat the Bengals, Randle El and Clayton have been inconsistent in their careers and Meachem has potential but is the sixth target on the Saints behind Marques Colston , Lance Moore , Jeremy Shockey , Reggie Bush and Henderson.
If you're looking for guys to stash on your scout team, then target Miles Austin (27 percent), Davone Bess (18 percent), Chansi Stuckey (11 percent), Kenny Britt (10 percent), Mario Manningham (3 percent), Johnny Knox (2 percent) and Louis Murphy (1 percent). All have potential based on their season-opening performances and should be monitored going forward.
In case you haven't noticed ... Cadillac Williams is back and might be as good as ever. He looked great in Week 1 against Dallas with 13 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown, and he's only owned in 69 percent of leagues. He's going to share carries with Derrick Ward , who had 12 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 21 yards against the Cowboys, but Williams is a good player to stash on your bench, especially now. With his injury history, he might not be good for long, but he could be a great addition and even considered a starter in Week 2 at Buffalo.
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.
, RB, New Orleans
Owned: 30 percent of leagues
Week 1: Had 28 carries for 143 yards and a fumble against Detroit.
Analysis: With Pierre Thomas (knee) out, we expected Bell would play well, and he came through. Thomas remains limited, so Bell could again be the focal point of the Saints' ground attack, especially with Reggie Bush struggling to start the year. Bell won't run as well in Week 2 at the Eagles, but he could remain a part of the backfield even when Thomas returns. And if Thomas remains out for an extended period of time, Bell could be a great addition to your roster.
, TE, Philadelphia
Owned: 55 percent of leagues
Week 1: Caught six passes for 37 yards and a touchdown at Carolina.
Analysis: We liked Celek following last season's playoff run, when he took over for L.J. Smith and forced him out the door. Celek won't be as good if Donovan McNabb (ribs) is out for an extended period of time, but he's not a bad player to stash on your roster or at worst case your scout team. McNabb likes throwing to his tight end in the red zone, and the Eagles don't have many tall options at wide receiver, which is why Celek (6-foot-4) gets his share of looks. He had seven targets in Week 1.
, TE, Baltimore
Owned: 31 percent of leagues
Week 1: Caught five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City.
Analysis: Heap was among the top tight ends in the NFL in 2005-06 when he averaged 74 catches, 810 yards and six touchdowns before injuries derailed his career. Now he appears to be back on track after a good offseason, and he has a quarterback who can get him the ball in Joe Flacco . Heap has the potential to return as a No. 1 Fantasy option, and he's worth adding if you have the roster space as a second tight end. That's not something we typically recommend, but Heap could be used as a flex player also.
, TE, Oakland
Owned: 67 percent of leagues
Week 1: Caught six passes for 96 yards against San Diego.
Analysis: Miller has done well in his career against the Chargers, but now the trick is carrying that over to his other opponents. He is JaMarcus Russell best weapon, and Miller has the potential for a big year in his third season. The key is scoring more touchdowns since he only has four in his first two years, but like Heap he's worth adding to your roster and using as a flex option or as trade bait. If Miller has more games like Week 1, you'll be glad he's on your team.
, TE, New England
Owned: 9 percent of leagues
Week 1: Caught six passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns at Buffalo.
Analysis: The last time Watson had a full season with Tom Brady back in 2007 they connected for six touchdowns. They got off to a great start in Week 1, and Watson could be on his way to another outstanding season. He's sharing time with Chris Baker , but Watson was targeted seven times against the Bills, including the two touchdown catches. With Randy Moss and Wes Welker , Watson will never be a dominating receiving threat, but since Brady trusts him, so do we.
, QB, Kansas City
Owned: 1 percent of leagues
Week 1: Completed 16-of-24 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns at Baltimore.
Analysis: Even though Croyle played well for the injured Matt Cassel (knee), don't consider adding him for Week 2 even if you lost Donovan McNabb and Cassel is out against Oakland. Croyle remains the backup option for the Chiefs, and he doesn't have the talent to be a good Fantasy option long-term. For Week 2, look for the Chiefs to run all over the Raiders, so Croyle won't be doing much if you need an emergency starter this week.
, RB, New Orleans
Owned: 0 percent of leagues
Week 1: Caught four passes for 35 yards against Detroit.
Analysis: The Saints might have the most explosive offense in the NFL, which typically means get as many of their offensive players as possible. But leave Evans on the waiver wire. He might have the occasional touchdown, but Drew Brees isn't dumping the ball off to his fullback on a regular basis. And if we consider Robert Meachem low on the pecking order for touches, then you know where Evans ranks. Brees lit up the Lions for six touchdowns, and Evans was lucky to catch one, so leave it at that.
, RB, Atlanta
Owned: 0 percent of leagues
Week 1: Caught two passes for 22 yards and a touchdown against Miami.
Analysis: Like Evans, Mughelli is a fullback, who was the beneficiary of a nice play from quarterback Matt Ryan against the Dolphins and not a featured member of the offense. Unless Michael Turner or Jerious Norwood get hurt and the Falcons run out of options, Mughelli isn't going to touch the ball on a regular basis. He might have the occasional red-zone opportunity, but that's not enough to have him take up space on your Fantasy roster.
, RB, New England
Owned: 64 percent of leagues
Week 1: Had nine carries for 25 yards and a touchdown at Buffalo.
Analysis: Taylor got a goal-line carry for the Patriots against the Bills, but you can't count on him to score every week. Laurence Maroney (10 carries for 32 yards) got more carries, and the Patriots once again had Kevin Faulk on the field during passing situations. We also saw Sammy Morris in the game, so Taylor will have a reduced role each week compared to his days in Jacksonville. In deep leagues, Taylor could be considered a low-end reserve, but ignore him in most standard formats.
, RB, Denver
Owned: 31 percent of leagues
Week 1: Had eight carries for 46 yards and two catches for 11 yards at Cincinnati.
Analysis: Buckhalter was the most successful running back for the Broncos in Week 1 with Knowshon Moreno limited to eight carries for 19 yards. Moreno will get better, but the Broncos will continue to give Buckhalter carries as well. Don't run out and add him yet in standard leagues, but he's worth stashing on your scout team. In deeper formats, you can add Buckhalter with the chance he becomes Denver's best running back this season.
, TE, Pittsburgh
Owned: 58 percent of leagues
Week 1: Caught eight passes for 64 yards against Tennessee.
Analysis: It's hard to imagine the Steelers passing all season like they did against the Titans, but if that happens then Miller will become a No. 1 Fantasy option, especially in leagues where receptions count. Ben Roethlisberger looked in Miller's directions eight times, and they connected on every pass. Miller falls into the same category as Todd Heap and Zach Miller , but he tends to disappear in games. That's why the safe option is to put him on your scout team and hope for more outings like Week 1.
, RB, Pittsburgh
Owned: 13 percent of leagues
Week 1: Had five carries for 8 yards and four catches for 28 yards against Tennessee.
Analysis: The Steelers ground game looked bad in Week 1 against the Titans, but their passing game was explosive. And when they pass, Moore is on the field ahead of Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall . Last year, when Parker and Mendenhall were injured, Moore became a Fantasy star. He won't reach that level as long as both are healthy, but he could be a good addition in leagues where receptions count. And in all leagues, stash Moore on your scout team in the event the Steelers become more of a passing team this season. That will mean more touches for Moore.
, TE, Cleveland
Owned: 1 percent of leagues
Week 1: Caught four passes for 60 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota.
Analysis: The Browns are looking for someone to replace the departed Kellen Winslow , and Royal could be that guy. Brady Quinn looked in Royal's direction nine times, and he appears to be a red-zone target as well. Royal could be a solid bye-week replacement or injury substitute depending on your league. Don't add him now, but keep an eye on his progress over the next couple of weeks. Another outing or two like this and you'll be adding Royal in all formats.
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