Waiver Wire: Time to start planning ahead
The Colts, Saints and Vikings could all cause headaches in the coming weeks for owners battling in their playoffs. Our Jamey Eisenberg points out some things you can do to negate the risk in his Playing the Waiver Wire.
The Colts and Saints have been great for Fantasy owners this season with all of their stars, but now they are creating a potential problem. They are just too good.
The Colts have already clinched the AFC South and have a three-game lead on the Bengals and Chargers for the No. 1 seed in the conference. The Saints also have clinched the NFC South and have a two-game lead on the Vikings for the top spot in the NFC.
Unless the pursuit of perfection becomes overwhelming since both teams are undefeated, you're going to see the Colts and Saints start to rest players to get ready for the playoffs. The Vikings, if they are locked into the No. 2 seed in the NFC, will likely start to do the same.
While you should have enough depth at running back and wide receiver, quarterback could become an issue if you don't have Peyton Manning , Drew Brees or Brett Favre playing a full game during the Fantasy playoffs. And with Matt Ryan (toe) out and Matt Schaub (shoulder) injured, you could be stuck heading into Weeks 14, 15, 16 and 17.
Hopefully we'll get an idea from the coaching staff of each team prior to the game on what the plan will be with resting starters, but you don't want to see Manning only play a quarter or Brees just play a half. You know Favre will start based on his record for consecutive games played, but he could always leave after one series.
With that in mind, here are some quarterbacks to target off the waiver wire based on their recent play and the matchups ahead. We'll also include some tight end suggestions in case you're concerned about Dallas Clark , Jeremy Shockey and Visanthe Shiancoe . All of the players listed are owned in fewer than 80 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com, so depending of the depth of your league, they could still be available.
Remember, you should already have a solid backup quarterback, but in case you need some help or are just interested on some alternatives, these guys might be helpful.
Week 14Quarterback: Alex Smith (vs. Arizona), David Garrard (vs. Miami), Vince Young (vs. St. Louis), Jason Campbell (at Oakland), Chad Henne (at Jacksonville) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (at Kansas City)
Analysis: Smith is playing at an unbelievable level with seven touchdowns and one interception in his past three games, and we love Garrard at home, especially in this matchup. Young is also producing at a consistent level, and Campbell, Henne and Fitzpatrick could build off recent performances with some good matchups. You won't have to worry about Manning, Brees or Favre this week, but these are all sleepers for this scoring period.
(vs. St. Louis),
(vs. Detroit) and
Analysis: Finley had a huge game against the Ravens on Monday night, so hopefully he can build off that performance. Boss and Keller have been marginal starters in the majority of leagues, but they should be worth using based on these matchups if you need help at tight end. Scaife has done well since Young has taken over as the starter, and Heap and Lewis could do well based on the matchups.
Week 15Quarterback: Vince Young (vs. Miami), Matt Cassel (vs. Cleveland), Jason Campbell (vs. N.Y. Giants), Chad Henne (at Tennessee) and Brady Quinn (at Kansas City)
Analysis: As you'll see, Young is poised to finish the season on a high note with some amazing matchups down the stretch. Cassel and Quinn -- yes, that Quinn -- could do well in a matchup where there isn't much defense involved, and Campbell could be worth using if the Giants defense continues to show holes in the secondary. Henne also showed against New England that he can make plays when called upon. It would be hard to start Campbell, Henne or Quinn in the Fantasy playoffs, but some Fantasy owners might not have a choice.
(vs. Chicago) and
Analysis: The Falcons have been among the worst teams at defending the tight end, and Brent Celek scored against Atlanta in Week 13. The same goes for the Dolphins, so Scaife should do well. Watson scored two touchdowns against Buffalo in the first game of the season, and Heap could have success against the Bears if you're in dire need.
Week 16Quarterback: Alex Smith (vs. Detroit), Vince Young (vs. San Diego), Chad Henne (vs. Houston), Brady Quinn (vs. Oakland) and Bruce Gradkowski (at Cleveland)
Analysis: Smith and Young are definitely the quarterbacks to target during playoff time, but Henne isn't far behind based on his matchups. And here we go again with Quinn and now Gradkowski. Who would have thought in Week 13 that Quinn and Gradkowski would combine for six touchdown passes against San Diego and Pittsburgh, respectively? This could be a potential shootout similar to what Quinn had in Week 11 in Detroit, which would make these quarterbacks decent replacement options.
(vs. San Diego)
Analysis: I'm hesitant to recommend Scheffler since he only seems to play well against San Diego, but the Eagles have had trouble with tight ends at times this season. Miller has been more consistent with Gradkowski replacing JaMarcus Russell , and Scaife has another favorable matchup as the Titans will likely make a final playoff push.
Week 17Quarterback: Alex Smith (at St. Louis), David Garrard (at Cleveland) and Brady Quinn (vs. Jacksonville)
Analysis: We all know Garrard has struggled on the road this year, but this could be a vital game for the Jaguars as they try to clinch a wild card spot. The only thing to monitor with Garrard is what Jacksonville's playoff aspirations look like in the final week of the season. That could also impact the kind of defense Quinn is facing, but it's another favorable matchup for both quarterbacks. Smith should close the season on a high note as he tries to prove he once again is the quarterback of the future for the 49ers.
(at San Diego)
Analysis: Boss might be facing a defense resting its starters, and the Giants could be fighting for their playoff lives this week. Davis has scored in two straight games in Weeks 12 and 13 and is starting to look like a capable replacement for the injured Chris Cooley , who is out for the season. And Lewis, like Garrard, could be in a vital game for the Jaguars against a defense that has struggled all year.
In case you haven't noticed ... Antonio Bryant might be ready for another strong December, so it's time to add him where available. Bryant, who is owned in 49 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com, surprised us with his performance at Carolina in Week 13 with five catches for 116 yards. It was his first 100-yard game of the season, which has been marred by a knee injury. Bryant has a tough matchup in Week 14 against the Jets and will likely have to deal with Darrelle Revis , but he closes the season with Seattle, New Orleans and Atlanta and could play well in those games. Remember, he's still playing for a contract, and last year he closed the season with 26 catches for 512 yards and four touchdowns in the final four games of the year.
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, Tennessee
Owned: 47 percent of leagues
Week 13: Caught three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown at Indianapolis.
Analysis: Britt has played well the past three games with 14 catches for 216 yards and three touchdowns, and he's emerged as the No. 1 option in the passing game. He also has some amazing matchups ahead with St. Louis, Miami, San Diego and Seattle to close the season, so consider using Britt as a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver if you need help. Britt has four games with double digits in Fantasy points this year, and he is making a case to challenge Percy Harvin as the No. 1 rookie wide receiver.
, RB, Houston
Owned: 56 percent of leagues
Week 13: Had six carries for 15 yards and a touchdown, caught two passes for 11 yards and also threw an interception at Jacksonville.
Analysis: We said to add Brown last week, and he played an important role against the Jaguars with Steve Slaton (neck) out. Brown now has two touchdowns in his past two games and could continue to play a significant role if Slaton's injury lingers. Hopefully the Texans won't ask Brown to throw the ball anymore, but he is worth stashing on your roster, especially with favorable matchups remaining against St. Louis in Week 15 and Miami in Week 16. And with Slaton injured, also consider adding Ryan Moats again in deeper leagues.
, RB, Denver
Owned: 54 percent of leagues
Week 13: Had 12 carries for 113 yards and caught three passes for 15 yards at Kansas City.
Analysis: Even though Knowshon Moreno continues to play well, Buckhalter is still getting his share of touches. He has 32 carries in his past two games against the Giants and Chiefs and is a good reserve to stash on your bench. He could also be useful in Week 15 against Oakland and Week 17 against Kansas City again. And if Moreno gets hurt, Buckhalter would get the majority of touches. Buckhalter has two games with 100 rushing yards this season, so consider him a No. 4 Fantasy running back or better depending on the size of your league.
, RB, Cleveland
Owned: 39 percent of leagues
Week 13: Had 10 carries for 35 yards and caught seven passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns against San Diego.
Analysis: Harrison should be the first player added in all leagues this week since Jamal Lewis (head) is now out for the season. In Week 4 against Cincinnati with Lewis hurt, Harrison had 29 carries for 121 yards with a fumble and caught five passes for 31 yards. We were expecting big things from him after that game, but the Browns went back to Lewis. Now, Harrison has the opportunity he's been waiting for, and Fantasy owners should plan on using him in Week 15 at Kansas City, Week 16 against Oakland and Week 17 against Jacksonville. He will share carries with Chris Jennings , but Harrison has more upside for the rest of the year.
, WR, New England
Owned: 3 percent of leagues
Week 13: Caught one pass for 81 yards and a touchdown at Miami.
Analysis: Aiken has played well the past two games against New Orleans and Miami with eight catches for 171 yards and a touchdown, but he hasn't developed as we hoped as the No. 3 wide receiver for the Patriots. He may have some big games, but you're never going to start Aiken in the majority of leagues. Tom Brady may use Aiken for a big play or two, but he just doesn't post consistent enough production.
, TE, Jacksonville
Owned: 0 percent of leagues
Week 13: Caught three passes for 74 yards against Houston.
Analysis: Miller, a rookie from Nebraska, had his best game of the season against the Texans, but he's still the No. 2 tight end for the Jaguars behind Marcedes Lewis . He also shares time with Ernest Wilford , who caught a touchdown against the Texans. Miller might be good down the road in Jacksonville, but he has minimal Fantasy value this season. He's still looking for his first NFL touchdown.
, QB, Philadelphia
Owned: 9 percent of leagues
Week 13: Completed 2 of 2 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown and had four carries for 17 yards and a touchdown at Atlanta.
Analysis: Vick had the return to Atlanta you wanted to see unless you're a Falcons fan. He scored two touchdowns, which were his first of the season, and now he can return to his backup role behind Donovan McNabb . Vick just isn't asked to do much with McNabb at 100 percent aside from a few carries each week. Unless McNabb got injured then Vick's Fantasy value would change, but don't expect this performance against the Falcons to make him into a viable Fantasy option.
, WR, Miami
Owned: 10 percent of leagues
Week 13: Caught 10 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown against New England.
Analysis: The Patriots game was amazing for Bess, who scored his first touchdown of the season and just the second touchdown of his career. He is worth adding now in deep leagues where you get a point per reception because he has three games in his past five with at least six catches and four games over that span with at least 55 receiving yards. The problem for Bess is his inability to score touchdowns, but you can't overlook someone when they have 10 catches for over 100 yards. He also has great matchups ahead against Jacksonville, Tennessee and Houston in the next three weeks.
, WR, Cleveland
Owned: 1 percent of leagues
Week 13: Caught four passes for 69 yards against San Diego.
Analysis: Robiskie has the potential to be a decent NFL receiver, but the Browns have been reluctant to use him. He finally got some extended playing time against the Chargers and had a decent outing. Don't add him in anything but the deepest of keeper leagues, but he is worth keeping an eye on if his targets increase (he had five Sunday). And as we've noted, the Brown have tremendous matchups ahead with games remaining against Kansas City, Oakland and Jacksonville.
, WR, Washington
Owned: 1 percent of leagues
Week 13: Caught seven passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns against New Orleans.
Analysis: Thomas had a breakout game against the Saints and hopefully is starting to realize his potential, but this was just his third NFL touchdown and only the second game he's scored in his career. He also previously had not gone over 50 yards receiving in a game this year or had more than four catches. Now, he could just be hitting his stride at the end of his second year, and Jason Campbell is playing well over the past two games, so keep an eye on Thomas on the chance that this continues.
Do you have a question? Send your thoughts to DMFantasyFootball@cbs.com and we'll post the best responses. Be sure to put Attn: Waiver Wire in the subject field. Include your full name, hometown and state. Also, follow me on Twitter @jameyeisenberg.
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