Playing the Waiver Wire for Week 11
Maty Mauk has shown his worth over the last couple weeks and Mario Puig likes what he sees in his Week 11 edition of Playing the Waiver Wire.
Brandon Hayes, RB, Memphis: Hayes has done a great job all year putting a high floor on his fantasy production, posting at least nine points in standard scoring in all but one game and posting double-digit points in four of his last five, but he hasn't shown any upside in a Memphis offense that possesses one of the nation's worst passing games. That should change this week against the FCS squad of Tennessee-Martin, though. Despite the tough circumstances it finds itself in, the Memphis defense has been strong all year, holding opponents to 24.1 points per game. The Tigers should shut down Martin this week, and it's difficult to see them passing up the chance to finally run up the score, which should mean season highs for Hayes in touches, yardage and touchdowns.
Anthony McClung, WR, Cincinnati: McClung has quietly been one of the nation's more efficient receivers the last three years, but his production has always been smothered by a Cincinnati offense that either passed poorly or spread the ball around, or both. The senior has finally shown signs of breaking out in recent weeks, though, and over his last four games he has 27 catches for 318 yards and four touchdowns. He faces an SMU defense this week that has allowed 18 touchdowns compared to three interceptions through the air, and a Rutgers defense the week after that has allowed 22 touchdowns compared to six interceptions.
Dallas Crawford, RB, Miami: Star Miami running back Duke Johnson will miss the rest of the year after suffering a broken ankle in Saturday's catastrophic loss to Florida State, forcing the Hurricanes to turn to Crawford as the new starter. Crawford had been busy all year anyway as an off-the-bench runner behind Johnson, running for a team-leading nine touchdowns with 294 yards (4.4 YPC) as a runner and 50 yards and a 10th touchdown through the air. Crawford should be owned in most or all leagues since he'll be the workhorse for a squad averaging 36.4 points per game.
Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh: Street might be available in some leagues since he missed time with an injury and fellow wideout Tyler Boyd has more production in recent weeks, but Street is still the top Pittsburgh receiver and should be owned in most or all formats. Street should be good this week in particular because Pittsburgh is heading into a probable shootout with a Notre Dame squad that just isn't good on defense. The Irish gave up 34 points to Navy last week, and passers like Taylor Kelly, Devin Gardner and Blake Bell had big games against Notre Dame, too. The Notre Dame passing game has 22 touchdowns on the year and should force Pittsburgh to throw the ball to keep up. With at least four catches in every game this year and an average of 17.3 yards per catch, Street is a good bet to stand out this week.
Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma: There have been few bigger disappointments in college football this year than the Oklahoma quarterback position. Trevor Knight surprisingly won the starting job over the heavily favored Bell to start the year, but Knight fell on his face by completing 44.9 percent of his passes and averaging 4.3 yards per attempt, forcing Oklahoma to turn back to Bell, who has also disappointed. After running for a ridiculous total of 24 touchdowns on just 113 rush attempts the last two years behind starter Landry Jones, Oklahoma has for some reason refused to run the ball with Bell, and he has just 245 yards and zero touchdowns on 66 attempts. Still, Bell should have his best game yet against Baylor this week. Oklahoma needs to play with extreme aggression on offense if it hopes to keep up with a Bears squad averaging 63.9 points per game. Whether it's in garbage time or in a legitimate shootout, Bell should pile up a lot of pass and run attempts Thursday.
Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas Tech: Although he's listed at a tiny 5-foot-6, 160, Grant appears to be pulling away as Texas Tech's second-best receiver behind lead wideout Eric Ward. He has 26 catches in his last four games for 350 yards and two touchdowns, and it appears that he's a favorite target of quarterback Davis Webb. Grant has a lot of open-field running ability and Texas Tech should continue to get him the ball underneath as Ward and star tight end Jace Amaro make plays downfield. Grant is also a dynamite kick returner who's due for a touchdown or two in the return game - he scored twice while totaling 237 yards (39.5 yards per return) on just six kick returns last year.
Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois: Ferguson emerged from last week's overtime loss to Penn State with a hard-fought total of 34 yards and a touchdown on the ground on 10 carries, as well as six catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. This week, though, Ferguson could really go off against an Indiana defense that is annually one of the weakest in the nation. The Hoosiers allow 4.7 yards per carry (21 touchdowns on the ground) and 8.2 yards per pass attempt. That means Ferguson could have a big game both as a runner and receiver. Owners in PPR leagues should be racing to the waiver wire if Ferguson is still there.
Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa: If Weisman's been dropped in your league and you need running-back help this week, add him and fire him up against Purdue. The Boilermakers are one of the nation's most hopeless teams, posting just 11.5 points per game while allowing 37.1. Weisman is due for a big game after going five weeks without a touchdown, and it's difficult to imagine how Purdue could keep him out of the end zone after allowing 18 rushing touchdowns through eight games, allowing 5.2 yards per carry all the while. Iowa figures to end up in clock-killing mode early in this one, meaning Weisman, Damon Bullock and Jordan Canzero might combine for more than 40 carries.
Reggie Whatley, RB, Middle Tennessee: Starting Middle Tennessee runner Jordan Parker is the ideal player to own with the Blue Raiders, but Whatley has transformed himself from a kick returner/big-play specialist into a legitimate running back in Middle Tennessee, and he's definitely on the deep-league radar at this point after totaling 259 yards on 31 carries (8.4 YPC) over the last two weeks. Middle Tennessee's next two opponents are Florida International and Southern Mississippi, both of which are competing for the "Worst Team in the Nation" award. Middle Tennessee should crush both, ensuring Whatley will get plenty of work behind Parker as the Blue Raiders mercifully run out the clock.
Brelan Chancellor, WR, North Texas: Darnell Smith looked like the North Texas wideout to own over the first five games of this year, totaling 36 receptions for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Since then, though, it's been Chancellor who's easily produced as the top receiver for the Mean Green, quietly emerging as one of the nation's more productive big-play wideouts by totaling 374 yards and two touchdowns on 21 catches (17.8 YPC), adding a punt return for a third touchdown. He's primarily a deep-league option since the North Texas offense is a bit unpredictable with its distribution of targets and carries, but Chancellor has shown he can make an impact even if he doesn't get the ball many times.
Tarean Folston, RB, Notre Dame: The Notre Dame running game has sputtered all season. Projected starter George Atkinson didn't show the hands and general reliability coach Brian Kelly wanted, and neither Cam McDaniel nor Amir Carlisle have the pure talent needed to consistently produce. Folston looks like a game-changer for the Irish, though, which makes it a wonder why Notre Dame hasn't used him all season in a starting role. The freshman needed only 18 carries to put 140 yards (7.8 YPC) and a touchdown on Navy on Saturday, and up next is a Pittsburgh defense that's allowing 164 rushing yards per game with 13 touchdowns on the ground in eight games.
Bronson Hill, RB, Eastern Michigan: Hill sat against Toledo on Saturday due to a coach's decision, which almost always means a disciplinary issue. Given that Hill was dressed for the game, though, it would seem as if any suspension should be a brief one, making Hill a worthwhile speculative add leading up to Eastern Michigan's game against Western Michigan's vulnerable run defense. Western Michigan is allowing a ridiculous 243 yards on the ground per game, allowing 21 rushing touchdowns in nine games in the process. Hill is Eastern Michigan's best player and, if he suits up against Western Michigan, he should do a lot of damage Saturday. Hill has 814 yards (5.8 YPC) and four touchdowns on the ground so far in 2013, and 15 catches for 174 yards and a touchdown as well.
Matt Johnson, QB, Bowling Green: Bowling Green faces Miami (OH)'s weak defense Tuesday, making Johnson a nice candidate to provide cheap quarterback production this week. Despite playing on the road against Mississippi State and against a respectable Toledo defense the last two weeks, Johnson hasn't thrown an interception since Sept. 21, and he averages 10.1 yards per pass attempt against MAC opponents (Kent State, Akron, Massachusetts and Toledo) this year. The RedHawks have allowed 18 passing touchdowns in eight games, and Johnson should also take advantage of a Miami (OH) run defense that's surrendered 1,740 yards (4.9 YPC) and 15 touchdowns in eight games.
Chris Gant, WR, Hawaii: Gant was quietly one of the nation's more productive breakout receivers over the last month, but he might have been dropped in many formats after finishing his game against Utah State on Saturday with just two catches for 48 yards. If your league was one of them, Gant is worth picking up for some receiver help. Utah State's pass defense is one of the best among non-AQ schools, allowing opponents to complete just 54 percent of their passes for just 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in nine games. Gant's dud game against the Aggies was the anomaly, in other words, not the 467 yards and four touchdowns he had in the four games prior.
Anthony LaCoste, RB, Air Force: LaCoste's workload has been inconsistent all year - he's only twice gone over 20 carries and only three times over 10 - but he had such a huge game against Army on Saturday that Air Force will have to rethink its plans and make an effort to make LaCoste the team's leading runner. He torched Army for 263 yards (11.4 YPC) on 23 carries while scoring three touchdowns, nearly matching the season-long outputs of second- and third-leading rushers Broam Hart (413 yards) and Jon Lee (366 yards), respectively. Air Force faces fellow option-running school New Mexico on Friday, and the Lobos allow 6.3 yards per carry to go along with 27 touchdowns in eight games.
Jaydon Mickens, WR, Washington: With the season-ending injury to Kasen Williams (knee), the Washington offense will have a few more targets up for grabs each week, and as the team's probable top wideout, Mickens is a prime candidate to see the greatest boost to his value. As the recipient of 3.6 targets per game prior to his injury, Williams is surrendering a significant role in the Washington offense, and was already quite busy by averaging 5.6 receptions per game. With Williams out, Mickens ought to make a strong push for at least 6.5 receptions per game, and he should start on a nice note as Washington takes on Colorado's weak defense this week.
Devin Fuller, WR, UCLA: Fuller continues to develop at wide receiver after arriving to UCLA as a highly-ranked quarterback recruit, and it looks like he might soon establish himself as the team's best receiver, even over senior Shaquelle Evans. Fuller had a huge game against Colorado on Saturday, showing off his multidimensional skill set by running for an eight-yard touchdown in addition to catching three catches for 99 yards and two scores. Fuller quietly holds the UCLA team lead with 34 catches on the year for 417 yards and four touchdowns, as well as the rushing touchdown from Saturday and a passing touchdown against Utah on Oct. 3. With UCLA facing the potent offenses of Arizona, Washington, Arizona State and USC to close out the year, Fuller might have his best four-game stretch yet in the final month.
Travis Labhart, WR, Texas A&M: Labhart began the year as a most invisible component of the Texas A&M wideout rotation - Mike Evans, Malcome Kennedy, Derel Walker and Sabian Holmes were believed to be higher on the depth chart - but in recent weeks he's shown signs of establishing himself as the team's second option behind Evans, the undisputed lead receiver. Labhart has 24 catches in his last four games with 288 yards and two touchdowns. The yardage and touchdown totals are a bit limited, obviously, but Labhart has shown some intriguing PPR upside at the very least.
Maty Mauk, QB, Missouri: James Franklin is the top Missouri quarterback when healthy, but Mauk has shown a lot of gutsy play for Missouri since Franklin suffered a separated throwing shoulder, and Saturday's matchup against Tennessee showed that Mauk can put up big numbers when he doesn't have to play against extra tough defenses like Florida and South Carolina. Since Tennessee didn't drain his rushing yardage with sacks, Mauk bolted for 114 yards (8.8 YPC) against the Volunteers on Saturday, adding 163 yards and three scores as a passer. He should have another nice game against a Kentucky defense that has allowed nine touchdowns compared to one interception in the passing game.
Alonzo Harris, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette: Harris has been injury prone and, as a result, hit-or-miss as Lafayette's top runner since 2011, plagued by inconsistent carry totals as well, but Lafayette has suddenly shown a heavy tendency to give Harris the ball in recent weeks, especially in the red zone. Harris should be owned in most or all formats after receiving 67 carries over his last three games, running for a total of 326 yards and nine touchdowns. Although he doesn't show anything as a pass catcher, Harris is clearly the go-to option near the end zone for a Lafayette offense that moves the ball well under the direction of quarterback Terrance Broadway. The Ragin' Cajuns are scoring 37.9 points per game this year, and Harris is poised to be a leading scorer in that operation.
Kolton Browning, QB, Louisiana-Monroe: Browning has been one of the bigger fantasy busts at quarterback this year, due both to productivity and durability issues, but it looks like he's back on track after a strong efforts against Georgia State and Troy, a two-game span in which he posted 578 yards and nine touchdowns as a passer, adding a 10th touchdown on the ground. Browning was one of the elite fantasy quarterbacks of 2012, so he should probably be owned in all formats unless he cools off. The Monroe offense forces him to run and pass often, as he averaged 35.7 pass attempts and 12.2 rush attempts per game last year.
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