Playing the Waiver Wire for Week 12
Which players are worth an investment? Mario Puig gets you started in the right direction with his Week 12 look at the waiver wire.
Paul James, RB, Rutgers: James missed Rutgers' last four games due to a leg injury he suffered against Arkansas way back on Sept. 21, but he returned to Rutgers practice during the team's bye week and it looks like he should return to the field against Cincinnati on Saturday. James was one of the nation's absolute best fantasy backs before the injury struck, totaling 573 yards (7.4 YPC) and six touchdowns on the ground and six catches for 65 yards in less than four full games. Justin Goodwin is a very promising runner for Rutgers and did well when James was injured, but James should still take on a workload of at least 16 carries per game. James' average of 7.4 yards per carry is a substantial improvement over Goodwin's 4.9.
William Stanback, RB, UCF: Stanback is the backup runner to the dominant Storm Johnson, so he's only a consideration in very deep formats, but he should pay off as a cheap, matchup-specific pickup against Temple this week. The Owls quite simply cannot play defense, and Central Florida should turn this game into a blowout halfway through the third quarter. As a result, Stanback is a good bet to go over double-digit carries for the first time this year against Temple, and he'd likely find the end zone at least once if that should occur. Stanback has five rushing touchdowns in his last four games and is averaging 5.8 yards per carry this year.
Roderick McDowell, RB, Clemson: After somehow missing the end zone for the first seven games of 2013, McDowell is finally starting to score for Clemson and has three touchdowns over his last three games. McDowell has 231 yards and three touchdowns on the ground after playing on the road against Maryland and Virginia in his last two efforts, adding seven catches for 48 yards and a fourth touchdown. The Tigers should continue utilizing McDowell at home against Georgia Tech this week, as the Yellow Jackets run defense has been quite bad on the road this year. Georgia Tech averaged 154 yards and two touchdowns allowed on the ground when playing Duke, Miami, BYU and Virginia on the road.
Marquise Williams, QB, North Carolina: Bryn Renner will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, forcing Williams into the starting lineup for North Carolina. Williams has much more running ability than Renner and, as a result, he's also a more valuable fantasy option. He also has a favorable matchup this week against a dubious Pittsburgh defense that allowed Notre Dame, Duke and Florida State to combine for 10 touchdown passes and 117 points. Williams' stock is way up after throwing for 185 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against Virginia on Saturday while running for 46 yards and a third touchdown.
John Hubert, RB, Kansas State: Hubert's start to the 2013 season was fairly rough. After posting 16 touchdowns (one receiving) and averaging 5.0 yards per carry in 2012, Hubert totaled just 197 yards (4.3 YPC) and two touchdowns in three games to start this year, and that was while facing the lowly trio of North Dakota State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Massachusetts. In recent weeks, however, Hubert has recaptured the fire he showed in 2012, and he has 438 yards and four touchdowns on the ground over his last four games, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. He ought to do well again this week as Kansas State takes on a TCU squad that just can't do a single thing right on offense, which should give Hubert plenty of opportunities against a tired defense.
Levi Norwood, WR, Baylor: Tevin Reese will miss the rest of Baylor's regular season with a dislocated wrist, creating room for Norwood to make an impact in an offense that previously only had room for Reese and Antwan Goodley as fantasy-relevant wideouts. Norwood got off to a good start in his new role against Oklahoma on Thursday, catching four passes for 78 yards and a touchdown, and his rate of production should only pick up. Reese caught 33 passes for 824 yards and eight touchdowns in seven games prior to suffering the injury Thursday, so a pace of 100 yards and a touchdown per game is very much within reach for Norwood.
Treyvon Green, RB, Northwestern: Venric Mark (ankle) will miss the rest of the season, locking in Green as the top Northwestern runner and Stephen Buckley as his backup. Both Green and Buckley are good runners who will see the field plenty, but Green should be the lead man in what has been a strong rushing attack. Green had a huge game against Nebraska on Saturday, burning the Cornhuskers for 149 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, averaging 7.8 yards per rush. Green has 612 yards and eight touchdowns this year on 95 carries (6.4 YPC) and should be owned in all formats as a result.
Zach Zwinak, RB, Penn State: Fumbling issues have forced the Nittany Lions to rotate between Zwinak and Bill Belton in recent weeks, with the team jumping from one to the other as the errors mount. Belton had his shot the last two weeks and ran well enough, but he lost a fumble in each of those games, and it's probably not a coincidence that Penn State switched back to Zwinak after Belton's second fumble. Zwinak went on to light up Minnesota for 150 yards (5.8 YPC) and a touchdown, and he totaled eight rushing touchdowns in a three-game span as a starter earlier this year. Zwinak should put a beating on Purdue, assuming he remembers to take the football with him.
Jaquez Johnson, QB, Florida Atlantic: Johnson doesn't really offer much as a passer - he has just 1,290 yards yards passing while averaging 6.3 yards per pass, throwing six touchdowns and six interceptions, but he's quietly turned into one of the country's most productive runners at quarterback. Johnson has 513 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground in eight games, averaging a healthy 4.1 yards per carry. That includes at least one rushing touchdown in six straight games. He's set to finish the season strong, as Florida Atlantic takes on an extremely weak trio of defenses in Southern Mississippi, New Mexico State and Florida International. New Mexico State might have the worst run defense of all time (3,129 yards, 41 touchdowns allowed on the ground at 7.1 yards per carry), and Southern Mississippi and Florida International, respectively, allowing 43.7 and 38.0 points per game.
Isaiah Jones, WR, East Carolina: Justin Hardy was the only established East Carolina wideout heading into this year, so there was always room for another breakout receiver to establish himself in the Pirates receiver rotation. Recent developments indicate that Jones is that breakout receiver, as he 23 catches for 239 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games. It'd be nice if Jones could increase his average of just 9.8 yards per catch but, in the meantime, he appears to be picking up steam in the Pirates offense. He has 17 catches in his last two games and has a shootout-friendly UAB defense up next.
Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU: Williams has had some rough luck as far as touchdown production goes, as he has just three touchdowns on the year despite running very efficiently, posting 809 yards on 159 carries (5.1 yards per carry). He did that despite facing a fairly formidable schedule, featuring defenses like Wisconsin, Boise State and Utah State, so his yardage production is almost matchup-proof, and he's quite simply due for a touchdown spree any second now. With BYU taking on Idaho State and then Nevada in two weeks, now seems like the appropriate time for that spree.
Jawon Chisholm, RB, Akron: Chisholm has really picked up his production in recent weeks, overcoming a 287-yard (4.0 YPC), one-touchdown start in his first six games to pile up 473 yards (5.3 YPC) and six touchdowns in the last four games. That leaves Chisholm with a healthy total of 760 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground at 4.7 yards per carry, and a nice bonus in PPR formats with 24 catches for 174 yards. Chisholm should stay hot against Massachusetts this week because the Minutemen allow 241 rushing yards per game with 19 touchdowns in nine games.
Jamill Smith, WR, Ball State: Smith has played third fiddle to Willie Snead and Jordan Williams all year but he still has a more than respectable total of 50 catches for 683 yards and five touchdowns in eight games in Ball State's dominant pass attack. That includes four straight games with a touchdown. Smith is a good bet to make it five in a row this week, as Ball State takes on Northern Illinois in a shootout-mandatory matchup - Ball State will almost certainly air it out aggressively in hope of keeping pace with Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, who has 32 touchdowns in nine games.
Grant Hedrick, QB, Boise State: With Joe Southwick out of the Boise State lineup due to injury, Hedrick was finally granted a starting opportunity against Nevada on Oct. 19. The early returns indicate that Hedrick was the right man for the job all along, as in his three starts he's piled 687 yards and six touchdowns through the air compared to two interceptions. He also gave his fantasy owners a huge bonus with 169 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Hedrick is poised for another huge game as Boise State takes on Wyoming this week. The Wyoming offense, led by quarterback Brett Smith, is probably good enough to force Boise to play aggressively for four quarters, which should equal big numbers for Hedrick as he takes on a defense allowing 8.0 yards per pass and 4.9 yards per carry.
Jarrod Lawson, RB, San Jose State: Tyler Ervin and Jason Simpson were the first two running backs in line for San Jose State to start this year, but both players have since been knocked down, leaving room for Lawson to make his way onto the field. Lawson, it seems, was the best of the trio all along. He's been red hot in the last five weeks, totaling 580 yards (5.8 YPC) and three touchdowns on the ground while adding eight catches for 132 yards and a fourth touchdown. He should go off again this week against a putrid Nevada run defense allowing 6.7 yards per carry on the year and 32 rushing touchdowns in 10 games. Colorado State runner Kapri Bibbs just annihilated Nevada for 312 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Jared Goff, QB, California: Goff has had his shaky moments in his freshman year, a season in which he was expected to serve as backup to favored starter Zach Kline prior to the year. Goff has generally shown a lot of promise, however, and coach Sonny Dykes' surprise decision is looking like a wise one. Goff has eight touchdowns compared to two interceptions in his last three games despite facing the formidable defensive trio of Washington, Arizona and Southern California, and he's averaging 312 yards per game through the air over 10 games. Goff should have one of his best games of the year as California takes on Colorado this week, as the Buffaloes allow 8.1 yards per pass and have surrendered 21 passing touchdowns in nine games.
Nate Phillips, WR, Arizona: There was a void at receiver for Arizona this year due to the season-negating knee injury that star wideout Austin Hill suffered in the offseason, and until recently no one had really stepped up for the Wildcats. Phillips answered the call starting Oct. 10 as Arizona took on USC, catching two passes for 71 yards and a touchdown to begin what would become a five-game touchdown streak. Phillips now has 409 yards and six scores on the year, with 344 yards and all the touchdowns coming from his last five games. The rest of the Arizona offense has just five receiving touchdowns on the year, so Phllips should continue to produce by default in an offense that appears dependent on him in the passing game.
Jerron Seymour, RB, Vanderbilt: Seymour's yardage totals are quite modest - he has just 541 yards in nine games - but he has quietly turned into one of the nation's better touchdown sources at running back. He has Seymour has 12 touchdowns on just 118 carries this year, including six in his last three games. With a home matchup against Kentucky this week, Seymour just might go past the 100-yard mark for just the second time this year, posting his best numbers of the season in the process. The Wildcats allow 5.0 yards per carry on the year and have surrendered 20 touchdowns on the ground in nine games.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama: Alabama faces Mississippi State this week, a team that doesn't stand a chance of even pestering a Crimson Tide squad that just slapped LSU, 38-17. That means that starting running back T.J. Yeldon probably won't be necessary beyond the first half, and Drake should see a sizable workload and a good opportunity to see the end zone. Drake is due for a visit to the end zone after going 24 carries without a touchdown prior to this week, especially given that he has 154 yards on those carries. Drake has seven rushing touchdowns on 73 carries this year, and Mississippi State allowed six rushing touchdowns against LSU on Oct. 5.
Wes Saxton, TE, South Alabama: Saxton is one of the nation's most prolific tight ends when it comes to receptions and receiving yardage, yet he somehow hasn't scored a touchdown after 39 catches in 2013. He's showing adequate explosiveness as a receiver, averaging 12.7 yards per catch, so it seems as if something has to give sooner or later, and a handful of touchdowns could be around the corner. This week's game against Navy is a logical setting for such a breakout. Hawaii tight end Clark Evans -- a significantly less talented receiver than Saxton - caught nine passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns against Navy last week.
Alonzo Harris, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette: Harris might be available in some leagues since he had a dud performance against Troy on Thursday, but anyone who needs running back help in those leagues can likely count on a bounce- back effort from Harris as the Ragin' Cajuns take on lowly Georgia State this week. Georgia State is 0-9 and allowing 36.9 points per game. After totaling just 64 yards on 21 carries against Troy, a matchup against the Panthers should get Harris back on the track and producing more like he did in the three prior weeks, a span in which he totaled 10 touchdowns in four games.
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