Waiver Wire: Week 13 scouting report
Who are the best available options during this very important week? Mario Puig helps you make those tough decisions in his latest look at the waiver wire.
Quinshad Davis , WR, North Carolina: Although he didn't enter this year with much hype - at least not regarding the 2012 season - there's no doubt Davis will head into 2013 as one of the nation's most highly regarded breakout candidates. Senior wideout Erik Highsmith has disappointed, catching 52 passes for just 560 yards and four touchdowns, and Davis has picked up the slack, emerging as the co-leader in receptions for the Tar Heels while emerging as the yardage leader with 641 yards. Davis has been a monster the last three weeks in particular, pulling in 29 passes for 349 yards and a touchdown. That sort of strong finish will have his stock high when next year arrives, and in the meantime he's a good bet to produce against a Maryland team that forces teams to throw (3.3 yards per carry allowed).
Clive Walford , TE, Miami: Walford started the 2012 season slowly, catching just one pass in three of his first eight games, surpassing 30 yards just once in that span, but he seems to have earned a bigger role as the season comes to an end. Wideout Rashawn Scott's suspension might have something to do with it - there's certainly more production up for grabs now that Scott (35 catches for 512 yards and three touchdowns in nine games) is out of the lineup - but Walford deserves some credit for his playmaking skills. He's averaging 16.8 yards per catch on the year, showing the ability to make an impact despite his modest catch totals (21 catches on the year). In any case, Walford is finishing strong with seven catches for 204 yarsd and two touchdowns the last three weeks.
Sam E. Richardson , QB, Iowa State: The Kansas defense is far from impressive, but Richardson's dominant showing in his first career start would have him near must-own status if we weren't in the midst of the fantasy college football playoffs. Besides, it's not like the West Virginia defense he'll face in the regular season finale is any good, either. Richardson showed exceptional dual-threat production against the Jayhawks last week, completing 23-of-27 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns while running for 68 yards and a fifth touchdown. That's 38 points in standard fantasy scoring. The Mountaineers allow 42.3 points per game, with their inept pass defense (10.0 YPA allowed, 33 passing touchdowns allowed) likely to give Richardson a favorable environment to close out the year.
Damien Williams , RB, Oklahoma: After starting the year as a small workload/big-play producer in the Oklahoma backfield, Williams has become somewhat of an opposite in recent weeks, trading in the big plays for more touches and emerging as the Sooners' clear workhorse back. Although he only has 191 yards to show for it, Williams' fantasy value is pointed upward due to the increased stability he's shown the last two weeks, with his 45 carries over that span adding up to more than what he had in the first four games of the year (44 carries). He also has three touchdowns and eight catches for 94 yards in his last two games, making the lower rushing average more than worth it.
Jerome Smith , RB, Syracuse: Smith has been on fire his last five games, and he figures to make it six good games in a row when he takes on Temple this week. With 568 yards and three touchdowns in his last five games, Smith is a justifiable start in any format and might be the top fantasy back among Big East runners at the moment. A strong finish to the regular season is likely for Smith, as the Owls allowed 253 yards per game on the ground over their last four contests, surrendering 10 rushing touchdowns over that same span.
Travis Kelce , TE, Cincinnati: Aside from the average yardage per catch - a category in which he's still posting a very impressive 16.9 yards per catch - Kelce has quietly led the Bearcats in all receiving categories this year. He's up to 28 catches for 472 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games, and he faces a hopeless South Florida squad that allows 8.2 yards per pass and has allowed 15 passing touchdowns compared to two interceptions. The Cincinnati passing game should get going this week, and if it does, Kelce should be one of its main components.
Stephen Houston , RB, Indiana: Houston is probably a bit under the radar in most cases as the weekend approaches, because in his last two games he has just 18 rushing yards. His two catches for 90 yards and a touchdown against Penn State on Saturday reminded everyone that Houston can make big plays through the air, too, and now he's up to 591 yards (4.4 YPC) and nine touchdowns on the ground while adding 25 catches for 286 yards and four touchdowns. He should break back out rushing this week, though, because the Purdue defense is nowhere near the levels of the Wisconsin and Penn State defenses. The Boilermakers have surrendered 19 rushing touchdowns while allowing 4.7 yards per carry this year.
Thomas Rawls , RB, Michigan: The Denard Robinson running back experience leaves Rawls with less prominence than your typical No. 1 true running back, but he could still have some usefulness in Big Ten-only leagues this week as Michigan takes on Ohio State. Rawls will take over as Michigan's top non-Denard running back since Fitzgerald Toussaint (leg) is out for the year, giving Rawls a legitimate shot surpass 15 carries against the Buckeyes.
Arsenio Favor , QB, Southern Mississippi: Favor seemed to be the last guy considered for the Southern Mississippi quarterback role among himself, Chris Campbell , Anthony Alford and Ricky Lloyd , but last week's showing seems to indicate that Favor should have been the starter all along. The other three all looked miserable at almost all points this year, while Favor at least has one big game to his name, throwing for 374 yards (17.0 YPA), two touchdowns and one interception against UTEP while bolting for 42 yards and a third touchdown. He takes on a vulnerable Memphis defense this week.
Brandon Hayes , RB, Memphis: Hayes emerged as Memphis' top running back the last month or so, and he finally had a big breakout game against UAB last week, taking 19 carries for 127 yards and three touchdowns. He averages 4.7 yards per rush and had 57 carries his last three games, so it was only a matter of time before a big game occurred. Another one could be in store this week because the Southern Mississippi defense has had profound struggles this year, allowing 201.4 rushing yards per game (4.9 YPC) and 30 touchdowns on the ground in 11 games.
T.J. Jones , WR, Notre Dame: Jones is only a deep-league consideration, but he's been the top receiver in the Notre Dame offense as young quarterback Everett Golson breaks out. Jones started slowly in 2012, catching just 11 passes in the first month and hitting the 50-yard mark just once in his first five games, but his efficiency has improved as Golson emerged the past month. Jones has 14 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns in the last three games, and he's a decent bet to keep producing against USC this week since Notre Dame will have a little more pressure than usual to take a decisive lead.
Cassius McDowell , RB, Toledo: Star lead back David Fluellen was reportedly diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain following last week's game against Northern Illinois, and if that's the case he's extremely unlikely to play Tuesday against Akron. If Fluellen sits out, McDowell would take over as the top Toledo runner. McDowell has been solid as an off-the-bench back for Toledo this year, running for 354 yards (5.2 YPC) and three touchdowns while catching 17 passes for 145 yards and a score, and if Fluellen sits McDowell will inherit a role that has allowed Fluellen to break out for 1,460 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground in just 11 games.
Michael Cox , RB, Massachusetts: Cox's dreary playing situation at Massachusetts makes him strictly a deep-league and MAC-only consideration, but in such formats he might be worth a gamble this week. The former Michigan transfer has a big workload, averaging 16.5 carries per game, and his dreadful rushing average of 3.6 yards per carry could be offset somewhat by a Central Michigan defense that allowed 25 rushing touchdowns through 11 games, surrendering 209.1 yards per game on the ground in the process.
Cole Gautsche , QB, New Mexico: Gautsche doesn't throw the ball much at all - he has just 31 pass attempts for 222 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but he's emerged as a major running threat in New Mexico's circus-like running game. Gautsche has 719 yards (7.3 YPC) and seven touchdowns on the ground this year, with 221 yards and two touchdowns coming from the last two weeks. He faces a Colorado State squad this week that's allowing 209.4 yards rushing per game this year.
Walter Kazee , RB, San Diego State: Feature back Adam Muema is the ideal player to own in the San Diego State backfield, but those in deep formats could do worse than Kazee, too. Kazee has been a prominent part of the San Diego State offense himself, taking 13.9 carries per game for 787 yards (5.1 YPC) and eight touchdowns in 11 games. He'll likely post nice numbers this week, as the Wyoming defense he'll face allows 217.1 yards per game on the ground, surrendering 19 rushing touchdowns in 11 games in the process.
Connor Hamlett , TE, Oregon State: Hamlett's numbers on the year aren't especially impressive - he has just 21 catches for 276 yards and three touchdowns - but those are promising figures when you account for how senior Colby Prince was ahead of him to start the season. Hamlett caught just six passes in the first four weeks, but he caught six passes in Saturday's game against California alone last week, turning them into 80 yards and a touchdown. He's a worthwhile gamble in most formats for owners who need tight-end help because he seems to have seized a bigger role in Oregon State's pass-happy offense.
Terron Ward , RB, Oregon State: Storm Woods presence clouds Ward's situation to the point that he's probably not worth a look outside of Pac-12 leagues and similarly deep formats, but he nonetheless deserves some credit for the plays he's made the last few weeks. After taking just 10 carries for 32 yards in the first seven weeks of the year, Ward has hit his stride in the last three games, running for 281 yards (7.4 YPC) and four touchdowns in that span. Woods has double-digit carries in each of the last two games, too, so the pair seems to be able to coexist.
Chad Bumphis , WR, Mississippi State: Bumphis is one of the nation's most underrated receivers - as a general rule, when Mississippi State needs to throw, he puts up big numbers. The numbers tend to be hit-or-miss since Mississippi State goes with run-heavy game plans many weeks, but Bumphis made up for lost time in the big games he has had, scoring 10 touchdowns on 49 catches this year while totaling 758 yards (15.5 YPC). He's been especially hot in the last three weeks, catching 19 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns. His Bulldogs will be dared to another shootout against Mississippi this week, putting the pieces in place for a strong finish for Bumphis.
Donte Moncrief , WR, Mississippi: Double teams plagued Moncrief a great deal the last month or so, limiting him to 160 yards and one touchdown in October, but he broke out in a big way last week, torching LSU for 161 yards and two touchdowns on six catches. The Mississippi State defense he faces this week is quite a bit friendlier than the LSU one he torched Saturday, so another strong game could be in store for Moncrief in what figures to be a heated rivalry game between the two main Mississippi schools.
Brent Leonard , WR, Louisiana-Monroe: Leonard has been absolutely huge the last month, catching 42 passes for 521 yards and six touchdowns in his last four games. Needless to say, numbers like that put him close to must-start status in most formats. Although Florida International is only 3-8, the Golden Panthers figure to dare Monroe into another shootout this week because quarterback Jake Medlock has 16 touchdowns (three rushing) compared to two interceptions, and his numbers would be even better if not for injury. Leonard's number should get called fairly often again this week.
Alonzo Harris , RB, Louisiana-Lafayette: Harris' unremarkable rushing efficiency primarily makes him a consideration in deep leagues and Sun Belt-only formats, but this week should be one of his better ones. The Ragin' Cajuns face FBS newcomers South Alabama this week, and the Jaguars are ill-suited to defend even Sun Belt squads. Harris has a touchdown in two of his last three games, and he figures to make it three of his last four after facing South Alabama.
Ryan Otten , TE, San Jose State: Otten is one of the nation's best tight ends, but a low touchdown total (three) has limited his fantasy utility this year. He should have a great shot at ending the year on a high note, though, because Louisiana Tech is coming to town, and a whole bunch of points are likely to be scored. The Bulldogs average 52.3 points per game while allowing 37.3 per game. It's not as if the Spartans need any charity from the Louisiana Tech defense, though, because San Jose State is putting up 33.7 points per game, too. With 619 yards on 38 catches (16.3 YPC), Otten is a good bet to find the end zone if he catches at least four passes.
Chandler Jones , WR, San Jose State: Like Otten, Jones figures to end the regular season with a bang as the San Jose State offense gets into a shootout this week. Jones has quietly been one of the nation's better touchdown sources at receiver, scoring 10 times on 46 catches, but his total of 591 yards is obviously quite modest. But against a Louisiana Tech defense allowing nearly three passing touchdowns per game (32 in 11 games) as well as 338 passing yards per game, Jones should find more room for big plays than usual. In this matchup, Jones is a good bet to post numbers in both the yardage and touchdown categories.
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