Working the waiver-wire in fantasy football is a huge key to victory. You add the right guy, at the right time, and your team takes off. If you beat the rush, are a little proactive in your approach, then you can grab a weekly starter on the cheap before the rest of the fantasy football universe gets it and is ready to go all in to add the player to their squad. I'll toss out a couple of guys this week that you might want to be proactive with while also touching on the other names you need to know about as they come into fantasy relevance.
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(Assuming a $100 Budget)
Matt Cassel, Vikings
Cassel was a major improvement over what Christian Ponder had been offering this season as he played for the injured Ponder against the Steelers throwing for 248 yards and two scores without turning the ball over. He wasn't great, but solid, and he moved the offense. Still, the Vikings don't appear ready to give up on Ponder. HC Leslie Frasier will not commit to Cassel saying only that he will play until Ponder is healthy. With the Vikings on a Bye this week, it's possible that Ponder could be under center for their next game in Week 6.
FAAB BID: $1-3
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Titans
Jake Locke is currently expected to miss 4-6 weeks with his hip injury. That gives Fitzpatrick a fairly long window of fantasy relevance. I know Fitzpatrick is limited, he just doesn't have the arm to make some of the throws, and he can be a turnover machine as well (from 2010-12 he averaged 18 interceptions and four fumbles a season). Still, he threw for at least 3,400 yards and 24 scores in each of the past two seasons, so he can run an offense. Problem is though that the Titans plan to lean on the run as they are 4th from the bottom in passing yards through four games.
FAAB BID: $7-10
Brian Hoyer, Browns
If you didn't pick him up last week you'll likely have to pay a premium this week with Big Ben, RGIII, MIN and TB on Bye this week. Add in injury to Locker, and Hoyer just might be a target for some. Hoyer has completed at least 25 passes for 269 or more yards in each of his two starts, and he's also tossed five scores. He also rectified his sloppiness from his first start going from three turnovers to none. Hard to have a terrible fantasy day when you're averaging 46 passes a week.
FAAB BID: $10-15
Tashard Choice, Bills
The Bills play the Browns Thursday, thanks NFL, and we don't know the status of either Fred Jackson (knee) or C.J. Spiller (ankle) for sure. Spiller has hinted that he doesn't feel good about his outlook for the matchup whereas Jackson, even with a sprained MCL, says he will just wear a brace and play through it. That uncertainty means Choice is someone that should be added this week. The issues to think about before you overspend on Choice. (1) We may not know who is playing until game time. (2) How will we know what the workload will be for any of the backs? (3) The Brown are the 7th best defense against running back this year in fantasy points allowed. (4) Choice really isn't very good. I base that on the fact that he's been in the league for six years, has been on three teams, and he never had 100 carries in a season. Be careful.
FAAB BID: $7-10
Andre Ellington, Cardinals
Rashard Mendenhall was called out by his coach after another poor effort (1.8 YPC on 12 touches with two fumbles, one lost). His grip on the starting job is slipping thanks to a 3.4 YPC mark through four games. It's also clear that the Cardinals have correctly identified that Alfonso Smith is not someone who should be in the weekly game plan. Ellington looks like he's pretty much locking down the third down role, he's had 13 targets the past two weeks, and there's a chance he could end up pushing Mendenhall for early down work as Rashard just hasn’t looked like himself since coming back from injury last season.
FAAB BID: $10-15
Mike Goodson, Jets
Chris Ivory is hurt again. Bilal Powell has had like two good games in his career. Those two facts mean that Goodson could have a role right away with the Jets now that he's returning from suspension, and he could also push Powell for touches as the weeks progress. Goodson is the most talented all-around runner of the trio, and he showed his ability to catch the ball in 2010 when he hauled in 40 receptions for the Panthers. He's also averaged 4.5 YPC for his career, and he possesses plenty of wiggly.
FAAB BID: $7-10
Shonn Greene, Titans
Chris Johnson continues to touch the ball 20+ times a week, but he's also not being used in the passing game, and he's rarely an option at the goaline. That means there is some flex appeal for whomever is backing him up. It was supposed to be Greene but Jackie Battle has had to step up with Greene on the shelf with a knee issue. Greene will return to action this week with individual drills, and there's a chance he'll be good to go in Week 6. It's not the worst idea in the world to toss a couple of bucks at him this week to stash him cause Battle isn't going to be able to hold him off. The Titans also have an easier second half schedule than the first half one their currently working through.
FAAB BID: $3-5
Roy Helu, Redskins
It looks like Alfred Morris' rib issue isn't going to keep him out of action. Morris can thank the fact that the Redskins have their Bye this week. That doesn't mean you shouldn't add Helu though. Helu can catch the ball, who can forget his 14 reception game in his first career start, and that means he could have a third down role with the 'Skins cause catching the football is not something Morris does well. Helu is also a solid runner who might actually be a better fit for the blocking system the team runs than Morris. He's a handcuff with Morris healthy, but a potential top-15 RB in a PPR setup if Morris is down an out at any point.
FAAB BID: $15
Rashad Jennings, Raiders
It was only a matter of time before Darren McFadden was hurt. It's already happened. DMC injured his hamstring and he's shaping up as likely to miss Week 5. Marcel Reece hurt his knee, and while we don't know exactly what's going on, we are sure that it's doubtful he will play this week and it's possible that he could miss multiple weeks. Jennings, therefore, is a solid short-term add whose long-term value is totally dependent on the health of the other two runners. Jennings caught eight balls for 71 yards last week, but remember that was because check down artists extraordinaire Matt Flynn was at quarterback. If the team goes back to Terrelle Pryor as planned, he may not catch as many passes.
FAAB BID: $10-15
Danny Woodhead, Chargers
I heard from a few people that he was on waivers, so I'm mentioning him. I can't fathom how a guy who was top-25 last year in a PPR setup is on waivers, but if he is he's an immediate add. Don't go bonkers in the bidding though after his two score game, he's not a huge TD threat and he's still pretty much just the 3rd down back with Ryan Mathews looking pretty solid.
FAAB BID: $20-25 in PPR, $10-12 in non-PPR
Justin Blackmon, Jaguars
Like Woodhead, he shouldn't be on waivers. From Week 11 through 16 last season, Blackmon was the 8th wideout in football in a PPR showing just how valuable he can be. His outlook will be greatly improved when Blaine Gabbert is replaced by Chad Henne, hopefully soon, and Blackmon has potential WR2 upside and should settle in as no worse than a weekly WR3 option.
FAAB BID: $30-35
Kris Durham/Ryan Broyles, Lions
Durham started in Week 4 and was on the field for 61 snaps. He also caught three balls for a team best 58 yards. Ryan Broyles was on the field for 43 snaps but only had one target. I have no idea what the Lions are doing here, why they aren't utilizing Broyles, so it's hard to give advice on Durham who clearly isn't as talented a football player. I'm still suggesting Broyles over Durham, but neither should be a real target at the moment.
FAAB BID for Durham: $3-5
FAAB BID for Broyles: $5-7
Charles Clay, Dolphins
With each passing week it becomes more difficult to write off Clay's hot start. Through four games he's caught at least four balls each week and has 20 receptions (he's also be targeted at least six times each week). With an average of 61.3 yards per game this season he's also on pace for more than 975 receiving yards. Seems like Ryan Tannehill trusts him more than Mike Wallace. I don't think he can sustain this pace, but that doesn't mean Clay isn't a worthwhile add. Miami is on a Bye in Week 6, so factor that in to your decision making process.
FAAB BID: $10
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT & Friday's at 9 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answers everyone's questions.
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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