Fantasy footall waiver wire advice for standard scoring leagues:
Packers running back James Starks (owned in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Eddie Lacy injured his ankle against Atlanta in Week 14. He played through the pain to finish the game, and hasn’t missed a start since. The rookie re-aggravated the injury against the Steelers on Sunday and left the game early. Backup James Starks came in and produced 70 yards on 11 touches. For the season, Starks has run 78 times for 405 yards (5.2 yards per carry), while catching nine passes for another 82 yards. He has four total touchdowns on the year. Should Lacy miss any action in Chicago next week, Starks would be a very valuable plug-and-play.
Browns running back Edwin Baker (owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues)
In Week 15, Edwin Baker touched the ball for the first time in his NFL career. He used 12 touches to create 84 total yards and a touchdown. After the game, head coach Rob Chudzinski said that the team may consider giving more opportunities to the second-year back. That didn’t take long. In Week 16’s game against the Jets, Baker led Cleveland’s backfield with 17 carries for 64 yards (3.8 yards per attempt) and a score. He also made two receptions for 12 more yards. The staff would be wise to give another chance to the young player this week, to see more of his abilities before a critical offseason.
Giants wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan (owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Victor Cruz had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on December 19, after suffering an injury in Week 15’s loss to Seattle. Prior to that game, third-year receiver Jerrel Jernigan had 13 career receptions. He has since stepped into the starting slot role, and performed admirably. Against the Seahawks, Jernigan made seven catches for 67 yards. And in Week 16, the former third round pick made six receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. Cruz has not been placed on injured reserve, but is not expected to return for the season finale. Jernigan could be due another good showing. The Giants will face Washington’s 31st ranked defense this week.
Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson (owned in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Fate has dealt the fantasy world another opportunity to discuss Nate Burleson and his pizza-related injuries. The 11th year receiver from Nevada-Reno began the year on a career pace. Through the first three games of the season, Burleson had 19 receptions for 239 yards. Then he made that eventful decision to order take out. While reaching for a sliding pizza box on the way home, Burleson flipped his vehicle and broke his arm in a one-car wreck. Detroit’s number two receiver missed seven straight games as a result. In Sunday’s loss to the Giants, Calvin Johnson played through pain, coming in and out of the game. “His knee and his ankle, his ankle was an issue last week and it was an issue all week this week,” head coach Jim Schwartz said after the game. “He was nowhere near 100-percent.” Johnson played just 48 snaps, compared with 62 for Burleson and 77 for Kris Durham. The 7-8 Lions have nothing to gain in their final game, and could be motivated to rest their best player. In Johnson’s absence, Burleson would become Detroit’s best receiving option. They face Minnesota’s 32nd ranked defense this Sunday.
Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Over the last four weeks, LeGarrette Blount has dominated the New England backfield. He has led all Patriots in carries (47), rushing yards (209), and touchdowns (3) over this stretch. During the same time, Stevan Ridley has run only 31 times for 123 yards and no scores. The demotion of Ridley is no myth. For the first 12 weeks of the season, Ridley led the team in rushes (135), rushing yards (577), and touchdowns (7). He led each by a large margin as well. Blount was second in carries (82) and rushing yards (374), and Brandon Bolden’s three scores were second best. It’s important to remain focused on recent history when looking at a Bill Belichick roster. Blount is likely to retain his lead duties for the final game against Buffalo this week. The Bills own the 23rd ranked rush defense.
Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (owned in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Adrian Peterson sprained his foot in the first half of Week 14’s loss to Baltimore. During that game and the two since, the 2012 Most Valuable Player has rushed only 18 times for 58 yards and no touchdowns. Over these three games, the Vikings have begun to lean more heavily on Cordarrelle Patterson. The electric 22-year-old rookie has earned 19 touches for 259 total yards and three touchdowns during this span. Patterson has scored in four straight games for Minnesota. In select leagues that reward return yardage, the former Tennessee Volunteer is even more valuable. For the season, Patterson has scored twice on kickoff returns, while averaging 2.7 returns for 89.5 yards per game. The Vikings may approach Peterson with caution this week, which could open a bigger door for Patterson as a result.
Panthers wide receiver Brandon LaFell (owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Steve Smith was diagnosed with a sprained PCL in his knee, and is not likely to play Week 17. Head coach Ron Rivera said “He’s highly doubtful for this week, but it will be week-to-week. There’s a lot of good news there.” Cam Newton will have plenty of targets to distribute in the absence of Smith. For the season, the team’s leading receiver has been Greg Olsen. The tight end has made 67 receptions for 774 yards and five touchdowns. Olsen will clearly become an important cog this week. After Olsen and Smith, the team’s next top target has been Brandon LaFell. The fourth-year receiver has averaged 3.3 catches for 41.8 yards and 0.3 scores per game this year. Expect LaFell to play a significant role against Atlanta’s 24th ranked defense.
Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis (owned in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Since Week 13, Marcedes Lewis has ranked ninth among all tight ends in receiving yards (172). More importantly, he has scored a touchdown in each of the last four games. During this time, Lewis has averaged 3.3 receptions for 43 yards and 1.0 score. After battling a groin injury over multiple weeks, Cecil Shorts was placed on season-ending injured reserve. The wide receiver last played in Week 14. Since then, no Jaguar has been targeted more than Lewis (13 times) or caught more passes (8). Jacksonville will head to Indianapolis this week to square off with their 12th ranked defense.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Whether Robert Griffin III was benched over health concerns or poor performance remains a cloudy topic. Nonetheless, backup Kirk Cousins has assumed the starting role. In two starts, his record is 0-2, having lost each game by one point. Facing Atlanta in Week 15, Cousins completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 381 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. It seemed the surest bet in the NFL that Cousins would obliterate the Cowboys’ 32nd ranked pass defense last Sunday. But Dallas stepped up when it counted, and the second-year quarterback was held to a 58.3 completion percentage, 197 yards, one score, and a pick. Cousins may start the season finale against the Giants, and could be a serviceable option for a fantasy team in need.
Chiefs running back Knile Davis (owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Kansas City has clinched the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs. They can do no better or worse, regardless the outcome of Week 17. Asked after the last game about resting his starters in San Diego, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said, “I haven’t even gotten that far. I wasn’t anticipating this right here, and so I’ll go look at that. But I’ll evaluate what we do as we go forward.” With a crucial wild card game coming up for the team, Reid could be tempted to sit Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles, among others. Keep a close eye on this as the week progresses. Should Charles miss any snaps, Knile Davis could get a lot of work alongside inexperienced quarterback Chase Daniel. For the season, the rookie rusher has carried the ball 43 times for 161 yards (3.7 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns.
Players still relevant from previous weeks fantasy football waiver wires include Ace Sanders, Rueben Randle, Tim Wright, Montee Ball, Jordan Todman, Nick Foles, Keenan Allen, Andre Ellington, Shane Vereen, Michael Hoomanawanui, Emmanuel Sanders, Charles Clay, Rishard Matthews, Julian Edelman, Rashad Jennings, Andre Brown, Andrew Quarless, Greg Jennings, Rashard Mendenhall, and more. Catch some waives from past weeks (week 16, week 15, week 14, week 13, week 12, week 11, week 10, week 9, week 8, week 7, week 6, and week 5).
Stats and data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com, footballguys.com, espn.com, and profootballfocus.com.
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