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Working the Wire: Lost Season, Found Runner

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

This week marks the beginning of the playoffs in some leagues, and there aren't too many quarterbacks, running backs or wide receivers on the waiver wire you would pick up and plug into your lineup this week if you're still playing. However, there are some interesting options at tight end and defense that could be used. Finally, if you need a long shot this week or play in a deeper league, all of these players should be on your radar.

QUARTERBACK

Secondary Targets

Case Keenum, HOU -
Keenum is a plug-and-play this week solely based on matchup. He looked at least serviceable against the Patriots on Sunday and managed a rushing touchdown despite no throwing touchdowns. This week he gets one of the better matchups a quarterback can have going against a Jaguars defense that just got torched by Brandon Weeden. Consider him a fringe top-12 option, this week only. FAAB: $4-8

Hail Mary

Matt Cassel, MIN -
Cassel played extremely well Sunday in relief of Christian Ponder albeit against a weak Chicago defense. He hasn't been confirmed as the starter, but it would seem that he did enough to get the nod this week. It'll be tougher sledding this week heading into Baltimore, so he only warrants consideration in deep or two-quarterback formats. FAAB: $1 or FCFS

RUNNING BACK

Secondary Targets

LeGarrette Blount, NE -
While it appeared that Brandon Bolden would be the main beneficiary of Stevan Ridley's benching, Blount had the better fantasy game. Overall it likely will be Shane Vereen who is the most valuable fantasy back, but Blount has carved out a role in the offense. He is probably considered the goal-line back now and has at least 44 yards rushing in four of his last five games. I'd also advise keeping an eye on your waiver wire for Ridley, who could land there if an owner panics and drops him. I get the feeling we'll see him again sooner than later. FAAB: $5-10

Mike Tolbert, CAR -
Quick, how many touchdowns does Mike Tolbert have over his two seasons with the Panthers? Would 11 be somewhat surprising? With D'Angelo Williams out Sunday, Tolbert played a bigger role and finished with 91 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. He looked better and was more efficient than Jonathan Stewart and could be in line for even more work this week if Williams is out again. FAAB: $4-8

Hail Mary

Antone Smith, ATL -
The kid has looked explosive for the Falcons, and his one carry against the Bills he took 38 yards for a touchdown. He now has five carries for 145 yards on the season (29 YPC), and it would make sense if Mike Smith gave him more opportunities with the Falcons finishing a lost season. Smith passes the eye test and with such limited work this season has the fresh legs to be effective if given the opportunity.

Willis McGahee, CLE, -
I don't have a ton of faith in McGahee, who only had 27 yards from scrimmage his previous two games before his 71-yard outburst Sunday. He's been dealing with a knee injury, and it doesn't say much about his upside that his 4.1 YPC Sunday was his best game of the season. The only bit of good news is that he gets the Patriots this week, a team that gave up three rushing touchdowns to Ben Tate. FAAB: $1 or FCFS

WIDE RECEIVER

Primary Targets

Brian Hartline, MIA -
Quietly, Hartline has been one of the more consistent receivers lately, recording at least five catches and 57 receiving yards in each of his last four games. The problem with Hartline is that he's never been a big red-zone target. He was a 1,000-yard receiver last season yet only had one touchdown, an odd couple of stats to go together. His score Sunday was a result of him running a nice route and then breaking a couple tackles on his way to the end zone. FAAB: $6-10

Secondary Targets

Greg Jennings, MIN -
Jennings had another good game once Matt Cassel took over, finishing with 78 receiving yards and a touchdown. If you go back to Cassel's start across the pond against the Steelers, Jennings had 92 receiving yards and two touchdowns. This week, if Cassel is named the starter Jennings would enter the flex discussion depending on your league. FAAB: $4-8

TIGHT END

Primary Targets

Jared Cook, STL -
Cook overall has been pretty disappointing this season after being a big free-agent signing. He has been more fantasy relevant his last few games with touchdowns in two of his last four. He led the Rams in receiving Sunday with 49 yards and has an outstanding matchup this week going against the Cardinals again. When they met Week 1, Cook had 141 receiving yards and two touchdowns, and the Cardinals have given up a plethora of fantasy points to tight ends this season. Just a week after giving up 97 receiving yards and three touchdowns to Brent Celek and Zach Ertz look for Arizona to yield a big game to Cook. FAAB: $6-10

Garrett Graham, HOU -
It looks like Owen Daniels will be back soon, but it's looking unlikely this with the short week. That means Graham will pick up another start and appears to have the stars aligned in his favor. Jacksonville has been terrible against the pass and stopping tight ends, providing a good matchup. Then throw in that Graham has gotten at least nine targets in each of his last three games and 32 total, and it's obvious why this looks like such a good matchup. FAAB: $6-10

DEFENSE

Primary Targets

New England Patriots -
Last week I recommended the Jacksonville defense based completely on the matchup with Brandon Weeden. That worked out nicely as Weeden was a turnover machine once again and only a Joe Thomas tackle saved a defensive touchdown. Provided Weeden is under center, take a look at the Patriots. FAAB: $4-8

Oakland Raiders -
Another good matchup - and it's arguable that it's better than New England's - is Geno Smith and the Jets these days. Smith can't have any confidence at this point and hasn't thrown for more than 159 yards his last five starts. Throw in that he has a 0:8 TD:INT ratio during that span making this another good matchup. FAAB: $4-8