Authored by Erick Arnold - 18th November, 2010 - 8:52 pm
With bye weeks over, the only thing creating drops and additions to fantasy rosters are poor play or injury. Staying ahead of your league is imperative down the stretch, so fantasy owners need to know the names of the players before they are household names.
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Waiver wires at this point can almost appear talentless, but there may be some fantasy studs ? if only for a week ? out there for you to take advantage of.
Here?s a watch list that all fantasy owners should be keeping their eyes on. Best of luck this week.
- QB Troy Smith
The Alex Smith project is over for San Francisco, as a former Heisman winner or, the other Smith (Troy), has cemented himself as the leader of this offense. With a 350 yard performance against the Rams last week, Troy Smith is growing at a rapid rate statistically. With divisional matchups aplenty coming up in the second half of the season, owners looking for a platoon solution should definitely give Smith a look especially with the right matchup.
Troy Smith has what Alex didn?t: the ability to make the big play downfield. With Tampa Bay up this Sunday, if Troy puts up 2 TDs and over 220 yards, he?s definitely worth the addition.
- RB Reggie Bush
The hot potato Heisman has returned from a broken leg and returns to a backfield riddled with injury. His return does not bode well for WR Lance Moore owners, but Bush?s upside with RB Pierre Thomas out is big. Expect Bush to continue to split carries as he normally does, but now he will share with RB Chris Ivory. Still, every fantasy owner should be invested in the Saints offense and Bush is a critical piece. Take advantage of the impatient owners who dropped him in Week 2 and take the freebie RB as a solid W/R this week.
- RB Keiland Williams
With RB?s Clinton Portis and Ryan Torrain out with injuries, Williams had a strong showing on Monday night amassing 80+ yards and 2 TD?s. What?s striking about that performance is that most of that was done mid-game against a solid Philadelphia defense. Furthermore, if the game wasn?t a complete blowout, his statistics would be that much better. Head Coach Mike Shanahan has always been the type to ride the hot hand at running back so it?s very possible that Williams has taken the starting job. Either way, I?d add now and monitor the Redskins backfield this coming Sunday as you may have a starting back added to your lineup.
- WR Jacoby Ford
With Ford?s production before the bye, look for the Raiders to ride the hot hand. Ford?s speed makes him a home run threat on every play meaning his fantasy production should be consistent moving forward. Don?t expect huge numbers this week going against the Steelers, but he should net the most fantasy points out of any Oakland receivers. However, Ford and the Raiders have pass-friendly matchups against the Chargers, Jaguars, Broncos, and Colts down the stretch and into Fantasy playoff games. This addition to your fantasy roster should have future gains ahead as the speedy Ford will certainly continue to get targets downfield.
- WR Earl Bennett
With WR Devin Hester being somewhat removed from the offense, the door has opened for QB Jay Cutler?s college teammate to begin receiving more targets. Bennett did well early last season but as Hester began to become more familiar with his new position at wide receiver, Bennett?s production dropped. Thus, one has to believe that he should renew his rapport with Cutler with the removal of Hester on most passing plays. Furthermore, Chicago has tinkered with their league-worst offensive line and seems to have found a suitable front given their performance the past two weeks. Keep an eye on Bennett this Thursday and keep track of how many targets he gets.
- DEF Cleveland
Traditionally a fantasy wasteland, it?s time to throw the Browns? defense a fantasy bone. Now that the Browns have an established running game with RB Peyton Hillis and a quarterback they can win with in QB Colt Mccoy, the Browns are continuing drives instead of ending them. Thus, the defense is benefiting in all facets simply because they?re able to rest more during the game. As all fantasy veterans know (or should know), starting a defense is all about the matchup and that is exactly why the Dawg Pound is worth a roster spot. Looking forward, the Browns have a very favorable schedule going against the Panthers in Week 12, the Bills in Week 14, and the Bengals in Week 15. Furthermore, DEF Cleveland averages almost 2 sacks and turnovers per game and rank 10th averaging 18.8 points per game. If the law of average holds, the Browns should net almost 8 fantasy points minimum. However, there is more upside as KR Josh Cribbs is slated to return Week 12 which is when Cleveland has their best matchup against the woeful Panthers. Thus, with Cribbs returning kicks and Cleveland facing weak opponents down the stretch, it?s time to pick this dawg up from the waiver wire now before someone else does.
- DEF New Orleans
The Saints face the worst offense in football in Carolina this week. Carolina is also starting QB Brian St. Pierre at quarterback this week who has thrown a total of five passes in his NFL career. RB?s Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are not playing. To quote comic legend Stan Lee, ?Nuff said?.
- DEF Kansas City
Unless your roster possesses DEF Baltimore or DEF Pittsburgh, you?re more than likely searching for a defense to start this week. When in doubt, grab the team that?s playing Carolina or Arizona. Fantasy owners should grab Kansas City immediately if neither of the aforementioned options is available. Kansas City is looking to bounce back against the Cardinals after consecutive losses to divisional opponents. The Cardinals rank 31st in total offense and average two turnovers per game whereas the Chiefs? defense averages two sacks per game and almost two turnovers per game. Given that the Chiefs get Arizona at their friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium, expect the Chiefs defense to dominate the erratic Cardinals QB Derek Anderson and dominate Arizona?s running game that?s hobbled with an injury to starting RB Beanie Wells. Again, when in doubt start defenses that play Carolina and Arizona and you?ll be rewarded with a solid fantasy production of at least 10 points.
- DEF Dallas
Dallas has burned more fantasy GM?s this year then ?that GM? who dropped all of his players when his team was eliminated from the playoffs. Many fantasy owners -including yours truly - have gambled with Dallas? defense (given how much individual talent is on that squad) and lost in a big way. Last week?s beat down on the Giants was what most football experts and Dallas fans expected from this defense the entire season. Whether it was different methods employed by Interim Head Coach Jason Garrett or the fact that player?s jobs were on the line is anyone?s guess but, the fact that the whuppin? happened to the league?s best offense should not go unnoticed ? especially by fantasy owners. Granted Dallas doesn?t have a great schedule ahead but this week could be a week to start DEF Dallas. The Cowboys face the Detroit Lions this week at home who are without QB Matthew Stafford. Furthermore, the Lions running game has suffered tremendously since RB Jahvid Best?s turf toe injury he suffered in Week 3. Although backup QB Sean Hill has played admirably in Stafford?s absence, they are not the same team with Hill under helm. The same reasons the Cowboys played well last week will be the same reasons they play well this week (Imagine if the Cowboys lose to the lowly Detroit Lions at home. How many heads will roll from Jerry?s axe?). If the Cowboys can limit the number one offense in the Giants to half of the season average in all statistics, imagine what they could do to the league?s 19th ranked offense. Make no mistake, this is considered a gamble due to the fact nobody knows what Cowboys defense shows up this Sunday but if the other options mentioned aren?t available, this could be the best option available in a ?feast or famine? type option.