Don't Wait for Waivers - Week 2

I decided to follow the maxim “better late than never” and at least give owners a little time to examine this piece and potentially add one of these names before kickoffs start in under a couple hours. I was close to kickoff of the Giants-Cowboys game last week and though I wasn’t right about the player, I was way right about the situation with the Dallas No. 3 receiver. So I didn’t want to deprive any readers of this week’s potential waiver steals.

If you’ve never read this piece before, the premise is simple. Every week I try to put five names out there that could become hot waiver commodities the following week, as in before the games are played. Since I can see into the future about as well as anyone, I’m really just looking for situations that might allow for an opportunity to break right for a deep reserve or afterthought starter. If you can grab one of those players before his big game, you don’t risk losing a bidding war or falling victim to the wrong end of a waiver order the following week. So I suggest players who may be the week’s breakout guys to add to the bench if, and only if, there’s a player on your bench just wasting a spot, essentially someone you’re just itching to dump.

A quick recap of last week: I had Dwayne Harris as the guy to emerge as the Cowboy’s third wideout. Kevin Ogletree had other plans. My RB suggestions were solid, as both Knowshon Moreno and Joique Bell vultured touchdowns and Moreno looks like a nice long-term handcuff for an aging vet in Willis McGahee. Ramses Barden, like Harris, lost out to a teammate and Ryan Broyles was inactive as the Lions take a cautious approach with their second-rounder coming back from ACL surgery. Broyles still should be owned and could break out any week.

With that in the books, let’s look at the names you may want come Monday:

Golden Tate, WR (SEA)
– If you’re looking for a starting wide receiver in a passing offense with some upside, Tate is a guy to give a chance. After missing Week 1 with a minor knee injury that he suffered in the final preseason game, he practiced fully all week and is considered probable to face Dallas. Though it’s unclear if he’ll move right into the starting lineup ahead of Braylon Edwards, he’s still listed as a starter on the depth chart at split end. Given that Edwards did very little—unless you include dropping the game-winning touchdown pass a good thing—to cement his starting job last week, it could just be a matter of the dynamic young wideout making a couple plays after the catch to steal back his job. And considering how incredibly injury-prone Sidney Rice is (he’s ALREADY dealing with a knee issue), it would not surprise if Tate becomes the No. 1 in Seattle and finally lives up to the hype he came in with after winning the 2009 Biletnikoff Award at Notre Dame.

Leonard Hankerson, WR (WAS)
Pierre Garcon is expected to miss today’s game at St. Louis after suffering a foot injury last week. If Adam Schefter says so then it must be true. Assuming he’s right and Garcon sits, the Skins will need someone to step up. Last week it was the diminutive speedster Aldrick Robinson, who seemed to leapfrog Hankerson on the depth chart for the opportunity. The former did nothing to blow his chance by finishing second to only Garcon with 52 receiving yards and by snagging Robert Griffin III’s only other passing score. Nevertheless, Hankerson is a more gifted all-around receiver with just as much big-play potential and considerably more size. He was a third-round pick in 2011 and before suffering a hip injury and going on IR last year, he posted back-to-back good games in his only real extended action. Against a stout 49ers D he registered 34 yards and a two-point conversion, then followed that up with 106 yards on eight grabs in the game he got hurt. Mike Shanahan is not one to put any stock in who was drafted ahead of who (Robinson was a sixth-rounder). The best players in Washington will play. But at the same time, Shanahan has been known to do some flip-flopping with his personnel, and with no one having made a strong claim for the No. 2 job after Garcon, Hankerson would be a sneaky pick-up this week in case he pops.

Aldrick Robinson, WR (WAS)
– So last week I recommended taking a stab on Dwayne Harris, who I thought had a chance to play his way into a significant role in Dallas because the No. 3 receiver job offers an opportunity for some nice moments. Then that Kevin Ogletree fella stole the spotlight. And it wasn’t the first time I picked the situation right but the player wrong. In fact, Ramses Barden did not register 55 yards on three catches last week for the Giants. That was Domenik Hixon. I realized when the situation is right, but the job is up for grabs, ALL reasonable candidates for said job should be considered with equal weight. In this case, I’m slotting Robinson behind Hankerson despite his performance last week. That may be the wrong way to go, but I see more upside/long-term breakout potential in Hankerson. But if the Redskins are running a Baylor-style attack and Robinson gets the chance to play Kendall Wright—the hyper-fast playmaker with calls designed to get him the ball in space—then he’s clearly the better option. A coin flip may be the proper way to decide this battle if choosing between the two.

Louis Murphy, WR (CAR) – With Cam Newton slinging the ball, the possibility exists in Carolina for the No. 3 wide receiver to carry some eventual flex value. Though many aspects of the offense struggled in Week 1 versus Tampa, Newton still topped 300 yards and Murphy saw some opportunity as a deep threat. He caught three balls for 63 yards including a long of 51. With Steve Smith dinged up this week with a sore knee, Murphy may see a bigger role in the offense and force his way into a regularly expanded role if he performs up to the task. Murphy showed nice promise his first two seasons, particularly as a downfield threat, before missing most of last year. It would take a lot for Murphy to fully leapfrog Brandon LaFell as the team’s No. 2 wideout, and there’s still Greg Olsen to fight with for targets, but if an injury were to occur, he could become a very ownable player and even a consistent flex.

Tashard Choice, RB (BUF)C.J. Spiller is an awesome talent and may lead the league in total yards for as long as Fred Jackson is out with a sprained LCL. But a goal line back Spiller is not. He’s lean, mean and fast but power is not exactly his specialty. Choice on the other hand is a solidly built, grind-it-out style runner. Even though he just has 10 lbs. on Spiller, he’s trusted more in short-yardage situations and already began stealing goal line chances last week. Though Choice didn’t convert them, his opportunity may be a sign of things to come. If you lost Jackson and don’t own Spiller, or are just desperate for some backfield depth, Choice could be an interesting flier to give a week or two to show something. At worst he may be a TD vulture for a few weeks but he may also see a timeshare, as Spiller is not a guy to take on a full load of carries. And at best, Choice is an injury away from a starting gig. He has become an afterthought in this league to a large extent, but when he last started as a rookie in 2008 Choice put out a three-game stretch with well over a 100 total yards in each and scored in two of them.


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