Don't Wait for Waivers - Week 5

It’s getting tougher to find them, but there are still names out there worth grabbing to stash on the bench that are owned in very few leagues. Injuries are constantly opening up the door for unexpected players to emerge and our job as fantasy owners is to beat others to the punch on those guys. As always this blog is intended to point out a handful of names that could have a big week coming and the potential for an expanded role on the horizon. If you’ve got a last bench spot being wasted on someone going nowhere, then grab one of these names and ensure you don’t lose a potential breakout free agent to the waivers process.

Last week I discussed Ryan Grant, Shaun Hill, Michael Floyd, William Powell and Isaiah Pead as worthy stashes. The latter three have now given us two games off which to judge that recommendation, and while I still think they’ll both make fantasy-useful contributions before the year is out, Floyd and Pead are not worth owning right now. Powell, meanwhile, offers some intrigue if Ryan Williams’ shoulder injury turns out to be anything serious (doesn’t look like it so far), but at the same time it looks as if no Cardinals back is worth owning, starter or not, until that o-line improves dramatically. With Matthew Stafford showing no ill-effects of his hip injury last week, Hill is officially a pointless roster spot. So that leaves Grant, who should still be owned despite Alfred Morris looking generally awesome. Mike Shanahan has been known to switch up his backs a ton and though Morris is the man now, Grant could eat into the role if Morris hits any type of rookie wall or starts to struggle. He has only played four NFL games after all.

Devery Henderson, WR (NO)
Drew Brees’ third or fourth receiving option will always carry significant fantasy value. Lance Moore has been a respectable flex for much of the last five years in that capacity, but this week he’ll be out with a hamstring injury. And because hamstring injuries can take time to heal properly and nag a player on and off for many weeks, it’s a near certainty that whoever steps into that role as the starting receiver opposite Marques Colston will be worth owning, if not flexing periodically. The most likely candidate to earn the PT is Henderson, a nine-year veteran who is in his seventh year playing with Brees. In the past he’s shown flashes of big-time potential, but he’s always been more of a deep threat who was a bit buried in the rotation. He should slide into the starting lineup though for Sunday night and if Moore suffers any setbacks or cannot get past his hammy issue soon, Henderson should log a lot of snaps and targets as teams focus more of their energy on slowing Colston and Jimmy Graham. It’s possible the younger Joseph Morgan could also carve out a niche for himself, but it’s more likely that Henderson’s experience and chemistry with Brees will earn him the opportunities to make plays.

James Starks, RB (GB)
– Let’s set the record straight on Starks. He is not a bad football player. He is injury prone, sure, and he hasn’t done anything just yet to get overly excited about, but the 6-foot-2, 218 lbs. back is just in his third season. Starks is coming off a nagging turf toe injury, but it sounds as if he’ll finally play this weekend versus an Indy defense that’s allowed an average of 131 rushing yards per contest so far. And while Cedric Benson has been effective for the most part this year, he’s still far from a dynamic runner and he’s fumbled the ball now 13 times dating back to the start of the 2010 season. If Benson starts putting the ball on the ground, Starks could earn some significant action or even potentially leapfrog Benson should he provide a bigger spark to the offense. Last season Benson had more than twice as many carries as Starks but had just four runs of 20+ yards, whereas Starks registered five. The Packers seem a bit more dedicated to the run than they were last year, and if Starks were to find himself in a lead role down the road, he’d almost be sure to receive more carries each week than the single-game high of 13 he had in 2011.

Josh Gordon, WR (CLE) – The rookie wideout has yet to do much through four games (seven catches for 93 yards), but with Mohammed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin both out with hamstring injuries, this could be the first big game of the promising receiver’s career. Gordon saw a decent amount of hype after the Browns spent a second-round pick on him in the supplemental draft, even garnering the lofty comparisons to a young Randy Moss. Having missed his entire final year at Baylor to a suspension he’s still quite raw, but the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder has the size to present a mismatch to just about any corner and with 4.4-speed he can get over the top of a defense for big plays. Given that Brandon Weeden is third in the league in pass attempts at nearly 42 per game, it’s only a matter of time until Gordon starts getting a heavier dose of targets. That time could well start this week with a thin Browns receiving corps opening the door to more playing time for Gordon.

Chaz Schilens, WR (NYJ) – No matter how bad the Jets looked last week and how bad their matchup is coming up versus the Texans, the fact remains that Mark Sanchez and the Jets will have to throw to somebody. With no more Santonio Holmes (foot/IR) and both Stephen Hill and Dustin Keller doubtful for Monday night with hamstring injuries, Schilens will start and have a shot to lead the team in receiving for the second straight week. At 6-foot-4, 225 lbs. and with 4.4-speed, Schilens has loads of physical potential. He’s in his fifth season though with still less than 1,000 career yards, so that potential has yet to translate onto the field. There is reason to believe however, as Schilens finds himself in a starting role and 100% healthy for one of the few times in his career. Sanchez only targeted him three times last week versus the Niners, but Schilens brought in all three of them for 45 yards. He’s unlikely to maintain that efficiency, but his opportunities should go way up as he really only has to split targets with Jeremy Kerley this week and possibly free agent signee Jason Hill. If the Jets turn things over to Tim Tebow though, all bets are off on their receivers since none will ever have a shot to catch more than four passes in a game, but as long as Sanchez is at the helm someone will have to get the ball. Schilens has as good a shot as any of their targets to lead the way.

Jason Hill, WR (NYJ) – See Schilens, Chaz. For as long as Keller and the other, younger Hill are out, the Jets really have no choice but to play this Hill and potentially play him a lot of snaps. In 10 games with the Jaguars in 2011 before they inexplicably released him despite his being a starter, Hill actually totaled nearly 100 more yards and one more score than Schilens had in 15 games as a Raider, including an outing versus the Bengals in which he went for 118 and a touchdown. Though he’s been in the league for five seasons, Hill has yet to truly establish himself as a consistent player despite having all the tools to be a good possession receiver at the pro level. On Monday night he’ll start getting his chance to prove himself all over again.


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