By mid-afternoon last Sunday, #FreeBryceBrown was one of the more popular trends on Twitter, as the season-ending injury to Bills RB C.J. Spiller (collarbone) and the indefinite loss of Fred Jackson (groin) put the athletically freakish Brown on Fantasy football parole.
Folks, RB #35 is now out on the streets and waiting for a position to fill on your roster.
Let’s take a look at Brown’s record:
6’0”, 220, runs 4.48. Once upon a time, he was the top prep back in the country, but off field issues led to his departure from The U (Miami, Fla. for the three percent not in the know) for a season at Kansas State. He was drafted in the seventh round in the 2012 draft by the Eagles, where he rushed for 878 yards on 190 carries (4.6 yards per tote) and six touchdowns in two seasons. Fumbles (four) were a sore spot. Brown was dealt to the Bills during the 2014 draft, as the Eagles had no space for him, as LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles and Chris Polk left him the wallflower at the dance.
Yeah, the Bills are going to say all the right things about how journeyman Anthony Dixon could be a factor (and Kate Walsh will be knocking at my door shortly afterward). Read the previous paragraph and then ponder what it would be like to have a talent like that (oh, and he also caught 21 passes) as the lead back in an offense that is run-friendly.
Bryce Brown is owned in eight percent of polled leagues entering Tuesday. While I’m not one to follow the crowd, this is an exception. Remember, I’ve led you to the promised land of Ronnie Hillman, Jerick McKinnon and Branden Oliver in recent weeks (while still holding a flame for Lorenzo Taliaferro). This week will be something of a “getting to know you” kind of showing, as Brown does face a rugged Jets defense before hitting the bye in Week 9. But considering that the waiver wire is getting barren of quality RBs, you’d better jump on Brown. Now.
Dixon is probably more of a deeper league prospect, and while I’m not doubting he could be of some use, talents like Brown and opportunities like this do not unite in waiver wire marriage too often this late in the season.
It’s beautiful, people. Beau-ti-ful.
As for the rest of this week’s gems:
Denard Robinson, RB/WR, Jaguars: The rise of Storm Johnson was about as emphatic as brief sun shower, which opened the door for “Shoelace” to take the ball and go 22-127-1 in Jacksonville’s win over Cleveland. The former Michigan quarterback is a rare gem in that he will qualify for both positions in most polled leagues (in which he is currently owned in about 11 percent). I wouldn’t worry too much about Toby Gerhart once he returns, as he will be more of a breather for Robinson, while Jordan Todman should stay as a third down back. He also provides Blake Bortles a reliable target (11 for 13 in receptions), and I feel confident he will improve his 3.4 yards per catch average. For a team that just won its’ first game and ranks at or near the bottom in most offensive categories, the Jags have a lot of intriguing skills players, and as of now, Robinson appears to be the one with the most upside.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks: With Seattle now free of Le’affaire de Harvin, Baldwin (owned in 24 percent of polled leagues) becomes the featured target for Russell Wilson, which showed in last week’s 7-123-1 in 11 targets. The Seahawks aren’t becoming the 1999 Rams, yet it’s obvious they’re not going to be as heavily dependent on the boom and pound attack that has defined them over the last few seasons. While I like the long-term upside of rookie Paul Richardson, Baldwin has the potential to become more than just a mild Flex option the rest of the season. Carolina is 25th in points allowed to wideouts, which makes Baldwin pretty intriguing this week.
Gavin Escobar, TE, Cowboys: While his last name might evoke thoughts of Columbian drug cartels and one of ESPNs 30For30 best documentaries (although, I still rank Pony Exce$$ first), Jason Witten’s understudy has outshined the master with three touchdowns in the last two weeks. Don’t confuse Escobar as just a red zone crush, as his 7-85-3 totals suggest Tony Romo views him as a downfield target. He’s more of a Clip ‘N Save option at this point, unless you have flashbacks of how owners developed a thing for Lions TE Joseph Fauria last season. If he scores again this Monday against the Redskins, Escobar will climb a bit higher than the one percent ownership he currently possesses in polled leagues.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: Markus Wheaton owners may be on the verge of having a “We need to talk” moment with the disappointing Pittsburgh wideout (seriously, kids: has there ever been a time when the phrase “we need to talk” turned out to be a good thing in a relationship?), as Bryant made a lasting impression in his debut on Monday night. The 6’4”, 210-pound rookie from Clemson was targeted five times, which resulted in two catches for 40 yards, including a sweet 35-yard scoring strike from Ben Roethlisberger that sparked the Steelers’ 24-point outburst near the end of the first half. He’s still very, very raw; but his athleticism and speed will work in his favor as Pittsburgh looks for a dependable complement for Antonio Brown. I think he’s a ground-floor option here. While he is owned in less than two percent of polled leagues, Bryant is the kind of player you can stash on the roster while his role becomes more defined.
Kyle Orton, QB, Bills: Orton is the type of gunslinger who comes into a lawless town and rapidly cleans the streets of crime. Look at his career, as he was an underrated Fantasy option with the Broncos in 2009-10, where he threw for more than 7,400 yards with a 41-21 TD-INT margin. Orton has completed nearly 69 percent of his passes for 890 yards and five TDs in three games with Buffalo thus far, and while he’s far from being Peyton Manning, I’d rather have him over Eli Manning at this point. Orton is owned in five percent of polled leagues and is a good option in two-QB leagues. The Bills get a Jets team that has been shredded by the pass, which makes Orton a very good stealth play this week, with the potential for more as the season goes on.