The Xpert Eye surveys the waiver wire landscape to see if there is any help to be had for Fantasy Football owners out there. This week, we have a few injuries that will force a change of jobs for a lot of Fantasy team owners, as well as a few performance related changes that are on the way. We also have another six teams on bye this week, which always makes things fun. With Fantasy playoffs just a few weeks away, you should also be thinking ahead with any moves you make now. If there is dead weight sitting on your roster – players that will never start for you – now is the time to rid yourself of them and replace them with upside – anywhere you can find it. Don’t throw away anyone you might want back some day, though. Because everyone is scouring the waiver wire, and anyone you drop with any kind of decent value will end up on someone’s roster somewhere. Count on it.
Mark Sanchez (QB, Eagles) – Nick Foles has a broken clavicle, suffered in the first quarter of Sunday’s matchup against the Texans. The injury will very likely end his Fantasy season since it takes a good 6-8 weeks to heal. Sanchez entered the game and completed 15 of 22 pass attempts for 202 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. In all, he did a solid job off the bench in leading the team to victory. Sanchez was good enough during the preseason that there was a brief discussion about a QB controversy in Philadelphia, but Chip Kelly diffused that situation right away and ended any further speculation. Although his final couple of seasons in NY were a disaster, a lot of the problems on that Jets team were not of his making, though, there is no arguing the truth that his confidence was shaken to the core by the experience. Now, with a fresh start in a new city, a new team and an offensive system that plays well to his strengths, Sanchez should be able to revive his sagging career and parlay the rest of this season into a starting job somewhere next season. In addition, he’s a fine QB addition to your Fantasy team if you need a bye week replacement or have been relying on one of the lesser QBs out there.
Alfred Blue (RB, Texans) – Arian Foster added a groin injury to the list of his ailments that includes a hamstring problem suffered in Week 2, and the back injury that required surgery a year ago. The MRI revealed a groin strain that will require nothing more than rest. The Texans do have a bye in Week 10, so he has two weeks to heal, however, groin strains can linger and/or take longer to heal; for comparison, consider the case of Fred Jackson, who is expected to miss four weeks at a minimum with his groin injury. If Foster’s injury is as minor as the team seems to believe, then Alfred Blue’s Fantasy value remains static and low. Those who have Foster on their roster might consider adding Blue if he can be had for a low bid (like $1). Non Foster owners can add Blue on speculation that the brittle back might get injured again but this is really a wasted roster move that might be better used on someone that can definitely be used at some point. In general terms, unless you own Foster, I wouldn’t bother with Blue.
Ryan Mathews (RB, Chargers) – Mathews is close to returning from the knee injury he suffered in Week 2, and there is a good chance he’ll be back on the field in Week 11, after the Chargers’ Week 10 bye. After a couple of good games, Branden Oliver has been unimpressive, though, he will likely retain some semblance of value in a role akin to what Danny Woodhead did before he got hurt. Donald Brown finally returned to action in Week 9 after missing three games with a concussion, but he was also unimpressive, though, he only received five touches and two targets in the game. Mathews will return to his role the primary back, and hopefully get the opportunity to do what he did over the final four weeks last season. After an inconsistent first 13 weeks to the season in 2013, he received 25-30 carries per game over the last four games of the season and helped many Fantasy owners win titles. You might recall that in three of those final four games he ran for more than 100 yards and scored a touchdown (falling just short with 99 yards in the other). If healthy, there is no reason he can’t do that again. The Chargers play against the 49ers during Week 16, championship week for most Fantasy leagues. The Niners’ rush defense is one of the better squads in the NFL, allowing just 86 rushing yards per game and just five rushing TDs through the first eight games to date; so the matchup isn’t the greatest for Mathews. Yet, he still might be a valuable RB to have on your roster in the coming weeks, so if he was left for dead on your waiver wire, now is the time to grab him.
Charles Sims (RB, Buccaneers) – The Bucs seem ready to move on from Doug Martin, who is nursing yet another injury and just hasn’t performed as they’d hoped since his promising rookie season. Sims has been in injured reserve all season but was activated last Saturday. Most expected him to play Sunday but, SURPRISE; the Bucs scratched him Sunday morning. Bobby Rainey stands to be the primary ball carrier, especially after his performance in Sunday’s game. He gamed 87 yards on 19 carries (4.6 yds. per carry) and caught a 34-yard pass. However, the Bucs clearly need to find out what they’ve got in Sims, so they will probably give him enough touches in each of the remaining games to make an evaluation about his future with the organization. That’s enough to make him worthy of a speculation addition to most Fantasy teams; we know he has talent, so it’ll just be a matter of how much opportunity he gets to make plays. It’s definitely worth a few FAAB bucks to find out.
Jonas Gray (RB, Patriots) – If you didn’t bother adding Gray after last week’s big debut, congratulations! He didn’t do much of anything against the Broncos, unless you get excited by 33 yards on 12 carries. Since the Patriots have a bye for Week 10, chances are very good that Gray will be sitting on the waiver wire; if not now, certainly by the end of the week, as teams look to add players to round out their Week 10 lineups. You can probably add Gray without spending a single dime of FAAB and there’s a good reason to do so if you can. Specifically, the Patriots’ schedule includes games against the Colts in Week 11, the Packers in Week 13 and the Chargers for Week 14; after that, you can safely dump Gray again. But for those three games, Gray could see significant carries, enough to make him a viable RB 2 given the effective run blocking of the Patriots’ offensive line. Yes, it is impossible to tell exactly what Bill Belichick will do with his rush offense in any given week, but he will very likely run the ball against those three opponents, and Gray has proven himself up to the task already.
Jordan Matthews (WR, Eagles) – This recommendation is more of a hunch than anything else. Matthews is tied with Riley Cooper for targets this season with 52 thus far. Often when a QB change takes place, we see a shift in the target distribution, usually towards some of the receivers a little further down the depth chart at the expense of the guys at the top. That leads me to believe that Matthews, who spent a good deal of time on the practice field and in preseason games with Mark Sanchez, will benefit from the change in QB due to Nick Foles’ injury. Matthews certainly has the size over Cooper to be a threat in the red zone, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Sanchez target him more often than Cooper going forward. Given Matthew’s relatively low ownership numbers across leagues on several different Fantasy hosting sites, it is well worth investing a few FAAB dollars to find out whether I’m right about this. The Eagles’ schedule is littered with positive WR matchups right through the playoff and championship weeks, so an investment here could pay off big time.
Mychal Rivera (TE, Raiders) – Rivera has received 20 targets over the past two games after getting 24 over the first six games, so there has definitely been a shift in the offensive philosophy in recent weeks. Rivera is getting the call in critical third down situations; and in the Raiders’ Week 9 game, he was the target in 4 of 8 red zone passing plays, and he scored two TDs. The TE position in Fantasy Football is a vast wasteland, with a couple of top tier players, a large group of hit or miss options and more than a few complete busts. Rivera is a nice fill in TE to get you past the bye weeks and he just might prove to be a consistent producer if Derek Carr continues to target him 10 times per game.
Tyler Eifert (TE, Bengals) – We only got to see him in one regular season game this season after months of speculation and hype in which he was praised as the next big must-own TE in Fantasy Football. Well, he is due to return to the game any day now after a lengthy stay in the injured list with an elbow injury. There is no doubt about his talent and there is no way Jermaine Grisham will stand between Eifert and an opportunity to become a regular part of the Bengals’ offense. Add him now before the stamped. e that will eventually start once he’s seen game action. Eifert could still end up being a Top 10 TE, even with his late start to the season.