As we do every Monday, The Xpert Eye takes a look at the performances of players during the previous Sunday with an eye towards the waiver wire. The goal is to figure out whether or not these players should be on your radar. As usual, we had several injuries to key players this weekend and there is always pertinent news to be found. So, before we delve into the waiver wire for Week 6, let’s peruse the news and notes on this Monday.
Monday News and Notes
Ben Tate looked good in his return from a Week 1 knee injury, rushing for 123 yards on 22 carries. But who is the number two back now? Neither Terrance West nor Isaiah Crowell was particularly effective but Crowell was the first of the two to play in Sunday’s game. Given the poor production from both in the running game and the fact that neither was targeted in the passing game, we may not see much of them as long as Tate is healthy. Crowell was clearly the better of the two prior to Week 5… Calvin Johnson aggravated his ankle injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Bills. Don’t be surprised if he is out of the Week 6 game against the Vikings. The Lions don’t have a bye until Week 9… The Jets have already named Geno Smith as their Week 6 starter against the Broncos. Michael Vick did nothing to spark the listless Jets offense against the Chargers and wasn’t impressive at all, so Smith gets to keep his job. One has to wonder whether we’ll be saying the same about Rex Ryan…DeMarco Murray is on a pace for 440 carries this season. He is the first RB to begin the season with five 100-plus yard games since O.J. Simpson did it in 1975…
An Early Look At The Week 6 Waiver Wire
Austin Davis (QB, STL) – Davis finished the day completing 29 of 49 pass attempts for 375 yards and three TDs without an interception. Not a bad effort, but let’s keep in mind that his opponent was the Eagles, a team that Kirk Cousins to throw for 427 yards. Davis can be used in two-QB leagues or as a bye week replacement but he’s not recommended as a starter. The next five weeks look tough matchup-wise, as he’ll face the 49ers (twice), Seahawks, Chiefs and Cardinals; we’ll get a sense of what he’s made of during that stretch of games.
Kyle Orton (QB, BUF) – Orton led the Bills to overcome a 14-0 deficit, completing 30 of 43 pass attempts for 308 yards, a TD and an interception, to beat the Lions 17-14. In truth, this win was all about veteran RB Fred Jackson and dynamic rookie Sammy Watkins, who both combined to catch almost half of Orton’s completions. Still, Orton looked good enough to be considered in all two-QB leagues and as a bye week replacement. He also might be a sneaky Fantasy Championship QB play, as the Bills face the lowly Raiders in Week 16.
Chris Ogbonnaya (RB, CAR) – In the search for any warm body to tote the rock, the Panthers turned to Ogbannaya, who finished with eight carries for 24 yards and a TD, but wasn’t much of a factor in the game. Then again, neither were any of the other running backs. Don’t waste your FAAB money on Ogbonnaya, who was only added to the Panthers’ roster a few days ago because of all the injuries to their backfield. He could easily be selling insurance in a week or two, and he was never more than a utility back when he played anyway.
Branden Oliver (RB, SD) – Oliver was the fourth string RB at the beginning of the season; now he’s the only healthy RB on the Chargers’ roster after Donald Brown left Sunday’s game with a concussion. Oliver carried the ball 19 times for 114 yards and a TD against one of the best run defenses in the NFL; prior to this matchup with the Chargers, the Jets had only allowed an average of 7.7 Fantasy points to running backs. Oliver added four receptions for 68 yards and a second TD to cap off a remarkable game for the 23-year-old rookie. He’ll hold down the gig at least until Ryan Mathews returns since Brown did little during his shot and will likely miss at least a week. You’ll definitely want to grab him for next week’s matchup against the Raiders.
Benny Cunningham (RB, STL) – Zac Stacy left Sunday’s game with a calf injury. It’s not clear how bad the injury is or whether it will keep Stacy sidelined for long. Cunningham is the handcuff but the Rams have a tough schedule over the next five weeks, so don’t bother bidding on him unless you’re completely desperate at RB.
Andre Williams (RB, NYG) – Rashad Jennings sprained his knee during Sunday’s game, which accounts for Williams getting twice as many carries. Williams also wasn’t nearly as productive with his carries as Jennings, so there is little chance that he will overtake him for the lead back role. However, that will now depend on the severity of Jennings’ knee injury. If you own Jennings, go ahead and snag Williams as the handcuff since the Giants have a few favorable matchups leading up to their Week 8 bye.
Devonta Freeman (RB, ATL) – It’s becoming more obvious that Steven Jackson’s days as the Falcons’ lead back are just about over. Jackson is averaging 3.8 yards per carry and 6.3 yards per reception this season and is trending downward. Freeman is also averaging 3.8 yards per carry but is trending upward, and he already far exceeds Jackson in the passing game at 8.6 yards per reception. Given that Atlanta is a pass-first offense, it makes sense to monitor Freeman’s pass targets to see whether he is getting more than Jackson, as this will illustrate whether the Falcons are moving on from the veteran. It hasn’t happened just yet, but more than ever it appears to be just on the horizon. Stash Freeman now if he’s lurking on your waiver wire. The Falcons’ schedule is peppered with good matchups in which Freeman may get an opportunity to shine.
Ronnie Hillman (RB, DEN) – The latest word on Montee Ball is not encouraging, as it appears that his groin injury may be a serious pull that will require 4-6 weeks off the football field to fully heal. That opens the door for Ronnie Hillman, who gained 64 yards on 15 carries after taking over for Ball on Sunday. Granted, the sample size is miniscule, but Hillman’s 4.3 yards per carry is much better than anything Ball has done this season (3.1 yards per carry to date). C.J. Anderson could also be in the mix here, so Hillman isn’t a lock to get the featured back role. Anderson has averaged 5.0 yards per carry in limited use this season, so the Broncos could elect to go with the dreaded RB by committee approach.
Travis Benjamin (WR, CLE) – Benjamin converted all four of his targets into receptions Sunday for 48 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Still, Benjamin is fifth among all Browns receivers in total targets, so it would be foolish to think he’s suddenly going to become the go-to guy. Jordan Cameron is healthy again, Andrew Hawkins is still the top target on the team and Miles Austin has revived his career as a trusted veteran possession receiver. That leaves Benjamin as little more than a speculative addition in deep leagues. He isn’t even worthy of a bench spot in 12-team leagues.
Taylor Gabriel (WR, CLE) – Gabriel hauled in four receptions for 95 yards but adding him to your Fantasy roster isn’t any better than adding Benjamin. In fact, the argument against doing so is exactly the same. He’s not the primary target, and unless Austin or Hawkins gets seriously injured, Gabriel’s role is unlikely to change. So, move along folks, nothing to see here.
Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, NYG) – Eli Manning had his way with the Falcons’ secondary, completing passes to seven different receivers. However, Beckham’s NFL debut, in which he caught four of his five targets for 44 yards and a TD, was a resounding success. Given Manning’s willingness to throw the deep ball and Beckham’s ability to stretch defenses, it would be shocking if he didn’t continue to take targets away from Larry Donnell and even Victor Cruz. Beckham is worth adding in all formats.
Tim Wright (TE, NEP) – Wright was the player the Patriots acquired in the deal that exiled Logan Mankins to the Buccaneers. Wright was quiet the first three weeks, getting just four targets in total, and then was a healthy scratch in the Week 4 debacle against Kansas City. During the Sunday night game against the Bengals, Wright was targeted five times and converted all five for 85 yards and a touchdown. Some analysts believe that Wright will eventually become what Aaron Hernandez was to the Patriots prior to his arrest for allegedly murdering several people. However, let’s temper that enthusiasm by noting that Wright was only on the field for 19 snaps, or 22 percent of the offensive plays, whereas Rob Gronkowski was on the field for 62 percent of the plays, and he had six catches (11 targets) for 100 yards. The Patriots love to spread the ball around; Tom Brady completed passes to eight different players Sunday night. So, while Wright may become more involved in the offense as time goes on, there is very little chance he’ll be a consistent Fantasy commodity and he certainly won’t ever take targets away from Rob Gronkowski. Wright is a speculative TE addition in deep leagues only.
Ben Watson (TE, NO) – Jimmy Graham’s Fantasy owners are biting their nails today awaiting word on the severity of his shoulder injury. The good news is that x-rays were inconclusive but it appears that there isn’t a fracture. However, the bad news is that he is having a MRI today, which could still reveal a serious problem. Ben Watson, an 11-year veteran TE, stepped in for Graham yesterday and caught five passes for 43 yards. He was targeted seven times, which is more targets than he saw over the first four games combined. Let’s remember that those targets and receptions came against Dallas, the league’s worst team at defending the TE position. Check back with RotoExperts to see how Graham is doing but don’t bother with Watson, as he isn’t anything close to a replacement for the best TE in the game.