It’s Thursday, so that can only mean one thing… another football game, but more importantly a new edition of The Watch List is out! For those new to the column, I discuss players that are likely calling the waiver wire home, but are worth scouting to stay ahead of your competition, as one big game can catapult them into next week’s must-grab waiver claim.
Kyle Orton (Buffalo Bills, Quarterback) – No, you didn’t misread that. And no, this isn’t 2010. We haven’t seen Orton as a regular starter since his days on the Broncos, when he would flirt with 4,000 yards and throw 20 touchdowns. Those numbers are not elite, but he has the makings of a solid backup, especially during bye weeks and in two QB leagues. This move is great for Sammy Watkins’ owners, as Orton has a knack for making his number one wideouts into elite Fantasy options; just look at Brandon Marshall in ‘09 (101 rec, 1,120 yards, 10 TDs), and Brandon Lloyd in ’10 (77 rec, 1,448 yards, 11 TDs). Orton also has shown a tendency in the past to check down to his RBs quite often, and if he can find Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in space, those two could reward him with some long catch and runs.
Travaris Cadet (New Orleans Saints, Running Back) – Raise your hand if you thought Cadet would be the Saints pass-catching back. Anyone…? Didn’t think so. While it is easy to call his game a fluke, it would be irresponsible not to monitor this situation going forward. Pierre Thomas did pace the Saints backs in snaps with 23, but Cadet and Khiry Robinson were right behind him with 18 apiece. However, Thomas only received four touches, rushing for eight yards and catching two passes for 15. No longer a PPR darling, huh? While Cadet only received one carry for one yard, he was targeted six times, catching them all for 59-yards. With Pierre Thomas letting down Fantasy owners (and quiet possibly the Saints) so far this season, we may see Cadet work his way onto the field more, and in this high powered offense that’s never a bad thing, especially for those in best ball formats. He showed the ability to run routes and could have done more damage if Brees hit him in stride.
Darrin Reaves (Carolina Panthers, Running Back) – If it seems to you like everyone that carries the ball in Carolina is hurt (including Cam Newton) you are correct. But, someone has to carry the ball in Carolina… right? In comes Darrin Reaves, the 5’7”, 209 pound back will certainly have the ability to run hard and pick up the short yards, which could lead to him seeing a goal line carry or two this week against the Bears. His stature will make him hard to tackle, if you don’t believe me, just watch. Behind him will be Fozzy Whittaker (Is there a better name in football?) and Chris Ogbonnaya, who I think could be a sneaky back if the Panthers go RBBC. Reaves likely won’t be worth owning long-term, but remember the name, as DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart aren’t what you would call, durable.
Stevie Johnson (San Francisco 49ers, Wide Receiver) – If you weren’t lucky enough to get drafted to SJ13’s work Fantasy team, you could always add him to your Fantasy Football team. Two weeks ago against the Cardinals, Johnson hauled in all nine of his targets for 103 yards. He followed that up with just one catch, for a 12-yard touchdown, but boy was it a great one. The description about Stevie his entire career is that he is a weird route runner (trust me, I’m a Bills fan). It was one of the reasons he was the lone receiver to not get shut down while taking a trip to Revis Island. It is also the reason it takes a little longer to develop chemistry with a new QB. Inconsistency will be an issue, as there are too many mouths to feed in San Fran, but the more time Johnson and Colin Kaepernick play together, the more we can see them connect.
Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants, Wide Receiver) – Has a Top-15 pick’s debut ever gone more under the radar? It is easy to forget that Beckham was the third WR selected in this year’s draft, behind only Watkins and Mike Evans. Not only is his debut being overlooked, he is not even the most talked about WR returning from injury this week, as that title goes to Marvin Jones. Beckham was drafted to be the outside threat alongside Rueben Randle, allowing Victor Cruz to return to the slot. The 6’0” wide receiver out of LSU has the size and speed to develop into a deep threat for Eli Manning, and don’t be surprised if he sees a few shots down field to stretch the field in what could be a shoot out against the Falcons. His presence will also be felt in the red zone, but with Larry Donnell currently hogging all the touchdowns, you may have to wait a week or so to see him emerge in this aspect. Keep a close eye on this kid, especially those of you in best ball formats.
Brandon LaFell (New England Patriots, Wide Receiver) – Whether you blame the O-line, age, or Gisele, something is affecting everyone’s favorite Ugg wearing QB. One thing for sure, the Patriots are lacking a deep threat on the outside. Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins have been inactive more often than not this season, and LaFell has made the most of it. His coming out party was against the Chiefs, where he hauled in six passes, on eight targets, for 119 yards and a 44-yard touchdown. It could be a long shot, especially if Brady doesn’t have time to hang in the pocket to throw deep, but LaFell has the potential to blossom into a nice outside threat for the Pats, which alone makes him worth scouting.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Tampa Bay Bucs, Tight End) With Mike Evans out many think WR Louis Murphy will step into that role, and there is a good chance he does. But it should also mean an extended workload for the 6’5”, 262 pound tight end. Seferian-Jenkins, nicknamed ASJ, played every snap in the Bucs win over the Steelers, and was targeted seven times, catching three passes for 44 yards. The huge TE could develop into a nice red zone threat for the Bucs, especially if Vincent Jackson keeps struggling. Currently a TE2 and likely un-owned, but with his size, athleticism and good hands, the sky is the limit for him. Wouldn’t blame you if you stashed him now, but definitely keep an eye on him, as he can be the next breakout tight end.
Eagles DST It’s not every day your offense put zero points on the board, but you are in a close game. That happened this past week for the Eagles though as a pick six, and two return TD’s kept them in the game against the Niners. The Eagles rank 28th in total defense, allowing 391 yards per game. If that’s not bad enough, they allow the 26th most points, at 26 points-per-game. However, when you have electric guys like Darren Sproles and even Brad Smith in the return game, a TD is always possible. Going up against the Rams have made them a trendy streaming option, but it may be best to see them produce first.
Who to scout on Thursday Night Football?
Jarius Wright (Minnesota Vikings, Wide Receiver) – First, let me say I am a full believer in Wright. In the RotoExperts staff league I spent $250 of my $1,000 FAAB budget and $15 out of my $100 in my FLEX (Fantasy League of Experts) league. The reason I believe in him is the reason you should scout him; Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is a better passer than Matt Cassel and it showed. Not only that, Bridgewater and Wright played together a lot during the preseason, as both were on the second team. Trust is big with any QB, but its vital with a rookie at the helm. Defenses seem to be keying in on Cordarrelle Patterson with AP out for who knows how long, and while I made the case last week that Greg Jennings will be the reliable wide out for Teddy, it just wasn’t the case. Just look, Wright was targeted 10 times (compared to four each for Jennings and Patterson) for eight receptions, and 132 yards. The Vikings were high on Wright heading into last weeks game, and his strong performance should only ensure he sees lots of snaps. Wright could blossom into a very reliable WR 3, with upside. (Let’s just hope Teddy plays tonight, but if not, it could make Wright a much cheaper pickup next week).
If you have any questions, hit me up on Twitter @MichaelFFlorio.