Sep 10, 2013

Week 2: Analyzing the Waive Wire

Each week Cleveland's Rocks will review top Free Agents owned in under 50% of ESPN leagues.  Worthy eligible players will get lumped into three teams: "Full Season Endorsement" "Future & Upside" and "Plug & Play"

All teams consist of a QB, two RB and WRs with a TE, K, DEF and FLEX.  All "Plug & Play"s need to be rostered in less then 25% of leagues.  For each FLEX, players can only be owned in 15% of ESPN leagues.

Read.  React.  Improve.  Let's do this gamers.

Full Season Endorsement

QB Alex Smith (19.5%) - Kansas City manhandled Jacksonville like every talking head predicted, with Smith playing to his typical "maybe franchise QB" self.  Completing 21 of 34 passes for 173 yards and two endzone visits isn't the type of performance legends are made of, but when you consider the full game domination the Chiefs showed it's a performance fantasy owners should take.  When the pass/rush split is right down the middle (55% to 45%) these consistent performances out of the former #1 pick are to be expected.  If you are looking for nice bye week plug home to a mild upside/high floor, Smith should be your QB of choice.

RB Bilal Powell (31.9%) - Just like with Jackson, every pundit predicted the Jets to slice open the Buccaneers to start 1-0.  Oh... wait... that isn't what the world predicted?  Frankly, Powell didn't look good on the ground.  His 12 carriers for 29 yards wasn't what gamers looking for in an RB, but his passing game performance was something they should take note of.  Four catches for 35 yards on 5 targets is a sneaky important stat line for a RB on a losing team.  The Jets will trail often entering the 4th quarter and check downs should come in bunches, especially when you know downfield targets Santonio Holmes & Kellen Winslow just chased in their AFC North AARP cards.  With fellow back Chris Ivory puking up a 1.5 YPC on 10 touches, Powell's connection to the pass game should keep him on the field for the foreseeable future.  Powell needs to see his ownership numbers double come Week 2.

RB Pierre Thomas (16.6%) - It is truly hard to fathom why PT Bruiser's ownership numbers are under 20%.  It leads me to believe fantasy owners think his "not Mark Ingram" disease will result in long-term fantasy suffering.  The former Ron Zook running back (yeah I didn't know Illinois produces NFL products either) comes to work every Sunday and collects his 12-20 touches with a typical 4.0 YPT.  Yes I know 59 yards aren't going to pay the fantasy bills every week but should the upside if Sproles or Ingram get dinged up is present.  Even without it, Thomas is a strong flex play week-in and week-out.  There is significant value in knowing your RB2 is home to a five point floor and will get some Red Zone touches.  His ownership levels need to rise above a DNP-CDs (I'm looking at you Mikel LeShoure owners)

WR Andre Roberts (30.3%) - Roberts is tied to a Cardinal team that is will be perpetually losing, with an all time great garbage time QB.  Mix in an elite WR named Larry Fitzgerald being doubled teamed across from him and suddenly Roberts looks like a player with a nice upside.  Sure Michael Floyd has the "sexy" upside with the former first round pick with "room for growth" label, but Roberts is the guy I want on my roster.  Expect a workman-like flow of Week 1 performance clones (8 catches, 97 yards).  Nearly everyone could use WR tied to this type of opportunity, we all remember the love affair with Steve Breaston right?  His ownership level needs to rise above the Mendoza Line in this type of setting.

WR Brian Hartline (29.7%) - Hartline's ownership level is far off of where it should be.  The Dolphins may be knocking on an over .500 season and if that's the case someone has to do help out in our game of stat accumulations.  Mike Wallace isn't that guy, and was clearly frustrated post-game by answering all questions with an "ask coach".  I'm guessing he was unhappy with his 5 targets, but I'm also guessing that 5 targets are going to remain status quo.  Hartline is still going to be the same player he was last year, boom or bust tied to a learn on the job QB.  Still, Hartline seems like a classic "stash-&-cash" WR that an owner can return a profit on in a bye week trade.  Even if you hold off on trading him, you could do a whole lot worse than having a 1,000 yard receiver as your WR4.  Profits are to be made here gamers.

TE Jordan Cameron (41.0%) - I was given the unfortunate burden of being born in Cleveland & being subject to watching their games each Sunday.  If the Browns keep playing like they did in Week 1, they will find themselves with 50+ pass attempts every week.  Sure, Brandon Weeden will struggle to complete 50% of them, but some basic math helps us realize nearly 25 catches will still be made.  With Josh Gordon still suspended for sipping on too much lean, Cameron has a prime opportunity to earn a significant rapport with BW3.  Greg Little continues to prove can't catch, so garbage time passing stats will be the norm.  The upside 9 grabs for 108 yards & a score has already shown itself, but a weekly floor of 50 yards is what's most appealing here.  Cameron is better then anything Brandon Pettigrew can ever provide.  Plug the trigger gamers.

FLEX WR Doug Baldwin (1.5%) - Every Russell Wilson believer thinks the quarterback will be a top 6 option by years end.  If so, where are all the yards going?  Sidney Rice hasn't been healthy since 2009.  Percy Harvin is far more optimistic then his coach on his return.  Golden Tate can't accumulate every yard, can he?  Sure they could  try to run the ball every play, but.... they can't actually run the ball every play, right?  Right?  Cue Baldwin, he accumulated a sneaky 7 catches for 91 yards Week 1 in a game that featured only one combined touchdown.  I highly suspect Baldwin will remain unowned in under 95.0% of leagues heading into Week 2, but another strong game and that number is going to skyrocket.  Beat your fellow gamers to the punch, Ronnie Hillman or Kendall Wright owners hoping for the best should look to Baldwin to make some long term gains.

K Dan Bailey (42.8%) - The Cowboys looks like a team that is going to be scoring points in bunches.  They also look like a team that could at any moment have their offensive momentum destroyed by a few sacks.  This environment bodes well for th kicker.  Bailey plays his half his games in a dome and is going to be a safe floor kickers, and that is all you should really care about.  Just look at Stephen Gostkowski's ownership numbers & try and justify their ownership gap.

DEF Miami Dolphins (19.6%) - There aren't any defenses owner in under 50% of leagues that I would recommend for year long ownership.  That being said, this Dolphins unit has a fairly easy schedule and doesn't house glaring weaknesses.  If you want to play the same defense every week..... well, don't.  But if you do employ this strategy, you could do worse then starting the 'Phins.

Future & Upside

QB Carson Palmer (32.3%) - This section is called "Future & Upside" so including Carson Palmer seems pretty ironic.  Arizona fans might be shocked to learn this, but Kurt Warner isn't going to be walking through that door.  Instead I'll just restate what we all know:  The Cardinals are going to be losing, Palmer is going to be throwing, and the RB game is putrid.  Palmer was in essentially the same situation last year, except with receivers.  If you own Ben Roelthisberger cut your losses (this is a preemptive suggestion).  One that you should follow, immediately.  Like right now.  Click.  Add. Feel better.

RB Andre Brown (25.9%) - Andre the Brittle is going to be out for at least 5 more games, but that might not stop Tom Coughlin from putting him on the field anyways.  Ball security is what this cranky old man covets, and there are few arguments to be made that David Wilson has it.  Brown is a primer candidate for a "stash-&-cash" profit during the bye weeks.  You don't need to play the waiting game with Bernard Pierce or Mark Ingram, since their is no definitive cash-in date.  Add Brown, wait for the leg to heal, then reap the bye-week rewards.

RB LeGarrette Blount (1.3%) - Bill Belicheck rules with an iron fist when it comes to his running backs and fumbling.  Stevan Ridley has experienced the playing time rollercoaster ride that comes with fumbling, as he was promptly bench for the rest of the game after coughing up the rock Week 1. Shane Vereen took over to impressive results, but is now sidelined multiple weeks after wrist surgery.  In comes Blount, a former 1,000 yard rusher in Tampa, who is built like former Belicheck man-crush BenJarvus Green-Ellis.  It would not be a stunner if Blount took over backfield duties entirely in Week 2, and with Vereen out he is a high-end handcuff that owners should covet.

WR Justin Blackmon (33.1%) - Blackmon should be universally owned.  There is no reason why someone with this much upside should be sitting on the Waiver Wire at any point during the season.  Blackmon will miss exactly 1 week where bye weeks are in play.  Every team has extra bench slots during the early weeks to roster upside plays.  I literally cannot state how much upside this guy has.  Roster him and just wait for the rewards people.  When Week 8 rolls around, Blackmon is going to be the more desired then fellow WRs Tavon Austin, Greg Jennings or Sidney Rice.  These guys all have universal ownership.  Blackmon should be at "owned in 100% of leagues" status.  Please, for your sake, for mine & for your ability to be the competition, add him.  Now.

WR Stephen Hill (1.2%) - Hill is the most talented receiver on the Jets roster.  Much like every other team in the NFL, players will be catching balls that are thrown by the quarterback during Jets football games.  Sure, Geno Smith is going to be throwing a whole of these balls, but they will still be thrown.  There will be a lot of rookie road blocks for Smith, but Hill has by far the best receiving talent on the club.  Everyone remembers his amazing combine, but for some reason (re: Smith, Geno) he doesn't have any sophomore year hype.  In my eyes, there isn't much of a fantasy difference between him and Cordarrelle Patterson.  Hill should be owned in roughly a third of leagues, not 1 in 100.

TE Tyler Eifert (10.1%) - Somewhere, a rookie first round pick puts up 5 catches for 47 yards while being tied to one of the highest profile offenses in the league.  That somewhere is Cincinnati, where they still mask a top TE talent behind A.J. Green.  I don't know who these fantasy owners are who think Heath Miller, Brent Celek and/or Fred Davis should be rostered over this guy, but these people need to comprehend that your TE2 should have upside.  Eifert has top 5 TE talent.  His ownership numbers should be hovering around 50% off that alone.  Once we hit bye weeks, there isn't going to be a better TE available.  Click & add in advance gamers, that's how you win leagues.

FLEX RB Robert Turbin (3.4%) - Christine Michael had all the buzz with his electric preseason, but Turbin was always the numero dos running back in Seattle.  I'm not suggesting he is a premium handcuff who should have near universal ownership.  Instead, I am suggesting Turbin should be owned in more leagues then Michael, and that currently sits at 51.7%

K Caleb Sturgis (3.1%) - Sturgis is in the same situation as St. Louis' Legatron was last year.  He is going to make nearly all the field goals his offense leaves him.  His quarterback is going enough to get across the 50 yard line, but not quite good enough to cash the majority of opportunities in for 6.  If you can use the word "upside" and "kicker" in the same sentence, you'll probably find the word "Sturgis" too.  Make the add if you want to look long term at kicker because, well, why the hell not?

DEF Cleveland Browns (9.9%) - The Browns stuffed the Dolphins for 0.87 YPC on 23 attempts.  That is really good.  Yeah, that's is like really really good.  There are plenty of holes in the secondary, which is what kept Cleveland from getting the lead all game, but the run stop on this unit is really good.  Did I say it was really good?  There is no defense with more upside then the Browns & should Norv Turner figure out how to keep the offense on the field longer then 4 failed plays, this defensive unit could put up top 10 numbers.

Plug & Play

QB Terrelle Pryor (8.2%) vs JAC
RB Ronnie Brown (0.4%) @PHI
RB Brandon Bolden (0.3%) vs NYJ
WR Julian Edelman (8.5%) vs NYJ
WR Rod Streater (1.9%) vs JAC
TE Dallas Clark (7.6%) vs CLE
FLEX WR Harry Douglas (0.7%) vs STL
K Kai Forbath (5.3%) @GB
DEF Oakland Raiders (0.6%) vs JAC

Honorable Mentions: 

 Josh Freeman (20.7%), E.J. Manuel (14.4%), Danny Woodhead (20.8%), Da'Rel Scott (0.5%), Robert Woods (5.2%) Nate Burleson (3.4%), Marlon Brown (1.5), WR Brandon Gibson (1.2%), Fred Davis (46.5%) Zach Sudfeld (44.7%), Jermaine Greshem (18.1%), Garrett Harley (23.9%), Rob Bironas (3.0%), Dallas Cowboys (43.0%), and Atlanta Falcons (11.2%)

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