The Ticker, Week 16: Who do you send BACK to the waiver wire?
After an awful week, you might be looking at your team and wondering who to drop. Right now, that’s a bigger question than who to add.
This time of year, the waiver wire isn’t going to be as active. Teams who make their fantasy finals do so because their team is already good, and yes, the mass of Week 15 injuries will force some moves, but, overall, the best rosters are often the deepest ones.
So this week, The Ticker is going to have a different appearance. Mostly, this space is addition-heavy — “Should I add this guy? Why should I ignore this one?” And sure, there is some of that, but this week I’m looking more at the better-known guys you should/shouldn’t still be trusting in the fantasy finals (or close, if you’re one of those weirdo “finish in Week 17″ people).
Most weeks, The Ticker has six categories, but I’ve chopped “Futures Market” for this week, since, you know, there is no future. Here are the rest:
Stocks I’m buying: low-owned players who did well the week before, and I believe it
Stocks I’m not buying: low-owned players who did well the week before, and I don’t believe it
Stocks I’m selling: high-owned players who struggled, and I’m bailing on them a bit
Stocks I’m not selling: high-owned players who struggled, but I still trust them
Hedges: handcuffs; low-owned guys who have a starter in front of them, but injuries or starter awfulness could change things
(All ownership percentages are as of Monday morning, except the Cowboys‘ guys, who I grabbed later in the afternoon, but that doesn’t really change much.)
If you’ve made your finals, congratulations! I did in two of my leagues, and didn’t in a frustrating number of others. I’m heading into Week 16 wondering if I should start a horrible Mark Sanchez or a might-not-even-play Cam Newton, so, you know, we all got problems.
Stocks I’m buying
Charles Clay, TE, MIA (46 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues)
I had Clay as my No. 9 tight end entering the season. Among those I had ranked below him: Antonio Gates, Dwayne Allen, Travis Kelce, Martellus Bennett, Delanie Walker. He rewarded that faith by putting up exactly two or three fantasy points every game he played through Week 6, and four or fewer in every game but two until Sunday, when he put up — five. So why am I buying on him? Because Jordan Cameron had zero points this week. Julius Thomas had three. So did Coby Fleener. Larry Donnell, Mychal Rivera, Zach Ertz, Vernon Davis, Jared Cook and Jordan Reed all had three or fewer. In a mix of garbage at the position, Clay has been very, very slightly above average lately, and that counts.
Paul Richardson, WR, SEA (0 percent)
These plays might be meaningless, I don’t know. But I always like to make note of when a team seems determined to get a certain guy a touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter Sunday, the Seahawks went to Richardson on third-and-five from the 15 for a potential score and it was incomplete, only for a San Francisco penalty to give the Seahawks another shot, and they pressed on and still gave him the touchdown. Like I said, possibly meaningless, but to me it looks like a determination to involve a certain guy more in the offense. With Doug Baldwin being very “meh,” Richardson’s looks could keep increasing.
Stocks I’m not buying
C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF (22 percent)
The Bills activated Spiller from designated-to-return IR Monday, and they face an awful Oakland defense Sunday. That all sounds cool. But with Fred Jackson looking increasingly hale and competent, and Spiller not having played since Week 7, how on earth could you justify running him out there (a) in your fantasy finals, and/or (b) in a weekly game when you haven’t seen him in more than two months? Spiller, unlikely to be a Bill in 2015, is potentially interesting then, but he’s a vacuum this year. Don’t get sucked in. (Does that metaphor work? I think it does.)
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, CAR (4 percent)
The next time someone tells you a player has “a knack for touchdowns,” show them Cotchery’s stat line the last two years. The receiver popped in 2013 with Pittsburgh with 10 touchdowns. When he signed with Carolina, phrases like “nose for the end zone” were all over the place. But this year, he has scored exactly once, and that was Sunday. It was his first game with double-digit fantasy points with Carolina. Don’t get sucked in.
(Apropos of little, but next time you have a minute, Google “nose for the end zone” with the quotes and have fun reading what guys have had that phrase attached to them. Good times.)
Stocks I’m selling
Lamar Miller, RB, MIA (92 percent)
Through eight games, Miller had nine-plus fantasy points seven times, and was averaging 11 fantasy points a game. In the six games since, he’s only done that twice, and his average has fallen to seven. He hasn’t reached 100 yards from scrimmage since Week 3, and has only one touchdown in his last six games. Miller has a reasonably solid floor — he’ll get you six-ish points at least just about every week — but there’s just no ceiling of any real impressiveness, and at this point, you need ceiling.
Jordan Reed, TE, WAS (66 percent)
I limit the guys in the “selling” categories to players owned in 50 percent or more of leagues. And I didn’t think for a second Reed was still that widely owned until I ran a search. This is a dude with three touchdowns in his career, and his last one was November 7 — last year. He’s had 10 or more fantasy points in a game three times in 18 career games, and the reason he’s played only 18 games is he also can’t stay healthy. The downside significantly outweighs the upside for Reed. Find just about anyone else.
If you were to take all those players (Manziel excepted) and tie them to an above-average quarterback, I would be all over this offense. I don’t mean Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. I’m talking Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill or, heck, Kyle Orton. This is a talented group that should be putting up points. Instead, they get Manziel and Brian Hoyer, and, if Sunday is any indication, the quarterback switch isn’t a big help as of yet. It’s far too early for any final judgments on Manziel, but until he shows something, there isn’t a Brown who can help you.
Stocks I’m not selling
Jamaal Charles, RB, KC (100 percent)
Before Sunday, the last time Charles didn’t score in a game was Week 5. He was banged up coming into Sunday, and got re-banged up in the third quarter. And Knile Davis scored twice, with one coming on a random play. Basically, nothing that held Charles up Sunday will still be in place in Week 16, and that’s before you look at the fact he was vocally disappointed after Sunday’s game. I doubt any Charles owners were worried after Sunday, but if you were, cut that out.
Justin Forsett, RB, BAL (94 percent)
With Forsett’s four-point fantasy outing Sunday, the list of running backs with at least six points every game this year is DeMarco Murray, Le’Veon Bell and Marshawn Lynch. That doesn’t really matter, but I enjoy it. Forsett, who no one cared about at all before the season, has been dominant this year, and while there might be a bit of a hitting-the-wall factor — he has 246 touches this year, when his previous career high was 155 — the best bet is for a Week 16 bounce back.
Whole lotta disasters
I’m not even going to make a stock symbol. Week 15 was so weird. Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, T.Y. Hilton, Jordy Nelson and Emmanuel Sanders all had five fantasy points. A.J. Green, Alfred Morris, Tre Mason and Julius Thomas couldn’t even get that many. In Week 14, the average team quarterback (so, the total of everyone who played quarterback for a team) fantasy score was 17; this week, it was 11.8. The same holds true across the other positions, and it’s not like the NFL had some grand change in dynamic over the first full week of December. Crap happened. If you made it out alive, celebrate. You’ll be fine.
Joseph Randle, RB, DAL (9 percent)
Lance Dunbar, RB, DAL (3 percent)
Everyone started scrambling in the early afternoon Monday. “Hand surgery for DeMarco Murray? My season is over!” He’s not been ruled out for Sunday yet, but it’s certainly on the table. For the record, I said in this space in Week 8 that all Murray owners needed to own Randle, and it was true even longer than that, so if you’ve (maybe) lost Murray for Week 16 and have no recourse, that’s on you. Judging from the ownership percentages here, a lot of people didn’t bother. Well, if you have Murray, pounce. And if you’re playing against the guy who has Murray, pounce on defense.
Alfonso Smith, RB, SF (0 percent)
Man, remember Marcus Lattimore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James? When you get to Week 16, it’s rare you can pick up a No. 1 running back freely off waivers. It’s even rarer that you really need one, but hey, if you do, it certainly looks like Smith is going to be starting Thursday, with both Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde injured Sunday for the 49ers. Okay, it’s the 49ers’ offense, and that’s not exciting. This is a desperation play. But a guy getting the touches is a guy getting the touches.