Those swinging by the Pick-Up Joint can be lumped into two categories: those looking for a quickie, and those in search of a more long-term relationship.
Fantasy owners sporting a 6-0, 5-1, or even 4-2 record can take the long view to roster management. Those .500 or below have a greater sense of urgency and must handle their roster accordingly.
With that in mind, let’s have those of you who can be a little more patient take a seat at the bar while we address the needs of those who require immediate attention.
ONE NIGHT STAND
Rueben Randle, WR, Giants
On the heels of last week’s impressive PUJ two-fer of Mike Tolbert and Nick Foles (pardon the peacocking), it’s worth pointing out that 40 percent of leagues have left Randle unattended. He’s been yo-yoing back and forth between fantasy relevancy and the waiver wire, but his upcoming fortnight features dates with the Vikings and Eagles—two of the more fantasy-friendly pass defenses in the league. Snap him up for a short-term fix; his schedule is favorable enough that he might even stick for the remainder of the season.
OPEN TO SWAPPING
Pierre Garçon, WR, Redskins
Garçon’s 6-69 showing against the soft Cowboys’ secondary last week was disappointing—maybe enough for the Garçon owner in your league to be willing to part with him. But only Justin Blackmon saw more targets last week, and over the next five week’s Pierre’s Redskins have one of the more favorable fantasy schedules for wide receivers. His value isn’t likely to get any lower, and his schedule suggests he could provide a shot in the arm for a receiver-needy fantasy squad. If you can’t get your hands on Garçon, picking up Leonard Hankerson wouldn’t be a bad backup plan.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
Wilson hasn’t exactly been a bastion of consistency; in fact, he’s been a legit fantasy starter only twice thus far this season and finished outside the top 20 QBs in a given week three times already. Coming off a week in which he failed to throw (or run for) a touchdown, he might be acquirable for below-market rates. Wilson’s schedule over the next five weeks leading up to Seattle’s bye is quite favorable, suggesting he’ll be much more the two-TD, 102-rushing yard QB of Week 5 than the goose-egger of last week. And if you can sell high at the bye, so much the better; no QB has a tougher slate from Week 12 through the fantasy playoffs.
Jarrett Boykin, WR, Packers
Sure, Aaron Rodgers still has Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley to throw to and a resurgent Packers ground game led by Eddie Lacy. But Boykin saw six targets in relief of the injured Randall Cobb and James Jones last week, catching one for an impressive 43-yard gain. Cobb is on the shelf for a couple months, and while Jones may not be out that long there is a definite opportunity here for Boykin; he won’t draw Joe Haden this week—usually a prime fantasy setup for secondary WRs—and going forward the Packers have the second-easiest fantasy schedule for wideouts over the two months Cobb will be out.
Thanks for waiting, those of you coasting at or near the top of your leagues. Here are a few more opportunities to exercise your patience and reap the rewards come fantasy playoff time.
CATCH 'EM ON THE REBOUND
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
Rice hasn’t topped 75 rushing yards yet this season and has been persona non grata in three of five starts. You may not even have to pay elite-back prices, as he still has his bye and a Week 12 date with the Jets on his docket. But from Week 13 on no back has a more favorable fantasy schedule. Hope the hip is okay, stash Bernard Pierce just in case, and maybe Rice is the guy who pushes your squad over the top and into the winner’s circle.
Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons
It’s entirely possible Jackson’s owner has given up on him; after all, for a likely second-round investment Jackson has delivered one TD and a bunch of DNPs. And even if Jackson returns this week the Falcons have a brutal next month with four tough run-game matchups in their next five outings. After that, however, things ease up dramatically—plus, at that point Jackson should be healthy and the Falcons may have even transitioned from a pass-happy team that relied on Julius Jones to a run-oriented squad leaning on S-Jax.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs
As bad as it’s been for Bowe, currently the #56 fantasy wide receiver, it could get even worse with two extremely difficult matchups over the next two weeks. The Bowe owner will likely throw him in just to wash his hands of the stench… and you can enjoy the bounceback that should commence as the Chiefs’ schedule turns extremely favorable: a pre-bye matchup with the Bills, and the most fantasy-friendly wide receiver slate following their Week 10 bye. There’s a degree of difficulty here, but the cost should be low and the payoff potentially huge.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
At this point the Gronk owner in your league is out of patience and may be willing to settle for pennies on the dollar. You can afford to stash him, maybe even for another month—and from Week 12 on, Gronk has one of the more favorable fantasy schedules for tight ends.
HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN... HEART? FIBULA? WRIST?
If you’re sitting pretty atop your division, you may have the roster flexibility to stash an injured guy; fortunately for you, the league is chock-full of them right now. If the Randall Cobb owner in your league is struggling for immediate help, throw him or her a lifeline. Andre Brown is due back in Week 10, Shane Vereen in Week 11; both could provide a nice kick-start to your fantasy playoff run. And Percy Harvin is reportedly ahead of schedule in Seattle; tough to know what exactly he’ll bring to the table, but wouldn’t you rather find out with him on your roster than against you, knocking your juggernaut out of the running?
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE
Jared Cook, TE, Rams
By popular request, here are Cook’s official walking papers. Hey, when you’re losing touchdowns to Lance Kendricks you know the fantasy season is going south. Who ordered the Code Red anyway?