Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Breakdown: These are guys who are on the rise, moving up from where they’ve been over the first few weeks of the season. They may or may not be on a roster, but likely are, and may even be starting here and there. They are listed here because circumstances are favorable for them to move up in their overall ‘stature’ from a fantasy standpoint. With bye weeks now in season, these are guys who can help you in the coming week, and sometimes beyond!
Brent Celek (PHI) – I opted not to feature Celek here a few weeks ago due primarily to the fact that it seemed his success was dependent on Kolb being at quarterback. McNabb just didn’t seem to have enough interest in him to warrant believing he’d have a breakout year of any consequence. A few weeks have gone by and it finally appears as though McNabb has realized the weapon he has in Celek and is finding him more and more with the ball. Celek is among the top five or six tight ends in the game right now, depending on which stat you’re using, but he’s on pace to finish in the top five in almost every category that counts, except maybe receptions, something only important to those in PPR leagues. His schedule is solid, not many patsies and plenty of solid teams, not to mention playing in one of the tougher divisions in football, where using the tight end is often premium. Celek is a must start and will remain so throughout the season, and his upside is very high.
Greg Jennings (GB) – Jennings struggled terribly to begin the season, and hasn’t exactly return fully to form, but he’s at least started to get a few more receptions the past few weeks. In fact, after catching eleven passes in the first four games, he’s caught nineteen in the past three weeks. Donald Driver’s play on the other side has caused defenses to be honest, so that could be playing a factor, but either way, things are at least moving in the right direction for owners who took Jennings early. It is a good week to think that Jennings will have a good outing as the team takes on the struggling Tampa Bay Bucs. It is worth noting that the Green Bay defense is struggling quite a bit this season and that has put the Packers in a lot of shootouts, something that Jennings owners like to see. He deserves to be in the starting lineup most weeks, but definitely this week as he should be in for a nice fantasy performance.
Austin Collie (IND) – While the team still expects Anthony Gonzalez to return this season, the rumors floating around are that he’s not going to back anytime soon, meaning that at least on a week by week basis, Collie continues to have value. This week, with a matchup against Houston coming up, he’s a great option. He’s averaging six catches for about 66 yards and a touchdown in his past four games, not a shabby set of numbers for a number two guy. He’s sharing the ball with a lot of guys, which only underscores his value. The important thing is to remember he’s likely to be on a week by week value basis going forward this season, but he’ll be a nice keeper and someone to watch in the draft next season for sure.
Waiver Wire Radar
Breakdown: These are guys who more than likely are not residing on many, if any, rosters. They are in situations that are favorable for possible fantasy impact in the not too distant future.
Deion Branch (SEA) – Matt Hasselbeck remembered who his favorite receiver used to be, at least for one play last week. Branch finally got a touchdown for 2009 and could be ready for a nice week when Detroit comes to Seattle Sunday. Branch has missed a lot of time due to injury the past couple of years, but still has some ability, just is being overshadowed by Burleson and Houshmandzadeh. With the team likely to have an offensive explosion this week, there should be plenty to go around, making Branch a nice grab on the last of the six team bye weeks. Good help will be once again hard to find in deep leagues, and Branch has as much upside this week as anyone.
Mike Thomas (JAC) – Jacksonville isn’t very consistent in the passing game, but they are a team with a lot of weapons. After not playing the first two weeks of the season, Thomas has started to become a regular fixture in the passing game. He has seventeen catches in the past four games, with eleven of them over the last two, not for a ton of yards, but enough for deep and PPR leagues. He doesn’t have a touchdown yet and may not get one considering this is the Jags we’re talking about, but he does have the notice of the team and appears to be set to continue as a threat, of sorts, going forward. With the running game the best in the league, and two solid receivers on the outside, Thomas is in a great position to stay busy. Note that his next opponent is Kansas City, so there should be plenty of opportunity, which again is the best any fantasy owner can ask for when looking for a ‘sleeper’.
Malcom Floyd (SDC) – Floyd had begun making noise a couple of weeks ago and didn’t let up, finally forcing the coaching staff of the Chargers to bench Chris Chambers and make him a starter. Floyd didn’t have a huge day, and with San Diego that isn’t necessarily out of the norm, but he was a regular target of Rivers and made the most of his catches. He didn’t get a score, but had one the week before. The Chargers have a solid schedule coming up, but one that should allow for a decent number of passes, meaning Floyd will stay active and productive in the offense. Grab him if you still can, he’ll come in handy this week with all the byes still going on.
Joel Dreessen (HOU) – With the news that Owen Daniels will be out for the rest of the year after tearing an ACL, the long term answer won’t be Joel Dreessen, but rather rookie James Casey. However, Casey will miss this week’s game against Indianapolis after undergoing minor surgery on his knee. He will likely be back after the bye week, and we’ll feature him then. In the meantime, Dreessen is a nice pick up for a one week solution with six teams again on bye this week. Don’t expect Daniels-like numbers, which would be great but very surprising. Instead, he becomes a solid option on a team that likes to throw to the tight end. He is an outside option to get a touchdown, but again, that would be best case scenario. Again, Dreessen is a one week option only, but worth your time if you need a bye week fix.
…And On The Slide – Quick Hits
Breakdown: With the season in full swing and bye weeks about to begin, we felt it time to add a bit of the ‘flip side’ to our movers review. These are guys who are relatively well known, but whose stock is most definitely not moving in the right direction – with just a quick hit as to my personal thoughts on the matter.
Roy Williams (DAL) – With Williams back and seemingly fully recovered from the injury that made him miss time before the team’s bye, the trouble he’s having was on full display again this week. He’s on the field, doing what he’s supposed to do supposedly, but there is next to no connection between he and Tony Romo. The team is getting the ball spread around very evenly, so few of the offensive players are going to have bust out weeks on a regular basis, but Miles Austin has proven able to, and Williams hasn’t, plain and simple. For whatever reason, it is becoming glaringly clear that Williams just is not a good fit in Dallas, and for that matter may have gotten to a point where he may not be a great fit anywhere, but that is a bit of a premature speculation. Bottom line, don’t waste your time waiting on him to remember how to be a top receiver.
Chris Chambers (SDC) – It was bound to happen eventually and finally did, Chambers got yanked from his starting job, then out of a roster spot. The team surprised a lot of people today when they dropped him from the team. Look for him to catch on somewhere, and he could still produce a little bit if so, but for now he’s a good option to put back on the waiver wire. If indeed you were holding out hope that Chambers would finally ‘break out’, it is time to drop him and move on to bigger and better things.
Owen Daniels (HOU) – The second best tight end in the league this season won’t play again until at least 2010. Some front running fantasy owners got a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach as they realized their ‘ace in the hole’ was gone late yesterday. What do those owners do now? Well, there’s always the trade option, but if nothing else works out, take the flier on Joel Dreessen for this week alone, then after the bye week try grabbing James Casey. Beyond that…if you’re so inclined…pray.