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Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Free-agent finds for Week 11

By Christopher Harris
ESPN.com

Week 11 byes: Giants, Seahawks, Titans, Vikings.

Standard ESPN league finds

Rodgers
Will Jacquizz Rodgers ever supplant Michael Turner as the Falcons' lead running back?

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta Falcons (owned in 11.4 percent of ESPN.com leagues). This week's waiver crop isn't strong at the top, but it's relatively deep. Rodgers made this column after Week 3 because Michael Turner looked cooked; that's all the more true after Week 10. Turner had three shots from the New Orleans Saints' 1 on Sunday and got absolutely no push. Versus a defense that had been allowing 176.5 rush yards per game, the "Burner" managed 15 yards on 13 carries. Obviously it won't always be so terrible, and at 8-1 the Falcons aren't likely to be considering massive lineup changes. But Rodgers was strong producing 62 yards on seven touches Sunday. I'm skeptical Rodgers could be a real chains-mover, but his quickness has improved in his second pro season and the sooner Atlanta realizes who its most dangerous RB is, the better. At the very least, Rodgers is a stash, and he could work his way into flex consideration in the weeks ahead.

Chris Ivory, RB, New Orleans Saints (2.5 percent). I had Ivory in the "deep" portion of this list last week, and he responded with 85 yards on eight touches versus the Falcons. Of course, 56 of those came on his highlight-reel TD run during which he ran through the entire Atlanta defense. In truth, the best New Orleans RB on the field Sunday was Mark Ingram (58.0 percent owned), who's finally displaying the speed/power combo folks believed he had coming out of college. Ivory is a violent runner who figures to be injury-prone the more work he gets, but both he and Ingram looked to be ahead of Pierre Thomas on the Week 10 depth chart. This could all be moot if Darren Sproles returns to face the Oakland Raiders this week, and regardless it's impossible to envision any of these guys assuming enough of the workload to become more than flex players. Still, as the least-owned player in the bunch, Ivory should be added, in case I'm wrong about his usage.

Danario Alexander, WR, San Diego Chargers (0.1 percent). Alexander was also on the "deep" list last week and in the first minute of Week 10 he produced an 80-yard TD on a badly missed tackle by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary. He didn't do much thereafter -- four catches for 54 yards -- but he's obviously supplanted super-bust Robert Meachem in the Chargers lineup. DX has been a scout's favorite for a couple of years because of his size (6-foot-5, 217 pounds) and speed (4.5 40), but he's been a knee injury waiting to happen dating back to his collegiate days. Any St. Louis Rams fan (Alexander's previous team) knows this is a player who'll tease you with great flashes and then miss a month. But until knee problems return, DX should probably be owned in most leagues. He has clear No. 1 WR potential in San Diego's offense, and under a best-case scenario could wind up a top-30 fantasy receiver.

Nick Foles
Nick Foles likely will start for the injured Michael Vick this week.

Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (0.5 percent). Sorry, I'm not buying it. I know Michael Vick is persona non grata in Philly and in fantasy right now, but if a player with his mobility and experience can't find relief behind this leaky offensive line, what makes us believe an unheralded rookie can do so? Subbing for a concussed Vick on Sunday, Foles did complete a 44-yard TD to Jeremy Maclin on a ridiculously blown coverage, and he produced 219 passing yards in three quarters of play. But his accuracy was poor and he probably should've accrued three or four turnovers; as it was, he threw a pick-six to Brandon Carr early in the fourth quarter then sealed the loss by fumbling near his own goal line late. We all know the Eagles have elite offensive weaponry, and maybe with a full week of preparation and facing a poor Washington Redskins secondary, Foles can muster some fantasy magic. Certainly, the other QBs I'll discuss in this column don't have his upside. But I can't imagine I'm going to have this kid inside my top 15 signal callers this week. Manage your expectations. If you're looking for a substitute QB, first make sure that Ryan Fitzpatrick (54.9 percent owned) and Carson Palmer (66.8 percent owned) aren't available. Only then should you consider Foles or any of the other QBs recommended in this column.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks (17.2 percent). Though he's six-plus inches shorter than Foles, Wilson will be a better bet as a late-season emergency fantasy fill-in. We talked about him last week on the Fantasy Underground podcast, and Wilson played another viable fantasy game Sunday in a tough matchup against the New York Jets. His problem will continue to be volume: Wilson threw just 19 passes in Week 10. But he's tossed multiple TDs in three straight games, something Eli Manning can only wistfully recall. Of course, Seattle is off in Week 11, so Wilson can't immediately help you amid this week's QB carnage. Still, folks who are rostering guys like Matt Cassel (18.5 percent), Mark Sanchez (17.2 percent) or Blaine Gabbert (4.5 percent) should certainly make this switch.

Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers (45.1 percent). Olsen has been a trendy sleeper who has Rip-Van-Winkled himself into obscurity over the past couple of seasons, failing to parlay Carolina's lack of wideouts opposite Steve Smith into consistent production. Sunday's nine-catch, 102-yard, two-TD effort is the best game of Olsen's career but cold comfort for fantasy owners who likely couldn't stomach starting him after four straight games under 50 yards receiving. Still, Cam Newton really doesn't have reliable weapons outside of Smith, so the logic that has dictated Olsen's fantasy hype still holds. Maybe he's turned a corner. He gets to face a Bucs D, whose linebackers aren't great, in Week 11. Hopefully he can produce back-to-back strong outings.

Cincinnati Bengals Defense (14.4 percent). It's your weekly "Chase the Chiefs" streaming defense play, as the Bengals visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Cassel resisted the temptation to turn the ball over Monday night until his head-clutching bad interception in overtime, but let's not praise him too highly. He went 11-of-26 for 154 yards and completed five passes to wideouts. He's awful. The Bengals just did a good job versus the New York Giants offense Sunday, and have a respectable 28 sacks through nine games. For the final week of byes, you could do much worse than this unit.

Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Steelers (31.3 percent); Marcel Reece, RB, Raiders (12.2 percent); James Starks, RB, Packers (5.7 percent); Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals (47.5 percent); LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB, Cardinals (24.4 percent); Danny Amendola, WR, Rams (49.1 percent); Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars (15.7 percent); Donnie Avery, WR, Colts (11.1 percent); Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers (6.3 percent); Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets (42.7 percent); Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers (16.1 percent); Josh Gordon, WR, Browns (34.1 percent); Chris Givens, WR, Rams (2.4 percent); Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts (2.5 percent); Dustin Keller, TE, Jets (32.9 percent); Scott Chandler, TE, Bills (49.1 percent); Brandon Myers, TE, Raiders (17.8 percent).

Deeper league finds

Laurent Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (26.4 percent). Robinson was everywhere early Thursday night, seeing seven targets in the game's first 19 minutes. He wound up with 15 looks and nine grabs for 77 yards with a lost fumble. The Jags are held hostage by Gabbert's awful play, but at least they appear to have disavowed themselves of the idea that No. 5 overall pick Justin Blackmon is ready for prime time. Robinson and Cecil Shorts are the starters now, and in high-volume games like Week 10 against the Indianapolis Colts, that counts for something.

Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans (6.8 percent). Locker returned from his twice-separated non-throwing shoulder to lead a rout of the Miami Dolphins in which he completed only nine of 21 attempts (he sat in the fourth quarter), but he showed his strong wheels again by racking up 36 yards on four carries. Locker's raw ability is miles ahead of Matt Hasselbeck's, and at least gives the Tennessee receiving corps some reason for faint optimism. Of course, the Titans are on bye in Week 11.

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick's running ability gives him plenty of fantasy value right away.

Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers (0.6 percent). Owners in two-QB leagues won't be picking up Kaepernick for his arm. He still looked raw as a thrower in relief of a concussed Alex Smith last week, misreading coverages and displaying inconsistent accuracy. But as a runner he's a tough player: a big kid (6-4 and 230 pounds) with long strides and decisive moves. As of this writing, there was no indication of whether Smith would be able to play Monday night against the Bears, and frankly that's not a matchup you want for either of these Niners QBs. But if you're utterly desperate, you can hope that Kaepernick could salvage his fantasy night with some plays with his legs.

Byron Leftwich, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (0.1 percent). Ben Roethlisberger suffered a game-ending throwing-shoulder injury Monday night; as of this writing, the severity was unknown, but early word is that it doesn't look great. Leftwich went 7-of-14 for 73 yards in about a half of play and didn't make any mistakes, but an already conservative Steelers attack practically turtled after Big Ben's departure. Leftwich made a couple of stick throws late when he had to, but with unbelievably limited mobility and variable accuracy, he doesn't figure to make many plays if Roethlisberger can't go Sunday night in a big-time rivalry game against the Baltimore Ravens. You'd have to be pretty desperate to add him.

Jason Campbell, QB, Chicago Bears (0.3 percent). Speaking of desperate! Jay Cutler suffered a concussion Sunday and Campbell went 11-of-19 for 94 yards in relief, but even those uninspiring numbers don't explain how pedestrian Campbell looked. True, it was a rainy, windy night in Chicago, but Campbell's accuracy was just awful. Put it this way: If Cutler can't play in Week 11 against the 49ers and I had to pick between Kaepernick and Campbell as an emergency fantasy player? I'd take Kaepernick every time.

Lance Dunbar, RB, Dallas Cowboys (0.1 percent). Phillip Tanner is no longer Felix Jones' backup; that honor goes to Dunbar, an undrafted rookie out of the University of North Texas. DeMarco Murray still doesn't seem likely to suit up in Week 11 because of his injured foot, and while Jones played his best game of '12 against the Eagles on Sunday, he's always one carry away from the trainer's table. Dunbar has 14 touches the past two weeks combined, while Tanner has one.

Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Sam Bradford, QB, Rams (39.6 percent); Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins (13.4 percent); Tim Tebow, QB, Jets (10.2 percent); Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams (9.5 percent); Joique Bell, RB, Lions (10.5 percent); Danny Woodhead, RB, Patriots (27.0 percent); Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers (12.1 percent); Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos (1.0 percent); Taiwan Jones, RB, Raiders (5.0 percent); Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks (6.9 percent); Donald Jones, WR, Bills (1.7 percent); Stephen Hill, WR, Jets (11.3 percent); T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts (5.5 percent); Santana Moss, WR, Redskins (35.6 percent); Andrew Hawkins, WR, Bengals (13.5); Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals (2.5 percent); Ryan Broyles, WR, Lions (1.7 percent); Dexter McCluster, WR/RB, Chiefs (7.3 percent); Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears (6.1 percent); Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens (30.3 percent); Logan Paulsen, TE, Redskins (0.4 percent).