Free-agent finds for Week 15
Standard ESPN League Finds
Montell Owens, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (owned in 8.8 percent of ESPN.com leagues). Don't get me wrong: Owens isn't a better add than several of the RBs listed below, about whom I've written in previous weeks. But ahead of Week 14, I only placed this fullback and special teams player in the "deep league" section of Free Agent Finds, and his performance against the New York Jets Sunday indicates he deserves a promotion. His 32-yard TD run was a legitimate tailback scamper around the left edge where he hurdled a defender, got the corner, turned on the juice and hit the end zone. All told, he wound up with 102 yards on 15 touches. I still wouldn't consider him an attractive starting option for a fantasy playoff squad, but sometimes beggars can't be choosers. Owens' biggest playing-time threat for Week 15 would occur if Rashad Jennings is cleared to play after his concussion.
Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions (10.2 percent). Bell looks like a must-add for Mikel Leshoure owners, as he's insinuated himself into a full-fledged platoon. Leshoure failed on a third-and-1 deep in Green Bay Packers territory Sunday night, and Bell was given the next red zone series (the Lions had no more red zone carries thereafter). Leshoure is still the Lions RB you'd rather start because there's no evidence that he's permanently out of his goal-line-vulture job. However, in PPR leagues, Bell is gaining momentum; he has eight catches over the past two weeks. Bell's emergence as a better all-around RB than Leshoure is (a) proof that the Lions still need to go find a feature back next season; and (b) more of a fantasy bummer for Leshoure's value than it is a reason to think about starting Bell. Still, he's the insurance policy should Leshoure get hurt.
Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets (3.1 percent). Everything I wrote about Bell pretty much exactly applies to Powell, too. Sunday the Jets' game plan was so run-heavy that both Powell and Shonn Greene got full-time carries (20 for Greene, 19 for Powell), and each man was similarly productive. This was a split job early on; injuries and/or ineffectiveness were not part of this chop. More than boost Powell into some stratus where you can feel good about starting him, this dampens Greene's prospects even further. But if I'm a Greene owner, I'm thinking about adding Powell as insurance, because one of these guys by himself could actually be intriguing for the season's final few weeks.
Jason Avant, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (0.5 percent). Jeremy Maclin is easily the most talented Eagles receiver still standing, and Riley Cooper (0.2 percent) is nominally the No. 2 WR, but Avant has exploded for 11 catches on 17 targets for 212 yards the past two weeks combined. You know exactly what Avant is: a sure-handed possession receiver with minimal separation or run-after-catch skills, but Nick Foles sure seems to like him. I'm still going to rank Maclin ahead of Avant for Thursday night's tilt against the Cincinnati Bengals, but I will rank Avant in my top 50 WRs. You'd have to be pretty darned desperate to think about starting him deeper into your playoffs, but hey, you're reading a waiver column, right?
Robert Turbin, RB, Seattle Seahawks (2.2 percent). Halfway through the Seahawks' 58-0 evisceration of the Arizona Cardinals, Turbin took over feature-back duties from Marshawn Lynch and didn't miss a beat: He ran 20 times for 108 yards, looking every bit as powerful as Beast Mode. Seattle won't play their backups this early again all year, but if you had any question about whether Lynch has a viable handcuff, that has been answered. If you plan on having Mr. Skittles lead you to your fantasy title, you owe it to yourself to pick up Turbin and leave him on your bench. If Lynch's bad back pops up again and Turbin gets to start a game, he'd be a sure-fire fantasy starter.
Clay Harbor, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (0.1 percent). Brent Celek suffered a concussion on the very first play from scrimmage Sunday, as Leonard Johnson stood him up and Lavonte David delivered a crushing blow from behind to Celek's helmet. It seems unlikely that the big tight end will get cleared before Thursday night's game, so Harbor should step into the starting lineup. He'd only be a marginal top-20 TE, but Harbor did have six grabs for 52 yards and a TD in Week 14, and in this stupid, crazy season for TEs, anything is possible.
Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers (47.8 percent); Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks (22.0 percent); Nick Foles, QB, Eagles (3.9 percent); David Wilson, RB, Giants (40.3 percent); Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Steelers (43.5 percent); Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons, RB (28.4 percent); Danario Alexander, WR, Chargers (27.2 percent); Josh Gordon, WR, Browns (37.9 percent); Brandon Gibson, WR, Rams (12.3 percent); Chris Givens, WR, Rams (17.3 percent); Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks (17.0 percent); Brandon Myers, TE, Raiders (35.1 percent); Dallas Clark, TE, Buccaneers (5.3 percent); Tony Scheffler, TE, Lions (0.9 percent).
Deeper League Finds
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins (0.2 percent). Reports currently indicate that Robert Griffin III has a chance to overcome his wicked-looking knee injury and play next week against the Cleveland Browns. But if he can't, Cousins would get the start. RG III's fellow rookie threw a clutch TD late against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, then took a QB draw up the middle for the tying two-point conversion, and has shown some pocket poise in cameo appearances this year. But he'd be hard to recommend as a standard-league fantasy playoff starter. He doesn't have Bobby Three Sticks' running chops, and we haven't seen enough of him to promise strong aerial production considering Washington's middling receiver corps. Still, in a two-QB league, he might be usable.
DuJuan Harris, RB, Green Bay Packers (0.0 percent). Harris surprisingly got Green Bay's first carry Sunday night, and was the Pack's change-of-pace runner for Alex Green throughout the game. Harris scored on a nice fourth-quarter burst up the middle, and overall produced nine standard-league fantasy points. Ryan Grant was the third-stringer. Green also had a nice effort, so his starting job doesn't figure to be in any jeopardy, while Harris is a bad candidate to see double-digit touches in a game. But heaven knows the Packers' backfield situation has been fluid week-to-week this year.
Kris Durham, WR, Detroit Lions (0.0 percent). Last week I nominated Mike Thomas (0.5 percent) as the leading candidate to start as the outside receiver opposite Calvin Johnson, with Ryan Broyles injured and Titus Young in exile. Instead, Seahawks 2011 draft bust Durham got the call. Detroit sees what Seattle did: Durham is big (6-foot-6) with good speed for that size. But in catching four of nine targets for 54 yards Sunday night, Durham played poorly, failing to get on the same page with Matthew Stafford on several occasions and inexcusably dropping a pass on a simple out route. As I wrote last week, the spot across from Megatron can be statistical gold. But Durham has a lot to prove before he'd be trustworthy.
Dwayne Harris, WR, Dallas Cowboys (0.2 percent). As of this writing, Dez Bryant's immediate future was up in the air because of a finger injury; there's reportedly a chance he'll miss time because of a fracture. If Dez is really out, there's a massive hole in the Cowboys' offense. Certainly Miles Austin and Jason Witten become more valuable targets (and will draw more defensive attention), but at least one other wideout should see an uptick in usage. My nominee is Harris, who came into Week 14 playing in three-WR sets, usually on the outside of the formation with Austin in the slot. He saw eight targets and caught three of them for 33 yards. Kevin Ogletree (19.9 percent) -- who lit up the New York Giants way back in Week 1 -- is another possibility, as is potential slot player Cole Beasley (0.1). It's unlikely that anyone super-fantasy-relevant comes out of that crew. It's more probable that if they're without Dez, the Cowboys try to patch together a group effort.
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Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (0.1 percent). With Mohamed Sanu injured, Jones got his second consecutive chance to run as an outside receiver with the starters Sunday, and acquitted himself well. He took a reverse 37 yards against the Dallas Cowboys, and caught three of seven targets for 45 yards. The book on Jones is that he has good size (6-2, 200 pounds) and absolutely otherworldly hands, but he doesn't separate or run great routes. I'm more interested in him as a potential future contributor than as someone who'd make a difference in the fantasy playoffs, but his Week 14 performance does intrigue.
Joseph Morgan, WR, New Orleans Saints (0.1 percent). Morgan is Devery Henderson's replacement: The guy Drew Brees sends screaming down the field to try to catch a bomb even in double coverage. Sunday against the Giants, Morgan delivered on that mission twice, racking up 106 yards in the process. Of course, the undrafted free agent out of Walsh University (it's in Ohio) has only seven catches in 11 games, albeit for an impossible 310 yards. (He has only one catch of less than 33 yards all year.) It should go without saying that you'd have to be in truly grave straits to consider counting on another huge play from Morgan next week.Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Brandon Weeden, QB, Browns (8.1 percent); Chad Henne, QB, Jaguars (7.0 percent); Sam Bradford, QB, Rams (38.6 percent); Jake Locker, QB, Titans (7.6 percent); Rod Streater, WR, Raiders (0.4 percent); Kendall Wright, WR, Titans (14.7 percent); Andrew Hawkins, WR, Bengals (10.7 percent); Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears (5.5 percent); Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers (3.6 percent); Donnie Avery, WR, Colts (16.3 percent); Santana Moss, WR, Redskins (37.6 percent); Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins (17.0 percent); Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens (29.5 percent); Ben Watson, TE, Browns (4.2 percent); Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars (20.5 percent); Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts (2.5 percent); Jeff Cumberland, TE, Jets (0.1 percent).
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