Free-agent finds for Week 11

Updated: November 14, 2013, 3:17 PM ET
By Christopher Harris | ESPN.com

Waiver-wire news changes fast and furious throughout the week, as injuries and depth-chart shenanigans overtake us. So be sure to follow me on Twitter, @CHarrisESPN, and I'll keep you updated as news warrants. Let's get to Week 11's best fantasy roster additions:

(Week 11 byes: Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams)

Standard ESPN league finds

Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants (owned in 25.2 percent of ESPN leagues): Sorry, gang, I'm repeating the top add from last week's column because not enough of you listened. (Also, the new crop of prospective adds is dreadful.) I was as surprised as anyone that Brown got 31 touches in Week 10, but that doesn't change the fact he should've already been on your roster. The real question fantasy owners will have this week is: Should I ditch my supposed star for Brown? Like, maybe, drop Ray Rice, Trent Richardson or C.J. Spiller? Man, I'm loath to do it, especially in Spiller's case. But at this point, if you're just not having any fun playing fantasy because you keep feeling tempted to start Rice or T-Rich, I'd understand making that move. Rice's only possible saving grace is a visit to the Chicago Bears this week, but frankly that sounds more like a reason to wait and sell him after Week 11 than a reason to start believing in him longer term.

[+] EnlargeBrian Leonard
Cliff Welch/Icon SMIBrian Leonard had a career-high 20 carries on Monday night in relief of the injured Mike James.

Brian Leonard, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0.1 percent): Mike James played well in Week 9 and looked like he was on track Monday night, but on his fifth carry he suffered a fractured ankle and had to be carted off. Odds are he's done for the year. With Doug Martin also out for the season, Leonard may get a chance to be Tampa's early-down back; he had 22 touches for 73 yards in James' absence in Week 10. However, Bobby Rainey (0.4 percent) will also likely partake. As Leonard began to wear down (his 20 carries were a career high), Rainey took over the better part of two fourth-quarter series and had the game's key scamper. The fact is, we're working with a small sample size. It's possible that the Bucs decide to keep Leonard in his third-down role, and promote Rainey to early-down work. But that isn't how it went Monday. For the moment, I have Leonard as the better add, but the situation is fluid.

Josh McCown, QB, Bears (1.4 percent): Jay Cutler stayed in his team's Week 10 loss for too long with his injured groin, then suffered a high ankle sprain that required McCown to come in cold and try to win the game late. McCown almost did it, falling a two-point conversion short. I don't want to be Pollyanna-ish about McCown: He's a journeyman and I've got real questions about his throwing accuracy (a lifetime 58.1 percent completion rate will do that). But if we're going to give Nick Foles and Case Keenum credit for playing unexpectedly well, McCown has to join the club, and there's no question which of that QB trio has the best pair of wideouts. Listen, you'd rather start none of these guys, but you're reading a waiver column, which means you've got a need. For Week 11, I'd probably pick Foles over McCown or Keenum, but I don't feel so strongly about it that you couldn't convince me otherwise.

Dennis Johnson, RB, Houston Texans (1.1 percent): I remember a time long ago (as in two months ago) when box score watchers proclaimed that Ben Tate was as good a player as Arian Foster, and that the Texans were unnecessarily bending over backward to keep their star RB happy. Now that Foster is out for the year with a back injury and Tate started Week 10 versus the Arizona Cardinals, I don't hear nearly so much chirping. Sure, Tate has broken ribs, and he didn't humiliate himself with 18 touches for 64 yards, but he ain't Arian Foster. Anyway, Houston's current No. 2 is Johnson, and I don't mind him as a prospective pickup. But tread lightly. Johnson is a spark plug of a player, but he's also 5-foot-7 and 196 pounds, also known as Jacquizz Rodgers-sized. If Tate misses playing time, I'm nowhere near positive Johnson would be the job's inheritor; I think Deji Karim (0.1 percent) could get involved, too. Also note that Johnson went the wrong way on a blitz pickup assignment in the third quarter Sunday and allowed a sack, which won't endear him to his coaches.

John Carlson, TE, Minnesota Vikings (0.1 percent): With Kyle Rudolph shelved for as much as a month, Carlson finds himself starting in an offense that, as long as it's helmed by Christian Ponder, will check down as effortlessly and frequently as you and I breathe. Thursday night, Carlson caught seven passes for 98 yards and a TD, and was a crucial cog in the Vikes' comeback victory. This is a player who caught 55 and 51 passes in his first two NFL seasons (with the Seattle Seahawks), and though he's been saddled with shoulder, knee and concussion problems, he's still only five years removed from being an elite TE prospect. We still don't have word whether Ponder -- who separated his non-throwing shoulder in Week 10 -- will be able to go Sunday versus the Seahawks, and frankly woe betide him if he does. But if he plays, Carlson will deserve fill-in consideration.

Arizona Cardinals defense (30.8 percent): For the second straight week, I'm going back to the Cards, but I don't think they're the no-brainer many folks will tell you they are. The surface allure here is that Arizona travels to play the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the truth is that the Jags have been a fairly neutral matchup for opposing fantasy D/STs over the past month-plus. Instead, I'm simply interested in streaming the Cardinals because they're playing well and have myriad playmaking weapons who can crack open a game. If I'm looking to play a defense exclusively based on matchups, I'd pick the Green Bay Packers (though they're owned in 66.7 percent of leagues), because they tackle Eli Manning and the turnover-prone New York Giants.

Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Nick Foles, QB, Eagles (45.4 percent); Case Keenum, QB, Texans (9.4 percent); Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals (45.6 percent); Rashad Jennings, RB, Raiders (44.8 percent); Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers (27.3 percent); Donald Brown, RB, Colts (6.6 percent); Percy Harvin, WR, Seahawks (38.8 percent); Aaron Dobson, WR, Patriots (12.1 percent); Kendall Wright, WR, Titans (38.2 percent); Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles (31.3 percent); Jarrett Boykin WR, Packers (43.9 percent); Kenny Stills, WR, Saints (43.2 percent); Coby Fleener, TE, Colts (34.7 percent); Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (17.2 percent); Garrett Graham, TE, Texans (24.7 percent).

Deeper-league finds

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tennessee Titans (0.6 percent): Jake Locker is done for the year with a Lisfranc injury, meaning Fitzpatrick inherits the starting job. Was he serviceable trying to muster a comeback against the previously winless Jaguars in Week 10? I guess so: 22-of-33 for 264 yards and two TDs, plus rushing for a TD himself. But if I have to explain why you don't particularly want to own Ryan Fitzpatrick, this must be your first year playing fantasy. (And if it is: Welcome aboard!) He's an illusion wrapped in a riddle stuffed inside a Harvard diploma. The moment you begin counting on him, he will do this.

[+] EnlargeRishard Matthews
AP Photo/Brian BlancoRishard Matthews had more catches on Monday night (11) than he had all season entering the game, and he scored his first two career touchdowns.

Rishard Matthews, WR, Miami Dolphins (0.2 percent): The tendency is to get excited about a kid who just went for 11 catches, 120 yards and two TDs on "Monday Night Football." Plus, we know Ryan Tannehill misses Brandon Gibson as his slot receiver, and so there will be games when Matthews gets targeted a bunch. But look back a couple of Thursdays ago, when in Week 9 Matthews had two catches for 24 yards, and you see the rub. Mike Wallace did little (against Darrelle Revis) in Week 10, but that won't always be the case, and Brian Hartline is intermittently involved, as well. I suppose in a deeper PPR league, Matthews is worth a look, but you'd have to be mighty lucky to add him in a 10-team league and pick the right weeks to start him.

Scott Tolzien, QB, Packers (0.0 percent): Nobody's saying Tolzien was terrible in relief of Seneca Wallace on Sunday. He passed the Tyler Palko test: He looked like an NFL quarterback. He took a few deep shots and allowed his receivers (notably Jarrett Boykin and Jordy Nelson) to make plays for him on jump balls that were well thrown, and his command of the short stuff was mostly OK. But he also had some thoroughly unforgivable misses that proved the moment was too much for him. He was picked twice and it should've been more, and he missed Nelson over the middle on a long, easy pitch-and-catch. As I said last week in reference to Wallace, I won't be shocked if a week of practice reps has him readier, and if he looks better versus the Giants. I don't think he's so incompetent that the Packers' WRs are now hopeless, but you'd have to be pretty desperate in a two-QB league to consider starting Tolzien.

Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens (0.2 percent): Would any Ravens fans out there be offended if I said their offense needs a spark? Yes, they captured a must-win contest in overtime Sunday, but Joe Flacco continues to be an impossible mix of arm strength and weird decision-making, and he probably could've had four interceptions on the afternoon. Anyway, Pitta is Flacco's best pal and road roomie, and could start practicing soon after his severe hip injury landed him on IR. I wouldn't expect him to play in Week 11, and even Week 12 may be stretching it, so for now only deep-leaguers need to worry about stashing him. But you only need to look at last year's production to think what Pitta could give the Ravens in a best-case scenario.

Brandon Bostick, TE, Packers (0.0 percent): I mentioned Bostick back in Week 8 as a better bet for receiving value than Andrew Quarless (1.8 percent) after Jermichael Finley suffered his spine injury, but the second-year man hadn't made a single catch until Sunday. His three grabs for 42 yards were punctuated by a super-athletic, reaching TD, plus I'm sure he endeared himself by chasing down Brandon Boykin after the Eagles corner picked off a Tolzien pass in the end zone. Bostick is probably mostly a name to remember for deeper leagues next year, but you never know.

Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Jason Campbell, QB, Browns (4.0 percent); Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders (34.5 percent); Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers (4.2 percent); James Starks, RB, Packers (24.2 percent); Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins (6.1 percent); Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns (1.4 percent); Nate Burleson, WR, Lions (2.8 percent); Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks (20.5 percent); Marlon Brown, WR, Ravens (8.5 percent); Mike Brown, WR, Jaguars (0.9 percent); Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Steelers (10.6 percent); Mario Manningham, WR, 49ers (3.3 percent); Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Colts (9.9 percent); Kris Durham, WR, Lions (0.8 percent); Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers (5.3 percent); Ted Ginn, WR, Panthers (4.6 percent); Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers (8.0 percent); Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions (28.1 percent); Timothy Wright, TE, Buccaneers (5.7 percent); Dallas Clark, TE, Ravens (5.5 percent).

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