Free-agent finds for Week 13
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 13's best fantasy roster additions:
Standard ESPN League Finds
Benny Cunningham, RB, St. Louis Rams (owned in 0.7 percent of ESPN leagues): At this point in the season, the waiver wire is mostly about reacting to injuries. Cunningham plays behind rookie sensation Zac Stacy, who had to leave Sunday's win because of a concussion. If Stacy can't play in Week 13 against the San Francisco 49ers, Cunningham figures to start, though he'd likely find the sledding quite a bit tougher than he did versus the Chicago Bears. This undrafted rookie out of Middle Tennessee was unknown to me before he made the Rams' roster this summer, but he missed time early in the season with a high-ankle sprain. On tape, Cunningham looks like a Brandon Jackson type, which is kind of my category of RB who has something in all areas but who doesn't particularly excel in anything (above-average but not elite size, decent quicks, maybe a little more speed than you expect but nothing extraordinary). He's an attractive add only if Stacy is going to miss time, but you might not know that conclusively before your league's waiver period. Don't break the bank.
Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots (2.5 percent): OK, I lied, not all waiver moves in late November are about injuries. Sometimes they're about fumbling. Stevan Ridley lost another one Sunday night, and nobody knows what the ramifications will be. LeGarrette Blount initially came in for Ridley, but he too lost a fumble plus seemed to be knocked out on the play. So the job of early-down back fell to Bolden, who responded with 14 touches for 69 yards and a goal-line TD. The only Pats RB who seems "safe" right now is Shane Vereen, but Vereen didn't fare particularly well when handed the ball in Week 12, with 10 carries for 31 yards and a goal-line stuff. The bottom line is that nobody knows what to expect from this backfield in Week 13 in a winnable matchup against the Houston Texans. I think Bolden is addable in the name of being a Patriots backfield completist, but I'd have a hard time starting anyone but Vereen on Sunday. However, Bolden does probably have more allure for the rest of the season than does Cunningham.
Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets (35.9 percent): As of this writing, the results of Chris Ivory's MRI were unknown, which means the attractiveness of Powell is thoroughly uncertain. Ivory definitely hurt an ankle Sunday but was able to continue in a limited role, which could mean that he'll be OK for Sunday's nice matchup against the Miami Dolphins. But given Ivory's history of missed playing time, I wouldn't be shocked to find him absent for that game, and that would give Powell a leg up on being the waiver add of the week. No, I don't find Powell to be an overly talented guy, but he's a smart player who can get valuable work when things go right, and things tend to go right for RBs facing Miami. But if Ivory doesn't miss time, Powell stays on the waiver wire.
Nate Burleson, WR, Detroit Lions (3.4 percent): Matthew Stafford's first interception Sunday very well might've been Burleson's fault; he sat down on a route and Stafford appeared to expect him to keep going. But it's a good sign that eight of Burleson's 10 targets came after this play. The fact is that the Lions need reliable wideouts, especially in the middle of the field, and now that he's healthy Burleson is the best they've got. You're probably not getting much action deep from Burleson; his long speed has abandoned him, and he's running almost entirely underneath routes. But Stafford throws it 42 times a game! Especially in a PPR league, Burleson is a must-add for WR-needy squads, and frankly even in a standard-scoring league, I'd view him as a borderline top-30 option most weeks.
Rod Streater, WR, Oakland Raiders (6.1 percent): The Raiders play the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, which means Denarius Moore will have a short week to get ready after missing Week 12 with a shoulder injury. Streater has shone as Matt McGloin's top option, with 17 targets and 11 catches over his past two games, for 177 total yards and a TD. Streater also took a nasty fall late in Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, though he was able to return. I don't think Streater loses all his fantasy value if Moore is pronounced healthy enough to play, but he probably goes back to being a deep-league option only under such a scenario.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos (0.1 percent): As is the case with Cunningham, Bolden and Powell, Anderson's fantasy relevance hinges on the starter's fate. Knowshon Moreno carried it 37 times for 224 yards Sunday night, giving him a ridiculous 61 totes in his past two games. Not coincidentally, Moreno also limped off the field with an injured foot, though he was eventually able to soldier through in overtime. Early word is that Moreno has a severe bone bruise, which would mean suiting up for Week 13 versus the Kansas City Chiefs will be a matter of pain tolerance, and when that's the case, guys tend to suit up. But if Moreno can't go, Anderson -- an undrafted rookie out of Cal -- could be a big part of the game plan. Montee Ball lost another fumble in Week 12, and one wonders if his team can trust him. Anderson has a wafer-thin pro résumé and he also fumbled (but didn't lose it) against the Pats. So far in seven NFL carries he's looked like nothing particularly special. My guess is Anderson stays irrelevant for the rest of the year, but if the cards fall right for him, he could get meaningful carries in Week 13.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers (12.0 percent): My friend and colleague Adam Schefter reported that Crabtree will definitely play in Week 13 versus the Rams, though of course nobody really knows what kind of snap-count limitation he'll labor under. A torn Achilles is no small thing, especially for a wideout; it's not that I worry about Crabtree's speed because laser wheels aren't his game. But change of direction is important, and odds are that Crabtree -- who tore that Achilles on May 21 -- won't have full explosion on his leg right away. Almost no matter what, I'm not starting him on a fantasy team until I see what he looks like. But as a bench stash, he's attractive. If by chance he bucks his diagnosis and is ready to be himself, we should remember he ended last season on a run of eight games (including playoffs) where he averaged 103 yards receiving per game and posted seven TDs.
Miami Dolphins Defense (18.4 percent): It's not like Geno Smith hasn't produced good games in his rookie year. In fact, he's scored 20-plus fantasy points on three occasions. But his past six games have been ugly, with one TD pass and 10 INTs. He also hasn't exceeded 159 yards passing in a game since Week 7. All this is by way of saying: If you can buy into the defense that gets to face Smith in Week 13, you should maybe think about doing that. The fly in the ointment is a worry that Ivory gets right, and he and Powell run through what's been a pretty soft run D. But that's a chance an owner who's been streaming defenses probably has to take.
Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Josh McCown, QB, Bears (6.6 percent); Dennis Johnson, RB, Texans (0.4 percent); Donald Brown, RB, Colts (36.1 percent); Percy Harvin, WR, Seahawks (45.4 percent); Kendall Wright, WR, Titans (38.7 percent); John Carlson, TE, Vikings (1.4 percent); Delanie Walker, TE Titans (29.5 percent); Rob Housler, TE, Cardinals (2.5 percent); Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (14.7 percent); Garrett Graham, TE, Texans (32.3 percent).
Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals (10.2 percent): Palmer's shelf life as a viable fantasy option may last just one more week, as the Cardinals play an underwhelming Philadelphia Eagles defense in Week 13. After that, the sledding gets tougher (STL, @TEN, @SEA, SF), and my guess is that Palmer will go back to being an interception-happy chucker. Still, after throwing a pick in each of his first nine contests, Palmer has now been solid in back-to-back weeks, not tossing any interceptions while producing four passing TDs and 733 yards through the air. Maybe I'm wrong about him. Maybe he'll become a surprise fantasy star in the December fantasy playoffs. Deep-leaguers are forgiven for adding him with that possibility in mind.
Mike Gillislee, RB, Miami Dolphins (0.6 percent): Daniel Thomas was carted off with an ankle injury Sunday and initial reports indicate he'll miss the rest of the season with torn ligaments. This is favorable news for Lamar Miller owners, who've been frustrated with a platoon: Since the team's Week 6 bye, Miller has 64 carries while Thomas has 50 (and Thomas has found the end zone twice, while Miller has no TDs). As a result of Thomas' injury, one supposes that the rookie Gillislee could see his first action of the season; he's been a healthy scratch for 11 straight games. While I was bullish on Gillislee before April's draft and will be interested to see if the combination of decent speed, fine elusiveness and tough pass protection that I liked will translate, it would probably be too optimistic to believe he'll jump into Thomas' role. It would take some stumbles from Miller for Gillislee to be a fantasy option. But such a stumble is possible.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings (3.8 percent): Here comes the first of two University of Tennessee rookie wideouts who'll get some justifiable love heading into Week 13. Patterson has mostly been a kickoff returner so far in '13, but his speed leaps off the game tape, and Sunday he finally found himself on the field for most of his team's offensive snaps. He's pretty much got two routes: run straight down the field, or stand there and catch a WR screen. But when the ball is in his hands, he's dangerous.
Justin Hunter, WR, Titans (0.6 percent): Hunter has been a bigger part of the Titans' offensive lineup for longer than Patterson, but he's also in more of a strict rotation than Patterson was Sunday. Basically just as raw as his Volunteers teammate with as much (if not more) freaky athletic ability, Hunter made himself known with TDs in back-to-back games in September, but it wasn't until Sunday that he started to look dangerous on a regular basis. (He had six catches for 109 yards and a TD.) The issue with young, raw WRs like Hunter and Patterson is that while they're probably going to make a couple more highlight-reel plays during the rest of the season, they'll also probably disappear for multiple games, making it impossible to know when to start them.
Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5.8 percent): Glennon deserves a mention. He's been just fine, but realize this: During his team's improved play in a 3-1 stretch, the Bucs' offense has relied less on the pass. During his first four starts, Glennon chucked it an average of 45 times. In his past four, he's averaged 22 attempts per game. Now, obviously, some of that is circumstance: You need to throw more when you're losing big. But this identity is now something Tampa believes about itself and will likely keep pursuing as long as it can. And that means while Glennon has saved his fantasy days with some big plays here and there, his small workload probably means expecting 20-plus fantasy-point games is folly.
Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Titans (3.8 percent); Case Keenum, QB, Texans (32.8 percent); Matt McGloin, QB, Raiders (0.8 percent); Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns (15.6 percent); Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers (3.5 percent); Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers (20.2 percent); Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Patriots (40.0 percent); Aaron Dobson, WR, Patriots (11.7 percent); Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots (27.5 percent); Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks (14.9 percent); Kenny Stills, WR, Saints (28.5 percent); Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets (20.8 percent); Rishard Matthews, WR, Dolphins (5.9 percent); Kris Durham, WR, Lions (0.6 percent); Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers (5.8 percent); Ted Ginn, WR, Panthers (4.0 percent); Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Steelers (27.5 percent); Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens (0.5 percent); Timothy Wright, TE, Buccaneers (2.2 percent); Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions (29.8 percent).
FANTASY TOP HEADLINES
- Cregan: Fantasy impact of LeBron James' return
- Ten players critical to 2014 success
- Crawford: Jimmy Nelson's fantasy impact
- Karabell: Molina, Phillips injuries
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
FANTASY FOOTBALL: WEEK 13
Is the Cleveland Browns' Josh Gordon an every-week starter as we head toward the fantasy playoffs? Rankings »
- Fantasy Football Draft Kit
- 10 Players Critical To Success
- Christopher Harris lists 10 players who will be key to the success of fantasy teams in 2014.
- 100 Facts You Should Know
- Matthew Berry presents 100 facts you need to know as you prepare for your fantasy draft.