Free-agent finds for Week 14

Updated: December 3, 2013, 4:47 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 14's best fantasy roster additions:

Standard ESPN League Finds

[+] EnlargeDonald Brown
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsDonald Brown has scored four touchdowns in the past four games.

Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts (owned in 39.8 percent of ESPN leagues): If you're in your league's fantasy playoffs, hopefully your backfield is comprised of solid options. But in a year where many early-round RBs have been felled by injuries or ineffectiveness, it's quite possible some squads have gotten by on QB, WR and TE play, and are still casting around for a solution at RB. I hesitate to promise that Brown can be that guy, but he's probably the best option available in more than half of ESPN leagues. In Week 13, Brown played 47 offensive snaps compared to 12 for Trent Richardson. My embarrassment over endorsing the Richardson trade to Indy notwithstanding, I have to admit that Brown has been a superior option to T-Rich, and deserves what may be his final chance with the Colts. (He'll be a free agent in 2014.) Now, Brown was stuck on eight carries for 8 yards before Indy's final drive, and his matchup against the Tennessee Titans was more enticing than Week 14 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but last week's kind of RB workload doesn't grow on trees. Brown is the best add around for the RB-needy.

Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers (17.6 percent): Crabtree was well nigh invisible for three quarters Sunday, committing two penalties on the Niners' first drive and failing to connect on a deep shot. But he shook open for a 60-yard gain down the right sideline late in the third, sparking the belief that he can be himself for the stretch drive. Seeing him at top speed was encouraging; Crabtree was never the fastest guy, but he scooted pretty good getting behind Trumaine Johnson on his big gain. Most important, he played 39 offensive snaps out of a possible 62. Only Anquan Boldin (46 snaps) played more among San Francisco WRs. At this point, there's no doubt that Crabtree needs to be added in every league under the sun. Can you use one big play as an excuse to start him Week 14 against the Seattle Seahawks? I don't think that would be wise. But a couple more "escapability" runs like Sunday's, and I'll change my tune right quick.

Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots (30.2 percent): Edelman's breakout the past two weeks comes with a whole litany of asterisks. In Week 12 versus the Denver Broncos, he was matched up on Kayvon Webster, and Tom Brady apparently wanted to pick on Webster. In Week 13 versus the Houston Texans, Aaron Dobson was inactive and Kenbrell Thompkins took a hard fall early in the game, which meant there were significant pass routes for both Edelman and Danny Amendola. Plus Edelman's is a history of stuffed stat sheets followed by empty weeks. Look no further than the difference between Edelman's first four games (34 catches, 319 yards and 2 TDs) and his second four (14 catches, 143 yards and 0 TDs). But the man has seen 23 targets over the past two weeks, fifth most among all WRs in that span. It's now fair to wonder if the production we expected from Amendola actually now belongs to Edelman. I'll tell you this: I'm going to have Edelman ranked ahead of Amendola for Week 14 versus the Cleveland Browns, though neither guy will be a must-start.

[+] EnlargeLadarius Green
AP Photo/Ed ZurgaHalf of Ladarius Green's 16 catches this season have gone for 25 yards or more.

Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers (0.9 percent): I resisted the temptation to make Green an "all-league" add after Weeks 11 and 12, as he racked up 161 receiving yards and a TD. That was because in Week 11, he played only 20 snaps, and in Week 12, he played 28. With Antonio Gates playing 62 snaps in each of those games, it just didn't seem advisable to hope for production on Green's limited routes. But things changed in Week 13 against the Bengals. Gates still played 58 snaps and ran 36 routes, which is a full workload. But Green played 57 snaps and ran 35 routes. That's legit, and it's the kind of usage that belies his two meager grabs. Maybe the Chargers simply viewed Cincy as particularly vulnerable against two-TE sets, but maybe the team realizes Green is a unique, dare I say young-Gates-esque weapon who gives the team a better chance to win, and needs to be on the field. I can't elevate Green into my top 10 TEs for your first playoff game this week, but he'll be in the top 20 for sure, with room for improvement throughout December. Perhaps we're seeing the birth of a killer TE tandem in Southern California.

Oakland Raiders defense (10.8 percent): This is the kind of a "paint-by-numbers" analysis I usually eschew, but starting a defense that's playing the New York Jets looks mighty wise right now. It's a little boring to pile on the Geno Smith Downtrodden Express, but I did it with a shaky-looking Miami Dolphins D/ST last week and they responded with 17 fantasy points. I don't think the Raiders are good on defense. Their pass rush has been suspect for weeks. But after five straight rancid games throwing the ball, Smith probably doesn't need to face an elite pass rush to play poorly. The Raiders do a suitable job against the run, and that will almost certainly be where the Jets seek to attack. There are no sure things when it comes to bad teams on the road, but if I'm streaming, the Raiders are my pickup.

Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Josh McCown, QB, Bears (15.3 percent); Kendall Wright, WR, Titans (41.1 percent); Nate Burleson, WR, Lions (21.6 percent); Rod Streater, WR, Raiders (6.7 percent); John Carlson, TE, Vikings (1.0 percent); Delanie Walker, TE Titans (29.6 percent); Rob Housler, TE, Cardinals (2.0 percent); Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (15.8 percent); Garrett Graham, TE, Texans (29.9 percent).

Deeper-League Finds

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots (4.8 percent): Oy. My best advice is don't do it. But remember the part where I said Donald Brown is a solution for playoff teams who've struggled to find RBs? In deeper leagues, that description might fit Blount. He's not good. We all know it. But the Pats offense generates goal-line chances like crazy, and Blount converted one of them Sunday. (Fullback James Develin converted another.) As long as Stevan Ridley is banished as a healthy scratch, Blount has a chance for a reasonable workload and some bunny TDs, and surprisingly he out-carried Brandon Bolden 12-3 Sunday, despite the fact that Bolden started. The likeliest scenario is that Shane Vereen's is the only role here that makes any sense, and the rest of these guys just frustrate you over the next month. But if you're desperate …

Willis McGahee, RB, Cleveland Browns and Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers (13.1 and 3.5 percent, respectively): Speaking of desperate! McGahee scored a short TD Sunday, and Stewart got a season-high 14 carries. But Chris Ogbonnaya continues to dominate snaps in the Browns backfield (he may have had only half of McGahee's touches, but he played 40 snaps compared to 19 for McGahee and 20 for Fozzy Whittaker), and DeAngelo Williams could return from his quad injury as soon as Week 14. Most problematic, I simply don't believe in anything I see from these guys on tape. They look slow, and are trying to accomplish everything simply by plowing straight ahead. They're each a total last resort.

Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins (34.5 percent): Hartline had nine grabs for 127 yards Sunday versus the Jets, plus took a slant through some shoddy Jets tackling for a 31-yard TD, but you know how it goes with this guy. He's had big outputs before, but he always seems to plunk right down into untrustworthiness. Miami will probably play it closer to the vest on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers next week, and Hartline will go back to his standard five-catch, 60-yard output. In a deeper PPR league, that's worth a little something, and Hartline isn't slow, so he does give you a bit more weekly upside than your usual possession receiver. But standard-leaguers shouldn't chase his Week 13 production.

Ace Sanders, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (0.2 percent): Speaking of PPR-worthy players, here's Sanders, a rookie receiver who has become a security blanket for Chad Henne over the past three weeks, racking up 25 targets and 20 grabs in that time. I'm in a very deep PPR league, and I'm eyeing Sanders as perhaps the week's most valuable add, because I feel fairly sure he'll nab me seven or eight points. In these three weeks, Sanders has run 57 of his 83 routes (and made 10 of those 20 catches) from the slot. He's 5-foot-7 and 178 pounds, so he's nowhere close to a Justin Blackmon analog, but the work has been there for him.

Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Titans (3.9 percent); Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals (12.5 percent); Case Keenum, QB, Texans (21.2 percent); Matt McGloin, QB, Raiders (0.8 percent); Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots (10.4 percent); Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers (19.4 percent); Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns (18.3 percent); Dennis Johnson, RB, Texans (0.9 percent); Mike Gillislee, RB, Dolphins (0.6 percent); Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers (5.7 percent); Ted Ginn, WR, Panthers (3.9 percent); Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings (5.5 percent); Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks (13.4 percent); Kenny Stills, WR, Saints (24.1 percent); Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Steelers (21.8 percent); Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens (0.6 percent); Timothy Wright, TE, Buccaneers (2.0 percent); Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions (29.0 percent).

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


ALSO SEE