The trade deadline is in our rear view mirror and while the wave of injuries has (hopefully) calmed a bit, reinforcements are needed over these final few weeks to make a playoff push. As we’ve been doing the past several weeks, we’re going to look to the waiver wire and rank the top options out the in >50% of standard league to highlight the players best positioned to make an impact down the stretch. Consider this list a guide as if you were drafting today for the rest of the 2013 season. Obviously, positional needs could sway you one way or another, but if taking a flier, these are the players with the best chance to make an impact down the stretch.
Waiver Wire Shuffle
1. Bobby Rainey
Tampa Bay’s next big thing hit on Sunday: Bobby Rainey. We recommended Rainey as the back to own in this space last week and, like Mike James before him, Rainey was able to thrive where consensus first rounder Doug Martin had failed miserably. Rainey busted loose for 163 yards on 30 carries while scoring twice and leaving Brian Leonard owners grasping at air. Rainey shoots to the top of our pickup list this week, though the Bucs upcoming schedule (@DET, @CAR, vs. BUF, vs. SF, @STL, @NO) has us tempering expectations just a bit.
2. Jarret Boykin
Continues to impress with Scott Tolzien at the helm — 6 catches on 8 targets for 91 yards on Sunday — Boykin is a fine WR3 moving forward.
3. Donald Brown
Ahead of last week’s contest, Brown checked in ahead of Trent Richardson in our weekly rankings. He responded with his best game of the season — 94 yards on 15 touches and two touchdowns — though the coaching staff continues to insist that they will get T-Rich right. We feel comfortable rolling Brown out there ahead of his more-highly touted running mate.
4. Marquis Goodwin
Taking advantage of some added opportunity — both Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods missed the team’s Week 11 contest – Goodwin flashed his plus speed and playmaking ability while showing a nice rapport with quarterback E.J. Manuel. He reeled in six catches for 81 yards and a score on nine targets on Sunday while adding a 17-yard rush and proving that he deserves to be involved int he offense on a weekly basis.
5. Brandon Lafell
Cam Newtown dialed up Lafell a team-high eight times on Monday night and the emerging No. 2 did not disappoint. He reeled in seven of those passes for 59 yards and a touchdown, putting him on pace for a respectable 60 receptions, 734 yards and six scores.
6. Carson Palmer
That’s 4 of his last 5 games with a pair of touchdown strikes. When given time, Palmer has the look of a top-12 fantasy play.
7. Roy Helu Jr.
One of the most talented names on this list, Helu is stuck behind Alfred Morris. However, with Ben Tate now a starter in Houston, Helu is perhaps the most attractive handcuff in the league.
8. Santonio Holmes
Just two catches in his return despite eight targets, Santonio turned those grabs into 71 yards. We may doubt his character, but the talent is undeniably.
9. Heath Miller
Big Ben targeted his tight end 10 times on Sunday and that is no fluke. Heath may have a bone to pick with Jerricho Cotchery, stealing all of his red zone work, but with Ben playing well Miller is a solid weekly option.
10. Kenny Stills
He’s been a bust since that Week 9 BOOM, but we don’t mind rolling him out there Thursday night in place of Desean Jackson is you are struggling with the bye weeks.
11. Rishard Matthews
Followed up his breakout game with a workman-like 4-for-52 performance on six targets. The work should continue to come with Mike Wallace underwhelming on a weekly basis.
12. Jerricho Cotchery
Doing his best Eddie Royal impression, Cotchery has found the end zone five times in a span of three games and though he’s caught just five passes over the past two games, it’s hard not to buy into this production,a t-least a little bit. Big Ben has attempted 42 passes per game over the past four weeks and with the Steelers suddenly alive in a tightening AFC North, the team will continue to lean on the passing game. Don’t be surprised if Cotchery hasanother strong showing in the box score again while Antonio Brown has his hands full with Joe Haden in Week 12.
13. Mike Tolbert
Though he’s certainly not the most explosive back in the Panthers stable, Tolbett is the one most likely to find the end zone. He offers a nice bit of production for desperate PPR owners.
14. Brian Leonard
Took a back seat to Bobby Rainey in Week 11, but Leonard could slip back into his short-yardage/third-down role, making him a sneaky asset in deeper PPR formats.
15. Michael Crabtree
His return to practice late last week gives us confidence that the Niners will activate Crabby by the November 26 deadline, whether he’s ready to contribute is a different question altogether.
16. Ted Ginn Jr.
He stepped up in a big way when the Panthers’ needed a score in Week 11. A big play threat, Ginn’s targets have been a bit sporadic to invest in standard formats.
17. Cordarrelle Patterson
He’s got the talent and is finally running with the 1’s. Of course, that means that Christian Ponder is throwing him passes…
18. Daniel Thomas
Joe Philbin continues to flip-flop his backfield, rolling with the hot hand between Thomas and Lamar Miller. Consistency is a major question despite the fact that Thomas has looked good in spurts.
19. Mario Manningham
Slowly working his way back from injury and still waiting on Colin Kaepernick to break out of his funk.
20. Brian Bostick
Clearly, Bostick is a more able playmaker than “No. 1” Andrew Quarless and it shouldn’t take the Packers much longer to put that on display.
21. Miles Austin
Austin returned to practice during the bye week, but more notably, Terrence Williams has failed to completely separate himself on the depth chart. If healthy, Austin figures to get some run. When we are this deep, it’s worth a flier on the chance that he’s finally healthy.
22. Jonathan Stewart
Just four carries on Monday night speaks to a player who is more of a handcuff than a usable option.