With the news that Christian Ponder will be starting on Sunday for Minnesota, two more new starting quarterbacks will be available on the waiver wire, joining Tim Tebow, who was off last week and will make his first start. How do we assess these two players for fantasy purposes. When it comes to Christian Ponder, I would rate him as more likely to run than McNabb, which can occasionally add value, though I don’t think he will be a Tebow or a Newton when it comes to touchdowns. I think something along the lines of 25 yards per game is reasonable.
I would expect more turnovers than made, maybe a few more exciting plays, but I don’t see him being a huge factor. The Vikings’ offense has bigger issues. That said, for this week, in a pinch, he is a viable start. The Packers are giving up yards, and I anticipate they will load up against Peterson.
As for Palmer, Jason Campbell was a fantasy backup and matchup type start guy, and I don’t think Palmer is any better than that. We don’t know who will start this week, and it is a great matchup, but probably something to stay away from for a week. After that, he does have some potential value based on matchups starting after the bye week with Denver, and then at the end of the season and in the fantasy playoffs, as Oakland plays Miami, Green Bay and Kansas City in weeks 13-16.
I’m going to change it up as we constantly evolve this feature. I will still have a few pickups, but will also focus on matchups. Fewer key free agents come open, and by listing matchups, you can at least see what might make sense in your own league. I’m using the top 6 available matchups (by fantasy points allowed in a league that includes yards, touchdowns and first downs) for the week. I also list the bottom 6. Does this mean I am recommending not starting Adrian Peterson or others at the very top of their position? No, but some others might give you pause. Tebow instead of Rivers, for example, based on matchup, is a play I would make. The matchups are listed in order, so first one listed is the best (or worst, as the case may be).
Top 6 Matchups: Moore vs. Denver; Ponder vs. Green Bay; Cassel at Oakland; Tebow at Miami; Boller or Palmer vs. Kansas City; Romo vs. St. Louis.
Bottom 6 Matchups: Rivers at NY Jets; Gabbert vs. Baltimore; Kolb vs. Pittsburgh; Ryan at Detroit; Whitehurst/Jackson at Cleveland; Newton vs. Washington.
There are several good matchups for guys likely on your waiver wire. The safest of those seam to be Tim Tebow at Miami and Matt Cassel at Oakland. If you are more of a risk taker, or are in deeper leagues or two quarterback leagues, then Matt Moore and Christian Ponder are viable because of the opponent.
Top 6 Matchups: Hightower/Torain at Carolina; Murray/Choice vs. St. Louis; Jones/McCluster at Oakland; Mathews/Tolbert at NY Jets; Sproles/Ingram vs. Indianapolis; McFadden/Bush vs. Kansas City.
Bottom 6 Matchups: Jones-Drew vs. Baltimore; Jackson at Dallas; Greene/Tomlinson vs. San Diego; Turner at Detroit; Stewart/Williams vs. Washington; Peterson vs. Green Bay.
The breaking news is that Detroit has traded for Ronnie Brown. With Jahvid Best’s concussion, picking up Brown is a smart move. He may get a bigger opportunity in Detroit, and may even get a start right away in a decent matchup. The big pickup this week should be DeMarco Murray, who will get an extended look with Jones out, and draws a great first start matchup at home against the Rams. The Washington backs were a major letdown last week as they never got going, and Grossman submarined the effort, but Tim Hightower and Ryan Torain again face a team struggling against the run. Dexter McCluster has been a disappointment, but Oakland is among the leaders in yards receiving allowed to opposing backs.
Montario Hardesty is likely going to get an opportunity against the Seahawks, with the question marks surrounding Peyton Hillis. I haven’t been all that impressed with Hardesty, and this is more about Hillis’ issues than Hardesty taking hold of anything on merit, but anytime a player may get increased touches, it’s worth a look.
Meanwhile, Earnest Graham had a good game against the Saints after the news of Blount being out for an extended time broke, and I would continue to ride that hot hand against the Bears. Finally, the on again/off again Cedric Benson issue is now reportedly to be a one game suspension, so Bernard Scott might be a spot start in two weeks (Bengals on a bye this week).
Top 6 Matchups: Saints Receivers vs. Indianapolis; Dolphins Receivers vs. Denver; Browns Receivers vs. Seahawks; Cowboys Receivers vs. St. Louis; Vikings Receivers vs. Green Bay; Oakland Receivers vs. Kansas City.
Bottom 6 Matchups: Cardinals Receivers vs. Pittsburgh; Redskins Receivers at Carolina; Ravens Receivers at Jacksonville; Seahawks Receivers at Cleveland; Chargers Receivers at NY Jets; Jets Receivers vs. San Diego.
Damian Williams of Tennessee is a good risk based on long term opportunity. The chances are good that he is available, and with Britt out, has the chance to be a starter on this team. He had 6 catches and a touchdown before the team went on bye, so he’s likely being overlooked. Greg Little is available in a majority of leagues as well, and has another good matchup after going for 6 receptions and 72 yards last week.
As for this week, I think Steve Breaston is a matchup start off the waiver wire. You might also make a speculative add on Demaryius Thomas, who has been out with an injury all year but should return, and take a starting spot now that Lloyd was traded. He has talent but has been unable to stay on the field so far in his career.
Top 6 Matchups: Kendricks at Dallas; Winslow vs. Chicago; Fells at Miami; Dickson/Pitta at Jacksonville; whoever the Bears have at tight end vs. Tampa Bay; Clark at New Orleans.
Bottom 6 Matchups: Witten vs. St. Louis; Lewis vs. Baltimore; Cook vs. Houston; Fasano vs. Denver; Graham vs. Indianapolis; Davis at Carolina.
Lance Kendricks finally had a decent game last week, has 4 receptions in each of the last two games, and draws a matchup against a team that has given up yards to tight ends. Lloyd will still be working in and nobody else is a threat, so Kendricks might be a good spot start.
Jared Cook is likely still available and presents the most upside long term among the free agents at the position. Jake Ballard has enjoyed an increased role for the Giants, though they are on a bye week and you don’t necessarily have to use up that roster spot yet.
Top 6 Matchups: Cowboys vs. St. Louis; Browns vs. Seattle; Broncos at Miami; Chargers at NY Jets; Saints vs. Indianapolis; Rams at Dallas.
Bottom 6 Matchups: Titans vs. Houston; Chiefs at Oakland; Falcons at Detroit; Vikings vs. Green Bay; Colts at New Orleans; Packers at Minnesota.
My Top Ten Adds (among players owned in 60% or fewer of the cbssports leagues)
- DeMarco Murray, running back, Dallas
- Ronnie Brown, running back, Detroit
- Montario Hardesty, running back, Cleveland
- Carson Palmer, quarterback, Oakland
- Greg Little, wide receiver, Cleveland
- Damian Williams, wide receiver, Tennessee
- Matt Cassel, quarterback, Kansas City
- Doug Baldwin, wide receiver, Seattle
- Demaryius Thomas, wide receiver, Denver
- Jared Cook, tight end, Tennessee
[photo via Getty]