The Wire – Week 5: Maybe the Steelers do have a running game!

As a firm believer in the Continuous Quality Improvement model, I’ve once again updated the look and feel of The Wire for your enjoyment. The list is now organized by position, which seems to make more sense since you are undoubtedly looking to fill a certain spot on your roster with these waiver wire pick-ups. However, it’s still organized in order of the ownership percentage (in parenthesis) so you know the odds of the player being available in your league. Also, the classifications have changed slightly (I just didn’t like the old ones for some reason.) So for this week, you’ll find players who are either [Startable], a [Stopgap] to get you past a BYE or injury, [Worth a look] and spot on your bench, or [One-week-wonder]s who don’t warrant a roster spot, so make your roster moves accordingly. Anyways, let’s get to the good stuff…the actual player list, starting with a player who might be able to return the Steelers back to the bruising style of running they once had (but which Fast Willie Parker lacked)…

Running Backs
  • [Startable] Rashard Mendenhall, PIT (77%) – If the Steelers go back to Willie Parker after Mendenhall’s 191 combined yard, two touchdown performance on Sunday, they’re crazy. Grab Rashard if the Parker owner in your league was clueless enough to not handcuff him on draft day.
  • [Worth a look] Shonn Greene, NYJ (13%) – More of a prospect in keeper leagues, Greene got his first carries of the season and went for 23 yards on four attempts. He probably won’t do much immediately, but Greene’s most likely Thomas Jones’ long term replacement in New York.
  • [Stopgap] Justin Fargas, OAK (8%) – With Darren McFadden expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a knee injury, Fargas will step in as the starter for the Raiders. Remember though, he’s playing for the Raiders. He’s only useful if you’re in a HUGE bind at the position.
  • [Stopgap] Jerome Harrison, CLE (55%) – With Jamal Lewis out last week, Harrison filled in valiantly, rushing for 121 yards and receiving for 31 more. After this performance, I doubt the team will rush Lewis back on the field and Jerome should get the bulk of the carries this weekend at Buffalo.
  • [Stopgap] Ricky Williams, MIA (79%) – Even with Ronnie Brown being the primary back in the offense, Williams is putting together a solid season so far with 248 yards and two scores (plus 62 receiving yards and another TD through the air.) He makes a decent flex play or bye week fill-in.
Quarterbacks
  • [Stopgap] Shaun Hill, SF (40%) – Hill has two touchdowns in each of his last two games and while he’s not going to amaze you with his passing yards, the team finds a way to get him into the redzone a couple times a game and that makes for some workable fantasy stats.
  • [Stopgap] Kyle Orton, DEN (57%) – Orton now has five touchdowns and zero (!) interceptions this season and seems to be getting better each week (could have something to do with star receiver Brandon Marshall’s reemergence!) His upcoming schedule isn’t the friendliest (NE, @SD, BYE, @BAL, PIT), but he should still manage to put up serviceable numbers if your team is in a bind at QB.
  • [Stopgap] Jason Campbell, WAS (61%) – The Reskins offense is a little bit inconsistent (and at times, very bad), but Campbell still has managed to throw for four touchdowns over the past two games. He has a pretty easy schedule on the horizon (@CAR, KC) and could help carry your team through a bye week.
  • [Stopgap] David Garrard, JAX (74%) – He’s been very inconsistent, but the offense in Jacksonville seems to be getting back on track. Mike Sims-Walker is turning into a top notch receiver in the league and MJD is getting back in gear. David makes a solid backup quarterback at this point and is startable given the right match-ups.
Wide Receivers
  • [Worth a look] Austin Collie, IND (6%) – He now has 9 receptions for 112 yards and a score over the past two games. Could be the new Brandon Stokley-type guy with Reggie Wayne the new Marvin Harrison and Pierre Garcon the new Reggie Wayne (did that make any sense?)
  • [Worth a look] Mohamed Massaquoi, CLE (12%) – With Brady Quinn at quarterback, the rookie hadn’t done much of anything. In steps Derek Anderson and all of a sudden Massaquoi looks like Jerry Rice or something (it was against the Bengals, but still.) I wouldn’t expect 148 yards every game, but he could soon replace Braylon Edwards as the top receiver in the Browns offense.
  • [Worth a look] Hakeem Nicks, NYG (16%) – In the preseason Nicks was a monster, but then the season started and he gets hurt and we all forget about him. Now that he’s back, he already showed what he’s capable of with a 54 yard touchdown. Expect his role to grow each week and he could eventually replace Mario Manningham as the starter alongside Steve Smith.
  • [Startable] Kenny Britt, TEN (23%) – In PPR leagues, the rookie probably has more value, as he’s already racked up 17 receptions this season, yet hasn’t found the endzone. The quarterback position in Tennessee could be in flux soon if the team continues losing, but for now Britt looks like a pretty safe option to put up stats each week (although he has the Colts and New England on the schedule next.)
  • [Worth a look / One-week-wonder] Jacoby Jones, HOU (24%) – If you’re in a league that awards points for kick returns, Jones can be a solid play for your team. In standard leagues though, you’re going to be pretty frustrated with his 1.25 catch per game average (even if he has turned two of his five catches into touchdowns.)
  • [Startable] Sidney Rice, MIN (25%) – His reception numbers over the first four games of the season: 2, 3, 4, 5. By the end of the year he could be up to 17! Anyways, he’s obviously got some chemistry with Brett Favre and has a touchdown in his past two games.
  • [Startable] Nate Washington, TEN (49%) – Washington isn’t going to dazzle with his yardage numbers, but a touchdown in three straight numbers is something to think about. I had the bad luck of playing against him this week in a PPR league (7 receptions, 66 yards and a touchdown) and can vouch for the fact that he’s a fantasy-worthy receiver.
  • [Stopgap] Antonio Bryant, TB (67%) – He’s finally starting to look healthy again and even with the quarterback questions in Tampa, managed to grab four catches for 44 yards and a score. If the team sticks with Josh Johnson at QB, the two could develop some decent chemistry and make Bryant a startable option once again.
Tight Ends
  • [One-week-wonder] Sean Ryan, KC (1%) – He does have nine receptions over his past two games (with five for 58 yards and a TD last weekend), but I’m still not convinced. If he can continue to put up numbers over the next week or so, I might upgrade his status on this list.
  • [Worth a look] Jermichael Finley, GB (8%) – Finley gets the nod over Ryan (above) because this offense is much better than the Chiefs. With six receptions for 128 yards and a score last night, Jermichael could overtake Donald Lee as the starting tight end in Green Bay and could put up decent numbers on a more consistent basis if that happens.
  • [Stopgap] Marcedes Lewis, JAX (16%) – He’s still fairly inconsistent, but if you don’t mind that out of the tight end position, Lewis is worth a look to get you through a bye week or injury.
  • [Stopgap] Heath Miller, PIT (74%) – Miller now has 24 receptions through the first four games and has returned to fantasy-relevance with his two touchdown performance on Sunday. Don’t look for him to score a lot of touchdowns on a regular basis, but it’s obvious that Roethlisberger is looking his way frequently this season.