The thing about early week deadlines is, well, news can sometimes break after we go to press. I reported earlier this week that there wasn't much worth getting excited about on the waiver wire, so much so that I cut out the "Smokin' Hot" category for the week. A lot has gone down in the couple of days since the Waiver Wire Wonders was posted, so here is a quick update on the late breaking news as it pertains to this week's waiver wire.
Before we get to that, I haven't decided where I stand on the NFL having a game on every Thursday night. Part of me enjoys this, since it is another night that I can watch a football game on television. The other part of me, the fantasy football owner, very much doesn't like this change. Thanksgiving games, yea, no problem, even the Thursdays in December, ok. The Thursday game pushes up the weekly schedule for everything, free agency, picking games in the "pool", seems like each week is a rush. So I'm firmly on the fence, but have come to accept these games.
Now that we've got the bye weeks mixed into the schedule, has it ever been explained why the NFL doesn't have two of the teams on a bye week be matched up in the following week's Thursday night game? Makes too much sense, right? Instead of giving the two teams playing in the Thursday night spotlight game 10 days to rest and prepare, let's just give them three days and hope they don't have any bumps and bruises. The Ravens played in a Sunday night game, then four days later they were on for the Thursday night tilt. If we are going to have Thursday night games, how about giving these teams a fighting chance at putting on a good show.
Green Bay Running Back
After my deadline, it was announced that Cedric Benson would be out for an even more significant period of time than was originally reported, likely now to be until at least week 14. I stand by my recommendation that James Starks will be the player to pick up in his place. While many were encouraged by Green's performance last week after Benson left (10 carries for 63 yards), this was in a game where Starks was not dressed. Even though the Packers are reporting that Alex Green may get an opportunity this week to be the starter (our friends at fleaflicker.com show Green as the top selection this week), I feel Starks is the long term solution.
Many have forgotten that it was Starks that was the spark for the Packers on their magical Superbowl run in 2010. He carried the team as the leading rusher for Green Bay in each of their playoff games. He also had a strong campaign in 2011, so he is a proven player in the Green Bay system. He's battled injuries, currently coming off a turf toe injury that has kept him out of the lineup all of 2012. He is healthy now, and at the most opportune time. Coach Mike McCarthy will likely split things up until one of Starks or Green establishes themselves as the starter, and of course, John Kuhn will get mixed in at the goal line. I expect that Starks will win the job in short order and be the back to own for the Packers for the duration of the Benson injury.
Arizona Running Back
Another Monday announcement was the loss of starter Ryan Williams for the rest of the season. He was working through a sore knee, then suffered a shoulder injury that will finish him off for the year. As is the case in Green Bay, the Cardinals have a couple players that will be vying for the starting position, but unlike in Green Bay, I don't see the starting running back for the Cardinals as having as much value as the counterpart for the Packers (only once this season did Williams break 50 yards rushing).
William Powell has the inside track on the starting job, and he is a guy that can also catch the ball out of the backfield. La'Rod Stephens-Howling will also be in the mix as he has been in the Arizona system for a couple of years and has never earned the opportunity to be the workhorse back. He is more of a third down option, look for Powell to carry the load on first and second down. Both of these guys are injury prone, and the Cardinals in general aren't much of a rushing team so take that into account when deciding if you want to get involved with either of these two players. Way out in the horizon is Beanie Wells, but he is out until at least week 12.
Indianapolis Running Back
Even later breaking news this week is that Donald Brown had his knee scoped and will miss two to three weeks. Rookie Vick Ballard is the clear backup for the Colts, so he will assume the role as starter until Brown returns. Indianapolis also has Mewelde Moore in its stable, but he will strictly be the third down back. Ballard is a short term solution, holding the job until Brown returns, but matchups against the Jets and Browns the next two weeks make him a very attractive option as a fantasy starter while Brown is on the mend. Deeper leagues can consider Moore, as he will see 3-4 passes per game thrown in his direction. Delone Carter is not an option.
St.Louis Wide Receiver
I stand by my early week recommendations that both Brandon Gibson and Austin Pettis are worth picking up. After further review of the situation, forced to choose I would pick up Pettis over Gibson. The logical and obvious choice is Gibson (currently one of the top 10 WRs being picked up this week according to our friends at fleaflicker.com), but I believe that Pettis will earn the starting role in the slot, the position where Danny Amendola was so productive.
Gibson has been the WR1 for a while now, I don't see much of an upside there, weekly numbers likely in the 5-50 range but not much more, with games where he has less than that. Playing out of the slot, Pettis has the potential to get between 5-10 catches and 50-100 yards per game. Another factor to consider is that defenses will concentrate on closing down Gibson (not that he was lighting it up prior to the Amendola injury). This is a classic risk/reward situation. If you are an owner taking a chance on this situation, my recommendation is to go with Pettis.
Doug Coutts can be reached at email@example.com .