HOT ROUTES: WEEK 11 WAIVER WIRE PICKUPS

By Will Mirrer

Weekly recommended fantasy football free agent pickups, all under 50% ownership in ESPN leagues. Generally divided between “priority” value adds relevant to all teams, “bye week fill-in” adds relevant to teams dealing with byes at that position, and “speculative” adds.

Week 11 Bye Weeks: Saints, Giants, Steelers, Browns

QB:

  • Priority
    • Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (47.4% ownership)
      • Romo returns to this page for the fifth time – and this time, he’s actually back and starting Week 11.  Romo should ensure that the dezperate times have ended in Dallas.  He gets the Dolphins, and I’d slot him right in as your starting QB if you’re currently stuck without a top 6-8 starter. His schedule gets tough down the fantasy playoff stretch, but we’ll soon see if Romo and Dez pick up right where they left off Week 1.
    • Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (26.3%)
      • Cutler’s been pretty darn good since returning from injury, showing comfort in offensive coordinator Adam Gase’s new scheme.  Turnovers, Cutler’s career bugaboo, haven’t been much of an issue lately, with only two interceptions in the last five weeks.
  • Bye Week Fill-In:
    • Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (43.0%)
      • Mariota isn’t going to win anyone their fantasy championship – not his rookie year anyway.  But if you’re a Brees, Ben or Eli owner stuck singing the bye week blues, roll out Mariota this week against the Jags with confidence.
  • Speculative:
    • Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos (0.3%)
      • Peyton Manning was benched week 10 against the Chiefs, and while he may be back in the starting lineup when healthy, I would take a flier on Osweiler if you have the roster space.  Who knows, he may be terrible, but the Broncos defense is so good, and he has elite receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to throw to, so it’s certainly worth finding out if he’s good enough to realize some fantasy upside.
    • Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns (4.4%)
      • Manziel had his best professional game against the Bengals, and has been named the starter for the Browns the rest of the season.  We all know he can run, and, like Osweiler above, he’s worth a flier if you have the roster space in order to get a “free” look at Manziel’s upside as a starter.  Really, it will depend on whether Manziel looks competent – if he does, his wheels will make him fantasy relevant.

RB:

  • Priority:
    • None. It’s a bare week for running backs on the waiver wire.
  • Bye Week Fill-In:
    • Shaun Draughn (9.4%)
      • Carlos Hyde will likely miss week 11 against the Seahawks, and if that is the case, Draughn should lead a 49er committee in the backfield.  Remember, he’s facing the ‘Hawks, so temper expectations and slot in Draughn as an emergency bye week solution.
    • Speculative:
      • James White, New England Patriots (36.7%)
        • Some expected White to somewhat step into the Dion Lewis role in New England as a result of the latter’s devastating injury. He was certainly on the field more in Week 10 as a result, but saw only 2 touches.  This isn’t the most inspiring add, but in the wake of Julian Edelman’s (fantasy) season-ending injury, perhaps James White will pick up a few more targets as a result.

WR:

  •  Priority:
    • Danny Amendola, New England Patriots (22.2%)
      • With Edelman now done for the fantasy season, Amendola should step into Edelman’s position in the slot and provide immediate returns.  Amendola has flashed an improved rapport with Brady all season and has made a number of highlight grabs.  Brady will need to lean on him even more with Dion Lewis already done for the year as well.
    • Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans (46.4%)
      • Wright’s been dropped in a bunch of leagues due to his recent injuries, but he should still be back by week 12.  While DGB could garner more targets in his absence, and Delanie Walker is the true number one receiver for the Titans, I expect Wright to regain his role upon return from injury, as he plays out of the slot, unlike DGB.
    • Kamar Aiken, Baltimore Ravens (45.8%)
      • Aiken has never been, and never will be, an efficient receiver, and it’s really night and day between him and Steve Smith.  But with Smith done for the year, the targets (14 in week 10!) will continue to be there.
    • Chris Givens, Baltimore Ravens (2.8%)
      • Givens, like Aiken above, is seeing more targets in the wake of Steve Smith’s torn achilles, and brought in 4 catches for 37 yards and a touchdown week 10.  I expect his role to continue to increase, as Givens was acquired during mid-season and can thus be expected to improve his chemistry with Flacco throughout the season.  His deep ball specialty makes for a logical pairing with Flacco, who throws an elite deep ball, and who formerly had such a connection with Torrey Smith.
  • Bye Week Fill-In:
    • Leonard Hankerson, Atlanta Falcons (11.8%)
      • Hankerson should be returning from injury in a nice matchup against the Colts defense – remember, Julio Jones will be busy sparring with stud corner Vontae Davis, which could lead Matt Ryan to pepper Hank with more targets as he slides back into the number 2 receiver position.
  • Speculative:
    • Dwayne Harris, New York Giants (9.4%)
      • Harris has manned the slot, and with Cruz officially never returning to a Giants uniform in 2015 (or ever?), he should maintain that role until season’s end.  Eli does spread the ball around, but after an excellent toe-tap touchdown catch in week 10, Harris has simply continued to play like a genuine slot receiver, not just the kick return specialist many thought he was.

 TE:

  • Priority:
    • Crockett Gilmore, Baltimore Ravens (11.0%)
      • Gillmore is the starting tight end in Baltimore and, as noted above, Steve Smith is out for the year.  Those targets gotta go to somebody!
  • Speculative:
    • Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (16.7%)
        • ASJ, a 2nd round draft pick in 2014, went down with an injury in week 2 after lighting up the Titans with two touchdowns week 1. He may return this week, and with V-Jax hurt, expect ASJ to be thrown into the mix early and often. Be forewarned, it’s become impossible to guess when ASJ will actually see the field.

DEF:

(Remember, this list only includes defenses owned in fewer than 50% of ESPN leagues and thus applies only to those who stream defenses weekly)

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ Philadelphia Eagles; 10.6%)
    • The surprisingly peppy Bucs defense gets turnover machine Mark Sanchez week 11.  I’d bank on at least one interception with the potential for a fumble and several sacks to boot.
  • Kansas City Chiefs (@ San Diego Chargers; 24.4%)
    • Really not the best matchup for a streaming defense, simply because Phillip Rivers is awesome at football.  But two mitigating factors: (i) the Chargers’ offensive line is decimated, so Justin Houston and co. should have little trouble making Rivers’ life miserable, and (ii) the Chiefs defense is too good not to be owned – after a rough start to the year, several contributors have returned from injury and taken this unit to another level, most recently evidenced by ending Peyton Manning’s career week 10.
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