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Working the Waiver Wire: Week 11 Free Agent Pickup Advice

Here is some advice on working the waiver wire in your fantasy league (for personal advice email larry at larrybrownsports.com):

Matchups to Avoid (at your discretion): Packers defense now that they’re healthy. Avoid Saints, Chargers, and Bears pass defense. Still avoid Steelers Giants, Jets run defense. Outside of Green Bay, there really is no true defense to avoid this year.

Matchups to Exploit (at your discretion): Houston, Buffalo, Jacksonville, New England and Dallas’ secondary. Buffalo, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Denver, and Indy’s run defense. Start a defense playing Carolina and Seattle (SF falls off the list now that Troy Smith is starting).

We recommended Santonio Holmes as our must-have player last week and all he did was break out with the game-winning touchdown in overtime as the Jets’ leading receiver. Still not sold on our talents? Josh Freeman and David Garrard were touted as one-week monster plays at quarterback. Freeman threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 19 yards. Garrard had 342 yards passing and two touchdowns including the hail mary, plus 35 yards on the ground. Simply put, we know what we’re doing. Keep that in mind as you read through the rest of the advice:


MUST-HAVE

Mario Manningham, WR, Giants – We gave him a special recommendation after word came out about Steve Smith’s pec injury and Manningham did not disappoint in his first start. 10 catches and a touchdown, he’ll be valuable as long as Smith is out.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets – Demoted to second string at the beginning of the year, he’s now getting at least half the carries each game. I think he’ll be a common thread on many championship teams and will be a valuable contributor during fantasy playoffs. If someone dropped him, pick him up. Try to trade for him if you can (but don’t go overboard in what you give up).
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys – Broke a screen pass for a 71-yard touchdown and showed what he can do in the passing game. He may become more involved in the offense with Garrett calling all the shots now. He’s already on most rosters, but if he’s available he could help your team down the stretch.
James Jones, WR, Packers – He had back-to-back 100-yard games after catching 8 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown a week ago and he looked great working with Aaron Rodgers. He’s available in most leagues.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets – Recorded his first 100-yard game of the season, breaking a couple of big plays Sunday. Back-to-back matchups against weak secondaries makes him an even more appealing play.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions – Shaun Hill is back at quarterback and absolutely loves this guy. He has exceptional value in PPR leagues
*Make sure they’re not still available: Malcom Floyd

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Steve Smith Pectoral Injury Opens Up Opportunity for Mario Manningham

The best phonetic quarterback-wide receiver combination in the NFL may be in full effect the next few weeks for the New York Giants: Eli Manning to Mario Manningham. Wide receiver Steve Smith hurt his pectoral muscle during practice on Thursday and will miss at least the next two games. The injury to Smith means slot receiver Mario Manningham will move into the starting lineup and likely see more targets.

Manningham has always been able to get open, but his problem as far as I’ve seen it is that he has shaky hands. The third-year wide receiver from Michigan has plenty of speed which allows him to get in position to score a touchdown nearly every single week. If you decide to pick him up (he’s available in almost 40% of leagues), beware that Manningham went two games this season without a catch. Keep in mind that was when he was a situational third receiver and not a starter, as he will be now.

The Star-Ledger says Smith has a partially torn pectoral muscle which means that missing at least two games is likely. Manningham isn’t reliable in terms of his hands, but with Smith out he should produce more consistently and give you a quality fantasy option.

Tom Brady, Patriots Offense Hurting Without Randy Moss

We knew Tom Brady’s stats would go down without Randy Moss and that the Patriots would be a less-potent offense without the star, but we could not have figured they’d be struggling as badly as they are. Don’t get me wrong, they still were the top team in our power rankings last week, but the Pats’ offense hasn’t lit it up since trading the Pro Bowler.

ESPN provided some excellent analysis of Brady’s stats in the four games with Randy Moss and the four games without him. Here are some of the highlights:

Tom Brady Without Randy Moss

    + Completion percentage is down 11.4%
    + Yds/attempt is down 0.9 (from 7.5 to 6.6)
    + Four fewer touchdown passes (9 vs. 5)
    + Sacked three more times (8 vs. 5)
    + Passer Rating down 24.8 points (109 vs. 84.1)

Wes Welker’s stats without Randy Moss

    + Six fewer targets (24 vs. 18)
    + Eight fewer catches (26 vs. 18)
    + Catch percentage down 12% (76% vs. 64%)

I always said Randy Moss made Wes Welker and it looks like that’s exactly the case. That’s not a knock on Welker because he was the ideal complement to Moss, but on his own he can’t create the type of plays he could with Randy there.

The Vikings meanwhile experienced a similar change in production with and without Randy Moss. They averaged 21.5 points per game with Randy and just 17.5 without him. Brett Favre’s passer rating was 80.8 on average in games played with Moss but 71.5 without him.

Even though Randy’s stats might not show he’s doing much, it’s pretty clear he has a large, positive impact on any offense of which he’s a part. Obviously this is good news for the Titans’ prospects the rest of the year.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

Working the Waiver Wire: Week 10 Free Agent Pickup Advice

Here is some advice on working the waiver wire in your fantasy league (for personal advice email larry at larrybrownsports.com):

Matchups to Avoid (at your discretion): Steelers defense, Ravens defense, Giants pass defense, Chargers pass defense, and Bears pass defense.

Matchups to Exploit (at your discretion): Houston, Buffalo, Jacksonville, New England and Dallas’ secondary. Buffalo, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Denver, and Indy’s run defense. Start a defense playing Carolina, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Our one-week monster plays went off this past weekend: Mark Sanchez had over 300 yards and two TDs, Seyi Ajirotutu had over 100 yards and two touchdowns, and the Saints demolished the Panthers. If it’s available, whichever defense is playing Carolina is the best one to start in a given week. Here is some other advice using our best judgment:


MUST-HAVE

James Jones, WR, Packers – He has back-to-back 100-yard games after catching 8 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown Sunday and he looked great working with Aaron Rodgers.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets – Recorded his first 100-yard game of the season, breaking a couple of big plays Sunday. Back-to-back matchups against weak secondaries makes him an even more appealing play.
Jon Beason, LB, Panthers – Don Connor got placed on injured reserve so Beason will move back to middle linebacker where he’s likely to rack up tackles. I know I’m picking him up as an IDP in my league.
*Make sure they’re not still available: Jacob Tamme, Dez Bryant

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Antonio Gates Out for Texans Game

It looks like Norv Turner isn’t as bad of an injury report manipulator as we suspected. No Chargers player listed as doubtful heading into a game has played for San Diego this year and that truth continues.

Tight end Antonio Gates has been declared inactive for their game with the Houston Texans. Gates apparently tried to play but decided before the game he wasn’t feeling well enough to get out there. Gates has foot, ankle, and toe injuries, and just added a plantar fascia injury to his list of growing ailments.

San Diego has a bye week coming up so the good news is Antonio will have two weeks to try and get better for the rest of the season. Nobody can doubt the man’s toughness given that he’s played through injuries the past two weeks, but if just yesterday we thought Antonio would play this weekend, what happened?

If you remember back during the week, Gates was talking like he was hurt so badly he wasn’t going to play. Coach Norv Turner probably wanted to make things more difficult for Houston by letting them think Gates would play, so he probably told Gates to start acting like he was going to play. Or maybe they planned to have Gates try and play on game day but he was unfortunately unable to. All I know is that the Chargers will be in a tough spot without their star tight end in Houston.

Working the Waiver Wire: Week 9 Free Agent Pickup Advice

Here is some advice on working the waiver wire in your fantasy league (for personal advice email larry at larrybrownsports.com):

Matchups to Avoid (at your discretion): Steelers defense, Ravens defense, Giants pass defense, Chargers pass defense.

Matchups to Exploit (at your discretion): Houston, Buffalo, Jacksonville, and New England’s secondary. Buffalo, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Denver, and Indy’s run defense. Start a defense playing Carolina, Arizona, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Hopefully you acted last week to pick up some of the players we recommended because you’ll have a lot of competition working the waiver wire this week. Here are some players to keep in mind when you submit your claims:


MUST-HAVE

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Bucs – He was one of our players to watch last week and blew up with two touchdowns and over 100 yards. He’s no secret anymore so just make sure he’s on your team instead of one of your rivals.
Mike Hart, RB, Colts – Hopefully you listened to us when we told you he was a must-have last week. He looked really good on Monday night running for 84 yards. He’s a nice fill-in while Joseph Addai is out.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Colts – Like Hart, we recommended Tamme last week and hope you picked him up. He dropped a pass early but picked it up with six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. He can keep it up.
Paul Posluszny, LB, Bills – Someone may have dropped him after their bye two weeks ago. Whether Buffalo plays a 3-4 or 4-3 defense doesn’t matter — Posluszny racks up the tackles.
Desmond Bishop, LB, Packers – He’s had double-digit tackle totals each week since gaining the starting job because of injury. As we saw against the Vikings, he’s also good in coverage.

*Make sure they’re not still available: Matthew Stafford, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

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Jacob Tamme, Anthony Gonzalez Will Have Fantasy Relevancy with Colts

No team in the NFL may have been limited by injuries more than the Indianapolis Colts. In a span of a few weeks, running back Joseph Addai hurt his shoulder, tight end Dallas Clark had season-ending surgery on his wrist, and Austin Collie had surgery on his hand. That’s on top of backup running back Donald Brown who’s been out with a hamstring problem and Anthony Gonzalez and Bob Sanders who got hurt week one. But you know the bottom line? As long as nobody on the injury report is named Peyton Manning, the Colts’ offense will be fine.

With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to Jacob Tamme and re-introduce Anthony Gonzalez. Those two men, along with Blair White will fill in for Clark and Collie in the passing game. Tamme is in his third year from Kentucky and he only has six catches and 47 yards in his career. He may not have accumulated any stats so far this season, but he had two touchdown catches in the preseason and he wouldn’t be on Indy’s roster if he couldn’t play. He won’t see 10 targets a game like Dallas Clark, but six is reasonable enough to make him a good fantasy option at tight end, especially with bye weeks and injuries.

Anthony Gonzalez and Blair White are likely to share slot duties replacing Collie who could miss a month. Collie was a monster for Indianapolis, so it’s reasonable to suggest Gonzalez and White will put up stats. White has six receptions on the year and caught a touchdown in week three, so he can do something. Over the longer term, I’m expecting more out of Gonzalez.

Gonzalez may have missed all of last year and half of this season with injuries, but once upon a time he was a first-round pick for Indianapolis and he’s been in the offense for four years, so he knows the system and how to work with Peyton. At some point he’ll start to produce, maybe now is that time. And if you have Reggie Wayne or Pierre Garcon in fantasy, you’re in the best shape of all — Manning will lean heavily on the duo, though he won’t force things if it’s not there.