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Finding Waiver Wire Gems on Bad Teams

There are a lot of bad teams out there in the NFL in 2018 as you will see in the list below. Some expected, like the Raiders and some not so much, like the Jaguars.

Whether bad by design, bad injury luck, or bad coaching (the Raiders fit all three), some players still stand out as solid contributors for fantasy. Every team has at least one player who is usable as a flex player and the purpose of this article is to figure out who is this player on a given team. In some cases, the player might be a quarterback who will dominate in garbage time and in other cases, it is a highly productive running back or wide receiver on a garbage team. Let’s find out together who you want to take a shot on to stay at the top of the garbage heap.

For our purposes, I am going to try to stay away from elite stars who are not available and concentrate on players who may be available on some waiver wires. So, you won’t see players like David Johnson, Saquon Barkley or Odell Beckham Jr. on this list as they are obviously not going to be targets for you at this point. Who can take a deficit and turn it into fantasy points?

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Oh, The Garbage Men Can...

Arizona Cardinals

Ricky Seals-Jones, 25% owned - Since Byron Leftwich took over at offensive coordinator, only four players on the Cardinals have 13 or more targets in the offense. With nine in the Week 10 game against the Chiefs Seals-Jones is one of those players. In Week 11 the Oakland Raiders come to town with their defense missing everyone and barely able to play 11 this is a great matchup for all Cardinals players and Jones is no different. In a week in which Rob Gronkowski, David Njoku and George Kittle are all on bye a player like Seals-Jones will be a fill-in top 12 tight end and going forward is usable for the rest of the season if you are looking for a tight end to replace a disappointment at the position. Games left against Detroit, Chargers and even the Rams who gave up a huge game to Ben Watson in Week 9 provide good matchups as the offense in Arizona gets better and better as the season comes to an end and David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and company become more comfortable with Josh Rosen behind center.

Christian Kirk, 31% owned: Another one of those four players with 13 targets over the past two games is Christian Kirk. The rookie has had a solid season learning behind and alongside the great Larry Fitzgerald. Having 33 receptions and 418 yards through nine games, Kirk is a reliable wide receiver two for the offense and with a more consistent offense as well as a solid defense, the opportunity for a break out second half is well in line. Fitzgerald and Johnson are still the alphas in the offense and will remain so but at only 31% owned Christian Kirk makes a great pick up and play on a weekly basis. In matches against Oakland this week as well as Detroit and Green Bay in coming weeks there are matchups to be exploited on the horizon for Christian Kirk and the Arizona passing game.

Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen, 2% owned: No matter what Matt Barkley did last week against the Jets, when Josh Allen is ready, this is going to be his team again. We saw what he could do before his arm injury in the dominant upset win over the Vikings and if the Bills need anything to finish out the season for their fans it is excitement for next season. LeSean McCoy had a solid game finally against the Jets, but his time has come, and the future is Allen. They are going to want to see what they have in the rookie and with games left against the Patriots, Dolphins and even the Jets again, what better division to tee off on that a division with only one good team and three relatively bad defenses? If Josh Allen and the Bills can get anything from Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones or Charles Clay, Allen could be a streamable starter. If they can’t then you drop him and grab another quarterback. They are a dime a dozen for the most part, right?

Bills D/ST, 22% owned: Coming into last week the Bills had the third-ranked defense in the league for fantasy purposes. Leaving the game, they were number one. If the Bills could get any form of consistent offense they would not be on this list. But the fact is the offense is bad and it would look even worse if the defense was not holding teams like the Patriots and Vikings to 20 points or less. With games still left against the Jets and Dolphins, the Bills defense should continue to be top-five the rest of the season and is a valuable pick up coming out of the bye this week before heading into a Week 12 tilt against the Jaguars.

Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield, 43% owned: What a rookie season for Mayfield. Coming into the season a lot of people, myself included, thought this would be a sit and learn season behind Tyrod Taylor. After not even a month of games, the choice was easy - it was Mayfield or bust.

After the switch was made the offense has been scoring points and everyone has confidence leading to a lot of fantasy goodness. Not least of which is coming from Baker Mayfield who is averaging 264.5 yards in his 7.5 games played and almost two touchdowns a game since becoming the starter. Negative game scripts are going to continue to lead to the necessity for Mayfield to continue to sling the ball to Duke Johnson Jr., Jarvis Landry and David Njoku which will keep his stats high and should lead to even more touchdown pass chances. As the Browns do continue to get better and hopefully get into the red zone more often, his rushing ability will also be on display more as he will have more chances to run the ball and keep defenses honest going ahead to the season’s conclusion.

Denver Broncos

Tim Patrick, 0% owned: There were a few teams who were difficult to find someone to talk about and the Broncos were for sure one of them. With Demaryius Thomas not on the Houston Texans and Courtland Sutton propelled to the wide receiver two spot on the roster, Tim Patrick now becomes the next man up as the wide receiver three. With Daesean Hamilton dealing with injuries this season, the Broncos will turn to the undrafted Tim Patrick. At 6’4 and 208 pounds, Patrick will provide a big target for Case Keenum in the offense much in the same mold of Thomas. Coming out of college at Utah, Patrick ran a 4.52 40-yard dash which gives him enough speed to get away from any slower corners or safeties who may guard him as the third or even fourth option on the offensive side of the ball. Do not expect him to be a wide receiver one or two consideration, but in a week like this week in which six teams are on bye, he could be a high-upside, low-floor flex play against the Chargers as he matches up against Mike Davis, the 135th-ranked cornerback on the season.

Detroit Lions

Theo Riddick, 15% owned: The Lions are content on being a bad team who does not use their best players to the best of their ability. Saying this they are not giving Kerryon Johnson all of the work he deserves thereby making Theo Riddick still a viable option as a flex option in PPR leagues. While on the field he has been one of the best pass-catching running backs of recent years, he is not always on the field due to nagging injuries. If he can remain on the field this time after missing games already this season, he should continue to receive five to eight targets a game as they try to keep Johnson fresh. For the playoffs, I guess. Detroit has always said they wanted to be a running team and although they still throw the ball a ton with Matthew Stafford, they have run the ball more this season as they are one of the slowest teams on offense with the 26th ranked pace of play. As they continue to slow the ball down and try to shorten games, the passing game from the running back, which Theo Riddick is known for, will continue to thrive in the Motor City even if the Lions don’t.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Blake Bortles, 22% owned: All hail the king of all garbage men! Even when the Jaguars were bad, which they are again, he rode garbage time to two top 12 quarterback finishes and it looks likely he could do the same thing yet again. He has weapons surrounding him he just is not a good quarterback and has no idea how to use the weapons he has. With Leonard Fournette, finally healthy again, the Jaguars may be able to get back to a ground and pound offense which if successful should open even more chances for the passing game to regain effectiveness. If it doesn’t each week, the Jaguars will continue to be trailing in games and will need to throw the ball to catch up. Either, way this is good for owners of Bortles in games such as this week against the Steelers. A team with a high-powered offense which will force Jacksonville to keep up and a defense which is bad enough against the pass to allow them to do just this. It seems as though the 2017 season was the mirage and not the new normal for Jacksonville and with bad teams comes the garbage time needed for quarterbacks to flourish for fantasy and this is no different. Look for Bortles to finish the season with more games like Week 10 in which he had 320 yards passing and two touchdowns against the Colts.

Donte Moncrief, 15% owned: Getting a 22% target share and a 27% air yards share makes Moncrief the wide receiver one to own in Jacksonville. As said with Bortles, the Jaguars are going to be in a lot of negative game scripts and this will lead to having to throw the ball to keep up or catch up. Either way, Donte Moncrief will be the main beneficiary of these targets from Bortles as he has pulled away from the pack at wide receiver to prove he was worth the contract given to him as a free agent. The concern with Moncrief has always been concussions and so far, this season he has avoided the fate which hampered him throughout his time with Indianapolis.

Going forward for the rest of the season he should be usable as a wide receiver three as the Jags fight to remain in games with a defense who is disappointing for their owners and an offense that is a shell of what it was in 2017.

New York Giants

Eli Manning, 19% owned: Not only are the Giants not good, but Eli Manning is terrible also. This said he has great weapons and as much as he has brought them down this season, in some extent, they have also raised him up. Imagine how bad Eli would be if he did not have Barkley, Beckham Jr. and Shepard. Ok, I don’t want you to vomit so maybe don’t think about it. Manning showed on Monday what he is capable on any given week. With three touchdown passes he was able to provide a semblance of fantasy relevance and although the 188 yards was lower than liked, he is not usually this low and should return back to his career norm of 240 to 250 yards on a consistent basis. Starting this week against the Bucs, Eli should have success going forward in the season and he could make a good streaming option if you need a win or two to get into the playoffs. If you have Tom Brady on bye this week, why not pick up the man who has beaten him in the Super Bowl twice to get you through until he returns next week and help you get a win?

New York Jets

Elijah McGuire, 16% owned: Isaiah Crowell is the running back who is going to get the bulk of the running work with the Jets. He is also 88% owned and is no threat in the pass game. Much like Theo Riddick in Detroit and Duke Johnson Jr. in Cleveland, McGuire is the bonafide pass-catching back in this offense which makes him a pick up and play in PPR leagues. Coming off injured reserve after the injury to Bilal Powell, we needed to see if he would be incorporated into the offense and he has been. In two games back, he has been targeted 11 times and has six receptions as well as 13 carries for 60 yards. While this may not seem like a lot, don’t forget one catch is like 10 rushing yards. As he becomes healthier after the bye week, he will continue to gain more and more targets and his points will go up along with it. He will be a flex play option going forward but not much more and in saying this I still say look for better options unless you are stuck.

Oakland Raiders

Doug Martin, 51% owned: 20 rushes for 61 yards. This was the line for Doug Martin against the Chargers in Week 10. If he is going to get this many carries, even at only three yards per carry Martin has to be considered for a roster spot. Having this many touches leads to opportunities to possibly break off a long run and make your day with a touchdown or a 100-yard rushing bonus. In Week 11 martin faces the Cardinals who over the course of the season have given up the most points to running backs meaning Martin could be a running back two play for this week.

With Marshawn Lynch out for the season, Martin has taken over the lead back role and based on his play to this point looks to keep the role through the end of 2018. Jalen Richard still has value as his nine targets per game will allow him to gain production in PPR leagues especially, but Martin seems to be the favorite of John Gruden and thus is the one to own in Oakland as they vie for the number one draft overall draft pick.

San Francisco 49ers

Pierre Garcon, 22% owned: Before the season, Pierre Garcon was the sexy name to break out in the Bay area. He was healthy after missing much of last season with a neck injury, Jimmy Garoppolo was there and most importantly Kyle Shanahan was there. This was the coach in which Garcon had his career-best season in Washington and it was going to translate again in 2018. Then came the actual season. Jimmy G tore his ACL, Jerick McKinnon did the same causing the whole game plan to change and yet again Garcon can’t stay healthy. Maybe this is why most professional athletes named Pierre are skiers or skaters.

With Nick Mullens taking over for C.J. Beathard and lighting a fire under the offense, Garcon went along with the charge in the first game against the Raiders before sitting out again against the Giants. In the Raiders game, Garcon caught three of five targets for 56 yards and a touchdown. These numbers are not incredible but coming out of the bye in Week 11 the 49ers face another terrible defense in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he could again prove to be a wide receiver three for the week if healthy. Is he an every-week start? No. But when you are dealing with the dregs of the league, who is?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Adam Humphries, 14% owned: As much as I hate to say it as a Chris Godwin fan, Humphries is the third receiver to own in Tampa Bay this season. In nine games so far, he is averaging over four receptions a game and 46 yards per game. For a WR3 or WR4 in an offense, this is not a bad line and with two touchdowns, he also has the ability to exploit bad matchups such as the ones coming up in Week 11 and 12 against the Giants and 49ers.

Ryan Fitzpatrick loves to throw the ball and with a non-existent run game in Tampa, this is good. We also know the tight end position is not a major priority for Fitzpatrick meaning it will be all receivers all the time. Thus, expect Humphries to remain in the WR3 conversation for the remainder of the season as Fitzpatrick and company try to save the job of Dirk Koetter.

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