Broncos' Moreno goes from forgotten to must-have

Posted Nov. 27, 2012 @ 5:47 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

This time of year, all fantasy advice is delivered with a friendly, but unblinking, reminder:

Play the season out, no matter your circumstances. Your fellow fantasy owners deserve as much.

Here are 40 players worth considering at the following positions: QB (five), RB (12), WR (10), TE (nine) and D/ST (four). Players are in order of how I would prioritize them on the waiver wire, and they are ranked by position, not relative to all players on the list.

The suggestions below are a function of matchups, expected opportunities and other factors. As a general rule, we will focus only upon players available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

Quarterbacks

1. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (owned in 36 percent of Yahoo! leagues) — He's now available in far fewer leagues than he was a week ago, but my goodness, he's on more waiver wires than I thought he would be. I suppose it's a function of where we are on the fantasy football calendar. Many successful fantasy owners are set at quarterback, and other owners have checked out for the year. Still, I believe he's a strong claim even for owners who like their QB depth. Why let a competitor pick up this talented, dual-threat passer at the helm of a strong offense?

2. Jaguars QB Chad Henne (11 percent) — I wasn't especially high on him last week. Here's to hoping you had a better read than I did. In his two games, he's thrown for 615 yards and six TDs. He's a must-claim in two-QB formats and bigger leagues, and I wouldn't be against starting him at Buffalo on Sunday, assuming the weather isn't dicey. The early forecast, per WeatherUnderground.com, calls for a little rain, but nothing horrible, all things considered. 

3. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (45 percent) — Why is Fitzpatrick available in this many leagues? Consider this: He's averaging less than a TD pass in his last seven starts after throwing 12 TDs in his first four games of 2012. Nevertheless, he's a reasonable pickup. The Bills could find themselves in a high-scoring game or two down the stretch. 

4. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (21 percent) — Has thrown multiple TDs in five of the last six games. 

5. Rams QB Sam Bradford (22 percent) — Two TD passes in each of his last three starts. 

Running backs

1. Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno (20 percent) — Many assumed Ronnie Hillman would be the Broncos' lead back with Willis McGahee out for the season. I certainly did. Well, Moreno, who had been inactive the previous eight games, got the start in Week 12 and almost all of the carries, racking up 85 yards on 20 rushes and catching four passes for 26 yards in Denver's 17-9 win at Kansas City. By contrast, Hillman had just three carries and sparingly played. 

2. Eagles RB Bryce Brown (34 percent) — Showed major promise in the Eagles' Week 12 loss to Carolina, racking up 178 rushing yards and two TDs. While he fumbled twice, he wasn't benched after the second miscue. It's clear that Brown will be the featured back as long as LeSean McCoy (concussion) is sidelined. 

3. Cardinals RB Beanie Wells (47 percent) — Scored two TDs in his return to action in Week 12. Only reason he's this low? One, he's available in fewer leagues than Moreno and Brown. Two, I wonder about his upside in a very shaky Cardinals offense.

4. Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (44 percent) — If Jonathan Stewart (high ankle sprain) can't play in Week 13, Williams is likely to get the start at Kansas City. High ankle sprains can be multiweek injuries, too.

5. Steelers RB Jonathan Dwyer (38 percent) — Good news: the Steelers have promoted him to the starting lineup. Bad news: he has zero rushing TDs on the season, and he has just 130 yards rushing on 40 carries in the last three weeks. Yes, I'd pick him up, but I'm not crazy about the Steelers' running game right now, and I'm not sure he's even a "flex" play against an improving Baltimore defense in Week 13. 

6. Jaguars RB Rashad Jennings (37 percent) — His stock gets a boost with Jalen Parmele out for the season and Maurice Jones-Drew still sidelined.

7. Jets RB Bilal Powell (four percent) — Has three rushing TDs in 23 carries in the last two games. Shonn Greene, by comparison, has 32 carries and no scores.

8. Saints RB Mark Ingram (29 percent) — Double-digit carries in the last three games.

9. Patriots RB Shane Vereen (10 percent) — Has one TD in three of the last four games, and he's had 10 carries or more in the last two weeks. Logical pickup for Stevan Ridley owners. 

10. Giants RB David Wilson (14 percent) — His stock is on the rise with Andre Brown (leg) out for the season. That said, he figures to be more of a change-of-pace option than a real threat to veteran Ahmad Bradshaw. Still, those with Bradshaw in big leagues might want to claim Wilson just in case.

11. Saints RB Chris Ivory (17 percent) — He's gained better than four yards per carry in each of the four games he's played this season, receiving between 7-10 carries in each of those games.

12. Packers RB Alex Green (20 percent) — Led the Packers in carries (10) in Week 12. I suppose he could have value to James Starks owners in huge leagues.

Wide receivers

1. Chargers WR Danario Alexander (47 percent) — Hauled in a team-high five passes for 74 yards in Week 12 while having more passes thrown his way (eight) than any other Charger. I'm not sure what bothers me more — that he's still available in this many leagues or that I didn't pick him up a few weeks back.

2. Lions WR Ryan Broyles (22 percent) After getting a season-high 12 targets and catching 6-126-0 in Week 12, and with Titus Young still away from the club as of Tuesday, Broyles' stock is on the rise. In many formats, he could be the best wideout available, considering that Alexander has been picked up in a good number of leagues (though still not enough for my taste, but let's move on). 

3. Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (43 percent) — Scored both of the Colts' TDs in a 20-13 win vs. Buffalo on Sunday (one receiving, one punt return). He should hold some appeal to owners in three-WR formats looking for a little playmaking punch.

4. Patriots WR Julian Edelman (16 percent) — While he scored a 56-yard receiving TD in Week 12 and added a fumble return score on a kickoff, he was on the field for just 21 percent of the Patriots' offensive snaps. Again, you just never know with the Patriots' complementary skill-position players. 

5. Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu (3 percent) — Not only has he secured the Bengals' No. 2 wideout role, but he has emerged as a legitimate red-zone threat in the last three weeks, hauling in four TDs, all of which have come from inside the opposition's 20-yard line. 

6. Broncos WR Brandon Stokley (20 percent) — Continues to be a key part of the Broncos' offense. Targeted seven times in Week 12, Stokley caught four passes for 62 yards in Denver's win at Kansas City.

7. Browns WR Josh Gordon (33 percent) — While he hasn't scored since Oct. 21, Gordon leads all Browns wideouts in targets during his four-game TD-less streak (22), and he faces a reeling Oakland defense in Week 13.

8. Titans WR Kendall Wright (35 percent) — Targeted eight times or more in six of Tennessee's 11 games. 

9. Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders (16 percent) — He's pushing Mike Wallace for a starting job. Don't believe me? Look at the Steelers' Week 13 depth chart, where Sanders and Wallace share first-team billing.

10. Colts WR Donnie Avery (21 percent) — Has been targeted more than T.Y. Hilton, but hasn't scored a TD since Week One.

Tight ends

1. Buccaneers TE Dallas Clark (16 percent) — Clark racked up 65 receiving yards in Week 12, the second game in a row in which he set a new season-high in this category. He's becoming a bigger part of Tampa's potent offense. Additionally, the Broncos' defense, who he faces in Week 13, has been vulnerable to tight ends this season.

2. Jets TE Dustin Keller (37 percent) — The numbers suggest the Jets need to get him the ball on a consistent basis. Of the 34 passes thrown his way in 2012, he's caught 26, racking up 300 yards and two TDs.

3. Broncos TE Jacob Tamme (32 percent) — Has caught 8-101-1 in the last two weeks and faces the Buccaneers' weak pass defense in Week 13.

4. Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis (16 percent) — His value gets a boost with QB Chad Henne playing well.

5. Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (26 percent) — Has caught a TD in two of the last three games.

6. Titans TE Jared Cook (39 percent) — His six receptions in Week 12 were a season-high. Also, he was targeted eight times, which equaled a season-best.

7. Dolphins TE Charles Clay (2 percent) — I can't say he was on my radar, but colleague Kevin Fishbain believes he's a potential sleeper play in Week 13 vs. New England off a six-catch, 84-yard, one-TD performance Sunday vs. Seattle. Note that Clay has TE and RB eligibility in Yahoo! leagues.

8. Redskins TE Logan Paulsen (2 percent) — His pass-catching production has fallen in the last two weeks, but he did play 98 percent of Washington's offensive snaps in Week 12 at Dallas.

9. Broncos TE Joel Dreessen (25 percent) — A consideration only because of Denver's potent offense.

Defenses

1. N.Y. Jets (41 percent) — A wonderful plug-and-play matchup in Week 13 against Arizona. After a fast start Sunday vs. St. Louis, Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley faltered, throwing four picks, including two that were returned for TDs. 

2. Dallas (31 percent) — The Eagles are hurting on offense, and they are turnover-prone. 

3. Carolina (16 percent) — The matchup with Kansas City is the appeal. 

4. Cleveland (21 percent) — The Browns' defense forced eight turnovers a week ago and draws an inconsistent Oakland offense in Week 13.