By Anthony Pugliese
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Another hit yet again on my waiver wire gem. Another week closer to playoff time, now is the time to make your final trade moves and find those last few waiver gems to help you go deep into the playoffs. Email The Pug with all your fantasy questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blake Bortles – QB Jacksonville Jaguars – The more I go over this game, the more I like this matchup. Huge numbers are in store for the emerging second year signal caller, as the Ravens are giving up the second most points in the league to opposing quarterbacks. Bortles has a pair of young stud wide receivers on the outside that are good plays this week as well, and I can easily see Bortles throwing for 350 and 3 touchdowns in this contest. Is this a bold call, of course, but it is far from a crazy thought.
LaGarrette Blount RB – Coming off a big week last week against the Redskins, rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown, and the loss of Dion Lewis, look for the Patriots offense to rely heavily on Blount in the running game. He has a great matchup against a horrible Giants defense that ranks 22nd in the league against the run. Blount will be more involved in passing downs too, and look for him to be a major contributor in this contest.
Tavon Austin – WR St. Louis Rams – It appears the Rams have finally found how to use the speedster properly and he has been coming into his own. He runs, he catches and has been a bright spot for the Rams offense this season. The Bears defense is surprisingly strong against the pass ranking 5th in the league, but I just don’t know if their defense can keep up with Austin. Expect a strong showing from him this week.
High Risk, High Reward
Calvin Johnson – WR Detroit Lions – Calvin hasn’t exactly been the top wide receiver many of you drafted him as this season. This could be a breakout week for the Lions prized player. The Packers defense are ranked 23rd in the league against the pass, and haven’t been playing all too well lately. I have him under this category because there is a slight chance he doesn’t play this week, so monitor his status closely.
Gary Barnidge – TE Cleveland Browns – Love his matchup this week going against a Steelers defense that allows the 5th points against opposing tight ends. Barnidge has been an absolute bright spot to other wise dark season for the Brownies. The only reason I didn’t slot him into the must start category is because the Browns like to change their starting quarterback more than I change my underwear.
Jamesis Winston- QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Welcome to fantasy relevance Jamesis Winston. Winston has been playing great as of late, and should be strongly considered for a start as he has been preventing turnovers and finding the open receivers. The Dallas defense has had issues creating turnovers, which means Winston could be in for another good day. So there has to be a problem since he is in the High Risk, High Reward Category right? Of course! The obvious is he is young; the less obvious actually lies with his team mates (mostly Evans) who have had a huge case of the dropsies lately.
Players to Avoid
Sammy Watkins – WR Buffalo Bills – Watkins finally returned to action last week against Miami and lit up the stat sheet. Don’t get overly excited. A short week after his first game back, accompanied with the fact that Darrelle Revis will be shadowing the young wide receiver could spell a letdown. The Jets defense has been being abused the last few weeks through the air, but at no fault to Revis. Avoid being left on the island this week.
DeMarco Murray – RB Philadelphia Eagles – This signing hasn’t turned out the way the Eagles planned. This appears to be an enticing match up as the Dolphins give up the third most points in the league to opposing running backs. Many members of the Dolphins defense have underperformed, and Murray should look poised for a breakout week. I feel though that it’s the man behind him that is going to outshine Murray yet again. Ryan Mathews has 39 less carries than Murray on the season, but 19 more rushing yards. Mathews is going to take over the starter roll, it’s only a matter of time.
Adrian Peterson – RB Minnesota Vikings – Peterson has had his ups and downs this season. This is a revamped Raiders team that boasts the 5th best rushing defense in the league. This matchup between the two teams is going to be a defensive battle, and if you have an alternate to start this week I would suggest using him.
Waiver Wire Gem of the Week
Jordan Todman- RB Pittsburgh Steelers – Can the Steelers catch a break? Injury after injury and now enters Todman. With Big Ben going down again, the Steelers will try and use the running game to take the pressure off of quarterback Landry Jones. Jones may also use the check down option often to keep turnover at a minimum. Todman is a temporary starter, but you can pick up and play him to get through the recent rash of injuries.
Last note if he is available and you haven’t done so yet pick up Stevie Johnson.
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