After this weekend the NFL season will be officially at its halfway mark. For fantasy players, that means the playoffs are right around the corner. For those of you trying to make a playoff push, I suggest taking a look at last week’s second-half breakout star projections along with this week’s list of waiver wire wonders. Jacksonville, Washington, Buffalo, and Philadelphia are all on bye this week meaning anyone who has a piece of the surprisingly effective Jags trio of Bortles, Hurns, and Robinson will definitely be in need of some fill-ins this week.
**Note owning percentages are based off of ESPN Standard Fantasy Leagues**
Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs – Owned in 38.4% of leagues
Smith hasn’t been very stellar the last few weeks, but he hasn’t been terrible either. He’s thrown for a touchdown in three straight games and hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 3. I fancy his chances of throwing a multiple touchdown game this weekend at home against a very beatable Detroit Lions secondary. For Bortles or Bradford owners, Smith is a nice pickup. In two quarterback leagues, Smith is a must-start this weekend.
Brian Hoyer – Houston Texans – Owned in 13% of leagues
Despite getting blown out by the Dolphins this weekend, Hoyer still managed to produce an effective fantasy game (thank you garbage time). He finished with 273 yards, three scores and an INT brining his stat line over the last three games to an impressive total of 878yds/8TD/2INT – not too shabby at all. He’s facing divisional rival, Tennessee, this weekend at home and I like his chances of continuing this under-the-radar hot streak.
The Arian Foster Replacement Sweepstakes:
Alfred Blue (owned in 19% of leagues) and Chris Polk (owned in 1.2% of leagues)
With Foster out for the season the Houston Texans’ backfield is up for grabs. Both Polk and Blue are worthy pickups, but Blue is clearly the favorite. He filled in nicely last year for the injured Foster and has the coaching staff has the confidence in him to be the lead back moving forward. With that said, Polk will still be used quite often especially since he is the better pass-catching back out of the two. In PPR leagues, Polk will likely be a nice flex-play pickup fitting the mold of similar players like Shane Vereen (NYG) and Theo Riddick (DET).
Darren McFadden – Dallas Cowboys – Owned in 43% of leagues
I had him on my list two weeks ago and he has not disappointed. He blew up this weekend for 152 yards and a score. With Joesph Randle still nursing an oblique injury I expect another heavy dose of Run DMC this weekend against Seattle. Despite the tough match-up, McFadden is still worth adding to your team. He will be relied on heavily as the season moves on and he is still a solid pass-catching threat out of the backfield.
Antonio Andrews – Tennessee Titans – Owned in 31% of leagues
An extremely under the radar prospect, he will be spearheading the Titans backfield in lieu of Bishop Sankey’s ineffectiveness. He posted an admirable 57 yards on 10 carries against Atlanta last week and I like his chances of exploding against Houston this weekend.
Khiry Robinson –New Orleans Saints – Owned in 8.4% of leagues
Believe it or not Robinson has more points-to-date than C.J. Spiller. After a two touchdown performance last week against the Colts it has become pretty apparent that Robinson is a go-to goal line back. Mark Ingram is still the feature back in New Orleans, but look for Robinson to finish off drives in the endzone.
Nate Washington – Houston Texans – Owned in 6% of leagues
Any time a player records a nine catch game, he should be on fantasy players’ radars. In Washington’s case his 9-catch 127 two touchdown performance came during a second half garbage time blowout, but it was still an impressive performance none the less. Hoyer has been on fire recently and with Cecil Shorts still out of the lineup it might be time to pick up Washington before his stock really soars.
Danny Amendola – New England Patriots – Owned in 16% of leagues
This week should be Amendola’s last ride and if you need a replacement for Hurns or Robinson he should definitely be it. Even with Brandon LaFell back I do not expect LaFell to play much this week especially given the short week the Patriots are facing. That means, Amendola should continue to see the majority of targets behind Gronk and Edelman in the Patriots offense. Keep in mind Amendola has had 15 catches for 191 yards and a score over the last two games – he’s no slouch.
Heath Miller – Pittsburgh Steelers – Owned in 35.7% of leagues
Pretty simple here, if Big Ben plays Miller is back to being a TE1 option. Similar to Jason Witten in Dallas, Miller tends to carve up divisional foes and with Ben likely to be back under center this weekend I expect Miller to get back on track against Cincinnati.
Benjamin Watson – New Orleans Saints – Owned in 45% of leagues
I brought him up last week and I’m still big on Watson. He slightly under performed this weekend compared to his 10-catch game two weeks ago, but I expect Watson to cut up a Giants defense that just surrendered 73 yards on 6 catches to Jason Witten last week.
Richard Rodgers – Green Bay Packers – Owned in 34.5% of leagues
This is strictly a gut pick. Rodgers has been consistent this year and has been harvesting a decent amount of attention from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Following the Packers’ bye week and preparation against a dangerous Denver defense, I expect Rodgers to be the surprise breakout star this weekend on Sunday Night Football. Whether or not my prediction bodes true, Rodgers should still be a player on your watch list – as he could definitely be a second-half stud.