Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: RB - Week 5

by Tim Heaney and Bryce McRae on October 8, 2009 @ 21:13:53 PDT


If you are serious about winning your fantasy league football championship, it is important to stay on top of your fantasy football team throughout the course of the year.

Each week during the NFL fantasy football season, KFFL brings you its Fantasy Football Waiver Wire, which breaks down players to pick up in your league. Not being aggressive in picking up fantasy football free agents is not a wise move. Sometimes, even if you do not need the player for your starting lineup, it is wise to tuck the player away for depth as well as to block others from adding the player to their fantasy football team.

Note: Percentage of polled leagues in which player is available in parentheses

Fantasy football free agents: Priority additions

The following players should be high on your radar and are worthy of being added immediately to your fantasy football team.

Jerome Harrison, Cleveland Browns (56 percent)

Jamal Lewis (hamstring) missed Week 4, and James Davis (shoulder) is done for the year. That left Harrison to carry the load for Cleveland last week; he finished with 29 carries for 121 yards and five receptions for 31 yards. The scat back (5-foot-9, 205 pounds) had some success running between the tackles, too, which isn't normally his strength.

Now, he was a minor sleeper for some heading into the year but disappointed in the first three weeks; some owners might have dropped him because of this. Cleveland is still woeful on offense, but at least quarterback Derek Anderson gives them a bit of a vertical threat. There aren't any other serviceable backs to tote the ball for the Browns, either. We may not see much of Lewis when he returns.

Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers (33 percent)

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall
Fast Willie? How 'bout Rumbling Rashard?

Mendenhall burst out of head coach Mike Tomlin's doghouse with his 165-yard, two-score game in Week 4. Starting back Willie Parker (toe) has looked dreadful this year (3.1 yards per carry) and is fighting a turf toe injury. It might be all for naught, but at least see if Mendenhall is available.

Michael Bush and Justin Fargas, Oakland Raiders (54 percent and 92 percent)

When it rains, it pours. The Raiders offense lost one of its only playmakers, running back Darren McFadden (knee), because of a torn meniscus in his right knee. The 2008 first-round draft pick will miss two to four weeks.

Of the two backs listed above, Bush has been utilized more often than Fargas, though the latter missed the first two weeks while battling a hamstring injury. Warning: Fargas was used 11 times in Week 4, and Bush was used four times, so they may be more aggressive in bringing Fargas back into the fold.

Bush is the more talented, reception-friendly and durable back of the two, but he doesn't have the knowledge of the system or the track record (however slight) of the vet. This year, Bush has 30 carries for 120 yards and seven receptions for 45 yards this year, compared to Fargas' 12 carries for 32 yards and three receptions for 10 yards.

You'll want to target Bush first in your leagues, though he likely won't be the sole recipient of carries. Fargas should see plenty of touches in what should be a committee approach. He is a decent consolation prize if you miss out on Bush.

NEW - Sammy Morris, New England Patriots (75 percent)

Tailback Fred Taylor (ankle) is slated to undergo surgery. Though the timetable for his recovery hasn't been released yet - it probably won't end his season - you must remember that this is 33-year-old tailback with an extensive injury history.

This is where Morris comes in. Sure, Taylor's injury probably adds some fantasy intrigue for Laurence Maroney, too, but Morris has been the better red zone and goal line option of the two and remains effective when healthy.

Naturally, you can expect Kevin Faulk to mix into the rotation, but Morris, the most versatile member of New England's backfield, has received 19 utilizations in the last two weeks, more than any other non-Taylor Pats back.

Fantasy football free agents: Look to acquire

Fantasy football leagues come in all shapes, so the following players will have greater significance in deep fantasy football leagues. In shallow leagues, they are not as high of a priority but should be considered based on your fantasy football team's needs.

Bernard Scott, Cincinnati Bengals (94 percent)

When Cedric Benson needed a spell in Week 4, Scott (5-foot-11, 220 pounds) took his place, finishing with six totes for 41 yards. This wasn't garbage-time stats; he carried once on fourth-and-3 in the first quarter and had several fourth-quarter and overtime utilizations. Brian Leonard is the more suitable change-of-pace back, but Scott remains the proper interior-running handcuff and speculative target for fantasy depth.

Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars (97 percent)

After place kicker Josh Scobee hit a field goal on the Jags' first drive after the half last week, Jacksonville was up 30-3 on the Tennessee Titans. That drive was the last one for running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Jennings ran for 53 yards on nine carries the rest of the way.

That second half should serve as a reminder that Jennings is the applicable handcuff to Jones-Drew. The rookie had received just four utilizations (one in the red zone) in the first three weeks, so there isn't much value here unless you own MJD.

Fantasy football free agents: Watch list

These fantasy football free agents shouldn't be on your immediate list. They may have had a big week of production; they may show talent but are buried on the depth chart; they may have a chance to play sometime this season because of injuries or poor performance. Still, fantasy football players must know who these players are for their potential contribution in the future.

NEW - Ryan Moats, Houston Texans (99 percent)

Texans backs Steven Slaton and Chris Brown have combined for five fumbles so far this year. Last week, with Brown out due to illness, Moats received his first carries of the year. He finished with 15 for 56 yards, and according to head coach Gary Kubiak, the team improved with Moats in there.

Now, Moats isn't going to be taking over any jobs in Houston, but if Slaton continues to treat the ball like it's on fire, we could see a bit more of the fifth-year back. Only owners in deep leagues or those with Slaton need apply.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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