Free-agent finds for Week 10
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Marcel Reece and Taiwan Jones, RBs, Oakland Raiders (owned in 0.2 and 2.6 percent of ESPN.com leagues, respectively): In perhaps the least shocking news of the season, Darren McFadden is injured. Run-DMC may have a high-ankle sprain; on Monday, Raiders beat reporters said the sprain was high, but later in the day, coach Dennis Allen said he wouldn't rule out McFadden for Week 10 against the Baltimore Ravens. If it's really a high-ankle sprain, DMC isn't playing. His backup, Mike Goodson, also reportedly suffered a high-ankle sprain Sunday, potentially leaving Reece and Jones as the last men standing. Versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9, Reece didn't get any carries but played nearly the entire game after the injuries, while Jones played only five snaps. Jones is the explosive player here -- he ran a 4.33 40 at the 2011 combine -- but Allen reportedly doesn't trust him in pass protection or ball security. So Reece figures to be the flex-worthy play in a good matchup against the Ravens, provided DMC and Goodson are out. Jones would probably be a total desperation option only.
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers (5 percent): Starks made this list in advance of Week 6, after Cedric Benson went down. But he may not have been healthy yet, and Alex Green got first crack at the Pack's starting gig. Alas, in the two games before Sunday, Green had 89 yards on 42 carries and showed some terrible balance and running instincts. So in Week 9, Green Bay gave Starks an audition. He started and was merely OK, but it was a better performance than Green showed earlier in the year. If I'm placing odds on which player is the more valuable back coming out of the Packers' Week 10 bye, I'm betting on Starks. At the very least, he is a big guy who would figure to be a goal-line option. Of course, this is probably a platoon, and it's tough to imagine feeling good about starting either player. Still, my review of 2011 tape illustrated that Starks had more dynamic moments than you might think for a 6-foot-2, 220-pound player. I wouldn't be reluctant to stash him.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (1.6 percent): Week 9 certainly was the week of mysterious ankle injuries. Antonio Brown appeared merely to tweak his left ankle versus the New York Giants in non-contact fashion but never returned to the game. On Sunday night, Brown told reporters he had a high-ankle sprain, whereupon the team first proclaimed he did not have that variety of sprain then that he did have one but that it is mild. I include Sanders as a possible add only if Brown can't play in Week 10 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Under such a scenario, Sanders would probably warrant top-30 WR consideration. His quickness and bravery over the middle of the field resembles Brown's.
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Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis Colts (1.1 percent): Coby Fleener has been ruled out for Week 10 because of his injured shoulder, and in Fleener's absence versus the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Allen caught six passes for 75 yards. When the Colts selected Fleener and Allen in the draft, Allen was unjustly categorized as a blocking specialist -- mainly by comparison, because Fleener is a glorified wide receiver -- but he has terrific size and nice hands. He doesn't have playmaking speed, but he is a strong red zone weapon, having scored from opponent's 8- and 3-yard lines already this season. You could do worse in a standard-sized league while Fleener is out, though by my metrics the Jacksonville Jaguars (Thursday night's opponent) have boasted the toughest defense for tight ends to score against this season.
Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets (12.2 percent): With Mark Sanchez still under center for the Jets, it's hard to recommend any Gang Green pass-catcher. And if I had to pick one, it would still be Jeremy Kerley. But there's no doubt Hill is the most imposing player on this New York offense. He is 6-4 and 215 pounds and ran a 4.36 40 at February's combine. He already missed time this season with a hamstring injury and has not come close to the 89 yards and two touchdowns he produced in Week 1, but desperate shallow-leaguers can hope Hill used the bye week to refine his technique a bit. The Seattle Seahawks represent a difficult matchup, but Hill fits the mold of a guy who could win a deep ball and score.
Miami Dolphins defense (29.5 percent): I recommended the Dolphins D in Week 6, and it produced one fantasy point. Oops. If you're streaming defenses, though, Miami is probably about the best you're going to do in Week 10. The Dolphins play a Tennessee Titans offense that is No. 8 over the past five weeks on my list of the units you'd most like to face. (Certainly the Chicago Bears had fun against them in Week 9.) If you'd rather not go back to the Miami well, you might also try the Colts D/ST in what looks like a good matchup against the Jags, though you'd be starting a unit that has scored a combined 23 fantasy points in eight games.
Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Steelers (34 percent); Vick Ballard, RB, Colts (45.2 percent); Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals (47.4 percent); LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB, Cardinals (26.9 percent); Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams (10.3 percent); Danny Amendola, WR, Rams (44 percent); Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets (40 percent); Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers (16.8 percent); Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars (18.3 percent); Josh Gordon, WR, Browns (44.2 percent); Andre Roberts, WR, Cardinals (41.8 percent); Chris Givens, WR, Rams (2.8 percent); Dustin Keller, TE, Jets (37.7 percent); Brandon Myers, TE, Raiders (7 percent).
Chris Ivory, RB, New Orleans Saints (0.5 percent): Darren Sproles had surgery on a broken bone in his hand last week and didn't play Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. But there's reportedly a chance he is able to go in Week 10, which would render Ivory unusable in fantasy again. Even if Sproles doesn't play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, it's tough to proclaim Ivory worthy of a standard-league start since Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram are nominally ahead of him in the pecking order. Then again, Ivory was the one who scored a touchdown Monday night. The Saints do love to mess with their running backs.
Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals (2.6 percent): The Cardinals have their bye in Week 10 and can scarcely get Larry Fitzgerald enough work, let alone another wide receiver. But Floyd has figured larger in Arizona's game plan over the past two weeks. He has 18 targets in that span, catching 10 for 116 yards. However, Andre Roberts hasn't seen his playing time diminish; this has mostly been a case of John Skelton going three- and four-wide a bunch and spreading around the love. Still, there's little doubt that in terms of raw ability, Floyd has more upside than Roberts or Early Doucet, who are ahead of him on the depth chart.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears (6.3 percent): Jeffery broke a bone in his hand in Week 5 but is reportedly not far away from returning. I can't guarantee he's out there Week 10 against the Houston Texans, but he will return and Brandon Marshall could probably use a little assistance. Devin Hester is a joke as a starter opposite Marshall. We saw flashes from Jeffery in September, and deep-leaguers should consider a stash.
Donald Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills (1.1 percent): Jones gets mentioned only because Stevie Johnson suffered a deep thigh bruise in Week 9. He returned to the game but was ineffective, while Jones wound up with six catches for 65 yards. Jones isn't not much of a playmaker, but if Johnson wound up missing a game, Jones would probably be all Ryan Fitzpatrick has on the outside. T.J. Graham is a rookie burner, but he is slight and has 109 total receiving yards this season.
Danario Alexander, WR, San Diego Chargers (0 percent): With Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal out Thursday night, DX started opposite Malcom Floyd and acquitted himself well, with three catches for 61 yards. As was the case when he was with the St. Louis Rams, Alexander looks the part and is a load to tackle in the open field. He is also a knee injury waiting to happen. The Chargers are reportedly optimistic that both Meachem and Royal can return from their hamstring injuries for Week 10's game against the red-hot Buccaneers, but in the deepest of leagues, DX makes a moderate-upside stash.
Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins (6.6 percent); Tim Tebow, QB, Jets (10.6 percent); Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots (47.8 percent); Andre Brown, RB, Giants (45.5 percent); Joique Bell, RB, Lions (4.7 percent); Danny Woodhead, RB, Patriots (27.1 percent); Shaun Draughn, RB, Chiefs (3.9 percent); Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers (12.4 percent); Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos (0.9 percent); Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Falcons (10.7 percent); Santana Moss, WR, Redskins (44.9 percent); Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks (3.7 percent); T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts (0.7 percent); Ryan Broyles, WR, Lions (1.3 percent); Dexter McCluster, WR/RB, Chiefs (7.6 percent); Devery Henderson, WR, Saints (3.6 percent); Scott Chandler, TE, Bills (46.9 percent); Logan Paulsen, TE, Redskins (0.9 percent).
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