James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Jacksonville Jaguars fantasy section. Crossing over, Morris writes the fantasy sections for the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer.
We finally get a week where we don't have to scramble to find replacements for our fantasy starters due to a bye-free NFL week. The tricky thing with this part of the season is a lot of players are banged up and not playing at full speed, so you have to navigate the minefield of injuries to put a productive squad out there that will carry you to the fantasy playoffs.
That being said, there are still a few waiver-wire guys that you might want to think about replacing with ineffective or hurt players you've been harboring on your roster this season. Here are a few:
Laurent Robinson: With Miles Austin possibly out as long as 2-4 weeks, Robinson steps in as a starter opposite Dez Bryant. He's shown good chemistry with Tony Romo already, averaging 4.0 catches for 61.3 yards with two touchdowns in six games.
Roy Helu: Helu took over as the starting RB for the Redskins and showed them what they have been missing for weeks: production. He won't match his 14 catches for 105 yards again, but he obviously can handle the workload and has the trust of his QB to get the job done.
Carson Palmer: Much like Tim Tebow, I want no part of Palmer on my team, but the numbers are there to be played. In the last two weeks he has rattled off 631 passing yards and 5 TDs, so he can still put up fantasy numbers worthy of a QB1 at times. Palmer's next four games are against the Vikings, Bears, Dolphins and Packers, so the schedule is certainly in his favor.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense: The Eagles defense was highly touted entering the season due to some big signings, but they failed to live up to the expectations out of the gate. However, this week they face the Cardinals who are going to be without Kevin Kolb and have Beanie Wells running on two flat tires. They are a top-tier play this week and are on many waiver wires.
Matt Ryan: Julio Jones is a beast and is in the running for ROY, alongside A.J. Green. This weekend he draws the Saints secondary and that means Matty Ice should be able to put up QB1 stats for those owners looking to replace Matt Schaub or Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Tim Tebow: I'm going out on a limb here, but the numbers are there for success this week. The Chiefs allow 19.2 PPG to opposing QBs and 21.7 PPG to RBs, and Tebow is a little of both. The reality is that he is going to frustrate you until the fourth quarter, then scramble for some last-minute heroics and save your fantasy week. I can't truthfully say I am going to play him, but I wouldn't stop you from playing him over someone like Ryan Fitzpatrick or Matt Schaub.
Maurice Jones-Drew: A lot of you are wavering on MJD and his ability to produce fantasy numbers this season. Well, worry no more! The Colts are the second-worst fantasy defense at stopping RBs this season and are giving up just over 24 PPG. I would play MJD as a high RB1 this week with no concerns whatsoever.
Willis McGahee: I normally warn people against chasing one good week's worth of stats, but McGahee should be able to do it again in a rivalry game against the Chiefs. "Whatchu Talk'n Bout" Willis probably won't rumble for 163 yards again this week, but the Chiefs defense is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs this season at roughly 22 PPG. I'd expect low-end RB1/high-end RB2 numbers from him this week.
Dwayne Bowe: The problem with playing Bowe is that you are putting your eggs in Matt Cassel's basket too. However, the Broncos defense gives up the most fantasy points to WRs this season at 28 PPG and Bowe is due for a big game after last week's pathetic showing.
Jordy Nelson: Nelson is one of those guys that is boom-or-bust for fantasy teams because he doesn't catch many balls, but when he does he makes the most of them. This week he gets a rivalry game against the Vikings and I am expecting solid WR2 numbers from him. I'd feel more comfortable with him in the WR3 slot since the Vikings allowed just 52 yards on four catches to him a few weeks ago, but playing him is a must.
Brandon Pettigrew: Pettigrew saw his star rise earlier this season when he broke out with 11 catches for 112 yards against the Vikings. Since then he has been somewhat unimpressive with an average of 5 catches for 27 yards over the last four weeks. However, the Bears give up the most fantasy points to TEs (11.5 PPG) and the Lions are without Jahvid Best still, which means Matthew Stafford will be throwing more than the last time these two teams played.
Jacksonville Jaguars Defense: The Jaguars defense is better than fans around the league give them credit for, but they are a better NFL defense than a fantasy defense. This week they face off with the helpless Colts, who are 0-9 this season and are rocketing towards drafting Andrew Luck to replace Peyton Manning. The Colts have scored just 128 points this season, which ranks them as the sixth-worst offense in the NFL in that category.
Ben Roethlisberger: I am sure Big Ben will do something to save his fantasy week, but I also think he will finish with sub-QB1 numbers and is a disappointment. The Bengals defense is one of the best fantasy defenses this season and they are ranked 6th in fantasy points allowed to QBs. I'd sit Big Ben if you can.
Mark Sanchez: Many of you may be thinking that Sanchez is a great play this week against the putrid Patriots pass defense, but you'd be wrong. Sanchez hasn't topped 230 passing yards since Week 3 and he has just 7 TDs (3 of which came in Week 7) in that span. I would consider playing Blaine Gabbert over Sanchez given the matchup and offensive scheme.
Roy Helu: While Helu is an interesting waiver-wire addition, this isn't the week to play him. The Dolphins are giving up just 15.1 PPG to RBs this season, good enough to rank them 4th in fantasy football. Grab Helu off the wire, but stash him on your bench for now.
Brandon Jacobs: Regardless if you snatched him off the waiver wire or had him before Ahmad Bradshaw went down, Jacobs should be avoided like the plague this week. The 49ers defense is for real and they have allowed a stingy 411 rushing yards to RBs this season. Not in the last few weeks mind you, THE SEASON. I know you have better options at RB because Jacobs wasn't in a single lineup before last week.
A.J. Green: Green is someone I am very high on now and in the future. But, with the Bengals facing the Steelers, Ravens, Browns, the Steelers again and the Texans over the next five weeks, I'm going to sit Green for a while and could even see trading him if the price is right. He does have choice matchups in Weeks 15 and 16, which are the fantasy Semi-finals and finals in most formats.
Nate Washington: When Kenny Britt went down for the season, Washington stepped in as the team's No. 1 WR and we were all sure he was a must-add guy. As of right now he is ranking right around the 20-21 range for fantasy WRs, but if you look at the numbers over the past four weeks, that number drops dramatically to a ranking of right around 55. Washington's role in the offense is inconsistent at best and he is someone I am recommending you to sit and possibly see if you can trade based on season stats.
Vernon Davis: Davis is a guy that I keep thinking will bust out given his crazy offensive skills, but that just isn't going to happen as long as Alex Smith is under center and the gameplan is to feed the ball to Frank Gore. This season Davis is averaging just 3.9 receptions, 42.4 yards and 0.4 TDs per game. For a position that is boom-or-bust, Davis is still someone that is on the roster bubble for fantasy leagues.
Chicago Bears Defense: The Bears got lucky last week when they beat the Eagles, and the Lions are 3-2 in their last five games. However, Stafford is still one of the best QBs in the league and Megatron is certainly one of the most dangerous players. I don't see the Bears keeping the Lions out of the end zone and Stafford isn't known for turning the ball over.
Q: Would you play Vernon Davis or Pettigrew this week at TE? I feel like Davis is due a big game at home but Pettigrew is playing the Bears who give some of the most fantasy points to TEs (but if you look at it, most of those points were from NE and Carolina - two TE pass heavy teams). What do you think?
A: You can't trust Davis and the 49ers offense. The defense is king in San Fran, and all Alex Smith is supposed to do is not lose the game for them. Go with Pettigrew until Alex Smith shows he is anything more than a safety net for the Niners.