Week 15 waiver review: Claim Hightower
You’re either vying for a league title in a head-to-head or total points competition; you’re trying to win a “best of the worst” bracket; or you just love the flow of my prose.
Whatever your reason for engaging this list for Week 15, I welcome you to the fantastic finish of a wildly interesting and uneven NFL season.
David Garrard, QB, Jacksonville
Garrard didn’t dominate the yardage column, but he picked his spots beautifully against the Raiders in a huge Week 14 win. He tossed three touchdown passes in the victory, his seventh multi-touchdown game of the season.
He’s on the radar here against the Colts, a team that he’s played quite well during his career. Garrard has averaged nearly 200 total yards (179.7 passing) with 12 touchdowns against eight turnovers in 10 career games against Indianapolis. He accounted for three of those touchdowns (two passing) in the Jaguars’ Week 4 win over the Colts. Garrard completed 17-of-22 attempts for 163 yards, adding 44 rushing yards to boot.
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas
This is merely a suggestion to fire the last player on your roster and stash Romo. It doesn’t matter whether you have an A-list hero locked into your lineup or need to potentially replace, say, Aaron Rodgers. This is a matter of playing defense as well. Keep your prospective opponent from having the option of plugging Romo against you if he’s cleared for Week 16 at Arizona.
Jason Campbell, QB, Oakland
Campbell appeared in the “sleeper” list in back-to-back weeks and delivered for gutsy fantasy owners in both games. He’s accounted for four touchdowns and zero turnovers in the past two weeks with 117-yard and 324-yard performances (37 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground in Week 13).
Campbell definitely warrants a look-see this week at home against a Denver team that is limping to the finish line. Zach Miller is back and Louis Murphy is one to watch (see below).
Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco
Smith returned to the lineup and dominated a terrible Seattle secondary. He passed for 255 yards and three touchdowns, including an early strike to Vernon Davis (five receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown). It’s obviously a difficult spot this week against the Chargers, but owners of Aaron Rodgers, Kyle Orton and several others are trolling for help.
Ryan Torain, RB, Washington
Before you blinked, Torain had already rushed for over 100 yards against the Buccaneers. He probably contributed to your bench’s point total, as the fantasy community has a trust issue with Mike Shanahan.
Torain finished the game with 172 yards on 24 carries with two receptions for 10 yards. Torain has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the past three games that he’s completed. He’s still available in more than 25 percent of leagues, so take a gander on the wire.
Anthony Dixon, RB, San Francisco
Dixon didn’t find the end zone, but still amassed a sizable workload in the blowout win over Seattle. He carried the ball 14 times for 60 yards in the split with Brian Westbrook. Dixon is no better than a low-end flex play this week against the Chargers, but he’s worthy of a roster slot.
Javarris James, RB, Indianapolis
The presence of Donald Brown, who emerged from the Week 14 win over Tennessee unscathed, is problematic. However, it appears that James has learned the offense well enough to earn additional touches between the 20s, something we didn’t see earlier this season. James carried the ball 17 times for 49 yards in Week 14 and took advantage of his goal-line chance (something Brown couldn’t). Take a look-see this week against a Jacksonville run defense that was obliterated in Week 14 by the Raiders.
Mike Goodson, RB, Carolina
Goodson sits in the second chair to Jonathan Stewart, but that doesn’t make him any less relevant in the fantasy realm. He has scored in three consecutive games and has averaged 113 total yards in his past five appearances. Even in a workload split, he’s flex-worthy against the Cardinals this weekend. You have to commend this offensive line’s effort in the past several weeks despite the fact that the season was lost long, long ago.
Tim Hightower, RB, Arizona
Hightower is clearly the top option in Arizona right now, as the bruising tailback amassed 148 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns. He’d carried the ball 15 times for 81 in Week 13 to give the Cardinals a spark on the ground. That continues in Week 15 against the run-deficient Carolina defense that allows nearly 133 rushing yards per game.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jacksonville Jennings represents an insurance play for Week 16 and a deep sleeper for the upcoming slate. I certainly don’t anticipate that an injury befalls the surging Maurice Jones-Drew (six straight 100-yard games) and that Jennings assumes a huge role. However, he’s scored in three consecutive games and blew through to the end zone on a 74-yard sprint.
I like Jennings as a possible flex option this week against the Colts. The Colts surrender 141 rushing yards and one touchdown per game on the ground. The Jaguars’ offensive line has been phenomenal this season, and I expect them to get a push on Sunday.
Derek Hagan, WR, New York Giants
Hagan slides back onto the radar given the latest round of injuries to befall the Giants’ receiving corps. Steve Smith left Monday’s game with a hamstring injury, while Mario Manningham was sidelined by a quadriceps injury. The Giants did return Hakeem Nicks to the mix (seven receptions for 96 yards against the Vikings), but these injuries loom large for this Week 15 showdown against the Eagles.
Louis Murphy, WR, Oakland
Murphy scored for the first time since Week 2 in the loss. Murphy caught six passes for 59 yards against the Jaguars, his fourth consecutive game with multiple receptions. He’s on the radar as a potential low-end WR3 this week against the Broncos, but his value will be determined primarily by his proximity to cornerback Champ Bailey.
Michael Jenkins, WR, Atlanta
With 30 or fewer receiving yards earned in the past three weeks (he scored in Week 13), Jenkins is certainly a longshot wire option this week. However, this week’s glorious matchup against the Seahawks represents an intriguing possibility. The Seahawks rank 31st against opposing receivers at 281.5 yards and 1.8 touchdowns allowed per game.
Anthony Armstrong, WR, Washington
Armstrong was given a generous spot late in Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers, a play that generated a ton of controversy. Unfortunately, he was several yards shy of the end zone and failed to save an otherwise pedestrian effort. He finished the game with four receptions for 30 yards (five targets).
Still, I’ll put him on the board to rebound from that smallish contribution against the Dallas secondary. If Torain (above) gets the ground game going early, Armstrong will have his chances downfield.
Derrick Mason, WR, Baltimore
Mason has talked about his role and target count a couple of times this season. He’s produced big games following those comments. Mason caught six passes for 78 yards with two touchdowns following an early drop and has caught touchdown passes in four of the past six games (five touchdowns). This game is no sure thing against a strong New Orleans pass defense, but Mason has recorded multiple receptions in 12 consecutive games.
Owen Daniels, TE, Houston
Daniels returned to the field on Monday night and delivered on his “sleeper” promise in the wild overtime game. He caught five passes for 91 yards and was targeted 11 times. If Matt Schaub’s arm doesn’t fall off after that performance, Daniels is a prime play this week against the terrible Tennessee defense.
The Atlanta defense has been on the radar as a sneaky plug-in option down the stretch. Granted, they did cede a ton of yards on the ground to the Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson last week, but they still took care of business.
This week, the Falcons travel to Seattle and take on an injury-riddled offense. The Seahawks played without Mike Williams and Ben Obamanu in Week 14, and then lost second-year receiver Deon Butler to a broken leg. The Falcons rank seventh in total defense (18.7 points allowed per game) with 27 turnovers.