As I write the Week 11 Waiver Wire Pickups, it's unreal that this year is almost 3/4 of the way through. There are those owners who are already making plans for 2013 and those who are still in the thick of things in regards to fantasy football playoff seedings. I do hope you are part of the latter.
Here are several guys who can get you over the hump as we head into those crucial playoff weeks.
Russell Wilson - Seahawks (ESPN Owned 17.2%)
I initially had my doubts about Wilson, even though I had continued to plug him into the waiver article the last few weeks. But it appears he is hitting his stride, having passed for 7 touchdowns and 1 pick in the last 3 games. His passing yards are still low (he hasn't hit 200 yards in the last 2 games), but he figures to continue to be a decent flex option if you can use the quarterback, or a QB2 in two-quarterback leagues.
Sam Bradford - Rams (ESPN Owned 39.6%)
Bradford has slowly, but surely, immursed himself into our fantasy graces again. Much of that can be attributed to the play of Chris Givens. And now that Danny Amendola (11 catches/102 yards) is back on the fold as the team's No. 1 receiver, Bradford has QB2 written back all over him going forward.
Christian Ponder - Vikings (ESPN Owned 25.6%)
A fantasy football whipping boy, Ponder may start welcoming himself back after throwing for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns, without Percy Harvin, in the win over the Lions Sunday. Keep in mind that the Vikings have a Week-11 bye. But if Sunday was an indication of a turnaround for Ponder, he could be worth a pickup as a QB2 again come Week 12.
Colin Kaepernick - 49ers (ESPN Owned .6%)
A concussion from a quarterback sneak in the second quarter knocked out Alex Smith against the Rams. Coming in as relief, Kaepernick's 117 passing yards were so-so, but he made up for it with 66 rushing yards and a score in what eventually turned out to be a tie game. With an extra day to rest moving towards the team's Monday night game against the Bears, Smith could pass his concussion tests by then. But Smith owners, or owners who can flex a quarterback, might want to keep an eye on Kaepernick. He isn't the best pickup this week, but those rushing yards and his rushing ability near the endzone sure is tasty looking.
Jake Locker - Titans (ESPN Owned 6.8%)
Having been out since Week 4, Locker displayed obvious rust against the Dolphins, showing nervousness in the pocket and throwing a lot of high passes. With that being said, his 2 touchdown passes can't be overlooked. The Titans, like the Vikings, have a Week 11 bye. But Locker could have a big game against a struggling Jaguars Defense in Week 12.
Nick Foles - Eagles (ESPN Owned .5%)
Coming in for a concussed Michael Vick, Foles' night was pretty disastrous. He threw a pick-six to Brandon Carr and was also stripped of the ball, which led to another score from the Cowboys Defense. The one promising play was a 44-yard touchdown toss to a wide open Jeremy Maclin. Vick owners might think they are getting a bargain by picking up Foles is Vick misses Week 12, but that offensive line and Foles' rookie tendencies won't do them any favors. Andy Reid said that Vick will continue to be the starter when healthy.
Byron Leftwich - Steelers (ESPN Owned .1%)
The Steelers may have pulled out a late win against the Chiefs, but the team suffered a crushing blow after it was reported that Ben Roethlisberger suffered an "unusual" separation of his right (throwing) shoulder. If so, the team will have to turn to Leftwich, who went 7-of-14 passing for 73 yards. I expect a much run-heavier offense going forward. Leftwich is NOT a great option in place of Big Ben going forward. At best, he's a low-end QB2 with very little upside.
Andre Brown - New York Giants (ESPN Owned 51.6%)
Brown ran for 65 yards and a score in the loss to the Bengals, also chipping in 5 catches, but his overall value is pretty inconsistent. His rushing yards came off the heels of a helmet-to-helmet hit on Ahmad Bradshaw. But before that, Brown was clearly playing as the backup. While Brown is still worth a hold in larger leagues, he won't have consistent fantasy value until Bradshaw goes down with an injury.
Danny Woodhead - Patriots (ESPN Owned 27%)
Woodhead continues to be a part of the Patriots' game plan, but he is another inconsistent option I would rather pass on. While he did notch 2 touchdowns against the Bills, he only touched the ball a total of 5 times. With Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen in the picture, Woodhead is only a desperation flex going forward.
Marcel Reece - Raiders (ESPN Owned 12.2%)
The news wire led many to believe Taiwan Jones would be the beneficiary of both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson being out, I kept pushing for owners to go after and play Reece instead. Glad I did. Reece wasn't much of a factor in the ground game, rushing 13 times for 48 yards, but his 7 catches kept his fantasy value afloat in PPR leagues. Reece has now racked up 15 catches in the last 2 games. Reece could be worth another look if Goodson and McFadden are out against the Saints. Jones acted as the third-string tailback behind Reece and former practice squad player Jeremy Stewart.
Mark Ingram - Saints (ESPN Owned 58%)
Chris Ivory's 56-yard romp to the endzone, breaking tackles along the way, was the highlight against the Falcons. But it appears Ingram is the leader of the backfield while Darren Sproles is out. He led the team in carries with 16 and appears to be the lead dog over Ivory and Thomas, who only. Joe Vitt was high on Ingram over the week leading up to Sunday, saying Ingram is "an elite back, who after having some offseason surgery is starting to come around." If Sproles misses another game against the Raiders, Ingram is the guy to grab this week. He now has 23 carries for 111 yards over the last 2 weeks.
Chris Ivory - Saints (ESPN Owned 2.5%)
Even though the Saints have one of the highest passing attacks, they still feature the ground game quite a bit. Aside from his 56-yard score against the Falcons, Ivory totaled seven carries for 72 yards. With the team phasing Pierre Thomas out (6 touches), it appears the team is happy to rely on both Ingram and Ivory going forward until Darren Sproles is healthy enough to return.
Beanie Wells - Cardinals (ESPN Owned 47.6%)
Wells' owned percentage tells me owners have already starting picking him back up and sitting him for his return from turf toe. Or they were able to hold onto him throughout his absence. He isn't expected back until Week 12, but he has a decent schedule with the Rams and Jets for his first 2 starts. Temper expectations after that as Wells then has a grueling 4-game skid against the Seahawks, Lions, Bears and the 49ers to finish out the season. If Wells can muster up big points in his first 2 games back, you might want to think about selling high if you have no trade deadline.
Danario Alexander - Chargers (ESPN Owned .1%)
Alexander was expected to rotate with Robert Meachem against the Buccaneers, but that didn't last long after Alexander took a short slant pass 80 yards for a score. Alexander racked up 5 passes for 134 and now has 8 catches over the last 2 games. Clearly on the same page with Philip Rivers, compared to Mechem, Alexander has earned the starting job and is a clear-cut WR3 going forward.
Cecil Shorts - Jaguars (ESPN Owned 15.7%)
Becoming first Jaguars receiver since Mike Sims-Walker (2010) to have at least two 100-yard games in a season, Shorts has been the clear-cut favorite of Blaine Gabbert's. The Lions' 3-catch performance must have been a hiccup because Shorts came right back with 6 catches for 105 yards and a score Thursday night against the Colts. If Shorts is still available, he seems to be a sure thing going forward.
Danny Amendola - Rams (ESPN Owned 49%)
Amendola wasted no time asserting himself as St. Louis' No. 1 receiver, reeling in 11 catches off 12 targets for 102 yards against the 49ers. He should continue to see his owned percentage increase tenfold by the time the Rams face the Jets in Week 11.
Golden Tate - Seahawks (ESPN Owned 6.9%)
Over the past 3 weeks, Tate has found himself in the thick of things regarding his value in the Seahawks' offense. In a 3-game span, Tate has caught 13 passes, 143 yards, 3 touchdowns and also threw a 23-yard score to Sidney Rice. As Russell Wilson gains confidence, Tate figures to keep his role in the offense going forward. He isn't a bad WR3 to go after this week.
Darrius Heyward-Bey - Raiders (ESPN Owned 57.8%)
After gracing us with a strong end to the 2011 season, DHB got off to a slow start as he and Carson Palmer couldn't capture the chemistry they had from a season before. But over the last few weeks, Heyward-Bey has come on again. He now has two-straight games of 5 receptions and caught his 2nd touchdown in the last 3 games Sunday. With what figures to be a shootout against the Saints, DHB is a worthwhile WR3.
Dennis Pitta - Ravens (ESPN Owned 30.3%)
Seems the tight ends who I had been bashing over the last several weeks finally got some of their mojo back, starting with Pitta. His 5 catches were the most since Week 7 and his 67 yards receiving were the most since his 75-yard output in Week 1. He also snapped his 5-game scoring drought. I'll list him, but it's up to you if you want him. He could easily come back down to Earth against the Steelers in Week 11.
Kyle Rudolph - Vikings (ESPN Owned 63.1%)
Was Rudolph's 64 yards and a touchdown against the Lions a part of the game plan? Or was Rudolph's involvement more due to the fact that Percy Harvin was out? Either way, like Pitta, this was the first big game in awhile for Rudolph. Hopefully, Christian Ponder has put in a little bit more trust in Rudolph's pass-catching abilities. Rudolph is still nothing more than a TE2 until I start seeing consistent results.
Scott Chandler - Bills (ESPN Owned 49.1%)
Chandler is another inconsistent fantasy option, but he has been on the incline over the past 2 weeks. His 5 catches for 65 yards against the Patriots were both season highs, but he is someone I would rather use if I am truly desperate.
Brandon Myers - Raiders (ESPN Owned 17.8%)
Myers had another big day against the Ravens, catching 5 passes for 57 yards, but be cautious. Myers suffered his second concussion of the year Sunday and his fourth overall in his career. It's not yet known if Myers will even be ready for Week 11's game against the Saints.