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Deep-dive: Scouring the waiver wire for hidden gems

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While my esteemed colleague Michael Fabiano took an early look at the top waiver-wire options in fantasy football this week, I felt the need to dive a little deeper. Depending on your league, many of the guys on that list might already be gone, whether it's because of savvy drafters or just more members (where my 16-team players at?). With that in mind, here are some deeper waiver-wire options if you're looking at the bottom of the barrel, or missed out on the guys in Fabiano's piece.


Quarterbacks

Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars (0.2 percent owned): Henne started off hot in Week 1, completing 12 of his first 17 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Unfortunately, Henne finished the game completing just 12 of his final 26 passes with a costly fumble returned for a touchdown. On the surface, that stat line seems terrible in the second half, but when you actually watch the tape Henne didn't play that poorly. He had a number of nice throws dropped by his receivers, two screens snuffed out by the defense, a few throwaways and a few tips. Henne's upcoming slate of games is far from indimidating (at WAS, vs Colts, at SD) which could make him a sneaky good play or a useful QB2 in two quarterback leagues. He and the Jaguars offense have had spurts where they've looked really sharp in recent weeks, and had a couple of plays gone differently in the second half on Sunday they would have looked even better then as well.

Geno Smith, New York Jets (2.8 percent owned): Believe it or not, for the last four games of the 2013 season Smith averaged just over 20 fantasy points per game. While he finished Week 1 with only 12.64 fantasy points (good for 22nd among quarterbacks), Smith could very well double that number in any of the coming weeks. What hurt him in Week 1 were mental errors, common among young signal-callers, as he had a fumble and an interception. Those things are coachable, however, and Smith could bounce back. What helps his case in real life and fantasy is that he's excelling in areas that can't be coached, namely accuracy and athleticism. Smith connected with his receivers on 12 straight passes during Sunday's win over Oakland, and scampered for 38 rushing yards. Michael Vick bombed in his rotational snaps, further cementing Smith as the starter. Broadway Geno also has a relatively soft schedule coming up with home games against the Bears and Lions sandwiched between road matchups against the Packers and Chargers. He could produce mid-level QB1 numbers over the coming weeks if he can even out the mental side of his game.


Running backs

Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (0.1 percent owned): An undrafted rookie out of Alabama State, Crowell battled his way up the Browns depth chart during the preseason and into fantasy relevance on Sunday with a two-touchdown performance once Ben Tate was sidelined with an injury. Rookie Terrance West will be the top target on the waiver wire, as he had 100 rushing yards in relief of Tate, but Crowell has value -- especially in deeper leagues. Crowell is a powerful runner with great burst who could also see some goal line looks if West is called upon to to the heavy lifting between the 20s. Either way, this figures to be a pretty split committee if Tate is sidelined for any amount of time, but that bodes well for Crowell's value.

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore Ravens (0.2 percent owned): Yes, Justin Forsett is in town and at the top of Fabiano's report. But Taliaferro might just be the back to own in Baltimore. He isn't a spectacular rusher by any means, but he is a physical runner who grinds out extra yards and falls forward. Forsett, meanwhile, is 29-years-old and his best season was five years ago when he had 155 touches and 969 total yards. Taliaferro is also four inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than Forsett, meaning he could handle a heavier, power-back style workload. There's definitely a risk in picking up the rookie, but the reward could be big down the line.


Wide receivers

Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams (0.1 percent owned): The Rams' offense is in a bit of a bind, as they had to resort to starting third-string quarterback Austin Davis. Even though they were abused by the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, there was a silver lining in Quick's performance. He hauled in seven of his nine targets for 99 receiving yards. It looks like Quick will continue to see a volume of targets, which could make him a relevant commodity in PPR formats. Even in standard leagues though, if you're thin at wide receiver it's worth targeting someone who will receive a lot of targets.

Devin Hester, Atlanta Falcons (1.3 percent owned): We've heard this "Hester is a wide receiver" refrain before, but never have we seen it work so quickly (if at all) as it has in Atlanta. Hester reeled in five of his six targets for 99 yards on Sunday, looking as fast and shifty as ever. Working against Hester is the fact that Roddy White and Julio Jones are going to eat up the majority of targets, but the Atlanta offense looked like the real deal against a good Saints defense on Sunday, and Hester should get some chances. If your league awards points for return yards and touchdowns, then Hester's value raises a bit more.


Tight ends

Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts (6 percent owned): I've been on the record trumpeting Allen as a sleeper this year, so I was pleased to see him deliver on Sunday night. Allen caught four of the five balls thrown his way for 65 yards, including a nice 41-yard touchdown where he showed his underrated speed. The argument against Allen has been that second-round pick Coby Fleener will vulture his production. Well, Fleener had another poor showing on Sunday night, as he caught just three of his eight targets for 21 yards. Hopefully it doesn't take long for Andrew Luck and the Colts to recognize who their best threat at tight end is, and start feeding him the ball more.


Kickers

Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins (2 percent owned): It's tough to call a position as erratic as kicker a sleeper, but Sturgis seems to fit the bill. He is playing for a much improved offense in Miami and looks much improved himself, hitting all four of his PATs and field goal attempts on Sunday. Sturgis could be in for a big season, because while his offense has improved, it's far from perfect, which could lead to more field goal opportunities for the kicker.


Defenses

Miami Dolphins, D/ST (3.6 percent owned): I'm doubling down on the Dolphins here, as their defense looked impressive in a 33-20 win over the New England Patriots. The Miami pass-rush is solid, as is the secondary. They held Tom Brady and company to just 20 points, and now have the Bills, Chiefs and Raiders on tap. They might not win you a week, but they have the potential to put up some solid fantasy numbers.

-- Alex Gelhar is a fantasy and features writer for NFL.com who, like Paul Rudd, can get into Tayne. Follow him on Twitter @AlexGelhar.

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