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Deep-dive: Young RB handcuffs worth stashing

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While my esteemed colleague Michael Fabiano will be serving up the top waiver-wire options in fantasy football each week, I am here for those who need to dive a little deeper. Depending on your league, you may have no shot at the guys on Fabiano's list. Whether it's because of savvy drafters, too many members (where my 16-team players at?) or you have a low priority on the waiver wire (because you rule at fantasy), sometimes the top options simply aren't available. With that in mind, here are some deeper waiver-wire options if you're scraping the bottom of the barrel, or miss out on the top options for the week.


Quarterbacks

Geno Smith, New York Jets (3.1 percent owned): Smith appeared in this same spot in last week's column, but since he's still owned in so few leagues (fewer than Derek Carr, even) I feel I need to make my point again. Smith is going to be a solid fantasy quarterback this year, and he's already proven that. Were it not for his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley being called back after a timeout called by Marty Mornhinweg and Sheldon Richardson, Geno would have out-scored all but three quarterbacks in Week 2 -- including Peyton Manning! Geno is currently the 13-highest standard scoring quarterback, and would be in the top 10 had that touchdown counted. He adds valuable points in the running game and has a soft schedule on the horizon (vs. CHI, vs. DET, at SD).

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (4.6 percent owned): Don't look now, but Carr has quietly put up back-to-back solid outings on a talent-deficient roster against two strong defenses. Carr is still prone to rookie mistakes, but has shown confidence on his two touchdown throws to James Jones. He also flashed impressive speed on Sunday as he racked up 58 rushing yards. He doesn't exactly have the most forgiving upcoming schedule (at NE, vs. MIA) but in deeper leagues, two-QB leagues or dynasty leagues Carr is definitely worth a look on waivers this week before his stock rises more.


Running backs

Alfred Blue, Houston Texans (0.2 percent owned): As is typically the case in fantasy football, the running back position on the waiver wire is a wasteland of touchdown-vulturing fullbacks and Darren McFadden. Blue makes the list this week as he has become the top handcuff for Arian Foster even though Foster is running like it's 2010 again. He currently leads all NFL running backs with 59 touches (55 rushes, four receptions) and I'm not saying he's going to break down, but if he does, Blue is the back to own. The originally perceived handcuff, Jonathan Grimes, received eight fewer carries than Blue in garbage time on Sunday. That's not exactly an infallible sign of what's to come, but it's better to go with youth and upside when stashing players like Blue in deeper leagues.

Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings (0.8 percent owned): Speaking of youth and upside, McKinnon is the paragon of those traits in Minnesota. With Adrian Peterson reactivated, but facing an uncertain future, McKinnon is the back to own in deeper (and dynasty) leagues. Matt Asiata is fine, and performed well on Sunday in a spot start, but McKinnon impressed Peterson in the offseason and showed potential at Georgia Southern with his fluidity in the open field and ability to quickly change direction. He's worth a stash in deeper leagues just in case.

C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (1.5 percent owned): Anderson is very clearly behind Montee Ball on the depth chart, and Ball had a solid outing on Sunday, rushing just 12 times but averaging five yards per carry. Anderson is Bell's top backup, and were anything to happen to the second-year Wisconsin product, Anderson would become the belle of the waiver-wire ball. That's why he's worth a stash if you have the space in deeper leagues.


Wide receivers

Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams (0.8 percent owned): Quick makes his second appearance in this column along with Smith, as he followed up his solid Week 1 outing (seven catches, 99 yards) with another respectable performance in Week 2. Quick once again hauled in seven of the nine passes tossed his way, this time for slightly less yardage -- 74. Even though his offense is a mess, Quick currently ranks 12th in the NFL in receiving yards, and is definitely worth a grab as a low-end WR3/Flex play in deep leagues.

Mohamed Sanu (0.9 percent owned): A versatile playmaker, Sanu will likely be counted on as the Bengals No. 1 wideout in Week 3 with A.J. Green joining the already injured Marvin Jones (foot) on the sideline with a strained a ligament in his toe. Sanu was once a trendy waiver-wire pickup back in 2012 when he caught four touchdowns over a three-game stretch, but a disappointing sophomore season (and the emergence of Jones) dimininished his value in 2014. Sanu might not set the stat sheets on fire, but as Andy Dalton's top option he should see plenty of targets, and he is always a threat to run or pass (yes, pass) out of the backfield. He has yet to throw an incompletion (on three attempts) in his NFL career. Oh, but those three completions have gone for 148 yards.

Aaron Dobson (10 percent owned) or Kenbrell Thompkins (1.3 percent owned): The Patriots boast a pair of talented second-year wideouts in Dobson and Thompkins, yet the team has struggled to get them the ball or have them active in the same game. Dobson (who spent much of the preseason recovering from injury) was a healthy scratch in Week 1, while Thompkins was the healthy scratch in Week 2. I like the upside for both of these two, and even though I have a soft spot for Thompkins, I think Dobson is probably the better add as he was tearing up offseason workouts before suffering his foot injury. Either way, both are worth an add-and-stash in deeper or dynasty leagues on the hopes that one catches fire and the eye of Tom Brady in the passing game.


Tight ends

Niles Paul, Washington Redskins (0.9 percent owned): Count me among the Jordan Reed owners who got too cute looking for his replacement. Little did I know Paul was ready and waiting for a breakout Week 2. Paul and Kirk Cousins (who came in for an injured Robert Griffin III) were in sync all afternoon, connecting eight times for 99 yards and one touchdown. After coming in for Reed in Week 1, Paul has amassed as many receptions (12) in two NFL games than he had in his previous two NFL seasons. At 6-foot-1, 241 pounds Paul isn't what you'd call a matchup nightmare, but he has a rapport with Cousins who will be under center once again in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Paul has nice value as long as Reed remains sidelined.

Derek Carrier, San Francisco 49ers (0.1 percent owned): With Vernon Davis (ankle) and Vance McDonald (knee) hobbled on Sunday night, Carrier answered the call at tight end for the 49ers. He was three-for-three on his catchable targets (his fourth was a bad Kaepernick interception) for 41 yards. The severity of the injuries to Davis and McDonald is unknown at the moment, but if Davis misses any time Carrier is the guy to grab as a substitute. He has a potentially juicy matchup against the tight end-friendly Arizona Cardinals defense coming up in Week 3.

-- Alex Gelhar is a fantasy and features writer for NFL.com who believes that this guy won the internet on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. Follow him on Twitter @AlexGelhar.

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