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Deep dive: Emerging RBs, WRs to target on waivers

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While Michael Fabiano serves 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 huge rosters, too many members or 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 targets if you're scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Several of these "deep" waiver pickups have graduated to Fabiano's top-10, such as Odell Beckham, Davante Adams, Jonas Gray, Kenny Britt, Branden Oliver, Malcom Floyd, and Dwayne Allen. This piece is here to try and help you get ahead of the competition, or find gems in deep leagues. Of course, for each of those successes, I recommend a Chad Henne-type. Welp, you can't win them all. Let's hope we can find a winner in this crop below.

Bye weeks: Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers

Quarterbacks

 

Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (18.4 percent owned): Don't hit the panic button just yet, folks. Sanchez had a bad game against a sneakily good (and red-hot) defense. Big deal. The Packers also embarassed Jay Cutler two weeks ago, yet he came out slinging against the Vikings the next week. If you picked up Sanchez, or are looking for another quarterback for the playoffs, he has some favorable matchups on the horizon. This week he'll take on Tennessee, he has two matchups against the middle of the road Cowboys defense, and he gets the porous Redskins secondary in Week 16 -- aka, the fantasy championship.

Ryan Mallett (1.2 percent owned): So far, so good for the Ryan Mallett Experiment. Mallett was solid in his debut as a starter, but still has a ways to go. As for his fantasy value though, I like what he brings to the Houston offense. Despite a few erratic throws, he was able to push the ball downfield with greater efficiency and accuracy to both DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson than Ryan Fitzpatrick had all season. With juicy matchups on the horizon against the Bengals, Titans and Jaguars, Mallett has some appeal as a QB2 or matchup-based play.

Drew Stanton, Arizona Cardinals (5.9 percent owned): Fantasy owners who were bold enough to start Stanton on Sunday lived through the ecstasy and agony that has typified much of his career. Stanton made to nice plays and nice throws for early touchdowns, but also made two terrible reads and throws on his interceptions. Basically, by including Stanton in this column again (knowing his tough upcoming schedule), I'm putting my faith in Bruce Arians to make it work, more so than Stanton himself. Arians is looking like the runaway Coach of the Year winner, and something tells me he'll be able to make Stanton efficient enough to post some decent fantasy totals for owners in a pinch.

Worth keeping an eye on: Michael Vick (NYJ), Blake Bortles (JAC)

Running backs

 

Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (3.9 percent owned): I was among the many fantasy pundits who fell in love with Freeman this offseason, only to be jilted by the Falcons repeated refusal to deploy him in the offense. Well, with Antone Smith headed to injured reserve and Steven Jackson performing like he's nearing the end of his stellar career, this could be the time for the Falcons to turn to their talented rookie. Freeman had six carries for 28 yards (his highest workload since Week 3) against the Panthers on Sunday, which doesn't exactly instill a lot of confidence on the surface. However, with the Falcons now in first place in the NFC South, they'll need to turn to their playmakers to keep fighting for the postseason. It's worth adding Freeman in deeper leagues in case he ends up taking over the backfield duties, or becomes a more prominent part of the offense.

Dan Herron aka "Boom" Herron (0 percent owned): We're still waiting to hear more on Ahmad Bradshaw's ankle injury as he visits specialists this week, but there's no reason to not pick up and stash Herron off waivers in the meantime -- especially if you own Bradshaw. Trent Richardson has been as pedestrian as ever for the Colts, and if Bradshaw is forced to miss a decent amount of time they'll need to give another back other than Richardson some opportunities, and that back will be Herron. He's a purely speculative add at this point, but it never hurts to have more players who line up with Andrew Luck on your roster.

Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1.7 percent owned): Sims out-touched Bobby Rainey 16 to five on Sunday, and that could become the norm as the season rolls on. With Doug Martin likely on the outs with the organization, it could be time for them to really see what they have in Sims (especially since they're only two games out of first place in the NFC South). He has some favorable matchups still to come (Chicago, Carolina) so now is the time to scoop up Sims and hope he flashes his potential before the season is over.

Bryce Brown, Buffalo Bills (2.0 percent owned): Fred Jackson played two weeks ago, but sat out last week's Thursday night game as he is still battling his way back from a groin injury. Brown has been looking better in recent weeks (after not being on the active roster until Week 9), tying for the team lead with 10 targets last week against Miami. Brown has a little more upside in PPR leagues, but there's a chance he fills C.J. Spiller's role as the lightning to Jackson's thunder once the veteran returns to a more prominent role.

Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (0.1 percent owned): I know, he's a Raider, but hear me out. The Raiders are the first team to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and at 0-10 have nothing left to lose. They haven't rushed for more than 75 yards in eight of their 10 games this season, yet Murray was a glimmer of hope on Sunday, notching 43 yards on just four carries. Their offense needs a spark, and Murray provided that against the Chargers. With the season practically over, it's time for the Raiders to see what they have in young playmakers like Murray, which is why he's absolutely worth an add in deeper leagues (and even 10 to 12 teamers if you have the space) in case he takes over the starting gig and actually does something with it.

Worth keeping an eye on: Theo Riddick (DET)

Wide receivers

 

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (1.2 percent owned): With each passing week I wonder more why the Dolphins don't make rookie wideout Jarvis Landry a greater presence in the passing attack. If you're a frequent reader of this column, you might recognize that first sentence because it is exactly how I started my Landry blurb from last week. Seriously, this kid is dynamic and will be a household fantasy name in the not too distant future. Landry only posted 8.60 fantasy points (because of a fumble on a return) after finding the end zone for the third time in six weeks. There are plenty of mouths to feed in Miami, but Landry needs to be rostered in more leagues as he continues to emerge as a real threat in the Dolphins passing attack.

Chris Hogan, Buffalo Bills (0 percent owned): Chris Hogan just happens to be the most consistent wide receiver in the NFL that few people outside the Buffalo area have heard of. Over his last five games Hogan has averaged 5.8 targets, 4.8 receptions and 56 receiving yards per game while adding in two touchdowns for good measure. He has quietly become Kyle Orton's second option behind Sammy Watkins in the Bills passing attack. Hogan is a great target in deep PPR leagues, but could have some value in standard leagues as well that start three-plus wide receivers.

Charles Johnson (0.2 percent owned): For the football die-hards out there, you might remember Johnson's name as he was signed off the Packers practice squad by the Browns last October, only to discover he had a torn ACL. This year, he was signed off the Browns practice squad by the Vikings, and had a breakout game on Sunday with six catches for 87 yards on seven targets. Given Cordarrelle Patterson's struggles and Greg Jennings' rib injury, it's worth scooping up Johnson on a flier, even in 10 to 12 team leagues. He has nice matchups against the Panthers and Jets in Weeks 13 and 14, making him a decent option to pick up to help push you into the fantasy playoffs.

Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (4.8 percent owned): I've been pumping up Stills for weeks, so it was great to see him in the end zone on Sunday for the Saints' lone touchdown. However, with the news of Brandin Cooks' injured thumb surfacing today, Stills value is seriously on the rise. After a tougher matchup against Baltimore this week, Stills gets to face Pittsburgh, Carolina, Chicago and Atlanta, all of whom are suspect against the pass. Stills could be a sneaky good addition for any roster in need of a bit of wide receiver help for the fantasy playoffs.

Cody Latimer, Denver Broncos (0.3 percent owned): This one is a deeply speculative add, but if Emmanuel Sanders is forced to miss a week or two as he recovers from the concussion he suffered on the hit heard round the world, then Latimer could see some playing time. He's a great athlete and with the way Wes Welker has looked this season, Latimer could see some serious targets if forced into a starting role in Sanders' absence.

Worth keeping an eye on: Paul Richardson (SEA), Donte Moncrief (IND)

Tight ends

 

Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts (11.7 percent owned): I've long been talking up Fleener's teammate Dwayne Allen as the tight end to own in Indy, but Allen suffered a lower ankle injury on Sunday night, and his status for the next week or two (at least) is up in the air. That makes Fleener an attractive waiver option after he caught all seven of his targets for 144 yards against the Patriots with Allen on the sideline.

Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders (14.3 percent owned): Rivera slowed down a bit this week, but is still a primary target for Derek Carr. Given the disaster that is the tight end position this season (four of the top-eight scoring tight ends from this week had less than 14 receiving yards), he's definitely worth an add and could provide some nice value down the stretch.

Worth keeping an eye on: Jace Amaro (NYJ), Packers TEs, Seahawks TEs, Rams TEs (the disaster continues)

-- Alex Gelhar is a fantasy and features writer for NFL.com who has been thoroughly enjoying both "Serial" and "Mike Tyson Mysteries." He suggests you check both out if you haven't already.

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