Deep dive: Digging for fantasy waiver wire gems

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Each week, I'm tasked with picking the top waiver wire targets for fantasy football fans. That article is a more cursory glance at the waiver wire, helping the countless fantasy players in more casual leagues on NFL.com figure out who is worth adding to their roster.

Typically, this column is the one for the diehards in more intense leagues, where I try to highlight breakout candidates to add before they become a household fantasy name. Unfortunately, we've reached the point of the year where that task becomes incredibly difficult, as after 12 weeks there are very few players not on the fantasy radar. That's why you'll see a lot of repeat names in here over the next few weeks, without a ton of new analysis. Most of these players are in need of something to change to get their opportunity to truly produce, such as an injury to someone ahead of them on the depth chart. And while we never wish injury on a player, it's a fact of fantasy and real football that injuries happen. Teams need to be prepared to fill the void. That's why the running back list is basically a list of the top handcuffs.

On to the "Deep Dive" waiver wire targets for Week 13.

Running backs


Dan Herron, Indianapolis Colts (0.1 percent owned)

Ahmad Bradshaw left the game against the Buccaneers with a wrist injury and did not return, leaving all of the work to an already banged up Frank Gore. Monday morning the team announced that Bradshaw had landed on IR, putting Herron on the fantasy radar. Gore has seen a ton of volume in the Colts offense of late and is currently "beat to crap," according to head coach Chuck Pagano. If Gore were to miss any time, Herron would be in line to inherit a healthy amount of touches. He'll also likely work in regularly starting this week to spell Gore, and he proved last year he can be successful on limited touches. From Weeks 12 to 15, he only averaged 13 touches per game, but was the RB26, RB9, RB26 and RB28, averaging 6.12 yards per carry. He definitely needs to be added this week in most standard leagues.

Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions (2.6 percent owned)

Riddick leads the NFL in receptions among running backs, and finally found the end zone again on Thanksgiving against the Eagles. He'll be a volatile play in standard leagues, but he's a must-own in PPR formats. Go get him if you play in one of those leagues before the fantasy playoffs begin.

Brandon Bolden & James White, New England Patriots (1.9, 9.2 percent owned)

As we feared, #Belitricks have returned to the New England backfield in the wake of Dion Lewis' season-ending injury. Last week, James White found the end zone twice, and this week it was Brandon Bolden's turn. The worst part about this development as it's damaged LeGarrette Blount's weekly RB2 status as well, as he's seen his touch total dip in consecutive weeks. Bolden and White each figure to have solid games down the stretch, but figuring out when those will be is going to be darn near impossible. Still, if owners are looking for depth or potential flex plays in deeper leagues, they could play with fire and add either Bolden or White.

Jonathan Grimes, Houston Texans (0.2 percent owned)

With the team continuing to feed Alfred Blue the ball, Grimes' value takes another hit. He's worth a stash though given his upside if you can spare the bench spot, as the Houston team as a whole is trending in the right direction.

Bilal Powell, New York Jets (0.4 percent owned)

Chris Ivory got back on track against the Dolphins on Sunday, but owners know injuries could flair up at any second. Powell is the handcuff Ivory owners should target, as he continues to see more touches than Stevan Ridley and is more capable catching passes out of the backfield.

Other names to consider: Jerick McKinnon (MIN), Robert Turbin (DAL), Tre Mason (STL), Denard Robinson (JAC), Fozzy Whittaker (CAR), Tim Hightower (NO)

Wide receivers


Rashad Greene & Bryan Walters (0.1, 0.1 percent owned)

Rising star Allen Hurns was hospitalized after Sunday's game against the Chargers, but he was (thankfully) only diagnosed with a concussion. He figures to be a longshot to play this week, which puts Greene (a rookie) and Walters (a journeyman) on the fantasy radar. Greene spent much of the season on the IR boomerang, and is slowly working his way back into the rotation since returning. Walters has been a quiet and steady contributor as the No. 3 wide receiver, but has only scored one touchdown and has had more than 50 receiving yards in a game three times all season. If you need to replace Hurns, keep an eye on any reports on these two coming out of Jacksonville this week. The Jaguars are sure to chuck the rock a bunch and someone outside of Allen Robinson has to catch passes (because we know it won't be Marqise Lee).

Dontrelle Inman, San Diego Chargers (0.2 percent owned)

Inman was the second-most targeted played for the Charges on Sunday, with nine looks coming his way. The former CFL star hauled in five of those for 65 yards and a touchdown, turning in a solid performance. He's definitely worth an add as the Chargers battle through the remainder of their season. Inman is suddenly the No. 2 wideout for one of the league's top quarterbacks.

Seth Roberts, Oakland Raiders (0.1 percent owned)

Roberts makes the list after his blowup game against the Titans, with 113 yards and two touchdowns. I wouldn't race out and pick him up, as he hadn't had more than three catches in a game all season prior to this outburst. However, he's worth monitoring as he's notched 54 or more receiving yards in three of his last four games. If the Oakland passing offense opens up enough to feed a third mouth consistently after Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, Roberts could be in line for some solid outings down the stretch.

Cody Latimer, Denver Broncos (18.3 percent owned)

Latimer showed a connection with Brock Osweiler in Week 11, connecting for a touchdown with his former bench-warming partner. Latimer saw a huge uptick in snaps when Emmanuel Sanders was injured, but his involvement took a hit with Sanders returning to full health against New England, as he played on just 18 percent of the snaps (behind Andre Caldwell and Bennie Fowler). He's a name to add and stash as a psuedo-wide receiver handcuff for either Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders at this point.

Jeff Janis, Green Bay Packers (0.1 percent owned)

The Packers passing attack is in need of a spark, and it's possible they look to their uber-athletic wideout for that spark. There were points in the game against the Bears where Janis was lined up in three wide receiver sets ahead of Davante Adams, who continues to struggle with drops (among other things). Janis is a super speculative add at this point, but with Jared Abbrederis and Ty Montgomery still injured, Aaron Rodgers is running out of people to throw the ball to. Those who get points for return yards could also target Janis, as he's been electric of late as the Packers kickoff returner.

Other names to consider: Jared Abbrederis (GB), Dwayne Harris (HOU), Ted Ginn (CAR), Nate Washington (HOU), Javontee Herndon (SD), Jamison Crowder (WAS)

Tight ends


Every game, all season

Zach Miller, Chicago Bears (4.2 percent owned)

With Martellus Bennett dealing with a rib injury, Miller's value continues to grow. The touchdown-scoring machine has scored four times in his last four games, and sees a decent amount of targets from Jay Cutler. He's worth a look for those in deeper leagues who in need of a (potentially) consistent tight end.

Trey Burton, Philadelphia Eagles (0.1 percent owned)

Burton is an athletic tight end who flashed his ability in the preseason, and again on Thanksgiving against the Lions. He'll likely slide back down the depth chart with Zach Ertz likely to return for Week 13 from a concussion, but with Brent Celek injuring his hip last week as well, Burton is a name to at least keep an eye on in deeper leagues.

Other names to consider: Ryan Griffin (HOU), Clive Walford (OAK), Maxx Williams (BAL), Vance McDonald (SF), Jacob Tamme (ATL)


-- Alex Gelhar is a fantasy football writer and editor for NFL.com, and the producer of the NFL Fantasy LIVE podcast. He saw "Spotlight" and "Creed" last week, and they were two of the best movies he's seen all year. Chat with him about movies or ask him for fantasy advice on Twitter @AlexGelhar.

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