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Deep dive: Fantasy playoff waiver-wire targets

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 in recent weeks, such as Martavis Bryant, Davante Adams, Odell Beckham, Branden Oliver, Dwayne Allen and Jace Amaro. 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.


Kyle Orton, Buffalo Bills (1.0 percent owned): On paper, the Bills' matchup against the Chiefs does not seem to be a favorable one, but look at the Chiefs schedule. They've played a slew of subpar quarterbacks, and while they did well to slow down Philip Rivers a few weeks back, their fantasy points against ranking is inflated thanks to cushy games against Austin Davis, the Jets QBs, Jake Locker and Ryan Tannehill/Tom Brady not playing their best football. Orton has been able to minimize his mistakes with the Bills, and has a talented, young receiving corps at his disposal. Plus, he gets to face the Chiefs outside of Arrowhead Stadium, where they are much tougher to play against. He's not going to set the stat sheets on fire, but Orton could make an excellent bye-week fill-in for Week 10.

Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1.5  percent owned): I want nothing but good things for Mike Glennon, and by that I mean I want him to take control of the starting quarterback job in Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, he's too erratic and frequently gets his offense off to slow starts, which is why Lovie Smithconsidered a change at QB earlier this week, and ultimately made the decision to roll with McCown. For his first game back he gets to face the Falcons in Tampa Bay, which could be considered a plus-matchup. The Falcons are surrendering the third-most passing yards per game this season, and with Mike Evans emerging as more of a bonafide pass-catching threat, good things could be on the horizon. If you end up starting McCown (as I might in one league), it likely won't be with a ton of confidence. Be happy if he turns in a solid but unspectacular 16-ish fantasy points.

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (3.1 percent owned): Even with his occasional boneheaded mistakes (like his early interceptions against Seattle), I like what I'm seeing out of Carr. He's not lacking in the confidence department and has a big enough arm to chuck the ball deep and fit it into tight windows. The Broncos at home likely won't be the most forgiving of matchups, but Carr hung in there against Seattle last weekend and he won't go down without a fight. Manning could make the Raiders pay for what happened last week in Foxborough, but if he does that will pave the way for Carr to rack up some garbage points, and as we all know those count just as much as regular fantasy points. In a week with six teams on bye, you'll take what you can get.

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

Running backs

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore Ravens (6.2 percent owned): Taliaferro was seeing a decent amount of work early on against the Steelers, but his costly fumble sparked the Steelers offense and indirectly led to his poor performance the rest of the way. Taliaferro is a thumper, who is best used when games are close or the Ravens are way ahead, and that wasn't the case for pretty much the entire second half on Sunday. He's still worth an add if you're thin at running back, as he could garner some goal-line looks against the Titans at home on Sunday.

Bryce Brown, Buffalo Bills (3.7 percent owned): All right, with the waiver wire so thin, I'm back on the Bryce Brown bandwagon for one more week. Fred Jackson could return soon, but for the next week or so I like Brown's chances to see more playing time than the 14 snaps he saw in Week 8 (his first game action of the season). With a whole extra week of practice reps, the split between Anthony Dixon and Brown could even out more in Week 10, especially since neither separated themselves in Week 8. Brown is worth a speculative add if you have the space or are in desperate need of a flex player this weekend.

Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2.1 percent owned): While Bobby Rainey had a solid outing on Sunday (121 total yards), I still like Sims' chances of taking over this backfield down the stretch. The third-round pick could see limited work this week if he makes the 53-man roster, but his skills in the passing attack could make him a worthwhile addition in PPR leagues. Furthermore, both Doug Martin and Rainey have been wildly inconsistent this season, so if Sims can come in and provide a spark it wouldn't be out of the question for the Bucs to ride the hot hand for the next couple weeks. Adding him now is more of a speculative move, but one that could pay dividends soon.

Jonas Gray, New England Patriots (2.4 percent owned): While six of Gray's 12 carries came on New England's final drive, that was partly because the run game was ineffective early forcing Tom Brady to turn to the pass (Denver did have the No. 1 rush defense prior to this game). Gray is very clearly the thunder to Shane Vereen's lightning (right now, at least) and deserves to be rostered in more leagues. He continues to get looks at the goal line, and will be the back the team turns to when they need to grind out yardage or kill the clock. Even though he's on a bye, grab him this week if you have space.

Worth keeping an eye on: Frank Summers (BUF), Chris Polk (PHI), Lance Dunbar (DAL)

Wide receivers

Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (5.2 percent owned): Even though Moncrief was targeted just once on Monday night against the Giants he still deserves to be owned in more leagues. The MNF game was sort of flukey with tight end Colby Fleener receiving 11 targets which probably won't happen again all season. Moncrief is a size-speed nightmare with Andrew Luck throwing him the football and T.Y. Hilton/Reggie Wayne taking up the primary coverage responsibilities. What's not to like about that situation? I like the rookie as a low-end WR3/4 moving forward.

Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (5 percent owned): Don't look now, but Stills is quietly becoming the most consistent (and effective) wide receiver on the Saints. Thursday marked his third straight game with four or more catches and at least 57 receiving yards. Stills is now able to get open on intermediate routes, and because of that is stealing targets and yards from Marques Colston (who used to dominate those routes). The Saints are surging and will try to keep lighting up the scoredboard in an effort to rebound from their slow start to make the playoffs. It seems like Stills is going to be a big part of that push, and he deserves to be rostered as a result. He has a cushy fantasy playoffs schedule with games against Carolina, Chicago and Atlanta, for what it's worth.

Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams (1.1 percent owned): Last week I postulated that Britt would pick up the slack in the wake of Brian Quick's season-ending shoulder injury, and I was right (for now). Britt's stat line of two catches for 32 yards and a touchdown doesn't jump of the page, but considering Austin Davis only threw for 105 yards and one touchdown on the day, it becomes more apparent that Britt was responsible for a large part of that production. The Rams face the Cardinals next who have given up a bunch of points to wide receivers, but their secondary has been getting healthier (and more dangerous) lately. Still, with six teams on a bye Britt makes for a decent option as a third or fourth wide receiver.

Worth keeping an eye on: John Brown (ARI), Jarvis Landry (MIA), Paul Richardson (SEA), Steve Johnson (SF)

Tight ends

Mychal Rivera (0.5 percent owned): I'll be the first to admit, I did not expect Rivera to stay fantasy relevant this past week -- even against the Seahawks who have been suspect against tight ends. He hadn't had back to back games in which he had more than 31 yards receiving ever in his career. Nevertheless, he's getting targeted A LOT by Carr these days (20 times in the past two games, to be exact). Carr could be leaning more on Rivera as the two get in sync (as young quarterbacks are known to do), which could bode well for his fantasy potential down the stretch. Given the dumpster fire that is the tight end position outside of the elite guys, Rivera is worth a speculative add in most leagues, especially 12-teamers and above.

Chase Ford, Minnesota Vikings (0.1 percent owned): Ford had been on the fringe of "deep dive" relevance for a couple of weeks now, but by posting consecutive games with 60-plus receiving yards (and this week finding the end zone), Ford makes the cut. The Vikings are on a bye this week and there are rumblings that Kyle Rudolph could return the following week, but Ford is worth a look on waivers this week. There's no guarantee that Rudolph returns, and even if he does we don't know how quickly he and Teddy Bridgewater will get on the same page. Ford might only have one or two weeks of value left this season, but if you're desperate and fighting for the playoffs, he could get you just enough points to stay in the mix.

Worth keeping an eye on:* Gavin Escobar (DAL), Lance Kendricks (STL), Cooper Helfet/Luke Willson (SEA) *

-- Alex Gelhar is a fantasy and features writer for who has been enjoying the comic book series "East of West" and recommends you check it out. For more on comics, movies and fantasy football, follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar.

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