Deep dive: Top fantasy playoff waiver-wire pickups

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, Branden Oliver, Malcom Floyd, Dwayne Allen, and Mychal Rivera. 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 with an eye toward the fantasy playoffs.


Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (8.7 percent owned): Look, I get it. Butt fumble. GQ cover. Headbands. Hot dogs. I've seen and heard it all before, same as you. But what I haven't seen is Sanchez line up in an offense with as much talent as he currently has in Philadelphia. Plus, Chip Kelly is arguably a better offensive mind than Sanchez ever had in New York, and Kelly sought out Sanchez this offseason. We saw Sanchez succeed on Monday night against the Panthers as he threw for 332 yards, two touchdowns (both to rookie Jordan Matthews who he seems to have a connection with) and zero interceptions. It looks as though he is poised to thrive in the up-tempo Philadelphia offense and has a few favorable matchups coming up (TEN in Week 12, DAL in Week 13 & 15). He's absolutely worth an add and should be owned in more than just 8.7 percent of leagues.

Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1.6 percent owned): McCown was effective from a fantasy standpoint, but still couldn't deliver his team a win. Fortunately for most of us (sorry, Bucs fans) we don't care about his team's fortunes as long as he nets us some solid fantasy totals. McCown's 19.94 fantasy points were more than I expected (even though I recommended picking him up last week), which bodes well for his future. Mike Evans is turning into a beast, and the Bucs face two of the three worst defenses against fantasy signal-callers over the next two weeks (Washington, Chicago). If you're in a two-QB league, are looking for a cheap daily fantasy play or are reeling from the loss of Carson Palmer, consider grabbing McCown. Speaking of Palmer ...

Drew Stanton, Arizona Cardinals (0.2 percent owned): I wasn't high on Stanton when he first subbed in for Palmer, but he proved me wrong with a respectable 19.36 fantasy points in his second full start against the 49ers in Week 3. Of course, his game against the Giants was uneven, as was his start against the Broncos before he too, succumbed to injury. However, Stanton has a talented supporting cast to lean on and the coach of the year in Bruce Arians (he's going to win it, folks) and I think he can be successful in this offense. The sledding will be tough, however, with matchups remaining against Detroit (next), Seattle (twice), Kansas City and San Francisco. As is usually the case in this column though, it's better to be a week early than a week late. If you're hurting at quarterback or need depth, make a play for Stanton on waivers this week.

Worth keeping an eye on: Kyle Orton (BUF), Derek Carr (OAK), Michael Vick (NYJ)

Running backs

Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (7.5 percent owned): The Browns backfield looks like Cerberus right now, but I still like Crowell's ability and opportunity in this offense. Anyone who watched Thursday night's game against the Bengals (or any Browns game, for that matter) will have a hard time arguing against the notion that Crowell leaves the fewest yards on the field. He's a strong, instinctive runner who makes the most of his opportunities every time he gets them (12 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown in Week 10). His only barrier to success is getting opportunities, but I feel like the Browns will eventually start giving him the ball on a more consistent basis as a result of his impact in games.

Juwan Thompson, Denver Broncos (1.2 percent owned): With Ronnie Hillman set to miss two weeks due to his foot injury and Montee Ball working his way back from his groin injury, the Broncos backfield is an absolute mess right now. Yes, C.J. Anderson looked great yesterday, but something tells me this is headed for a committee. Perhaps the ghost of #Shanahanigans still lingers in the halls of Sports Authority Field. Anyway, Thompson is a purely speculative add, and will be a desperation start for owners in Week 11. He could get some goal-line work, but don't count on too much.

Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2.4 percent owned): Sims saw his first NFL action of the season (and his career) on Sunday, rushing the ball a team-high eight times for 23 yards with one fumble. He also caught two passes for 17 yards. Not exactly starting out with a bang, but he could have another week to win this backfield. The Bucs offensive line has not been playing particularly well this season, and if any back is going to make the most out of what they're offering, I have to think it'll be Sims. He's worth a speculative add in 10- and 12-team leagues, and could have flex appeal in even deeper leagues as the season wears on.

Jonas Gray, New England Patriots (1.0 percent owned): Gray was on a bye in Week 10, so it's possible plenty of your league mates (and the general fantasy football populus) have forgotten about him for now. That makes this the perfect time to swoop in and grab the guy who figures to be the main power back for the Patriots moving forward. Don't forget that LeGarrette Blount's biggest games with the Patriots last year game late in the season/postseason, and if they need to turn to a power-running game Gray will likely be the guy. He has a lot of upside as a potential fantasy playoff performer if you can stash him for a few weeks.

Worth keeping an eye on: Lorenzo Taliaferro (BAL), Theo Riddick (DET)

Wide receivers

John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (4.3 percent owned): I almost put Brown in here last week, even after he had a disappointing game with just two catches for 10 yards against Dallas in Week 9. After Brown got back on track on Sunday, catching all five of his targets for 73 yards and a touchdown, I couldn't keep him out of this list. He's had 24 targets over the last three games (compared to 26 for Larry Fitzgerald and nine for Michael Floyd) and it appears the Cardinals are trying to put the ball in his hands on both short and long passes. He'd be my top add at WR this week out of the below players, and get this -- all three of Drew Stanton's touchdown passes this season have gone to Brown. That likely won't keep up, but it's encouraging that he is comfortable throwing to the rookie.

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (0.9 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. Over the last five games, Landry has caught 25 of his 31 targets for 243 yards with two touchdowns. Landry is dynamic with the ball in his hands and has been improving as a route runner. With the Dolphins still battling for a playoff berth, they might try to find ways to put the ball in Landry's hands more often. It'd be smart to have Landry on your roster if/when that happens, especially in deeper leagues.

Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (2.1 percent owned): After a disappointing one-catch performance against the Giants, Moncrief headed into his bye with the Colts. I still love his upside for the rest of the season. I'm just crossing my fingers that during the bye week the Colts realized their mistake with Hakeem Nicks and will be rolling out Moncrief more as a result. Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

Preston Parker, New York Giants (0.1 percent owned): I was originally hesitant to put Parker on this list, but when you have 13 targets over the last two games and catch all seven of your targets against the Legion of Boom, well, you deserve some fantasy football attention. He showed a knack for catching the ball in traffic this week as well as some wiggle after the catch. Parker's going to be tough to start just yet, but I like his upside as a WR4 in deep leagues, or a potential stash in dynasty leagues. Try to avoid chasing the points and wait to start him until he proves more consistent.

Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (5.1 percent owned): Don't panic if you picked up Stills or god forbid started him this past week. I know his stat line of three catches for 26 yards looks awful on paper, but the encouraging sign is that Stills was third on the team in targets with six. One of those was a bad drop on his part, and the other was a bad overthrow by Drew Brees. Stills is still getting worked into this offense more and more, slowly becoming slightly more than a boom-or-bust option. He's worth a stash still, as the Saints have favorable matchups down the stretch, including the fantasy playoffs.

Worth keeping an eye on: Paul Richardson (SEA), Kenny Britt (STL)

Tight ends

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0.4 percent owned): ASJ has now caught a touchdown in two of his last three games since Tampa Bay had their bye week. The tight end position is an unmitigated disaster this year, so someone like ASJ who is garnering a fair amount of targets in the red zone cannot be ignored -- especially in deep leagues.

Chase Ford, Minnesota Vikings (0.1 percent owned): Ford was on his bye last week, but prior to that had posted back-to-back games with 60-plus receiving yards and found the end zone once. He's worth at least a flier add if Kyle Rudolph is at all limited (or out) for Minnesota's Week 11 matchup against the Chicago Bears.

Worth keeping an eye on:* Jace Amaro (NYJ), Packers TEs, Seahawks TEs, Rams TEs (see what I mean about this being a disaster?) *

-- Alex Gelhar is a fantasy and features writer for who will be spending whatever small amounts of free time he has reliving his college years playing "Halo: The Master Chief Collection." Hit him up on Twitter @AlexGelhar for fantasy advice or to play some Halo.

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