Stretch Run Pick-Ups
It’s playoff time for many leagues across the nation. The end of the season is also upon us, and your squad is probably a little battered and bruised. Or maybe you’ve ignored that dreaded week 13 on your schedule. It’s time to start thinking not only about next week, but about weeks 12 and 13 as well. If you’re in the playoffs we are not talking about wholesale changes, but minor tweaks here and there, or picking up a guy that can fill a hole in the schedule over the next three weeks. We try to keep all of this in mind as we look at the potential waiver acquisitions that may be available in your league.
QB Joe Ganz, Nebraska – Okay, forget about the absolute drubbing Kansas put on the Nebraska defense in the 2nd half that eventually yielded 76 points. Believe it or not the Cornhuskers were actually in this game…well at least for a little while. As so often happens, the Cornhuskers’ offense rallied around a new quarterback in Joe Ganz. Ganz did his best to make up for a leaky Nebraska defense, and he accounted for five touchdowns on the day. They weren’t all garbage time either. Three came in the first half and the fourth came just after the half when the game was semi-close. All this sounds great, almost too good to be true. Now here is the problem with Ganz. First off the rallying cry is likely over as we saw in the 2nd half. Second they have Kansas State and Colorado left on the schedule and these are two fairly decent defenses. Of course Kansas was a very good defense heading into this game so anything is possible.
QB Martin Hankins, Memphis – Memphis has settled on a quarterback and his name is Martin Hankins. Hankins has missed time this year with a hip pointer and also due to some quarterback shuffling. In the last three weeks Hankins has solidified his role as the starter throwing for 10 touchdowns and 1077 yards. It is no secret that Memphis is going to have to throw the ball the rest of the way as their defense is giving up 32 points per game. Hankins is type of guy you add to the roster for the playoff run to provide depth as he plays UAB and SMU down the stretch.
QB Case Keenum, Houston – I’m not going to pretend to predict what is going to happen in the future. The last time we anointed Keenum as the starter, Blake Joseph came in and stole the show for two games. Well, it looks like (once again) Keenum is back as the Cougars’ starter because he basically took all of the snaps Sunday against SMU. Joseph did make an appearance for a few snaps, so anything is possible. It doesn’t hurt to stick Keenum on your roster if you are hurting for quarterbacks and see if he carries the load again next week.
RB Chris Johnson, East Carolina – Aided by a 301 yard rushing day against Memphis last Saturday, Johnson is approaching 1000 yards rushing on the season. Johnson also scored four times, increasing his touchdown total to an eye-popping 18. Johnson has scored in all but one game this year (UTEP). If for some reason he is still around in your league, snap him up.
RB Calvin Dawson, Louisiana Monroe – Maybe I’m being naïve to think guys like Johnson and Dawson are available as pick-ups in your league. But I’d rather look like a fool for mentioning them then not give you the opportunity to snatch them up if they are. Often times these backs from smaller schools are overlooked. Dawson rushed for 180 yards and three scores against Middle Tennessee last Saturday and has the vaunted Grambling State defense up next.
RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State – Yeah we’ve mentioned him before and yes he did injure his ankle in last week’s contest against Utah State. Since we are on this young guy kick though, it is worth mentioning that Mathews is tied with Pitt’s LeSean McCoy for most touchdowns by a freshman with 12. He scored two last week before getting knocked out. The extent of his injury is not known at this time, but his status this week against Hawaii is in jeopardy.
RB Jalen Parmele, Toledo – I propped him up as my sleeper pick on the Athlon Sports podcast a few weeks ago, and he has not disappointed. Since then he’s gone for over 150 yards rushing/receiving and scored at least two touchdowns in his last two games. Even so I wonder how many fantasy teams/leagues are looking to this underrated back from Toledo?
RB Aaron Crawford, Texas Tech – Woah (rubbing my eyes), is that a Texas Tech running back showing up four times on the box score? I’m starting to get flashbacks of the fantasy great Taureen Henderson. Alright, Tech is never going to be mistaken for a smash mouth football team, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore the running back position as it often gets involved in the passing game and can score in bunches. I didn’t get to witness the Texas Tech game last week, but I would not hesitate to pick-up Crawford just in case he turns out to be the back Mike Leach has been looking for since Henderson’s departure. From the sounds of things, Tech got the old swing pass working again. A one time staple of the Tech offense and something we have not seen a whole lot of out of Tech this year with Shannon Woods in the line-up. It should be noted that Crawford’s starting assignment last week came about because Woods is once again in Leach’s doghouse and did not travel with the team.
RB Mikell Simpson, Virginia – We mentioned him before right after his breakout game against Maryland in relief of Cedric Peerman. But it is worth reminding everyone that Peerman for the year, making Simpson the running back of choice for the Cavs the rest of the way.
RB Evan Royster, Penn State – As an owner of Rodney Kinlaw in a Big Ten league, I didn’t like seeing Royster’s name in the box score Sunday morning, especially with the playoffs starting up for me this weekend. Kinlaw started the first two possessions for Penn State, but Royster was rotating in as early as the 1st quarter. The rotation really does neither back any good from a fantasy perspective in 2007, but it is worth noting that Kinlaw is a senior and Royster is a redshirt freshman. I think you know where I’m going with this. If you are in a keeper league Royster is certainly someone to consider as a stow-away for next year. Joe Pa loves to run the football and has shown great confidence in Royster this fall.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ole Miss – The workhorse in the Ole Miss backfield has had a quiet year. Mainly because, well, the Ole Miss offense has had a quiet year. The reason I bring him up now though is because he scored three touchdowns last week against Northwestern State and I have to give him kudos for that. I also bring him up because it is playoff time and if you are looking to fill a hole during championship week, Green-Ellis takes on Mississippi State on November 23rd.
RB Pierre Walker, Eastern Michigan - Alright Johnson, Dawson and Parmele are gimmes and likely no longer availible in most leagues, so it's time to get a little more obscure. We don’t usually think Eastern Michigan when discussing college fantasy football, but we’ve got to give Pierre some props for punching in three scores against Toledo last week. Odds are he is not going to that again as that doubled his touchdown output for the year, but after scoring three he is at least on the radar. With the weather starting to get nasty in MAC country and with Bowling Green and Central Michigan (two teams giving up over 30pts per game) left on the schedule I would not be surprised if Walker finishes out the year strong.
WR A.J. Harris & Kenneth Buckley, New Mexico State - I was surprised to see Harris available in one of my leagues on Monday afternoon. With Chris Williams out for the year I expected Derek Dubios and Harris to be taken last week. Dubois is likely gone in your league but if you have shot at Harris and even Buckley, I would pick them up. Chase Holbrook and the New Mexico State offense have been anything but consistent this year. Mainly due to injuries to Holbrook. But a quick glance at the remainder of the schedule and the Aggies offense should be just fine the next couple of weeks with San Jose State, Utah State and even a struggling Fresno State defense.
WR Marko Mitchell, Nevada - Marko has caught touchdown passes in each of the last five games. With Colin Kaepernick continuing to play strong there is no reason to think Marko won’t keep up this pace against Hawaii, San Jose State and Louisiana Tech. Keep in mind Nevada does have a bye this Saturday though.
WR Stephen Williams, Toledo - Parmele is not the only guy racking up points for the Toledo offense. Williams has had back-to-back solid games, including a 150-yard receiving and two-touchdown day against Eastern Michigan last week. Toledo has a bye this coming week, but then they take on Ball State and Bowling Green, which are sure (weather permitting) to be shoot-outs. I would expect Williams to be on the receiving end of two fine stretch run performances.
WR Duke Calhoun & Carlos Singleton, Memphis - If we are going to mention a Memphis quarterback we certainly have to pair him up with some receivers. Problem is Hankins is spreading the ball around and making it difficult to pick a yin to his yang. We’ll mention two receivers: Calhoun and Singleton. I would consider Calhoun the top-receiving target for the Tigers. If you are desperate though, both could be decent choices.
WR Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas - Marcus Henry is generally considered the Jayhawks’ top wide receiver. But who is this Briscoe kid that keeps catching all the touchdowns? Briscoe, a freshman, has seven touchdown catches on the year, including three last week. With tight end Derek Fine and Henry the top two targets for Todd Ressing, Briscoe is a bit of a risky start. But he has become somewhat of a touchdown vulture this year.
WR Preston Parker, FSU - Parker has been a long time coming. Every time I watch a FSU football game it is clear the offensive coaches are desperately trying to get the ball into this game-breaker’s hands. We’ll he is finally starting to pay some dividends, scoring touchdowns in three of the last four games. More importantly he is getting the ball thrown his way with more consistency and has near double-digit receptions in the last two games. Starting him against Virginia Tech this week is probably not a wise move, but he could play a factor against Maryland and Florida down the stretch.
TE Brent Miller, Arizona State - Miller is a tight end that I had my eye on in the off-season. I was ecstatic when I was able to pick him up in the late rounds of our draft. Unfortunately the big fella has sat on my bench the entire year as Miller has been hobbled by a knee injury. He’s missed multiple games and played sparingly in a number of others. So it was good to see him catch a touchdown pass in the late stages of the game against Oregon last week. With six catches to go along with his lone touchdown, it could be the start of a nice little run for Miller. He’ll never be mistaken for his field-stretching brother Zach, but don’t be fooled, Brent can be a steady pass catching tight end for the Sun Devils when healthy.
TE Kenneth Zacharie, Louisiana Monroe - Zacharie is another one of those that may or may not be on fantasy rosters so I’ll mention him as a reminder to those that find him available. Consistent tight end play is difficult to find, and Zacharie has been about as consistent as tight ends come, scoring four of the last six games. Zacharie also has three games remaining, two of which are against soft competition (Grambling State and Louisiana Lafayette). This makes him a great waiver pick-up to fill some holes.
RELATED PLAYERS & SCHOOLS