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Waiver Wire: Hop on the running back carousel

Senior Fantasy Writer
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It's fitting that Knowshon Moreno was the No. 1 running back for the Broncos in Week 12. It kind of sums up this season based on all the running back issues we've faced with injuries and inconsistent play.

The thought when Willis McGahee (knee) went down was Ronnie Hillman would be the starter while sharing playing time with Lance Ball and Moreno, even though Moreno was inactive from Week 2 until last week. Instead, Moreno had 24 touches, Hillman had three and Ball none.

Moreno is now a must-add running back in all leagues and has the chance to finish the season strong. Fantasy owners will also look to add Michael Bush with Matt Forte (ankle) hurt again since Bush scored twice against the Vikings, and Beanie Wells returned from an eight-week absence with two touchdowns against the Rams. We also could have a standout running back in Bryce Brown, if LeSean McCoy (concussion) remains out.

Colin Kaepernick has the chance to be a starting Fantasy option for the rest of the season -- if he can remain the starter for the 49ers ahead of Alex Smith. And we had some quality receiver performances from Pierre Garcon, Ryan Broyles and Mohamed Sanu this past week, making them all attractive options off the waiver wire.

Editor's note: Must add is for players worth adding in all leagues. Maybe add is for players worth adding in 14-team leagues or larger. Desperation add is for players worth adding only if you're, well, desperate. The ownership percentage listed is how many leagues that player was owned in the previous week for CBSSports.com.

Quarterbacks

Must add: Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (52 percent)
Maybe add: Russell Wilson, Seahawks (45 percent), Brandon Weeden, Browns (25 percent), Chad Henne, Jaguars (19 percent)
Desperation add: Jake Locker, Titans (23 percent), Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (21 percent)
The breakdown: The only quarterback who is a must add this week is Kaepernick, and hopefully 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh doesn't make the wrong decision and go back to Smith as his starter. In two games, Kaepernick has passed for 474 yards with three touchdowns and one interception and has 10 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown. He should have another solid outing against the Rams in Week 13. ... Wilson had his best game on the road in Week 12 at Miami with 23 Fantasy points, but producing at Chicago in Week 13 will be tough. He should do well in Week 14 at home against Arizona if you want to look ahead. ... Weeden and Henne are nice sleepers in Week 13, but keep an eye on Weeden's status since he sustained a concussion in Week 12 against the Steelers. If he plays at the Raiders in Week 13 then he should do well since every quarterback who has faced Oakland in the past four games has at least two touchdowns. ... Henne has 58 Fantasy points in his past two games against Houston and Tennessee and would be the No. 2 quarterback to add this week behind Kaepernick. He has 615 passing yards, six touchdowns and one interception over that span and faces the Bills in Week 13. Buffalo has allowed six quarterbacks to throw at least two touchdowns this season. ... In two-quarterback leagues you can consider Tannehill a starter since he faces the Patriots in Week 13. New England has allowed six quarterbacks to throw at least two touchdowns this season.

Running backs

Must add: Michael Bush, Bears (63 percent), Bryce Brown, Eagles (61 percent), Beanie Wells, Cardinals (60 percent), Knowshon Moreno, Broncos (21 percent)
Maybe add: Daniel Thomas, Dolphins (60 percent), Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons (57 percent), Rashad Jennings, Jaguars (50 percent), David Wilson, Giants (21 percent), Shane Vereen, Patriots (19 percent), Bilal Powell, Jets (10 percent)
Desperation add: Brandon Jacobs, 49ers (6 percent), Justin Forsett, Texans (3 percent), LaMichael James, 49ers (2 percent)
The breakdown: Brown would be considered the No. 1 running back add if McCoy remains out in Week 13 at Dallas. Brown was excellent on Monday night against Carolina with 26 Fantasy points. He's worth the gamble in case McCoy's concussion lingers. ... If you need a running back for this week then add Bush. Forte injured his ankle in Week 12 against the Vikings and Bush got 21 carries for 60 yards and two touchdowns. He's not going to impress you with his rushing average, but he could score against the Seahawks in Week 13 if Forte is out. Seattle just allowed two rushing touchdowns against Reggie Bush and Thomas. ... Moreno has the most value long-term. He should remain the workhorse for the Broncos, and Denver has a favorable schedule after the Week 13 matchup with Tampa Bay. The Broncos play at Oakland in Week 14, at Baltimore in Week 15 and against Cleveland in Week 16, and Moreno would be worth starting against the Raiders and Browns. ... Wells came back from the toe injury that kept him out for eight weeks with 17 carries for 48 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams. He has the chance to score again in Week 13 at the Jets and should be considered a No. 2 running back. ... Jennings would also have increased value if Jalen Parmele (leg) is out. We've seen what Jennings looked like as the starter for the Jaguars, which wasn't pretty, but he would have a favorable matchup at the Bills and could be a flex option. ... Vereen has 30 Fantasy points in the past two weeks and continues to be productive for the Patriots, especially in blowout wins. Don't be surprised if Vereen scores again this week at Miami, and he can be considered a flex option. ... Rodgers scored his first rushing touchdown of the season in Week 12 at Tampa Bay and has now played more snaps than Michael Turner for the past two games. He is a sneaky sleeper in Week 13 against New Orleans. ... Thomas and Bush showed the Dolphins running game still has life with both scoring against Seattle. In deeper leagues, you might consider adding Thomas again in case this is a game to build on. ... The Giants lost Andre Brown (leg) for the rest of the regular season, making Wilson the No. 2 running back behind the often-injured Ahmad Bradshaw. He's worth a speculative add. ... Keep an eye on James in case Kendall Hunter (ankle) is out for an extended period of time.

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Wide receivers

Must add: Pierre Garcon, Redskins (65 percent), Ryan Broyles, Lions (21 percent), Mohamed Sanu, Bengals (7 percent)
Maybe add: T.Y. Hilton, Colts (64 percent), Josh Gordon, Browns (61 percent), Santana Moss, Redskins (57 percent), Brandon LaFell, Panthers (39 percent), Davone Bess, Dolphins (35 percent), Julian Edelman, Patriots (15 percent), Cole Beasley, Cowboys (0 percent)
Desperation add: Chris Givens, Rams (12 percent), Plaxico Burress, Steelers (8 percent), Rueben Randle, Giants (4 percent), Jarius Wright, Vikings (1 percent), Dwayne Harris, Cowboys (0 percent), Tiquan Underwood, Buccaneers (0 percent)
The breakdown: It was good to see Garcon look healthy in Week 12 at Dallas with five catches for 93 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. His injured toe is apparently a tolerable injury for now, so he could be considered a must-start Fantasy option in Week 13 at the Giants. ... Broyles showed the Lions don't need Titus Young, who was suspended for Week 12 against Houston, since he had six catches for 126 yards on 12 targets. He has another favorable matchup against the Colts in Week 13. ... Sanu has four touchdowns in his past three games after scoring twice against Oakland in Week 12. He can be considered a solid No. 3 Fantasy receiver or flex option in Week 13 at San Diego. ... Gordon should be considered a sleeper for Week 13 at Oakland. The Raiders can't stop anybody, and Gordon should have a nice game if Weeden is 100 percent. ... Bess is getting hot at the right time with 13 catches for 179 yards and one touchdown on 20 targets the past two weeks. He faces the Patriots in Week 13 and has a tremendous history against New England with at least nine Fantasy points in five consecutive meetings with four touchdowns over that span. ... Edelman would be a must-add if he's OK with the concussion he suffered in Week 12. He has 25 Fantasy points the past two games against Indianapolis and the Jets and has another favorable matchup at Miami in Week 13. Just keep an eye on his status, as he might be someone to add later in the week. ... All Moss does is score touchdowns. He has five touchdowns in his past five games, including two at the Giants in Week 7. He is a great No. 3 receiver in the rematch with the Giants this week. ... Hilton would be great if Donnie Avery was not ahead of him on the depth chart. Hilton has three touchdowns in his past two games but had just three targets against the Bills in Week 12 compared to eight for Avery. Hilton is only worth adding in deeper formats when Avery is healthy. ... Beasley could see a boost in production with Miles Austin (hip) hurt. He had seven catches for 68 yards on 13 targets against the Redskins in Week 12. Harris also would see an increase in production as well, so keep an eye on Austin's status. ... LaFell has 28 Fantasy points the past two weeks and has the potential to be a quality No. 3 Fantasy receiver moving forward. He has 14 targets over that span.

Tight ends

Must add: Dustin Keller, Jets (60 percent), Jacob Tamme, Broncos (36 percent), Dallas Clark, Buccaneers (27 percent)
Maybe add: Dennis Pitta, Ravens (38 percent), Dwayne Allen, Colts (31 percent), Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars (25 percent)
Desperation add: Benjamin Watson, Browns (2 percent), Rob Housler, Cardinals (2 percent), Charles Clay, Dolphins (0 percent)
The breakdown: We got what we hoped for from Keller against the Patriots in Week 12 with five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, which is his second touchdown against New England this year, but now he has to be more consistent against other opponents. He faces the Cardinals in Week 13, and Arizona just allowed Lance Kendricks to score. Let's hope Keller can build off last week's game and play well. ... Tamme is another tight end to buy into with a good matchup against the Bucs in Week 13. In Week 12 he had his best game of the season since Week 1 at Kansas City with four catches for 48 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. Tampa Bay has allowed at least six points to opposing tight ends in four of the past six games. ... Clark has at least six Fantasy points in his past three games with two touchdowns over that span and faces a Broncos defense that is tied with the Titans for most touchdowns allowed to tight ends with eight. ... Pitta is heating up again with two touchdowns in his past three games and is worth adding for the stretch run. He has games against Washington in Week 14 and Denver in Week 15, which are favorable matchups. But he might not help you out much in Week 13 against the Steelers. He had one catch for 5 yards against Pittsburgh in Week 11, and the Steelers haven't allowed double digits in Fantasy points to an opposing tight end since Week 1. ... Allen has a great matchup this week at the Lions, who have allowed a touchdown to a tight end in each of the past three games. But there's a chance Coby Fleener (shoulder) returns, so keep an eye on what develops. ... Lewis has taken off since Henne has taken over and has seven catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 10 targets the past two games. He faces the Bills in Week 13, and Buffalo has allowed three touchdowns to tight ends since Week 9. ... Clay is a sneaky sleeper in Week 13 against New England but only in deeper leagues. The Patriots allow the most Fantasy points to opposing tight ends, and Clay just had six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown on six targets against the Seahawks. He is a much better option than Anthony Fasano. ... Housler is someone to add in dynasty leagues, but until the Cardinals improve their quarterback situation we'd stay away in seasonal formats. He did have his best game of the season in Week 12 with eight catches for 82 yards on 11 targets, so hopefully that's something to build on.

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Player News
Bears sign DE Austen Lane
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) The Bears have signed defensive end Austen Lane, Pro Football Talk reports.

Lane will fill the roster spot of defensive end Willie Young, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Lane was with the Bears during the preseason but didn't survive the final cuts. He's managed three sacks in 30 career games.


Cardinals' Thomas starts practice 'shaky,' finishes 'pretty strong'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians indicated that Week 17 starting quarterback Logan Thomas was "shaky" at the beginning of Wednesday's practice but finished "pretty strong" as he developed an understanding of where to throw his passes, ESPN.com reports.

"He's worked, fundamentally, extremely hard and gotten much better," Arians said. "But putting those fundamentals to use in the offense, that's two totally different things."

Thomas has just three days of practice before facing the 49ers in a game that has the possibility of landing his team with a first-round bye with a win and help from other results.

"It wasn't the greatest, but as it went on, it got better and better," Thomas added. "It just comes with reps and comes with time."

The Cardinals are a 6-point underdog in San Francisco Sunday.


Seahawks' Russell Okung, Max Unger practice Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung (lung) practiced in full Wednesday, while center Max Unger (ankle) was able to return to practice in a limited fashion.

Okung is on track to return in Week 17 after missing last week's game with a bruised lung. Unger hasn't played in any of the team's last five game due to a high ankle sprain. The Seahawks will earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win Sunday, and it's possible Unger suits up for the crucial game.

The Seahawks are a 12 1/2-point favorite at home against the Rams in Week 17.


Raiders QB Derek Carr practices Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was able to practice Wednesday despite dealing with an illness.

"I got here early to work out and see how I would feel during that and after that and I felt pretty good," Carr said at a press conference Wednesday. "So, felt good at practice today, obviously not 100 percent but it felt good to practice and be out here."

Carr has been able to start every game for the Raiders this season, completing 58.6 percent of his passes while racking up 3,112 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Raiders are a 14-point underdog in Denver in Week 17.


Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman practices in full Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman was able to practice in full Wednesday for the first time since suffering a left foot injury on Nov. 9, ESPN.com reports.

"We've had a chance to watch him all week, participate and he's obviously further ahead than he was this time a week ago," head coach John Fox said after Wednesday's practice. "And the fact we're on grass, not on Astroturf, lot of variables, but I like what I see."

Hillman has been able to practice in a limited fashion during the last two weeks but hasn't been active on gameday since the injury occured. The Broncos are a 14-point favorite at home against the Raiders in Week 17.


Falcons RB Steven Jackson (quad) expected to miss Week 17
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Falcons running back Steven Jackson (quad) is not expected to play in Sunday's Week 17 matchup with the Panthers, ESPN.com reports.

Jackson missed practice Wednesday and the team promoted running back Jerome Smith from the practice squad. Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman are expected to share the workload in the critical regular-season finale if Jackson is indeed sidelined.

The Falcons are a 4-point favorite at home against the Panthers.


49ers RB Carlos Hyde still sidelined
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) 49ers rookie running back Carlos Hyde missed practice again Wednesday with an ankle injury. He sat out Week 16 and appears likely to miss Sunday's game against Arizona, too.

With Hyde out, veteran Frank Gore went off for 158 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries against San Diego. Gore should see another big workload against the Cardinals.


Michael Crabtree doesn't sound eager to return to 49ers
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Impending free-agent receiver Michael Crabtree was asked Wednesday if he wants to return to the 49ers next season. "It depends," Crabtree said, per the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don't even want to talk about it."

Crabtree is finishing up a disappointing season. He's played every game but has only 64 catches for 657 yards and four touchdowns, a far cry from the 85 grabs, 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns he put up in his last full season, 2012.


Ravens LT Eugene Monroe bothered by ankle injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Ravens starting left tackle Eugene Monroe, who hurt his ankle Week 16 against Houston, missed practice Wednesday, reports ESPN.com. His status is uncertain for the regular-season finale at Tennessee.

If Monroe can't play, undrafted rookie James Hurst likely would start, the website said.


Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (shoulder) unable to practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe, who sprained his shoulder in last week's loss at Pittsburgh, was unable to practice Wednesday, reports ESPN.com. Bowe leads Chiefs wideouts with 57 catches for 724 yards.

Kansas City hosts San Diego on Sunday as a 3-point favorite.


 
 
 
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