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Waiver Wire: Never too late to tinker

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Fantasy playoffs are here for the majority of leagues, so hopefully your rosters are set. That doesn't mean the waiver wire is meaningless, but you should have a solid squad in place, ready for a championship run.

If your roster is in good shape then your waiver moves are likely minimal. You should handcuff your top running backs where applicable, and some key backups -- Ben Tate (58 percent ownership), Joique Bell (54 percent), David Wilson (47 percent), Shane Vereen (40 percent), Toby Gerhart (22 percent), Robert Turbin (18 percent), Montario Hardesty (11 percent) and Bernard Pierce (11 percent) -- are not owned in enough leagues.

You should also look at some receiver depth after tough injuries in Week 13 to Jordy Nelson (hamstring), Ryan Broyles (knee) and Cecil Shorts (concussion) and other guys still out like Percy Harvin (ankle) and Danny Amendola (foot). We'll have some alternatives for you in Week 14.

You might also look at some key DST matchups ahead if you have been using a different option each week and need a sleeper. In Week 14 we like the Browns (50 percent) vs. Kansas City, the Bills (29 percent) vs. St. Louis or the Buccaneers (49 percent) vs. Philadelphia. And in Week 15 we like the Rams (33 percent) vs. Minnesota, the Titans (13 percent) vs. the Jets or the Dolphins (40 percent) vs. Jacksonville.

This week, there were no key running back injuries, but owners in shallow leagues might still need some help. Jonathan Dwyer is a must add option, and we also like Vick Ballard with Donald Brown (ankle) hurt again. At quarterback, it's time to buy into Russell Wilson since he's been great on the road the past two weeks and now gets Arizona at home.

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 (71 percent), Russell Wilson, Seahawks (47 percent)
Maybe add: Brandon Weeden, Browns (24 percent), Jake Locker, Titans (22 percent)
Desperation add: Greg McElroy, Jets (0 percent)
The breakdown: If you need a one-week quarterback option then add Wilson and start him with confidence against the Cardinals at home. Wilson has at least 19 Fantasy points in each of his past five games with 53 points in the past two weeks on the road at Miami and Chicago. In his past three home games against the Patriots, Vikings and Jets he is averaging 24.2 Fantasy points, and he should be solid against the Cardinals again. He has 11 touchdowns and one interception in his past five outings. ... Kaepernick will remain the starter for the 49ers, and we like his matchup against the Dolphins. Look for him to rebound from a poor Fantasy performance against the Rams in Week 13 when he had just 14 points. ... Weeden is a nice sleeper in Week 14 against the Chiefs at home. Kansas City has allowed eight total touchdowns to Andy Dalton, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton over the past three games. ... Locker also is a good sleeper against the Colts, who have allowed two 300-yard games and two multi-touchdown outings over the past three weeks against Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford. Locker can be a starter in deeper formats or two-quarterback leagues. ... The Jets are likely going to start McElroy over Mark Sanchez in Week 14 at Jacksonville. We have no interest in McElroy, but he is worth keeping an eye on in deep dynasty leagues in case he can win the starting job for the Jets in 2013.

Running backs

Must add: Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers (78 percent), Vick Ballard, Colts (71 percent)
Maybe add: DeAngelo Williams, Panthers (73 percent), James Starks, Packers (42 percent), Bilal Powell, Jets (23 percent), Montell Owens, Jaguars (0 percent)
Desperation add: Ronnie Hillman, Broncos (59 percent), Peyton Hillis, Chiefs (25 percent), Jeremy Stewart, Raiders (0 percent)
The breakdown: Before we get into Dwyer as the top running back to add this week, go back to the handcuff options listed above. We've been getting a lot of questions about the Texans and who is the top backup for Arian Foster. Our take is Tate is still the running back to own behind Foster, but if Foster would miss time we could see Tate and Justin Forsett (5 percent) sharing the load. ... Dwyer not only was named the starter in Week 13 against the Ravens, the Steelers also made Rashard Mendenhall a healthy scratch. Dwyer had 16 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 8 yards. He now has three starts on the season and has finished with double digits in Fantasy points in each outing. He also has a favorable matchup against San Diego in Week 14. ... Ballard would be the No. 2 running back to add if Brown is out. Ballard had his first rushing touchdown in Week 13 at Detroit and in the first three games he started earlier this year when Brown had knee surgery, he had at least nine Fantasy points in each game. He also scored against the Titans, his Week 14 opponent, on a reception in Week 8. ... Jonathan Stewart (ankle) could be out for a while, which will allow Williams to remain the starter for the Panthers. He can be a decent flex option, especially against the Falcons in Week 14. Williams scored against Atlanta in Week 4. ... Starks is also a potential flex option against the Lions in Week 14. He continues to share touches with Alex Green, but Starks has more upside with at least seven Fantasy points in two of the past three games, including a touchdown against Minnesota in Week 13. He had 25 carries for 74 yards at Detroit in Week 11. ... Owens might be the starter for the Jaguars with Rashad Jennings (concussion) hurt and Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) likely still out. He's not a recommended starting option in most standard leagues, but owners in deep formats might need him against the Jets in Week 14. ... Powell continues to share playing time with Shonn Greene and could be productive against the Jaguars in Week 14. Jacksonville just allowed C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to reach double digits in Fantasy points in Week 13.

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Wide receivers

Must add: Kenny Britt, Titans (74 percent), T.Y. Hilton, Colts (70 percent), Josh Gordon, Browns (61 percent), Golden Tate, Seahawks (52 percent)
Maybe add: Nate Washington, Titans (66 percent), Donnie Avery, Colts (33 percent), Chris Givens, Rams (23 percent)
Desperation add: Andrew Hawkins, Bengals (26 percent), Jon Baldwin, Chiefs (5 percent), Jarius Wright, Vikings (4 percent), Rod Streater, Raiders (1 percent), Riley Cooper, Eagles (1 percent), LaVon Brazill, Colts (0 percent), Lestar Jean, Texans (0 percent)
The breakdown: Any of the must-add receivers have the chance to help you in Week 14, but we would rank them in this order: Gordon, Tate, Britt and Hilton. ... We've been telling you for several weeks that Gordon had a favorable schedule ahead, starting in Week 13 at Oakland, and he finished that game with six catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. He gets Kansas City at home in Week 14, Washington at home in Week 15 and at Denver in Week 16. He should be considered a starting option in all leagues moving forward. ... Tate has three games with double digits in Fantasy points in his past four outings, including his past two at home. He has the chance for another big outing at home against the Cardinals in Week 14. ... Britt has scored in each of his past two games and faces the Colts in Week 14. Indianapolis has struggled with No. 1 receivers all season, and the Titans are moving toward a pass-happy offense with Dowell Loggains now calling plays, That bodes well for Washington also. ... Hilton has at least nine Fantasy points in three of his past four games. We'd like him better if Avery were out of the picture, but Hilton had a season-high 12 targets at the Lions in Week 13. Avery had 14 targets and finished with five catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns, but Hilton has been more consistent. Still, both are worth adding with the way Andrew Luck is playing. ... Givens has done a nice job with Amendola injured or out. In his past two games he has 16 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown on 20 targets. He should be considered a No. 3 receiver with upside against the Bills.

Tight ends

Must add: Dennis Pitta, Ravens (45 percent), Dallas Clark, Buccaneers (38 percent), Jacob Tamme, Broncos (38 percent)
Maybe add: Martellus Bennett, Giants (68 percent), Scott Chandler, Bills (57 percent), Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars (33 percent)
Desperation add: Coby Fleener, Colts (15 percent)
The breakdown: Pitta struggled as expected in Week 13 against the Steelers with one catch for 19 yards, but he should be solid the next two weeks at Washington in Week 14 and against Denver in Week 15. We like the matchups, and he should be considered a starting option. ... Clark has been on a tear of late with three touchdowns in his past four games and at least six Fantasy points in each outing over that span. He faces the Eagles at home in Week 14, and Philadelphia has allowed four tight ends to reach at least seven Fantasy points in the past five games with three touchdowns over that span. ... Tamme also has done well recently with 18 Fantasy points in his past two games against the Chiefs and Buccaneers. He had season highs in catches (nine), yards (89) and targets (13) against Tampa Bay, and we expect him to play well against the Raiders in Week 14. Oakland has allowed four tight ends to reach at least eight Fantasy points in the past four games with three scoring touchdowns. ... Chandler only had one catch for an 11-yard touchdown in Week 13 against the Jaguars on four targets, but he could see an increase in targets with Steve Johnson (hamstring) and Donald Jones (calf) banged up. ... Lewis has done well with the addition of Chad Henne at quarterback and has 11 catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns on 17 targets the past three games. ... Bennett scored against the Redskins in Week 13 and faces the Saints in Week 14. New Orleans has allowed at least eight Fantasy points to opposing tight ends the past four games with four touchdowns over that span. ... We hope Fleener can finish the season strong after returning in Week 13 at Detroit from a four-game absence due to a shoulder injury. He scored against the Lions but had just one catch for 26 yards on two targets. It could be risky to trust Fleener with Dwayne Allen sharing targets.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Gavin Escobar a threat to Jason Witten?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:13 am ET) Cowboys rookie tight end Gavin Escobar, who entered the day with just four catches all season, wasn't highly targeted Week 7 against the Giants, but he made the three targets he did get count, scoring two touchdowns, including one on an impressive 26-yard grab between two defenders in the third quarter.

In all, he had three catches for 65 yards -- numbers that would be easier to overlook if not for the two touchdowns and the fact that fellow tight end Jason Witten, to this point a mainstay in Fantasy, had only two catches for 27 yards. And it's not like he and quarterback Tony Romo were just failing to connect. Witten was targeted only twice the whole game.

Witten's production hasn't been up to his usual standards this season -- in seven games, he's averaging 3.3 catches for 38.0 yards -- but just based on their history together, you figured Romo would have a need for him sooner or later. Now with the emergence of Escobar, it's no longer so clear.

Escobar himself isn't worth adding except in deep leagues of 16 teams or more that don't have enough tight ends to go around. In those formats, he's the new Timothy Wright. But in leagues of 12 teams or fewer, Witten may be on the outs. He deserves a couple more weeks given his history, but keep an eye out for the next big thing at the position.


Larry Donnell here to stay?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:55 am ET) After catching just one pass in his previous two games combined, Giants tight end Larry Donnell got back on track Week 7 at Dallas, catching seven passes for a season-high 90 yards.

Considering it was the Giants' first game without star wide receiver Victor Cruz, Donnell was expected to play a bigger role in the passing game, but a resurgence of this magnitude should remind us all how he came to be owned in 83 percent of Fantasy leagues in the first place. Over the first four weeks, he averaged 6.3 catches for 59 yards, scoring four touchdowns.

One potential pitfall for Donnell is that he lost two fumbles in Week 7, giving him three fumbles lost for the season, but with so few tight ends capable of his kind of production in a given week, the Giants would have to suggest his playing time is in jeopardy for me to pass on Donnell in Fantasy.

His production fell when rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham entered the mix in Week 4. Now that Cruz is out of the mix, Donnell's production figures to rise again.


Odell Beckham shows he's worth adding
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:42 am ET) Only three games into his career, Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham has emerged as one of quarterback Eli Manning's favorite red-zone targets, which is especially good news with another one of his favorite red-zone targets, Victor Cruz, lost for the season with a knee injury.

Beckham didn't have a lot of chances Week 7 at Dallas, but he made the most of the ones he got, scoring on catches of 9 and 5 yards. In all, he had four catches for 34 yards. His six targets were third-most on the team, behind wide receiver Rueben Randle's nine and tight end Larry Donnell's seven.

The six targets were a season high for Beckham. He has yet to catch more than four passes for more than 44 yards, but because he keeps getting looks in the end zone, he's worth adding in Fantasy even if it's just to stash him on your bench until you're ready to put your trust in him.


An encouraging performance for Eli Manning
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:34 am ET) Playing his first game without star wide receiver Victor Cruz, who's out for the season with a torn patella tendon, Giants quarterback Eli Manning still managed to bounce back from arguably his worst game of the season with one of his best Week 7 at Dallas, completing 21 of 33 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns.

It was his fifth game in six with multiple touchdown passes and his second with at least three. And he did it against a defense that had generally kept quarterbacks out of the end zone, recording nearly as many interceptions (seven) as it had allowed touchdown passes (eight) prior to Week 7.

Though two of his touchdown passes went to rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, who wasn't even available to him the first four weeks, Manning did a nice job of spreading the ball around. None of the touchdowns went to his two leading receivers, Larry Donnell and Rueben Randle.

Judging by this performance, Manning knows how to make use of the weapons the Giants have and doesn't need Cruz to remain successful in Fantasy. His bad games can be really bad, but his good games have been frequent enough for you to give him another shot when he returns from a bye Week 9 against Indianapolis.


Andre Holmes comes back down to earth
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:26 am ET) Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes, who blew up for 121 yards and two touchdowns Week 6 against San Diego, took a long time to get going Week 7 against Arizona, catching his first pass about midway through the fourth quarter. Not surprisingly, he finished with just three catches for 34 yards. 

It's not like he was invisible before then. He nearly had a great catch on a long pass along the sidelines in the second quarter, but it was ruled incomplete. He did have only two targets apart from his three receptions, though.

Clearly, it was a disappointing showing, but it's not like quarterback Derek Carr forgot about him. Only James Jones and Darren McFadden had more targets, tying for the team lead with eight. Holmes spent much of the game covered by Patrick Peterson, who remains one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. Holmes still has incredible play-making ability and will have better days.

But this performance shows why you can't trust him on an every-week basis yet. His matchup Week 8 against Cleveland is another tricky one because of cornerback Joe Haden, who has struggled at times this season but limited the Jaguars' Cecil Shorts to three catches for 12 yards in Week 7. You might want to leave Holmes on your bench for this one.


49ers' Phil Dawson makes 1-of-2 field-goal attempts in Week 7
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:22 am ET) 49ers knicker Phil Dawson made only one of his two field-goal attempts in Week 7, adding two extra points in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos.

Dawson couldn't deliver from 51 yards out in the first quarter, pushing the attempt wide left, but was true from 22 yards out in the second quarter. He's 13 of 16 on field-goal attempts this season but had been 10-for-10 in his previous three games coming into Week 7. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


49ers TE Vernon Davis catches two passes in Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:20 am ET) 49ers tight end Vernon Davis caught just two of his five targets for 21 yards in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

Davis was coming off an ugly Week 6 performance in which he dropped two passes, and he didn't fare much better in the team's blowout loss against the Broncos. He has 14 receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns heading into the team's Week 8 bye. The 49ers will face the Rams after the week off.


49ers WR Michael Crabtree held to 27 yards in Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:16 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught four of his seven targets for just 27 yards in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

While the 49ers averaged 11.1 yards per reception as a team Sunday, top options Crabtree (6.8 YPC) and Anquan Boldin (7.1 YPC) could find no room to work, leading to disappointing performances despite the offense dialing up 46 passes in the loss. Crabtree hasn't topped 50 yards in any of his last four games, and he owns 32 receptions, 322 yards and three touchdowns in seven games this year. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


Anquan Boldin catches seven passes in 49ers' Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:13 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught seven of his 10 targets for 50 yards in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

Boldin had at least one bad drop in the game and was unable to find much room to work downfield. He came into the week average 12.4 yards per reception but managed just 7.1 YPC against the Broncos. Boldin has collected 39 receptions for 447 yards and one touchdown in seven games. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


49ers WR Steve Johnson scores touchdown in Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:10 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Steve Johnson caught five passes for a team-high 79 yards and one touchdown in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

Johnson hauled in a four-yard score in the back of the end zone with only 11 seconds left in the first half to send the 49ers into halftime with a 21-10 deficit. The Broncos took over from there, scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter. Johnson has reached the end zone in three of his last four games, and he's up to 25 receptions, 315 yards and three scores on the season. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


 
 
 
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