Standard ESPN League Finds
Bryce Brown, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (owned in 4.9 percent of ESPN.com leagues). The clever folks who listened to last week's Fantasy Underground podcast know that I was extraordinarily bullish (perhaps irrationally bullish) on Brown. Field Yates and I go beyond lazy statistics and actually watch tape, and the limited tape I saw on Brown impressed the heck out of me, so much so that I declared some (very preliminary) similarities to another No. 34, Mr. Ricky Williams. Well, hopefully you listened, because Brown went off Monday night against the Carolina Panthers: 24 touches for 189 yards and two TDs (and two lost fumbles). (And if you didn't listen, don't worry ... there's a new show posted every Wednesday afternoon.) You'll say, "Oh, c'mon, it was the Panthers' run defense," and I'll grant you that the Carolina D is far shy of elite, but Brown and Doug Martin are the only two RBs to play exceptionally well against them since Week 3. Plus, also remember they didn't have to respect Nick Foles all that much. Listen, this was a truly impressive, breakout performance. Considering LeSean McCoy is still fighting concussion symptoms, Brown is someone to add and start.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos (4.2 percent). Moreno appeared in the "deeper" section of this list last week, but unfortunately, I wrote: "[W]e're still talking about an undersized rookie starter [Ronnie Hillman] and a lead-footed third-down back [Lance Ball], so I expect to see Moreno in uniform Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. It would be mighty weird to see him start out as a major part of the game plan, but you never know." Hey, at least I believed he'd suit up for the first time since Week 2! Alas, I was fooled. Moreno got 24 touches Sunday compared to three for Hillman and zero for Ball. And Moreno ran pretty darn well. After a forgettable first quarter, he got involved in the passing game, then dominated a late-second-quarter drive with a couple of powerful runs. I should acknowledge that 30 of his 85 rushing yards (and eight of his 20 carries) came on a clock-killing final drive, but the score was 14-9 at the time, so they weren't garbage carries. Suffice it to say that Moreno did nothing to cost himself carries next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I'm not dropping Hillman just yet because this was one week, but the smart money does now say that Moreno is the Willis McGahee replacement you most want to own. And Moreno is likelier to hold onto his starting job than Bryce Brown. Of course, if you're evaluating them purely on a talent level, Brown is better.
David Wilson, RB, New York Giants (39.8 percent). Andre Brown was one of my favorite stories of the 2012 season: An excellent collegiate player who made my Super-Deep Sleeper list a few years back, but who tore an Achilles and wound up bouncing around the NFL, only to land where he started and become a big part of the offense. Alas, Brown broke his left fibula Sunday night and is out for the season. Now Ahmad Bradshaw will probably have to be his own goal-line back (maybe fullback Henry Hynoski gets in the mix?), which only adds to the possibility that his injuries eventually cause him to miss more time. The electric Wilson, a first-rounder in April's draft, made scads of mental errors in September but has reportedly been better lately and is pretty much all the Giants have left behind Bradshaw. It wouldn't be the least bit shocking to see Wilson starting a game for New York in the next five weeks.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts (25.5 percent). Hilton has been mentioned as a "deep-leaguer" in this column pretty much all year, but it's possible he's made the jump to shallow leagues. If you include special teams, Hilton has five TDs in his past four games, and four TDs in his past two. Three of his scores have come from 36 yards out or more, as his 4.34 speed has proved difficult for defenses to contend with. Now, Hilton has seen his weekly target total fluctuate wildly (just in the past four games it's gone from 11 to 1 to 9 to 3) because Reggie Wayne is the Colts receiver who gets fed first, and because Donnie Avery (eight targets in Week 12) is healthy for the moment. It can be dangerous to chase after a young big-play receiver, because if he doesn't make those big plays, he doesn't help you. Still, if you're a fantasy underdog and need a home run threat who can win your week with more feast than famine, Hilton fits that bill. He's Chris Givens with a better QB.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (40.4 percent). Did Jennings do a dang thing with his opportunity after Maurice Jones-Drew got hurt? Nope. Did he look good relieving Jalen Parmele, who injured his left leg and needed to leave Sunday's win over the Tennessee Titans? Nope. Am I aware of the old adage "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me"? Yup. But MJD won't be back in Week 13, and as of this writing, we don't know how severe Parmele's injury is. It's possible the previously benched Jennings gets right back into the Jags' starting lineup. Of course, considering he's averaged 2.7 yards per carry since Week 7, you shouldn't rely on Jennings unless you're the most desperate you've ever been.
Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers (27.6 percent); Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks (17.5 percent); Marcel Reece, RB, Raiders (46.5 percent); Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons, RB (12.4 percent); Parmele, RB, Jaguars (29.9 percent); James Starks, RB, Packers (9.2 percent); Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Steelers (35.9 percent); Danario Alexander, WR, Chargers (27.5 percent); Ryan Broyles, WR, Lions (1.3 percent); Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers (4.1 percent); Josh Gordon, WR, Browns (22.0 percent); Brandon Myers, TE, Raiders (26.0 percent); Dustin Keller, TE, Jets (36.4 percent); Dallas Clark, TE, Buccaneers (4.2 percent).
Deeper League Finds
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (1.1 percent). Entering April's NFL draft, I pegged Sanu as the safest wideout on the board. He was a catch machine at Rutgers who figured to be a possession-receiving whiz right away as a pro. I'll admit it's taken longer than I expected; Sanu's first catch this season didn't come until Week 7. But he's become a red zone weapon for Andy Dalton and has four TDs in his past three games, including a 2-yarder and a 5-yarder Sunday. He still doesn't have more than five catches or more than 47 yards receiving in a single game, and he's pretty darn slow. But this guy is an intriguing, Muhsin Muhammad-type of player who could become a fixture opposing A.J. Green.
Brandon Stokley, WR, Denver Broncos (13.1 percent). Before the season began, Andre Caldwell seemed like a sneaky fantasy draftee in a point-per-reception league, based on the notion that Peyton Manning loves his safety-valve receivers. Unfortunately for Caldwell, he suffered a rib injury in the preseason and the 36-year-old Stokley grabbed Denver's slot job and never let go. In the past four weeks, he's got 15 catches for 214 yards and two TDs, and on the year he's found the end zone five times. Now, the guy is rarely more than a few yards downfield and doesn't have more than four catches in a game since Week 3, so he's probably too TD-dependent to be a standard-league option. But in deeper PPRs, he's viable.
Jarius Wright, WR, Minnesota Vikings (0.4 percent). Percy Harvin was reportedly nowhere close to playing in Week 12, which puts Sunday's contest against the Green Bay Packers in jeopardy for him, too. Considering the Vikings don't have a reliable downfield threat, if they're Harvin-free they'll likely continue to focus on the rookie Wright, who saw 10 targets last week and caught seven of them (albeit for 49 yards). Like Stokley, Wright would likely only be a solution in a deeper PPR league.
Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys (0.0 percent). Miles Austin left the Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day loss to the Washington Redskins with a hip injury, and since he runs a majority of his routes out of the slot, that meant Beasley was his replacement. An undrafted training camp star rookie out of SMU, Beasley saw a whopping 13 targets against the Skins but caught only seven despite the fact that most of them were of the miniature variety. Still, everybody needs their Wes Welker clone these days, and if Austin can't play Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, you can make an argument that Beasley becomes interesting in a PPR league.
Mike Tolbert, RB, Carolina Panthers (12.2 percent). Jonathan Stewart left Monday night's game with an ankle injury, and as of this writing, the severity is unknown. Certainly DeAngelo Williams is a better bet for value should Stewart miss time (and given Cam Newton's Week 12 red zone dominance, one wonders how many TDs are available for any Panthers back), but don't forget Tolbert. D-Willy simply hasn't looked like himself for weeks and weeks, adding to speculation that he's hurt or has lost a step. Tolbert could get involved in the backfield rotation, though we should all probably only believe it when we see it.
Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Sam Bradford, QB, Rams (39.6 percent); Chad Henne, QB, Jaguars (6.1 percent); Jake Locker, QB, Titans (6.9 percent); Chris Ivory, RB, Saints (7.0 percent); Joique Bell, RB, Lions (7.6 percent); LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB, Cardinals (31.0 percent); Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams (7.8 percent); Bilal Powell, RB, Jets (1.4 percent); Chris Givens, WR, Rams (1.5 percent); Santana Moss, WR, Redskins (30.4 percent); Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots (2.9 percent); Andre Roberts, WR, Cardinals (36.3 percent); Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks (10.7 percent); Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets (39.4 percent); Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins (14.9 percent); Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers (15.5 percent); Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens (31.4 percent); Logan Paulsen, TE, Redskins (0.4 percent); Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars (7.0 percent); Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts (3.7 percent).