Waiver Wire Dumpster Diving takes you beyond the obvious plays and helps you find undervalued gems for deep leagues.
Welcome to the start of the holiday season. If you will indulge me for a moment I just wanted to give thanks to someone in the fantasy community whom I am truly thankful for. Sal Stefanile, TwoQBs.com founder and chief Alex Smith apologist, has helped me along the way in navigating the fantasy industry, making me a better writer and analyst, and opened door after door for me (including introducing me to the folks here at RotoViz).
Good people do good things, and there are a lot of good people in this community and that’s pretty freaking special.
Now onto waiver wire dumpster finds.
Zach Zenner, RB (Detroit Lions) Owned 0.0%
The Lions’ featured rookie Kerryon Johnson is out for Thanksgiving1 after injuring his knee this past week. LeGarrette Blount, whom the Lions picked up in free agency this offseason, is the player lots of GMs are going to pivot to. Looking at Blount’s season does not lead me to expect the Lions to stick with the veteran, however. In Week 11, Blount carried the ball seven times and only gained one yard on the day. On the season, his yards per attempt is a measly 2.35 and with only three touchdowns, he hasn’t even really been a “goal line” back this season. He has turned into a man without a role.
Zenner, on the other hand, has been limited to mainly special teams this season, but with a career 3.6 yards per attempt Zenner at least inspires a little bit of hope. In 2016 he carried the ball 88 times, rushing for 3.8 yards per attempt, and found the end zone four times. He also averaged just about two targets per game and a nice 10.9 yards per reception. With the all the injuries mounting up for Detroit there is a real possibility Zenner and fellow back Theo Riddick find themselves on the field at the same time.
With a Thanksgiving matchup against the stout Chicago Bears, who are currently averaging a mere 12.12 fantasy points to running backs,2 no one should have high expectations for either Zenner or Blount in Week 12. But with Johnson likely out for multiple games, and better matchups ahead, Zenner is the least bad option available when it comes to running backs.
Cameron Brate, TE (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) Owned 9.0%
Déjà vu? I wrote about Brate in this very column pre-Week 5 after O.J. Howard got injured and Jameis Winston was announced the starter after a Ryan Fitzpatrick meltdown.
Looking ahead now to Week 12, Brate finds himself in a positive spot yet again. Howard suffered an ankle injury in the second half of last week’s matchup against the Giants, and after Fitzpatrick threw seven interceptions over the past three weeks, Winston gets the nod to start against San Francisco.
With a soft matchup — at home against the Niners — I am expecting there to be plenty of red-zone opportunities for Winston and Brate to hook up yet again. In the barren wasteland that is the tight end position, why not pick up a quarterback’s favorite red-zone weapon on a team that can’t possibly stop the opposing offense?
Curtis Samuel, WR (Carolina Panthers) Owned 3.0%
Samuel is another repeat as I wrote about him in last week’s column too, but his ownership percentage only rose by 0.9 percent. After putting up 55 yards and a touchdown for 16 PPR points, hopefully we can make him ineligible for this column in the future.
With a home matchup against Seattle in Week 12, Carolina and Cam Newton are going to want to redeem themselves for this past week’s loss, and need to win if they want to stay in the playoff hunt. Samuel will be a key part of that offense being able to move the ball against Seattle’s recently improved defense. With 15 targets and three scores over the past three games, Samuel has capitalized on Torrey Smith’s absence and earned his role moving forward with or without Smith.
Looking forward at Carolina’s schedule with the Buy Low Machine, you can see Samuel has incredible matchups through the fantasy playoffs now that his role is secure. Tampa Bay, Cleveland, New Orleans, and Atlanta are all averaging 25-plus fantasy points allowed to receivers. Cleveland is currently Samuel’s “toughest” matchup, slotting in at 13th in terms of fantasy points allowed to receivers. The Saints are averaging the most in the entire NFL with 32.02, and Tampa Bay and Atlanta are also top-five matchups.