Luck helping to make Indianapolis receivers top waiver wire targets
In past three weeks, T.Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery have 24 catches for 389 yards
Bilal Powell may get helpful amount of carries if Jets go with Greg McElroy at QB
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has scored a touchdown in three straight games
For most fantasy leagues, the regular season is over. Now it's playoff time. Hopefully, you made it! But whether you're fighting for playoff cash or consolation prizes, there are still finds to be made on the waiver wire. And while pickings at running back and quarterback are quite slim, there are a number of receivers who could help you in the fantasy playoffs.
Two happen to be on the same team.
For all the ups and downs of Andrew Luck's rookie year -- he's thrown just one more touchdown than interception this season -- he's been a quality fantasy player, the 10th-rated player in standard scoring systems.
And he's absolutely shredded pass defenses at home. If you need a receiver for the first round of the playoffs, you may have your men on the Colts: Indy hosts the Titans this week, and one of Donnie Avery (owned in 21 percent of Yahoo! leagues) or T.Y. Hilton (owned in 50 percent) are likely on your waiver wire this week.
The Titans' defense has given up the 12th-most points to opposing teams' wide receivers, but Football Outsiders ranks the unit even lower: 29th in passing DVOA, the site's proprietary per-play measure. In other words, Luck could put up big numbers, and he's going to be throwing the ball all over the field.
Against the Lions on Sunday -- on the road for the Colts but in a dome -- Hilton caught six passes for 100 yards on 12 targets, while Avery caught five passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns on 14 looks (including the game-winner with no time left). Over the last three weeks, Hilton has 15 catches for 233 yards and three touchdowns on 24 targets. Avery has 11 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns on 26 targets.
Hilton, who's less likely to be available, is obviously the better choice to start. He's put up two 100-yard games in the past three weeks, and scored in a game in which he only had 33 yards receiving two weeks ago. He should be the No. 1 target of the two. But Avery has been on the rise the past two weeks, leading the Colts in targets in Week 13 and getting more looks than Hilton the week before as well. He's not a bad consolation prize.
Joe Flacco, Ravens (68 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues): It's a long shot that he's available in any league, but give it a look. The Ravens play the porous Washington secondary this week, and Flacco has put up good numbers against bad secondaries this season.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks (22 percent): Wilson hasn't had a bad game since Week 7 against San Francisco, and he put up impressive numbers against the Bears, the stingiest pass defense in the league: 23-for-37, 293 yards and two touchdowns, as well as nine rushes for 71 yards. Seattle plays the Cardinals this week, and while Arizona has been solid against the pass this year, Wilson is likely to be the best free agent option if Flacco's not available.
Montell Owens, Jaguars (1 percent): Another week, another Jaguars running back goes down. Rashad Jennings went out with a concussion last Sunday in Buffalo and Owens came in, rushing seven times for 29 yards and a two-point conversion. Mike Mularkey announced Owens will start again this week against the Jets, whose run defense has been pretty soft this season. Owens isn't a bad flier.
Bilal Powell, Jets (9 percent): If Greg McElroy starts at quarterback against the Jaguars this week, the Jets are likely to rely heavily on the ground game. On Sunday against a stingy Arizona pass defense, the Jets rushed 43 times for 177 yards. Shonn Green had 24 carries for 104 yards and Powell had 12 for 58. Those aren't great numbers for Powell, but Jacksonville's run defense is much worse than Arizona's and he could get a decent amount of carries. For those owners stuck looking for a flex player, Powell may be a decent one-week play.
Josh Gordon, Browns (34 percent): Gordon caught six passes for 116 yards and a touchdown on seven targets Sunday. In fact, he's been targeted seven times in each of the last three games, and could have another nice outing Sunday as the Browns host Kansas City. The Chiefs' defense is average-to-poor against the pass, and Brandon Weeden is looking Gordon's way more and more. He's an excellent play this week and against the Redskins the following week.
Golden Tate, Seahawks (29 percent): Tate caught five balls for 96 yards on six targets Sunday, including a fourth-quarter touchdown in the final minute. He's the clear No. 2 in Seattle behind Sidney Rice -- but Tate does have four touchdowns in the last four games. Arizona looms this week; it's not a great matchup, but Tate is an acceptable third or fourth receiver.
Brandon Myers, Raiders (53 percent): The fourth-year man tied a Raiders record with 14 receptions on Sunday against the Browns. He was targeted 15 times for those 14 catches, gaining 130 yards and a garbage-time touchdown with one second left. Six of those catches and 73 yards came on the final drive, but Myers has been a quality fantasy tight end for weeks now. This week the Raiders play the Broncos, a defense that can't cover the tight end. Myers should have another big day.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings (56 percent): Quarterback Christian Ponder continues to struggle, but he also continues to look Rudolph's way in the red zone: Rudolph caught a touchdown pass for the third straight game, hauling in six passes for 58 yards on eight targets. This week's opponent, Chicago, is one of the better teams against the tight end, so Rudolph owners likely are looking at a touchdown-or-bust this week.
Dallas Clark, Buccaneers (23 percent): The longtime Indianapolis Colt caught five passes for 21 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos on Sunday. Clark has been getting a handful of targets each game since mid-October, so he's not likely to do much, but he could vulture a touchdown on the goal line. The Eagles haven't allowed any huge tight end games this season.
Connor Barth, Buccaneers (38 percent): Barth has put up double-digit fantasy points the last four weeks. Now he gets the Eagles, who fired their defensive line coach Monday (and will be dropping the Wide 9 scheme) and are allowing the sixth-most points to fantasy kickers. Expect some chances for Barth.
Adam Vinatieri, Colts (27 percent): Vinatieri kicked five extra points on Sunday, but he gets the Tennessee Titans this week, who are giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers.
San Diego Chargers (23 percent): San Diego has quietly become one of the better fantasy defenses of the season, posting double-digit fantasy points in standard scoring systems in two of its last three weeks and in three of its last five games. The Chargers face the Steelers this week, and may be facing an offense again starting Charlie Batch or a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28 percent): Even though the Eagles scored 27 offensive points on Sunday night, the Cowboys still sacked Nick Foles once and returned a fumble for a touchdown. The Bucs' defense hasn't been great in recent weeks, but here's guessing they turn it around at home against Philadelphia.