Steve Slaton's 2007 season was a disappointment. The West Virginia stud running back was considered an early season Heisman favorite before a few rough afternoons sent him spiraling down the polls. His smallish frame led him to fall on draft weekend, as well, and he was soon forgotten.
Now fantasy owners need to know his name again.
Slaton's 116-yard performance against a respectable Tennessee defense Sunday is what led coach Gary Kubiak to name Slaton his starter moving forward. Slaton is a big-play back who can also help fantasy owners in the receiving department (seven catches in two appearances this season). The Texans are aiming to have a more well-balanced offense, and Ahman Green's poor health and the poor play by others in the backfield has hindered the team's ability to achieve that. Slaton could be the spark they need.
Fantasy owners should pounce on the opportunity to add Slaton to their backfield, knowing the rookie could offer value as a No. 3 back in most leagues. Here are a few other waiver wire candidates who offer value to fantasy owners ...
Bryant's 10-catch performance against Chicago was a shock; in recent years the former Biletnikoff winner had failed to offer fantasy owners much value. But an injury to Joey Galloway gave Bryant an opportunity to make plays, and quarterback Brian Griese appeared comfortable relying on the seventh-year receiver. This week the Buccaneers will face a Packer secondary dealing with the loss of cornerback Al Harris, which could offer Bryant a chance to build on what he started in Chicago.
Sriously, Reed might actually be worth a look. After seven rocky seasons, none offering anything to fantasy owners, Reed is having a splendid start to the '08 season. He is on pace to grab 69 balls, which would be a career best, and on Sunday he caught six passes for just the fourth time since the start of the '04 season. With the Bills ticking, Reed might be worth consideration as a No. 4 or 5 receiver in point-per-reception leagues. But buyers beware -- Reed hasn't caught a touchdown since '06, and he's never hauled in more than two scores in any one season.
On Sunday, Baskett had his second big game of the season, collecting a game-high eight catches and 85 yards against Pittsburgh. Baskett's 102-yard game in the opener came mostly on his 90-yard touchdown grab. Even so, on a team troubled at the receiver position, Baskett is making positive plays, and that should keep him in the favor of quarterback Donovan McNabb and fantasy owners.
Nedney has been one of fantasy's most productive kickers this year, much thanks to his 15-point effort in Week 2. Currently ranked fourth in league scoring, Nedney is surprisingly still available in many fantasy leagues. Perhaps fantasy owners don't believe the San Francisco offense will continue to move the football, but in the wishy-washy NFC West the 49ers should continue to thrive. Nedney can strengthen the kicking game for most fantasy teams.
Here is a look at this week's buy and sell candidates:
JaMarcus Russell, QB, Raiders
By now most fantasy owners have given up on the former No. 1 overall draft pick. But if there is a time for him to grow as a passer it will be over the next few weeks. He faces San Diego next week (ranked No. 31 against the pass), followed by New Orleans (ranked No. 29) and then a Jets defense which allowed Philip Rivers 250 yards and three touchdowns on Monday.
Selvin Young, RB, Broncos
Without posting too many eye-popping fantasy numbers Young is quietly putting up some very strong stats. Although he has just two catches and one touchdown, he's averaged better than five yards per carry in each of the first three weeks, and on Sunday was given the ball more than he had in Weeks 1 or 2. Denver will continue to use Young more as the season wears on, so now is the time to make a move for him while his asking price is still reasonable.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers
Outside of his touchdown plunge in the second quarter, Stewart had a terrible outing against Minnesota's stacked run defense on Sunday (seven carries for 15 yards). Fantasy owners carrying Stewart might be tempted to pull the plug, and now would be a good time for prospective buyers to swoop in and steal him away. Next week the Panthers face an Atlanta defense which allowed Larry Johnson big numbers last week, and the following week Stewart will take on the Chiefs' 31st ranked run defense.
Rudi Johnson, RB, Lions
Johnson had the surprise performance of Week 3 (131 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown) but his momentum might come to a crashing halt. Detroit will see Chicago and Minnesota in its next two games -- two teams that do well against the run. If Johnson is on your roster it would be advised to get rid of him in the same fashion Cincinnati did earlier this year.
Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs
Fantasy owners with Johnson were delighted with his unexpected 121-yard performance against Atlanta. Johnson has been an unhappy camper in Kansas City for quite some time, and his recent comments about being underused burned deep. Coming off his only viable fantasy performance of the season, now might be a good time for fantasy owners to unload the soon-to-be 29-year-old back. Over the next month Johnson has a bye and will face two run defenses currently allowing less than four yards per carry (Tennessee and Carolina).
Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins
Brown had a career day against New England, with four touchdowns and a passing score. But, while Brown averaged 6.6 yards per carry, his teammate, Ricky Williams, averaged 6.1, suggesting Brown's success had less to do with him and more to do with the Patriots defense having a rough day. In fact, take away his 62-yard dash in the fourth quarter and he had 51 yards for 16 carries (Williams gained a steadier 98 on his 16 attempts). Brown has been a big concern for fantasy owners and now would be a good time to bail out and collect a handsome return.