Out with the new, in with the old?
This weekend a couple of old faces came to the rescue of their respective teams -- Rex Grossman in Chicago and Byron Leftwich in Pittsburgh.
The shoulder injury that ripped Ben Roethlisberger from the lineup enabled Leftwich to revive his dead career, on seven-of-10 passing for a touchdown and a one-yard rushing score. With Roethilisberger listed as day-to-day fantasy owners possessing him are left to ponder what to do at the quarterback spot.
Likewise, Bears starter Kyle Orton had just come to earn the favor of fantasy owners when a high ankle sprain got him a free ride on a cart out of Soldier Field. Now he's expected to miss a month. In his place, Grossman helped the Bears battle back from a 10-point halftime deficit to claim a 27-23 win.
Can fantasy owners seriously consider either Grossman or Leftwich, both of whom have proven to be no less lethal than strychnine in past years? To be frank, yes.
In the case of Grossman, no one can be sure just how long Orton will sit, and the Bears offense is taking shape as it heads into a dogfight to win a hotly contested NFC North race. Leftwich's window of opportunity is likely to be shorter, but as he showed on Monday, he can offer respectable fantasy numbers, if only for a week or two.
Neither player is fantasy starter material, but both are serviceable, especially for those fantasy owners feeling the short-term pinch placed on them by the growing number of injured NFL quarterbacks.
Here are a few other waiver wire candidates who offer value to fantasy owners:
Fantasy owners are used to seeing Denver backs emerge in the rushing game, not as receivers, but the rookie out of Arkansas had one of the most dynamic Bronco debuts in recent memory with a seven-catch, 116-yard effort against Miami. Prior to Week 9 Hillis had just four career touches to his credit. Fantasy owners shouldn't get too excited -- at a position as thick as running back few fantasy owners can afford to reserve a roster spot for Denver's rookie fullback. Still, Hillis is worth keeping an eye on.
OK, so 90 of Robinson's 105 yards on Sunday came on Seattle's first offensive snap -- even so, his performance suggests he can still offer fantasy owners a big day every now and then. The Seahawks passing game has been desperate with Deion Branch hobbled by a bad heel, and Robinson has now caught four passes in each of the past two weeks. Although he cannot be expected to post consistent numbers through the end of the year, he is a wise gamble for any team thin at receiver.
Six of Dan Orlovsky's 28 completions went to the fifth-year journeyman tight end who appears to have finally found a permanent residence in Detroit. Gaines is on pace to set personal bests in catches and yards this season, and as a backup in traditional leagues he'd make a nice addition for a fantasy owner trying to add depth at the position.
Filling in for L.J. Smith, Celek turned in a first-rate performance against Seattle. He tied for the team lead with six catches, and his 131 yards were second only to Houston's Owen Daniels among NFL tight ends. Celek's numbers were uncharacteristic -- in two pro seasons he's never posted more than 50 yards receiving in any one game -- but they could be revealing. Smith has never offered Philadelphia a steady presence at tight end, and it's likely Celek will get more opportunities now that he has shown his worth.
Miami's offense is not something fantasy owners could get excited about, but Carpenter might be one Dolphin worth considering. He connected on all four of his attempts on Sunday (two from 45 or more yards) and scored in the double digits for a second straight week. Carpenter has now joined the ranks of 'viable fantasy candidate' and should be heavily considered by those who have been burned by the likes of Shayne Graham or Mike Nugent.
Here is a look at this week's buy and sell candidates:
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts
No one was sure whether Addai would play against New England but he shook off the rust and accepted a hefty workload (19 touches as compared to just five for Dominic Rhodes). Addai has been a disappointment all year, but with Indianapolis' offense just now starting to take flight it might not be a bad time to get in on the buying as the asking price is sure to be low. The Colts schedule has dates with Houston, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Detroit on the horizon -- all ranked 23rd or worse against the run.
Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys
Owens has struggled with Brad Johnson behind center (no more than 40 yards in any one contest), but fantasy owners might risk investing in the pampered wideout assuming he'll return to his lofty numbers with Tony Romo ready to rejoin his teammates after the bye week. Show slight interest in the veteran receiver, then work over these next two weeks to drive down the asking price (be sure to remind the seller that Owens has as many fumbles as he does touchdowns over the past month, and that he hasn't posted a single 100-yard game all season).
Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals
Hightower has already been named the starter again for next week after gaining 109 yards against St. Louis. The reason fantasy owners might want to consider unloading him, however, is that Hightower will face a number of the league's stoutest run defenses (Giants, Eagles, Vikings, Patriots) in the final few weeks of the season when fantasy owners will need to rely on him most. Trade him now while he's fresh off his breakthrough performance.
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts
Gonzalez has been boom or bust this season, with two huge games and five in which he was held below 50 yards receiving. Indianapolis has plenty of weapons to throw to, and now that fantasy owners are reassured that Reggie Wayne's injury is nothing to be concerned about it might be wise to sell Gonzalez. His value is at its season's peak thanks to a two-touchdown performance on Sunday -- his only scores of this season.