November 25, 2008

In fantasy football, it is often the case that today's waiver-wire pickup is dumped back into the trash tomorrow -- happens all of the time. Those players who suddenly grab our attention for one reason or another, show us a week or two later why they didn't have our attention to begin with.

But every once in a while they bounce back, as such is the case in Baltimore where running back Le'Ron McClain is once again on the fantasy radar screen.

McClain was a popular pickup in the season's first few weeks when he replaced Willis McGahee and provided excellent results. But following Week 5 the wheels came off; McGahee returned to the Ravens' starting lineup, and McClain was thrown back into the waiver wire bin.

On Sunday, the 260-pound University of Alabama product gained 88 yards on 18 carries (4.9 yards per carry) with a touchdown in his team's win over Philadelphia. Meanwhile, McGahee is back in Baltimore's doghouse following some shaky performances this season.

Fantasy owners might want to get back on the McClain wagon and see where it takes them in this season's final month.

Here are a few other waiver wire candidates who offer value to fantasy owners:

Talk about a blast from the past; Lelie was in fantasy purgatory before resurfacing with the Raiders. This year he had done very little until Sunday, when he racked up 92 yards on four catches, including a touchdown, against his former team. Oakland is tinkering with all of its parts to try to build a respectable offense, so fantasy owners can expect Lelie to get more opportunities so long as he does what he did to the Broncos.

Like Lelie, Atlanta's youngster added a four-catch, 92-yard performance on Sunday. Unlike Lelie, Douglas' best days are still ahead of him, and there are those who believe his effort against Carolina is the start of his transformation into becoming the go-to receiver for Matt Ryan. That might be overly optimistic, but the fact that Douglas performed so well this past week (he also had a seven-yard scoring run) is reason for fantasy owners to give him a strong look.

After a long hiatus due to sub-standard play and a brain condition, Looker showed a glimpse of promise this past Sunday with a four-catch, 46-yard effort in the loss to Chicago. At his best Looker was never more than a backup fantasy prospect, but for those in search of late-season fill-ins, he is worthy of consideration. While the Rams offense is in disarray one thing is for certain: this team will need to throw and Looker will probably continue to rise on the depth chart.

Look, this guy isn't the second-coming of Antonio Gates, but one must be intrigued by his performance against Kansas City: three catches for 25 yards and a touchdown. The Bills play with a lot of weapons in their passing game (and a lot of tight ends), but it could just be that the one-time Boise State standout is ready to step into a bigger role in this growing offense.

The former Packers tight end provided some nice numbers in the shootout against New England: four catches for 60 yards. Martin is still relatively young and is a solid pass-catching tight end. The season-ending injury to Greg Camarillo will probably allow for more opportunities within Miami's offense for Davone Bess and other receivers, including Martin.

Here is a look at this week's buy and sell candidates:

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers

Forget about the Packers' blowout loss to New Orleans; this team is only one game back in a hotly contested NFC North race. As the weather turns cold, the Packers will rely more heavily on Grant and the running game. At present his value is at a season-low, so his asking price is very reasonable. For those fantasy owners looking to make a deep playoff run, Grant might be a worthwhile purchase.

Dustin Keller, TE, Jets

The Jets might be playing the best football of any team right now, and although that isn't likely to last, it can be expected that Keller will continue to develop in this system. The rookie tight end continues to gain favor with Brett Favre (he caught six passes for 42 yards on Sunday) and because he has not scored many touchdowns (just two), his fantasy value is still very low. Big weeks are in store for Keller in the month of December.

Leon Washington, RB, Jets

Somewhere in every league, Washington is buried on a roster, probably never having served a purpose. His 82-yard, two-touchdown performance on Sunday got everyone's attention, though, and if ever there was a time to dump him, it's now. Washington's scores came in the fourth quarter after the Jets had built up a cushion, and if you take away his 61-yard run his overall yardage on his other seven attempts was not so impressive. Washington is still a B-list fantasy back, but following Sunday's performance someone will offer to buy him up for more than he is worth.

Derrick Ward, RB, Giants

Ward had 99 yards of total offense in the big win over Arizona, but fantasy owners with Ward need to realize that New York will turn to power-back Brandon Jacobs more heavily as the season enters its cold, bitter moments. Now that Jacobs is set to return, Ward will return to his complementary role. Fantasy owners with him might want to test the waters to see if they can reel in anything of value before Ward's stock falls back to earth.

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