Fantasy football Waiver Wire: Pick up Eddie Royal while he's hot

Eddie Royal scored three touchdowns against Philadelphia, bringing his total to five for the season.
Al Tielemans/SI

The top quarterbacks have remained relatively healthy, and bye weeks have yet to come, which means the hot commodities on the waiver wire will be the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. At this point, most owners are looking for injury replacements or high upside players to stash. Let's try to discover this year's Alfred Morris before its too late.

Wide Receiver

Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers (17 percent ownership in CBS leagues): Royal surprisingly caught 91 balls as a rookie with Denver in 2008. I had hyped him up big time heading into that season, and he quickly turned into my favorite player. It's safe to say that in 2008, I drove the Royal bandwagon.

The following season I put my money where my mouth was. Heading into 2009 I ranked Royal among the elite receivers, snagged him in Round 4 and predicted 100-plus catches. If you don't recall what Royal did in 2009, let me remind you: 37 catches, 345 yards and zero touchdowns. In the immortal words of George W. Bush: "Fool me once, shame on you ... can't get fooled again." Whatever the former president was trying to say, I feel the same way about Royal.

In two games this season, Royal has five touchdowns. In 52 games from 2009-12, Royal also had five touchdowns combined. He's been great through two weeks, and it appears that he's a stable part of the Chargers offense. However, don't think he's going to keep this pace. I'd set the over/under at 3.5 scores the rest of the season for Royal. He's worth a bench spot while hot in all formats, but don't expect this to continue for much longer.

Running Back

James Starks, Green Bay Packers (five percent ownership): Starks went off for 132 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries after Eddie Lacy suffered a concussion in Week 2. Head coach Mike McCarthy claims Starks was part of the game plan anyway, but who knows. If Lacy is out for Week 3 at Cincinnati, Starks would be in a position to have a nice fantasy performance. But don't get too excited -- remember, Starks has three touchdowns in 253 career carries. If Lacy does sit out, expect Johnathan Franklin to be used as well. Whoever receives carries for Green Bay is worth owning in most formats, but Lacy is the man long term.

Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens (72 percent): Pierce should be owned in all leagues. He'd be an every-week, rock-solid second running back if Ray Rice were to miss significant time.

Bilal Powell, New York Jets (60 percent): Powell's not a long-term NFL starter, possibly the second-best running back on his own team and plays with a rookie quarterback. But he's touching the ball about 15 times a game and Rex Ryan seems to like him. He's a better receiver than Chris Ivory and has gotten the goal-line work so far. Powell is a serviceable fill-in starter with his current role.

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Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons (48 percent): Oh, 'Quizz... how you've teased us with untapped potential since coming out of Oregon State. After a few seasons of being stuck behind Michael Turner, Rodgers is now stuck behind Steven Jackson. The good news for Rodgers is that Jackson suffered a mysterious quad injury in Week 2. The bad news is that Rodgers didn't do anything with his opportunity, rushing for only 17 yards on 11 carries. He's worth adding in all formats if Jackson winds up missing time, but temper your expectations. There is a legitimate chance that Rodgers simply isn't an NFL-caliber starting running back. Also, prepare to be annoyed at Jason Snelling for stealing touchdowns.

Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals (one percent): Bruce Arians said he sees Ellington "as a back who can carry the load." That's nice to hear, considering the Cardinals starting running back, Rashard Mendenhall, hasn't proved capable of carrying much since 2010. Mendenhall is healthy and Arians has talked up other capable runners on Arizona in addition to Ellington. Every year a rookie running back sneaks up on us to make a significant impact in fantasy leagues. It probably won't be Eillington, but he does have a chance if he continues to impress his coaching staff. He's a nice guy to stash on your bench to beat the rush if Mendenhall were to go down.

Jordan Todman, Jacksonville Jaguars (two percent): When Maurice Jones-Drew went down in Week 2, Todman got the nod over Justin Forsett to carry the ball for Jacksonville. Not only was Todman terrible, but Forsett might have been called on if not for a lingering toe injury. I have zero faith in MJD staying healthy this season, but his backups simply aren't talented enough to contribute to a successful fantasy team, especially when they travel to Seattle in Week 3. Head coach Gus Bradley won't let Todman carry a huge load if MJD is out, so expect Forsett and maybe even Denard Robinson to get a few touches as well. Let someone else reach for Todman. I'd be excited if I saw him in my opponent's lineup on Sunday.

Tight End

Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins (three percent): Clay is a unique player for fantasy purposes. He's a tight end who receives an occasional carry and has been one of Ryan Tannehill's favorite targets through two weeks. Clay caught five balls for 109 yards in Week 2 and added a touchdown on a goal-line carry. The Dolphins need a reliable tight end with Dustin Keller out for the season. They also need a goal line running back since Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas aren't the most reliable options. If Clay continues to play H-back, he could possibly fill both roles. He's worth a pickup in deeper leagues if you need help at the tight end position.

Eddie Royal dives into the endzone for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2.
Patrick Smith/Getty Images


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