By Matt Schauf
Well, crap. I pointed out last week in my targets writeup over on our site that Rob Gronkowski had drawn eight looks in the loss to Cleveland, which more than doubled his previous high for the season.
I also mentioned via Twitter that both of Aaron Hernandez’s touchdowns at Cleveland were set up by Gronkowski: one via the pass bouncing off Gronk’s hands, and the other coming after a fourth-down PI against Gronkowski put the Patriots at the 1-yard line.
Of course, what I didn’t do was take the next step and advise claiming Gronkowski off waivers. It would have been nice to do so in advance of his three-touchdown outpouring of value at Pittsburgh.
Instead, I’ll lead into Week 11 by saying that the Sunday night production wasn’t a fluke. Sure, he will probably never again have a three-score game, but Gronkowski has been an end zone target since the exhibition games. He scored four times in those and carried three touchdowns into the Steelers matchup. The problem was that Week 9 was the first time he drew more than three targets in a regular season game.
Now, however, Gronkowski has seen at least five passes in consecutive weeks for an offense that has been looking for passing-game answers. Even if those stand as his high-water marks for the rest of the season, the upside with him is that any one-catch game stands a decent chance of putting that one catch in the end zone. Gronkowski should be claimed this week in an ever-thinning tight end field, though he’s still probably about even with Aaron Hernandez in point-per-reception formats. Others who should find a home include …
Vince Young, QB, Tennessee
Ignore his numbers against Miami on Sunday. The important thing to take away from that game regarding Young is that he finished it after relieving an injured Kerry Collins. Young opened Week 10 as the backup because of an ankle injury but should be back in the starting saddle for Week 11. That return comes at a perfect time, too, as Tennessee faces this upcoming stretch: Washington, at Houston, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Houston, at Kansas City (and at Indianapolis in Week 17). Of those five teams, four rank among the top 10 in most RapidDraft points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Washington, Houston and Jacksonville all rank among the top four heading into Monday night. Young is a free agent in nearly half of CBS leagues as I write this.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Philadelphia
This one isn’t a straight pickup recommendation, and it doesn’t fit everyone. I include Kolb because there have been several times over the past couple of weeks at which I’ve encountered questions from Vick owners about what to do at quarterback. We all know that Vick’s style of play carries inherent physical risk. He’s back healthy now and says he’ll be more willing to try to avoid harm, but the Philly offensive line hasn’t been terrific and it’ll be tough for Vick to stifle his playmaker spirit on every run. Obviously, the solution is to have a quality backup on board. What’s unique here is that Vick has a handcuff available. Kolb’s numbers haven’t been amazing, but he has averaged 270 yards and totaled five touchdown passes versus three interceptions in the three games he has started and finished. For those fantasy players still able to make trades, that means you can try to deal your current backup for help at other positions and claim Kolb, who doesn’t carry much value for those who don’t own Vick.
Jason Snelling, RB, Atlanta
It should be a no-brainer for folks to pick up Fred Jackson where available after the game he had in Week 10, but Snelling is a bit less obvious, despite scoring a touchdown Thursday night. That’s because Snelling isn’t a very good fantasy starting option right now. He hasn’t carried more than seven times in a game since Week 3, though Snelling has tallied 14 receptions in his past three outings. The real value comes, however, in the frequency with which Michael Turner leaves the field. He did so without warning against Baltimore and apparently missed the time because of illness, but Turner has also been dinged up at various points over the past couple of years. Snelling has proved a strong option when Turner has been out this season, carrying a 4.2-yard average for the year and most notably running for 129 yards in Week 2. An easy handcuff option for Turner owners, Snelling makes sense for anyone with a roster spot to play with and some forward thinking. He’s unowned currently in 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Mike Thomas, WR, Jacksonville
Like Gronkowski, Thomas probably won’t have another stat line like he did against Houston on Sunday, but he has no business roaming free in 69 percent of CBS leagues. The second-year wideout has only had two weeks with fewer than four catches all season and, at the least, faces positive matchups in Week 11 (Cleveland) and Week 16 (Washington). In between, he’ll still be in the starter discussion.
Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis
Come on, folks. I’ve been ignoring this guy for waiver-recommendation purposes for a while now, because I just figured that he’d be owned in most places. As of Monday evening, though, more than two-thirds of Yahoo! leagues have him free, as do nearly half of CBS leagues. To be fair, the difference is likely that I play almost solely in PPR formats, and although that system is growing, the majority of fantasy leagues still don’t use reception scoring. For those places, though, Amendola has found the end zone in three straight games. His quarterback is on the rise, and there aren’t a bunch of other options in town. Amendola should be picked up pretty much anywhere.