For seemingly the 10th straight week, injuries have created the greatest buying opportunities on the waiver wire. This time the affected team is the Patriots, who lost one of the most important players in their offense for the second straight week. So long as Tom Brady is under center, however, the offense isn’t likely to slow down. The pieces around him may change, but Brady is the engine that makes everyone else go. That’s why the first player below, a receiver with a new, more important role, is the most attractive player on the wire heading into Week 11.
Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots
With Julian Edelman out for at least the next few weeks after breaking a bone in his foot, Amendola steps right into his role in the offense. He played well after Edelman’s injury in the win over the Giants, catching 10 of his 11 targets for 79 yards. That was a season high in both receptions and targets, and we can realistically expect him to continue seeing that sort of volume while Edelman is out. Heading into Week 10, Edelman was averaging 10.4 targets per game. Amendola isn’t nearly the receiver Edelman is, and he may not get open as frequently as the normal starter, but he’s going to be manning a very important role in the offense. Amendola may not be Edelman, but the Patriots aren’t going to change the role one iota. That means he’s likely a safe bet for 10 targets per game in the league’s most dangerous offense. Amendola goes from backend depth receiver to a potential starter in all formats.
Matt Jones, RB, Redskins
This is not a mea culpa by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve been the fantasy community’s foremost detractor for the Washington backfield, and I’m not coming off that stance after one week. Having said that, Jones is going to be a popular waiver addition, so I feel the need to address him here. Let’s look at the facts beyond the numbers. Yes, he had a big game against the Saints, totaling 187 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. He also did it against a New Orleans defense that probably couldn’t slow down the high school champions in the state of Louisiana, let alone an NFL team. Alfred Morris also led the team in carries and ran well, picking up 92 yards on 15 totes. Morris isn’t going away, and Washington isn’t going to have as cushy a matchup again this season. Jones is worth adding because he can have performances like this, but you’re not going to want to lean on him at all the rest of the way.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins
If you are a Lamar Miller owner, you’re undoubtedly happy with what he has given you since the regime change in Miami. If you’ve been winning a lot over the last five weeks, Miller has certainly been a big part of the equation. You need to protect that investment, and the best way to do so is to scoop Ajayi off the waiver wire this week. Ajayi made his debut against the Bills in Week 9, running for 41 yards on eight carries. He got six more carries in the win over the Eagles, picking up 48 yards. Now, Ajayi isn’t going to get a significant workload this season. The Dolphins are really just using him to spell Miller. However, he’s locked in as the backup, and if something were to happen to Miller, Ajayi would take over the starter’s gig. This is the time of year when it makes sense to handcuff your best players. Handcuffing early in the season only limits your roster’s overall upside. At this stage, however, it insures your most precious investments. Miller owners should grab Ajayi and then hope they never have to use him. If they have to, though, they’ll be happy they made this move.
Kamar Aiken, WR, Ravens
Aiken is still owned in fewer than half of fantasy leagues despite being the No. 1 receiver in Baltimore with Steve Smith done for the season. Smith has essentially missed three games due to injury thus far (six total quarters with his back injury suffered early in the season, six more after rupturing his Achilles). In that time, Aiken has caught 22 of his 36 targets for 290 yards and one touchdown. That translates to 8.75 points per game in standard-scoring leagues. That’s generally good for WR3 production, which is exactly where Aiken slots for the rest of the season. He got a season-high 14 targets in the Ravens’ loss to the Jaguars in Week 10, hauling in seven of them for 73 yards. WR3s aren’t the rarest commodities in the NFL, but they are valuable pieces in the fantasy world. Aiken really should be owned in well more than half of all leagues.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Titans
Green-Beckham remains a work in progress, evidenced by the fact that he was completely shut out by the Panthers in Week 10. At the same time, he’s probably the most naturally gifted receiver in Tennessee, and the team just lost one of its prime deep threats in Justin Hunter, who is done for the season after breaking his ankle in the loss to Carolina. That means Green-Beckham should be in line for more work over the final seven weeks of the season. We know he can do plenty of damage with limited targets because he’s a serious threat stretching the field. Even at this stage of the season, it makes sense to throw a dart at a guy with Green-Beckahm’s tremendous upside.
David Cobb, RB, Titans
Sunday marked another terrible effort from the Tennessee run game. Antonio Andrews rushed for eight yards on 11 carries, Bishop Sankey ran two times for seven yards, and Dexter McCluster had 25 yards on three totes, though he did find the end zone. Add it up, and the Titans' three running backs combined for 40 yards on 16 carries. That should leave the door open for Cobb to show the team what he can do. The rookie out of Minnesota has yet to make his debut, though he has been eligible to return from the IR boomerang list for the last two weeks. That could very well change when the Titans take on the Jaguars on Thursday night. You still have a chance to beat the rush to get him that would follow if he plays well on Thursday.
Shaun Draughn, RB, 49ers
Draughn got the start in his first game with the 49ers, running the ball 16 times for 58 yards and catching four passes for 38 more in San Francisco’s win over the Falcons. That was before the 49ers’ Week 10 bye, during which Carlos Hyde, who has been out since Oct. 22 with a foot injury, got some much-needed rest. It’s still far too early to say if Hyde will be able to return this week when the 49ers visit Seattle, but that was the expectation heading into the bye. If he is unable to return, however, Draughn would get another start. The Seahawks have been awfully tough on backs this year, but Draughn deserves some attention on the waiver wire simply by default. Give him some extra consideration if your counting on Hyde’s return this week.
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs
Looking for short-term help at quarterback? In need of a spot starter with Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger on bye this week? End your search in San Diego, where Smith and his Chiefs teammates will take on the Chargers this week. The Chargers have one of the most pass-friendly defenses in the league, allowing 8.27 yards per attempt and 16 touchdowns against just five interceptions. Charcandrick West has settled what could have been a tumultuous situation in the backfield, and that has only played to Smith’s advantage. He’s no more than a short-term solution, but he can easily provide QB1 numbers this week with a plus matchup.
Photos: Al Bello/Getty Images (Amendola), Alex Goodlett/Getty Images (Ajayi), Ezra Shaw/Getty Images (Draughn)