Prospecting - Week 12
by Will Grant and Stephen Holloway
November 22nd, 2012

The purpose of this column is to spotlight deeper roster moves that could pay off big over the course of the season. Unless stated in a player's write up, we're not looking for one-week wonders here, but shark moves that could really strengthen your team down the road.

Prospecting focuses on low risk players that could be huge payoff roster moves that you might be able make before the guys in your league think about it. The aim of this column is to make you look like a genius to the other owners in your league. When news breaks and the other owners are scrambling to make a waiver wire move, we want them to be upset time and time again that the player is already on your squad.

We will be breaking this down into three major sections:

  • Golden Nuggets - For shallower leagues (10 teams or fewer, 18 or fewer roster spots - About 180 or fewer players that are already rostered in the league). When IDP is included, we will be looking at players that are of use for leagues that use only a handful (1-5) IDP players.
  • Panning For Gold - For medium size leagues (12 teams, 18-20 roster spots a team - About 200-240 players that are already rostered in the league). When IDP is included, we will be looking at players that are of use for leagues that use a moderate amount (6-8) of IDP players.
  • Digging Deep - For large size leagues (14 or more teams and/or 21 or more roster spots a team - Over 240 players that are already rostered in the league). When IDP is included, we will be looking at players that are of use for leagues that use a full setup (11) of IDP players.
  • Let's get started!

    Golden Nuggets - Shallower Leagues

    Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets

    Why did he catch our eye?

    The New York Jets finally showed up on offense, moving the ball well against the St. Louis Rams. Bilal Powell was the benefactor of their increased red zone appearances and scored two rushing TDs. All told, Powell carried 11 times, his most rushes in a game this season, for 42 yards and also caught 2 passes for 18 additional yards.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: Listed as the #2 RB for the New York Jets
  • Age: 24
  • Drafted: 4th round in 2011 by the New York Jets
  • College: Louisville
  • Contract info: Signed four-year rookie contract for $2.44 Million with $465,000 this year up to $645,00 in 2014, free agent in 2015
  • Time Frame

    Powell is not a player that jumps directly into your lineup upon acquisition. His potential floor for the Jets is rather low, but the team will be facing the 21st and 29th ranked rushing defenses in weeks 13 and 14 in the Cardinals and Jaguars. If the Jets can continue to move the ball and get into the red zone, Powell could develop into more than just a flex type player down the stretch. I do not think anyone has been overwhelmed by Shonn Greene and his 3.7 yards per rush average in 2012 so Powell could potentially be playing a larger role in future years for the Jets, particularly with Greene being a free agent in 2013.

    Final Thoughts

    Powell was the Jets' red zone running back last week against the Rams. Five of his rushes came inside the red zone and he also caught a couple of passes as he was used often on third downs. The Jets lack receiving options so there should be plentiful red zone rushing opportunities, if the Jets can get into the red zone. Powell still is in a RBBC situation with the Jets and although getting more opportunities, he remains the second back for the team. He isn't a slam dunk this week, but definitely has potential down the stretch if the Jets' offense can produce and has the potential to impress enough to have an opportunity to be their lead back in 2013 if Shonn Greene departs in free agency.

    Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos

    Why did he catch our eye?

    Hillman was an interesting prospect at the beginning of the season, but he was never able to really secure the starting job. In shallow leagues, he was probably cut for a more active player and he is now a hot commodity with the injury to Willis McGahee.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: #2 RB for the Broncos seeing time as the starter due to injury
  • Age: 21
  • Drafted: 3rd round pick for Denver this year
  • College: San Diego State
  • Contract info: four-year rookie contract. Free Agent in 2016
  • Time Frame

    Now to the end of the season. McGahee was placed on short term IR, but he could be there the rest of the season. Look for Hillman to see plenty of opportunity the rest of the season as the Broncos have big hopes for this kid for this season and beyond.

    Final Thoughts

    Even in medium league, Hillman is probably on a roster. But in Shallow leagues, Hillman was probably dropped after a few weeks because he wasn't posting enough stats to really warrant the roster spot. Yet now with McGahee on the shelf, Hillman has a golden opportunity to prove himself to the Broncos and fantasy owners. Look for him to post solid stats the rest of the season and become worthy of a roster spot from this point forward.

    Panning For Gold - Medium Leagues

    Chad Henne, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Why did he catch our eye?

    Chad Henne exploded this week against the tough Houston Texans defense after he replaced Blaine Gabbert at quarterback for the Jaguars. Henne completed 16 of 33 passes for 354 yards and 4 TDs. As a comparison, Gabbert has only topped 225 yards twice in his two-year career and has never thrown for more than 2 TDs in a game. Henne brought the Jaguars to life, even though they lost in overtime to the Texans. It should be noted that even after giving up the huge passing numbers this week, Houston still ranks 7th in the league giving up 213.6 yards per game.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: Current Starting QB for the Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Age: 27
  • Drafted: Second round by Miami in 2008
  • College: Michigan
  • Contract info: Signed a two-year $6.75 Million contract in March 2012 - $2.63Million due in 2013. Free agent in 2014
  • Time Frame

    The Jaguars Coach Mike Malarkey already announced at their Monday presser that Chad Henne will start in week 12, based on performance. The Jaguars will be at home facing the 26th ranked Titans passing defense who are giving up an average of 266.2 yards per game. If you need any help at quarterback, it looks like Chad Henne will be a nice waiver addition for this week and possibly week 13 as the Jaguars face the Buffalo Bills, ranked 18th and giving up 234.1 yards per game that week.

    Final Thoughts

    Chad Henne has improved his yards per attempt in each of his five seasons in the league. As a rookie, he played very little and averaged only 5.6 YPA. As the starter in Miami in 09 and 10, he improved to 6.4 and then 6.7. Over the past two seasons, in limited play he has averaged 7.9. The Jaguars have greatly improved their wide receiver play with the additions of Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson, and Cecil Shorts has really produced this year. Marcedes Lewis provides a fourth option and the team has failed to have consistent running success since Maurice Jones-Drew went out in week 7. Henne will likely be passing early and often and could be trying out for the starting quarterback position for the Jaguars in 2013 over the next few weeks.

    Quintin Mikell, FS, St. Louis Rams

    Why did he catch our eye?

    Mikell is a 10 year veteran that has posted top 10 fantasy numbers for safeties in three of his last five years of play. However, this season, he has not performed up to speed and was injured earlier in the season with a concussion. However, Mikell has posted eight solo tackles in his last two games and has 37.5 fantasy points over that same timespan.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: Starting Free Safety St. Louis Rams
  • Age: 32
  • Drafted: Undrafted Rookie in 2004
  • College: Boise State
  • Contract info: Signed a four-year contract in 2011. He's a free agent in 2015
  • Time Frame

    Start him if you get him. Mikell is red hot now, and he's available on many waiver wires. Look to add him for that extra punch the rest of the season.

    Final Thoughts

    It's hard to project how much longer Mikell can keep it up. But he's been playing at a high level the last few years and he could easily finish out his contract with a solid performance the rest of the way. The Rams aren't going to suddenly turn into an offensive powerhouse, and Mikell will certainly have his chances to rack up stats. If the last two weeks are any indication, he could be just what the doctor ordered to get you through a playoff push.

    Digging Deep - Deep Leagues

    Jalen Parmele, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Why did he catch our eye?

    Jalen Parmele took over the lead back position for the Jaguars last week. Going into last week's game, Parmele had only 8 carries for 18 yards. He carried the ball 24 times against the Texans for 80 yards. His production was not outstanding, but he definitely has an opportunity at hand. For the season, he now has 32 rushes for 98 yards and has also caught 6 passes on 8 targets for another 53 yards.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: Current starting running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Age: 26
  • Drafted: 6th round selection by Baltimore in 2008
  • College: Toledo
  • Contract info: Signed one-year $615,000 contract in May and will be a free agent in 2013
  • Time Frame

    Pick him up and get him in your line up. His head coach has already confirmed this week that Parmele has replaced Rashard Jennings due to ineffectiveness on the part of Jennings. Parmele has been rather pedestrian himself over his five-year NFL career, but he has persevered and now has a huge opportunity as the starting running back for the team.

    Final Thoughts

    With the abundance of running back injuries over the past few weeks and with expectations that Maurice Jones-Drew will not be returning until week 13 at the earliest, picking up Parmele as a starting running back off the waiver wire could be provide those owners lucky enough to land him an advantage over depleted teams this week.

    Keenan Lewis, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Why did he catch our eye?

    Lewis drew some interest earlier in the season but fell off the pace a bit after week six. He's slowly been gaining momentum though and he's performing at a high level over the last two weeks. He has 13 solo tackles, three assists and three pass defenses against the Chiefs and the Ravens over the last two weeks.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: Starting Corner for the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Age: 26
  • Drafted: 3rd round pick for the Steelers in 2009
  • College: Oregon State
  • Signed a one-year deal back in April. He's a free agent at the end of the season.
  • Time Frame

    Buy and hold. Lewis is in a contract year, so he's going to be playing hard for a big payday this summer. He's already posted career best numbers and he should continue to do so the rest of the way.

    Final Thoughts

    The Steelers defense is going to need all the help that they can get with their QB situation in serious flux. Look for their defense to step up the rest of the way and a guy like Lewis will get plenty of opportunity to shine. It seems odd to say he's going to play harder because he's in a contract year but the reality is that he's at the point in his career where a big , long term contract is something he's really looking to secure. He has a golden opportunity to do it the rest of the season.

    Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome to grant@footballguys.com and holloway@footballguys.com. You can also follow Will on Twitter.

    © 2012 Footballguys - All Rights Reserved