Prospecting - Week 5
by Will Grant and Stephen Holloway
October 3rd, 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

    Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Tennessee Titans

    Why did he catch our eye?

    Jake Locker, the Titans' starting quarterback went down with his second shoulder injury of the season in the first quarter of their week 4 game against the Houston Texans. The injury is to the same shoulder he hurt previously and occasionally this is the type of injury that continue to happen over and over. At least one doctor has expressed the opinion that Locker could be facing season ending surgery. Hasselbeck is an experienced veteran and should be able to run the Titans complete offense, possibly as well or even better than Locker has managed thus far. Hasselbeck is in his second season with the team and started the entire season only a year ago.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: Back-up quarterback for the Tennessee Titans
  • Age: 37
  • Drafted: Drafted in the sixth round in 1999 by Green Bay
  • College: Boston College
  • Contract info: Signed three year contract in July 2011 for $20 Million with $5.5 Million in 2012 and 2013 and will be a free agent in 2014
  • Time Frame

    Matt Hasselbeck is a guaranteed starter in week five action and faces the Minnesota Vikings, who are currently ranked 14th in passing defense. He could continue to play for a little while thereafter and has upcoming contests against teams currently ranked 23rd, 15th, and 18th in passing defense. Tennessee has only managed meager success running the ball thus far in 2012 and is currently ranked 28th, averaging less than 70 yards rushing per game.

    Final Thoughts

    Matt Hasselbeck is already 37 years old so he has practically no dynasty value, but does face a rather favorable schedule over the next five weeks. Kenny Britt is expected to return to practice this week and would bolster a receiving corps that has already been much more productive that the Titan running game. If you have an injured or poorly producing quarterback, then Hasselbeck could be a guy that improves your production for at least a few weeks.

    Domenik Hixon, WR, New York Giants

    Why did he catch our eye?

    As Hakeem Nicks missed his second game in as many weeks, with a knee injury possibly aggravated because of his previous foot injury, the Giants again got a big game out of a previously lightly used wide receiver. Hixon was targeted 11 times and had 6 catches for 114 yards. A week ago, we thought that Ramses Barden had clearly emerged as the Giants' third wide receiver. However, Hixon missed the game where Barden exploded and now there are apparently two capable wide receivers that can produce for Eli Manning and the Giants. Both could be pressed into productive roles this week if Hakeem Nicks winds up missing the upcoming game and they each should be considered factors if Nicks misses significant time.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: #3 or #4 WR for the New York Giants, in his fifth year with the team
  • Age: 27
  • Drafted: 4th round pick by Denver in 2007
  • College: Akron
  • Contract info: Signed one year $615,000 contract in March 2012 and will be a Free Agent in 2013
  • Time Frame

    It looks like the Giants will continue to be effective passing the ball whether Hakeem Nicks can return or not. Hixon should continue to have an opportunity as long as Nicks remains out of the lineup. His long-term outlook is not that great, but depending on his ability to remain productive this season, he could play himself into consideration as a potential free agent pick-up for a wide receiver needy team during the up-coming off-season. For now, he can be a flex play when Nicks is not playing.

    Final Thoughts

    The Giants' passing game has been tremendous for the first four weeks of the season. Eli Manning is averaging 340 yards passing and has thrown for 7 TDs. They have thrown the ball almost twice as much as they have run it. Hixon made two extremely athletic plays in last week's action catching one pass well over Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for a 32-yard gain on the Giants' first scoring drive and also catching a long pass for a 41-yard gain in the fourth quarter. It should be pointed out that this was only the second 100-yard receiving game in Hixon's career. A repeat game with similar production is a long shot, but there just don't seem to be many top flight waiver moves this week and he is involved in league's second most productive passing game in 2012.

    Panning For Gold - Medium Leagues

    Craig Stevens, TE, Tennessee Titans

    Why did he catch our eye?

    Craig Stevens played a productive role for the Titans in back to back games against Detroit and at Houston. He has historically been the primary blocking tight end for the team, but has caught 7 passes for 87 yards and a TD in the last two weeks. He has almost equaled his 2011 season production in the first four games of 2012.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: Second TE for the Titans
  • Age: 28
  • Drafted: 3rd round pick by Tennessee in 2008
  • College: California
  • Contract info: Signed a four year contract in 2012 for $14.4 Million, $1 Million in 2012 and free agent in 2016
  • Time Frame

    You need to be desperate at tight end to consider Stevens, but he has been productive for the last two weeks and Hasselbeck relied on him with a red zone target for a score last week. Stevens' opportunities should be limited, unless Jared Cook is injured.

    Final Thoughts

    Craig Stevens would be classified as a hope and prayer dynasty waiver wire move, but with several tight ends being injured and missing games early in the 2012 season, he could be added via the waiver wire in large leagues and pressed into action. Your expectations should be limited to a maximum of the numbers he has generated over the past two weeks and could be much less.

    Koa Misi, LB, Miami Dolphins

    Why did he catch our eye?

    Misi is already close to posting career best numbers after just four weeks. He's racked up 22 solo tackles, 5 assists, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble for Miami. The Dolphins are going to need their defense to perform well, and Misi is definitely stepping up to the task.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: Starting LB for the Dolphins
  • Age: 25
  • Drafted: Second round pick in 2010
  • College: Utah
  • Contract info: Four-Year Rookie Contract Free Agent 2014
  • Time Frame

    Immediate Start. The Dolphins are going to struggle the entire season, and Misi has proven that he can get the job done. He's currently the #13 fantasy LB, and he's probably going to be a solid performer for the rest of the season.

    Final Thoughts

    Misi looks like he's coming into his own finally, and between the poor play of the Dolphins in general, and his motivation to hold on to the starting role, you can expect that Misi is going to perform at a high level for the rest of the season. Grab him now and start him. He'll be a big help to your team, especially as we head into bye weeks.

    Digging Deep - Deep Leagues

    Danieal Manning, SS, Houston Texans

    Why did he catch our eye?

    Manning has been slowly falling down the charts since his final season in Chicago back in 2010. He's a solid player when he's healthy, and adds an extra bonus in the return game with potential TDS. He's off to a better start this season and the Texans are playing sold ball. He's currently the #33 fantasy DB.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: Starting Strong Safety for Houston
  • Age: 30
  • Drafted: Second Round Pick 2006 for Chicago Bears
  • College: Abilene Christian
  • Contract info: Four-Year Deal in 2011 Free Agent 2015
  • Time Frame

    Waiver Wire Speed Dial. Manning probably isn't ready to be on your fantasy roster yet unless your league awards points for return yards. Keep an eye on him for now and see if he continues to play at a higher level.

    Final Thoughts

    The Texans are playing solid offense, and their opponents are going to give the Texan secondary plenty of chances as they try to catch up through the Air. Manning has always been a fringe fantasy player, and in deeper leagues, he might be an OK flex DB. For now, just watch to see how he performs for a week or two before picking him up.

    Jamarca Sanford, SS, Minnesota Vikings

    Why did he catch our eye?

    Sanford hasn't done much in Minnesota before this season, but he's already on pace to post career numbers for 2012. He has 16 solo tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 3 pass defenses already, and he is currently ranked #18 among fantasy DBs. He has come on strong over the last two games against San Francisco and Detroit.

    Current Situation

  • Team info: Starting Strong Safety for Minnesota
  • Age: 27
  • Drafted: 7th Round Pick 2009
  • College: Mississippi
  • Contract info: Four-Year contract in 2009 Free Agent in 2013
  • Time Frame

    Buy and hold. This could be a blip on the radar, or a sign of things to come. Sanford didn't have a good summer, and the Vikings were taking a hard look at if they wanted to keep him after this season. He's playing well now, but let's see how he does over the next few weeks.

    Final Thoughts

    The season is a fourth over, so it's time to start cutting some of the dead wood at the bottom of your roster. Sanford is a guy that you can add for one of those under-performing guys and sit on him for a couple weeks. He's in a contract year and he's been playing well over the last two weeks. Grab him and wait to see if his play continues.

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

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