Every week in The Ticker, I've included 18 entries - three in each of six categories. This week, that number is down to 12. There are a few reasons for that, but for the primary one, I direct you to the lede of my Monday morning piece on the Best of Week 14. Next week, the Ticker will be back to full strength, but this is a shorter version of the piece.
The Ticker is a weekly trip through the waiver wire, identifying players of note who either do or do not deserve a longer look for your fantasy team, especially now, as a waiver-wire mistake could make the difference between playoff life and death.
The six categories are:
Stocks I'm buying - Players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues (as of Monday afternoon) who performed well Sunday, and I'm believing in it.
Stocks I'm not buying - Players owned in less than 50 percent who performed well Sunday, but I'm ... let's say skeptical.
Stocks I'm selling - Widely owned players who struggled Sunday, and I'm ready to pull the plug.
Stocks I'm not selling - Widely owned players who struggled Sunday, but I have reason to expect a bounce-back.
Futures market - Low-owned players whose performance could rise going forward for one reason or another.
Hedges - Low-owned players whose stock could rise because of injury concerns around them.
And with that, on to The Ticker. Thanks for having me:
Stocks I'm buying
Chad Henne, QB, JAC (3 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues)
I mean, not as a QB1 or anything. Tread lightly on this. But Henne has four touchdowns against only one interception in his last two, he's offered double-digit fantasy points three times in his last four, and he's actually averaging almost 10 fantasy points her start. It's really a pool of mediocrity, I get it, but it's ... I don't know, decent mediocrity. Cecil Shorts III has improved his performance lately, and Ace Sanders has become a factor in the Jaguars' offense. Now, with Maurice Jones-Drew ailing, the team will be looking more toward Henne as it goes against a Buffalo Bills team that has been falling apart lately. As a QB1, you've got to be able to do better than Henne. But if you look at Henne as the (where he stands in total points) No. 32 quarterback, look again. He'll be top 20 in Week 15.
Da'Rick Rogers, WR, IND (2 percent)
The year is 2018
/search "Da'Rick Rogers"
"Da'Rick Rogers was an American football wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts. An undrafted rookie free agent, Rogers had a career game Dec. 8, 2013, when he went for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Those six catches were the only ones of his career, and he was cut at the end of the season."
I mean, sure, that's an enormous possibility. Rogers came out of nowhere for Sunday's huge performance, and that is the sort of thing that could always disappear. But with T.Y. Hilton struggling like crazy (more on that later), the Colts really need another receiver to be trustworthy. Darrius Heyward-Bey clearly isn't going to be it, and while LaVon Brazill also had a big game Sunday, he's had far more chances to develop and it took him this long. Meanwhile, Rogers was a good college receiver whose stock was downgraded mostly because of suspensions. So long as he can keep his nose clean, there's actually a lot to like about Rogers' future.
Stocks I'm not buying
Rod Streater, WR, OAK (19 percent)
Streater had a big game Sunday, with 130 receiving yards and a touchdown. Of course, it was his third game without wide receiver Denarius Moore, and while he hasn't been awful, he hasn't offered the level of production you'd want for a team's new No. 1. Even if Moore misses another game in Week 15, it's hard to count on Streater for more than a flyer play, and that's before even considering the fact that the Raiders face the Kansas City Chiefs. Nope, don't buy it.
Chris Polk, RB, PHI (0 percent)
After Polk's 50 yards and a score Sunday, I saw some talk that maybe he was going to overtake Bryce Brown as the handcuff for the so-ridiculously-good-it's-dumb LeSean McCoy. After all, as good as Brown did in place of McCoy last season, he did lost three fumbles in two games; maybe the team trusted Polk more. But I have to think that talk was coming more from people who saw "11 fantasy points" and didn't investigate further. Polk's touchdown came on a 38-yard run with less than three minutes left in the game, after the outcome was fairly well decided. Before that touchdown, he had three rushes for 12 yards, and three of those yards had come on the play before. Basically, Polk racked up some garbage-time production and little more. Brown is still the player McCoy owners want if they're trying to handcuff.
Stocks I'm selling
Despite shaky production, Garçon still came into Sunday as the No. 18 wide receiver. Still, he has only 214 receiving yards and 17 fantasy points in his last four games combined, and two of those games came against the generous defenses of the Eagles and the Giants. He's only topped 10 fantasy points four times all season, and only twice since Washington's Week 5 bye. He has three touchdowns and three hundred-yard games. And his quarterback and his team are basically falling apart. Garçon was a must-start when the team was not awful. The team is now awful. He's tough to trust.
You guys, I've been holding out so hard. I want the Colts to be good, I want Hilton to be good. I tried. I really did. But dude's been terrible. He has 17 catches, 135 yards and 11 fantasy points in his last four games combined. He had only seven yards Sunday. After averaging 10 or more yards per catch six times in the season's first nine games, Hilton has topped out at 9.2 during his slide. And the team was looking more toward guys like Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill Sunday. I'm still in on Hilton as far as his career goes, but for 2013, I think I'm done, guys. It hurts, but if you're still starting him, odds are you're already out of the playoffs anyway.
Stocks I'm not selling
Zac Stacy, RB, STL (88 percent)
After 12 or more fantasy points in five straight games, Stacy's production has fallen off a bit, with seven and eight fantasy points in his last two games, respectively, and only 25 rushing yards Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. It's been a letdown for fantasy owners who got used to his big performance a few weeks back. On the other hand, Stacy's shutdown Sunday came at the hands of, as I said, the Cardinals, who are the only team in football holding opposing running backs to less than 10 fantasy points per game. Yeah, the Saints, Buccaneers, and Seahawks (Stacy's down-the-stretch opponents) are good defenses, too, but they aren't as good specifically against running backs as Arizona. Stacy is still a low-end RB1, high-end RB2.
After three straight games of 21 or 22 fantasy points, Smith fell back off Sunday, with only 13 points in the Chiefs' beatdown of the Washington Redskins. It was a game more in line with Smith's reputation than the top-10 quarterback reality he has had this season. On the other hand, it was a game that the Chiefs led throughout, and it's not like they needed to ride Smith hard. He had only 20 pass attempts in the game - his lowest this season by nine - but still managed his highest completion percentage, passer rating, and QBR. With games the rest of the way against Oakland, Indianapolis, and San Diego, Smith is a pretty easy QB1 down the stretch.
Marcedes Lewis, TE, JAC (1 percent)
Lewis missed Jacksonville's first six games, then had only one catch a game in Weeks 7 and 8. Through Week 12, he had seven total fantasy points and 117 receiving yards for the season. And it's not like he's been huge since, but Lewis has scored in consecutive games and had a season-high 42 receiving yards Sunday. Lewis has never been a stud tight end, but he did have 700 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2010. If you've lost Rob Gronkowski, or you're still worried about Jordan Reed or Delanie Walker, or you're disillusioned with Ladarius Green after his Sunday no-show, Lewis is a barely owned option who could provide a real return on investment down the stretch.
Josh Boyce, WR, NE (0 percent)
Okay, so Rob Gronkowski is done for the year, and that sucks. Michael Hoomanawanui has been hurt, as have wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are both healthy (for now), but neither has the field-stretching ability of the hurt guys. That leaves newly reacquired Austin Collie (himself only a foul wind away from re-injury) and Boyce. After four targets on the season before Sunday's game, Tom Brady threw the ball to Boyce five times Sunday, and he caught three, going for 49 yards. He was the targeted receiver on that crucial end-game pass interference that set New England up for the win. If you had to pick one Patriot likely to rise up down the stretch, it would be Boyce.
Shonn Greene, RB, TEN (12 percent)
Confession: I really don't like Shonn Greene, and I don't know why. I guess it's residual dislike from his days as a New York Jet, but I don't dislike the Jets that much. I don't know. But I've been fighting any investment in Greene since his return to action in Week 9, but his use has been on the rise of late, and he contributed 16 fantasy points Sunday. Touchdowns are tough to count on, but he had nine carries in Sunday's game, while Chris Johnson had only 12. This is the time of the season for handcuffs, and if something happens to Johnson, we know Greene has big games in his repertoire.
Marcel Reece, RB, OAK (12 percent)
I guess the Raiders would know better than I do, but, while I like Rashad Jennings, I don't really see how he is significantly different than Reece, except for the fact that Oakland went to Jennings first. Reece had a big game Sunday, as he has done often enough when given the opportunity in the past - when you are the backup to Darren McFadden, fill-in-for-injury opportunities tend to be plentiful. It's tough to say right now how many Oakland running backs - and which Oakland running backs - will be available for the team's Sunday game, but if it turns out to be Reece and Reece alone, even facing the Kansas City Chiefs' defense, he's an easy RB2 or flex. If one of Jennings or McFadden makes it back to the field, Reece could still be a low-end flex. I'm only out on him if both running backs return, and with those guys, it's easy to imagine two healthy performers.