I'm not gonna lie, this is a pretty ugly week for the waiver wire. With that being the case, try improving your team through trades, not just the waiver wire. This is the time of year when fantasy owners tend to get desperate, so make some trade offers. You might get a steal from an owner that has to win this week.
Alright, let's see which free agents are still available. Keep in mind the owner % mentioned is for 10-team standard ESPN leagues. Some of these players below are good for the short-term, while others have more long-term value. You have to make the call on what your team needs. Immediate help to start this week, or a player to stash on your bench and hope he breaks out. Let's get started.
Jimmy Garoppolo: He's widely available in leagues and looked great against the Browns on Monday Night Football. He's rostered in about 34% of 10-team ESPN leagues, and most weeks he'll have to throw more than he did against Cleveland. Also, he's already had his bye week so his numbers are better than they look. Jimmy should have to pass more this week against the Rams.
Josh Allen and Jacoby Brissett: They both have a bye this week, but you can beat the waiver wire by picking one of them up now, and not having to worry about getting them next week. Coming off a concussion Allen still had 10 carries against the Titans, so you know he'll continue to run. Plus, Allen gets the best possible matchup against the lowly Dolphins in Week 7. He could win your week for you, so grab him now. As for Brissett, he gets the Texans in week 7 so the matchup isn't scary, and we know what T.Y. Hilton can do to Houston.
Matthew Stafford: He gets the Packers this week in what could be a high-scoring game. The Lions scored 62 points against the Packers in 2 meetings last year, so he could be poised for another big game despite the Packers having a revamped defense this year. He's owned in 42% of standard ESPN leagues.
Gardner Minshew: Dude continues to produce, and he has a great No.1 WR with D.J. Chark. This week, he gets a nice matchup at home against the Saints, so fire him up if you need him. He did really well against a Panthers defense that held Deshaun Watson and the Texans to 10 points in week 4. He's only rostered in 18% of ESPN leagues.
Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson: If there's ever a week to use these guys, this is it. They get the Dolphins, so feel free to use Thompson in a PPR as a flex, and Peterson in non-PPR as a flex. Thompson is probably owned in your league, but somebody might drop him because the Redskins are a disaster. Peterson is out there in 52% of leagues, so pick him up if you need him.
Jon Hilliman: He has a tough matchup against the Patriots this week, but if you're desperate you should be able to use him before Saquon Barkley likely returns for Week 7. Hilliman's widely available.
Ito Smith: Devonta Freeman hasn't looked good, so Smith is a decent stash as the Falcons might be looking to see what Smith can do with their season in the toilet.
Robbie Anderson: He's only available in shallow leagues, but he might have been dropped. With Darnold returning, Anderson could be a nice option down the stretch. He's rostered in 66% of ESPN leagues.
D.K. Metcalf: He's coming off a decent game against the Rams where he caught a long TD. He might have been dropped in your league, so he's worth taking a look at. He's available in about 38% of standard leagues. Metcalf is very talented, but he seems dependent on the big play for now.
Geronimo Allison: He's out there in 58% of leagues and there's a good chance Devante Adams misses another game.
Auden Tate: Somebody has to catch some passes for the Bengals besides Tyler Boyd. Is that a ringing endorsement of what?
Mohamed Sanu: Sanu made the list last week, and he came through with a TD against Houston. He's hard to trust though since he's the 4th option in Atlanta's passing game.
Byron Pringle: Tyreek Hill may return this week, so Pringle is a bit of a dart throw. But he is available in almost all leagues, and he faces the Texans this Sunday.
Chris Herndon: He's finally off suspension and Sam Darnold might be back this week too. He's out there in about 88% of leagues, so pick him up if you need a TE.
Gerald Everett: That's 2 straight quality games for Everett, and we know the Rams will score points. He's only rostered in 3% of ESPN 10-team standard leagues.
The Cowboys and the Ravens have good matchups this week against the Jets and Bengals respectively, so look for them first on the waiver wire.
If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or listen to my radio show MoneyLine with Jerry Bo Sundays from 10-noon on ESPN 97.5 FM. We talk all things fantasy football and NFL gambling getting you ready for kickoff every Sunday.
Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander says he is “a little bit behind schedule” due to offseason shoulder inflammation that could prevent him from being ready to pitch on opening day.
Verlander, who turns 41 next week, called the injury “a little hiccup’’ on Wednesday but added he will be “really cautious on how I’m building up.’’
The three-time Cy Young Award winner spoke on the first official day for pitchers and catchers at Astros camp.
“I’m a couple of weeks behind,’’ Verlander said. “I guess my body doesn’t respond at 40 as it does at 25. ... Let’s see how things go. If it ends up a little late, it’s a little late. If it’s on time, it’s on time. I’m not trying to rush.’’
General manager Dana Brown said he wasn't worried about Verlander's status, saying the right-hander planned to play catch Wednesday.
“Some of these guys when they ramp up, they feel some soreness,” Brown said. "I think he’s going to be fine. I’m not concerned at all.’’
Brown added that if Verlander was “shut down, it would be more concerning.’’
Verlander is back in West Palm Beach after spending last spring training with the New York Mets. He signed an $86.7 million, two-year deal with New York ahead of the 2023 season but was traded back to Houston on Aug. 2. He helped the Astros win their sixth AL West crown in seven seasons before they lost to Texas in the AL Championship Series.
Verlander won the 2022 AL Cy Young with Houston after missing 2021 due to Tommy John surgery.
"I usually shut it down for a while,’’ Verlander said of his offseason. “This time when I shut it down and picked it back up, my shoulder didn’t feel so great. So I kind of had to take a step back in my build-up. I’ve always been somebody who luckily could just pick up a ball and start throwing it. It wasn’t quite as easy, so I’ve had to slow down a bit.“
Verlander said he won’t give an exact timetable on when he will pitch. Houston's spring training opener is Feb. 24th against the Washington Nationals.
“Let’s not look ahead,’’ Verlander said. “It’s literally a day-by-day, week-by-week thing. It’s a little more slow-paced, a little more thought-out, build-up approach and not with a date in mind.’’
Verlander says he hasn't contemplated retirement yet and spoke this season with former teammate Kenny Rogers, who pitched in the majors until he was 43.
“It’s not like I come into this season like I’m going to be 41 in four days and the clock’s ticking,’’ Verlander said. “I have the same process I’ve always had — head down, work hard, reset and come back next year and you keep doing that.
"I’ve talked to friends. I’ve talked to Kenny Rogers this offseason. He took me under his wing my rookie year. He made adjustments when he was in his 40s. One of the things he told me is you’ll just know. The game will tell you or you tell yourself. You’ll lose the fire. You’re not competitive. Neither one has happened yet, thank goodness. I’ll keep playing as long as I can.’’