By Greg Larnerd
The last two weeks we’ve seen two fantasy football legends retire from the National Football League. Last week it was running back Arian Foster, who had a run of being a monster at the position for four out of five years from 2010 to 2014 where he rushed for over 1,200 yards and eight-plus touchdowns in those four of five years. The big caveat for Foster was always health was always his healthy and the question of whether he would be able to stay healthy after an injury in 2013 that he sustained halfway through the season.
In 2014, he played in 13 games and was able to return to that elite rusher status, rushing for 1,246 yards and eight touchdowns. However, that would be the end of his run as an elite tailback because in 2015 the injury bug bit again and this season, after a change of scenery down to the sunny skies and warm beaches of Miami Florida, his 30-year-old body just couldn’t hold up and was forced to retire after just four games.
This week we got word that another fantasy football giant was hanging up his helmet — the great Andre Johnson. After 14 unbelievable seasons in the NFL where he was widely considered one of the top, most consistent fantasy wide receiving options year in and year out as a Houston Texan, his body also had enough while playing the first half of the year as a Tennessee Titan.
These two pillars in Houston Texan lore were able to do a lot with very little, including various mediocre quarterbacks and very average defenses. These two truly deserved better in terms of playoff success but will still be remembered fondly by the organization, the fans and certainly by fantasy owners alike.
Let’s get into players who are still able to help us fantasy football wise from a waiver wire perspective here in Week 9.
James Starks/Aaron Ripkowski (Green Bay Packers, 24% and 0% owned):
In a stunning move, two weeks after trading for Knile Davis, the Green Bay Packers have released him. The load, in the short term, now falls on Don Jackson, Ty Montgomery and Aaron Ripkowski. Now, you don’t see Jackson on this list because I truly don’t think he’ll have much of a roll in the offense moving forward. James Starks is out next week against Indianapolis and all early indications are that Ty Montgomery will be back after a kidney ailment that kept him out in Week 8.
If I were you I’d get ahead of the curve now and grab and stash the likes of James Starks. As for Aaron Ripkowski, he was tied for the team lead in carries last week with six and could be utilized as a finisher, a goal-line back. In this respect I’m only recommending him in deeper leagues but I liked what he showed on Sunday by finishing his runs. It made him look a little like the folk hero before him in Green Bay, John KUUUHHHHNNNN!
Charcandrick West (Kansas City Chiefs, 10%): Spencer Ware owners have to be super frustrated by the early exit from Sunday’s game with a concussion during his prime matchup with the Indianapolis Colts. This was one Ware could have taken advantage of, but he didn’t even complete a half.
Instead, Charcandrick West was forced into a larger roll and performed decently, rushing for 52 yards on 14 carries and caught two passes for an additional eight yards. In limited action this season, West is accounting for 4.2 yards on the ground, so if need be the Chiefs will be okay with him at the head of the running back class. If either Jamaal Charles or Spencer Ware are able to give it a go next week look for a heavy dose of West with plenty of running room against a flimsy Jacksonville Jaguars defense.
Donte Moncrief (Indianapolis Colts, 83% owned): I get it… I get it, the ownership is high but for some reason he’s available in my league right now so I thought I’d mention him. If he so happens to be available in your league, too, then cheers! The Colts desperately needed a second option in their wide receiving corps next to T.Y. Hilton and Moncrief finally returned from injury last week. He was targeted nine times and hauled in, unfortunately, only four of those targets for 41 yards and a score, which saved his fantasy owners from a very mediocre day at the office.
Mohamed Sanu (Atlanta Falcons, 42% owned): The Green Bay Packers’ plan was clear on Sunday: whatever you do, don’t let Julio Jones beat you. They did just that, but on the other side Mohamed Sanu was busy and did beat them, literally and figuratively. He ended up hurting the Packers’ secondary to the tune of nine catches on 10 targets for 84 yards and oh yeah, the game-winning touchdown on a beautifully thrown ball down the middle by QB Matt Ryan over LB Jake Ryan’s head (no relation) with 31 ticks to play. I expect Sanu to continue to get looks as teams desperately try to not let Jones beat them.
Ladarius Green (Pittsburgh Steelers, 0% owned): I admit this may be a little bit of a stretch and it may not be the exact right time for Green to contribute fantasy wise due to complications coming off ankle surgery from the SD Chargers, but I’m going to take a shot with this one. I was very high on this kid coming into the season in a prolific Steelers offense but once the ankle wasn’t healing correctly and he was placed on the PUP list, he fell off everyone’s radar.
Well, this may be the time to jump out ahead of the competition and snag and stash a TE who could have some good upside. I wouldn’t use a high-level waiver claim here since nobody’s going to be reaching for him but if you’ve got problems at your TE position, invest while his stock is low and you could reap the benefits in a week or two if he’s healthy and Big Ben returns to action.
Greg Larnerd is the CBS Sports Radio Round-Up Midday Host on CBS Local Sports, 10am-2pm on RadioRoundup.com. Greg’s the resident fantasy football nut, constantly talking everyone’s ear off around the office about all things fantasy football and the glory that is this great game.
You can find him on Twitter: @glarn34