The Claims Report (11/04/15)

RB DeAngelo Williams

RB DeAngelo Williams

The Claims Report is a Wednesday feature that will analyze weekly waiver additions.

Kitten Mittons claimed RB DeAngelo Williams ($88)

It seems like every Sunday for the past two or three weeks, a big time running back has succumbed to injury and created a mad dash on the waiver wire. First it was Jamaal Charles giving way to Charcandrick West, then Arian Foster suffering another injury and Alfred Blue floating to the top, and now LeVeon Bell being replaced by 32-year-old DeAngelo Williams. In Williams’ case, he was actually rostered once this year but made it back onto waivers once Bell returned because, well… he’s a 32-year-old running back.

In games where Bell has either been out or missed time due to injury, Williams has been the Steelers’ clearly defined feature back. In three such games, he’s scored 13.2, 27.2, and 11 fantasy points. In the first two games of the year, with Bell out altogether, he carried 21 and 20 times respectively. So even the absolute worst case scenario for Williams going forward appears to be heavy, heavy volume.

But Williams has actually been quite efficient in his work this year. He’s averaging 4.9 yards per carry and already has as many rushing scores (three) as he did in 2013 and 2014 combined (full disclosure: he only played in six games last year). He looks rejuvenated and is in a terrific spot with a high-end quarterback and explosive offensive weapons in the passing game to distract and divide the defense’s attention. He clearly isn’t a long-term asset at this point on his career arc, but he could very easily be a mid- to back-end RB1 the rest of this season, which is extremely valuable and warranted that big winning bid (which, by the way, was $1 over what Breaking Bradshaw could have possibly offered; coy bidding going on here).

Munney Men claimed WR De’Anthony Thomas ($19)

All I really know about De’Anthony Thomas is that he’s being utilized as the Chiefs’ gadget player on offense. He’s averaging only 2.375 targets per game in the passing attack and one carry per game rushing, so he’s sort of like Antone Smith last year: in order to be a fantasy producer, he has to break off a huge play and find the end zone. Thomas isn’t a guy that’s going to offer much in the way of a safe floor because the opportunities just aren’t there.

His physical profile also kind of sucks, which is surprising. I thought he was a speed demon. But he ran a 63rd percentile 40-yard dash (4.50) and was in the 23rd percentile for burst scores and was in the 6th percentile for SPARQ scores. Maybe he chose to run through that gamut of testing with his arms tied behind his back or both legs chained to cement blocks. I don’t know. But those are some pretty pedestrian numbers. As in, like, literally pedestrian. Those are the kinds of metrics you might expect from Andy Reid himself.

YOU LIKE THAT! YOU LIKE THAT! claimed TE Vernon Davis ($5)

Vernon Davis hasn’t found the end zone since Week 1 of last season, which more than anything else probably just shows how wasted he was in San Francisco’s relic of an offense. He’s still as explosive as ever, hitting on-field high speeds of 21.91 and 20.90 MPH this year. His main detriments were Colin Kaepernick’s horrific quarterback play (getting benched for Blaine Gabbert should tell you all you need to know) and an offense plucked straight from the 1920’s. On his way out the door, he was reportedly having some discord with his former quarterback that probably helped facilitate a move to greener pastures.

In Denver, VD will be subject to playing with what’s left of Peyton Manning’s arm, but that should still be a significant upgrade over what was going on in the Bay. You could argue that some fraction of Peyton’s struggles this year stem from not having a reliable tight end. Owen Daniels is old and slow and the Broncos seem to prefer Virgil Green as a blocker than a receiver. It may take Davis a couple weeks to acclimate to the new offense, but there’s tread left here. Antonio Gates is 35 and still making plays. It wouldn’t be surprising if VD strings a few nice twilight years together.

Drugged Llamas claimed K Robbie Gould ($5)

Well, at least we know our defending champion is still with us, having finally made a waiver claim.

Greased Up Deaf Guy claimed TE Heath Miller

The Oakland Raiders have one of the most TE-friendly defenses in the league, so I love this as a one week move aimed at stunting American Dream’s (4-4) surprising playoff push. After getting targeted a healthy 13 times last week in Ben Roethlisberger’s return, I think Miller could play his way into the top-5 among TEs this week.

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