We're breaking down the best players available on the CFF waiver wire that are worth consideration of a claim. Ownership percentages referenced -- unless noted otherwise -- come from Fantrax.
Temple QB Anthony Russo -- If your league penalizes for interceptions, Russo’s value will be diminished -- he owns a 13/12 TD/INT ratio this season, with four games of multiple picks -- but should you be willing to bite the bullet (or if that’s not a factor for your league), the Temple signal-caller has an appeal. Russo is fresh off a 444-yard passing, four-touchdown performance against UCF and has thrown three or more touchdown passes in three of his last four games. This coming weekend, Temple faces a Houston team which is surrendering 324 passing yards a game, the worst mark in the FBS.
East Carolina QB Holton Ahlers -- Ahlers has settled in as starter for the Pirates after replacing Reid Herring midseason, and his production has been eye-opening. He has topped 400 yards passing in each of the last two games, posting 406 yards through the air versus UCF in Week 9 and following that up with 449 yards and three touchdowns against Memphis on Saturday. Combined, he also rushed for 126 yards between those two contests. Ahlers is well worth picking up for a playoff run in standard formats, and the same goes for those out of contention in keeper or dynasty formats. As he is just a true freshman, there is long-term value, here. Ahlers is still available in 92% of Fantrax leagues.
Florida State QB James Blackman -- With Deondre Francois sitting out injured against NC State on Saturday, Blackman drew the start and went on to put up stellar numbers in what unfolded as a mostly uncompetitive game on the scoreboard. He threw for 421 yards and four touchdowns in the defeat, and after the game, Seminoles HC Willie Taggart said that the team would be evaluating the quarterback position during the week. Blackman takes a little more mental projection than a pickup of Ahlers or Russo would -- both of the latter two quarterbacks are locked in as starters -- but with FSU’s season essentially over (they will need two wins in the final stretch against Notre Dame, Boston College and Florida to even achieve bowl eligibility), it wouldn’t surprise us if Taggart experiments down the stretch.
Virginia Tech QB Ryan Willis -- Since taking over for Josh Jackson (leg) near the end of September, Willis has been a quietly consistent performer. He has thrown 12 touchdown passes in his five starts to date, with a pair of showings over 300 yards in that space (three games over 280 yards passing). In each of his starting contests, Willis has thrown multiple touchdown passes. This coming Saturday, he will have a soft matchup against a Pitt team ranked 85th in scoring defense this season.
USC RB Aca’Cedric Ware -- No team in the country has been more frustrating for fantasy owners in how they utilize their running backs than USC. Stephen Carr entered the season as the team’s most promising option, but has handled single-digit carries in five of nine games this year. Vavae Malepeai has eaten up seven touchdowns but has just two games of more than 55 yards rushing. Then there’s Ware, who has been held under 65 yards in five of eight games. We no longer view Carr as a starting option (more a dynasty stash), and Malepeai’s value comes mostly in the fact that the Trojans have given him the ball in the red zone. As an actual fantasy starting option, it’s Ware or bust for us. Especially coming off his 205-yard, three-touchdown star-turn against Oregon State on Saturday. That was Ware’s third game of more than 100 yards rushing this year. Ware is owned in a paltry 4% of Fantrax leagues. You have to trust USC to show some consistency in their methods, here, so good luck with that.
Illinois RB Reggie Corbin -- Sitting at 16% ownership in Fantrax leagues, Corbin is still available in most medium-to-shallow depth formats, but that likely won’t be the case after the coming waiver sweep. The Illini back put together a superlative 213-yard, two-touchdown performance against Minnesota on Saturday. That game was not an outlier, but rather his third consecutive contest of at least 100 yards rushing, and his fourth in his last five games. He has scored touchdowns in seven of nine games this season. Corbin will get contests against Nebraska, Iowa and Northwestern to finish out the year. We particularly see him finding success against the Huskers upcoming, making him a nice pickup for playoff teams/contenders looking for an adrenaline shot at running back. Corbin should be viewed as a startable option right off the wire.
Michigan State RB Connor Heyward -- MSU’s running game has largely been stuck in the mud this season -- they rank 112th in the country on a per-game average -- but Heyward broke through the doldrums to rack up 157 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s win over Maryland. He had not received double-digit carries in any of his previous four games before taking 15 totes of the rock in Week 10. We’re not exactly talking about a consistent workload, here, but with LJ Scott (leg) being deemed week-to-week (problematic given how few weeks remain on the year) and Brian Lewerke struggling to do much of anything through the air, Heyward could see a boost in work just by necessity. He also has a fantastic closing schedule to work with. In Week 11, he will face Ohio State -- possessing of a defense which scares us none -- with games against Nebraska and Rutgers to follow.
West Virginia RB Martell Pettaway -- While the Mountaineers have several options at running back beyond Pettaway (Kennedy McKoy, Leddie Brown), it was Pettaway who had a chance to star in Saturday’s thrilling win over Texas. He rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns versus the Longhorns. Now, he had been held to 35 or fewer yards rushing in each of his previous five games, so expectation should be tempered. Still, this is a low-key upside play for an explosive back should you have lower waiver priority or should your free agent budget be reduced by this point. WVU’s offense is very much centered around Will Grier and the passing game, but a rising tide lifts all boats. That was the case for Pettaway’s boat on Saturday. We’ll take a gut-call gamble, here.
Troy WR Damion Willis -- After failing to go over 80 yards receiving in any of his first seven games this season, Willis has been the man of the moment over the past two contests. He ripped South Alabama for a 5-132-2 line on Oct. 23, then followed that performance up with a virtuosic 10-213-1 line against Louisiana on Saturday. We love the recent production. Only a slight caveat, here, before you take the waiver plunge with Willis -- Troy’s final three games will not necessarily be easy ones, with Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, in particular, two potentially tough contests.
Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman -- Gophers true frosh Bateman has a similar season-narrative to that of Willis, opening the year under 80 yards receiving in each of his first seven games before breaking out over the last two weekends. The recent outburst of production began with his 4-108-1 showing against Indiana in Week 9, a showing which he bettered just days later in a 7-175-2 eruption versus Illinois. The Gophers were in Throw Mode for much of that game, as the Illini put up a crooked number on the scoreboard, but he has done enough over these last two games for our recommendation in this space. Bateman makes for a prime dynasty pickup as well. Tyler Johnson will be eligible to declare for the draft this winter, and even if the Gophers’ star wideout opts to return to Minneapolis for his senior campaign, Bateman only figures to take on a more prominent role as his game develops.
Washington State WR Easop Winston -- Winston had himself a quiet October (just 13 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown), but opened November with seven catches for 92 yards and a score against Cal. WSU’s is an equal-opportunity offense, certainly, but we have seen Winston get hot for stretches this year, notably in back-to-back 100-yard games against USC and Utah at the close of September. His next two contests figure to be workable ones, coming against Colorado and Arizona. The Apple Cup looms after that, and while Winston probably will not have much starting value versus Washington, we like him as a short-term pickup.
Florida State WR Tamorrion Terry -- Earlier in the column, we touched on the monster game James Blackman tossed up against NC State on Saturday. Terry, a redshirt freshman, was a huge part of that, catching five passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. The five receptions marked a season high for the wideout, ditto the yardage output. He has now caught touchdown passes in four of his last six games. At this late stage in the season, we are more apt to target younger options like Terry, who could see increased work down the stretch as teams begin to peek toward the future.