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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fantasy football: Week 15 waiver-wire picks

If you lost wide receiver Greg Jennings last week in the first round of the fantasy playoffs, James Jones and Donald Driver aren't going to make you feel any better.

But they could be decent fill-ins for Jennings, who, as productive as he is, still suffers at times from the Packers spreading the wealth.

Jennings -- who had four touchdowns in his last five games but hadn't recorded a 100-yard contest since Week 7 -- suffered a knee injury last week that will keep him out of the remainder of the fantasy postseason. That leaves Jones and/or Driver as likely fantasy starters for desperate owners this week in the final four.

Before we get to this week's waiver-wire picks, we want to recommend Jones -- who is owned in 58.6 percent of the ESPN leagues, which doesn't make him "eligible" for the coveted weekly selections -- over Driver if both are available in your league.

Jones is a big-play threat (he is averaging 18.4 yards per reception this season) who has five TDs on the year. In his last six games, he hasn't been as much of a part of the Pack's attack (he has seven catches in that span, compared to 19 in Green Bay's first seven contests), but he figures to start with Jennings out of the lineup.

Six Packers have 26 catches or more this season, but Jordy Nelson and Jennings have been the primary TD targets (the two have combined to account for 19 of Aaron Rodgers' 39 touchdown passes).

Sunday, the Packers will play at Kansas City, which ranks 10th against the pass. Not that it matters any to Rodgers.

I would consider Jones a lower-level No. 3 starter in fantasy this week. As for Driver, he is one of our three waiver-wire recommendations. As always, the following players are available in more than half of the leagues on This trio is available in more than 81 percent of the ESPN formats.

1. Kevin Walter, WR, Texans (owned in 12.4 percent of the ESPN leagues): Walter had six receptions for 76 yards and a TD last week, his first game with more than two catches since Week 8. The touchdown was his first since Week 5. If Andre Johnson returns from a hamstring injury, Walter's value is obviously diminished. If Johnson is out, Walter is a decent play the next two weeks against the Panthers (No. 19 vs. the pass) and Colts (No. 21). Carolina and Indy have combined to allow 45 TD passes in 26 games this season.

2. Donald Driver, WR, Packers (18.1 percent): Driver has had four receptions in three of his last four game. The 36-year-old had four catches for 75 yards last week and two TDs the week before. From 2004 to '09, he was a 1,000-yard receiver each season.

He's no longer much of a fantasy option, but, like Jones, he is a mediocre fallback choice if you are without Jennings.

3. Chris Ivory, RB, Saints (0.6 percent): Ivory had 13 carries for 53 yards last week -- only his second game with more than six rushing attempts this season. Rookie Mark Ingram is expected to miss another game because of turf toe, leaving Ivory to share carries with Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. Last week, Ivory had two more carries than Thomas (six) and Sproles (five) combined.

Last season, Ivory rushed for 716 yards, scored five TDs and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. This season, he can't be counted on, even with Ingram out, because of the Saints' tendency to ignore the run. His matchups aren't great, either. Sunday, the Saints will play the Vikings, who rank ninth vs. the run, followed by a game against the Falcons (No. 5). Both teams are allowing fewer than 4 yards per carry. At best, Ivory is a desperation play.

Past waiver-wire picks who remain undervalued: Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals (owned in 30.0 percent of the ESPN leagues); Marion Barber, RB, Bears (46.1), Donald Brown, RB, Colts (23.2); Jabar Gaffney, RB, Redskins (34.5); Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos (9.7); Titus Young, WR, Lions (3.1); Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Raiders (12.8); Nate Burleson, WR, Lions (28.7); Jake Ballard, TE, Giants (30.3); Brent Celek, TE, Eagles (23.5).

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