If you are serious about winning your fantasy league football championship, stay on top of your fantasy football team throughout the year.
Each week during the NFL fantasy football season, KFFL brings you its Fantasy Football Waiver Wire, which breaks down players to pick up. Be aggressive when picking up fantasy football free agents. Even if you do not need a player, you can tuck him away for depth or block others from adding him to their fantasy football team.
Note: Percentage of polled leagues in which player is available in parentheses
Fantasy football free agents: Priority additions
The following players should be high on your radar and are worthy of being added immediately to your fantasy football team.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers (6 percent)
Consider this a friendly reminder that Mendenhall is back, and he should be owned in all leagues. If he's still on your waiver wire grab him immediately.
NEW - Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts (97 percent)
Donald Brown had surgery on Tuesday to repair torn cartilage in one of his knees. The Colts' lead running back will not play in Week 6.
Ballard, a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft from Mississippi State, earned backup duties in training camp and the preseason. A thumb injury prevented Delone Carter from making much of an impact before the season started, but Ballard won the job largely because of his performance.
Ballard rushed 24 times for 74 yards (3.1 yards per carry) and caught two passes in exhibition action. He's gained 42 yards on 21 attempts (2.0 YPC) and hauled in one ball in the regular season. He should get the same kind of workload that Brown was getting (about 16 touches per game), making him an instant fantasy commodity.
There should be questions about whether Ballard can accrue yardage at a reasonable rate. He looked really good at times in the preseason, though, albeit against scrubs, and some believe that he could supplant Brown in time. Brown's absence could easily extend beyond Week 6, anyway, so this should be a great opportunity for Ballard.
NEW - LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals (97 percent)
The good news (for Stephens-Howling): Beanie Wells (toe) is out until at least Week 12, and Ryan Williams (shoulder) is done for the year. The bad news: Arizona ranks 31st in the NFL in rushing yards per game (63.4) and dead last in yards per carry (2.7).
Despite the struggles of both the Cardinals as a group and Stephens-Howling (hip) as an individual (12 carries, one yard in 2012) you simply cannot ignore a player that's about to inherit a starting backfield spot. He'll be of particular interest in PPR formats, even though Arizona has reservations about how often they can utilize him.
Fantasy football free agents: Look to acquire
The following players will have greater significance in deep fantasy football leagues. In shallow fantasy football leagues, they are not as high of a priority but should be considered based on your fantasy football team's needs.
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots (41 percent)
New England's suddenly potent rushing attack - they amassed 51 carries, not counting Tom Brady's three kneel downs, for 254 yards and three scores in Week 5 - is a borderline stunning turn of events. And while Stevan Ridley (28-151-1) remains the only truly reliable contributor, Bolden was the club's second most active rusher for the second straight game in Week 5.
He's worth adding now in deeper leagues, while others should at least look into finding a bench slot for him.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers (84 percent)
I know what you're thinking, and yes, it was Alex Green that came on to rush for 55 yards on nine carries in relief of Cedric Benson (foot). However, keep in mind that 41 of those yards came on a fourth-quarter scamper, and that Starks (toe) rates as the team's true No. 2 back - he has been working his way back from a turf toe but was essentially a healthy scratch against the Colts because he doesn't contribute on special teams.
Benson didn't seem to think the injury was too significant, and we'll know more as the week goes along, but with Starks poised to return he's someone Benson owners should pick up right away. Everyone else can wait for a medical update unless you're desperate for positional depth.
NEW - Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (80 percent)
Like the rest of Detroit's backs, Bell has done little on the ground this season with 13 carries for 40 yards. He's emerging as a quality receiver out of the backfield, however, and his 10 catches and 116 yards over the past two games make him someone to consider in point-per-reception leagues.
NEW - Alex Green, Green Bay Packers (80 percent)
While James Starks (toe) seems like the better long-term option with Cedric Benson (Lisfranc) out for an extended period, Green could see more carries in the immediate future and is also considered a better receiver. At the very least, owners in point-per-reception formats should take a flier on him.
NEW - Alfonso Smith, Arizona Cardinals (100 percent)
Stephens-Howling may be the de facto starter in Arizona, but he's undersized and doesn't figure to be an every-down option. Enter Smith, who ran 30 times for 102 yards and a touchdown with the club last year. If you're in dire need of a back with modest potential Smith could be worth stashing.