Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections that will help your team from week to week while you
strive to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs, and
win the elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp.
While I’m just as big a proponent of making trades to bolster
your roster, the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource
when it comes to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each
week, I’ll target both offensive and defensive players that
may be available in shallow leagues – sometimes just breakout
stars that eluded your team’s draft – as well as players
who can help your squad that will still be available in many deeper
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Off The Top
WAS – Campbell went 33-for-54, passing for 348 yards, two touchdowns
and one interception against Dallas, and he’s been throwing the
ball much better. I’ve had my ups and downs recommending this
guy, but excluding the horrific stretch from weeks 7-9, he hasn’t
been all that bad – and that’s without hitting any WRs in the
end zone until Week 10. If Santana Moss stays healthy, his numbers
should continue to impress, and he’s available in almost every
David Garrard, JAC – Garrard played well against the Chargers,
throwing for 189 yards and 2 TDs with no turnovers – although
everybody excluding Denver has played well against the chargers.
But he’s healthy, he’s hungry and the Jags are looking
like a solid playoff team. Next week, he gets the Bills at home,
so plug him in if you’re willing to take a shot on a big
Daunte Culpepper, OAK – I’ve spoken to Culpepper’s
talent and upside enough over the past ten weeks, so I won’t
rehash what’s turned out to be largely invalidated praise.
But some of that blame, in my opinion, falls on Lane Kiffin, who’s
about as fickle with his starting QBs as Mike Shanahan is with
his RBs. Culpepper has a few exploitable matchups (although the
Chiefs have been tough against the pass as of late) and he’s
probably the starter until Kiffin wakes up on the wrong side of
the bed he continues to make for himself.
Jay Cutler, DEN – The young, strong-armed signal caller
has only had two real stinkers all year, but his schedule the
next few weeks is a bit difficult for QBs. Keep an eye on his
progress coming off the big win versus the Titans.
Scouring The Barrel
Joey Harrington, ATL – He outplayed Leftwich and might
get the start for the Falcons. Unfortunately, that doesn’t
mean he should get the start for you. His remaining schedule isn’t
any picnic, either.
MIA – He’s a rookie, he didn’t do much last week, and his schedule
sucks. But stay tuned to his play just in case he turns into God’s
third-favorite QB – behind Jon Kitna and Kurt Warner, of course.
ARI – He’s still an injury risk, but he forged through his
problems and had a decent day versus the Bengals with 211 yards
passing and 2 TDs. Definitely worthy of a pickup if he’s still
out there with SFO, CLE, @SEA, @NOR, ATL left on the schedule.
ATL – Schaub and Andre Johnson picked up right where they left
off in Week 2, hooking up for 6/120 and a TD. Schaub finished
with a superb day – 293 yards and 2 TDs – his best fantasy performance
since Week 5 in ’05 when he filled in for an injured Michael Vick
in Atlanta. So I hope you took my advice and grabbed him.
Vince Young, TEN – Young threw for over 300 yards for the
first time in his career Sunday, eclipsing the career high he
set last week. He also threw a TD pass and ran another in, but
if his receivers didn’t drop a half-dozen passes –
including a couple that easily could’ve gone for TDs –
he might have thrown for over 400 and had 3 passing TDs. His legs
looked solid, as usual, and he was putting the ball right where
it needed to be. Despite his better-than-average play in Week
10, I didn’t see too many waiver wire columns last week
listing Young, but the second-year QB is starting to put up some
of the numbers expected out of him during the offseason by fantasy
pundits. And the remaining schedule (@CIN, HOU, SDG, @KAN, NYJ
left) isn’t too shabby.
J.P. Losman, BUF – You’ve got to look at the bright
side if this guy’s your starter. At least he scored a TD
and only got picked off once, so he’ll probably hold onto
his job and the schedule only gets easier.
Kellen Clemens, NYJ – Clemens didn’t put up spectacular
numbers, but he helped the struggling Jets get back on track by
upsetting the Steelers – one of the best teams in the AFC.
Rex Grossman, CHI – Gross. No TDs. Very gross, man.
Kyle Boller, BAL – I’m not impressed.
Brodie Croyle, KC – Even against Oakland, I’m not
interested in starting him, and neither should you, although he
didn’t look horrendous versus the Colts.
Tarvaris Jackson, MIN – Ugh. Word is the Vikes want this
guy to start the rest of the games in ’07 so they can determine
if he’s their “quarterback of the future.” Am
I missing something? Did this guy throw for 300 yards and 5 TDs
last week in some alternate reality that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf
discovered somewhere between Narnia and the CFL?
Off The Top
Ron Dayne, HOU – Dayne finished the Week 11 game versus
the Saints with 89 total yards rushing, and 3-26-0 receiving.
He’s had a couple serviceable #3 RB games the last two weeks,
and he’s a decent play against the Browns, as long as he
gets the start again.
Droughns, NYG – Brandon Jacobs, who suffered a hamstring injury
in Week 11, probably won’t get the start against the Vikings,
giving Droughns another opportunity for carries and fantasy points.
He’s one of the only starting RBs who’ll be available in the wire,
so scoop him up if you need to fill a roster spot. While I expect
his value to be limited versus the Vikes, there aren’t too many
better options out there.
MIA – Ricky’s being picked up in leagues everywhere, a trend
that started last week in a bunch of deeper formats. While I’m
not convinced he’s exactly what the Dolphins need at this point,
he can’t hurt. So expect Ricky to be on the fast track, getting
reps in practice with the first team and getting the start against
the Jets in a couple weeks.
Pittman, TB – Again, I don’t need to rehash all the praise
I’ve heaped upon Michael Pittman over the years. I like the guy
and think he’s underutilized in the Tampa offense. He’s splitting
carries but he’s got solid matchups down the stretch. And if Earnest
Graham should get injured or fall out of favor for any reason,
Pittman will see increased touches and the fantasy points to match.
Scouring The Barrel
Andre Hall, DEN – Did you see that 62-yard TD scamper on
Monday night? The rookie out of South Florida is a versatile back
with extremely quick feet, good balance and obvious speed in separating
himself from the rest of the pack. In effect, he’s a more
talented, quicker version of Jessie Chatman but with less experience.
Where does Denver keep finding these guys? If Selvin Young and
Travis Henry aren’t ready to go by Sunday, against the Bears,
Shanahan won’t hesitate to plug him in, and neither should
TEN – Brown looked nice catching some passes out of the backfield
Monday, but there’s only so many carries out there for him with
Vince Young, LenDale White and Chris Henry seeing touches on the
regular. I’m a believer in his ability to run in open space, but
he’s not great at finding seams and is just getting back from
a nagging injury. Look elsewhere if you can.
NE – He got the Patriots’ requisite carries (and a TD) on Sunday
after Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk (head) both went down with
injuries. I don’t know what the status is with Faulk, but Maroney
– who denies he is injured – should resume his starting duties
on Sunday. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any Pats RBs
on my team.
Chester Taylor, MIN – I’d feel even more brilliant
about this call except for the fact that just about every waiver
wire column online had this guy at the top of the list. You all
know what he did against the Raiders, but running the ball against
the Giants will prove a bit tougher.
Ryan Grant, GB – Grant had 88 yards on 20 carries –
not bad for a guy on a team with no running game. And this week’s
matchup against the Lions could really allow him to shine –
as long as the ankle’s okay.
Morris, SEA – Nice game, which included a score. I don’t think
they’ll be rushing Shaun Alexander back anytime soon.
Aaron Stecker, NO – Not a factor Sunday.
TEN – There’s just too much competition for carries for this
guy to be a reliable starter. And the suspension will kick in
before year’s end.
Thomas, BUF – I think the Bills were forced to abandon the
run somewhere around Randy Moss’s third TD reception – so A-Train
only finished with 31 yards on 11 carries and 3 catches for 15
Off The Top
Moss, WAS – He’s only the 57th-ranked fantasy WR this season
and he’s been hobbled by a nagging heel injury. But his huge day
Sunday versus the Cowboys could be a portent of better things
on the horizon. He’s available in about a quarter of all fantasy
leagues, so check your wire and snag if him he’s out there.
Henry, CIN – As long as he stays out of trouble – which is
easier said than done for Henry – he’ll be a factor in the Bengals
stretch run, as he was Sunday. Henry played well in the Bengals
win over the Ravens, which kept them (mathematically) in the playoff
hunt. But they’ll need to run the table the rest of the way. It’s
a long shot, but with the offensive struggles the 3-6 team has
endured, Henry’s involvement in the game plan is a sure thing.
Engram, SEA – Trivia question: Which two WRs have been targeted
the most over the past three weeks in football? You might be surprised,
but it’s Engram and Saints WR Marques Colston – with 39 targets
each over three games. Engram was targeted 11 times Sunday versus
the Bears, even though a lot of his current value has to do with
Deion Branch’s injury. Branch missed four straight games until
his return last week, but was limited. I don’t know if Engram’s
insane pace will keep up down the stretch, but it’s possible some
owners dropped Engram as soon as D.J. Hackett emerged as the #1
WR option and Branch made his return to the starting lineup.
Curry, OAK – I know he’s out there in some formats, because
with Santonio Holmes, D.J. Hackett, Joey Galloway, Roddy White
and Donte Stallworth, I was kind of overloaded at WR when I only
need to start three in my 12-team. But Curry just had his best
game since Week 1, and I think the Raiders will come out throwing
down the stretch because they’ve got nothing tot lose except games
and nothing to gain but a higher draft pick.
WR Michael Jenkins, ATL – Nine catches Sunday means he’ll
be a threat each week to break double digits in PPR leagues, but
it doesn’t mean he’ll be consistent down the stretch.
Keep an eye in him because Harrington seems to like him better
Smith, TB – Following his triumphant return from an ankle
injury, you’ll see lots of folks snagging this highly-touted young
TE off the wire. He aggravated it in Week 9 but got enough rest
during the bye week to make an impact against the Falcons, posting
3-51-0. The Skins aren’t too kind to opposing TEs, but Smith is
a nice red zone option for Jeff Garcia.
Scouring The Barrel
Ginn, MIA – He’s not getting the targets yet, but he’s making
the most of his opportunities, finishing Sunday with 4/52/0 and
a punt return for a TD. You can’t expect a special teams TD from
him every week, but see if his targets go up next week with Beck
more comfortable running the Miami offense.
Darling, BAL – I really don’t think any Baltimore receiver
other than Derrick Mason is worth owning at this point. Sure,
Darling had a nice game, but do you really want to pin your fantasy
playoff hopes on someone who’s relying on Kyle Boller to get him
WR Isaac Bruce, STL – The Reverend made it to church on
Sunday but his sermon wasn’t as spectacular as I had hoped
– although 5-54-0 ain’t bad.
Hackett, SEA – Oh yeah – easily my best WR call of the season,
Hackett put up monster numbers Sunday with 9-136-1. He’s Hasselbeck’s
#1 receiving option right now, his numbers have improved each
week since returning from injury, and the schedule still looks
TE Leonard Pope, ARI – Not much of a factor Sunday with
just one catch for 22 yards.
WR Arnaz Battle, SF – Battle, now a viable #4 or desperation
#3 even without much of a QB presence, has 6-86-0. Man, I wish
he had a QB.
WR Mark Clayton, BAL – 2/9/0. He’s garbage.
WR Eddie Kennison, KC – 1/4/0 and a fumble. He’s
TE Randy McMichael, STL – Also finished with 1/4/0. What’s
wrong with this guy? He used to be a stud.
Off The Top
LB Barrett Ruud, TB – No, I’m not insulting your
intelligence, IDP world. But Ruud had a stinker and a bye in weeks
9-10 before returning to action with a nice game in Atlanta. I’d
double-check your wire to see if somebody dropped him in favor
of a live body, because his matchup is awesome this week against
the Skins and he’s hungry for big numbers.
LB Ian Gold, DEN – Gold had a breakthrough game Monday
night against the Titans, and this week’s matchup versus
the Chicago Bears poses even more possibilities to shine. He’s
not an upper echelon LB, but if you had that, you wouldn’t
be here. Check out your wire and take a shot with Gold this week.
DB Chris Hope, TEN – He’s had a very disappointing
season, but the Titans DBs have one of the best matchups in all
of fantasy football against the Bengals. You know that Carson
Palmer is going to be forcing the ball downfield and I think Chris
Hope will have plenty of opportunities to make big hits and even
snag a pick or two.
DL Darryl Tapp, SEA – Tapp was questionable last week but
still recorded 5 total tackles, a sack and a FR against the Bears.
He’s an undersized DL but is a pretty effective pass rusher
with a good first step, and he’s had four solid games in
a row. This week, Tapp has got a great matchup in St. Louis against
a depleted offensive line.
Scouring The Barrel
Smith, JAC – Mike Peterson’s hand injury forces Smith into
the middle. He’s available in just about every IDP format, and
he’s got as nice matchup this week against the Bills, who surrender
copious IDP numbers to LBs. Smith had a back injury that hampered
him for a few games this season, but he’s healthy now and should
be a factor in the Jags defensive scheme from here on out.
Harris, CAR – I like Harris’ matchup against the Saints in
Week 12, and with fellow DB Ken Lucas still bothered by a hip
injury that had him probable last week, I think we’ll see a lot
of the former Chicago Bears DB.
Peterson, JAC – One week after a career performance, Peterson
broke his hand and could miss the rest of the season, depending
on whether the “caveman club cast” is an option for his injured
LB Calvin Pace, ARI – 5 total tackles and 3 PDs. We’re
seeing nice IDP consistency from Pace the last several weeks.
Strahan, NYG – My best fantasy DL call of the year, I heeded
my own advice and spot-started Strahan over Will Smith and Julius
Peppers and reaped the benefits – 6 total tackles and 3 sacks.
LB Bradie James, DAL – The Redskins threw a lot more than
usual and James didn’t do much – just three assists.
DB Roderick Hood, ARI – I obviously picked the wrong Arizona
DB to include in my column last week. See Rolle, Antrel.
LB Leon Williams, CLE – 3 solos, 3 assists and a half a
sack. It could have been worse.