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
I never write intros to these columns, because it's usually unnecessary. But this
week, with plenty of your fantasy lives on the line, I'm making
an exception. It's a bizarre week for arguably the most important
fantasy position on your roster - the one that can make or break
your season. There's really only two stud signal callers with favorable
matchups this week: Tony
Romo (vs DET) who give up the third-most points to opposing
QBs - and Carson
Palmer, (vs STL) - a team that possesses a vulnerable, if not
terrible, secondary. I know, I know, you never bench your studs,
but here's something to consider: The worst matchups in Week 14,
if you're curious, belong to the injured Brett
Favre (vs. OAK), the surprisingly steady Kurt
Warner (@SEA), the enigmatic Kyle
Boller (v. IND), the heavily pressured (as of late) Tom
Brady (vs. PIT) and the gunslinging-but-unrefined Jay
Cutler (vs. KC). But there are even more unfavorable matchups
among some the leagues best fantasy QBs, including Ben
Roethlisberger (@NE), and Jon
Kitna (vs. DAL). So there will be plenty of folks looking for
QBS on the wire who could win them a playoff game or get them in
- depending on your league. I'll try to cover as many as I can -
including updates from last week that still offer some suitable
|Check out the most
popular waiver wire pickups this week across thousands
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Off The Top
CHI – The Redskins are still reeling from the tragic loss of Sean
Taylor and last week’s loss to the Bills in the waning seconds
– due in large part to head coach Joe Gibbs’ inexcusable time
out gaffe – have put them on a fast track to disaster, a lonely
train they’ll have to resume all too quickly on Thursday night
against Chicago. The Bears, despite the tough loss to the Giants,
have looked much better in the passing game since Cedric Benson
went down and cleared the way for Georgia Southern product Adrian
N. Peterson. I picked up Grossman to back up Palmer in one of
my leagues based on his matchups in the final three weeks (@MIN,
GB NO), and now he’s coming off his best week of the season and
looks poised for a stretch run.
Jackson, MIN – I’ve taken some shots at him this season, but
Ray Childress believes he’s the real deal, even comparing him
to a young Donovan McNabb at this point in his development. He’
s had two decent fantasy games in a row, and he’s got great matchups
the next three weeks (@SF, CHI , WAS).
Kellen Clemens, NYJ – If you believe in exploiting favorable
fantasy matchups and you’re desperate for a Week 14 waiver
wire gem to fill in for one of the many roster-bound QBs who have
horrific matchups this week, he might just be your man, since
he faces the Browns – fantasy’s most generous team
in allowing fantasy points to QBs. He’s yet to explode for
a big fantasy game, but if it’s going to happen, it’s
Croyle KC, – The rookie out of Alabama hasn’t really inspired
too much fantasy confidence, but the Broncos defense has been
so horrible that he’s an option I have to consider for this column.
If Kolby Smith can punish up the Broncos defense until they have
to stack the box to stop him, I don’t think it’s improbable for
Croyle to finish with 200 yards and a couple scores.
ATL – Only the Browns give up more fantasy points to QBs than
the Saints – the Falcons’ opponent in Week 14. We haven’t seen
hide nor hair of Byron Leftwich, and Joey Harrington’s been horrific.
Could Redman get the start on Sunday? Sure. Does he have an excellent
matchup if he does? Absolutely. Should he be your starter? Only
if you’re really desperate.
Scouring The Barrel
CAR – I don’t like recommending 44-year-old starting QBs for your
fantasy team, but Testaverde’s facing a defense that’s struggled
against the pass lately and was exposed versus the Colts early
on. While the Panthers aren’t the Colts and Testaverde is definitely
not Peyton Manning, I have to believe Steve Smith is capable of
a huge day and that Vinny can get him the ball.
Russell, OAK – He was solid in limited play Sunday and if
he gets in again this week and plays well, he could have the starting
job locked up by Week 16 against the Jags – a game where he’ll
be forced to spread the ball around to Ron Curry, Jerry Porter,
Tim Dwight, his backs and TE Zach Miller. Plus, he can make plays
with his legs. He’s a long shot, but worth considering after his
performance in Week 13 and the Raiders’ season relegated to spoiler
John Beck, MIA – Like the matchup, hate the six picks he
threw last week. If your league doesn’t punish for turnovers,
go ahead and take a shot, because the Bills secondary’s
endured its share of injuries and the defense has actually been
daring teams to throw.
Rivers, SD – He played okay against the Chiefs, but LaDainian
Tomlinson stole the show. This week he’s got the titans, who have
been weak versus the pass lately and will probably stack the line
to stop LT and force Rivers to toss it deep. Not a bad option
if he’s still lurking on the wire, and the matchups in weeks 15
and 16 (at home versus Detroit and Denver) couldn’t get much better.
A.J. Feeley, PHI – He followed up his big Week 12 with
a total stinker, Andy Reid’s got to be ready for Donovan
McNabb to come back – and it appears he will, silencing
all the ridiculous talk of a quarterback controversy in Philly.
STL – He's out at least one week with a sprained throwing
shoulder and partially torn labrum. Plus, it looks like Marc Bulger
has been cleared to start Sunday.
SF – He threw four picks Sunday but will probably get another
start this week against the Vikings. The only problem is that
the Vikings have improved dramatically against the pass and don’t
make such a great matchup anymore. Next week, the Niners face
the Bengals, but Alex Smith might be back by then.
BUF – The Dolphins didn’t do a horrible job against Clemens last
week, but they’ll have a harder time stopping Edwards, who’s coming
off a decent week where he didn’t score – but didn’t turn the
ball over, either. It might be the week Lee Evans resumes his
funk-breaking tendencies and gets behind the defense, and it might
be another pedestrian performance. I’m not willing to find out
which it will be with a fantasy win on the line, but a few desperate
owners might be, right?
Off The Top
GB – He’s been snagged off most wires but I picked him up as recently
as last week in a 10-team PPR and IDP league where I sealed up
a first round bye after a dominating 11-2 record, but have been
forced to confront some serious injury and reliability issues
with my RBs and WRs (Joseph Addai, Reggie Bush, Marshawn Lynch,
Selvin Young, Plaxico Burress, Larry Fitzgerald, Roy Williams,
Jerricho Cotchery). I mean, it’s getting a little ridiculous.
I will tell you that Grant would probably be getting the start
for me this week against an Oakland defense that might hold Favre
in check – but just cannot stop the run..
Droughns, NYG – Go Reuben, it’s your birthday. Derrick Ward’s
leg is broken, so it’s your birthday. Brandon Jacobs is brittle,
so it’s your birthday. And the Eagles don’t care it’s not your
Ron Dayne, HOU – He’s the best running back not taken
on thousands of waiver wires, and no matter how many respectable
performances he turns in, he’ll get ignored for several
factors. Number one, because he plays for the Texans, like Ahman
Green, who is supposed to be back every week until a weekend decision
sits him – for another week. He’s also not going to
get picked up by any Giants fan who happens to play fantasy football,
and there are plenty of them. And no matter how bad the average
Giants fan’s fantasy football team is struggling –
and as a New York resident, I can tell you most of them are struggling
– they won’t pick up Ron Dayne. There’s just
too many painful memories. But you can take him. And he’ll
probably do well for you.
Scouring The Barrel
Chris Brown, TEN – I’m bringing Chris Brown back
for a few reasons. First, his songs are hot. Second, he can dance.
And third, he might decide to turn in two decent fantasy performances
in a row. If Justin “Timberlake” Fargas can do it,
why not C. Brown? I have a feeling that the Titans are going to
“Run It” a lot more this week, possibly even “Wall
to Wall” running from the first quarter on. And since I’m
considering picking him up in at least one league, I might just
give him a little “Kiss Kiss” if he helps me through
the next round of the playoffs. Sorry – I just couldn’t
resist, and the guy can definitely dance.
Lorenzo Booker, MIA – Our resident guru Matt Waldman has
got a sample scouting report on Booker in his Weekly Gut Check,
Volume 112 from October 25 – and it’s excellent. But
it’s just a sample, so make sure you purchase his complete
2008 Rookie Scouting portfolio to get the upper hand on your ‘08
competition before the offseason’s even here. Last week,
Booker got his shot against the Jets and looked great catching
passes out of the backfield. With the Dolphins RB situation in
a state of flux and nothing more to lose except the rest of their
games in ’07, I’d expect to see more of Booker down
the stretch. He’s especially worth a shot in deeper PPR
formats or in leagues that play up until Week 17, when the Dolphins
play the Bengals.
Peterson, CHI – “PPR leaguers should benefit significantly,
as well, since he – unlike Benson – sees frequent targets in the
passing game.” – Me, in my Week 13 column. Yeah, so you can thank
me now, PPR leaguers – especially after he rattled off 7 catches
for 82 yards to go with his respectable 67 yards on the ground.
KC – He finished with 83 yards and a couple catches, but you
can expect a lot more yardage and some scores in his final four
weeks: @ DEN, TEN, @DET, @NYJ. The rookie is still starting in
place of the injured Larry Johnson, and playing well in his stead.
And he’s still out there in about half of ESPN leagues, making
him a great selection this week against a terrible Broncos defense
that’s been shredded against the run all year. At this point,
we shouldn’t expect LJ back for a t least a couple weeks, so Smith’s
a solid selection if he’s still out there.
Aaron Stecker, NO – Reggie’s playing though the pain
and Stecker’s not showing up.
Justin Fargas, OAK – Another solid performance –
164 total yards and a score – has vaulted Fargas into the
top 20 fantasy RBs for ’07. He’s the 9th-ranked RB
in fantasy during the last three weeks and during the last six
games has tallied 730 total yards and 3 scores.
Bell, DEN – I warned you Henry and Young might be back.
Fred Jackson, BUF –82 total yards rushing and 4/69/0 made
him a nice play. You didn’t really expect him to find the
end zone, did you?
Off The Top
Furrey, DET – With Roy Williams out for a few weeks and likely
the rest of the season, last year’s waiver wire darling makes
a nice selection. Last week against the Vikings, Furrey caught
seven passes – a season-high – for 57 yards in the 42-10 loss.
He should be able to post similar numbers in a starting role versus
the Cowboys. Sure, he’ll fight for catches with Shaun McDonald
and Calvin Johnson, but can you afford to pass on a guy who finished
the last five weeks of last season against the Pats, Vikes, Packers,
Bears and Cowboys with, get this: 42 catches, 436 yards and three
scores. That’s not a misprint, unless the quick math I did in
my head is off. Oh yeah – he’s still available in about half of
all fantasy leagues.
WR Bobby Engram, SEA – Engram is still available in 1 out
of 5 ESPN leagues, was started this past week in only 50 percent
of ESPN leagues and is turning in a career year: 72/874/4. He’s
on pace for 96/1,165/5 – not bad for a guy who was about
the 82nd-ranked fantasy WR coming into ’07. I first recommended
Engram in my column following Week 2, touting him as a sure-handed
receiver adept at running solid routes – with the requisite
experience to accrue lots of fantasy points against young secondaries.
I also marveled at the fact that at 34 and in his 12th season,
he was just with his second team – a sign of reliability.
Since then, I’ve included him a couple other times and he’s
proven to be the excellent fantasy sleeper I thought he’d
be. If he’s still available in any format, don’t hesitate
WR Joe Jurevicius, CLE – I wasn’t as high on Jurevicius,
whom I also included in my Week 3 column, and I took some flack
in e-mails for calling him out as an inconsistent, slow white
guy. I apologize for that, although he still hasn’t topped
the fantasy totals he posted in Week 2 against the Bengals. But
now I really like his matchups in the last four weeks: @NYJ, BUF,
@CIN, SF – and I’m giving him a shot to prove he can
Johnson, ARI – With Larry Fitzgerald’s groin still bothering
him and Anquan Boldin out this week nursing a dislocated toe (to
go along with the hip injury that has plagued him in ’07), I think
Johnson tops the list of solid fantasy pickups for the week. The
only thing keeping him from topping this list is the fact that
both Fitzgerald and Boldin might play in Week 14 – and obviously
beyond that date. His matchups offer some possibilities, especially
in the odd weeks: @SEA, @NO, ATL, STL – and he’s a proven backup
with upside as a starter.
Scouring The Barrel
Parrish, BUF – I don’t know why I ever bother with this guy,
but the simple truth is that the matchups down the stretch couldn’t
be much better. I don’t really know if it’s Parrish or fellow
wideout Josh Reed will be the receiver that benefits from that
schedule – along with, of course, Lee Evans – but I’d be willing
to take a shot with one of them.
TE Leonard Pope, ARI – He could also benefit from the injuries
to Fitzgerald and Boldin, and has excellent matchups in two of
the next three weeks (see above), with the only downside that
Week 14 against the Seahawks is the toughest one he’s got
WR Javon Walker, DEN – Are you tired of reading injury
reports telling you to get Walker back in your lineup? I haven’t
listened to any of them yet, but I’m still stashing Walker
on a couple rosters hoping he’s healthy by the playoffs.
The guy’s a big play receiver on a team with a strong-armed
QB. How about it, football gods?
WR Deion Branch, SEA – Branch managed 5/40/0 in Week 13,
but that’s not the kind of effort you’d expect from
the team’s projected #1 WR for ’07. But he remains
a pretty nice play Sunday against the Cards.
WR Isaac Bruce, STL – 4/31/1 is a decent game from a former
fantasy stud who’s currently a solid #3 WR in the right
Gonzalez, IND – The Colts were so happy to have TE Dallas
Clark healthy again they didn’t look to the rookie WR from Ohio
St. very much – which is a shame, because he was coming off a
nice game against the Falcons.
Scheffler, DEN – Finished with just one catch Sunday and the
prospects against KC don’t look much better – the Chiefs even
shut down Antonio Gates in Week 13.
WR Greg Lewis, PHI – No action Sunday – but you knew
the risks going in if you grabbed him.
WR Justin Gage, TEN – You could have still gotten him pretty
cheap last week but now you’ll be hard pressed to find him
available on too many wires after his 5/64/1 performance in Week
Off The Top
LB Lance Briggs, CHI – It’s been a relatively quiet
year for Briggs, who’s probably been dropped along the way
from a few IDP rosters. But there’s no better matchup for
opposing LBs than the Redskins, who run the ball nonstop and could
be looking at multiple turnovers hitting the field so quickly
after Sunday’s loss. Briggs seems to be coming alive lately,
so I think he’ll make an excellent play this week.
DB Marcus Trufant, SEA – even in my 12-team league, Trufant
is still available, and he’s facing a Cardinals team that
surrenders the most fantasy points in football to opposing DBs.
On the Seahawks, there’s no better IDP DB than Trufant,
who’s got 62 total tackles, 12 PDs and 4 INTs on the season.
LB Freddy Keiaho, IND – Keiaho’s coming off a big
game against the Jaguars, his first exceptional game since Week
1, totaling 11 tackles and a half a sack. As effective as Willis
McGahee was Monday night against the Pats, I’d expect to
see a lot of him pounding through the Colts line and Keiaho picking
up the slack.
LB Rocky McIntosh, WAS – Another guy’s who’s
been under the radar lately, McIntosh is a solid tackler who’ll
be hungry to stymie the Bears running game this Thursday. He could
see a lot of time on the field and have a huge day, so pick him
up if he’s out there on the wire.
DB Oshiomogho Atogwe, STL – He’s having a second
straight season racking up decent IDP totals, and he’s coming
off a big week (6 tackles, 1 PD, 1 INT). I think he’ll have
a field day versus the Bengals, who allow opposing DS to tee off
on their WRs all day long, posting PDs, INTs and tackles galore.
Scouring The Barrel
LB Omar Gaither, PHI – I’ve taken a shot on Gaither
before and have been burned, but he’s been playing much
better and he’s got an excellent matchup with the Giants,
where he’ll rack up tackles on Rueben Droughns, and Eli
Manning might throw a ball or two right into his hands.
DL Elvis Dumervil, DEN – This column’s IDP theme
is players who’ve fallen off their big numbers from early
in the season but have nice matchups in Week 14. Against a Kansas
City offensive line that surrenders the fifth-highest point totals
in fantasy to DLs, Elvis may decide to reenter the building this
weekend and Jerry Glanville might even have tickets waiting at
will call for him.
DB Jermaine Phillips, TB – Nine solo tackles. Those who
played him were not disappointed.
LB Adalius Thomas, NE – Just 3 tackles and 3 assists. I
expected much more in his return to Baltimore, but hey –
it wasn’t the kind of game I expected, either.
LB Antonio Pierce, NYG – He performed poorly against the
Bears in a game where he could’ve seen a lot of action.
LB Angelo Crowell, BUF – Easily my best IDP call of the
week, Crowell vaulted even high on the top LB list with a tie
for his best fantasy performance of the year – 9 total tackles,
a sack and a fumble recovery.
DB DeAngelo Hall, ATL – He finished with 6 tackles but
no junk stats, a surprising thing considering Gus Frerotte was
throwing the ball into the Atlanta secondary.
Smith, CIN – 6 total tackles but no sacks – an average game
for a fantasy DL.