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
BUF – Trent threw four TDs last week – two to TE Robert Royal
and two to late-season stud Lee Evans. He’s got the best matchup
for a QB in football this week and he’s starting to look more
confident handling the pressure. I’d give him a shot over a ton
of regular fantasy starters this week.
BAL – What else do the Ravens have to lose? He scored a rushing
TD late in the Indianapolis game and looks like the best option
they have at this point. If they give him the start, Miami is
an opponent even a rookie with very few game snaps could exploit.
In my opinion, he’s everything that Steve McNair used to be, without
the prototypical height – which probably won’t matter as much
as some scouts have indicated it would.
Kyle Orton, CHI – I think the Vikings secondary is in for
a letdown game, and Orton could be the sleeper of the week. In
2005, he didn’t light up the scoreboard, but the Bears have
improved their WR corps, TEs and overall passing game since then,
giving him more weapons to get things done in the red zone.
Scouring The Barrel
HOU – IF he keeps the starting spot, he might be a decent pickup,
since he’s played well in relief of Matt Schaub. But with Denver
on the docket, you have to be wary of getting too enthusiastic.
TB – If Jeff Garcia’s back bothers him again and he can’t go on
Sunday, McCown is a great start versus the reeling Falcons, who
got shredded by Drew Brees and the Saints Monday night and looked
pitiful in the red zone. But it looks like Garcia should be able
to go Sunday, so only get McCown if Garcia encounters problems
Rex Grossman, CHI – He got hurt early in the Thursday game,
and he’s done for at least the next couple weeks with a
knee injury. Orton gets his shot this week.
Jackson, MIN – Jackson’s Vikes won’t ever be confused for
the ’98 Vikes, especially since their RBs do most of the scoring,
but even 16-for-25 for 163 yards with a TD during Week 14 was
better than I got from Carson Palmer.
Kellen Clemens, NYJ – He’s throwing for yardage but
too tosses many picks and not enough TDs. And he’s facing
the Pats this week.
Brodie Croyle, KC – I guess it could be the offensive line,
but Croyle’s been pretty pitiful.
ATL – Some good things came out of his performance on Monday night
(TD passes to Roddy White and Michael Jenkins), but he’s definitely
not the QB of the future for the Falcons.
Vinny Testaverde, CAR – He was terrible last week and there’s
really no reason to start him against the Seahawks.
JaMarcus Russell, OAK – The early word is that he’ll
play – but not start – versus the Colts on Sunday.
Stay tuned – he might be worth a desperation play at QB
#2 if he does start.
John Beck, MIA – The young QB got pulled last week after
getting sacked three times in the team’s first three possessions
and turning the ball over early – yet again. Stay far away.
Off The Top
NO – The pickings may be slim on the RB waiver wire, and Stecker
might be the only guy worth picking up this week in that regard.
Since Reggie Bush has most likely been shelved for the year, Stecker’s
the only reliable show in town for the Saints. He played well
Monday night versus the Falcons and the Saints got the win, so
he’s got obvious RB #2 value this week against the Cards.
Young, DEN – Is he available on your league’s waiver wire
after the Broncos announced Travis Henry would be the starter?
Well, if he is and your team is hurting at RB, you’ve got no choice
but to get him in your lineup this week against one of the league’s
most generous defenses to fantasy RBs.
Walker, HOU – Ron Dayne’s a bit dinged up and will see limited
action versus the Broncos, making Walker the go-to-guy in the
Houston backfield. But the Broncos are playing much better defense,
so temper your expectations and give Walker a shot in PPR leagues
Samkon Gado, MIA – Gado rushed for 52 yards and 2 TDs on
just 12 carries against the Bills. If he gets the start against
the Ravens, he could be worth a flyer.
Scouring The Barrel
Pierre Thomas, NO – Wait a minute. I almost forgot about
Pierre! If something should happen to Stecker, Thomas will take
over the carries. He’s also of some value in PPR leagues,
since he sometimes lines up as a WR, even with Stecker in the
Wolfe, CHI – Neither Adrian Peterson lived up to his billing
last week, and Wolfe could see increased touches as the Bears
are all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
Ryan Grant, GB – Another solid performance moves Grant
into the top 20 fantasy backs for ‘07, despite his limited
playing time throughout the first half of the season. Now he’s
got 754 rushing yards and 4 TDs over his last seven weeks.
Droughns, NYG – Brandon Jacobs got the bulk of carries against
the Eagles, but Droughns did manage 34 yards on just three carries.
HOU – An ankle injury forced him out on Sunday, rendering
him of little value to fantasy owners.
Chris Brown, TEN – Just 16 yards rushing, but he found
paydirt yet again. I expect Brown to be more involved in the final
Lorenzo Booker, MIA – He caught six passes for the second
consecutive week – so there’s some value in PPR leagues.
The Ravens defense is very aggressive, so you could see some dump-offs
and screens go his week in Week 15.
Off The Top
WR Jabar Gaffney, NE – It’s incredible how he’s
come on in the last few games, and it’s safe to assume he’s
a better fantasy start than Donte Stallworth going forward. It’s
frustrating that his 7/122/1 didn’t come completely out
of nowhere, given his recent increased number of targets, but
his limited involvement early in the season made me think the
game with the late TD pass against the Ravens might have been
the best we’d see out of him. It just goes to show fantasy
owners that it pays to think like Bill Belichick down the stretch
and ride the hot hand.
Gonzalez, IND – He was the #2 fantasy WR in Week 14, second
only to the breathtaking Randy Moss. While I don’t expect a repeat
performance, his value certainly ascends with his second big game
in three weeks and Marvin Harrison’s continued unavailability.
Urban, WR – It was Urban, not Bryant Johnson, who got the
start alongside Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday, and things could not
have gone much better for the third-year WR out of Trinity University
in Texas. Urban snagged 6/123/1 and seems to have jumped Johnson
on the Cards depth chart.
WR David Patten, NO – It’s very difficult to tell when
Patten’s going to break out with one of his big games, but
he’s definitely worth a roster spot and a few matchup-dependent
starts. This week, the Saints WRs go against the Cardinals, who
surrender lots of fantasy points to opposing receivers.
Scouring The Barrel
WR Devard Darling, BAL – The young Ravens WR might see
a significant number of targets if Troy Smith gets the start against
the Dolphins, making him a fine Week 15 sleeper in deep formats.
He’s had a couple nice games under his belt, and he’s
probably worked a lot with Smith over the past few weeks.
WR Mike Furrey, DET – He was effectively blanketed by the
Cowboys secondary, but might be a factor in the coming weeks,
with the Lions seeking new ways to move the football versus the
Chargers and a decent matchup against the Chiefs.
WR Bobby Engram, SEA – He finished Sunday with 4/55/1 –
a solid game from a dependable wideout. Carolina poses another
exploitable matchup this week.
WR Joe Jurevicius, CLE – The week I give him some props,
he has his worst fantasy week in ’07. I’m through
with him, folks.
Johnson, ARI – He had a TD, but just one catch in Week 14,
while Urban and Fitzgerald saw the rest of the action.
WR Roscoe Parrish, BUF – Another poor week, but this Sunday
he faces the Browns, and everybody gets theirs against the Browns
TE Leonard Pope, ARI – 4/16/0 last week, but he’s
reportedly out for the season and is headed to the IR. Oh, Leonard,
we hardly knew you.
Off The Top
LB Chad Greenway, MIN – He’s probably not available
in every format, but folks just seem to gravitate more to E.J.
Henderson – and with good reason – than Greenway.
This week, I think there will be enough IDP points to go around
for both Minnesota LBs to post solid lines, and the possibility
of multiple turnovers looms large with Kyle Orton manning the
DB Asante Samuel, NE – Another guy who might have been
snagged off the wire following his huge Week 12 but could be out
there in some formats, Samuel is a must-start this week against
a Jets offense that gives up the second-most IDP points in football
to DBs. Play him with confidence despite his past two quiet games.
Mathis, IND – He practiced Monday and should be okay when
the Colts face the Raiders on Sunday, making him an automatic
start versus that horrid offensive line.
Lewis, SF – Lewis was once a solid fantasy starter, but got
benched in Philly before finding a new home in San Fran. He’s
been playing much better lately and could be a nice sleeper pick
this week against the Bengals, since we all know how much Carson
Palmer likes throwing the ball into the hands of defenders when
he’s not letting opposing safeties destroy his receivers over
Scouring The Barrel
Jackson, CLE – He’s come on strong the past few weeks and
he’s a capable tackler on a team looking for consistency from
its LBs. I can definitely see the Bills working the running game
a lot in this one before trying to open it up downfield, so Jackson’s
a solid play despite the tendency for Browns DBs to hog all the
LB Joey Porter, MIA – Like Mathis, he’s dinged up,
but gets a great matchup. Against the Ravens, I expect the confident
Porter to play through the pain and be involved in nearly every
Trufant, SEA – I didn’t think it was possible to surpass my
Week 9 James Harrison selection (which I made prior to his career
day versus the Ravens) but it appears I did just that last week
with Trufant, who returned one of his 3 INTs a whopping 84 yards
for a TD Sunday against the Cards. Trufant also finished with
6 total tackles and 3 passes defensed. Am I the IDP waiver wire
king or what?
LB Lance Briggs, CHI – He tallied 5 total tackles, despite
a great matchup. Maybe it was the curse of the NFL Network.
LB Freddy Keiaho, IND – I expected more than just 6 total
tackles and no junk points.
LB Rocky McIntosh, WAS – McIntosh finished with 6 total
tackles a a PD – good enough to equal his average for the
season but not enough to warrant a waiver pickup.
DB Oshiomogho Atogwe, STL – 8 total tackles is a respectable
line for a DB , but O.J. didn’t steal the show with any
PDs or INTs like Trufant. I guess that’s why he was listed
where he was and vice versa.
LB Omar Gaither, PHI – Finally, Gaither comes through for
me. 10 total tackles is good enough for any LB on any day.
DL Elvis Dumervil, DEN – 4 tackles, an assist and 3 big
sacks – my second-best IDP call of the week, without a doubt.