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Through The Wire
11/18/08 Users...
Check out the most popular waiver wire pickups this week across thousands of MFL leagues. Also, quickly see who's available on your waiver wire this week by using the MFL Power feature at FF Today. Just input your league's 5-digit ID number away you go!
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 may still be available in many deeper leagues.

Week 11 was a bizarre one for the NFL and for fantasy football. It included a tie game Donovan McNabb didn’t know was possible and an 11-10 score that was the first of its kind in NFL history (but really should have finished 18-10). And while there weren’t many quality performances turned in by top QBs other than Kurt Warner, plenty of the usual WR standouts put up typically solid numbers. I can’t figure it out on first glance, and a deeper study would most likely only serve to confuse me more. So let’s just talk waivers.

In the majority of fantasy leagues, there’s a noticeable dearth of quality players on the wire, but fear not, dauntless fantasy liege, because there are a few productive veterans and fringe players – as well as a few relative unknowns – who have decent matchups and could prove valuable in your time of need. Just remember – at this point in the season it’s often hard to distinguish waiver worth from roster players who still provide better value down the stretch. So don’t get willy-nilly with your pickups and drop Plaxico Burress or even Derrick Mason to pick up Jabar Gaffney. In mid-October at the onset of the Larry Johnson debacle, I made the mistake of jumping on Chiefs RB Kolby Smith and dropping oft-injured Titans WR Justin Gage – even though I knew the talented Tennessee wideout would have late-season value as a #3 WR. It hasn’t cost me yet, but seeing a healthy Gage connect for two TDs with Kerry Collins on Sunday got me a bit verklempt. So temper your enthusiasm for waiver fodder with the knowledge that some of your bench players are still a better fit.

I welcome your e-mails and would like to continue hearing from you regarding my waiver wire recommendations – whether they have helped or hindered your success this season. And I’ll also answer specific fantasy questions and help you deal with roster quandaries. Remember, the earlier you get your questions in during the week, the more quickly I’ll respond.


Off The Top

Matt Cassel, NE – Cassel’s numbers from Week 11 (30-51 for 400 passing yards, 8 carries for 62 rushing yards, 3 passing TD, no turnovers) speak for themselves. Add him immediately if some silly, capricious dope dropped him because he hadn’t magically turned into Tom Brady yet.

Shaun Hill, SF – I recently added him in a league that relies heavily on QB performance where you start just one and I already have Tony Romo and Marc Bulger. See what I did? Insurance is important in the stretch run, and while I can safely assume I’ll be going with Romo from here on out, at least I’ll have a choice if something should happen to my boy.

Digging Deeper

Gus Frerotte, MIN – Minnesota’s upcoming schedule has a few tough matchups for RBs coming up, but isn’t too tough on opposing QBs. With Sidney Rice apparently healthy and things leaning toward greater reliance on the Vikings’ passing game, we could see more activity from Frerotte from here on out – closer to the 30-40 pass attempts per game we were seeing in September and October.

Daunte Culpepper, DET – He’s not a great start against Tamp Bay in leagues that punish turnovers aggressively, but if I was in a pinch, I’d be considering him in some leagues as a QB#2, just because he can get it into the end zone.

Scouring The Barrel

JaMarcus Russell, OAK – It’s frustrating to see a young QB like JaMarcus Russell take one step forward and two steps back, but that’s how things work in Al Davis’ world. On another team, it’s possible the #1 draft pick would already be making a ton of progress and be winning NFL games, but the sad reality in Oakland has squelched those hopes. Stay away unless all the above options have been exhausted.


Jake Delhomme, CAR – While the Panthers held on for a 31-22 victory against the lowly Lions, the game was all about the Panthers running game – and Delhomme suffered through another meager passing performance. Week 10’s 72-yard passing total was the lowest of Delhomme’s career, and his 98 passing yards on Sunday was the third-lowest of his career. If the Panthers plan on beating more formidable opponents, they’ll have to do more than run the ball all game long.

Tyler Thigpen, KC – Thigpen was the #3 QB in fantasy Week 11, compiling 235 passing yards, 2 TD and an INT to go along with 45 rushing yards. He should be owned in all leagues.

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA – It was a quiet week for a lot of QBs, so Hasselbeck’s first game back wasn’t a total disaster – even though he threw 3 INTs, a feat replicated by fantasy standout Donovan McNabb. Seattle’s schedule isn’t great from here on out, but you can definitely look forward to Hasselbeck’s Week 15 game versus the Rams.

Marc Bulger, STL – Bulger’s 295 passing yards were the sixth-highest total in Week 11, but he only managed 1 TD and threw 2 INTs.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Warrick Dunn, TB – With Earnest Graham likely shelved for the remainder of the season with a serious ankle injury suffered on the first rushing attempt of the Bucs’ win over Minnesota, Dunn takes over starting duties and gets to face the Lions. Bucs RBs have a very favorable schedule the next couple weeks and throughout the rest of the season, and Cadillac Williams has had some trouble getting out of the garage, so snag Mr. Dunn up if he’s available and put him at the top of your waiver priority list.

Derrick Ward, NYG – If there’s anything wrong with Brandon Jacobs, knee, Ward should challenge Dunn as the top pickup for Week 12. In that scenario, he’d likely share carries with Ahmad Bradshaw but handle most of the goal line carries, a huge boost to his mounting fantasy value. Update: The Newark Star-Ledger reported Tuesday morning that Jacobs doesn't have any damage in his swollen knee based on a Monday MRI, but that Jacobs said he doesn’t think the team will let him play in Week 12.

Digging Deeper

Tatum Bell, DEN – While it looks like Peyton Hillis will get most of the work inside the red zone, Bell could provide some fantasy value between the 20s – and he may still have the speed to break off an occasional TD run. When Selvin Young returns form a groin injury, all bets are off, but for now, he has fantasy value.

Fred Jackson, BUF – I confess – I love Fred Jackson. He’s a great complement to Marshawn Lynch and he’s a solid pass-catching back with the innate ability to get the extra yard. On Monday night, he had 12 carries for 60 yards – but no catches and the first two fumbles – and lost fumble – of his career. So he’s not perfect, but he’s great Lynch insurance and can help out plenty of teams in deeper leagues down the stretch.

Scouring The Barrel

Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG – See Derrick Ward above. Bradshaw has a lot of jump in his step and can easily break long runs, like his 77-yard scamper on Sunday versus the Ravens. He’s just behind Ward on the depth chart.

Antonio Pittman, STL – He’s the starter as long as Steven Jackson remains out, and he was the more effective runner on Sunday. The Bears defense hasn’t been great recently, but I have a feeling they’ll be able to stop the Rams running game. Don’t get too enthusiastic.

Kenneth Darby, STL – If his rib strain isn’t serious, I actually like Darby ‘s value better than Pittman this week, especially in PPR leagues. The Rams will likely be forced to throw the ball and dump it off to Darby occasionally, and the second-string back had 8-83-0 receiving to go along with 26 rushing yards this past Sunday. Take a shot if you’re desperate.


Jerious Norwood, ATL – Not his best week, but he’s allowed that after piling up great numbers as a backup RB.

Ricky Williams, MIA – He’s a risky play, but you should know that by now. Consider him a strong RB #4 and weak RB #3.

Felix Jones, DAL – Felix still wasn’t ready to return, but he’s one week closer and Barber owners can’t afford to not have him – just in case.

Peyton Hillis, DEN – A huge game from a relatively unknown fantasy commodity. I can’t wait to see how this plays out in Denver when Young gets back. It’s going to be pure chaos.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE – Sammy Morris is back, so it’s probably time to drop BenJarvus.

Chester Taylor, MIN – Taylor had a terrible time Sunday, losing a crucial fumble that may have cost the Vikings the game. But he’s still Adrian Peterson’s backup and should be owned in all leagues.

Correll Buckhalter, PHI – Again – great insurance as you prepare for your playoff run, even though he’s nearly useless when Westbrook starts.

Carnell Williams, TB – He didn’t play in Week 11, and while you should probably wait until he’s active to add him, it’s likely that Graham’s injury has pushed up his return.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Marvin Harrison, IND – Every WR reaches a point in his career when he becomes a risky play, but can still produce big numbers. It happened to Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Cris Carter circa 2001-02, and it’s happening to Marvin Harrison now. But 9-77-1 last week tells me he’ll be involved from here on out this season and that he and Peyton Manning are back on track. Plus, it appears there’s some uncertainty as to the health of Reggie Wayne’s ankle.

WR Lance Moore, NO – He saw 9 targets Sunday and converted for 8-102-1. Let’s not overcomplicate things. Lance Moore, regardless of the presence of Marques Colston, is a solid WR #3 – and he should be owned in all leagues.

Digging Deeper

WR Donnie Avery, STL – I don’t know why everybody gave up on Avery so quickly. He’s a great route runner and the Rams are throwing the ball a lot. The rookie had 13 balls thrown his way Sunday, finished with 9-93-0 and should continue to see plenty of targets as the season winds down.

WR Justin Gage, TEN – As I mentioned earlier, I had high hopes for Gage this season but lost patience. Last week’s 4-147-2 proves to me he’s in the Tennessee game plan and is probably the Titans best deep threat who doesn’t line up in the backfield.

Scouring The Barrel

WR Antonio Bryant, TB – I’m not the biggest fan of Bryant since I remember his underachieving days in Dallas, but he’s developed a niche in Tampa and is probably the team’s best receiver right now. Sunday’s 5-59-0 wasn’t spectacular, but it probably helped squeak out a few wins.

WR Michael Jenkins, ATL – He was targeted 6 times Sunday and caught 5-55-0. Continue to use him as a WR #4 or occasional flew play but not as a regular starter, since it’s likely his targets will be steady at around 4-8 a game.

WR Jabar Gaffney, NE – Like I said, don’t drop a quality WR#3 to snag him, since he’s still the third or fourth receiving option on the team. But he got a TD and saw the most targets of 2008 on Sunday in a Pats loss (consistent with his previous high – a Week 3 loss to Miami that produced his only other TD this season).


WR Mark Bradley, KC – Bradley finished with 3-54-0 on 8 targets, but the lack of a TD (and Dwayne Bowe getting two) was disappointing considering his brief track record as a playmaker in KC.

WR Ted Ginn, Jr., MIA – 4-51-0 receiving was decent, but his 40-yard TD run paid fortuitous dividends to fantasy owners who started him this week.

WR Antwaan Randle El, WAS – Had only 1 catch for 24 yards, but was sidelined early with a foot or ankle injury.

WR Brandon Lloyd, CHI – Lloyd was finally active for Week 11, but finished with only 2-17-0 on 3 targets. He should be more involved and get increased targets in subsequent weeks.

TE Todd Heap, BAL – He retuned to normalcy with 3-16-0, but he’s still a great TE#2.

WR Sidney Rice, MIN – Oh my goodness! Sidney Rice caught 2 passes for 22 yards and neither was a TD! Look for him to be targeted more frequently in the red zone in Week 12.

WR Jason Hill, SF – 3-33-0 isn’t terrible, but again – it’s a disappointment he didn’t put up better numbers against the lowly Rams.


Off The Top

LB Jerod Mayo, NE – The rookie out of Tennessee went absolutely nuts on Thursday night, racking up 20 tackles (16 solos, 4 assist) and a PD. If there’s any leagues where’s he’s unowned, he won’t be after waivers this week.

DL Trent Cole, PHI – Available in a bunch of leagues (including one of mine) after a few quiet weeks, Cole has had two solid games in a row, including a 10-tackle, 2-sack performance against the Bengals in Week 11. He’s a great DL for your roster slot because he gets tackles consistently and in Jim Johnson’s dynamic defensive scheme, gets to the QB pretty frequently as well.

Digging Deeper

LB Thomas Davis, CAR – After eight pretty mediocre weeks, I’m sure a lot of IDP owners gave up on Davis for a trendier LB mainstay. Now, Davis is coming off two big weeks (21 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, PD) and will likely see a lot of tackles come his way against the Falcons.

DB Carlos Rogers, WAS – Great player, great matchup against a QB (Hasselbeck) who’s bound to throw some picks on his way back from injury. Rogers does everything well and should make 5-7 tackles this week as well.

Scouring The Barrel

LB Wesley Woodyard, DEN – The undrafted rookie LB out of Kentucky has played well the last two games and is a solid pickup in deeper leagues. Take a shot if you’re down a LB.

DB Kevin Payne, CHI – My sleeper of the week, Payne has done fairly well so far this season in IDP (51 solos, 3 INT, 5 PD) and has a good matchup this week @STL.


LB Zach Thomas, DAL – Thomas had just 4 tackles (2 solo, 2 assist) while Bradie James cleaned up the most of the tackle opportunities.

DB Erik Coleman, ATL – A mediocre game -- 5 solos and 1 assist – since he didn’t have a pick.

LB Calvin Pace, NYJ – Not so great (5 solo, 2 assist) in a matchup that looked pretty favorable.

DL Chris Long, STL – Just 1 assist – easily my worst IDP call of the year.

DB Asante Samuel, PHI – 4 solo tackles and 4 PDs – a solid game from a good veteran DB.

DL Matt Roth, MIA – 1 solo, 1 assist, 1 sack. Would’ve been so much better if it was 2 solos, 2 assists and 2 sacks.