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
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Week 4 featured some stirring upsets and monster fantasy totals
from several QBs and a slew of marginal WRs. Hopefully, either you
had some of those guys plugged in already or took one of my recommendations
and inserted Jake Delhomme. Interestingly enough, several of the
WRs I profiled in Week 2 had monster games in Week 4. Here’s
to hoping you stashed them away and used them this past week.
As always, I welcome your e-mails and would like to hear from
you if my waiver wire recommendations have helped or hindered
your fantasy progress over the past couple years – or so
far in 2008. I’m also available for fantasy questions of
any variety, and as many of you already know, I’m exceedingly
prompt in my replies during the week – but a little less
punctual on weekends, when I’m usually swimming in a handle
of Captain Morgan.
Off The Top
BUF – If Edwards is ever going to throw more than 1 TD pass
in a game, it should be this week against the Cards. While the
matchup probably won’t yield 761 yards and 8 TDs from the two
starting QBs like last week’s shootout, The Bills secondary will
likely be missing Terrence McGee and there could be some offensive
NE – We’ll find out Sunday if the week off did young Cassel
any good. I’m betting that he’ll return poised and prepared to
beat upon the 49ers, and if the Pats do fall behind the upstarts
from San Fran, New England's offense will take to the air early
and often to keep pace. Cassel’s available in many leagues after
his Week 4 bye, so here’s your chance.
DET – I expected more out of Kitna in Week 3 versus the Niners,
but again – he’s coming off a bye and should be ready to spread
it around to his talented receivers against a depleted Bears secondary.
I’m expecting the Lions to move the football using lots of slants
to “Megatron” Calvin Johnson, Roy Williams and the talented Shaun
Marc Bulger, STL – Hey Scott Linehan was an idiot anyway,
right? It looks like Bulger will return as the starting QB after
the Week 5 bye – and starting Week 9 the schedule starts
looking pretty nice. I’ve no longer got the confidence to
start him as my #1, but see how he performs after the bye and
maybe he’ll be worth the pickup.
Scouring The Barrel
TEN – If you would’ve told me four months ago that in late
September, Vince young would be suicidal, Kerry Collins would
have a stabilizing effect on the Titans and the team would be
winning NFL games without any real receiving threat other than
Justin McCareins and a speedy rookie back, I would have said:
“Yeah right – and John McCain’s running mate’s going to be a MILFy,
gun-toting Alaskan babe who can see Russia from the stripper pole
in her living room.” And yeah – we’d both be right. Unfortunately,
the lack of quality receivers and thorny upcoming schedule – which
includes a Week 6 bye – means Mr. Collins is probably only a QB#3
Jake Delhomme, CAR – 294 and 2 TDs is a nice way to return
from a few bad weeks, especially considering the injuries to Jordan
Gross, Jeff Otah and subsequent linemen shuffle. Let’s see
if he can keep it up.
Trent Green, STL – Yeah – any other bright ideas,
Mr. Linehan? Oh – you’re no longer working? Not surprising.
Chad Pennington, MIA – Overall, it’s not a terrible
schedule, but he’s still Chad Pennington. Stay tuned and
we’ll see what kind of year it’s going to be. He’s
very accurate and 15-yard TD passes still count in fantasy.
CLE – The Browns won, but it didn’t have much to do with Derek
Anderson. Mostly, it was because Carson Palmer’s backup, Ryan
Fitzpatrick, got the start and looked completely lost. Keep an
eye on this situation for now, since it appears Anderson has bought
himself at least one more start after the Week 5 bye.
MIN – Tarvaris Jackson took over after Frerotte cut his non-throwing
hand, but the injury doesn’t appear to be serious. Check the injury
report for updates this week.
Kyle Orton, CHI – In leagues that don’t penalize for
turnovers, he had an excellent game with 199, and 3 TDs. In leagues
that punish such gaffes (2 INT and 2 lost fumbles), his performance
was a tad more pedestrian.
Off The Top
NO – McAllister had a couple carries in Week 2 against the Redskins,
but the win over San Fran was his comeback party. Finally healthy
after reconstructive knee surgeries in ’05 and ’07, Deuce tallied
73 yards on 20 carries and scored a TD. In this offense, he’ll
assume most of the classic running duties and occasionally haul
in a pass. If anything should befall Reggie Bush, he’s an unambiguous
#2 fantasy back. For now, he’s a solid #3 and an appropriate bye
Fred Jackson, BUF – I just love me some Fred Jackson. The
undrafted back out of Coe College has got great lateral mobility,
better-than-average speed and nice balance. He’s already
got 211 total yards in ’08, including 11 catches for 93
yards and a sweet 22-yard TD run last week versus the Rams. He
should be owned in all deeper leagues and in all PPR leagues.
Moore, PIT – RB Rashard Mendenhall has been placed on injured
reserve, ending his rookie season after sustaining a shoulder
fracture during the Monday night game against Baltimore. Moore
will see increased time on the field and could be the starter
next week against the Jaguars. Unfortunately, the Steelers running
game hasn’t been effective at all since the Week 2 win over the
Browns, and now they’ll be without G Kendall Simmons (torn Achilles)
the rest of the way too. Moore’s probably a starting RB now, at
least for a game, so he’s a must add for Week 5. The injury to
Mendenhall still gives him some value once Fast Willie Parker
returns after the Week 6 bye, but things aren’t looking good for
the Steelers running attack.
Scouring The Barrel
Ladell Betts, WAS – The workload increased last week to
11 carries, but Betts probably needs a Portis injury to be fantasy-relevant.
There may be some games where he’ll be used more frequently
in the rotation, the passing game and on third downs (Weeks 6-8:
STL, CLE, @DET), but Portis is running effectively and appears
to be the picture of health.
Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG – He’s been quiet thus far, but
don’t forget about him. He’s a nice guy to stash away
on rosters with deep benches and he’s bound to get his shot
sometime in ’08.
Steve Slaton, HOU – 8/83/1 receiving and 10 carries for
33 yards – a wonderful statistical line for PPR leagues
and pretty decent anywhere else.
DAL – The Cowboys completely abandoned their running game
and Jones didn’t get a carry. And unlike ESPN’s Ed Werder reported
prior to the game, he didn’t see much action in the passing game,
either. A brief aside to fellow Cowboys fans: Do you think Jason
Garrett realizes he’s not running the ball at all when he gets
caught up in this madness, or is he so consumed with appeasing
T.O. that he forgets the Cowboys have one of the best running
back tandems in football? Just wondering.
Pierre Thomas, NO – The Deuce was loose in Week 4 and Thomas
only saw 1 measly carry. Not sure how this is going to play out
as the season wears on, but the Saints’ primary ball carrier
gig appears to be McAllister’s job to lose.
BAL – Another injury to McGahee (chest) could lead to more
time for this bulldozer. McLain has a good low drive and can even
get small to hit holes in the opposing defensive line. He really
impressed me when he blasted Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons into
the end zone in the fourth quarter on a crucial game-tying drive,
and he totaled 63 yards on 16 carries. Keep an eye on the injury
report and Ravens’ depth chart.
Correll Buckhalter, PHI – Westbrook didn’t suit up
and Buckhalter got the call, although he didn’t find the
end zone late in the fourth when he could have won it for the
Eagles – something a healthy Westbrook probably would have
managed. Still, Correll finished with 90 total yards and a TD.
Stay tuned to the injury report to see if he’s worth any
Warrick Dunn, TB – It was good for Dunn owners to see him
so involved in the offense, with 16 carries for 63 yards and 2/23/0
receiving. He’s not going to get many looks inside the 20,
but in PPR leagues, he’s still a serviceable bye week fill-in.
Off The Top
Jackson, PHI – If he’s not added in all leagues at this point
it’s because people are overly concerned with the idiotic play
in the Cowboys game. And while it was stupid, a rookie with 22/327/1
and 3 carries for 36 yards after just four NFL games is a sign
Donovan McNabb has finally found his receiver. And a bunch of
fantasy teams have found a solid #2 WR. So if he’s still out there
in your league, don’t hesitate.
Walter, HOU – Last year, he showed us what he could really
do as the Texans primary target during Andre Johnson’s absence.
Now, he’s outperforming a healthy Johnson and torched the Jacksonville
secondary for 8/76/2 in Week 4. Isn’t it time we give him the
respect he deserves and add him in all our leagues? Look at this
upcoming schedule: IND, MIA, DET, CIN – all home games, as long
as Reliant Stadium is good to go.
Muhammad, CAR – Just when you think the dynamic veteran is
done, he shows up with a huge fantasy game. Delhomme was adequately
synced-up with his receivers Sunday, and the Panthers offense
could be back on track after sputtering the first couple weeks
without perennial fantasy standout Steve Smith. The schedule is
beautiful the next four weeks (KC, @TB, NO, ARI) and there’s some
bright spots the rest of the way after the Week 9 bye (@OAK, DET,
@ATL, @GB, TB, DEN, NYG, @NO) He’s a reliable WR #3 and could
excel even more once the Panthers’ offensive line gets healthy
Jones, JAC – Even with Jerry Porter back and Reggie Williams
supposedly healthy, Jones remained David Garrard’s favorite target
and snagged 5/71/1 on Sunday in the win over Houston. He’s the
Jaguars leading receiver and the only one with fantasy relevance
so far in ’08. He should be owned in all leagues by now, a startling
development considering his checkered fantasy past and off-field
troubles this summer.
Breaston, ARI – Breaston’s numbers in Week 4 (9/122/0) were
probably somewhat of an anomaly considering the Cards were playing
from behind shortly after the games’ outset, and while I wouldn’t
expect Breaston to see as many targets in one half as he did in
the game’s second half on Sunday, he’s a pretty viable #3WR if
Anquan Boldin (head) misses any extended period of time.
Moore, NO – 7/101/2 is an incredible stat line for an undersized,
underappreciated receiver like Moore. As long as David Patten
(groin) remains hampered by injury and Marques Colston is out,
Moore will see plenty of action. But you have to realize that
grabbing him now is adding him after the bulk of his fantasy value
has already been spent.
Stokley, DEN – Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal get all the
press, but Stokley’s got a terrific work ethic and has been to
the mountain when it comes to fantasy success. It’s clear to me
that Mike Shanahan has no interest in running the ball anymore
(at least not effectively) and Jay Cutler will be spreading it
around quite a bit this season. Marshall and Royal seem kind of
fragile, as well, so it’d be wise to find a roster spot for a
veteran receiver like Stokley.
Scouring The Barrel
WR Arnaz Battle, SF – His line of 7/120/0 matched the highest
reception total of his career and was far and away the highest
receiving yardage total he’s ever had. I even started him
in one of my leagues. I’ve always been a fan of Battle –
it’s just difficult to know when he’s going to break
out. While I think he’s worth adding in deeper leagues,
he won’t be effective every week.
Nelson, GB – The rookie has consistently seen targets and
has responded well. Monitor his progress – but only add him if
James Jones continues to sit out this week and Aaron Rodgers’
shoulder is okay.
WR Jabar Gaffney, NE – My sleeper pick for Week 5 versus
the 49ers, Gaffney was involved in the offense quite a bit in
Week 3, finishing with 5/61/1 against the Dolphins.
WR Brandon Lloyd, CHI – Lloyd was hindered by a balky hip,
was a game-time decision and didn’t see much time on the
field Sunday night. He managed to grab a couple balls for 33 yards,
but he was a non-factor. Still – if he’s healthy he’ll
get his targets. But a knee injury sustained in the second quarter
kept him out of action the rest of the game. The Bears passing
game looked pretty good in the first half, and if Lloyd is healthy
next week, he’s a decent start against the Lions –
just make sure he’s at least probable.
WR Ike Hilliard, TB – 2/21/0 is pretty terrible –
but Hilliard will be back with better games, starting with this
week versus Denver.
Camarillo, MIA – On a bye but a decent #4 WR play in Week
5 against the Chargers. Maybe he’ll get his first TD of ’08 –
he caught 2 in the last three games last year from Cleo Lemon.
Fasano, MIA – Fasano’s a good bet for multiple red zone targets
next week, assuming the Dolphins show up for the game and Ronnie
Brown is still getting some direct snaps.
Austin, DAL – I would have busted on all my WRs had I not
included Austin in the barrel. With his 3/45/1, he’s now scored
in 2 straight and has about the same fantasy value as Jets WR
TE Billy Miller, NO – 3/30/0 isn’t great, but it’s
respectable for a fill-in TE.
Off The Top
LB Paris Lenon, DET – Opposing LBs have feasted against
the Bears and Lenon get his shot this week. The undrafted MLB
out of Richmond is a great tackler and is due for a big game against
this division rival. So far in ‘08, he’s only tallied
18 tackles and 2 Pd in 3 games, but he’s ready to break
DL Darnell Dockett, ARI – I like his chances of getting
a sack on Trent Edwards and making some stops close to the lien
of scrimmage versus the Bills. Another guy who’s yet to
have a standout performance in ’08, Dockett posted 9.5 sacks
and 58 tackles in ’07. When healthy, which he now appears
to be, he’s a beast.
Thomas, NE – Another guy who’s due for a big game – Thomas
heads to San Fran to take on the 49ers. A solid pass rusher who
also drops back into coverage well, Thomas will likely get ample
opportunities to target J.T. O’Sullivan in the pocket and Frank
Gore as he comes out of the backfield. He’ll have his chances
to make some plays and is a good spot-start this week.
Bethea, IND – With the defense struggling and Bob Sanders
out, Pro Bowl safety Bethea is the only thing standing between
Colts opponents and the end zone. He’ll start making some plays
this week against a Houston team that yields the second most IDP
points to opposing DBs.
LB Kawika Mitchell, BUF – He’s not on most people’s
fantasy radar after his slow start, but Mitchell’s got a
great matchup this week against the Cards. I think he’s
due for a big week.
DB Anthony Henry, DAL – Another guy who’s capable
of huge games is Henry, who’s been relatively quiet other
than his 2-sack day in Green Bay. Facing the Bengals, he’ll
get some chances to make plays and should finish with 4-6 tackles.
Scouring The Barrel
Whitner, BUF – Terrence McGee has a sprained MCL and while
backup CB Ashton Youboty is what I would call an IDP “super-sleeper”
in Week 5 if McGee can’t go, the Bills face the Cardinals – and
Whitner, Ko Simpson and Jabari Greer will see lots of action as
Kurt Warner aimlessly flings it around the field.
Woodley, PIT – Between him and fellow LB James Harrison, these
guys are always up in the QB’s face and making plays in the backfield.
While his tackle totals haven’t been impressive, he responded
with a big game Monday night against the Ravens and took a Joe
Flacco fumble caused by a Harrison sack right to the house. Again
– you shouldn’t rely on plays like this to win in IDP, but it’s
nice to have a guy like that in the mix because he’s capable of
creating big points.
DB Dre Bly,
DEN – Available in most IDP leagues, Bly has yet to record
an INT and is a good tackler with the ability to post exceptional
numbers. I think he’s due for a big week against the Bucs, who
are throwing the ball a lot with Griese at the helm and will try
to stay away from fellow Broncos CB Champ Bailey.
LB Dhani Jones, CIN – 5 tackles, 4 assists against the
Browns is a solid total from a consistent weekly IDP contributor.
I can’t say I’m surprised he didn’t go nuts,
since he’s yet to register a sack or INT in ’08. But
when 9 total tackles is your lowest output for the season, it’s
not polite to complain.
DB Chris Gamble, CAR – He finished with 6 solos, an assist
and a PD – also slightly below his usual weekly yield but
a respectable line nonetheless. He’s a worthwhile addition
to any IDP roster and he’s got a great matchup this week.
DB Marvin White, CIN – Also finished with 6 tackles and
an assist. White has been the model of consistency; he’s
had between 6 and 8 total tackles each game so far.
Jackson, CLE – D’Qwell laid a veritable fantasy egg in Week
4, only mustering 1 solo and 3 assists, a paltry total for a guy
emerging as a stud LB. Hope fully the Week 5 bye will allow him
some time to recover.
Porter, MIA – Porter had the week off, but he’s undoubtedly
ready for the Chargers and LaDainian Tomlinson in Week 5. It might
be a good week to give him a shot.
Parker, PHI – He got a sack, 2 solo tackles and an assist
versus the Bears. I was hoping for a bit more sleeper love, but
at least he got to Orton.