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 5 turned out to be another tough one for marginal QBs. Trent
Edwards took a hard albeit legal shot from Cards safety Adrian Wilson
– the only real fantasy impact the Arizona DB made all day
long – and sat out the remainder of the game with a concussion.
Jon Kitna was unceremoniously yanked – or so it appeared during
the broadcast – and Bucs QB Brian Griese left Sunday’s
16-13 loss to the Broncos with a swollen right elbow.
Pay particular attention to the QB and WR updates included in
this week’s column (there’s some bonus advice on a
possible QB trade target in there) and while many of the WRs I
recommended had solid games last week, there might be a few still
available in plenty of leagues out there, including Brandon Stokley
and Steve “Voluptuous” Breaston.
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’ll
also answer a wide range of fantasy queries. I’ll even respond
promptly to the occasional rebuke, or give you some helpful tips
in the kitchen, as I’m an excellent cook.
Off The Top
HOU – Okay, so he spent Saturday night in the hospital with
a viral infection. And in the Coxsackie Fantasy Football League,
my opponents (we’ll call them the Bed & Breakfast Boys) started
him anyway. I can just picture those two bickering over it later
in the afternoon: “I thought you were going to check the inactives.”
“No! I was making breakfast for the Pinkertons, our second-floor
guests!” – or something like that. Anyway, Schaub was probably
just puking his guts out last weekend, and he should be fine for
Week 6. If he’s not, I’m sure somebody will tell us. His next
four opponents: MIA,
DET, CIN, @MIN. Scoop him up if somebody freaked out Sunday
morning (or prior to that) and dropped him.
CHI – Another nice day from Orton (24-34, 334 yds, 2 TDs and
no turnovers – that’s good for a 121.4 passer rating) is an indication
he’ll be throwing the ball more as teams stack the line to stop
the stylish, smoldering Matt Forte. Marty Booker, Rashied Davis,
Devin Hester and TE Greg Olsen are all capable receivers – and
when Brandon Lloyd returns he’ll have even more weapons at his
disposal. His next four weeks: @ATL,
MIN, bye, DET.
Scouring The Barrel
ATL – The rookie threw for 194 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT, and is
developing nice rapport with veteran receiver Roddy White. But
the matchups aren’t especially promising until the last five weeks.
Keep him on your bench until further notice.
Joe Flacco, BAL – I’m not the biggest fan of the Ravens
offense, and Flacco’s not been lighting up the fantasy scoreboard
this season (1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD, 4 INT) His matchups aren’t
great, his receivers are old and less-than-explosive, and his
coaches don’t seem to want him to open anything up anytime
soon. His problems right now are poise and protection. The arm
strength is there – and when the kid’s got time, he
delivers the ball as well as most successful NFL QBs. But without
a bookend left tackle and adequate shelter behind a cohesive line,
Flacco will fall short of his potential.
Trent Edwards, BUF – Ouch. Just when your team is 4-0 and
your NFL career looks like it’s taking off – you end
up walking off the field with the help of coaches looking like
an amateur drunk getting led to a cab. At least he’s got
the bye week to recover and a favorable schedule.
NE – I like that Cassel threw the deep bomb to Randy Moss, and
not just because I just traded Earnest Graham straight up for
him (I’ve been trading like gangbusters – it’s that time of the
year for me. It seems that every season I start making serious
moves around Week 4). Cassel’s a guy who’s becoming more comfortable
that I’d be targeting in trades even if he isn’t still available
on the wire. The AFC’s looking wide open, really, and the Pats
are still a pretty good team. If you remember how Tom Brady’s
career started, you’ll remember that he started off slowly as
well (0 TDs in his first three games and 2 lost fumbles). I think
Cassel can still post some big numbers as a bye-week fill-in.
Check Cassel’s matchup during your #1 QB’s bye week – he could
be a good fit that gives you a much-deserved W for making the
extra effort, helping another squad with bye week woes and shoring
up another roster slot of your own in a three-for-two or something
Jon Kitna, DET – Turns out Kitna wasn’t benched –
but that he was pulled at halftime after experiencing back spasms,
according to HC Rod Marinelli. Kitna was 8-of-16 for 74 yards,
not necessarily a mandate for fantasy owners’ confidence.
This from NFL.com: “It started in the first quarter,”
Kitna said. “A little back spasm at halftime, it just locked
up and really I tried to go back out but I couldn’t really
get out.” Keep an eye on his status heading into Week 6.
Marc Bulger, STL – Bulger has some vanilla matchups the
rest of the way, and should make a capable fantasy backup. He’s
a major risk as a #1, so I can’t condone that, but he’s
not a bad guy to stash and keep your fingers crossed.
TEN – The bye gives Vince Young another week to recover, but Collins
hasn’t lost a game yet in ’08 and should remain the starter in
Tennessee until further notice.
Off The Top
Williams, CAR – Williams rushed for a career-high 123 yards
(on 20 carries) and two TDs, not to mention a 25-yard TD reception
– in the win over KC on Sunday. It was undoubtedly the most productive
fantasy day of his football life, and will boost his value in
a Ronnie Brown-like manner over the next couple weeks. He’s still
out there in shallow leagues (owned in just 65 percent of Yahoo
leagues – bizarre) and has received high praise from fantasy gurus
heading into the past two seasons – although he’s never lived
up to it other than the occasional big day every 10 games or so.
I think the situation in Carolina with Jonathan Stewart (instead
of the much-maligned DeShaun Foster) could lead to more consistent
Felix Jones, DAL – It was fitting to see Jones post a goose
egg in Week 4 (coincidentally a Dallas loss) and have a monster
day – 9 carries for 96 yards and a big TD run – the
very next week. He’s still available in about 1 out of 5
Yahoo leagues, which means 1 out of 5 Yahoo leagues are full of
idiots – or just consist of a crazy person versus his or
her 5-11 cats.
Tim Hightower, ARI – I think most fantasy owners have gotten
the hint that Hightower’s a solid RB #3 in just about any
format, but many remain unconvinced, since he’s owned in
just 28 percent of Yahoo leagues. He’s finding the end zone
regularly, as the Arizona offense is loaded with offensive weapons
and has a penchant for quick-hitting scores.
McClain, BAL – I wrote extensively on the guy in last week’s
updates, but I can’t get away from him. People still seem to believe
that Willis McGahee is a one-man show as long as he starts – but
it’s just not true. McClain will continue to find ways to score.
Buckhalter, PHI – Another injury to Brian Westbrook – this
time two broken ribs – have thrust Buckhalter into the spotlight
again. It’s just never going to feel comfortable starting him
unless Westbrook’s officially out, which almost never happens.
Scouring The Barrel
Warrick Dunn, TB – An essential PPR guy who’s seeing
lots of action in the Tampa offense. He should be owned in all
12-team leagues and currently rates as a RB#3 in PPR leagues (bye-week
fill-in) and RB#4 (desperation bye-week fill-in and trade fodder)
Sammy Morris, NE – I still think he’s the guy who
going to grind out a few of New England’s wins this year,
but there will be games when the passing game surges and he’s
left without a viable stat line. For now, pick him up if you need
another RB and play him on a matchup-to-matchup basis against
teams with better secondaries than D-lines.
Deuce McAllister, NO – Nothing much doing against the Vikings,
but that was expected: the Vikes have one of the top run defenses
Fred Jackson, BUF – A decent receiving day for a RB –
3/32/0, but Jackson had just one carry for 5 yards in a game that
got out of Buffalo’s hands pretty quickly – rendering
their usually balanced running attack essentially useless. He’s
still a must-have backup in all PPR leagues.
Moore, PIT – Moore filled in admirably as the feature back
(99 rushing yards on 17 carries and 3/17/0 receiving, but he didn’t
find paydirt and in two weeks, it’s likely that Willie Parker
will return. Stay tuned to FWP’s injury status and evolve accordingly.
Ladell Betts, WAS – He finished with 9 carries for 44 yards
and 1 catch for 7 yards Sunday against the Eagles – and
helped the team crank out a key division victory with his play
in the fourth quarter. He’ll likely get even more touches
against the Rams in Week 6 if the Redskins pull ahead early and
they can give Portis a break. Honestly, he’d be on my radar
in deeper leagues as a possible #3 or #4 RB.
NYG – He had 11 carries for 65 yards in garbage time, including
a 32-yard scamper down to the Seattle 7-yard line. Derrick Ward
continues to hold a lead on the Giants depth chart, but as you
saw again in Week 5, this is a team that runs the ball effectively
and can score a lot of points. Don’t give up his roster slot unless
Off The Top
WR Donald Driver, GB – I’ll start this off by saying
that under no circumstances do I want to hear from any of you
deep-leaguers screaming at me for including a guy owned in just
about every fantasy league. Because somebody dropped Driver right
before Sunday’s game in one of mine, and he finished with
3/68/1. Yes, Bob, I’m talking about you. And if I can grab
him, I’m going to. And so should you. Because he’s
Donald Effing Driver, that’s why.
Bruce, SF – There’s not much to say about Bruce other than
“What are you waiting for?” He’s J.T. O’Sullivan’s spiritual leader
in the journeyman QB’s confusing new role as NFL starter – he
even got nabbed straight up for Aaron Rodgers in one of my leagues
this week from one fantasy owner (Bob) who’s not yet seen the
last reference to him in this column.
Engram, SEA – The veteran receiver was active for the first
time in ’08, was targeted 12 times and responded with 8/61/0.
An injury to Deion Branch makes Engram the unquestionable #1 in
Seattle and a viable #3 WR in fantasy. Last year’s huge season
tells me that as long as he’s healthy, he’ll continue to make
plays and consistently contribute to rosters in all leagues.
Hester, CHI – I picked up Hester for a spot start in one of
my leagues Sunday and it paid off. He came through with 5/66/1
on just 6 targets. From here on out, Hester’s got a pretty favorable
schedule, the Bears are moving the ball through the air with increased
consistency, and there’s always the threat of him returning a
bonus TD off a kickoff or punt.
WR Greg Camarillo, MIA – In last week’s updates, I
wrote that Camarillo was “a decent #4 WR play in Week 5
against the Chargers” and that he could “get his first
TD of ’08.” Well – he finished with 6 catches
for 68 yards and a second-quarter score that put Miami up for
good. He’s had between 5-8 targets each game and 3-6 catches,
so don’t expect that crazy numbers.
Scouring The Barrel
Walker, JAC – 12 catches in his last three tells me he’s David
Garrard’s “new” favorite. But I know better than to trust any
Jacksonville receiver, don’t I? Over the past couple years, excluding
the second half that fantasy owners got from Reggie Williams last
season, “Garrard’s favorite receiver” has been a lot like “my
favorite Britney moment” – it’s in a constant state of flux.
WR Domenik Hixon, NYG – At Cleveland, you could see a similar
situation to what happened in Seattle. Bob loves him (don’t
you, Bob?) and surely benefited in at least one of his leagues
from his big day. But read below regarding the prospects of a
Moss, NYG – Just because he caught two TDs Sunday doesn’t
mean you immediately go out and pick him up. There’s four Giants
WRs ahead of him on the depth chart, including Plaxico Burress,
Amani Toomer, Steve Smith and Hixon. Plax will be back as the
unambiguous #1, so don’t get too jazzed up about their breakouts.
TE Alge Crumpler, TEN – He can’t help you this week,
but he’s a sneaky pickup if you’ve got extra roster
space. The four-time Pro-Bowler saw his targets increase to 6
in Week 5, which he converted into 2/15/1. I can’t give
his performance a glowing review, since without the TD it’s
pretty much garbage. But I’ll say that the man has earned
the chance to get more looks inside the red zone. If the Titans
plan on keeping the winning streak alive after their Week 6 bye,
they’re going to have to stay one step ahead of opposing
defenses – and using the versatile Crumpler is one way to
do just that.
WR DeSean Jackson, PHI – Other than his punt return TD,
Jackson was noticeably absent from the offense. Weird, considering
how productive he was in previous weeks.
Walter, HOU – Even though Andre Johnson had his ’08 breakout
and the QB situation is wild right now, 2/36/0 doesn’t disturb
me. He’ll continue to get looks even with Super Andre and the
rest of the offense going forward.
WR Muhsin Muhammad, CAR – 3/71/1 are yummy numbers for
any #3 fantasy WR, a position which Muhammad can lay claim to
proudly at this point.
WR Matt Jones, JAC – Jones saw 6 targets but finished with
just 2/25/0. Walker really stole the show in the passing game
on Sunday night.
Breaston, ARI – I admit it. I’m a Breaston man. He tallied
7/77/0 and will continue to see favorable target numbers even
when Anquan Boldin returns from injury.
WR Lance Moore, NO – He had 5/31/0 in Week 6 against the
Vikes. It was a weird game, and he still saw targets. Keep him
rostered as a #3 or #4 WR, depending on the depth of your league
and WR situation.
Stokley, DEN – Eddie Royal went down with an apparent lower
left leg injury on a punt return in the third quarter against
the Bucs, and Stokley – after a nice 3rd down run from Pittman
and a 16-yard completion to Tony Scheffler – promptly caught a
pass in the flats and ran it in for a score. He finished with
6 catches for 52 yards on 7 targets, and probably helped a lot
of fantasy teams in the proicess as their #3 WR. I hope you were
Battle, SF – A veritable stinker among several nice fantasy
recommendations, Battle had 5 balls thrown his way but just 1
catch for 9 yards. And yes, I started him as my WR#3 in one league
and it appears as if I’m going to lose – to the same guy who dropped
Donald Driver in another (I’m talking to you again, Bob). Ouch.
And he got a billion points from Antoine Winfield Monday night
to seal the blowout. Keep your distance from Battle until he gets
a couple more solid games in a row (at least 3-4/30-40/0-1) under
WR Jordy Nelson, GB – Jordy caught the only ball thrown
to him Sunday for a 14-yard gain. That’s the lowest target
total since Week 1, when he had zero catches. Not good, considering
he was coming off two 4-catch games and 14 targets over the past
Gaffney, NE – 3/35/0 means Gaffney was one big play away from
a very nice fantasy day. He didn’t do a ton, but he didn’t lay
an egg, either. It’s very possible that a Gaffney insertion (sounds
kind of gross, I know) gave you enough points to pull out a win.
Among the WRs he outscored this week: Brandon Marshall, Calvin
Johnson, Santana Moss, Eddie Royal (inj), Anthony Gonzalez (inj),
Bryant Johnson, Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, and Deion Branch
Off The Top
LB Zach Diles, HOU – It’s about time we make Mr.
Diles an every-week IDP starter. He’s proven to be a playmaker
and while I still know very little about him, he’s posted
tackle totals of 13, 8, 6 and 9 in his first four games. And his
matchups aren’t LB-oppressive at all the rest of the way.
Jones, DAL – I’ve stayed away for a while, but I can’t help
recommending the Artist Formerly Known as PacMan this week against
the Cards. He’s a big-play specialist who hasn’t made any since
Week 17 in ’06, and he’s due. I know I make use of the “he’s due”
viewpoint a bit too often to be considered a conservative fantasy
source, but I seem to be have a knack for knowing when DBs are
going to have good days – and Jones is freakin’ due. Add him and
play him through Week 9 – he’s going to rack up some picks and
energize the Dallas secondary.
Spikes, SF – Eminently available in most IDP leagues, Spikes
finds a way to post respectable tackle numbers and make a fantasy
impact despite co-existing with the gargantuan numbers of LB Patrick
Willis. He’s always been good when healthy, and I think he’s in
a good defensive system in San Fran to continue bolstering IDP
DB Rashean Mathis, JAC – He’s a bit hit-or-miss, but
he’s been on a tear in ’08 and last week returned
another INT for a score. Mathis isn’t going to do that every
week, but excluding the Week 7 bye, he’s got favorable matchups
through Week 10. I also think his tackle totals will start spiking
and he’ll continue to make the occasional big play.
Scouring The Barrel
Porter, MIA – Channing Crowder doesn’t seem to be doing that
much as the Miami LB corps heads into two solid IDP matchups in
weeks 6 and 7. He’s playing with fire in his belly and he’s been
motivating his teammates in recent weeks. I promise – you won’t
regret adding him unless he gets hurt.
Williams, MIN – The Vikings defensive line has been uncharacteristically
quiet this season – especially Jared Allen, who’s been seeing
more double-teams than Jenna Haze. Now, the Vikings have Detroit
at home and head to Chicago in Week 7 – matchups that should mean
big numbers for Minnesota DL. If Jared Allen isn’t available,
which he probably isn’t, take a flier on this guy in the next
DB Michael Griffin, TEN – The Tennessee defense has produced
several standouts this season, and Griffin is probably the least
well-known. He’s on a bye in Week 6, but you should consider
adding him next week versus KC. His schedule, starting week 11,
looks pretty favorable.
Lenon, DET – Lenon had 9 total tackles, but just 2 solos.
Fellow Lions LB Ernie Sims finished with 5 solos and 6 assists.
Lots of gang tackling going on in Motor City, huh?
DL Darnell Dockett, ARI – The Cards sacked Losman and Edwards
5 times, with Dockett uncharacteristically absent from the party.
But he did have 2 solos and a fumble recovery, preventing one
of my top IDP calls from busting.
LB Adalius Thomas, NE – Thomas was New England’s leading
tackler this week with 4 solos and 1 assist, chipped in a PD and
had the team’s only sack. These aren’t spectacular
numbers, but they’re solid – and they’re the
best of any Pats defender in Week 5. The next three weeks could
be lean for Pats LBs, however, so look for other options if you’ve
Bethea, IND – Probably my worst IDP call of the week, Bethea
finished with just 3 solos and 1 assist, although secondary mates
Marlin Jackson (10 solos, 1 assist) and Melvin Bullitt (10 total
tackles, INT, PD) both went nuts. I just picked the wrong Colts
LB Kawika Mitchell, BUF – Mitchell rebounded with a decent
game – 6 solos and 1 assist. He also had a QB hurry, but
in most leagues that counts for about as much as putting on your
DB Anthony Henry, DAL – I said he’d have “some
chances to make plays and should finish with 4-6 tackles.”
Well – I hit the low end; Henry had 4 solos but didn’t
actually make any of those wonderful plays I referred to.
Whitner, BUF – Whitner delivered as promised with 8 solos
and 1 assist, although Jabari Greer – who I said would see lots
of action – finished as the leading Bills tackler with 9 solos,
3 assists and a PD.
LB LaMarr Woodley, PIT – 6 solos, 2 sacks. Now that’s
a solid day – and another IDP feather in my increasingly
DB Dre Bly,
DEN – 4 solos, nothing else. Yet another uneventful day from
a capable Broncos DB.