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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When I watched 43-year-old Bernard “The Executioner”
Hopkins thoroughly dismantle 26-year-old Kelly Pavlik on pay-per-view
Saturday night, I had a feeling Sunday would be a weekend of upsets.
But my visions included a salty, sturdy Brad Johnson turning back
the clock and posting a big fantasy day in a decisive Dallas victory.
Instead, I was treated to a brittle old man – without any
of the moxie that makes NFL QBs successful nowadays – allowing
a 34-14 stomping at the hands of a terrible Rams team. Go figure.
Anyway, Week 7 did feature some devastating upsets and a few
brutal fantasy skunks, including another rough week for a few
distinguished initial-known stars like TO, LT and LJ – who
didn’t even take the field because of a suspension. Not
that Larry Johnson’s been a model citizen or consistent
fantasy furniture in any rosters lately.
Luckily, I had a few things work out Monday night (Randy Moss,
Sammy Morris, Pats K Stephen Gostkowski and Broncos LB D.J. Williams)
and I pulled out a couple big victories and a tie that kept me
just two games out and in sole possession of second place in my
division. How about you, any crazy finishes from all that “Patriotic”
scoring in Foxboro?
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 year or so far in 2008. And with special
regard to IDP readers – if you’re wondering if you
should pick up more obvious players that may be available in your
leagues over some of my selections, just shoot me an e-mail with
Off The Top
Derek Anderson, CLE – Okay – he was pretty miserable
against the Redskins, but this week’s matchup is a good
one. I’m just not convinced that Anderson’s woes aren’t
a product of the particularly difficult matchups he had to start
off the season. He should be a much better play in the second
half of the Browns games this year – just make sure he doesn’t
Jake Delhomme, CAR – The pickings are slim at QB in most
formats, but I know both Delhomme and the aforementioned Anderson
will be available in about 5-10 percent of leagues – especially
given Delhomme’s stinker in Week 6 and Anderson’s
continued problems. In week 8, however, Jake gets a tasty matchup
against the Cards and should post big numbers.
Matt Ryan, ATL – I’m not too excited about Ryan’s
matchup this week in Philly, where Jim Johnson’s defense
will throw a variety of blitz packages his way and confuse the
rookie QB as much as possible. But the Eagles have been susceptible
to the pass, so he’s worth starting as a No. 2. Just beware
a multiple-turnover game and possible fantasy shutout.
Scouring The Barrel
Russell, OAK – Raider fans have to be encouraged by his performance
Sunday against the Jets. He didn’t turn the ball over, eclipsed
the 200-yard mark for just the second time this season, threw
a TD pass to Javon Walker, and got a win. Fantasy owners, too,
should be happy about Russell’s progress as an NFL QB. Before
Sunday, Russell had lost a fumble in four out of the five games
he’d played. He’s still going to turn the ball over, but if he
starts hooking up with Walker more regularly, the two could mount
a very stirring fantasy resurgence.
TB – Garcia was as efficient as he’s ever been Sunday night against
the Seahawks, completing 75 percent of his passes en route to
a 310-yard day punctuated by a 47-yard TD connection with WR Antonio
Bryant. It looks as if he’s back in the good graces of Bucs HC
Jon Gruden and remains a weak No. 1/strong No. 2 QB.
Brad Johnson, DAL – Romo, come back! Any kind of fool could
see – there was something…in everything about you.
I can’t be alone in my disappointment (and my yearning to
listen to Hall and Oates to comfort me) in Brad Johnson’s
feeble effort against the lowly Rams, which included a 50 percent
completion rate, just 1 TD pass (to a second-string TE) and 3
INT. At this point, you shouldn’t start him against the
Bucs next week, even if Romo’s not back yet. At 40, he might
just be over the proverbial hill.
Marc Bulger, STL – When I saw the Rams had scored 34, I
figured Bulger would have been good for more than 1 TD. HE wasn’t.
Bulgeer was capable on Sunday – but he’s still just
a bye week fill-in.
BUF – Trent returned with his best game of 2008 – 261 yards a
score on an end-zone toss to Lee Evans. He should be good to go
as a rock-solid #2 QB this week versus the Dolphins.
Dan Orlovsky, DET – You could see the glass half-empty –
pointing out that if you take away the 96-yard TD pass to Calvin
Johnson, it’s a pedestrian fantasy afternoon. But I’m
looking at it half-full – that these two could connect several
times during the remaining schedule, which features a boatload
of teams who are tough against the run and will force the Lions
to throw the football.
Kerry Collins, TEN – I appears as though the Titans are
content to just win football games with Lendale White and Chris
Johnson and aren’t bothering with the passing game. Makes
sense to me.
Off The Top
NO – Once again, Deuce is a hot waiver-wire pickup. If you added
him before take heed – Reggie Bush will miss the next 3-4 weeks
following surgery to repair a meniscus tear. During that time,
McAllister’s a solid RB #2 if he can remain healthy. Remember
– the saints also have Pierre Thomas and Aaron Stecker, and they’ll
likely see increased touches as well.
Cedric Benson, CIN – It pains me to include him in a column,
given his history as an underachieving first-rounder with a bad
attitude, alcohol problems and other assorted douche-baggage that’s
kept him from reaching his potential. And now, he’s –
ahem – playing for the Bengals. But he is the clear starter
and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include him here heading
HOU – While the Texans won’t have too many games like the one
against Detroit, the offense is improving and making everyone
more valuable. It also remains to be seen if Steve Slaton can
carry the load the rest of the way, so Green might be pressed
into further action. Keep an eye on matchups and use Green only
as a stopgap in a very favorable situation until the veteran regains
the starting job somehow.
Green-Ellis, NE – After Morris went down with an unidentified
knee injury, the rookie out of Mississippi with the super-long
and semi-alliterative name rushed for 65 on just 13 carries and
got his first NFL TD. With Laurence Maroney out for the season
and Lamont Jordan yet to impress, if Morris misses extended time,
you’ll want this kid (who was just signed by the Pats on Oct.
11 from the practice squad) on your team.
Scouring The Barrel
Kevin Faulk, NE – See my statements above regarding the
Morris injury. Also it’s nice to have the third down back
on a team that’s showing offensive improvement, especially
in a PPR league.
Moore, PIT – Even when Fast Willie Parker returns, Moore should
remain involved in the offense. He’s just run too well filling
in to eliminate from the weekly game plan. Keep an eye on Parker’s
status leading up to Sunday.
Pittman, DEN – Pittman totaled 88 rushing yards on 20 carries
Monday night and would’ve had a ton more if his backfield mate
didn’t fumble away the Broncos chances in the first half and force
the Denver offense to take the air much earlier than anticipated.
He’s on a bye this week, and you’ll have to stay tuned to the
shakeup when Ryan Torain sees his first action.
Rhodes, IND – Rhodes performed admirably in relief of Joseph
Addai with 73 yards rushing and 2 TDs – and surpassed Addai’s
week 3 game versus Jacksonville, his best game of the season,
by tacking on 4-41-0 receiving. Indy HC Tony Dungy is reporting
that Addai could play Week 8, so keep an eye on his status before
plugging in Rhodes.
Rudi Johnson, DET – Six carries for 8 yards. Well done,
Rudi. I hope you’ve still got something in tank, because
I might need you this week. Scary, I know.
DEN – Still not active, Torain is expected to be back in Week
9, but how much playing time he sees initially remains up in the
WAS – Clinton Portis was okay to start despite several minor injuries
and had a huge day. Shaun’s probably not going to have much of
a fantasy impact this season.
Choice, DAL – Two carries for 13 yards. Nobody said he’d take
over Felix Jones’ exact role or supplant Barber, but I’d like
to see more carries.
Patrick Cobbs, MIA – Cobbs pulled in 5 catches for 64 yards,
so it appears he has some residual value in PPR leagues.
Michael Bush, OAK – He didn’t get traded and Fargas
played well. Forget him for now.
Off The Top
WR Donnie Avery, STL – I picked up Avery in one of my home leagues
this week and gave him a spot start as a bye week fill-in. Unfortunately,
that same day, I dropped the Packers defense in favor of the Dolphins,
a bold move that probably lost me my game. But Avery’s had
a few solid games in consecutive weeks and seems to be the deep
threat in the Rams improving offense. He even had a TD called
back Sunday that would’ve made him the top fantasy WR of
WR Joey Galloway, TB – A lot of fantasy writers jumped the
gun recommending a Galloway add during Week 7 – but I didn’t
think including him last week would have been wise. Even now,
I’d only advocate adding Galloway if you have three healthy
receivers for Week 8. He’s a productive veteran when he’s
healthy, but knowing when he’s healthy is half the battle.
TE Zach Miller, OAK – He’s posted 12-166-1 in his
last three weeks, and with most top TEs not having very steady
seasons, he’s emerging as a viable #1 TE option. And Baltimore’s
yielded the fifth-most points to opposing TEs in PPR leagues over
the past three weeks.
Walker – He’s too talented to ignore and he’s finally catching
on (and catching balls) in Oakland, posting 5-75-1 last week against
the Jets. If he’s available, now would be a good time to grab
him and follow his progress.
WR Josh Morgan, SF – The rookie finally emerged with 5-86-1
in the loss to the Giants. His targets should continue to increase,
but Monday’s coaching change could affect the game plan
from here on out.
Washington, PIT – TDs in consecutive weeks shows me Ben is
looking his way more and more in the red zone and on deep balls.
He won’t supplant Hines Ward or Santonio Holmes as a favorite
possession target, but if the Steelers offense keeps moving the
ball as effectively as they have been, he’ll be a threat to score
every week and remain a decent, albeit marginal, WR No. 3 in TD-only
Scouring The Barrel
Floyd, SD – He’s converted nine targets into 7-140-2 during
the past two games – the only two in ’08 when he’s actually been
targeted. When Chris Chambers comes back, the party might be over,
but he’s got to be on your radar making the most of his recent
TE Robert Royal, BUF – A solid bye week fill-in at TE, Mr.
Royal posted 4-53-0 last week against the Chargers. While the
Dolphins are a pretty stingy unit against opposing TEs, Royal’s
a favorite target of Edwards.
WR Mike Furrey, DET – Remember this guy? I first included
him in Through the Wire in Week 4 of ’06 – right before
he became a great #2 fantasy WR. Since then, I’ve reiterated
my attitude toward the cuddly gamer, and he’s responded.
You could do a lot worse for a bye-week substitute or a bench
WR Vincent Jackson, SD – He and Malcolm Floyd have benefited
from Chambers’ absence, and we’ll see how they respond
once the veteran receiver is back in the starting lineup.
TE Kellen Winslow, CLE – He looked okay in his return from
– ahem – a staph infection, and he should now be inserted
at TE in all fantasy lineups unless he has further – ahem
WR Derrick Mason, BAL – Along with Dominic Rhodes, who was
a no-brainer, Mason one of my best calls of the week. The industrious
veteran finished with 6 catches for 87 yards and his first TD
of the season.
Breaston, ARI – On a bye in Week 7, we’ll learn more about
Breaston’s role when teammate and fellow WR Anquan Boldin returns
to the offense this week against the Panthers.
Curtis, PHI – Another WR coming off a bye – an returning from
an August hernia surgery that’s kept him out of action so far
this season – Curtis will immediately be involved in the Philly
Davis, CHI – He only managed 3-24-0 receiving, but Davis recovered
a fumble in the end zone for a TD. Weird, but fantasy owners who
were awarded the score per their league rules are a happy bunch.
Keep an eye on Devin Hester’s quad injury. Davis could see increased
targets if Hester misses extended time.
WR Bobby Wade, MIN – Berrian posted the big numbers last
week against his old team – the Bears – while Wade
converted 8 targets into 5-60-0. He’s on a bye this week,
but he’s a solid WR #4 at this point and worthy bye week
fill-in as a #3.
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, OAK – The former UTEP wideout had
a quiet day and didn’t bust open any big plays on special
teams. Shucks – just when he’s starting to stand out
against the bizarre Oakland backdrop, Walker makes an appearance.
Off The Top
LB Will Witherspoon, STL – Largely forgotten on the IDP
landscape in ’08, Witherspoon could post huge numbers versus
the Pats, who mounted several long, sustained drives against the
Broncos last week and allowed their LBs to rack up tackles. If
he’s out there, this is perfect opportunity to bring him
back into the fray.
Howard, OAK – Howard is available in one of my IDP leagues
and has a favorable matchup facing the Ravens. He’s not the No.
1 LB in Oakland – that’s Kirk Morrison – but he’s reliable and
can break out for huge totals when you least expect it. Just go
take a look at his numbers during the first few weeks of ’07.
DB Nedu Ndukwe, CIN – A must-add in deeper formats, Nduke
has 38 tackles on the season and a nice matchup this week. While
he hasn’t necessarily exploded on the IDP scene, he’s
been relatively steady. Take a shot with him against the Texans.
Johnson, CIN – The third-year man out of Louisville took over
for the injured Keith Rivers (broken jaw) and posted some solid
numbers in his stead. He should be owned in all deep IDP leagues
and strongly considered for a start this week against the Texans
if fellow LBs Rashad Jeanty and Dhani Jones are owned in your
Tapp, SEA – A standout in ’07, Tapp lost the starting job
to rookie Lawrence Jackson but has since regained it. He’s got
a wonderful matchup this week in San Fran, so give him a start.
DB Will Demps, HOU – Demps has 14 tackles in his last two
games and gets the Bengals this week – a team that yields
a lot of points to opposing DBs. It took Demps a while to make
his mark, but he’s had a nice second half in ’07 and
should see plenty of action Sunday afternoon.
Scouring The Barrel
DL James Hall, STL – Hall has posted pretty consistent
tackle totals all year, so if he’s available on the wire,
you shouldn’t hesitate. This week, the Rams face the Pats,
who defensive linemen post big numbers on.
Carr, KC – I like the matchup against Brett Favre, although
it’s possible the Jets cool theirs a bit and stick to the run
more to grind out a win against KC.
Nece, DET – If Paris Lenon and Ernie Sims aren’t available
in your league or you’re in a deep IDP format and looking for
a nice matchup this week, Nece could be a good play. He started
at strongside LB instead of Alex Lewis on Sunday and posted 7
total tackles and a half-sack.
Webster, DEN – Fellow Denver LB D.J. Williams stole the show
with 16 total tackles and a half-sack, but Webster still held
his own with 6 total tackles and a sack – a solid game heading
into the bye. Make sure he’s active for you when the Broncos return
in Week 9.
DB DeAngelo Hall, OAK – My IDP “Call of the Week,”
DeAngelo was a dominant force within the Raiders secondary, making
tackles (7 solo, 1 assist) picking off a poorly thrown Brett Favre
ball and racking up 4 PD – a monster fantasy game from a
LB Chad Greenway, MIN – 6 solos isn’t exceptional,
but it’s a rate that’ll get you 96 solos on the year.
Keep using him after the Week 8 bye.
LB Channing Crowder, MIA – Crowder totaled 10 tackles (6
solo, 4 assist) on Sunday. Nice, sturdy work from the Dolphins
Lewis, SF – Last year’s leading tackler among DBs left the
team’s Week 7 game with a knee sprain in the 3rd quarter and didn’t
return, finishing with just 3 total tackles. His status for Week
8 is unknown at this point.
LB Calvin Pace, NYJ – 4 solos and nothing else – not
quite thee big splash I was hoping for against the run-happy Raiders.
LB Leroy Hill, SEA – The Seahawks defense is on the field
so much, hill’s been a solid contributor in any IDP format.
He posted 4 solos, 4 assists and a PD on Sunday night against
DB Leigh Bodden, DET – Bodden (knee) was listed as questionable
on the late injury report after not practicing on Friday, but
he played anyway – posting 3 solos and 1 assist. Hopefully
when the news of the injury broke later in the week you readjusted.
Keep an eye on his status heading into Week 8.
DL Domata Peko, CIN – Oh well – every sleeper pick
can’t work out. Mr. Peko was nearly non-existent with just