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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By Week 9, the wire is often picked clean of surprise fantasy standouts
– although there could be some leagues where Donnie Avery
is still available. Now it’s really about finding players
that may have been dropped in favor of bye week fill-ins and typical
fantasy fodder, aligning your team for a playoff run through transactions
of all types, and plugging in those marginal guys who can make or
break your fantasy day. In my most competitive home league, a 12-teamer
where I share a squad with my brother in-law, both our starting
RBs – Matt Forte and Joseph Addai – were obviously unavailable
this week. We didn’t think Eli Manning would be tearing apart
the Steelers secondary, and Plaxico Burress was being a douche again.
It seemed we were against a wall, so we started:
QB Jake Delhomme (Essentially Eli’s backup – drafted
RB Leon Washington (picked up this week over several other options
and behind a bunch of other teams)
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (late FA pick made Saturday morning)
WR Donnie Avery (FA selection made last weekend)
WR Roddy White (acquired via trade Week 5 for Green Bay RBs Ryan
Grant and Brandon Jackson)
WR Braylon Edwards (drafted 2.07)
TE Dallas Clark (drafted 6.08)
Going into the game, we were both pretty worried, and considered
our team a bit of an underdog facing a squad featuring Ben Roethlisberger,
Jamal Lewis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Lee Evans, Dwayne Bowe, Torry
Holt and John Carlson at TE. As it worked out, Washington outperformed
Tomlinson; White, Avery and Clark went ballistic; and the opposing
QB – Big Ben – threw four picks. It’s an IDP
league, and while none of our defensive guys posted double-digit
numbers, we won 173-132 – walking away on Monday night.
Those are the wins that really satisfy us – the ones that
come from a balance of smart drafting, shrewd dealing and laboring
through the wire.
I continue to welcome your
e-mails and enjoy hearing from you regarding my waiver wire
recommendations – whether they have helped or hindered your
teams this season. Keep ‘em coming, and don’t be shy
about firing multiple questions – I’ll get to them
Off The Top
David Garrard, JAC – Wow. The Jaguars are throwing the
ball a lot, and Garrard has quietly posting some solid fantasy
numbers over his past four games (including 5 TDs and just one
lost fumble over that stretch). He could really blow up over the
next couple games considering his feeble opponents, although it’s
also very possible the Jaguars return to running the ball right
through the Bengals and Lions.
STL – The emergence of rookie WR Donnie Avery has made him a more
viable fantasy threat, although he’s yet to fully realize his
latent value. He should be able to throw more than 1 TD per game
during his next three games: ARI, @NYJ, @SF; and his schedule
over the last four weeks is to die for: @ARI, SEA, SF, @ATL.
MIA – The quarterbacks that Pennington has outperformed in fantasy
’08? Jason Campbell, Garrard, Jake Delhomme, Ben Roethlisberger,
Matt Cassel, Derek Anderson and Trent Edwards – to name just a
smattering of guys directly under him in the statistical rankings.
He’s worth consideration in any format, and remains a strong #2
Joe Flacco, BAL – Consider Flacco’s big Week 8 probably
his best fantasy performance of this season and Week 9 a possibility
for a #2 play. But after the next couple weeks, he’s going
to struggle against some of the league’s finest defenses.
Scouring The Barrel
Tyler Thigpen, KC – He may have a decent game here and
there the rest of the way, but Thigpen isn’t a real option
unless you’re in the most desperate of situations.
Seneca Wallace, SEA – Again – the two TDs to Leonard
Weaver are nice, but it’s not likely you played either guy.
Moreover, you shouldn’t really start doing it now.
CLE – Last year’s waiver wire darling hasn’t lit up the scoreboard
much this season, but he hasn’t turned the ball over since Week
4 @ CIN. He’s showing some signs if life, and while his remaining
schedule isn’t too wonderful, it’s not overly oppressive.
CAR – He rebounded from a terrible Week 6 with a 20-for-28
day amassing 248 yards and tossing two TD strikes to his favorite
receiver, the much-beleaguered Steve Smith. He’s on a bye in Week
9, then comes back strong in Weeks 10-12: @OAK, DET, @ATL.
ATL – Sure, I like his progress. But you need more than one good
receiver to succeed in the NFL. His schedule’s tough and teams
will be doubling Roddy White like gangbusters from here on out.
Take away the 5 TDs to White and he’s just thrown 2 on the season.
He’ll be forced to work for it the rest of the way and his best
matchups could be division shootouts versus New Orleans in Weeks
10 and 14 – where he’ll make a great #2 QB.
JaMarcus Russell, OAK – He wasn’t too spectacular
against the Ravens last week, but over his past four games, he’s
thrice passed for over 200 yards. I know – I said thrice.
Off The Top
DEN – I’ll be honest – there’s not a lot of information I can
provide here outside of speculation, the knowledge that scouts
are high on his abilities, and that Mike Shanahan likes the way
he fits in the offense – comparing him to Terrell Davis the day
he got carted off the practice field in training camp. The rookie
looks like he’ll be back Sunday against the Dolphins, and since
the Broncos other backs are all dinged up in one way of another,
he could be a decent start if he goes. Just stay tuned to the
injury report in case things change leading up to Sunday.
Leon Washington, NYJ – He’s one of the best special
teams players in football, a talented back with a nose for the
end zone, a valuable receiver on a team that requires a viable
outlet, and a guy I’ve been high on for years. Last week,
he was the third-highest scoring RB in fantasy. Grab him if he’s
available and pick your spots in the coming weeks.
MIA – Ricky seems interested in football and with the Dolphins
playing well, he’s in a good place. I don’t anticipate his touches
ballooning unless something happens to Ronnie Brown, but he’s
a decent bye-week fill-in and he’ll be involved against the Broncos.
Norwood, ATL – I love his matchup this week, and I’m assuming
the Falcons will balance the workload pretty evenly between him
and starting RB Michael Turner against an Oakland team that’s
pretty good at focusing on one back and stopping him. Around the
goal line, he’s solid, and he can always break off one of those
classic Norwood TD scampers and make your fantasy day.
Scouring The Barrel
Taylor, MIN – Okay, hear me out on this one. The Vikings are
facing the Texans and Packers in the next two weeks, games that
they’ll need to slow down and mix up the playbook to win. While
AP gets the bulk of the carries, I’m anticipating Taylor to be
used a lot in passing downs and even possibly as the lone backfield
inhabitant in the single wing, should the Vikes join the growing
list of teams using the fashionable new wrinkle to throw off opponents.
He’s available in a bunch of leagues and you could do a lot worse
for a RB #3 this week to replace the likes of DeAngelo Williams,
Jonathan Stewart, Tomlinson, Frank Gore, McAllister or the other
NYG – He’s a long shot again this week, but I’m not giving up
on him and the Giants are going to throw the kitchen sink at the
Cowboys to get a win. That could involve a dose of Derrick Ward
and a dash of Bradshaw.
Leonard Weaver, SEA – I’m looking for a good explanation
for how Weaver caught not one, but two long TD passes and posted
the second-highest fantasy total for all RBS in Week 8. I didn’t
see the game, which must have been a complete debacle, and I’m
interested in hearing from someone who did. Until I hear something
that makes sense, I can’t recommend selecting Weaver –
even on a team holding out for as hero like Bonnie Tyler.
Deuce McAllister, NO – He’s appealing his suspension
and should be available until mid-November. But he’s on
a bye this week, so if you have more pressing needs, he could
be collateral damage.
Cedric Benson, CIN – He’s coming off his best game
since Week 11 of last season, but the Bengals face Jacksonville
in Week 9, have their bye Week 10, then it’s: PHI, @PIT,
BAL. Not very nice, is it?
Ahman Green, HOU – 41 yards last week on 9 carries (not
bad) and a cramped groin (not good) that could limit him in upcoming
games. I’d be wary of starting him in the next couple weeks
(@MIN, BAL) anyway.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE – He scored on a short TD run
but wasn’t that effective otherwise. I’d consider
him a weak No. 3 RB this week at Indy.
Kevin Faulk, NE – 60 yards rushing and 4-47-1 receiving.
He’s probably the best New England back to use next week
at Indy, although it’s possible Bill Belichick shakes things
up with Green-Ellis.
Moore, PIT – He’s been solid in relief of Willie Parker, but
his value from here on out hinges on Willie’s availability. The
Steelers are missing some of FWP’s explosiveness, and they’ve
got to be eager to get him back – even if Moore stays in the mix
as a change of pace.
Off The Top
Walter, HOU – If you don’t know, now you know. An owner dropped
him in one of my leagues last week during the waiver process and
another clever owner tried to snag him on Saturday. Unfortunately,
waiver drops are protected for a week – a caveat I pointed out
to the commissioner soon after noticing the offending action.
Now it’s going to be an issue of priority for the few teams who’ve
got a shot at him – as it should be. If you’ve got a shot at him,
go for it. He’s a luminous complement to WR Andre Johnson, especially
in the red zone.
Berrian, MIN – He’s definitely got a few difficult weeks on
the horizon but he should be a solid WR #3 during the playoffs.
Because he’s coming off a bye, he’s still available in a small
percentage of leagues – even though he grabbed TDs from Gus Frerotte
in each of his last three games.
WR Matt Jones, JAC – You know what he did, you know what
he’s doing, and you know it could all come to a screeching
halt with a suspension. If you grab him, you know the risks, but
he’s got a decent matchup versus the Bengals.
TE Bo Scaife,
TEN – He’s only caught one TD on the year, but Scaife is a frequent
target of Kerry Collins. He’s also on the field quite a bit and
he’s got excellent hands – making him the better TE option in
Tennessee over Alge Crumpler.
WR Ted Ginn,
Jr., MIA – Ted was far from MIA this week, totaling 7-175-0
in a 25-16 win over Buffalo. He’s also got 24 receptions in his
last 5 games, so he’s worth consideration as a #3 fill-in or solid
Scouring The Barrel
TE Kevin Boss, NYG – Remember what I said about the Giants
throwing the kitchen sink at the Cowboys? Boss fits in to that
scenario, too. Use him as a strong TE #2.
WR Mark Bradley, KC – If you’re desperate, then take
a flier on Bradley, who finished with 5-42-1 against the Jets.
But he’s not likely to have great numbers against Tampa
Bay, so any enthusiastic buyer should beware.
WR Demetrius Williams, BAL – Another one-hit wonder, Williams
provides little more value an occasional fantasy spark. And it’s
nearly impossible to tell when he’ll get off. Don’t
bother with him.
Avery, STL – He blew up for 6-163-1 against the Patriots Sunday
and is unquestionably the biggest deep threat on the Rams going
forward. Avery has another nice matchup this week at home versus
the Cardinals. He should be owned in all formats.
Galloway, TB – He returned Week 8 and should be okay in KC.
But if the Bucs get a lead, I doubt you’ll see him on the field
much risking further injury. Tampa’s going to try and grind this
one out with Earnest Graham, Warrick Dunn and possession WR Antonio
TE Zach Miller, OAK – He was relatively quiet against the
Ravens (2-56-0) but should see plenty of targets this week at
home versus Atlanta.
WR Javon Walker – He’s another Raider receiver who’ll
benefit from the favorable matchup in Week 9, but owners should
continue to tread carefully with Walker, as he followed up his
big Week 7 with 2-28-0 in Baltimore.
WR Josh Morgan, SF – What happened? Good thing I wasn’t
as gaga over him as some other fantasy writers, because if you
started him Sunday you got a big fat stinking goose egg.
Washington, PIT – He replaced Santonio Holmes as the #2 WR
in Pittsburgh on Sunday and hauled in just one catch – a 65-yard
TD – validating his use in lineups throughout the fantasy landscape.
My hope is that Holmes should be back this week, although as of
Monday night the Steelers hadn’t confirmed he’d be active @ WAS.
Floyd, SD – Chris Chambers, Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson
and Tomlinson saw most of the targets, and Floyd converted just
one of the three he saw. Stay away for now.
TE Robert Royal, BUF – 2-26-0, but he lost a fumble, negating
his limited fantasy value.
WR Mike Furrey, DET – 5 targets, 0 receptions. Yikes.
Off The Top
LB Mike Peterson, JAC – He’s had a disappointing
2008 campaign but he rebounded last week with 10 solos and could
be in lien for huge totals (and even a turnover) against the Bengals
in Week 9. Grab him and get him in your lineup if he’s out
there on the wire.
McGee, BUF – I didn’t start McGee last week because I wanted
to see how the veteran corner would do in his first game back
before plugging him in. He made five solo tackles and if he can
go this week against Brett Favre and the Jets, he’s a must play
– just pay attention to the NFL injury report and game day inactives.
White, DET – White won’t be available in a ton of leagues
that require a starting DE or even simply a DL, but he’s posted
three consecutive games with great IDP totals and he’s got another
nice matchup this week against the Bears. If White’s taken, maybe
Jared DeVries is a possibility.
McDonald, CLE – He’s one of the only healthy DBs the Browns
have, and he’ll see plenty of acti9on this week against the Ravens,
who yield a lot of points to opposing DBs. He’s also the only
guy in the Browns secondary whose value doesn’t seem to hinge
on whether or not FS Sean Jones is starting – which might be up
in the air after Jones developed some knee swelling after the
week 8 game.
Scouring The Barrel
Session, IND – He’s yet to have a true breakout game, but
he’s posted consistent tackle totals and he should against New
England this week. Session seems to be over a calf injury that
slowed him in preseason and started bothering him again during
Weeks 6 and 7, so take a shot on him in deeper leagues where he
may be the best available. With Gary Brackett and Freddy Keiaho
taken in most leagues, Session is the other LB who could have
a big day.
DB Jason Craft, STL – O.J. Atogwe is awesome, but the other
Rams DB racking up IDP points is Craft, a veteran corner in his
first season with St. Louis who’s had 22 solos in his last
three games. He’s a solid sleeper play this week against
LB Will Witherspoon, STL – I include him in the wire, and
he has his worst fantasy day of 2008. It just wasn’t my
day for IDP. I got crushed in my IDP experts league, too.
LB Thomas Howard, OAK – Howard has 7 solo tackles, but his
performance hardly saved my IDP selections this week, which didn’t
include any real standouts.
DB Nedu Ndukwe, CIN – He posted 6 tackles (3 solos, 3 assists)
and a PD – not great, but not bad.
LB Brandon Johnson, CIN – 4 solos, 2 assists. Nothing special,
but no news coming out of Cincinnati is very impressive great
Tapp, SEA – Tapp didn’t get to J.T. O’Sullivan or Shaun Hill,
but it seemed like everybody else on the Seahawks defense line
(Patrick Kerney, Rocky Bernard) did. What a weird day for IDP.
DB Will Demps, HOU – A great big fantasy stinker, Demps
had just one assist Sunday in the Texans’ rout of the Bengals.
I apologize to anyone who used him as a fill-in and lost because
of it. It’s not a perfect science, but that’s terrible.
DL James Hall, STL – 3 tackles in Week 8, but I’m
anticipating a bigger day against the Cards.
Carr, KC – So close, and yet so far. The other Chiefs rookie
defensive back named Brandon – Brandon Flowers, the one out of
Virginia Tech – had a monster fantasy day (8 tackles, 2 PD, 2
INT, and a 91-yard INT return for TD) while Carr had 6 tackles
and an assist. I picked the wrong rookie DB, and while my selection
had a decent game, the other rookie went nuts. Hopefully you misread
my column and picked up Flowers instead of Carr, or maybe saw
that Carr was taken so you went with Flowers? Am I reaching?
LB Ryan Nece, DET – Just three solos and an assist. Another
pedestrian fantasy total for me in the barrel.