Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to 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 a big 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 — sometimes breakout
stars that eluded your team’s draft — as well as players
who can help your squad that may still be lurking in deeper leagues.
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Off the Top - Includes my premier
recommendations — sometimes players available either only
in more shallow leagues, and occasionally guys more readily available
who’ve been thrust into the fantasy spotlight.
Digging Deeper - Covers the next
tier of quality waiver wire specimens, usually players available
in a majority of online leagues.
Scouring the Barrel - Chronicles
the deepest of fantasy adds — and sometimes highlights players
being tacked onto fantasy squads who I don’t have much confidence
Each week, I’ll also provide a brief update on the 30-40 players
I covered the previous week. It’s the best one-stop waiver-wire
column available on the Internet, and it’s only available
here at fftoday.com.
Feedback is always welcome,
appreciated and encouraged. I’ll get to as many e-mails as
Note: Each player’s
next four matchups are listed in parentheses ()
For my initial column, I’ll focus on guys that your league
owners may have missed on draft day.
Off The Top
MIN (@CLE, @DET, SF, GB) – I know — I’m a complete sucker for
Favre and I haven’t paid enough attention the reports that the
soon-to-be-40-year-old doesn’t have much arm strength these days
because of his torn rotator cuff and other assorted issues. But
the guy’s schedule does look pretty tasty to start off the year,
and if you’re the proud owner of a stud QB with a Week 5 bye (Drew
Brees, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler), then you’ll
be glad to know Favre is playing in St. Louis on the turf that
Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (STL , @SF, CHI, @IND) – Some fantasy
colleagues of mine are all over Hasselbeck this season, and while
I’m optimistic that he’ll stay healthy and regain
some of the form he showed from 2003-07, I’m fearful that
the line just doesn’t give him the requisite protection
he’s come to need in the pocket. Initially, he might have
some success as a QB2 in leagues where you need ‘em, but
he’s no more than a good fantasy backup in standard 12-team
Joe Flacco, BAL (KC, @SD, CLE, @NE) – I’m not the
only expert who’s high on Flacco in 2009, and for good reason.
The entire Ravens offensive unit, starting with new center Matt
Birk, has improved and could be much more potent this season.
As the 2008 NFL Rookie of the Year — excuse me, the 2008
Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year — the strong-armed Flacco
led his Ravens to the postseason and showed everyone he was capable
of taking the offense to new heights. He’s only available
in about 40-50 percent of leagues because of all the preseason
hype, but if he made it the gauntlet of your draft, he’s
Shaun Hill, SF (@ARI, SEA, @MIN, STL) – Some QBs just know
how to win, and Hill did just that over the last seven games of
2009, going 5-2 and averaging 237 passing YPG with 10 TDs and
6 INT. Not Pro-Bowl numbers, but a solid backup for teams holding
QB1s with byes in Week 4 or 8.
Scouring The Barrel
Stafford, DET (@NO, MIN, WAS, @CHI) – Stafford just wrested
the starting job from Daunte Culpepper and has some excellent
offensive options in WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and RB Kevin
Smith. He’s also got a dandy schedule (that’s what you get for
finishing 0-16 the previous season). The best part? Matt Stafford,
who looked flat-out telepathic with Megatron this preaseason and
can get him the ball downfield, was not a member of the 2008 Lions.
He had nothing to do with that madness. Matt Millen, on the other
hand, did — and the Millen Era is over. Addition by subtraction,
NYJ (@HOU, NE, TEN, @NO) – He’s got a better line than Stafford
but he’s missing his big weapon. Talks with the Broncos about
adding Brandon Marshall seem to have died down, and it looks like
he’ll be working with WRs Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey and
David Clowney, as well as second-year TE Dustin Keller and a capable
stable of RBs. He won’t blow up the stat sheet, but neither did
Flacco or Ryan last year. Think of him as a steadier version of
Stafford with less upside.
Off The Top
Felix Jones, DAL (@TB, NYG, CAR, @DEN) – Jones might be
the straw that stirs the drink in Dallas this season, and he’s
owned in just 77 percent of Yahoo leagues. He’s a big-play
runner, receiver and kick returner who could finish the season
with as many 20-plus-yard runs as half of the Top 10 RBs. The
initial schedule is tough, but he’s worth adding and waiting
on to see how he’s used in ’09.
McCoy, PHI (@CAR, NO, KC, BYE) – Despite being the No. 2 RB
option behind the brittle, undersized Brian Westbrook, McCoy is
owned in just half of Yahoo! Leagues. Essentially, he’s the workhorse
back the Eagles thought they’d drafted in Correll Buckhalter several
years ago. It’s entirely possible that McCoy’s fresh legs surpass
the veteran Westbrook by midseason, snagging most first and second
down carries and becoming a nasty goal line back.
NYJ (@HOU, NE, TEN, @NO) – Washington may not be happy in New
York, but his PPR résumé speaks for itself: 83 catches in the
past two seasons and the promise of an expanded role in 2009.
Thomas Jones is the only thing standing in the way of his owners
(and the astute sharks who grabbed rookie Shonn Greene) being
a solid RB3 or flex play.
BUF (@NE, TB, NO, @MIA) – Love. This. Dude. Jackson’s already
slated to start a quarter of the Bills’ games, and if oft-injured/currently
suspended Marshawn Lynch needs extra time, he could start a few
more. It’s easy to overlook Buffalo’s running game because the
line is terrible, but the Coe College alumnus catches balls (59
receptions in two limited-play seasons for Buffalo) and runs well
Davis, CLE (MIN, @DEN, @BAL, CIN) – It’s only a matter of
time before Davis surpasses Jamal Lewis on the Browns’ depth chart.
Davis is a sizeable back who runs hard and easily breaks arm tackles,
and he’s been catching a lot of passes in camp — something Lewis
just doesn’t offer. Keep tabs on the situation as it develops,
but if Davis made it through your league’s draft, now would be
a good time to jump, because you might not get the chance next
Hillis, DEN (@CIN, CLE, @OAK, DAL) – Anyone who’s drafted
with me during the past few weeks knows I’m gaga over Hillis.
The situation in Denver warrants a go-to guy, and Hillis might
just be the prime huckleberry for Josh McDaniels and whoever ends
playing QB in Denver. The former backfield mate of Darren McFadden
and Felix Jones in Arkansas, Hillis will be on the field most
of the game and in PPR leagues, he’ll make a decent RB3 and pure
gold as an RB4.
Scouring The Barrel
Williams, TB (DAL, @BUF, NYG, @WAS) – The Bucs’ official depth
chart now lists Cadillac ahead of both Derrick Ward and goal line
back Earnest Graham. Williams played well in limited action this
summer and gained 54 yards on eight carries against the Dolphins
in his only preseason start. I’ve never been a big fan of the
Caddy, but if you’re desperate for an RB or just like stocking
up early in the year, it’d be wise to snag the guy.
Mike Goodson, CAR (PHI, @ATL, @DAL, BYE) – With Jonathan
Stewart nursing injuries, taking Goodson is a necessity for DeAngelo
Williams owners. Stewart hasn’t been the picture of health
so far in his career (the reason he fell in last year’s
draft) and Goodson, by no means a workhorse back at Texas A&M,
still has experience as a slot receiver — the Aggie caught
73 balls and scored 16 total TDs his last two years in college.
NO (DET, @PHI, @BUF, NYJ) – Week 1 is probably the only viable
start among the three, considering Pierre Thomas should be ready
in Philly and beyond. But deep leaguers could stumble upon a gem
in Bell if Thomas can’t go on Sunday.
Off The Top
WR Derrick Mason, BAL (KC, @SD, CLE, @NE) – If he had retired,
I probably would have cried. Mason has easily graced more of my
fantasy rosters than any other receiver (probably any other player)
in league history, and I’ve won championship after championship
because other owners overlooked his perennial value as a solid
WR2. The feelings of nostalgia aside, Mason should have another
excellent season with Flacco getting him the ball, and his value
in PPR leagues gets bumped about 10 percent.
Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN (@CLE, @DET, SF, GB) – Favre
loves him some tight ends, doesn’t he? What’s even
better is than Shiancoe — when he wasn’t flashing
his penis to unsuspecting Fox viewers — was catching TD
passes left and right in ’08. He finished the season with
42/596/7 and should match or improve on those stats this season.
In my estimation, he’s risen to a Tier 2 TE that can be
had in most drafts for execellent value, and he’s still
available in a handful of leagues (82 percent owned in Yahoo).
Morgan, SF (@ARI, SEA, @MIN, STL) – Despite the preseason
hype, Morgan is still owned in just 25 percent of Yahoo leagues
making him even more available than teammate Isaac Bruce, who’ll
you’ll find in the next group down. Morgan is primed for a breakout
in his second season, is in a great division for receivers, and
projects as a solid WR4 with upside.
Bruce, SF (@ARI, SEA, @MIN, STL) – Bruce is still the No.
1 WR in San Francisco, but he’ll have to show he’s still got the
ability to perform in the red zone before Hill starts looking
Morgan’s way. Bruce and Morgan have about the same fantasy value
for now, but by the end of 2009, Morgan will have surpassed the
WR Nate Burleson, SEA (STL , @SF, CHI, @IND) – His value
depends largely on whether he can stay healthy and if Hasselbeck
gets the protection he needs, but Burleson can truly be a TD machine
(50/694/9 for Seattle in ’07). Take a late-round or waiver
wire shot on this readily available veteran receiver (37 percent
owned) if you need a solid WR4.
Bennett, CHI (@GB, PIT, @SEA, DET) – Three offensive starters
for the Bears (Cutler, Bennett, right tackle Chris Williams) were
teammates at Vanderbilt, so there’s reason to suspect a new chemistry
with this year’s Bears. Bennett won’t be the deep threat that
WR Kevin Hester is, but he should be a solid possession receiver
for Cutler and can be had on the cheap in most formats (30 percent
owned in Yahoo leagues).
Scouring The Barrel
Finley, GB (CHI, CIN, @STL, @MIN) – Starting TE Donald Lee
and TE/LB/ST changeling Spencer Havner are also on the Green Bay
roster, but Finley’s the one poised for a breakout in ’09. He’s
only owned in about one tenth of leagues, but on a roster where
you need to start two TEs, he makes a great late-round flier.
Meachem, NO (DET, @PHI, @BUF, NYJ) – The Saints’ first-round
draft selection in ‘07, Meachem was on nearly every expert’s early
sleeper list the past two seasons, until camp concluded and he
was relegated to the bottom of the WR depth chart. And his 24-yard-per-reception
average last season gave Drew Brees more confidence in his ability
as a big-play guy — something that was evident from this preseason.
Now in his third year, the Tennessee alum may finally be ready
to meet the lofty expectations, but he’ll need help in the form
of further injuries to the three capable WRs currently ahead of
him (Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Devery Henderson).
Stuckey, NYJ (@HOU, NE, TEN, @NO) – Stuckey, the No. 2 WR
for the Jets, is a solid red zone threat and could have a big
year, especially if something happens to current possession receiver
Jerricho Cotchery. Stuckey’s not a guy I’ve been drafting, but
I have a feeling we’ll be hearing his name a lot over the next
Nicks, NYG (WAS, @DAL, @TB, @KC) – He might not pay dividends
immediately, but Nicks has impressed during camp and at a draft
full of Giants fans the other day I couldn’t help but notice some
giddiness about the rookie from UNC. He’s behind four Giants receivers
(Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss)
on the depth chart, but the Super Bowl hero from two years ago,
WR David Tyree, was clearly expendable because of Nicks. Don’t
be surprised if Nicks is seeing regular time by Week 6 @ NO.
Off The Top
DL Chris Long, STL (@SEA, @WAS, GB, @SF) – He has the benefit
of a great pedigree, a good vision for DLs, and not a ton of fanfare
after his lackluster rookie season. Long has good matchups early
on and should come out of the gate hot and bothered. He’s
currently a solid DL2 with DL1 upside.
Johnson, KC (@BAL, OAK, @PHI, NYG) – With LB Zach Thomas and
DB Bernard Pollard no longer in town, the fate of the Kansas City
defense rests solely on Johnson, an athletic defensive contributor
with the ability to rack up 120-plus tackles in 2009. He’s got
a great schedule right off the bat, so grab him and play him confidently
if he’s out there in your league.
Lewis, SF (@ARI, SEA, @MIN, STL) – He’s been going undrafted
in many IDP leagues because of his rattled noggin, and he’s definitely
a risk since suffering a concussion during Saturday's preseason
game — just 11 days after suffering a previous one. But Lewis
is a stat-sheet filler with more than 200 total tackles over his
last two campaigns. Stay tuned and grab him once he’s activated.
DL Richard Seymour, OAK (SD, @KC, DEN, @HOU) – The trade
from New England for a 2011 first-round draft choice has several
impacts from a fantasy perspective, as long as it goes through.
Seymour has yet to report “to resolve some things”
with his former team before the deal goes through, but he could
produce big IDP totals in Oakland once he gets there.
Elam, CLE (MIN, @DEN, @BAL, CIN) – My IDP sleeper for 2009,
Elam could easily finish with over 100 tackles and slew of junk
points from PDs, sacks, INTs and the like. He’s going to be relied
on heavily as the Browns adjust to Rob Ryan’s new attacking 3-4
defense (Ryan was the DC in Oakland that helped SS Gibril Wilson
garner 120-plus tackles in 2008). Elam will be counted on to help
stop the run, blitz and, generally, make exciting, game-breaking
Tulloch, TEN (@PIT, HOU, @NYJ, @JAC) – He’s the MLB on a team
that just lost its best defensive player, lane-clogging, head-stomping
Albert Haynesworth. Honestly, folks, the only reason Titans MLBs
haven’t racked up the big tackle totals over the past few years
Scouring The Barrel
McCray, NO (DET, @PHI, @BUF, NYJ) – Actually, everything hinges
on the impending suspensions of DEs Charles Grant and Will Smith.
McCray, who’s behind them both on the depth chart but led the
team in sacks in 2008, looks ready to step in and deliver some
quality DL2 starts.
LB Rocky McIntosh, WAS (@NYG, STL, @DET, TB) – The same
reason weakside LBs in Tennessee were successful (stealing some
of the tackle totals of the MLB and taking aggressive lines on
the corner) is the same reason I’ve got McIntosh as a solid
fantasy sleeper in ’09. As the imported Haynesworth jams
up the middle, runners will frequently be pushed into Rocky’s
path on the outside. Think of Rocky as a solid LB3 currently holding
at an LB5 price.
Henry, NO (DET, @PHI, @BUF, NYJ) – I’m sensing a shootout
in Detroit to start out the season, and Henry (along with IDP
stud-in-waiting DB Roman Harper) could be the benefactor of plenty
of PDs, tackles and the occasional big play. Henry, a highly underrated
veteran DB in IDP, racked up 81 total tackles and 21 PD for the
2006 Cowboys, and he could be in line for another big year as
long as the minor shoulder injury he’s nursing doesn’t become
a major issue.