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.
Note: Each player’s
next four matchups are listed in parentheses ()
What a weekend of football! Several waiver specials came up big
on Sunday, but a couple key injuries to star players on both sides
of the ball have owners scrambling for help in Week 2. The deepest
position so far this season is WR, and there are a bunch of hot
tickets sitting on the wire this week. Feedback
is always welcome, appreciated and encouraged.
Off The Top
DEN (CLE, @OAK, DAL, NE) – I’d be lying if I said I had Orton
finishing Week 1 with better numbers than Jay Cutler (largely
because it looked like Orton might not even play), but once you
examine the matchups Monday-morning-style, it makes sense that
it happened. Besides, the Broncos got Brandon Marshall involved
– albeit mainly as a decoy – and the Bengals are pretty terrible.
Without the last-minute, fluky roundabout TD connection to Brandon
Stokely, Orton’s numbers would have been pedestrian at best. But
he’s in a conference known for bad pass defense and high-scoring
games, so it’s safe to assume he’ll get in a couple shootouts
TB (@BUF, NYG, @WAS, @PHI) – Maybe it was just a lackluster
performance by the Cowboys defense, but Leftwich and the Bucs
offense didn’t look nearly as bad as most prognosticators had
them looking in their game previews. The matchups don’t look all
that great right now, but once the rash of NFC East opponents
is finished, the Bucs settle into a much more manageable schedule.
Kerry Collins, TEN (HOU, @NYJ, @JAC, IND) – The Titans
won’t make it a practice to throw the ball 35 times a game
like Thursday’s tilt in Pittsburgh, but it looks like they’ll
pass the ball more than last year. Given the right matchup —
namely a staunch run defense and weak secondary — Collins
could rack up some decent yardage and be worthy of a spot-start.
Vick, PHI (NO, KC, BYE, TB) – The Donovan McNabb injury is
still being evaluated, and the latest news is that he’ll play
if he can handle the pain. In any event, Vick’s value gets bumped
accordingly, even though he’s not available until Week 3 at the
Scouring The Barrel
Kevin Kolb, PHI (NO, KC, BYE, TB) – See McNabb injury above.
If Kolb gets the start Sunday, he’s worth a shot just because
New Orleans games get so darned woolly. The Eagles signed Garcia
on Monday, but he’ll be used to back up Kolb if McNabb can’t
go. Stay tuned to the news out of Philly right up until game time.
Russell, OAK (@KC, DEN, @ HOU, @NYG) – Russell didn’t look
great on Monday night, but he did throw one beautiful deep ball
to Louis Murphy that showed he can unleash a bonus TD once in
a while. Don’t count on him putting up excellent numbers in more
than a quarter of the games, but playing in the AFC West does
have its benefits, and this week he’s really not a terrible start
as a QB2.
MIN (@DET, SF, GB, @STL) – He didn’t come out like his normal
gun-slinging self, but why would he? Remember the stable of Week
5 bye QBs (Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler)
and make your move if you haven’t already; you saw what Matt Hasselbeck
did to St. Louis, right?
SEA (@SF, CHI, @IND, JAC) – You didn’t? How about 279 yards
and three TDs (two INT) on 25-for-36 passing? Granted, it doesn’t
get much weaker than the St. Louis pas rush, but it’s clear Hasselbeck
has turned a corner and I’m off to a pretty decent start with
my ‘09 waiver picks.
Joe Flacco, BAL (@SD, CLE, @NE, CIN) – Flacco threw for
a career-high 307 yards and three TDs with just one INT. I’m
buying in all formats.
Shaun Hill, SF (SEA, @MIN, STL, ATL) – Hill lost a fumble
but turned in an otherwise–solid performance: 209/1/0 and
Matthew Stafford, DET (MIN, WAS, @CHI, PIT) – Where was
the Stafford-Megatron connection we’ve heard so much about?
I’m still waiting.
Mark Sanchez, NYJ (NE, TEN, @NO, @MIA) – Sanchez received
high praise from a host of former NFL QBs after his performance
Sunday in Houston. Things are looking promising for the USC standout.
Off The Top
Julius Jones, SEA (@SF, CHI, @IND, JAC) – I soaked in some
severe condemnation for taking Julius Jones in one home league,
and while I’m not gloating over his Week 1 numbers (136
total yards and a TD) since they came against the Rams, I feel
a lot less dim-witted.
Cedric Benson, CIN (@GB, PIT, @CLE, @BAL) – You want the
good news or the bad news? The good news is that Benson looked
good Sunday against the Broncos, compiling 108 total yards (including
4/32/0 receiving) and a rushing TD. The bad news is that you’ll
only be able to play him one more time over the next four weeks.
Sproles, SD (BAL, MIA, @PIT, BYE) – If there’s anything seriously
wrong with LaDainian Tomlinson’s ankle, Sproles has the ability
become a solid RB2, especially in PPR leagues. Tomlinson apparently
rolled the ankle in the first quarter of Monday night’s game.
Sproles is tiny, but he’s very effective hitting small holes and
scampering in the flats. The upcoming schedule is a concern, but
this early in the season he’s a great investment.
McGahee, BAL (@SD, CLE, @NE, CIN) – Two TDs later, and everybody’s
interested in Willis McGahee again. See what one game against
the Chiefs can do for your fantasy value? With the emergence of
Ray Rice, I’m not bullish on his prospects of getting more than
10-15 touches per game, but he’s clearly got value in deep leagues.
Tim Hightower, ARI (@JAC, IND, BYE, HOU) – He’ll
be a reception machine for the ’09 Cards, as Beanie Wells
couldn’t catch H1N1 if he licked an entire bus terminal
floor in a crowded Northeast metropolitan area; PPR leaguers rejoice.
Scouring The Barrel
Correll Buckhalter, DEN (CLE, @OAK, DAL, NE) – Nobody excelled
for the Broncos in their win over Cincy, but Buckhalter looked
like the best runner of the bunch. Take a shot in deeper leagues
and wait for the right matchup — like this week!
Bush, OAK (@KC, DEN, @ HOU, @NYG) – Bush split carries with
Darren McFadden and had 12 carries for 55 yards and a TD, which
exceeded McFadden’s fantasy tally (17 carries, 68 yards, 0 TD,
2/25/0 receiving). He also looks like he’s the Raiders’ goal line
back, so he’s a good add in deep leagues and could shoulder a
larger burden in Oakland should anything befall MCFadden.
Mewelde Moore, PIT (@CHI, @CIN, SD, @DET) – Not sure exactly
what’s wrong with Fast Willie (could have something to do
with the Titans’ awesome rush defense) but Moore might be
a cheap RB5 to own on the Steelers in PPR leagues.
Felix Jones, DAL (NYG, CAR, @DEN, @KC) – Just be patient.
He had a thigh bruise in Week 1 but should be okay if he practices
this week. I think he’ll be part of the offense when he
gets fully acclimated to game speed again.
LeSean McCoy, PHI (NO, KC, BYE, TB) – His value hinges
on Westbrook’s health, and Westbrook seems healthy —
even if McNabb is not.
Leon Washington, NYJ (NE, TEN, @NO, @MIA) – Leon didn’t
score, but he looked every bit the player he was in 2008, finishing
Sunday with 84 total yards and a Jets win.
Fred Jackson, BUF (TB, NO, @MIA, CLE) – Jackson was a one-man
gang for the Bills on Monday, finishing with 57 rushing yards
on 15 carries and 5/83/1 receiving. He should see a similar workload
against the Bucs this week.
Davis, CLE (@DEN, @BAL, CIN, @BUF) – A one-car accident and
accompanying head injury gave Davis owners a scare, but it was
the stifling Williams Wall that precluded the young back from
posting viable fantasy numbers. Things will surely get better
the next four weeks for Davis, as long as the shoulder injury
he suffered Week 1 isn’t serious.
Peyton Hillis, DEN (CLE, @OAK, DAL, NE) – Hillis wasn’t
used much in the Broncs’ win over Cincinnati, but if Moreno
and Buckhalter falter, he’ll get some looks.
Williams, TB (@BUF, NYG, @WAS, @PHI) – Cadillac had 13 carries
for 97 yards and a TD and appeared rejuvenated against the Cowboys
and its solid run defense. He should continue to see 10-15 carries
CAR (@ATL, @DAL, BYE, WAS) – Goodson actually finished Sunday
with negative fantasy yards after he lost a fumble and tallied
just one yard on two carries.
NO (@PHI, @BUF, NYJ, BYE) – He was probably the fantasy pickup
of the week (28 carries, 143 yards) with Pierre Thomas out, and
could continue to post big numbers via the New Orleans juggernaut.
Keep an eye on Thomas’ status for Week 2 against the Eagles.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
WR Devery Henderson, NO (@PHI, @BUF, NYJ, BYE) – In the
New Orleans offense, he’s got the ability to be an excellent
fantasy WR2, and his numbers Sunday (5/103/1) show he’s
the guy who Brees looks to with the deep ball. A must-add in all
TE Jeremy Shockey, NO (@PHI, @BUF, NYJ, BYE) – Shockey
has two TDs last week and should continue to reap the benefits
of the talented offense this week in Philly. I’m immediately
bumping his value to a Tier 2 TE and he should be owned in all
12-team leagues by this coming weekend.
WR Percy Harvin, MIN (@DET, SF, GB, @STL) – So that’s
what they were talking about. Harvin adds a new dimension to the
Vikings offense and should be involved in just about every facet
of the game plan. I sure wish I drafted him.
Crayton, DAL (NYG, CAR, @DEN, @KC) – Not much to add other
than “add this guy.” Tony Romo trusts him as a possession receiver
and a red zone threat. He’ll see plenty of balls this season.
TE John Carlson, SEA (@SF, CHI, @IND, JAC) – I was fortunate
to wait and get him late in my work league, although I’m
not sure how many more six-reception, 95-yard, two-TD performances
he has left in him. On the bright side, he was targeted eight
times by Hasselbeck and is clearly one of Matty’s favorite
WR Justin Gage, TEN (HOU, @NYJ, @JAC, IND) – See Collins,
Kerry. The same applies to Gage, who will be spotty as a WR3.
If you can put up with a few stinkers, he’s your man.
Scouring The Barrel
TE Todd Heap, BAL (@SD, CLE, @NE, CIN) – It was only a
matter of time before Heap got healthy enough to catch another
Flacco TD. It’s a great sign the Ravens are throwing the
ball more, because that means more targets for Heap (he had eight
on Sunday) and better numbers from the cagy, oft-injured veteran,
whose 35/403/3 were less-than-inspiring.
WR Mark Clayton, BAL (@SD, CLE, @NE, CIN) – Another veteran
receiver reaping the benefits of the Ravens new offensive approach,
Clayton is a great deep threat who could always bust loose from
the WR4 slot for a WR1 day. Expect the occasional miss, but grab
Clayton if you’re in a deep league that starts three WRs.
Murphy, OAK (@KC, DEN, @ HOU, @NYG) – After watching Monday
night’s game, it’s clear who the No. 1 receiver in Oakland is.
Murphy got robbed of his first career TD on an official review
but came back later in the game with a bomb from Russell. He’s
worth a look in 12-team leagues and could be a valuable sleeper
WR Derrick Mason, BAL (@SD, CLE, @NE, CIN) – 4/47/0 isn’t
anything great, but it’s encouraging to see Flacco posting
such big numbers.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN (@DET, SF, GB, @STL) – He had
a few catches but didn’t find the end zone, which should
happen with more frequency when the Vikings face stiffer competition.
WR Josh Morgan, SF (SEA, @MIN, STL, ATL) – 3/38/0 —
not a total wash, but a TD would have been nice.
WR Isaac Bruce, SF (SEA, @MIN, STL, ATL) – 4/74/0 seems
like a line we’ll see a lot this year for Bruce, with a
handful of TDs thrown in.
WR Nate Burleson, SEA (@SF, CHI, @IND, JAC) – Easily my
best WR call of the week: 11 targets, and 7/74/1 receiving. Giddyup.
Bennett, CHI (PIT, @SEA, DET, BYE) – Bennett was Cutler’s
favorite target Sunday night. He had 13 balls thrown his way (sandwiched
among Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, Calvin Johnson and
Steve Smith for the most ion football last week), catching 7 for
66 yards — a great sign for a guy who went without a catch as
a rookie in ’08.
TE Jermichael Finley, GB (CIN, @STL, @MIN, BYE) – Didn’t
make the big splash many had expected; he’ll need some time
to adjust and earn Rodgers’ respect.
WR Robert Meachem, NO (@PHI, @BUF, NYJ, BYE) – Maybe his
39-yard TD is a sign of things to come; maybe it was just a painful
moment for the Lions. A solid 2/51/1 line, but he just saw the
WR Chansi Stuckey, NYJ (NE, TEN, @NO, @MIA) – 4/64/1 on
eight targets means Sanchez is looking his way — and Stuckey’s
got value as a WR3 in 12-team leagues.
WR Hakeem Nicks, NYG (@DAL, @TB, @KC, OAK) – Ouch. A week
1 foot injury (he left the game on crutches) has the rookie sidelined
for a few weeks. Early reports say it’s not a Lisfranc sprain,
but he’ll need 2-3 weeks at least.
Off The Top
DB DeAngelo Hall, WAS (STL, @DET, TB, @CAR) – Hall might
not finish the season as strongly as he did last year, but he’s
a playmaker with the ability to change a game and post solid tackle
numbers, especially in the next few weeks facing INT-happy QBs.
LB Stephen Cooper, SD (BAL, MIA, @PIT, BYE) – Cooper busted
out Monday night in Oakland with 13 solo tackles, and he’s
obviously the best run-stopping LB in Chargerville. As the LILB
in the Bolts’ 3-4, Cooper will compile similar numbers against
the Ravens, who will do a lot of running in San Diego. He’ll
also threaten to surpass his 98 tackles in 2008 with a new career-high
Davis, DEN (CLE, @OAK, DAL, NE) – Davis, at RILB, will see
plenty of action against the Browns, who will definitely run the
ball at him. Using occasional run blitzes and shots at young Brady
Quinn, Davis and the Broncos bend-but-not-break defense and will
clean up a lot of plays as they grind against the Browns. He’s
not a top IDP option, but he’ll be serviceable in deeper leagues.
LB Demorrio Williams, KC (OAK, @PHI, NYG, DAL) – He’s
the SLB when the Chiefs play a 4-3 and I’m not sure how
long he’ll hold onto the starting LILB slot over Derrick
Johnson in the KC 3-4 – especially after DJ’s big
interception in Week 1 – but Williams does possess excellent
speed and athleticism for a LB. He still needs to mature and work
on anticipating blockers, but he’ll make a worthy addition
in deeper IDP formats.
Scouring The Barrel
Hillenmeyer, CHI (PIT, @SEA, DET, BYE) – Obviously, Lance
Briggs will be the main recipient of the Brian Urlacher injury
because he’s the fastest LB on the team now. If Briggs moves to
the middle — which he’s reluctant to do — his value will go up
even more. If not, Hillenmeyer might be a solid pickup in deeper
leagues. He’s undersized and not that great in coverage, but he
should post good tackle numbers if he’s the Bears’ MLB.
DL Jason Jones, TEN (HOU, @NYJ, @JAC, IND) – The Titans
defensive line is impressive, and Jones is probably the best available
IDP option on it. He’s also got a good matchup this week
and could post big numbers.
DL Chris Long, STL (@WAS, GB, @SF, MIN) – 6 total tackles
isn’t bad out of a DL slot, even if he didn’t get
to Hasselbeck. He’s an excellent play Week 2 at Washington.
Johnson, KC (OAK, @PHI, NYG, DAL) – Despite losing the starting
LILB job to Williams, Johnson tallied three tackles and a PD and
snagged an interception that he returned 70 yards midway through
the third quarter. He’s the MLB when KC plays a 4-3.
Lewis, SF (SEA, @MIN, STL, ATL) – Lewis finished with just
three tackles and an assist, but I like his prospects for a big
game this week a whole lot better.
DL Richard Seymour, OAK (@KC, DEN, @HOU, @NYG) – Seymour
joined the Raiders at the last minute and…
DB Abram Elam, CLE (@DEN, @BAL, CIN, @BUF) – Kaboom! I’ve
been hyping Elam for weeks, and his nine tackles (eight solo)
and a sack pushed him among the top tier of fantasy DBs on Sunday.
LB Stephen Tulloch, TEN (HOU, @NYJ, @JAC, IND) – How about
two in a row? Tulloch’s 12 tackles (eight solo) led all
Titans and portends good things for the rest of ’09.
DL Bobby McCray, NO (@PHI, @BUF, NYJ, BYE) – The Starcaps
linemen got to play (and might continue to be allowed on the field),
seriously diminishing McCray’s value.
LB Rocky McIntosh, WAS (STL, @DET, TB, @CAR) – While London
Fletcher finished with 18 tackles (11 solo) McIntosh held his
own with six total tackles.
DB Anthony Henry DET, (MIN, WAS, @CHI, PIT) – I transposed
Henry’s actual team with the team he was playing (hope y’all
caught that), but calling Henry was spot-on. The veteran DB had
12 tackles (10 solo) as well as an INT and two PD. Huge game.