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 ()
We’ve got a lot to get to this week, including a host of giddy
updates on last week’s picks...
Off The Top
David Garrard, JAC (TEN, @SEA, STL, BYE) – Garrard is still
available in plenty of one-QB leagues, and he’s got a favorable
schedule coming the next three weeks. If he’s still out
there, don’t hesitate to add him.
Shaun Hill, SF (STL, ATL, BYE, @HOU) – Hill is pretty firmly
entrenched as the 49ers starting QB and can post good numbers
with the right matchup. You’ll have to be judicious in that
regard (don’t start him against any Top 10 fantasy pass
defenses), but he’ll make a respectable bye week fill-in
during weeks 4, 5 and 7.
STL (@SF, MIN, @JAC, IND) – League sources told the Post-Dispatch
that Marc Bulger has a rotator cuff injury in his throwing shoulder
that could end his season. I’m not sure how much value Kyle Boller
has at this point, but it can’t be any lower than Bulger’s. He’s
not a great add and this is not a recommendation to do so, but
if you’re desperate and you think the Rams could put up some decent
numbers in garbage time, he’s worth a shot.
MIA (BUF, NYJ, BYE, NO) – Chad Pennington is done for the
season after suffering a dislocated shoulder in Sunday's game
against the San Diego Chargers. Pennington, who twice had surgery
on his throwing shoulder, had an MRI that indicated a tear that
would require surgery. Pennington’s still got to check with the
ubiquitous Dr. James Andrews, but he’ll probably yield the job
to Henne for the rest of 2009. Again — recommending Henne is like
recommending a wax treatment for hair removal. It’s probably not
a good idea and it’s bound to be painful. Tyler Thigpen, acquired
via trade from Kansas City, might be a more palatable option.
Scouring The Barrel
TB (@WAS, @PHI, CAR, NE) – The Buccaneers will start Johnson
on Sunday at Washington, rookie Josh Freeman moves up to No. 2
on the depth chart, and Byron Leftwich is relegated to the team’s
third quarterback. Morris may have said Johnson earned a chance
to start against the Redskins, but that doesn’t mean he should
be starting for you. Also noteworthy: I think this must be the
first time in NFL history a team has had three active African-American
quarterbacks 1-2-3 on its depth chart. Can anyone think of a previous
time this has happened? Editor's Note: Astute reader
Mike G. points out that in this happened in Jacksonville in 2006...with
Byron Leftwich, David Garrard and Quinn Gray. Anybody else?
MIA (BUF, NYJ, BYE, NO) – White could emerge as the starting
QB in Miami if Henne struggles (which he will), and his fantasy
upside has to be better than the second-year Michigan product,
if only for what this talented athlete can do with his feet. A
deep-league spec, White will see a few adds this week in super-deep
formats. For now, he should just be monitored in standard leagues,
but you never know, bub.
BAL (@NE, CIN, @MIN, BYE) – Flacco continued his aerial assault
with 342 yards and a bonus TD to Derrick Mason on 25-for-35 passing.
If you didn’t take advantage of his 20-percent availability last
week, chances are your window closed. He’s now owned in 85 percent
of leagues, a number that will obviously increase after this week’s
waiver claims are processed.
Brett Favre, MIN (GB, @STL, BAL, @PIT) – Chances are you
saw Brett’s heroics live or on Sunday’s highlights.
Chances are he’s no longer available in 30 percent of leagues
after this week.
WAS (TB, @CAR, KC, PHI) – The Redskins flat-out sucked eggs
against the Lions, but they have Tampa Bay next week. Campbell
might be acceptable as a QB2 in Week Four, but it’s also possible
he gets benched and/or euthanized. Jim Zorn should be drinking
heavily this week, and I can’t blame him. Tom Todd Collins, anyone?
Mark Sanchez, NYJ (@NO, @MIA, BUF, @OAK) – Despite his obvious
value in deeper formats, Sanchez is still available in over half
of fantasy leagues. I started him last week in a home league that
doesn’t penalize for turnovers and got 25 points out of
him en route to a J&A Lawn Service (our team name/my buddy’s
lawn care business) victory over DeReamer’s Duds (not really
our opponent’s team name, but I just wanted to rub it in).
SEA (@IND, JAC, ARI, BYE) – Wallace filled in admirably for Matt
Hasselbeck and could get another shot to start in the veteran
QB’s place on Sunday in Indy. Monitor Hasselbeck’s fractured rib
and expect a similar recovery timeline to that of Donovan McNabb.
Off The Top
SF (STL, ATL, BYE, @HOU) – With Frank Gore expected to miss the
next three weeks, Coffee makes an excellent fill-in. He only averaged
2.2 yards per carry last week, but that was against the Vikings
and their vaunted run defense and he finished with 25 carries.
Consider him a viable RB2 and excellent RB3 or FLEX option.
NYG (@KC, OAK, @NO, ARI) – Bradshaw finished with 104 yards on
just 14 carries against the lowly Bucs and should post similar
numbers against the Chiefs this week in what should be a blowout.
Brandon Jacobs is currently seeing about two carries for every
one that goes to Bradshaw, but the bulky Jacobs isn’t going to
break off too many long runs, while the speedy 2007 seventh-rounder
out of Marshall can take it to the house at any moment from anywhere
on the field.
NE (BAL, @DEN, TEN, @TB) – Taylor had 21 carries last week against
the Falcons, the most by any single Patriots running back since
Sammy Morris in Week 17 last year. Taylor converted those opportunities
into 105 yards and a TD — good news for Taylor owners and a sign
that he should be owned in all formats.
MIA (BUF, NYJ, BYE, NO) – The Pennington injury probably means
the Dolphins must run the ball that much more, and Williams, who
scored his first 2009 TD last week in San Diego, should garner
an additional five carries per game. He’s nothing more than a
situational FLEX option, but he’s still got some juice left in
his legs and could post RB2 numbers if anything ever happened
to Ronnie Brown.
Scouring The Barrel
Maurice Morris, DET (@CHI, PIT, @GB, BYE) – Morris didn’t
exactly light it up (eight carries for 10 yards) in Kevin Smith’s
stead on Sunday after the second-year back left the game with
a shoulder injury in the third quarter, but he did find paydirt.
While Smith’s status is unknown, Morris would be the likely
starter (albeit a weak one) against the Bears if Smith can’t
CLE (CIN, @BUF, @PIT, GB) – Don’t add this guy unless you start
three RBs and you have bye week issues. He’s likely taken over
the starting job, but he’s got limited upside (only 60 yards on
19 carries this season) and a knee injury kept him out of Week
One. I still think James Davis is the guy to own in Cleveland,
although the offensive line’s shoddy blocking precludes either
from a spot on my roster.
BUF (@MIA, CLE, @NYJ, @CAR) – Jackson’s value takes a big hit
with the return of Marshawn Lynch, but he shouldn’t be dropped;
Lynch has a history of injuries and Jackson will still be involved
in the offense to the tune of 10-15 touches per game, opps that
could translate into big plays.
DAL (@DEN, @KC, BYE, ATL) – Jones is averaging over 10 yards
per carry this season, and he was well on his way to a huge fantasy
day Monday night (eight carries, 94 yards, 1/20/0 receiving) when
he got hurt. His status for Week Four is unknown, but I’m assuming
he’ll play since he was outfitted with a brace during the game
and looked like he could have played if necessary.
Leon Washington, NYJ (@NO, @MIA, BUF, @OAK) – Washington
remains a solid FLEX play in the Jets’ offense and decent
RB3 for fantasy owners in PPR leagues. He’s yet to score
this year, but that’s likely to change this week against
McCoy, PHI (BYE, TB, @OAK, @WAS) – After a Brian Westbrook
injury forced him to start Sunday to the tune of 20 carries, 84
yards and a TD, McCoy will be a frequent part of the Philly running
game. Even when Westbrook comes back, McCoy will see about one
carry/target for every two B-West gets.
Tashard Choice, DAL (@DEN, @KC, BYE, ATL) – Choice was started
in about one in 10 fantasy leagues this week, and he rewarded
that lucky 10 percent with 82 yards and a TD on the ground and
4/36/0 receiving — a monster day considering he didn’t
see the field much at all in the first half.
SEA (@IND, JAC, ARI, BYE) – I’m a Julius Jones owner in a couple
leagues, so I’m smiling a little right now.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Walter HOU (OAK, @NYG, PHI, NYJ) – After posting 7/96/1 against
the Jaguars, he appears to be over the hamstring injury that kept
him out of the first two games. With Andre Johnson likely blanketed
by Oakland CB Nnamdi Asomugha in Sunday’s matchup, Walter will
make a solid WR3 and could post similar numbers to last week’s
WR Nate Burleson, SEA (@IND, JAC, ARI, BYE) – Burleson has
33 targets on the year and double-digit targets in each of the
first three weeks, so you know he’s going to be involved
regardless of who’s behind center. Against the Bears, he
posted nine catches for 109 yards but didn’t reach the end
zone. Look for that to change this week against Indy, who despite
showing off a fine pass rush versus the Cards on Sunday night,
often yields a good deal of passing yardage.
Garcon, IND (SEA, @TEN, BYE, @STL) – I don’t know how I left
him off my list of receivers to target last week, considering
he’s on my notes from last Monday night. Sorry for that. Hopefully,
the 2008 205th overall pick from Mount Union College is still
available in your league, since he established himself as a sure-handed
deep threat that Peyton Manning will frequently target at least
a handful of times per game while Anthony Gonzalez is out. Garçon,
who posted 3/64/1 on five targets Sunday night, is capable of
replicating the lofty numbers fantasy owners assumed Gonzalez
would post in 2009 before the 2007 first rounder sprained a knee
ligament in Week One.
Davis, SF (STL, ATL, BYE, @HOU) – Usually, any TE who scores
twice in a week earns a spot in this column. Davis, a perennial
underachiever who shows flashes of brilliance, definitely earns
a spot (my apologies to Rams TE Daniel Fells, who caught two scores
last week but just has six targets on the year, five of which
came last week). Davis has 23 targets through three games and
tore up the Vikings for 7/96/2. He should post good numbers this
week against the Rams, who yield the fourth-most fantasy points
to opposing TEs.
Scouring The Barrel
Wallace, PIT (SD, @DET, CLE, MIN) – For a 91-year-old journalist,
he played surprisingly well on Sunday. Actually, the rookie receiver
is just 23 and is still the No. 3 receiver on the Steelers’ depth
chart (although it appears he’s surpassed Limas Sweed). For now,
he’s worth monitoring after posting 7/102/0 on eight targets from
Ben Roethlisberger against Cincy.
Caldwell, CIN (@CLE, @BAL, HOU, CHI) – Caldwell, a former
University of Florida standout drafted by the Bengals in Round
3 last year, has already equaled his target totals from 2008.
With 19 looks in the first three games, it’s clear Carson Palmer
sees something in the kid. Last week, Caldwell posted 6/52/1 in
the Bengals’ final-drive victory over the Steelers, including
three catches and the game-winner on that fateful push. He’s passed
Chris Henry on the depth chart and should be owned in 12-team
WR Laurent Robinson, STL (@SF, MIN, @JAC, IND) – The St.
Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting Robinson will undergo surgery
after suffering a lower-leg fracture and a high ankle sprain Sunday.
His season might be over, so it’s safe to drop him in all
Smith, NYG (@KC, OAK, @NO, ARI) – Smith, emerging as the No.
1 WR for the Giants, converted on all seven of his targets Sunday
against the Bucs for 7/63/1. He should be owned in all formats
and used as a decent WR2 and solid WR3/FLEX.
TE Brent Celek, PHI (BYE, TB, @OAK) – It was another big
week for Celek, who roamed a lot downfield and totaled 104 yards
and 1 TD on eight catches.
WR Mario Manningham, NYG (@KC, OAK, @NO, ARI) – Smith was
the star in Week Three, but Manningham finished with 4/55/0 on
seven targets. Not bad.
Knox, CHI (DET, BYE, @ATL, @CIN) – Earl Bennett received more
targets last week, but Know capitalized on the three he saw by
catching a 7-yard TD pass. The guy just makes big plays for the
Bears and should be involved all year.
WR Mike Sims-Walker, JAC (TEN, @SEA, STL, BYE) – He’s
got a great upcoming schedule and seems to have surpassed Torry
Holt as Garrard’s go-to guy (10 targets, 6/81/0). If a few
touchdowns start coming, he’ll be a solid WR3.
Off The Top
LB Justin Durant, JAC (TEN, @SEA, STL, BYE) – He’s
already got 23 solo tackles in three games, so he should be unavailable
in most IDP leagues by now. If he’s out there in yours,
consider yourself lucky. His upcoming schedule is very conducive
to MLBs. In fact, he won’t face a team that allows less
than average points to opposing LBs until Week 10 @ NYJ. The guy
is an IDP stud-in-waiting, so snag him before a fellow owner beats
you to it.
DL Shaun Rogers, CLE (CIN, @BUF, @PIT, GB) – I don’t
normally recommend starting DTs, but if you have to start one
or are looking for a week where Rogers will surpass his impressive
Week One form (five tackles, sack), this is it. The Bengals offense
has spent large chunks of time on the field, and their offensive
line has been largely successful dealing with smaller D-lineman.
Rogers, however, should get a bug initial push and disrupt the
Bengals backfield frequently on Sunday.
LB Marcus Buggs, BUF (@MIA, CLE, @NYJ, @CAR) – A converted
safety undrafted out of Vanderbilt, Buggs posted just three tackles
in last week’s tilt with the Saints, so he’s probably
been relegated to the wire in many IDP leagues. Don’t make
that mistake. Whoever lines up at MLB for Buffalo on Sunday should
record excellent tackle totals from the sheer volume of plays
that the Dolphins blast at the gaps to the right and left of center.
Those who took a shot on him last week just did so one week too
DB Roman Harper, NO (NYJ, BYE, NYG, @MIA) – Harper looks
recovered from a hamstring injury that may have led some owners
to drop him heading into last week. He’s a consistent tackler
and should have a few big plays against the Jets on Sunday. Add
him and don’t look back.
Scouring The Barrel
Hawthorne, SEA (@IND, JAC, ARI, BYE) – He’s only got value
if he starts at MLB in place of Lofa Tatupu, whose injured hamstring
might nag him all season and keep him out of at least another
start. Sure, Hawthorne’s 16 total tackles and an INT were awesome,
but the upcoming matchups don’t bode well for opposing LBs. He’ll
be a popular add this week, but I think we’ve seen his high-water
mark for 2009.
DL Chris Long, STL (@SF, MIN, @JAC, IND) – Still owned in
just a fraction of standard IDP leagues, Long has had a rough
transition to the pro game. He’s got 15 tackles this season
in there games, so he does have value outside of sacks, a stat
he’s yet to post in 2009. Against the 49ers, I’m anticipating
a big day. Pencil him in as a DL2 or take a shot in deeper 12-
or 14-team IDP leagues with him as your number one lineman this
DL Antwan Odom, CIN (@CLE, @BAL, HOU, CHI) – Odom disappointed
against the Steelers, but he should bounce back with a big game
LB Bradie James, DAL (@DEN, @KC, BYE, ATL) – Six total tackles
against the Panthers, who struggled to move the ball all day and
never really got a consistent ground game going. I’d bench
him this week at Denver if you have other options.
Guyton, NE (CLE, @DEN, TEN, @TB) – Guyton had seven tackles
against the Falcons and will be the primary run-stopping LB in
New England until Jerod Mayo returns.
LB Lawrence Timmons, PIT (SD, @DET, CLE, MIN) – Timmons
didn’t bounce back from injury quite as well as I’d
planned (five tackles, PD in Week Three), but he should post good
numbers going forward.
Jordan, PHI (BYE, TB, @OAK, @WAS) – MLB Omar Gaither finally
had a good game, which meant less-than-stellar numbers for Jordan
(three solos, one assist).
DB Roy Williams,
CIN (@CLE, @BAL, HOU, CHI) – The run-stuffing Williams had
seven tackles (three solos) against the Steelers on Sunday. He’s
a solid DB2 right now.