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Through The Wire - Week 4
9/29/08 Users...
Check out the most popular waiver wire pickups this week across thousands of MFL leagues. Also, quickly see who's available on your waiver wire this week by using the MFL Power feature at FF Today. Just input your league's 5-digit ID number away you go!
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.

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 in.

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

Feedback is always welcome, appreciated and encouraged. I’ll get to as many e-mails as I can.

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.

Digging Deeper

Kyle Boller, 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.

Chad Henne, 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

Josh Johnson, 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?

Pat White, 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.


Joe Flacco, 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.

Jason Campbell, 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).

Seneca Wallace, 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.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Glen Coffee, 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.

Ahmad Bradshaw, 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.

Digging Deeper

Fred Taylor, 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.

Ricky Williams, 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 go.

Jerome Harrison, 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.


Fred Jackson, 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.

Felix Jones, 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 the Saints.

LeSean 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.

Justin Forsett, 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

WR Kevin 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 tilt.

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.

Digging Deeper

WR Pierre 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.

TE Vernon 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

WR Mike 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.

WR Andre 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 leagues.


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 re-draft formats.

WR Steve 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.

WR Johnny 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.

Digging Deeper

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 early.

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

LB David 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 week.


DL Antwan Odom, CIN (@CLE, @BAL, HOU, CHI) – Odom disappointed against the Steelers, but he should bounce back with a big game at CLE.

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.

LB Gary 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.

LB Akeem 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.