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Through The Wire - Week 8
10/27/09 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 ()

Another six NFL teams (CIN, KC, NE, PIT, TB, WAS) have bye weeks in Week Eight, forcing owners to take to the wire to round out lineups.


Off The Top

David Garrard, JAC (@TEN, KC, @NYJ, BUF) – Garrard isn’t the most consistent QB in the world, but he’s facing the league’s worst pass defense and should put up good numbers after his team’s Week Seven bye — a respite that probably made him available in quite a few formats.

Digging Deeper

Alex Smith, SF (@IND, TEN, CHI, @GB) – Smith reportedly earned the starting nod this week against the Colts and will be a popular pickup considering the team’s enviable fantasy schedule with regards to QBs. It’s obviously a volatile situation in San Fran, but if Smith can avoid turning the ball over too many times at Indy, he could be in line for several productive starts. His relative value is surely the highest this week in leagues that don’t penalize for turnovers — because they are bound to happen.

Scouring The Barrel

Daunte Culpepper, DET (STL, @SEA, @MIN, CLE) – Three out of Culpepper’s next four starts are fantasy-friendly — even for the beleaguered Lions QB. He’s worth a shot in deeper leagues, especially if Calvin Johnson is ready to go this week.


Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (@DAL, DET, @ARI, @MIN) – Hasselbeck will be facing a much-improved Dallas pass defense and could big in for a rough game if the Dallas front seven gets penetration on passing downs. He’ll no doubt be available in plenty of formats following his bye, but aside from the ideal matchup in Week Nine, he’s got some tough games ahead.

Shaun Hill, SF (@IND, TEN, CHI, @GB) – Hill lost his starting job last week during the Houston game. If you picked him up, it’s time to swap him out for Smith.

Marc Bulger, STL (@DET, BYE, NO, ARI) – Bulger didn’t look too good versus Indy, but the Colts have defended the pass much better this season. He should post much better numbers this week in Detroit.

Vince Young, TEN (JAC, @SF, BUF, @HOU) – Titans head coach Jeff Fisher is still sticking with Kerry Collins as his starter, but it might not be long before Young sees some snaps and climbs into the fantasy fray once again.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (HOU, BYE, @TEN, @JAC) – Fitzpatrick, the Bills backup until Trent Edwards went down with a concussion in Week Six, will make his second straight start while Edwards continues to recover, making him a decent bye-week fill-in in deeper leagues. Fitzpatrick was 11-for-22 with 123 passing yards and a TD on Sunday against the Panthers.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Ricky Williams, MIA (@NYJ, @NE, TB, @CAR) – Williams has come a long way since his partial hiatus from 2004-07, and tied a career-high with three rushing TDs against his former team — the Saints — which gave up much of its future to draft him in 1999. Williams looks explosive with the football and is making the most out of his opportunities in the Wildcat. He’s still available in a small fragment of fantasy leagues, but will be universally owned after his Week Seven performance.

Digging Deeper

LeSean McCoy, PHI (NYG, DAL, @SD, @CHI) – No word yet on Brian Westbrook’s status (concussion) for next week’s home matchup versus the Giants, but even if he’s back, it’s a good idea to snag McCoy for insurance. The capable backup is available in more than half of Yahoo leagues, but if you don’t jump on him this week, you probably won’t have another chance.

Chris Wells, ARI (CAR, @CHI, SEA, @STL) – “Beanie” is not a very reliable ball carrier — even for a rookie — but is getting more opportunities to prove his worth in Arizona. Hightower will still have the edge in fantasy value in PPR leagues (where Wells is a liability given his stone-handed ways), but Wells has regained some of the flavor that had him ranked among the top five fantasy rookies to own during the pre-season.

Scouring The Barrel

Shonn Greene, NYJ (MIA, BYE, JAC, @NE) – Before this week, Greene was almost universally available in redraft leagues because of the Jets’ unwillingness to give him the ball. On Sunday, Greene took advantage of Leon Washington’s broken leg, rushing for 144 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns (one an impressive 33-yard scamper). With Washington out indefinitely, he’ll be a viable RB option and worth a roster slot in all formats.


Donald Brown, IND (SF, HOU, NE, @BAL) – Brown was in line for a big fantasy day against the Rams (two carries for 58 yards) when a minor shoulder injury sidelined him. He should be good to go next week, but since both Joseph Addai and third-string RB Chad Simpson both found the end zone at St. Louis, owners who played him Sunday were robbed of what could have been a huge performance.

Jonathan Stewart, CAR (@ARI, @NO, ATL, MIA) – Stewart only had seven carries for 25 rushing yards, but chipped in four catches for 20 receiving yards — making him worth an RB3 start in deeper PPR leagues.

Mike Bell, NO (ATL, @CAR, @STL, @TB) – Though he finished with 12 carries for 80 yards, Bell couldn’t reach the end zone because of stifling Miami goal line defense.

Laurence Maroney, NE (BYE, MIA, @ IND, NYJ) – Maroney scored a TD but only finished with 43 yards in the Pats 35-7 blowout of Tampa Bay in Wembley Stadium.

Justin Fargas, OAK (@SD, BYE, KC, CIN) – Although he didn’t light things up (no scores), Fargas totaled 90 yards from scrimmage and appears to be the best RB option on the team until Darren McFadden returns — which could be this week.

Kevin Faulk, NE (BYE, MIA, @IND, NYJ) – The Pats didn’t really need Faulk on Sunday, and are now heading into their bye week.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Miles Austin, DAL (@SEA, @PHI, @GB, WAS) – Austin was still out there in about a quarter of fantasy leagues before Sunday’s scintillating performance (6-171-2), but that number is dwindling by the day as leagues go through their waiver process. The guy is obviously Romo’s BFF these days — a moniker that could translate into playoff berths for his fantasy owners as well as the roller-coaster Cowboys.

WR Nate Burleson, SEA (@DAL, DET, @ARI, @MIN) – This guy was available in a 14-team league I’m in (probably because of his bye), and I’m kicking myself for not noticing it (too much writing and helping and not enough “me” time — sometimes I feel like the classy barber with the bad haircut). If you see him out there in your league, don’t delay — Burleson is the best weapon in Seattle.

Digging Deeper

WR Lee Evans, BUF (HOU, BYE, @TEN, @JAC) – T.O. isn’t accomplishing much for his fantasy owners, but he’s starting to doing wonders for the value of Evans (5-75-1 in Week Nine against the Panthers). Other than the Bills’ Week Nine bye, Evans has a great schedule coming up.

WR Antonio Bryant, TB (BYE, GB, @MIA, NO) – Bryant won’t put up any of the gargantuan numbers he produced down the stretch last season for the Bucs in weeks 14-16 (23-435-4 in those three games), but he’s proficient in the red zone and will be counted on when the Bucs are lucky enough to get in scoring range. He’s on a bye this week and the depressing state of affairs in Tampa Bay has him available in a majority of leagues, so fantasy owners with a roster slot to burn can snag and stash, hoping his numbers improve in the final few weeks like in 2008.

Scouring The Barrel

WR Mike Wallace, PIT (BYE, @DEN, CIN, @KC) – Another easy grab because of his upcoming bye week, Wallace has made the most of his targets over the last four games with nine catches for 221 yards and two scores — a 24.6 average that reminds me of Nate Washington’s role in the offense last season. He’s obviously no more than a fantasy WR4 (he’s the Steelers’ fourth receiving target after Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller) but an injury to one of the Pittsburgh starting wideouts would immediately bump his value.

WR Kenny Britt, TEN (JAC, @SF, BUF, @HOU) – Britt is the most dynamic of the receivers in Tennessee and he should be able to break off a couple big plays in the coming weeks against weak opposition. The more successful Chris Johnson is getting chunks of yardage out of the backfield, the more the Titans can look downfield to Washington and Britt. But if Vince Young takes over at QB, his value will take a hit because the play calling will try to focus on shorter routes that favor Johnson and Justin Gage.


WR Sidney Rice, MIN (@GB, BYE, DET, SEA) – Rice had another big day for the Vikings, catching 11 passes for 136 yards, and had a touchdown taken away on a bogus tripping penalty. Rice will be a frequent target of Brett Favre this week when the Vikings travel to Green Bay— a matchup that’s bound to be an exciting, pass-heavy shootout.

WR Torry Holt, JAC (@TEN, KC, @NYJ, BUF) – Holt is back from a bye and ready to build on the Week Six overtime win over his old team, when he put up his best numbers of ‘09: 5-101-0. During his Week Four game versus the Titans, he managed only 3-42-0, but those numbers should improve this week when the Jags travel to Tennessee.

TE Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN (@GB, BYE, DET, SEA) – Shiancoe disappointed Sunday with just 4-27-0, his worst fantasy performance since Week Three, but remains an important red-zone target.

WR Hakeem Nicks, NYG (@PHI, SD, BYE, ATL) – Nicks officially moved past Domenik Hixon on the Giants depth chart, and while his 62-yard TD catch in the loss to Arizona was a fortuitous gift from the fantasy gods, it still counts. Nicks is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

WR Lance Moore, NO (ATL, @CAR, @STL, @TB) – Moore was conspicuously absent from the Saints list of star performers Sunday, but it doesn’t mean he’s not on Drew Brees’ radar. Look for an average line of 5-50-1 during the Saints’ next four games against weak opponents.

TE Zach Miller, OAK (@SD, BYE, KC, CIN) – A week after a 6-139-1 breakout in the win over the Eagles, Miller drew bracket coverage and was stifled for a unsatisfactory 2-15-0 stat line. He’ll do better in San Diego, and while a Week Nine bye will make him expendable in many formats, Miller could rebound with big numbers against the Chiefs and Bengals.

WR Michael Crabtree/Josh Morgan, SF (@IND, TEN, CHI, @GB) – Crabtree’s debut was impressive (5-56-0 on six targets) and Morgan played well too (4-62-0 on four targets). I’m not sure how the QB change will affect those numbers going forward, but it’s a situation worth monitoring.

WR Josh Cribbs, CLE (@CHI, BYE, BAL, @DET) – Cribbs is still a long shot to supply any significant fantasy value this season in standard leagues, but he can be used as a QB/RB/WR/KR by the desperate Browns and could provide decent value as a special teams contributor in those formats.


Off The Top

LB Karlos Dansby, ARI (CAR, @CHI, SEA, @STL) – Since he’s owned in a majority of formats, I probably don’t have to spend much time extolling his IDP virtues. He’s coming off a big game (10 tackles @NYG) and should see lots of chances to make plays with the struggling Panthers (who should be more run-focused this week) on the docket in Week Eight.

DL Mario Williams, HOU (@BUF, @IND, BYE, TEN) – Super Mario isn’t blowing up the stat sheet, relegating him to the wire in many shallower IDP leagues. But the matchup in Buffalo means he’ll get to the QB at least once and toss in a handful of tackles. Get him in your lineup this week.

Digging Deeper

LB Will Witherspoon, PHI (NYG, DAL, @SD, @CHI) – After experimenting with a few different options this season, the Eagles have found their MLB in Witherspoon, a veteran IDP standout who recently came over from the Rams. He gets a huge bump in value playing monster in the Philly 4-3, and he an incredible debut on Monday night: Eight tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a PD and the coup-de-grace — an INT returned for a TD that staked his new team to an early 14-0 lead. You better jump on him now, because he won’t be available in many IDP leagues after this week’s round of waivers.

DB Brian Dawkins, DEN (@BAL, PIT, @WAS, SD) – Dawkins should have a big game in Baltimore, where the Ravens must take to the air and attack the middle the field — the veteran safety’s stomping ground. I anticipate similar numbers to the New England game (seven total tackles and three PD).

DL Adewale Ogunleye, CHI (CLE, ARI, @SF, PHI) – “Wally” gets to exploit the “strong” side (I use that term loosely) of the Browns’ offensive line. He’ll pick apart matador right tackle John St. Clair and is a sneaky DL play this week who could provide immense value.

Scouring The Barrel

LB A.J. Hawk, GB (MIN, @TB, DAL, SF) – Hawk’s experienced a steady decline in fantasy value since his heyday as a rookie in 2006, when he exploded on the scene for 121 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, two INT, seven PD and a forced fumble. This season, he’s been especially marginalized in the 3-4, reduced to a situational run defender. Although he’s been inconsistent, this matchup provides an opportunity for good numbers in a second straight week (he posted eight tackles against the Browns).

DB Jairus Byrd, BUF (HOU, BYE, @TEN, @JAC) – Byrd is taking full advantage of the injuries to Bryan Scott and Donte Whitner, and last week had two solos, two PD and two more big interceptions — giving him five in his last three games. He’s still available in a bunch of formats, he’s got a great matchup this week, and it looks like he may have locked down a starting job even if his fellow DBs get healthy.


LB Jonathan Vilma, NO (ATL, @CAR, @STL, @TB) – Vilma posted his highest tackle total of the season with 10 (seven solos) against the Dolphins. The next several are favorable and should mean consistently solid IDP numbers.

DL Julius Peppers, CAR (@ARI, @NO, ATL, MIA) – Peppers had four tackles and a sack in the loss to Buffalo — giving him five sacks in his last three games.

DL Richard Seymour, OAK (@SD, BYE, KC, CIN) – Seymour missed practice last Friday with a stomach illness and didn’t play too well against the Jets, his old AFC East rival. He should bounce back this week with an okay performance versus the Chargers. Use him as a DL2.

LB Dhani Jones, CIN (BYE, BAL, @PIT, @OAK) – The Chicago game saw him post seven solos, but no garbage points. Still — the consistent tackle totals make him the best IDP LB on the Bengals.

DB Charles Tillman, CHI (CLE, ARI, @SF, PHI) – Four total tackles and PD is much less than I expected against the Bengals.

LB David Hawthorne, SEA (@DAL, DET, @ARI, @MIN) – Coming off a bye, Hawthorne should see significant playing time and solid numbers in Big D.

DB C.C. Brown, NYG (@PHI, SD, BYE, ATL) – Another great game from C.C., who had 11 total tackles and a forced fumble in the loss to Arizona. He’s approaching DB1 status as teams force the ball into the secondary with more success against the Giants.