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Through The Wire - Week 12
11/23/10 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. These are sometimes players available only in more shallow leagues, and occasionally guys who are more readily but are thrust into the fantasy spotlight because of opportunity or exceptional production.

Digging Deeper - Covers the next tier of quality waiver wire specimens, usually players available in a majority of online leagues. There are a lot of gems in this range who can be plucked rather easily.

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. Make sure you read the fine print.

Each week, I’ll also provide a brief update on the 30-40 players I covered the previous week. It’s the most accurate, comprehensive 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 ()


Off The Top

Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (PIT, @MIN, CLE, @MIA) – Plenty of fantasy owners benched Fitzpatrick in Week 11 after he managed only three TDs in his past three games, probably felt okay about it during the first half of the Cincy game, and then regretted their decision after the Bills scored 35 unanswered points in the final two quarters. The Harvard alum tossed four TDs on the day, and while the schedule down the stretch is difficult, he’s had his best games against better teams.

Digging Deeper

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (KC, CAR, @SF, ATL) – He’s not a top fantasy QB, but he’s only thrown one interception in his last five games and is currently sporting his best QB rating (79.4) since 2007. If you need a backup, you could do a lot worse.

Scouring The Barrel

Rusty Smith, TEN (@HOU, JAC, IND, HOU) – A 2010 sixth-round draft pick, Smith has the advantage of facing the NFL's worst pass defense on Sunday. He’s an unknown commodity at this point, but he’s got good size, a strong arm and might just put up decent numbers until Kerry Collins is ready to return.


Matt Cassel, KC (@SEA, DEN, @SD, @STL) – He had another solid game (193-2-0) and his QB rating is at a lofty 96.2 for the season – better than the 89.4 mark he posted in 2008 with New England.

Vince Young, TEN (@HOU, JAC, IND, HOU) – Young was placed on IR after suffering s thumb injury and losing his mind yet again.

Shaun Hill, DET (NE, CHI, GB, @TB) – Hill has 12 TD to just nine INTs this season and could provide some value down the stretch, as Matthew Stafford is not expected back this season.

Troy Smith, SF (@ARI, @GB, SEA, @SD) – The 49ers got blanked at home for the first time since the 1970s. That’s the risk of playing Troy Smith.

Tyler Thigpen, MIA (@OAK, CLE, @NYJ, BUF) – Speaking of shutouts….

Running Backs

Off The Top

Mike Tolbert, SD (@IND, OAK, KC, SF) – Tolbert had another big game (153 total yards, TD) with Ryan Mathews on the bench, and the Chargers show no signs of slowing down. He’s still available in over a third of fantasy leagues and could be a difference-maker down the stretch regardless of Mathews’ health status.

Danny Woodhead, NE (@DET, NYJ, @CHI, GB) – Like Peyton Hillis, Woodhead seems matchup-proof. The upcoming schedule includes some tough opponents for RBs, but it won’t affect Woodhead that much. He’s an integral part of the offense and is used effectively when the Pats are on the ropes.

Digging Deeper

Keiland Williams, WAS (MIN, @NYG, TB, @DAL) – Clinton Portis aggravated his groin injury and might be lost for the season, while Ryan Torain (hamstring) is doubtful for a Week 12 return. Williams can be safely inserted as a mid-level RB2 or strong flex.

Scouring The Barrel

Maurice Morris, DET (NE, CHI, GB, @TB) – With Jahvid Best battling turf toe injuries, the veteran Morris had a team-high 10 carries for 31 yards and caught four passes for 40 yards in Sunday’s loss at Dallas. He’s a sneaky flex play in Week 12 and could see more work if Best continues to struggle.


Tim Hightower, ARI (SF, STL, DEN, @CAR) – Hightower ran 62 yards on 12 carries and caught three passes for 24 yards in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. He’s not the long-term answer, but with the constant uncertainty around the knees of Beanie Wells, he’s good insurance.

Cadillac Williams, TB (@BAL, ATL, @WAS, DET) – The veteran back ran for 51 yards on seven carries with a TD in Sunday's 21-0 win at San Francisco, providing some much-needed value for desperate fantasy owners. You heard it here first, folks.

Justin Forsett, SEA (KC, CAR, @SF, ATL) – Forsett is still technically the backup in Seattle, but Lynch has been bad. I’m anticipating more work for the youngster.

Donald Brown, IND (SD, DAL, @TEN, JAC) – Brown led the Colts with 68 rushing yards on 17 carries against New England, including 36 yards on one carry in the third quarter. He’s the starter until Joseph Addai (shoulder) gets activated again.

Jerome Harrison, PHI (@CHI, HOU, @DAL, @NYG) – Harrison wasn’t used much in the win over New York on Sunday night. He’s still a necessary handcuff for LeSean McCoy

Brian Leonard, CIN (@NYJ, NO, @PIT, CLE) – Cedric Benson was active, but Leonard still caught three passes for 23 yards.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Santonio Holmes, NYJ (CIN, @NE, MIA, @PIT) – Mark Sanchez seems to have a connection with Santonio Holmes, who’s caught 17 balls for 316 yards and three touchdowns over the last three games. Amazingly, he’s still available in over a third of fantasy leagues.

WR Robert Meachem, NO (@DAL, @CIN , STL, @BAL) – Meachem made the most of his three targets, hauling in all three for 50 yards and a pair of TDs. He’s one of the most efficient WRs in the game and should be starting every week in 3WR formats unless you have a Top-25 trio.

Digging Deeper

WR Derek Hagan, NYG (JAC, WAS, @MIN, PHI) – The Giants announced Monday that Hakeem Nicks will miss three weeks with Compartment Syndrome in his lower right leg. He suffered the injury late in the team's game on Sunday night at Philadelphia. Derek Hagan is expected to step up. Hagan caught three balls for 10 yards with a goal line TD catch at the Eagles in Week 11.

WR Blair White, IND (SD, DAL, @TEN, JAC) – White had five receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's loss at New England. He’s almost universally available and is of great value if Austin Collie misses additional action.

TE Joel Dreessen, HOU (TEN, @PHI, BAL, @TEN) – Dreessen had 4-105-1 last week and should be viewed as a Top 20 TE going forward. The matchups are quite favorable during the coming weeks.

Scouring The Barrel

WR Ben Obomanu, SEA (KC, CAR, @SF, ATL) – Obomanu, who replaced Deon Butler as the starter in Seattle, caught five passes for 87 yards and his third TD of the season Sunday in a loss at New Orleans.

WR Donald Jones, BUF (PIT, @MIN, CLE, @MIA) – A relative unknown, the undrafted rookie caught five balls for 70 yards and a score in Sunday’s win over the Bengals, including a 28-yard strike from Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s shown the ability to get open and could factor in the Bills’ plans with Roscoe Parrish done for the season.


WR Mario Manningham, NYG (JAC, WAS, @MIN, PHI) – Manningham didn’t score on Sunday but gets a bump in value with the Nicks injury.

WR Nate Washington, TEN (@HOU, JAC, IND, HOU) – He didn’t find the end zone, but caught five passes for 117 yards. It’s hard to say what his role will be with Smith at the helm in Tennessee.

WR Mike Thomas, JAC (@NYG, @TEN, OAK, @IND) – Thomas had 5-36-1 on Sunday and Mike Sims-Walker is out a few weeks with a high ankle sprain. Giggidy.

WR James Jones, GB (@ATL, SF, @DET, @NE) – The 6-1 Jones hauled in a TD catch and seems to be part of the offense even with Donald Driver in the lineup.

TE Rob Gronkowski, NE (@DET, NYJ, @CHI, GB) – Aaron Hernandez caught a TD. I give up. @#$% Bill Belichick.

WR Deon Butler, SEA (KC, CAR, @SF, @SD) – Butler was surpassed on the depth chart late last week and caught only two passes for 19 yards Sunday in a loss at New Orleans.


Off The Top

LB David Hawthorne, SEA (KC, CAR, @SF, ATL) – with Lofa Tatupu struggling, Hawthorne (12 total tackles, INT, PD on Sunday) is the LB to own in Seattle on a defense that spends a lot of time on the field.

LB Stewart Bradley, PHI (@CHI, HOU, @DAL, @NYG) – Bradley had a pick on Sunday night and has stepped up his game recently. He should see plenty of opportunities against the Bears, who yield big numbers to opposing LBs.

Digging Deeper

DL Charles Johnson, CAR (@CLE, @SEA, ATL, ARI) – Johnson has 25 tackles and 2.5 sack sin his last five games, and the upcoming schedule favors opposing DLs. He’s not guaranteed a sack every week, but he’s been pretty good lately.

DB Abram Elam, CLE (CAR, @MIA, @BUF, @CIN) – T.J. Ward has been the most consistent performer this season, but Elam is starting to benefit from Ward’s reliable play. Elam has 18 tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, an INT and a TD over his last thee games.

Scouring The Barrel

LB Kevin Bentley, HOU (TEN, @PHI, BAL, @TEN) – Bentley had eight total tackles, an INT and a fumble recovery and is the starting MLB in Houston. Add him.

DL Antwan Odom, CIN (@NYJ, NO, @PIT, CLE) – Odom is done serving a suspension and could make an impact for the Bengals, who have struggled to establish a solid pass rush.


LB Derrick Johnson, KC (@SEA, DEN, @SD, @STL) – Just when I recommend him, he posts a stinker (four total tackles). He didn’t see a lot of action since the Cards offense was so anemic.

DB Ed Reed, BAL (TB, PIT, @HOU, NO) – Reed picked off a pass and pitched it to Dawan Landry, who took it to the house. He’s a ballhawk who should be owned in all IDP formats.

DL Jason Hunter, DEN (STL, @KC, @ARI, @OAK) – Hunter had five total tackles on Monday night against the Chargers. He’s a Top 10 fantasy DL if eligible.

LB Zach Diles, HOU (TEN, @PHI, BAL, @TEN) – Diles missed Sunday’s game with flu symptoms but is expected back in Week 12.

LB Cameron Wake, MIA (@OAK, CLE, @NYJ, BUF) – Wake had six tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble in the loss to Chicago on Thursday. He now has 9.5 sacks on the season and 38 tackles.

DL Chris Long, STL (@DEN, @ARI, @NO, KC) – Long had just two solos on Sunday. He’s still a Top 20 fantasy DL.