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 a limitless resource when it comes to discovering
fantasy value. 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
be lurking in deeper leagues.
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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
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 20-30 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 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 ()
Off The Top
Mark Sanchez, NYJ (@BAL, @NE, MIA, SD) – Sanchez (63 percent
owned) can look very good and very bad within the same game, but
he’s clearly improving. One thing you can count on is an
expanded passing repertoire in 2011, which we’ve already
seen – largely due to a bigger arsenal of offensive weapons.
He tossed a couple TD passes (369-2-1) and ran for two more in
Sunday’s loss to Oakland, and while the Ravens present some
matchup problems next week, the tilts with the Pats, Dolphins
and Chargers could be shootouts and yield huge numbers from the
Colt McCoy, CLE (TEN, BYE, @OAK, SEA) – McCoy (33 percent
owned) isn’t flashy, but he’s proving that he belongs
on the field as a starting NFL QB. With more weapons, he could
be a Top 15 fantasy QB. I’d give him a look in deeper formats
as a backup.
Scouring The Barrel
Jackson, SEA (ATL, @NYG, BYE, CLE) – There’s not a lot to
like about Jackson, who did more scoring with his legs than his
arm in Sunday’s sloppy victory over the Cards – an admittedly
poor pass defense. There’s a chance he develops some rapport with
a healthy Sidney Rice, but you’d have to be desperate to take
a chance on Jackson, especially with so many capable quarterbacks
Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (@CIN, PHI, @NYG, BYE) – After another
monster game (369-2-2), the remaining 18 percent of leagues where
he’s not owned will likely surrender and put in a claim.
Hasselbeck, TEN (@CLE, @PIT, BYE, HOU) – Hasselbeck threw
for 311-2-0 on Sunday and has led his team to two straight victories.
He’s a decent backup or QB2 in all formats, although the loss
of Kenny Britt does limit his options.
Andy Dalton, CIN (BUF, @JAC, IND, BYE) – The rookie fizzled
in Week 3, tossing for just 157 yards and two picks (no TD) against
the tough 49ers defense.
Off The Top
Darren Sproles, NO (HOU, @JAC, @CAR, @TB) – Sproles makes
his second appearance in this column (I recommended adding him
after Week 2) and is now only available in about 15-20 percent
of fantasy leagues. He’s a must-add in all formats and a
weekly must-start in PPR leagues.
Daniel Thomas, MIA (@SD, BYE, @NYJ, DEN) – In two games
(Weeks 2-3 against Houston and Cleveland), the rookie is averaging
101 rushing yards (4.9 YPC) and has accumulated 4-37-1 receiving.
Despite taking over the reins as the Dolphins premiere rusher,
he’s still available in about 30-33 percent of leagues.
Grab him right away.
LaDainian Tomlinson, NYJ (@BAL, @NE, MIA) – Like Sproles,
I foresaw plenty of fantasy value left in Tomlinson’s legs,
especially in close games like the battle with Oakland, when he
dropped 5-116-1 receiving on top of a paltry 38 yards rushing.
He’s still available in about 35-40 percent of fantasy leagues.
Montario Hardesty, CLE (TEN, BYE, @OAK, SEA) – Unless Peyton
Hillis has contracted an especially nasty form of strep throat
or gets injured at some point in the future, Hardesty probably
won’t get too many starts. But he’s earned more touches
in the Browns offense and appears capable of decent numbers when
he gets an opportunity.
Scouring The Barrel
Hunter, SF (@PHI, TB, @DET, BYE) – Hunter shouldered most
of the load (nine carrries, 26 yards TD; 2-12-0 receiving) for
the Niners after Frank Gore exited with a right ankle sprain that
could force the veteran back to miss additional time. Hunter’s
not a great option, but if you own Gore, he’s probably a smart
ARI (NYG, @MIN, BYE, PIT) – The undrafted rookie out of Kentucky
had the better stats on Sunday (veteran Chester Taylor just had
eight carries for 20 yards) in the stead of Beanie Wells, who
was inactive with a hamstring injury. Smith finished with 17 carries
for 54 yards and 3-21-0 receiving, respectable RB3/flex numbers
in PPR formats. He’s not guaranteed regular playing time, but
Wells is nearly useless in the passing game and Smith could fit
the bill as a decent backup in deep PPR leagues.
McGahee, DEN (@GB, SD, BYE, @MIA) – The veteran back was effectively
stymied by the Titans on Sunday (52 rushing yards on 22 carries;
McCluster, KC (MIN, @IND, BYE, @OAK) – In his first game in
the post-Jamaal era, McCluster finished with nine carries for
45 yards and 5-17-0. He’s got more value than Thomas Jones in
all formats except scoring-only leagues.
Jones, KC (MIN, @IND, BYE, @OAK) – 2.2 yards per carry just
ain’t getting’ it done. I honestly don’t think there’s a place
for him in football anymore.
Murray, DAL (DET, BYE, @NE, STL) – Felix Jones was good to
go on Monday night, so Murray wasn’t a factor.
Roy Helu, WAS (@STL, BYE, PHI, @CAR) – Helu looked okay
but faced a tough run defense. He’s still in line for consistent
touches somewhere down the line this season.
Tashard Choice, DAL (DET, BYE, @NE, STL) – See Murray, DeMarco.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Nate Washington will be a hot waiver wire
pickup this week.
Washington, TEN (@CLE, @PIT, BYE, HOU) – I recommended adding
Washington two weeks ago, but with the season-ending injury to
Kenny Britt, the veteran deep threat is now the No. 1 receiver
in Tennessee – and the Titans just keep on throwing the ball.
Washington will be the top targeted wideout in Music City.
Smith, BAL (NYJ, BYE, HOU, @JAC) – Smith, a rookie receiver
out of Maryland, erupted for five catches, 152 yards and three
scores (74, 41, 18) against the Rams on Sunday. His ownership
rate went from 0 percent to about 15 percent in a 24-hour period
in leagues that don’t run a waivers process. Washington and Smith
will be the first two receivers targeted by owners this week,
and while it’s hard to trust one performance from Smith, it’s
hard to ignore a breakout like that.
Pettigrew, DET (@DAL, CHI, SF, ATL) – It’s equally hard to
ignore how much Matthew Stafford looked for Pettigrew on Sunday
(13 targets) and the way Pettigrew responded (11-112-0). If you
mix in a handful of touchdowns to what will inevitably be solid
receptions and yardage totals for Pettigrew this season, he could
be a Top 5 TE alongside Jermichael Finley, Jimmy Graham, Antonio
Gates (if he can get healthy) and Rob Gronkowski.
TE Heath Miller, PIT (@HOU, TEN, JAC, @ARI) – Miller won’t
score too many TD or rack up huge numbers, but he’s a capable
fantasy backup with upside in spot starts. He had 5-71-0 on Sunday
night in the squeaked-out win over the hapless Colts secondary.
WR Donald Jones, BUF (@CIN, PHI, @NYG, BYE) – Jones had
his best game as a pro (5-101-0) and was targeted ten times by
Fitzpatrick. The Bills spread it around quite a bit, but there
seems to be growing rapport between the Harvard man and the undrafted
Youngstown State alum.
Scouring The Barrel
WR Brian Hartline, MIA (@SD, BYE, @NYJ, DEN) – Hartline
had four catches for 87 yards in a 17-16 loss Sunday at Cleveland,
and will be a solid backup (WR4/5) in PPR leagues.
WR Victor Cruz, NYG (@ARI, SEA, BUF, BYE) – With Dominick
Hixon done for the season, Mario Manningham still dinged up, and
the injury history of Hakeem Nicks looming, the stage has been
set for more big performances like Sunday’s embarrassment
of the Eagles. Cruz had 3-110-2 and could be a big-play threat
for the still-dynamic Giants.
WR Michael Jenkins, MIN (@KC, ARI, @CHI, GB) – I don’t
trust the Vikings passing game (or the second half defense) at
all, but the universally available Jenkins played well in Sunday’s
loss, hauling in nine catches for 88 yards.
WR A.J. Green, CIN (BUF, @JAC, IND, BYE) – Green was neutralized
by the Niners, going for 4-29-0 in the loss.
WR Nate Burleson, DET (@DAL, CHI, SF, ATL) – Burleson wasn’t
involved on Sunday (2-12-0 on his only two targets) and was summarily
outshined by Pettigrew.
TE Fred Davis, WAS (@STL, BYE, PHI, @CAR) – The Redskins
didn’t go to Davis that much, and the solid TE finished
with just one catch for 23 yards. He’s still a Top 15 TE
WR Jerome Simpson, CIN (BUF, @JAC, IND, BYE) – The soon-to-be
suspended Simpson posted just 1-6-0 on four targets. He’s
safe to drop in all formats.
Decker, DEN (@GB, SD, BYE, @MIA) – Decker had 12 targets and
finished with 7-48-0 in the loss to Tennessee and looks like the
primary target after the dicey Brandon Lloyd.
WR Denarius Moore, OAK (NE, @HOU, CLE, KC) – He had just
six targets and 4-34-0 receiving, but added a 23-yard TD scamper
in the win over the Jets. His numbers may not be consistent, but
he’s a gamer.
WR David Nelson, BUF (@CIN, PHI, @NYG, BYE) – Nelson was
serviceable, posting 6-84-0 in the electrifying home win over
WR Brandon LaFell, CAR (@CHI, NO, @ATL, WAS) – Sunday’s
goose egg (zero targets) doesn’t help his value going forward.
Holley, DAL (DET, BYE, @NE, STL) – With Dez Bryant back, Holley
didn’t see much field time and finished without a catch.
Off The Top
Burnett, GB (DEN, @ATL, STL, @MIN) – For the second time in
three weeks, Burnett had the best statistical game of any DB (he
tied Kyle Arrington and Aaron Ross, who also had two picks each
this week), posting five solos, one assist, two PR and two INT.
LB Sean Weatherspoon, ATL (@SEA, GB, CAR, @DET) – Weatherspoon
is making a big fantasy impact and should continue to rack up
tackles this season. Through four games, he’s already posted
26 solos and five assists.
DL Greg Hardy, CAR (@CHI, NO, @ATL, WAS) – After Charles
Johnson, Hardy is the DL to own in Carolina. He’s making
plays at the line of scrimmage and getting to the QB on the reg.
LB Bart Scott, NYJ (@BAL, @NE, MIA, SD) – He’s not
a top IDP option, but in deeper leagues, his big play potential
(and ability to get to the QB) could pay dividends down the stretch.
Scouring The Barrel
LB Navorro Bowman, SF (@PHI, TB, @DET, BYE) – I ignored
the results the first couple weeks, but Bowman now has 30 total
tackles in three games. Time to pay attention to the other ILB
in San Fran.
DB Sean Jones, TB (IND, @SF, NO, CHI) – I’ve always
been a fan of Jones, who when healthy is a solid playmaker with
consistent tackle numbers. He’s a quality DB2 with upside.
LB Mason Foster, TB (IND, @SF, NO, CHI) – Five tackles
and a sack in the win over Atlanta. I like this guy.
DL Michael Johnson, CIN (BUF, @JAC, IND, BYE) – Three tackles
but no sacks in Sunday’s loss to San Fran.
LB Rolando McClain, OAK (NE, @HOU, CLE, KC) – 12 total tackles
in the stirring victory over the Jets.
DB Jon McGraw, KC (MIN, @IND, BYE, @OAK) – He was relatively
useless to IDP owners on Sunday, posting a solitary assist in
the loss to the Chargers after leaving early with an undisclosed
LB Kavell Conner, IND (@TB, KC, @CIN, @NO) – 10 total tackles,
but just two solos. Lots of assists handed out by the official
scorer in Indy.
DL Derrick Morgan, TEN (@CLE, @PIT, BYE, HOU) – Three solos
in the win over Denver, but no sacks.