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
Andrew Luck, IND (GB, @NYJ, CLE, @TEN) – Luck is still
available in one out of five fantasy leagues, and a few roster-cramped
owners may have dropped him during the Week 4 bye. It’s
obvious he’s going to throw a lot and the next few matchups
are among the most favorable for QBs.
Kolb, ARI (@STL, BUF, @MIN, SF) – Kolb loves him some Andre
Roberts, and the Cards won again as their QB threw for 324-3-2
in an OT victory over the Dolphins. He’s making his second appearance
here on TTW, and it’s because he’s the current starter on a pretty
good team with decent weapons. Don’t over think this one. If you
have roster space and your starter is on a bye in Week 6 (Cam
Newton, Jay Cutler, Drew Brees), Kolb could be your guy.
Scouring The Barrel
Hasselbeck, TEN (@MIN, PIT, @BUF, IND) – The veteran filled
in for an injured Jake Locker and tossed for 193-2-2 in the loss
to Houston. A long-term absence from Locker vaults Hasselbeck
into fill-in status for QBs with byes during weeks 7 and 8. The
early word is that Hasselbeck is expected to start Week 5 against
Dalton, CIN (MIA, @CLE, PIT, BYE) – Dalton beat the Jaguars
with 244-2-1 and added a rushing TD, making him a top five fantasy
QB through four games (behind RGIII, Matt Ryan, Brees and Tom
Ponder, MIN (TEN, @WAS, ARI, TB) – Ponder disappointed from
a fantasy perspective (111-0-0) but notched a win over Detroit.
I think this was simply a game plan issue, as the Vikings got
off to a lead, ran Adrian Peterson relatively effectively and
played solid defense in what could have turned into a typical
shootout in the Motor City.
Locker, TEN (@MIN, PIT, @BUF, IND) – Locker was injured (non-throwing
shoulder separation) and replaced by Hasselbeck before completing
a pass. It looks like he’ll miss Week 5 and probably won’t
be back before Week 7.
Russell Wilson, SEA (@CAR, NE, @SF, @DET) – Wilson took
a huge step backward (160-0-3) in a loss to St. Louis and the
upstart Seahawks look human again.
Hill, DET (BYE, @PHI, @CHI, SEA) – Matthew Stafford was good
to go Sunday, but he didn’t impress. The Lions have some very
tough matchups when they return from their bye.
Off The Top
Kendall Hunter, SF (BUF, NYG, SEA, @ARI) – Hunter looked
excellent in limited duty Sunday, rushing for 56 yards and a TD
on eight carries. If the Niners watched the game tape from the
recent debacle in Buffalo, they’ll figure out that Hunter’s
fresh legs should be a big part of their strategy against the
Buffalo-D who gave up 247 rushing yards to the Pats in Week 4.
Battle, SD (@NO, DEN, BYE, @CLE) – Ryan Mathews is still in
the doghouse and Battle reaped the rewards to the tune of 81 total
yards and two scores. This is probably not a permanent situation.
On Monday, Battle admitted he was surprised to be used so extensively
during Sunday’s contest and since Mathews didn’t fumble
on any of his 16 touches, it’s going to take another blunder
by Mathews to cede more touches to Battle. Week 5 boasts a favorable
matchup for SD backs, but the brass will probably give Mathews
another shot at redemption.
Joique Bell, DET (BYE, @PHI, @CHI, SEA) – The Lions are
on a bye in Week 5 and have some tough sledding beyond that (Eagles
and Bears and Hawks, oh my!) but Bell has emerged as a popular
pass-catching option out of the backfield. He’s surpassed
Kevin Smith on the depth chart and would be in line for extensive
touches if anything should befall Mikel Leshoure. Just don’t
expect monster numbers in non-PPR leagues in the coming weeks
because most of his value lies in racking up receptions.
Scouring The Barrel
NE (DEN, @SEA, NYJ, @STL) – The Patriots ran roughshod all over
the Bills during the second half Sunday, and Bolden rushed for
137 yards and a TD on just 16 carries. It’ll likely be a while
before you start Bolden, but he’s definitely a roster-worthy RB
in all 12-team formats.
Mikel Leshoure, DET (BYE, @PHI, @CHI, SEA) – Leshoure pitched
in for a few points in PRP leagues because of his 4-37-0 receiving
line, but only managed 2.0 yards per rush on 13 carries against
Ryan Williams, ARI (@STL, BUF, @MIN, SF) – Williams may
be the clear starter in Arizona now, but he too struggled to gain
yards on Sunday, rushing for 26 yards on an unlucky 13 carries.
The next couple matchups are a lot more favorable.
Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL (@WAS, OAK, BYE, @PHI) – Rodgers had
just 10 touches Sunday but finished with 58 total yards. He’s
at best a flex play in 12-team leagues going forward.
Thomas, MIA (@CIN, STL, BYE, @NYJ) – Reggie Bush got the start
Sunday (67 rushing yards, no catches) and Thomas was an afterthought.
Danny Woodhead, NE (DEN, @SEA, NYJ, @STL) – Woodhead’s
2-23-1 was a nice little score for desperate fantasy owners who
gave him a flex play. The Pats’ skill positions are in a
revolving door of fantasy production.
Choice, BUF (@SF, @ARI, TEN, BYE) – Both C.J. Spiller and
Fred Jackson were active, so Choice got just two carries and gained
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Chandler, BUF (@SF, @ARI, TEN, BYE) – Chandler hauled in 4-62-2
in the loss to New England and could be an important safety valve
next week for Ryan Fitzpatrick in San Francisco. He’s owned in
about 40 percent of fantasy leagues.
Jones, GB (@IND, @HOU, @STL, JAC) – Jones (23 percent owned)
was targeted six times by Aaron Rodgers and finished with 5-56-2.
A viable red zone target with Greg Jennings out, Jones should
continue to see opportunities as the Packers passing game heats
up. Jennings is unlikely to play in Week 5 so Jones will likely
get the call opposite Jordy Nelson.
Hartline, MIA (@CIN, STL, BYE, @NYJ) – The breakout star of
Week 4, the shifty Hartline finished with 12 catches for 253 yards
and a TD – an 80-yard score that gave the Dolphins a fourth quarter
lead before Kolb and the Cards answered. It’ll be tougher sledding
for the 25-year-old WR in the coming weeks, as his career day
had a lot to do with being targeted on 21 of Ryan Tannehill’s
41 pass attempts. It’s nice to see Tannehill so captivated by
a receiver and Hartline is surely a decent starting option at
WR2/FLEX heading into Cincinnati, but don’t expect any more 200-yard
Roberts, ARI (@STL, BUF, @MIN, SF) – Like Kolb, Roberts is
making his second appearance in this column. He’s now caught four
TD passes on the season and should continue to get open across
the field from Larry Fitzgerald.
WR Devin Hester, CHI (@JAC, BYE, DET, CAR) – Hester’s
exploits on special teams are well-known, but he’s always
been a fringe talent when it comes to traditional offense. This
week, Hester was used more liberally and could get more looks
as the Bears find ways to get him the ball. I’m not as bullish
on his matchups as I am for some of the receivers below, but he’s
worth noting as a possible risk/reward pickup.
Scouring The Barrel
WR Domenik Hixon, NYG (CLE, @SF, WAS, @DAL) – With Hakeem
Nicks still experiencing left knee swelling and right foot issues,
Hixon and Ramses Barden will continue to draw targets from Eli
Manning. I prefer Hixon, the more available veteran (2 percent
owned) to the sometimes erratic Barden (17 percent owned), but
both receivers could be popular wire targets this week as more
news about Nicks is revealed.
Jones, BUF (@SF, @ARI, TEN, BYE) – I’m wary of putting too
much credence in the results from Sunday in Buffalo, but Jones
caught a long TD reception and is probably Fitzpatrick’s best
deep threat going forward. He’s just not somebody I’d start week-to-week
unless he’s getting more targets.
Morgan, NO (SD, BYE, @TB, @DEN) – The young receiver caught
a 80-yard TD bomb on his lone target from Brees and is just entering
fantasy relevance in deeper formats. Keep an eye on him for now;
the Saints have too many top-quality offensive options to warrant
a speculative pickup of Morgan at this point.
Washington, TEN (@MIN, PIT, @BUF, IND) – Rookie Kendall Wright
caught a TD pass en route to a 4-46-1 day, but Washington contributed
just 3-43-0. It’s tough to figure out where the targets will be
headed in the wake of the Locker injury.
WR Titus Young, DET (BYE, @PHI, @CHI, SEA) – There’s
not a lot to like about the Lions offense right now. Young had
a couple touches in Week 4 but finished with just 22 total yards.
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN (TEN, @WAS, ARI, TB) – After a Week
4 breakout, Rudolph was relatively quiet (2-8-0) in Week 5. Don’t
give up on him.
WR Nate Burleson, DET (BYE, @PHI, @CHI, SEA) – He caught
5-51-0 and had an 8-yard rush in the loss to Minnesota. He’s
a bye week WR3 or flex at best going forward and he’s probably
not worth playing (even in that role) for a few weeks.
WR Cecil Shorts, JAC (CHI, BYE, @OAK, @GB) – It’s
tough to have confidence in Shorts after recording just one catch
for eight yards in the loss to Cincy.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (GB, @NYJ, CLE, @TEN) – He’s back
from the bye in Week 5 and faces a defense that gives up a lot
of receiving yards. A risk/reward sleeper if there ever was one.
Off The Top
DB Morgan Burnett, GB (@IND, @HOU, @STL, JAC) – After a
quiet first three weeks, Burnett broke through against the Saints,
recording 14 total tackles (six solos) and a PD. He’s a
DB1 heading into Indy.
LB Nick Barnett, BUF (@SF, @ARI, TEN, BYE) – Barnett has
38 total tackles through four game and had his best stat line
against the Pats in Week 4 (15 total tackles).
DL Robert Quinn, STL (ARI, @MIA, GB, NE) – Quinn was blanked
in Week 3 but has recorded an identical stat line in his three
other games (three solos, sack). That gives him 3.0 sacks on the
season and the upcoming matchups are favorable for DL.
Foote, PIT (PHI, @TEN, @CIN, WAS) – Foote has outperformed
Lawrence Timmons from a fantasy perspective and could be the ILB
worth owning in Pittsburgh. Gotta love the next few matchups.
Scouring The Barrel
Robison, MIN (TEN, @WAS, ARI, TB) – Robison has yet to record
a sack but should break through during the next few weeks as teams
shift more of their attention to protecting their QBs from Jared
LB Vontaze Burfict, CIN (MIA, @CLE, PIT, BYE) – The new
WLB in Cincy, Burfict is a playmaker with loads of IDP potential.
He’s got some solid matchups in the next few weeks and is
nearly universally available, although Ben Ice and I own him in
a HAFAX league. Exciting stuff!
DL J.J. Watt, HOU (@NYJ, GB, BAL, BYE) – For the fourth
straight game, Watt turned in a stellar performance with five
tackles (four solos) 2.0 sacks and a FR. He’s making a case
for the Top DL in fantasy.
LB Donald Butler, SD (@NO, DEN, BYE, @CLE) – Butler’s
stat line was a veritable bonanza of IDP glory, with an INT for
a TD, six total tackles, a half-sack and PD. Did you start him?
Arrington, NE (DEN, @SEA, NYJ, @STL) – Arrington had just
three solo tackles and a PD, but teammate Devin McCourty had five
solos, two PD and two picks.
DL Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ (HOU. IND, @NE, MIA) – The Niners
did a good job getting through the first line of Jets defense
and Wilkerson ended up with just three assists. He’s still
a decent fantasy DL in deeper IDP formats.
LB Russell Allen, JAC (CHI, BYE, @OAK, @GB) – Allen tallied
11 total tackles (eight solos) and is entering the conversation
as a breakout IDP star of 2012.
DB Atari Bigby, SD (@NO, DEN, BYE, @CLE) – I didn’t
anticipate a monster game from Bigby in KC, but he contributed
five total tackles (four solos) and recovered a fumble. Not bad!