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 ()
Note: Updates noted
Off The Top
Jay Cutler, CHI (NO, NYG, @WAS, BYE) – The guy throws a
lot of picks but he’s also thrown for over 1,000 yards and
has eight passing TDs so far this season. He’s owned in
about 60 percent of fantasy leagues despite being one of the more
enigmatic risk/reward fantasy characters in the NFL.
Tannehill, MIA (BAL, BYE, BUF, @NE) – He’s got my attention
since the pickings are pretty slim at QB right now. Update coming
Hoyer, CLE (BUF, DET, @GB, @KC) – Hoyer (6 percent owned)
followed up his sparkling debut with another win. He’s establishing
himself as a viable NFL starter and making folks forget about
Brandon Weeden, who was hyped heartily prior to Week 1. Hoyer
has five TD passes in two weeks and is averaging almost 300 yards
Scouring The Barrel
Fitzpatrick, TEN (KC, @SEA, SF, BYE) – It’s hard to imagine
a scenario where I’d give him the start against the Chiefs but
with the injury to Jake Locker, some RGIII owners who had Locker
waiting in the wings for Week 5 suddenly need a bye week fill-in.
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (BYE, @NYJ, BAL, @OAK) – The Steelers
threw the ball quite a bit in the London loss to Minnesota, with
Big Ben completing 36 of 51 attempts for 383-1-1. In the right
matchup, he’s worth a look and the return of Le’Veon
Bell spells good things for the offense.
Pryor, OAK (SD, @KC, BYE, PIT) – Pryor sat out Sunday after
he experienced additional concussion symptoms over the weekend.
He’s probably going to be okay for this week but keep an eye on
EJ Manuel, BUF (@CLE, CIN, @MIA, @NO) – Manuel had a rough
fantasy outing (167-1-2, 1 rushing yard on 11 attempts) but the
Bills conquered the defending Super Bowl champs. He’s a
fantasy backup with low-to-moderate upside.
Locker, TEN (KC, @SEA, SF, BYE) – On the way to a career day,
Locker was carted off the field with an apparent hip injury after
a tough double-shot from Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples
in the third quarter. He was 18-24 for 149-3-0 and 17 rushing
yards before getting injured. Fitzpatrick took over for the Titans
and looks to be the starter for Tennessee for the immediate future.
Locker will likely be out an estimated 4-8 weeks.
Off The Top
Bell, PIT (BYE, @NYJ, BAL, @OAK) – He’s still available in
over one quarter of Yahoo leagues and regardless of the Week 5
bye, he’ll be about 100 percent owned by mid-week. Bell picked
up 84 total yards and two scores against the Vikings.
Helu, WAS (BYE, @DAL, CHI, @DEN) – We all know how impressive
Helu can look when he gets his chances and Sunday was no exception.
Filling in for an injured Alfred Morris (rib contusion), Helu
rushed for 41 yards and a TD on 13 carries and added two catches
for 43 yards. He’s a multi-purpose backfield weapon and even though
Morris will probably be healthy by the time Washington gets back
to business in Week 6, it’s clear that Helu should be rostered
in more than 12 percent of fantasy leagues.
Hunter, SF (HOU, ARI, @TEN, @JAC) – Hunter got 11 carries
(and a reception) in the win over St. Louis Thursday night and
finished with 58 total yards and a TD. He’s a must-have handcuff
for Frank Gore owners and in the right matchup provides some value
even with Gore healthy.
Blount, NE (@CIN, NO, @NYJ, MIA) – Blount busted a 47-yard
TD run and added 17 additional rushing yards on his eight other
carries Sunday night. He should be owned in all deeper formats
but it’s tough to say what Belichick’s backfield game plan will
be from week to week.
Scouring The Barrel
Jennings, OAK (SD, @KC, BYE, PIT) – Darren McFadden left the
game early following a hamstring injury and Jennings (45 rushing
yards, 8-71-0) played quite well in his stead. Follow the injury
report and check back on Wednesday to get a clearer picture of
how this situation shakes out.
Ogbonnaya, CLE (BUF, DET, @GB, @KC) – The Browns have won
two in a row and their passing game looks healthy with Hoyer under
center. Ogbonnaya only had 27 rushing yards on five carries, but
his 5-21-1 capped off a decent fantasy performance. It’s a full
RB committee in Cleveland but Ogbonnaya offers some decent PPR
upside as he’s used frequently on passing downs.
Jackson, BUF (@CLE, CIN, @MIA) – Jackson posted the 12th best
fantasy numbers among RBs in Week 4, rushing for 87 yards and
a TD against the Ravens. C.J. Spiller (ankle) left the game early
Woodhead, SD (@OAK, IND, @JAC) – Woodhead exploded for 5-54-2
receiving to go along with 32 rushing yards and posted the fourth-best
numbers of any RB in Week 4. Pretty good first two waiver wire
Pead, STL (JAC, @HOU, @CAR) – Pead was inactive for Thursday’s
tilt, as expected. The Rams desperately need him to get healthy
because it’s abundantly clear that Daryl Richardson and Zac Stacy
aren’t getting it done.
Franklin, GB (DET, @BAL, CLE) – The Packers were on a bye
this week and the timing couldn’t have been better as Franklin
Lacy (concussion) and James Starks (knee) are all nursing
Bolden, NE (@CIN, NO, @NYJ) – Bolden suited up Sunday night
but only contributed 17 rushing yards and one reception for negative
yardage. The Pats backfield always seems to be in a state of flux.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Jeffery, CHI (NO, NYG, @WAS, BYE) – Despite a healthy dose
of preseason hype, Jeffery is owned in fewer than 50 percent of
fantasy leagues. On Sunday, he turned in a monster performance
hauling in 5-107-1 and adding 27 rushing yards. He’s not going
to make hay every week but when Brandon Marshall draws double
teams, Jeffery is capable of big things.
Clay, MIA (BAL, BYE, BUF, @NE) –
Brown, BAL (@MIA, GB, @PIT, BYE) – Brown had 4-34-1 in the
loss to Buffalo and remains a productive WR4 with WR3 upside.
Torrey Smith ended up having another big day but there will be
plenty of opportunities for Brown, especially if the Ravens continue
to struggle running the football.
Graham, HOU (@SF, STL, @KC, BYE) – The Texans had a tough
opponent in Week 4 but Graham (5-69-1) emerged as a go-to guy
for Matt Schaub. He’ll be tough to count on for consistent numbers
but his development is worth following.
Woods, BUF (@CLE, CIN, @MIA, @NO) – Woods just looks better
and better every week. He’s still not quite a fantasy WR3/flex
in 12-team leagues but is already worth a regular start at WR4
in deeper formats.
Scouring The Barrel
McGrath, KC (@TEN, OAK, HOU, CLE) – McGrath seized a ripe
opportunity with Anthony Fasano inactive, posting 5-64-1 in the
win over the Giants. He’s a deep league TE and has improved his
numbers each week this season.
Kerley, NYJ (@ATL, PIT, NE, @CIN) – Kerley stepped up with
the injuries to Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes and is capable
of some decent stat lines given the right matchup. Stay tuned.
Josh Gordon, CLE (BUF, DET, @GB, @KC) – Gordon put up 4-71-0
in his second start of 2013 but didn’t get into the end
zone. He’s still a worthy WR3 with upside and should be
started most weeks going forward.
Thompkins, NE (@CIN, NO, @NYJ, MIA) – Thompkins had another
great game with 6-127-1 in the win over Atlanta and looks like
a he could be steady fantasy contributor as he develops rapport
with Tom Brady.
Brandon LaFell, CAR (@ARI, @MIN, STL, @TB) – Panthers were
on a Week 4 bye but the Week 5 matchup against the Cardinals could
give him some opportunities.
TE Zach Miller, SEA (@IND, TEN, @ARI, @STL) – One catch
for 7 yards in the OT win over Houston. He’s off the fantasy
radar for now.
Ryan Broyles, DET (@GB, @CLE, CIN, DAL) – Broyles didn’t
have a catch in the win over Chicago. He was a major sleeper bust
in Week 4.
Nate Washington, TEN (KC, @SEA, SF, BYE) – I hope you gave
Washington a shot against the Jets because he had the third-best
numbers of any fantasy WR in Week 4 (4-105-2) and it may be the
last chance you have to play him for a while. With the injury
to Locker and some difficult matchups ahead, he’s probably
bench fodder for the next few weeks.
Hill, NYJ (@ATL, PIT, NE, @CIN) – Hill suffered a head injury
on the opening series and is likely out for next week, given the
current concussion protocol. It was a rough day for the Jets,
who face a slew of tough opponents in the upcoming weeks.
Harris, DAL (DEN, WAS, @PHI, @DET) – Harris was targeted just
twice and caught one ball for 13 yards in the loss to San Diego.
Miles Austin was inactive and it was Terence Williams (7-71-0,
lost fumble) who got a lot of the work opposite Dez Bryant.
Off The Top
DL Charles Johnson, CAR (@ARI, @MIN, STL, @TB) – Johnson
is a solid IDP defensive end surrounded by defensive standouts
in the Carolina front seven. He’s worth adding if someone
dropped him during his Week 4 bye.
LB Brad Jones, GB (DET, @BAL, CLE, @MIN) – It’s a
very favorable stretch coming up for Jones, who may have been
dropped in IDP leagues because of the Packers Week 4 bye. He’s
racked up 26 total tackles and a FR in three games this season.
Searcy, BUF (@CLE, CIN, @MIA, @NO) – With Jairus Byrd out,
Searcy has been making plays in the Buffalo secondary and projects
to be a Top 20 IDP defensive back this season should he hold onto
a starting safety spot. He’s already made 27 tackles (19 solos),
including a sack in Week 1 and four PD in the win over Baltimore.
Paysinger, NYG (PHI, @CHI, MIN, @PHI) – The relatively unknown
Paysinger (hip) seems healthy now and has 23 total tackles (22
solos) on the season. He’s coming off a big game against
the Chiefs where he made seven solo stops and added a sack and
a fumble recovery. The young LB is emerging as one of the only
bright spots on the Giants defense and he’s going to have
plenty of opportunities in the coming weeks.
Scouring The Barrel
Skrine, CLE (BUF, DET, @GB, @KC) – Skrine gets a lot of work
in the Cleveland secondary and has 22 tackles (19 solos), an INT
and seven PD through his first four games. He’s a steady IDP contributor
who benefits from having Joe Haden at LCB.
DL Cedric Thornton, PHI (@NYG, @TB, AL, NYG) – He’s
made 16 tackles so far this season and with the Giants offensive
line allowing serious penetration, he’s got an excellent
matchup in Week 5. He’s a versatile defensive lineman who
qualifies as DT-eligible.
LB Daryl Smith, BAL (@MIA, GB, @PIT, BYE) – Smith’s
had interceptions in two straight games. He posted 12 total tackles
in Week 4 and should be considered a LB1 in IDP leagues.
DL Greg Hardy, CAR (@ARI, @MIN, STL, @TB) – Panthers were
on a bye in Week 4 but Hardy is poised for a big day against the
Cards this week.
Houston, KC (@TEN, OAK, HOU, CLE) – The Giants swung a lot
of their pass blocking at Houston (two solo tackles), only to
leave Eli Manning exposed to the wiles of veteran OLB Tamba Hali.
DB Major Wright, CHI (NO, NYG, @WAS, BYE) – As I expected,
Wright was busy against the Lions, racking up six total tackles
(three solos) as well as a PD and INT. It was his second INT in
as many games.
Lawson, BUF (@CLE, CIN, @MIA, @NO) – Lawson had five solo
tackles and a sack in the win over Baltimore. He’s a decent LB3
with some upside, as the only other LB worth owning in Buffalo
is Kiko Alonso.