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.
I’ll also provide an occasional daily fantasy recommendation,
as I’m hopelessly addicted to DFS sites.
|Check out the most
popular waiver wire pickups this week across thousands
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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 ready but are
thrust into the fantasy spotlight because of opportunity or exceptional
production. Usually, they are available in at least 25 percent of
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. Usually, these players are
available in at least 50 percent of public 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. Make sure you read the fine print because I don’t always
love them. For the most part, you’ll find these players available
in about 75-100 percent of fantasy leagues
Each week, I’ll also provide a brief update on the 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. Let’s get to some of
the players who could be still out there on the waiver wire and
in the free agent pool as you prepare for Week 1!
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 ( ). Since IDP league
composition is so varied, I’ll just list defensive players
per position and use their Yahoo ownership rates – which due
to site ranking anomalies and the high rate of variance in availability,
are often much lower than actual ownerships rates.
Off The Top
Tannehill, MIA (@OAK, BYE, GB, @CHI) – He doesn’t have the
best weapons in the league but Tannehill is capable passer who’ll
make a decent fill-in (@OAK) for quarterbacks on their Week 4
bye. Both he and Eli Manning are available in over half of the
fantasy leagues on Yahoo.
Joe Philbin declined
to offer an endorsement of Tannehill on Monday, instead hinting
the third-year Texas A&M product has regressed in recent weeks.
A Monday afternoon coaches meeting could serve as a wake-up call
for Tannehill, who’s backed up by Matt Moore. Stay tuned.
Manning, NYG (@WAS, ATL, @PHI, @DAL) – As I mentioned above,
you may have to look back at Eli this week, since the Giants offense
is getting better and Manning appears to be hitting a bit of a
groove (234-2-0 in Week 3 against Houston).
Ryan Fitzpatrick, HOU (BUF, @DAL, IND, @PIT) – Fitzpatrick
tossed three INTs in Week 3 against the Giants but he’s
a steady fantasy contributor and the only real option the Texans
have. He faces his old team (the 2-1 Bills) next week at home.
Hoyer, CLE (BYE, @TEN, PIT, @JAC) – He’s on a Week 4 bye,
but he returns to face a slew of questionable defenses, and there’s
some guy named Josh Gordon who’s supposed to be back in November.
I’m not worried about Johnny Manziel taking over the reins. Hoyer
should be owned in 14-team leagues as a backup.
With Cassel (broken foot) out indefinitely,
the Teddy Bridgewater era begins this week in Minnesota.
Scouring The Barrel
Bridgewater, MIN (ATL, @GB, DET, @BUF) – Bridgewater takes
over as the Vikings starter with Matt Cassel out with a broken
foot. This is a team in disarray, but the mobile Bridgewater may
provide an offensive spark they desperately need.
Davis, STL (BYE, @PHI, SF, SEA) – Shaun Hill is waiting in
the wings, but Davis appears to have done enough to keep the starting
job for now. I picked him up for a spot start after losing RGIII
in a 16-team keeper league last week, and he came through (327-3-2)
versus the Cowboys.
nothing to indicate Davis won’t be the starter after the
Rams’ Week 4 bye.
Flacco, BAL (CAR, @IND, @TB, ATL) – Flacco was again a solid
game manager in the victory over Cleveland, but failed to make
a huge fantasy impact, completing 19-of-31 passes for 217-1-1.
Until he starts hitting Torrey Smith on some bombs, he’s just
a fantasy backup.
Kirk Cousins, WAS (NYG, SEA, @ARI, TEN) – Depending on
your scoring system Cousins (still just 47 percent owned in Yahoo
leagues) was a top three (if not Sunday’s top fantasy QB)
with 427-3-1 in the loss to Philly. He’s the pocket passer
that Jay Gruden has wanted since arriving in Washington this offseason.
Is everybody happy now?
Blake Bortles, JAC (@SD, PIT, @TEN, CLE) – Finally, Gus
Bradley has come to his senses and named Bortles the starter for
the remainder of the season. The rookie threw for 223-2-2 and
clearly gives the Jaguars offense the best shot at moving the
Stanton, ARI (BYE, @DEN, WAS, @OAK) – Stanton filled in for
Carson Palmer again and threw for 244-2-0 in the Week 3 win over
San Francisco. He’s not a great fantasy option but Palmer’s status
is still up in the air heading into the Week 4 bye.
It will be difficult
to know whether or not Palmer will be ready in Week 5, so it’s
a good idea to hold on to Stanton – unless you have serious
pressing issues elsewhere on your roster. Stanton throws a lot
of deep balls and eventually the Cards receivers are going to
starting hauling them in.
Off The Top
Williams, CAR (@BAL, CHI, @CIN, @GB) - Williams is owned
in about 35-70 percent of fantasy leagues, but there's a decent
chance someone dropped him before Week 4 expecting Jonathan Stewart
to shoulder the load for the foreseeable future. With both Stewart
(knee sprain) and Mike Tolbert (hairline leg fracture) out at least
a month a piece, it'll necessitate that DeAngelo return in Week
4 - which HC Ron Rivera is confident will happen. The only other
rushing options in Carolina are Fozzy Whittaker (who is week-to-week
with a quad injury) and UDFA Darrin Reaves.
Greene, TEN (@IND, CLE, JAC, @WAS) – The Titans haven’t stopped
giving Greene (10 carries for 33 yards and a TD in Week 3) carries
so he remains relevant, but he’s definitely nothing more than
a touchdown dependent RB3/flex at this point. Still, he warrants
ownership in all 12-team leagues.
HC Ken Whisenhunt said
Bishop Sankey’s reps won’t increase until he improves
his footwork – an obsession of Whisenhunt’s at this
point. This means that for now, Greene’s starting job is
safe and his workload likely won’t decrease too much.
Blount, PIT (TB, @JAC, @CLE, HOU) – Both Le’Veon Bell and
Blount (10 carries, 118 yards, TD versus the Panthers) have been
getting consistent touches and exploded for a monster game against
a tough Carolina defense Sunday night. From the looks of the upcoming
docket, I’d give Blount a look the next few weeks.
Starks, GB (@CHI, MIN, @MIA, CAR) – It’s possible that Eddie
Lacy is just not the dynamic back we saw in 2013, and that the
veteran Starks will get more touches if he continues to struggle.
The backup running back had eight carries for 38 yards against
the Lions and should get more touches and targets in Week 4.
HC Mike McCarthy called
out Lacy at Monday’s press conference, which could be a
motivating factor for Week 4. Still, another poor Lacy performance
could mean increased volume for Starks.
Taliaferro, BAL (CAR, @IND, @TB, ATL) – Taliaferro had his
coming-out party in Week 3 (18 carries, 91 rushing yards, TD)
and will get more use if Bernard Pierce remains unavailable or
struggles to make an impact when he returns. It’s becoming clear
that the rookie is probably best suited for the bulk of the interior
running workload in Baltimore.
Scouring The Barrel
Darren Reaves, CAR (@BAL,
CHI, @CIN, @GB) - Reaves is a 21-year-old UAB product who left
school early to pursue his NFL dreams and with the slew of injuries
to the Panthers running backs, it appears he may be prescient. Reaves
was signed off the practice squad before Sunday night's tilt with
Pittsburgh and makes an interesting add in deeper leagues. He's
a relative fantasy unknown (like Bobby Rainey was last season),
but scouting reports indicate he's tough, balanced and can handle
every-down duties without falling flat on his face.
Helu, WAS (NYG, SEA, @ARI, TEN) – Helu had a one-yard TD plunge
and a 55-yard reception in his only two touches Sunday. I’ve been
advocating for him to get the ball more for the past couple years,
but the Washington brass continues to defy me (and general logic).
He’s worth adding in deep PPR leagues.
Alfred Morris (knee)
practiced in full Monday, so Helu is still stuck on the bench
and remains a deep-league lottery ticket stash.
McKnight, KC (NE, @SF, BYE, @SD) – He likely won’t have many
more two-TD games during his tenure in Kansas City, but McKnight
is a dynamic passing down back with value if Jamaal Charles should
reinjure his ankle. He’s only worth a look in super-deep redraft
Bradshaw, IND (TEN, BAL, @HOU, CIN) – Bradshaw continued his
effective play on Sunday, rushing for 65 yards on just eight carries
and reeling in two catches for 18 yards and a TD. He’s been the
lead dog in the redzone and a boon to fantasy owners.
Asiata, MIN (ATL, @GB, DET, @BUF) – If Adrian Peterson has
played his last down for the Vikings, Asiata remains a touchdown-dependent
RB3 with some upside in PPR formats. He totaled 71 yards from
scrimmage on Sunday but failed to reach pay dirt.
McFadden, OAK (MIA, BYE, SD, ARI) – As expected, D-Mac was
the workhorse with Maurice Jones-Drew sidelined for the second
straight week, rushing for 59 yards on 18 carries and adding 4-6-0
Davis, KC (NE, @SF, BYE, @SD) – Jamaal Charles (ankle) threatened
to play, but was scratched and backup Davis did about what we
figured he’d do, rushing 32 times for 132 yards and a TD. The
versatile Joe McKnight vultured a couple scores in the passing
game, and Cyrus Gray snagged himself a rushing score in garbage
time, but Davis filled in admirably as a (likely) one-week replacement
Freeman, ATL (@MIN, @NYG, CHI, @BAL) – Freeman looked pretty
terrible on Thursday night, rushing for just 12 yards on 11 carries
and losing a fumble. At this point, he’s just an afterthought
in redrafts and isn’t worth wasting the roster spot.
Dwyer, ARI (BYE, @DEN, WAS, @OAK) – The afternoon following
our Tuesday update, news of Dwyer’s July arrest for domestic violence
hit the wire and he was deactivated. It’s highly unlikely that
he will play again this season.
Brown, SD (JAC, NYJ, @OAK, KC) – Brown gained 89 total yards
in Week 3 against Buffalo, rushing a whopping 31 times for 62
yards and adding 5-27-0. With Danny Woodhead (ankle) exiting the
game and Ryan Mathews (knee) not expected back in action for a
few more weeks, Brown will be the bellcow against the Jags next
week and is worth plugging in as an RB2/3 and using as a low-cost
option in daily fantasy games.
Woodhead needs surgery
on what has now been diagnosed a fractured fibula and is out for
the rest of the season – solidifying Brown (50-75 percent
owned) in the workhorse role for the time being. He should be
universally owned after this week’s waiver wire process.
Blue, HOU (BUF, @DAL, IND, @PIT) – Arian Foster (hamstring)
was a late scratch and Blue had a good shot to break out. He had
a couple good runs early and added a 46-yard scamper in the second
half, but finished with just 78 yards on 13 carries (1-10-0 receiving)
and failed to reach the end zone against a weak but improving
It’s been revealed
that Foster’s latest hamstring injury is the same one that
kept him out during the preseason. Recurring soft-tissue injuries
should be considered a red flag for fantasy owners, which means
that Blue should get an even longer look as we approach Week 4.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Travis Kelce, KC (NE, @SF, BYE, @SD) – Kelce still isn’t
getting as many targets as he should (15 in three games), but
his 3-36-1 performance Sunday shows he’s at least a formidable
redzone option in the Chiefs’ offense. This is a talented
tight end who could easily be among the Top 10 by season’s
Brian Quick, STL (BYE, @PHI, SF, SEA) – Quick has been targeted
22 times in three games, and the third-year man out of Appalachian
State reeled in 2-62-1 on Sunday in the loss to Dallas. He’s
a big, physical receiver who’s underrated by fantasy owners.
Jordan Matthews, PHI (@SF, STL, NYG, BYE) – Matthews, a
rookie with size (6-3, 212) and decent speed (4.46), erupted for
8-59-2 in the comeback win over Washington, and is a viable redzone
threat on the highly weaponized Eagles. He should be owned in
all formats despite a 15-40 percent ownership across the fantasy
Brown, ARI (BYE, @DEN, WAS, @OAK) – Think of Brown (4-52-2
in the win over San Fran) as a tiny version of Matthews, without
the high-powered offense. He’s a shifty slot man with boom-or-bust
potential every week, and he’s owned in just a fraction of fantasy
Johnson, SF (PHI, KC, @STL, @DEN) – He’s gelling with Colin
Kaepernick (9-for-9 on targets for 103 yards Sunday) and the 49ers
will look to open up the offense in the coming weeks. Johnson
is a talented receiver and I’m sufficiently intrigued.
Johnson may not get
the consistent targets he received in Week 3 once Vernon Davis,
Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin are all healthy, but he’s
shown enough to warrant consideration as WR5. I’m still
Scouring The Barrel
Kerley, NYJ (DET, @SD, DEN, @NE) - I picked up Kerley on a whim
in a 10-team IDP league that features three WR slots as well as
a flex spaces for W/T and W/R. Owned in just 3 percent of Yahoo
fantasy leagues, Kerley posted 7-81-1 on 11 targets on Monday night,
the lone bright spot for a struggling Jets offense. If Eric Decker's
hamstring continues to be a problem, I wouldn't be surprised to
see Kerley get 10 targets a game as their primary deep threat.
Royal, SD (JAC, NYJ, @OAK, KC) – We’ve been here before, haven’t
we? I’d be tempted to trust the two-TD games of Mathews and Brown
(above) before I’ll take another crack at Royal (4-42-2 on Sunday)
this season. He’s burned me too many times in the past.
Robinson, JAC (@SD, PIT, @TEN, CLE) – The Penn State rookie
caught 7-79-0 on 10 targets Sunday and appears to have excellent
chemistry with Bortles. He’s worth adding in deeper leagues, but
on a team with so many issues he’ll be far from a consistent fantasy
Gray, (ATL, @GB, DET, @BUF) – Bad news for the Vikings as
starting tight end Kyle Rudolph is out multiple weeks with a groin
issue that will require surgery. Gray and perhaps Rhett Ellison
will fill the void however neither are high value waiver wire
targets at this time.
Gray was a quarterback
in college at Minnesota and has as much athleticism as anyone
at the tight end position, but very little experience. He’s
going to be a liability as a blocker but should fill in as an
H-back and could see an increased workload in the coming weeks.
Walker, TEN (@IND, CLE, JAC, @WAS) – The Titans offense never
got going and Walker finished with just 4-54-0. He’s the primary
target for Jake Locker at this point.
Hawkins, CLE (BYE, @tight endN, PIT, @JAC) – For the third
straight game, Hawkins received double-digit targets (32 on the
season) and finished with 7-87-0. When he starts getting in the
end zone, he’ll be dangerous.
Jones, OAK (MIA, BYE, SD, ARI) – His TD streak came to end
at the hands of the Patriots, reeling in 3-43-0 in the low-scoring
Daniels, BAL (CAR, @IND, @TB, ATL) – Daniels had a quiet Week
3 (one catch, 8 yards) but stands to benefit from the injury to
Dennis Pitta (hip dislocation), who’s likely out for the season.
Pitta is out for the
year and the Ravens are expected to rotate in and out of three-WR
sets, using WR Marlon Brown and working in fullback Kyle Juszcyk
to mitigate some of Daniels workload. Still, Daniels makes plenty
of sense as a TE2 with his effectiveness in Gary Kubiak’s
red zone offense.
Sanu, CIN (BYE, @NE, CAR, @IND) – Sanu threw an 18-yard TD
pass to Andy Dalton on a trick play and hauled in 5-44-0 for a
solid fantasy day. Even with A.J. Green healthy, he’s worth owning
in 12-team leagues.
Austin, CLE (BYE, @tight endN, PIT, @JAC) – Austin caught
his second TD pass in as many games en route to a 6-51-1 performance.
Perhaps a few of us were too quick to leave him for dead.
Adams, GB (@CHI, MIN, @MIA, CAR) – Adams disappointed with
just 2-11-0 on Sunday, but the entire Packers offense sputtered
Roberts, WAS (NYG, SEA, @ARI, TEN) – DeSean Jackson was healthy
and producing in a big way, so Roberts (4-38-0) had a mediocre
Paul, WAS (NYG, SEA, @ARI, TEN) – Cousins looks to Paul a
lot. On Sunday, they connected for 6-68-0, and it appears the
capable Paul should be able to fill in for Jordan Reed while the
dynamic tight end is out.
Jenkins, MIA (@OAK, BYE, GB, @CHI) – Jenkins remains a three-down
LB with tremendous upside in Miami’s 4-3. With Koa Misi and Philip
Wheeler hurting, he’s got plenty of value.
Bruce Carter/Anthony Hitchens, DAL (NO, HOU, @SEA, NYG) –
The Cowboys LB corps is probably the hardest to figure out in
all of football right now, but it’s obvious they will have
plenty of time on the field and should make some big plays. Both
Carter and the rookie Hitchens are candidates for a lot of IDP
Maxwell, SEA (BYE, @WAS, DAL, @STL) – He’s on a Week 4 bye,
but from what I’ve seen, he’s going to be a busy guy in 2014 with
quarterbacks avoiding Richard Sherman.
Aaron Williams, BUF (@HOU, @DET, NE, MIN) – The Bills need
Williams (leg contusion) at 100 percent, but even if he’s
a bit hobbled, I expect him to make plays and provide plenty of
value in IDP formats.
Corey Liuget, SD (JAC, NYJ, @OAK, KC) – Liuget is an emerging
superstar waiting for the press to catch up with his talent. He
and Kendell Reyes did an excellent job at the point of attack
Sunday in Buffalo, and I’m expecting another good game against
the Jags in Week 4.
Vince Wilfork, NE (@KC, CIN, @BUF, NYJ) – Wilfork is the
straw that stirs the drink in the Patriots front seven, and he’s
proving to be a big-play guy in the twilight of his Hall of Fame
career. In leagues that require a DT or two, he’d be on
LB Brandon Marshall, DEN (BYE, ARI, @NYJ, SF) – Marshall
is putting up consistent numbers (12 total tackles on Sunday)
and now has 30 total tackles, a sack and two PD on the season.
LB Rolando McClain, DAL (NO, HOU, @SEA, NYG) – McClain missed
Week 3 with a groin injury and was replaced by rookie Anthony
Hitchens. He’s week-to-week.
DB Antoine Cason, CAR (@BAL, CHI, @CIN, @GB) – Cason didn’t
make any big plays but had seven total tackles Sunday night. He’s
a defensive leader in the Panthers secondary.
DB D.J. Swearinger, HOU (BUF, @DAL, IND, @PIT) – Questionable
for Week 3 with an elbow injury, Swearinger played at less than
100 percent and made six total tackles.
DL Chandler Jones, NE (@KC, CIN, @BUF, NYJ) – With just
two total tackles and two PD, Jones didn’t make a big impact
this week. He’s still a DL1 and weekly play in most IDP
DL Calais Campbell, ARI (BYE, @DEN, WAS, @OAK) – Just four
solo tackles against the 49ers, but no big plays. Still, the Cards
came away with a big victory and Campbell remains a must-own in
12-team formats that require a DL.