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.
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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
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (GB, @CHI, @JAC, SD) – Tannehill and
the Dolphins are fresh off the team’s Week 5 bye and face
the Packers on Sunday during the early slate. He should make a
decent bye week fill-in, as the Packers will likely jump out to
an early lead and force Tannehill to throw most of the second
Austin Davis, STL (SF, SEA, @KC, @SF) – Davis tallied 375-3-0
with two lost fumbles and 30 rushing yards in Sunday’s loss
to the Eagles. He doesn’t have a very favorable matchup
against San Francisco, but we know he’s capable of big games
and makes an interesting DFS play.
Scouring The Barrel
Brian Hoyer, CLE (PIT, @JAC, OAK, TB) – Hoyer’s 292-3-1
helped cap off a monumental comeback against the Titans, evening
the Browns record at 2-2. Hoyer has tremendous upside once Josh
Gordon returns and should mix in a few decent starts with some
fantasy stinkers. He’s a tough week-to-week call, but the
pickings are slim at QB right now.
Joe Flacco, BAL (@TB, ATL, @CIN, @PIT) – Just when you
think Flacco is going to give you some QB2 value, he regresses
into the land of mediocrity. His 235-0-1 probably didn’t
hurt many owners in one-QB leagues, but he makes himself hard
to roster with performances like this.
Bortles, JAC (@TEN, CLE, MIA, @CIN) – Other than Geno Smith
and (possibly) Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bortles (191-0-2, 14 rushing
yards) had the worst day of any fantasy QB, as the Steelers defense
decided to step up in Week 5.
Glennon, TB (BAL, BYE, MIN, @CLE) – Glennon totaled 249-2-1
thanks to a big day from Vincent Jackson and a weakened New Orleans
secondary. I expected a bit more in this matchup, but his numbers
were serviceable and he may have helped some owners in two-QB
Kyle Orton, BUF (NE, MIN, @NYJ, BYE) – Orton managed to
compile 308-1-1 and squeak out a victory over the Lions. The matchup
with New England next week could go either way, but at home versus
Minnesota and on the road against the Jets in Week 9 could bulk
up his stats.
Off The Top
Rainey, TB (BAL, BYE, MIN, @CLE) – Despite a tough Week 6
matchup with the Ravens, Rainey is worth stashing to plug in after
the Week 7 bye, when he faces the Vikings and Browns in weeks
8 and 9. By then, maybe the Bucs coaches will have realized he’s
a more complete back than Doug Martin and deserves more than just
a handful of carries and goaline work.
Branden Oliver: The Darren Sproles clone
prduced in a big way on Sunday and will be a top add in Wk
Hillman, DEN (@NYJ, SF, SD, @NE) – Hillman will get the bulk
of work with Montee Ball (groin) on the shelf next week against
the Jets. He should be the top add this week, as he’s owned in
just 7 percent of Yahoo leagues.
is expected to keep him out 2-3 weeks, but Hillman could hold
onto the job for longer if he produces and holds off C.J. Anderson.
Oliver, SD (@OAK, KC, @DEN, @MIA) – Injuries to the rest of
the San Diego running backs forced Oliver into action on Sunday,
and the rookie was electric, rushing for 114 yards and a TD on
19 carries and adding 4-68-1 – in most scoring formats the best
fantasy performance of the week. He’s still available in about
80-90 percent of fantasy leagues and could be the revelation that
the Chargers run game needs – even when Ryan Mathews and Donald
Brown return from their respective injuries.
Mathews is not yet
ready for action, so it appears Oliver will be the guy on Sunday.
Scouring The Barrel
Cunningham, STL (SF, SEA, @KC, @SF) – The next few matchups
are tough, but it’s obvious that Cunningham is going to get more
carries if Zac Stacy (calf) misses any additional time. Stacy
has been a fantasy disappointment in 2014 and Cunningham (71 yards
from scrimmage, TD in Week 5) seems more capable in the passing
The Rams expect Stacy
to play in Week 6, but Cunningham has shown some burst and will
likely get at least 10 touches.
Sankey, TEN (JAC, @WAS, HOU, BYE) – Ken Whisenhunt failed
to get Sankey enough carries again on Sunday, instead favoring
Shonn Greene (11 carries, 36 yards), who with his overall ineffectiveness
helped allow the Browns back in the game. Whisenhunt probably
needs to go for Sankey to reach his full potential.
McKinnon, MIN (DET, @BUF, @TB, WAS) – McKinnon had 46 yards
(24 rushing, 3-22-0 receiving) in limited work Thursday. He remains
a flex play in deeper formats with plenty of upside, and while
he didn’t score this week, my other Week 5 recommendations (below)
all reached the end zone.
Forsett, BAL (@TB, ATL, @CIN, @PIT) – Forsett had a nice day
Sunday, rushing for 42 yards and a TD on just six carries and
adding 7-55-0 receiving. He’s the PPR back to own in Baltimore.
Williams, NYG (@PHI, @DAL, BYE, IND) – After Rashad Jennings
went down with a knee sprain, Williams finished with 20 carries
for 65 yards and a TD in the victory over Atlanta. He, Oliver
and Ronnie Hillman will be the top adds off the waiver wire.
There’s a lot
of buzz surrounding Williams, who will be the bell cow for the
Giants in the upcoming matchup against Philly and Dallas. It’s
hard to say who among Williams, Hillman, Oliver has the most upside,
but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
Smith, ATL (CHI, @BAL, DET, BYE) – Smith did it again, scampering
74 yards for a TD on a swing pass from Matt Ryan. He finished
with just one carry for 2 yards, but his 3-81-1 receiving line
made him a worthy flex play if you happened to plug him in.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Brian Quick, STL (SF, SEA, @KC, @SF) – Quick isn’t
necessarily matchup proof, but he’s such a highly prized
target of Davis, the next few matchups shouldn’t scare you
from using him in PPR leagues. He’s had nine targets in
three out of his four games this season and after Sunday (5-87-2),
has 21 catches for 322 yards and three scores on the season.
Hunter, TEN (JAC, @WAS, HOU, BYE) – Hunter broke out for 3-99-1
in Week 5, the big play being a 75-yard TD pass from Charlie Whitehurst.
He’s a week-to-week WR4/flex option with upside.
Mohamed Sanu, CIN (CAR, @IND, BAL, JAC) – Sanu (5-70-1
on Sunday night) is one of the most dynamic athletes in the AFC
and promises to be a big part of the Bengals success in 2014.
He should be owned in all formats.
Wright, NE (@BUF, NYJ, CHI, DEN) – Largely ignored by Tom
Brady through the first four games (five targets, 4-35-0), Wright
totaled 5-85-1, catching all five balls thrown his way in Week
5. He’s a deep-league add and has decent upside if he continues
to get attention.
Scouring The Barrel
Benjamin, CLE (PIT, @JAC, OAK, TB) – The Browns’ Travis Benjamin
produced about the same line folks were expecting from Panthers
rookie Kelvin Benjamin this week (4-48-2), hauling in all four
targets in the comeback victory. He’s a deep-league add who’ll
yield targets to Andrew Hawkins and Miles Austin (and obviously
Josh Gordon when he returns), but he has some value and should
be owned in leagues with more than 12 teams.
TE Larry Donnell, NYG (@PHI, @DAL, BYE, IND) – Donnell
was a non-factor in the Giants win over Atlanta, posting a fantasy
goose egg (one target, no catches). He should get back on track
next week against the Eagles and could have another monster day
in Dallas Week 8.
Devin Hester, ATL (CHI, @BAL, DET, BYE) – Hester had just
2-16-0 on Sunday and a 3-yard rush. He’s still a boom-or-bust
flex option in deeper formats and a worthwhile play in leagues
that award points for return yardage.
Mike Williams, BUF (NE, MIN, @NYJ, BYE) – Williams was targeted
just twice by Orton on Sunday and finished with one catch for
Jarius Wright, MIN (DET, @BUF, @TB, WAS) – Wright followed
up his breakout Week 4 with 3-27-0 on Thursday night.
LB Christian Kirksey, CLE (PIT, @JAC, OAK, TB) – Kirksey
is starting to play much better and should get plenty of work
in the upcoming matchup with Pittsburgh.
Williamson, TEN (JAC, @WAS, HOU, BYE) – Williamson is not
a great athlete and is far from a prototypical IDP playmaker,
but the rookie has favorable matchups in the coming weeks and
has seen plenty of field time recently over Zaviar Gooden at ILB
next to Wesley Woodyard.
DB Kyle Fuller, CHI (@ATL, MIA, @NE, BYE) – Fuller is a
solid rookie IDP standout who should be busy the next few weeks.
I’m bullish on his prospects to finish as a Top 10 DB this
DB Rashad Johnson, ARI (WAS, @OAK, PHI, @DAL) – The Cards
defense has taken some injury hits and Johnson has been the safety
valve. He’s going to rack up a bunch of tackles the next
Robison, MIN (DET, @BUF, @TB, WAS) – Robison hasn’t done much
yet this season, but he’s primed for some big weeks against the
Lions, Bills, Bucs and Redskins. He’s a nice DL option in deeper
Rucker, ARI (WAS, @OAK, PHI, @DAL) – Rucker will likely be
the main pass rushing presence for the Cards, who have lost Calais
Campbell for the next 3-4 weeks. Expect a handful of tackles and
2-3 sacks over the next couple weeks.
5 sack was his first of the season. He’s a low-end DE2 in
deeper formats, but he’s got an opportunity.
Ogletree, STL (SF, SEA, @KC, @SF) – Ogletree is starting to
produce, tallying eight total tackles (seven solo) and a forced
fumble in Week 5.
Marshall, DEN (@NYJ, SF, SD, @NE) – As expected, Danny Trevathan
returned to action and Marshall had a quiet Week 5 (two solos,
PD). He can be safely dropped in IDP redrafts.
Jenkins, PHI (NYG, BYE, @ARI, @HOU) – Jenkins had five solo
tackles but no big plays or PD in Sunday’s win over St. Louis.
He remains a DB2 with upside.
Nelson, CIN (CAR, @IND, BAL, JAC) – The Bengals defense was
out of sorts early in New England, and Nelson finished with just
four total tackles (two solos).
Jones, MIA (GB, @CHI, @JAC, SD) – The Dolphins were on a bye
on Week 5 but Jones should be starting (and busy) versus the Packers
Dunlap, CIN (CAR, @IND, BAL, JAC) – Dunlap had two solos and
three assists on Sunday night, but failed to get to Tom Brady.
Bennett, SEA (DAL, @STL, @CAR, OAK) – Update coming
Bennett did very little
on Monday night, registering one assist in the win. He’ll
have a much better matchup against Dallas in Week 6.