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Through The Wire - Week 1
9/8/09 Users...
Check out the most popular waiver wire pickups this week across thousands of MFL leagues. Also, quickly see who's available on your waiver wire this week by using the MFL Power feature at FF Today. Just input your league's 5-digit ID number away you go!
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.

Off the Top - Includes my premier recommendations — sometimes players available either only in more shallow leagues, and occasionally guys more readily available who’ve been thrust into the fantasy spotlight.

Digging Deeper - Covers the next tier of quality waiver wire specimens, usually players available in a majority of online 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.

Each week, I’ll also provide a brief update on the 30-40 players I covered the previous week. It’s the best one-stop waiver-wire column available on the Internet, and it’s only available here at

Feedback is always welcome, appreciated and encouraged. I’ll get to as many e-mails as I can.

Note: Each player’s next four matchups are listed in parentheses ()

For my initial column, I’ll focus on guys that your league owners may have missed on draft day.


Off The Top

Brett Favre, MIN (@CLE, @DET, SF, GB) – I know — I’m a complete sucker for Favre and I haven’t paid enough attention the reports that the soon-to-be-40-year-old doesn’t have much arm strength these days because of his torn rotator cuff and other assorted issues. But the guy’s schedule does look pretty tasty to start off the year, and if you’re the proud owner of a stud QB with a Week 5 bye (Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler), then you’ll be glad to know Favre is playing in St. Louis on the turf that week.

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (STL , @SF, CHI, @IND) – Some fantasy colleagues of mine are all over Hasselbeck this season, and while I’m optimistic that he’ll stay healthy and regain some of the form he showed from 2003-07, I’m fearful that the line just doesn’t give him the requisite protection he’s come to need in the pocket. Initially, he might have some success as a QB2 in leagues where you need ‘em, but he’s no more than a good fantasy backup in standard 12-team leagues.

Digging Deeper

Joe Flacco, BAL (KC, @SD, CLE, @NE) – I’m not the only expert who’s high on Flacco in 2009, and for good reason. The entire Ravens offensive unit, starting with new center Matt Birk, has improved and could be much more potent this season. As the 2008 NFL Rookie of the Year — excuse me, the 2008 Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year — the strong-armed Flacco led his Ravens to the postseason and showed everyone he was capable of taking the offense to new heights. He’s only available in about 40-50 percent of leagues because of all the preseason hype, but if he made it the gauntlet of your draft, he’s great investment.

Shaun Hill, SF (@ARI, SEA, @MIN, STL) – Some QBs just know how to win, and Hill did just that over the last seven games of 2009, going 5-2 and averaging 237 passing YPG with 10 TDs and 6 INT. Not Pro-Bowl numbers, but a solid backup for teams holding QB1s with byes in Week 4 or 8.

Scouring The Barrel

Matthew Stafford, DET (@NO, MIN, WAS, @CHI) – Stafford just wrested the starting job from Daunte Culpepper and has some excellent offensive options in WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and RB Kevin Smith. He’s also got a dandy schedule (that’s what you get for finishing 0-16 the previous season). The best part? Matt Stafford, who looked flat-out telepathic with Megatron this preaseason and can get him the ball downfield, was not a member of the 2008 Lions. He had nothing to do with that madness. Matt Millen, on the other hand, did — and the Millen Era is over. Addition by subtraction, folks.

Mark Sanchez, NYJ (@HOU, NE, TEN, @NO) – He’s got a better line than Stafford but he’s missing his big weapon. Talks with the Broncos about adding Brandon Marshall seem to have died down, and it looks like he’ll be working with WRs Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey and David Clowney, as well as second-year TE Dustin Keller and a capable stable of RBs. He won’t blow up the stat sheet, but neither did Flacco or Ryan last year. Think of him as a steadier version of Stafford with less upside.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Felix Jones, DAL (@TB, NYG, CAR, @DEN) – Jones might be the straw that stirs the drink in Dallas this season, and he’s owned in just 77 percent of Yahoo leagues. He’s a big-play runner, receiver and kick returner who could finish the season with as many 20-plus-yard runs as half of the Top 10 RBs. The initial schedule is tough, but he’s worth adding and waiting on to see how he’s used in ’09.

LeSean McCoy, PHI (@CAR, NO, KC, BYE) – Despite being the No. 2 RB option behind the brittle, undersized Brian Westbrook, McCoy is owned in just half of Yahoo! Leagues. Essentially, he’s the workhorse back the Eagles thought they’d drafted in Correll Buckhalter several years ago. It’s entirely possible that McCoy’s fresh legs surpass the veteran Westbrook by midseason, snagging most first and second down carries and becoming a nasty goal line back.

Leon Washington, NYJ (@HOU, NE, TEN, @NO) – Washington may not be happy in New York, but his PPR résumé speaks for itself: 83 catches in the past two seasons and the promise of an expanded role in 2009. Thomas Jones is the only thing standing in the way of his owners (and the astute sharks who grabbed rookie Shonn Greene) being a solid RB3 or flex play.

Digging Deeper

Fred Jackson, BUF (@NE, TB, NO, @MIA) – Love. This. Dude. Jackson’s already slated to start a quarter of the Bills’ games, and if oft-injured/currently suspended Marshawn Lynch needs extra time, he could start a few more. It’s easy to overlook Buffalo’s running game because the line is terrible, but the Coe College alumnus catches balls (59 receptions in two limited-play seasons for Buffalo) and runs well in space.

James Davis, CLE (MIN, @DEN, @BAL, CIN) – It’s only a matter of time before Davis surpasses Jamal Lewis on the Browns’ depth chart. Davis is a sizeable back who runs hard and easily breaks arm tackles, and he’s been catching a lot of passes in camp — something Lewis just doesn’t offer. Keep tabs on the situation as it develops, but if Davis made it through your league’s draft, now would be a good time to jump, because you might not get the chance next week.

Peyton Hillis, DEN (@CIN, CLE, @OAK, DAL) – Anyone who’s drafted with me during the past few weeks knows I’m gaga over Hillis. The situation in Denver warrants a go-to guy, and Hillis might just be the prime huckleberry for Josh McDaniels and whoever ends playing QB in Denver. The former backfield mate of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in Arkansas, Hillis will be on the field most of the game and in PPR leagues, he’ll make a decent RB3 and pure gold as an RB4.

Scouring The Barrel

Carnell Williams, TB (DAL, @BUF, NYG, @WAS) – The Bucs’ official depth chart now lists Cadillac ahead of both Derrick Ward and goal line back Earnest Graham. Williams played well in limited action this summer and gained 54 yards on eight carries against the Dolphins in his only preseason start. I’ve never been a big fan of the Caddy, but if you’re desperate for an RB or just like stocking up early in the year, it’d be wise to snag the guy.

Mike Goodson, CAR (PHI, @ATL, @DAL, BYE) – With Jonathan Stewart nursing injuries, taking Goodson is a necessity for DeAngelo Williams owners. Stewart hasn’t been the picture of health so far in his career (the reason he fell in last year’s draft) and Goodson, by no means a workhorse back at Texas A&M, still has experience as a slot receiver — the Aggie caught 73 balls and scored 16 total TDs his last two years in college.

Mike Bell, NO (DET, @PHI, @BUF, NYJ) – Week 1 is probably the only viable start among the three, considering Pierre Thomas should be ready in Philly and beyond. But deep leaguers could stumble upon a gem in Bell if Thomas can’t go on Sunday.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Derrick Mason, BAL (KC, @SD, CLE, @NE) – If he had retired, I probably would have cried. Mason has easily graced more of my fantasy rosters than any other receiver (probably any other player) in league history, and I’ve won championship after championship because other owners overlooked his perennial value as a solid WR2. The feelings of nostalgia aside, Mason should have another excellent season with Flacco getting him the ball, and his value in PPR leagues gets bumped about 10 percent.

Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN (@CLE, @DET, SF, GB) – Favre loves him some tight ends, doesn’t he? What’s even better is than Shiancoe — when he wasn’t flashing his penis to unsuspecting Fox viewers — was catching TD passes left and right in ’08. He finished the season with 42/596/7 and should match or improve on those stats this season. In my estimation, he’s risen to a Tier 2 TE that can be had in most drafts for execellent value, and he’s still available in a handful of leagues (82 percent owned in Yahoo).

WR Josh Morgan, SF (@ARI, SEA, @MIN, STL) – Despite the preseason hype, Morgan is still owned in just 25 percent of Yahoo leagues making him even more available than teammate Isaac Bruce, who’ll you’ll find in the next group down. Morgan is primed for a breakout in his second season, is in a great division for receivers, and projects as a solid WR4 with upside.

Digging Deeper

WR Isaac Bruce, SF (@ARI, SEA, @MIN, STL) – Bruce is still the No. 1 WR in San Francisco, but he’ll have to show he’s still got the ability to perform in the red zone before Hill starts looking Morgan’s way. Bruce and Morgan have about the same fantasy value for now, but by the end of 2009, Morgan will have surpassed the graying veteran.

WR Nate Burleson, SEA (STL , @SF, CHI, @IND) – His value depends largely on whether he can stay healthy and if Hasselbeck gets the protection he needs, but Burleson can truly be a TD machine (50/694/9 for Seattle in ’07). Take a late-round or waiver wire shot on this readily available veteran receiver (37 percent owned) if you need a solid WR4.

WR Earl Bennett, CHI (@GB, PIT, @SEA, DET) – Three offensive starters for the Bears (Cutler, Bennett, right tackle Chris Williams) were teammates at Vanderbilt, so there’s reason to suspect a new chemistry with this year’s Bears. Bennett won’t be the deep threat that WR Kevin Hester is, but he should be a solid possession receiver for Cutler and can be had on the cheap in most formats (30 percent owned in Yahoo leagues).

Scouring The Barrel

TE Jermichael Finley, GB (CHI, CIN, @STL, @MIN) – Starting TE Donald Lee and TE/LB/ST changeling Spencer Havner are also on the Green Bay roster, but Finley’s the one poised for a breakout in ’09. He’s only owned in about one tenth of leagues, but on a roster where you need to start two TEs, he makes a great late-round flier.

WR Robert Meachem, NO (DET, @PHI, @BUF, NYJ) – The Saints’ first-round draft selection in ‘07, Meachem was on nearly every expert’s early sleeper list the past two seasons, until camp concluded and he was relegated to the bottom of the WR depth chart. And his 24-yard-per-reception average last season gave Drew Brees more confidence in his ability as a big-play guy — something that was evident from this preseason. Now in his third year, the Tennessee alum may finally be ready to meet the lofty expectations, but he’ll need help in the form of further injuries to the three capable WRs currently ahead of him (Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Devery Henderson).

WR Chansi Stuckey, NYJ (@HOU, NE, TEN, @NO) – Stuckey, the No. 2 WR for the Jets, is a solid red zone threat and could have a big year, especially if something happens to current possession receiver Jerricho Cotchery. Stuckey’s not a guy I’ve been drafting, but I have a feeling we’ll be hearing his name a lot over the next few weeks.

WR Hakeem Nicks, NYG (WAS, @DAL, @TB, @KC) – He might not pay dividends immediately, but Nicks has impressed during camp and at a draft full of Giants fans the other day I couldn’t help but notice some giddiness about the rookie from UNC. He’s behind four Giants receivers (Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss) on the depth chart, but the Super Bowl hero from two years ago, WR David Tyree, was clearly expendable because of Nicks. Don’t be surprised if Nicks is seeing regular time by Week 6 @ NO.


Off The Top

DL Chris Long, STL (@SEA, @WAS, GB, @SF) – He has the benefit of a great pedigree, a good vision for DLs, and not a ton of fanfare after his lackluster rookie season. Long has good matchups early on and should come out of the gate hot and bothered. He’s currently a solid DL2 with DL1 upside.

LB Derrick Johnson, KC (@BAL, OAK, @PHI, NYG) – With LB Zach Thomas and DB Bernard Pollard no longer in town, the fate of the Kansas City defense rests solely on Johnson, an athletic defensive contributor with the ability to rack up 120-plus tackles in 2009. He’s got a great schedule right off the bat, so grab him and play him confidently if he’s out there in your league.

DB Michael Lewis, SF (@ARI, SEA, @MIN, STL) – He’s been going undrafted in many IDP leagues because of his rattled noggin, and he’s definitely a risk since suffering a concussion during Saturday's preseason game — just 11 days after suffering a previous one. But Lewis is a stat-sheet filler with more than 200 total tackles over his last two campaigns. Stay tuned and grab him once he’s activated.

Digging Deeper

DL Richard Seymour, OAK (SD, @KC, DEN, @HOU) – The trade from New England for a 2011 first-round draft choice has several impacts from a fantasy perspective, as long as it goes through. Seymour has yet to report “to resolve some things” with his former team before the deal goes through, but he could produce big IDP totals in Oakland once he gets there.

DB Abram Elam, CLE (MIN, @DEN, @BAL, CIN) – My IDP sleeper for 2009, Elam could easily finish with over 100 tackles and slew of junk points from PDs, sacks, INTs and the like. He’s going to be relied on heavily as the Browns adjust to Rob Ryan’s new attacking 3-4 defense (Ryan was the DC in Oakland that helped SS Gibril Wilson garner 120-plus tackles in 2008). Elam will be counted on to help stop the run, blitz and, generally, make exciting, game-breaking defensive plays.

LB Stephen Tulloch, TEN (@PIT, HOU, @NYJ, @JAC) – He’s the MLB on a team that just lost its best defensive player, lane-clogging, head-stomping Albert Haynesworth. Honestly, folks, the only reason Titans MLBs haven’t racked up the big tackle totals over the past few years was Haynesworth.

Scouring The Barrel

DL Bobby McCray, NO (DET, @PHI, @BUF, NYJ) – Actually, everything hinges on the impending suspensions of DEs Charles Grant and Will Smith. McCray, who’s behind them both on the depth chart but led the team in sacks in 2008, looks ready to step in and deliver some quality DL2 starts.

LB Rocky McIntosh, WAS (@NYG, STL, @DET, TB) – The same reason weakside LBs in Tennessee were successful (stealing some of the tackle totals of the MLB and taking aggressive lines on the corner) is the same reason I’ve got McIntosh as a solid fantasy sleeper in ’09. As the imported Haynesworth jams up the middle, runners will frequently be pushed into Rocky’s path on the outside. Think of Rocky as a solid LB3 currently holding at an LB5 price.

DB Anthony Henry, NO (DET, @PHI, @BUF, NYJ) – I’m sensing a shootout in Detroit to start out the season, and Henry (along with IDP stud-in-waiting DB Roman Harper) could be the benefactor of plenty of PDs, tackles and the occasional big play. Henry, a highly underrated veteran DB in IDP, racked up 81 total tackles and 21 PD for the 2006 Cowboys, and he could be in line for another big year as long as the minor shoulder injury he’s nursing doesn’t become a major issue.