Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections that will 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 just as big a 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 players that may be available in shallow
leagues – sometimes just breakout stars that eluded your team’s
draft – as well as players who can help your squad that will
still be available in most deeper leagues.
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Off The Top
Jason Campbell, WAS –
Because he’s still out there in a lot of leagues, I gotta
bring him back. After a few solid weeks, and taking into account
his favorable matchups the next few weeks (PHI, @ NO, @STL, NYG)
he’s well worth a roster spot. I’ve got him, Vince
Young and Steve McNair at QB in a 12-team league where I’m
solid at RB (Steven Jackson, Ladell Betts) and stocked at WR (TO,
Housh, Evans). I’m going to look carefully at the matchups
down the stretch to make the best decision, because it does boil
down to matchups with that caliber of quarterback. You may be
in a position to do the same.
Chad Pennington, NYJ –
Available in plenty of leagues and getting it done. His matchups
are modest the next few weeks, but he’s shown solid rapport
with Jerricho Cotchery and increasing attention on bombs to long
bombs to Laveranues Coles. I just wish they didn’t have
so many looks at RB, where they’ve been doing much of the
heavy lifting with the running game. His performances the last
couple of weeks aren’t a mandate for future fantasy success,
but he’s a veteran QB that could be reliable in at least
one of the next three matchups, which include two division rivalries
(BUF, @ MIN, @ MIA).
Scouring The Barrel
Derek Anderson, CLE –
I’d go into a long diatribe about this guy if I knew a lot
about him. But here’s what I do know. He pulled a Sage Rosenfels
(remember that game against Tennessee this season when Sage went
nuts?) but went a step further by actually WINNING the game. He’s
6’6” and he rushed for 44 yards on just two carries
on Sunday, including a 33-yard scramble in OT to set up the game-winning
FG. He’s from Portland and shares his name with a former
Trailblazers guard. He faces the Steelers Thursday night if Charlie
Brown, errr, I mean Frye, can’t go due to the wrist injury
that led to Anderson’s appearance. The Steelers love to
blitz, and blitz often and Anderson will either crumble or flourish
under that type of pressure. If you honestly believe the Browns
line and backfield can pick up those blitzes, go ahead and take
a shot on Anderson. He could be one of the All-time sleepers in
NFL history. But with your fantasy season on the line, I truly
hope you can come up with something better.
Vince Young, TEN – He
really looked solid in that win over the Colts, and the fact that
he doesn’t make too many mistakes (I’ll forgive 1-2
INTs in a week with 78 rushing yards and two passing TDs) increases
his fantasy stock. I’ve been following his development closely
since I’ve had him on my team since Week 8, when I played
him for the first time against Houston and he got me 20. I was
ready to play him again in Week 14 against the Texans until I
realized that my first place finish in my division had garnered
me a first round bye. Oh well – can’t complain about
that. The next decent opportunity to play Young will be Week 16
Brad Johnson, MIN – Where
do I start? As useless as he’s been, I’m obligated
to remind you once again his next three games are: @ DET, NYJ
and @GB. Now let me say that he was pulled after throwing four
TDs on Sunday, his backup (the much-maligned Brooks Bollinger)
showed up for practice Monday with his left arm in a sling after
spraining his non-throwing shoulder following a hit by Adewale
Ogunleye in the Chicago game, and the third-stringer for the Vikes
is an untested rookie out of Division I-AA Alabama State named
Tarvaris Jackson who looked like a gazelle staring down a pack
of wild hyenas in his NFL debut – a nondescript 3-for-4,
35-yard performance in which he lost a fumble. I’m not making
this stuff up. And if Johnson’s still on your roster, go
grab your shinebox.
Matt Leinart, ARI – Not
bad, not great as of late. I don’t like the matchup versus
Seattle on Sunday or the next week against Denver, but Week 16
@SF could be decent, since only four teams have given up more
passing TDs on the year, and the 49ers TD-allowed-to-INT-snagged
ratio is 2:1.
Jay Cutler, DEN – Cutler
was 10-of-21 passing for 143 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs in the loss
to Seattle. Not great, but his next three weeks are @SDG @ARI,
CIN – good matchups and a chance for Cutler to redeem himself.
Jeff Garcia, PHI – Figured
I’d throw in another update on Garcia. His performance on
Monday night was proof once again that Philly fans don’t
know a thing about football. The guys played his guts out and
how did the Philly faithful reward him? With boos. Nice. I hope
they all were facing Garcia in their fantasy leagues and got burned
by his big game.
Off The Top
Marion Barber III, DAL –
With 10 TDs on the season, he’s emerged as the better fantasy
option at RB in Dallas. But he’s still out there in some
leagues, and his carries have gone up every week, especially since
Dallas started their run. I don’t care how shallow your
league is, if Barber’s available, he should be owned.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR –
Another guy that shouldn’t still be available in most leagues,
Williams was solid Monday night albeit against a very questionable
rush defense. He’s the man now in Carolina, so I’d
make sure he was on my roster if I had that option.
Cedric Benson, CHI –
He was the probable starter in the off-season but got in the doghouse
before the season even started. Cedric is just as talented as
Thomas Jones, probably even more talented. And while he’s
done little to establish himself as bona fide, he does have 106
yards and two scores on just 19 carries during the last two weeks.
With both Grossman and Thomas Jones struggling, he might be looking
at more carries and more scoring opportunities as the Bears try
to grind out some wins to close the season in contests that will
probably favor a heavy dose of Chicago’s running game –
@STL, TB, @ DET.
Jerious Norwood, ATL –
His knee injury in mid-November probably resulted in him being
dropped in a lot of leagues. But since coming back in Week 12,
he’s got 161 rushing yards on just 22 carries, including
a 69-yard TD blast last week. Dunn got poked in the eye, so I’m
not sure of Jerious Norwood’s depth chart status. But I
can say it’s better than Scott Norwood’s.
Scouring The Barrel
Cedric Houston, NYJ –
Hard to tell from week to week who’s going to be Mangini’s
boy, isn’t it? Houston might be the most dynamic of the
backs in the offense with everybody healthy, as was evidenced
by his 105-yard, two-TD performance Sunday. But temper your enthusiasm
for Houston with the knowledge that his carries are split with
two other backs and that his matchups from here on out aren’t
favorable at all.
Ron Dayne, HOU – I will
never trust him again. I don’t care if he hits 100 yards
next week, either. He’s burned too many owners too many
times, he doesn’t score TDs, he plays on a crappy team,
and he’s still fat and slow.
Joseph Addai, IND – If
you hadn’t noticed by now, Addai didn’t put up four
scores again last week. I believe it’s safe to assume that
the 45-point performance from Week 12 was more due to the fact
they played the Eagles (who have been getting torn up by opposing
RBs) than anything else.
Wali Lundy, HOU – Still
the starter, but just a serviceable #3 and a poor #2 with Ron
Dayne’s 95-yard performance on Sunday. This week, Lundy
and the Texans face Tennessee – whose defense has been getting
much better at stopping the run.
Sammy Morris, MIA – Please
tell me you won’t start Sammy. Nothing against him, it’s
just not the respectable thing to do. When the Dolphins get it
done, they get it done through the air now.
Off The Top
Marty Booker, MIA – He’s
ranked as the 30th best WR in my 10-team home league (points-per-reception
are given in that one) but there haven’t been any takers.
I guess everybody’s still waiting for Chris Chambers and
Randy McMichael to blow up and neutralize his numbers. Don’t
make the same mistake. Booker is a favorite target of Harrington’s
(maybe because they’re both old NFC Central guys) and he’s
taken over as the touchdown-producer in that offense. Compare
the Booker-Chambers WR situation in Miami to the Barber-Jones
RB situation in Dallas. That’s kind of how it’s panned
Michael Jenkins, ATL –
He’s got a good matchup next week and he’s been more
consistent since the Falcons started losing. He’s also got
three TDs in his last four weeks, so take a shot at him for your
#3 WR slot if you don’t have any better options.
Scouring The Barrel
TE Steve Heiden, CLE –
This is from the “If you score 2 TDs in one week, you get
my attention” section of my new book, The Flawed Logic Chronicles.
Actually, I’ve been working on that one for years and it
has yet to turn the heads of any publishers. Here’s the
scoop: you could do a lot worse at TE right now, since there’s
only a few guys putting up serviceable numbers, but the 2-TD thing
ain’t gonna happen every week.
WR Jerricho Cotchery, NYJ –
Another big week from a guy that I liked from the git-go. If you
took our advice and grabbed him early, you’ve been reaping
the awards all year.
WR Bernard Berrian, CHI –
Grossman’s sudden case of brain diarrhea has all but nullified
Berrian’s big-play capability. The next few matchups bode
well for the Chicago receivers, but only if Grossman stops being
WR Kevin Curtis, STL –
The 57th-ranked WR, it’s nearly impossible to tell when
and if Curtis will have a decent game as a #3 WR. So I’d
pull him from your radar in the closing weeks because he just
doesn’t perform consistently.
WR Marcus Robinson, MIN –
He was 5-37-0 on Sunday after being limited in practice all week
with a tweaked ankle. I’ve discussed with you already how
he’s got some nice matchups coming up, but the uncertainty
at the Vikings QB slot just doesn’t inspire too much confidence.
TE Bo Scaife, TEN – He’s
not 100 percent and he’s facing a Texans team that shuts
down opposing TEs. Find another guy.
Off The Top
LB DeMeco Ryans, HOU –
I listed him on the wire when the season started, and those of
you who took advantage were probably pretty happy with his 15
tackles, INT, FR, sack and 3 PDs against Oakland, a performance
that vaulted him into the third-best LB spot in IDP. Not sure
if he’s available out there on any of your IDP wires anymore,
but if he is, don’t hesitate.
DB Antoine Winfield, MIN –
Rated as the 9th-best DB in IDP land, Winfield makes solid plays
in a weak secondary that see slots of action because teams don’t
even bother running into that front seven. This week, he’s
got a good chance at an INT facing Kitna and the Lions. If he’s
still out there, scoop him up.
LB Mike Vrabel, NE –
My sincere apologies for not including Vrabel last week in this
slot. I’m not one for making excuses, but I was distracted
by the fact that he’s not available in my home league –
because I’ve got him. I played him Sunday because of his
move to the inside to cover for Seau’s injury, and reaped
the benefits. I’m not sure what’s going on with hi
injury status (he looked shaken up after making his second INT
near the end of the game) but stay tuned and if he’s healthy,
he’s a good option for the rest of the year.
LB Takeo Spikes, BUF –
With Angelo Crowell out, Spikes should get the bulk of tackles
that escape Uber-stud London Fletcher-Baker. Spikes was once an
Uber-stud himself before injuries ravaged his sturdy frame. But
he’s back and he’s making stops for a defense that
sees a lot of field time.
Scouring The Barrel
DL Ty Warren, NE – I
can’t ignore this guy any longer. He’s the 7th ranked
DL and he’s played better and better as the season has gone
on. If you’ve got a DL requirement, he’s got good
matchups from here on out and should grab a few more sacks.
DL Charles Grant, NO –
With 52 tackles and 6 sacks on the year, he’s another decent
option to fill the DL slot on your IDP roster.
DB Walt Harris, SF –
A below average game against the Saints, but Harris doesn’t
stay down for long.
LB Shawne Merriman, SD –
Back in business, his numbers will improve as the season finishes.
DB Charles Tillman, CHI –
It’s going to be a week-to-week matchup thing for Tillman
the rest of the way. But he seems to perform well against better
DB Asante Samuel, NE –
He followed up 33 IDP points in Week 12 (3 interceptions, 9 tackles
and 3 PDs against the Bears) with 15 against the Lions (INT, 4
PD, 1 tackle). I’d start him every week against INT-prone
QBs, including Harrington next week.
LB Victor Hobson, NYJ –
13 tackles and a PD last week following my recommendation. Yet
another week where he was better than his linebacker mate Jonathan
DL Bryan Thomas, NYJ –
Another solid pouting with 5 tackles and 1.5 sacks. E’s
very consistent – a wonderful trait for DLs.