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 both offensive and defensive 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 many deeper
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Off The Top
Philip Rivers, SD – He’s been horribly inconsistent
– not something you want from your fantasy QB, but Rivers
is coming off a huge game versus the Ravens that portends good
things for the fantasy playoffs. He actually reminds me of Rex
Grossman last year, with more talented red zone weapons. Facing
KC this week, it’s not a great time to play him, but if
you’re looking for an available QB with upside during the
final few weeks, he might be your guy.
A.J. Feeley, PHI – His value is totally dependent on McNabb’s
injury status, because it’s tough to supplant a guy who
took his team to that many NFC championships. But Feeley shredded
a tough Patriots secondary after an initial hiccup INT and could
be in line for a starting gig, according to Andy “Pusher
Man” Reid. He has big upside and with the 2007 Eagles season
approaching the tank, he’s got nothing to lose.
STL – He's out at least one week with a sprained throwing
shoulder and partially torn labrum. Plus, it looks like Marc Bulger
has been cleared to start Sunday
Scouring The Barrel
Trent Dilfer, SF – Again, I’m not planning on starting
him anytime soon in my money leagues, but there’s a possibility
he has another good game this week against the Panthers, who have
surrendered big totals to fantasy QBs in their last two weeks.
The offense is coming around a bit and he’s got the starting
job locked up for at least the next couple weeks.
BUF – I’m staying away from all Bills this week, as the Redskins
defense will be playing this one for the late Sean Taylor. Edwards
might be the starter again, but he shouldn’t be starting for any
fantasy teams yet – it’s just that simple. Give him another week
under his belt and revisit the situation then on a matchup-to-matchup
Jason Campbell, WAS – 330 yards and a TD is good, but 3
turnovers is bad. Still, Buffalo’s an opponent he could
light up at home.
David Garrard, JAC – Garrard had a nice week, as I expected,
and I like him a lot heading into Indy, where he’ll be forced
to move the ball to keep up with the Colts. He’s yet to
throw an INT this season and he’s been running the ball
well, too. Go for it.
Daunte Culpepper, OAK – He’s supposed to be starting
Week 13, but since Lane Kiffin’s already removed his testicles
– figuratively speaking – what’s the point?
Jay Cutler, DEN – Cutler’s got some healthy receivers
who are making plays and he’s spreading the ball around
well. He’s the 12th-ranked fantasy QB right now and his
stock is only rising after his big day Sunday against the Bears.
Joey Harrington, ATL – He’s bad, his team is going
nowhere and the Rams are actually playing decent right now. Forget
John Beck, MIA – I feel really bad for this guy. He’s
not making mistakes, he’s definitely not a bad QB, he makes
decent throws that get dropped by his terrible WRs and the one
night he gets a legitimate chance to win because torrential Monday
night rains turn Heinz Field into a wintry slip ‘n’
slide, his team loses 3-0 with little fanfare.
Off The Top
Peterson, CHI – With Cedric Benson out for the year, hopefully
my near-weekly inclusion of “original recipe” Adrian Peterson
in my wire column turned a few heads. I firmly believed it was
only a matter of time before he got his shot – I just thought
Benson would get benched, not injured. In any event, it’s time
to snag any Adrian Peterson that’s available and plug him in your
lineup. PPR leaguers should benefit significantly, as well, since
he – unlike Benson – sees frequent targets in the passing game.
Kolby Smith, KC – If my waiver wire column came out a day
later, you’d have heard about this guy again last week,
as Priest retired on Wednesday. But I know you like your waiver
wire information ASAP, and the Holmes retirement was big enough
news that you probably all figured to pick up Smith for this week,
right? Well, after his big day Sunday, if Kolby’s still
available, you know what to do.
NO – Keep an eye on Reggie Bush’s status, and if it looks anything
like last week, Stecker could make a nice #3 RB or flex play versus
Justin Fargas, OAK – He’s still available on plenty
of waiver wires and he could see a ton of carries against the
Broncos, a weak run defense that has seen much better days. Just
watch out that Lamont Jordan doesn’t steal too many goal
line carries, a distinct possibility down the stretch.
Scouring The Barrel
Bell, DEN – I’ll remind you that I’m not a mind-reader or
a doctor, but it looks like one of these guys will see the bulk
of carries against the Raiders, which is nice work if you can
get it. Sapp was the guy on Sunday in relief of Andre Hall, who
was filling in for Selvin Young, who was filling in for Travis
Henry. So if Henry’s not yet back, Young’s still on the shelf,
Hall’s not recovered from the ankle sprain and Bell’s still in
the doghouse, then Sapp is the guy. But it’s a long week, and
everybody seems to be on their way out, so act accordingly.
BUF – The latest guy to fill-in for an injured Bills starter,
Jackson will see the bulk of carries if Anthony Thomas and Marshawn
Lynch can’t go Sunday versus the traumatized Redskins, but he’s
not a great option.
HOU – 16 carries for 78 yards and a couple catches is just good
enough to remain the starter as long as Ahman Green’s on the shelf.
Droughns, NYG – You couldn’t realistically expect much more
than the 46 yards and TD you got out of Reuben Sunday against
the Vikings, especially considering Eli Manning was ending just
about every drive with an INT.
MIA – Tough to tell if Ricky’s really back with the drenched
field and Pittsburgh defense shutting down all rushing attempts,
but at least he looked good hitting the hole on his first carry.
Now it’s a matter of the apparent shoulder injury and the severity
of Jessie Chatman’s wounds.
Michael Pittman, TB – Graham got the carries and the numbers
DEN – I don’t know the severity of the ankle sprain, but the
entire Broncos RB situation is up in the air and Hall looked great
again (26 rushes for 98 yards a score, 2/69/0 receiving) until
he came out on Sunday.
Chris Brown, TEN – Just 28 yards rushing and a lone catch
– about what I expected.
Off The Top
WR Javon Walker, DEN – He was activated last week but didn’t
see too much action. Keep an eye on the injury report, but get
Walker back in your lineup against the Raiders this week if he’s
healthy, because I smell some big plays coming his way with Brandon
“Baby TO” Marshall and Brandon “Fireplug”
Stokely taking care of the possession stuff.
WR Deion Branch, SEA – He’s also back and showed
it against the Rams on Sunday, totaling 5/92/1 – and this
week he gets a Philly secondary that could easily give up some
WR Isaac Bruce, STL – I’m including the Reverend
yet again since he’s available in so many leagues and he’s
a reliable red zone option even Gus Frerotte can hit on a quick
Gonzalez, IND – He’s back, so the Colts can stop plugging
in dudes whose first names start C-r-a-p – I’m talking about you,
Craphonso Thorpe. Gonzalez isn’t crap, and if Marvin Harrison
misses any more action, his value’s firm as a #3 WR with upside.
TE Tony Scheffler, DEN – As far as tight ends go, Scheffler’s
been pretty consistent for the past six weeks. And if you saw
his TD catch versus the Bears on Sunday, you know he’s a
reliable red zone threat who can make just about any play to haul
it in. While there aren’t too many TEs on the wire you’d
want to pick up for the final few weeks, Scheffler’s out
there in a bunch of leagues and should continue to see targets.
Scouring The Barrel
WR Greg Lewis, PHI – If McNabb doesn’t get the start
against the Seahawks and Feeley gets another crack at things,
I’d consider giving Lewis another shot to repeat his 4/88/2
performance from Sunday night.
Gage, TEN – I haven’t been a big fan of Titans receivers since
Derrick Mason left for purpler pastures, but Gage has had three
solid weeks in a row, totaling 17/254/1 – numbers that demand
some attention. His targets are up and the titans are throwing
more, so grab him if you’re weak at WR at play him matchup-to-matchup
as the Titans are bound to get into more shooting matches as the
season winds down.
WR Santana Moss, WAS – 5/37/0 and a lost fumble. Not good.
Henry, CIN – Sunday’s game against the Titans turned into
the Chad Johnson show, but I expect Henry to be a significant
contributor from here on out – unless he gets arrested again.
Engram, SEA – D.J. Hackett went down again on Sunday. Even
though Branch is back it’s got to help Engram see more targets.
Curry, OAK – Ugh. Another pedestrian 6/39/0 day. He’s been
a real disappointment this season, and I blame it all on Lane
Jenkins, ATL – Roddy White was the go-to-guy again on Thursday
night, so I’d stay away from the Atlanta WR situation altogether.
It’s just too risky.
Smith, TB – 3/41/0 isn’t bad for a TE, but a TD would’ve been
Ginn, Jr., MIA – In a parallel universe somewhere, he’s another
Devin Hester. But for now, in this apparent reality, he’s just
plain old Ted Ginn, Jr., scourge of Miami’s ’07 draft.
WR Devard Darling, BAL – Forget about him until he shows
up in the box score with more than 2/24/0 again.
Off The Top
DB Jermaine Phillips, TB – I’ve included Jermaine
several times in my column, but he never seems to get picked up
in too many of my IDP leagues. Maybe it’s because he’s
rarely on the highlight films, but he’s quietly produced
top 15 DB numbers and has a very tasty matchup against the Saints
LB Adalius Thomas, NE – He’s an animal, he’s
healthy again, he’s having a resurgence and he’s facing
his old team. What more do you need to plug in this veteran LB
with a penchant for big plays? Let’s forget the scenario
that the Ravens could be down a bunch of points early and abandon
the run – Thomas isn’t your typical LB who needs his
opponent to pound the ball relentlessly to come up with IDP points.
He’s probably good for a sack or two and a couple passes
defensed – regardless of his tackle total.
LB Antonio Pierce, NYG – If he’s available, this
veteran Giants LB is the easy choice to pick up the bulk of tackles
against a Bears team that yields the most IDP points in the league
to opposing LBs.
Crowell, BUF – The Redskins are playing with heavy hearts
and you can bet they’ll be playing smash-mouth football and giving
Clinton Portis tons of carries in short-yardage situations. Crowell,
despite some poor play this season and not too much respect from
fantasy owners, is putting up okay IDP numbers and deserves a
Scouring The Barrel
DB DeAngelo Hall, ATL – He’s not a consistent IDP
guy by any means, and having him in your lineup every week can
mean disaster, but this week against the Rams I like his chances
at getting a pick or two.
Smith, CIN – During his last game against the Steelers, he
had his best IDP performance of the year with 10 total tackles.
And Steelers’ opponents have been getting to Roethlisberger with
some consistency these days, so I like him to get 5-6 tackles
and a sack, or something along those lines.
LB Barrett Ruud, TB – 10 total tackles is nice, but I actually
expected a few more extras.
LB Ian Gold, DEN – A very good call. Gold had his second-highest
fantasy total of the year with 6 total tackles, 1 pass defensed
and a fumble recovery.
DB Chris Hope, TEN – He got concussed Week 12 en route
to another poor performance. I don’t really consider him
an IDP option from here on out.
DL Darryl Tapp, SEA – Tapp seemed like he was in on a bunch
of plays Sunday, but just finished the game with 4 tackles. So
goes the life of an IDP defensive lineman.
Smith, JAC – 8 solos filling the void left by Mike Peterson.
An above-average game for a guy I expect similar numbers from
this week against the Colts.
DB Chris Harris, CAR – 4 tackles, 2 assists. Not terrible,
but not great, either.