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
Culpepper, OAK – With the breaking news that McCown will be
out at least a couple weeks with a broken finger, Culpepper
gets his chance in Oakland. If he's out there, I'd grab him. He's
guaranteed to be the only free agent on your wire who's averaged
over 30 FPts per game.
Jake Delhomme, CAR – While he won’t be available
in deeper leagues, Delhomme is a guy that may have slipped through
the draft in shallow, one-QB leagues with limited bench space.
If so, he could be a valuable addition and a worthy bench replacement
for your injured QB. He looked sharp Sunday and has a bunch of
decent weapons to go to – just watch out for unfavorable
Jackson, MIN – Illustrating the benefit of playing QB on a
team with a great rush defense, Jackson showed he can post respectable
fantasy numbers if he cuts down on turnovers and keeps plugging
away. While he’s not a polished signal caller, he does have impressive
arm strength – although probably not the accuracy required to
force the ball into deep coverage like a Brady, Palmer or Manning.
He’s got a nice backfield weapon in rookie Adrian Peterson, someone
who could help loosen up defenses and keep corners and linebackers
from immediately dropping back into tight man coverage. At this
point, Jackson’s someone who should be on your radar in deeper
leagues that don’t penalize too strictly for turnovers.
HOU – Maybe he’s not available in too many leagues, but he looked
nice linking up with Jacoby Jones and studly Andre Johnson in
just his third career start. He’s big, he’s got a strong arm,
and he’s pretty mobile. And his numbers from Week 1: 16/22, 225
yards, 1TD/1INT, 101.5 rating. Not bad, and although he doesn’t
have the most favorable schedule in the world, he’ll be okay as
a #2 most weeks.
Scouring The Barrel
Brady Quinn, CLE – Sure, he’s a rookie QB, but he’s
also a hometown favorite who will at least have the support of
the Dawg Pound in Cleveland. Nobody truly knows what he’s
capable of until he gets his shot in the NFL, but we’re
starting to see just how much he meant to the Notre Dame offense,
aren’t we? The main knock on Quinn in South Bend was his
happy feet – but he’s got good size and can move around
pretty well. He’s impressed NFL scouts with his ability
to throw the deep out, and his timing and delivery are pretty
smooth. As a Cowboy fan, I was slightly miffed they didn’t
just grab him when they could’ve in the draft, but Romo’s
performance Sunday night made me rethink that mild annoyance.
Based on what I saw from the Cleveland QBs on Sunday, it won’t
be long before this guy gets his chance.
Jared Lorenzen, NYG – Did you see Lorenzen’s head
when he came in Sunday? It barely fits inside his helmet, and
along with that monster cranium, Lorenzen possesses good instincts,
arm strength and surprising athleticism for a fat dude. But he’s
got that swagger that only fellow fat dudes and hot chicks recognize,
and that confidence and savvy might just allow him to fill in
nicely for Eli, who’ll miss about a month. Let’s just
hope the Kentucky product drops about 20 pounds. Seriously, I
though the entire point of having Tom Coughlin as your coach was
to keep you from getting chunky. Ah well – maybe he’s
NYG – Huge week in Dallas (312, 4 TD, 1 INT) despite not coming
away with the win. But he might be on the shelf for a month or
so with a shoulder injury. Too bad, because he looked good connecting
JAC – Garrard proved he’s capable of doing a respectable job,
I just expected more out of him (and a win, for that matter) against
a secondary adjusting to life without Pacman.
TB – Facing a tough Seattle defense that’s’ among the most underrated
in football, Garcia turned in a forgettable fantasy performance
(201 passing yards, no TDs, no turnovers).
OAK – Didn’t start Week One, and a solid outing from McCown will
make it more difficult for him to crack the top spot on the Oakland
depth chart. I told you he was a long shot, but the offense showed
it will definitely be more potent than in ‘06.
BUF – He put up a veritable goose egg against Denver, and his
longest pass was a19-yard strike to Josh Reed, but he’ll have
easier defenses that that to face. Don’t give up hope.
Off The Top
Jordan, OAK – Please save your e-mails if you’re going to
tell me I’m crazy to believe that LaMont Jordan could be available
in any fantasy football league anywhere right now. I also don’t
want to hear anyone asking me what league I play in so they can
join it and take my money. The fact is, LaMont Jordan isn’t available
in any of the leagues I play in, but since he was added in 26,321
Yahoo leagues after his performance on Sunday, I have to assume
that he’s still out there in some others that require a weekly
waiver system to pick up a player. It’s a different offense, and
hence, a different LaMont Jordan.
Chris Brown, TEN – The guy flat out blew up this week,
totaling 175 on just 19 carries, career highs in yards and YPC
in games with at least five carries. It’s the first time
since 2004 that he’s gone over 100 yards, when he rushed
for over 1,000 yards in just 11 games. So if he’s available,
grab him. While I doubt he’ll ever put up 175 again in his
career, it’s obvious he can still run in the open field.
With a few TDs mixed in, he could be a solid #3 RB and spot starter
Ward, NYG – Ward looked quick and agile on Sunday, ran with
power, and was effective as a one-cut runner. An Ottawa College
product, Ward hasn’t really gotten his chance, but he showed some
nice burst through the hole versus Dallas and its formidable rush
defense. He’ll have his opportunity now, unless Tiki Barber makes
up with Tom Coughlin and comes out of retirement or a RBBC approach
emerges with Reuben
Peterson, CHI – While the RB with the same name in Minnesota
stole the Peterson show, original recipe Adrian still showed some
nice flavor. He may not have ideal size or speed, but he’s a better
teammate than Cedric Benson and he doesn’t fumble as often. He’s
had just one 100-yard game in his career – a 24/120/1 performance
against the Niners in 2005) but it was also the only time he carried
20+ times in a game. Plagued by injuries during his first three
seasons in the league, Peterson will emerge as a decent option
should Benson be demoted, mainly because of his shiftiness, strength
and efficiency. Against weaker defenses and poor tackling, he
can use his lateral explosiveness and balance to his advantage,
and if Grossman continues to struggle, he’ll make a good receiver
because of his capable hands and ability in the open field after
Scouring The Barrel
MIA – In a PPR league, 6/48 receiving’s not bad. But he did get
dinged up and might be listed on the injury report, although initial
reports are it’s not serious. He has the potential to start at
some point, considering how Ronnie Brown has been in the Dolphins’
doghouse thus far. But hey, who knows? Ricky Williams might stop
smoking pot next week and decide to apply for reinstatement.
NE – Do you remember that this wily seven-year veteran ran for
over 100 yards against the Patriots one game last season? I’ll
confess, neither did I. But Belichick obviously remembered him,
and brought him in to back up Laurence Maroney. Morris is a physical
player with good instincts as a runner and has the agility and
quickness to get the job done. He doesn’t have the speed that
Maroney does, but he’s being used by Belichick and would fill
in admirably should anything happen to the #1.
Ladell Betts, WAS – He had 17 carries for 59 yards on Sunday.
He’s still a solid #3 RB in my book, but if the offense
continues to struggle and Portis gets 20 carries a game, his value
will be limited.
Thomas, BUF – Marshawn Lynch’s performance sheds some doubts
on how much A-Train will be a part of this offense. But don’t
give up on him yet.
NYJ – Leon struggled to get touches with Thomas Jones starting,
but he looked fresh when he got his chances and is still – in
my mind, the better back. He’ll have some matchups to exploit
this season, I promise.
Bennett, KC – I said: “The Chiefs offense has been quite feeble
in the preseason, and as we all know, the backup running back
on a crappy team is not a hot commodity.” True, and even Larry
Johnson looked pretty useless.
Michael Pittman, TB – With Cadillac Williams a little banged
up, Pittman might get his chance and put up decent numbers, especially
considering his value in PPR leagues. He started at FB on Sunday
and if you need an RB, grab him.
Selvin Young, DEN – Two carries seven yards. Could Mike
Shanahan be turning over a new leaf?
RB – Considering I have Joseph Addai as my #1 in my two most important
leagues, I just about pooped in my pants when the guy went down
on the first play from scrimmage and had to come out of the game.
Through no fault of my own, I didn’t have Keith on either squad,
but you can bet I will now.
Off The Top
Marshall, DEN – As a rookie, he didn’t have much of an impact,
but he’s still learning how to play and he’s got some great tutors
in Javon Walker, Rod Smith and Brandon Stokely. He’s the total
physical package at the WR position, with size and speed, agility
and quickness, but the book is that he’s more of a possession
receiver than a vertical threat. Cutler found him for 5/52/1 in
Week 1, so I’m expecting some nice things from Marshall in ’07.
Jones, GB – While four catches for 29 yards isn’t something
to write home about, it’s nice to know that Brett Favre was looking
in his direction in a tight game. He’s smooth, he’s quick and
he’s been running nice short-to-intermediate routes. Jones is
a fighter and a confident competitor, just like Brett, and since
Greg Jennings is hurt and Donald Driver didn’t look too wonderful
in Week One, the rookie might just snag a bunch of those 40-50
passes Favre usually throws each game.
WR Drew Carter, CAR – I just can’t ignore a guy that
catches two TD passes in one game. But temper your enthusiasm
by looking at his overall numbers for the past few years. He occasionally
has games like this, but there’s never been any consistency.
He might be a nice addition if you’re weak at WR in a deep
league, but you should probably wait a few weeks to plug him in.
Randle-El, WAS – I just can’t ignore a guy that goes for catches
five balls for 162 yards in one game. He’s also a major consistency
problem, and while I get the feeling he’ll be the deep threat
for the Redskins, Campbell doesn’t have a strong enough arm to
throw the deep ball more than three or four times a game without
Jones, HOU – While he didn’t go crazy in Week One, the Texans
offense seemed a whole lot better than last year, which means
that Andre Johnson will get more respect and more double teams.
Jones is a highly-touted prospect with great speed, a nice vertical
leap, and explosiveness off the line. His best attribute is that
he runs nice, sharp routes. He’s a Division I-AA guy and while
he’s not going to be the next Jerry Rice because he doesn’t quite
have the hands or the tools that the GOAT did, there are some
parallels – like his route-running, his second gear chasing down
the football and his ability to break long runs. I like him for
at least 45/650/4 in ‘07.
Scouring The Barrel
McDonald, DET – Sure, he blew up on Sunday for 6/90/1, but
on a team with Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson and Mike Furrey ahead
of him on the depth chart, do you really expect him to produce
like that on a consistent basis? Me neither. If you’re desperate
and want to take a shot on a #4 receiver who also happens to be
a #4 receiver on his own team, go ahead.
TE Marcedes Lewis, JAC – I really don’t like recommending
any receiving option for the Jags, but Lewis was drafted in the
first round by them in the ‘06 draft and they have high
expectations for him because of his size, speed and agility at
the TE position. He caught 4 balls for 35 yards in Week 1, and
if Garrard needs a consistent red zone option, he might start
going to Lewis.
Holmes, PIT – I took some heat for assuming Santonio Holmes
would be available in some leagues – despite his less-than stellar
– but after hearing from a few folks that they didn’t start him
this week, instead opting for guys like Reggie Brown and Joey
Galloway, I felt vindicated. Either way, I made a good call, albeit
a somewhat easy one.
WR Drew Bennett, STL – Sat out Sunday’s game and takes
a hit along with every Rams player because of Pace’s injury.
WR Ronald Curry, OAK – After his performance last week,
Curry might get the respect he deserves. Undoubtedly my best call
of the week and a guy that should be on your team somewhere as
long as the hamstring injury he had at the end of the game isn’t
serious. Stay tuned to the injury report.
WR Wes Welker, NE – Last week, I said: “Brady might start
finding him on a regular basis and if his touches start going
up, he should be on your roster.” He did drop a couple balls
Sunday, but six catches, 61 yards and a TD later, I think you
know what this means.
Crayton, DAL – With Terry Glenn out indefinitely at this point,
Crayton will be on of three viable receiving targets for Romo,
which means solid numbers until Glenn returns. He had just three
catches for 51 yards on Sunday night, but look for his touches
to increase as defenses key on TO. and Jason Witten.
TE Bo Scaife, TEN – Just two catches for 18 yards against
the Jags, but keep an eye on him.
WR Ted Ginn
Jr., MIA – Ginn saw his impact limited to special teams on
Sunday, but as the Miami offense struggles, look for him to emerge
as a viable scoring threat.
WR Ernest Wilford, JAC – Some guy named John Broussard scored
the Jaguars only TD this week and Ernie only had a few looks.
Stay away for now.
Scheffler, DEN – Did not play Sunday.
Off The Top
Vrabel, NE – Every year this guy avoids being drafted in tons
of IDP leagues because there’s so many other quality defensive
players in New England that steal tackles and wreak havoc. But
Vrabel’s true value lies not in his consistency at getting to
opposing runners, but in his ability to post decent tackles totals
and still get a sack or an INT here and there. He had 2.5 sacks
last week to go along with 7 tackles, and with opposing team keying
on stopping Adalius Thomas form penetrating, he’ll continue to
get to the QB.
LB Landon Johnson, CIN – He gets no respect on preseason
IDP cheatsheets because he’s not a physical freak or a balls-out,
powerful tackler. But he’s had a few sparkling performances
over the years and a hell of a lot of consistency at getting you
at least 5-7 points a week. Against the Ravens, he notched his
highest IDP total ever, finishing with a fumble recovery for a
TD, another fumble recovery, 6 solos, 6 assists and a PD. Get
him on your team if you need a quality LB who could break through
for a big year on a defense that’s looking for a leader.
Just don’t expect 28 IDP points from him every week.
DB Jermaine Phillips, TB – A solid fantasy performer in
‘06 with over half of his games as quality IDP starts, Philips
started off ’07 with 10 tackles and a sack. Look for similar
numbers to pop up about every other week with him.
LB Rocky McIntosh, WAS – This defense is going to spend
a lot of time on the field, and while McIntosh didn’t play
much except for special teams in ‘06, he was arguably the
best defensive player on the field for the Redskins Sunday. He’s
talented, he’s from the U, and coaches are now saying a
switch in Rocky has been flipped, showing a stronger work ethic
and improving his overall football awareness.
Scouring The Barrel
Leonhard, BUF – Filled in for the injured Ko Simpson (broken
ankle) and blew up on Sunday for 13 tackles, an INT and a PD.
He’s a tiny dude (5’8”, 185) but he plays with a lot of heart.
He’s like a smaller version of Bill Bates. Crazily, the Bills
released this guy in early September and then picked him back
up two weeks later to play special teams. Now he’s the starting
free safety. Because he’s so little, he’ll have some trouble covering
bigger WRs and TEs, but his toughness, intelligence and fundamentals
have carried him to the NFL. I like stories like this and he’s
a guy I’m willing to take a chance on.
DL Mike Patterson, PHI – Buyer beware on Patterson. He
had a strong showing in Week 1 but he got off to a great start
in ’06 and then got really quiet. Maybe he’ll adjust
to their adjustments this season, but I wouldn’t bet the
farm on it. Still, he posted great numbers for a DL last week
(10 tackles, sack) to necessitate his inclusion in the wire.
Green, NE – Could be in line for a big season with Pro-Bowler
Richard Seymour on the PUP list. He posted 5 solos, an assist
and a sack on Sunday and in this defense, could be the guy on
the front four that makes most of the plays, especially considering
he tallied 7.5 sacks last season in limited action.
LB Omar Gaither, PHI – While Omar didn’t start off
’07 with a bang, he’s bound to rack up the tackles
this week versus the Redskins.
DB Charles Woodson, GB – No big game on Sunday, although
I really didn’t think that was going to happen versus the
Eagles. Still, you should get this guy on your team if he’s
available, because he blows up from time-to-time and posts huge
Cooper, SD – While an alert reader notified me that some expect
Matt Wilhelm, not Cooper, to assume the statistical numbers of
Donnie Edwards on the inside, Cooper provided me with yet another
solid call with his 7 tackle, 1 assist, a FR performance on Sunday
versus the Bears. While I don’t anticipate any numbers as impressive
this week against New England, he’s still one to keep an eye on.
LB Barrett Ruud, TB – Another direct hit, Ruud snagged a
team-high 10 tackles, 3 assists and a fumble recovery. A relative
unknown last season, he’s still available in many IDP leagues.
DL Simeon Rice, DEN – Just a tackle and a pass defensed
in his Denver debut, Rice should play a more prominent role in
the pass rush and post better games.
LB Angelo Crowell, BUF – According to the official NFL Gamebook,
Crowell did, in fact, start at WLB, posting 10 tackles (5 solo,
5 assist). Another spot-on call, although in-the-know Bills fans
(scary thought, huh?) are telling me he lines up over the TE.
Regardless, most of his tackles came on the weak-side, also according
to the gamebook, so pick him up if he’s still floating around.
LB Freddy Keiaho, IND – Last week, I neglected to inform
you that Freddy’s full name is Naivote Taulawakeiaho. What
I did tell you was that he’s been flying al over the field
and making plays, something that continued on Sunday when he totaled
six tackles, an INT and a PD. Another fellow that has probably
managed to avid pickup in most leagues, he’d make a great
first-week selection if you’re okay on offense but need
to shore up your linebacking corps.
DB James Sanders, NE – He only had 4 tackles Sunday. I told
you to keep an eye on him, and I’ll continue to recommend
LB Nate Webster DEN, – Webster was another great call last
week, finishing with 8 tackles overall. He’ll probably post
similar numbers from week-to-week, with a few big plays thrown