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
WAS – Campbell faces the Cards on Sunday and a could easily pick
apart the vulnerable pass defense that even Vinny Testaverde and
the Carolina Panthers chewed up when given the opportunity. While
the Skins head to New England in Week 8 – a brutal environment
that doesn’t usually benefit opposing fantasy QBs – the subsequent
weeks should yield solid numbers for Campbell, who’s coming into
his own and developing a nice rapport with TE Chris Cooley. If
he starts hitting his other targets with the same consistency
– including his stable of RBs, who are all good catching passes
out of the backfield – he’ll be a fantasy force to be reckoned
CHI – Last week, a mess of NFL QBs with not-so-impressive
resumes put up decent fantasy numbers, and this phenomenon can
be partly explained with just one word: matchups. Some even got
wins, but Griese, who can probably be included in that group (he
finished with 381 yards and 3 TDs but turned the ball over three
times) didn’t notch a victory. While Bears fans were undoubtedly
disappointed in the game’s outcome, they can’t be too upset with
Griese, who performed well enough for the Bears to win. Fantasy
owners, on the other hand, care nothing about their players’ wins
and losses and only about fantasy production, and they’re finding
that Griese’s not too shabby in that respect. With some highly
exploitable fantasy matchups on the way in two of the next four
weeks (@PHI, DET, bye, @OAK) Griese could be a waiver wire gem
– especially if the Bears plan on involving Devin Hester more
in the offense during the coming weeks.
KC – He was pretty darn close to getting benched, but Huard is
still the Chief of the Kansas City offense. And Week 7 doesn’t
portend too difficult a matchup at Oakland, although he’s never
faced the Raiders. I’ve liked Huard since about Week 3 last year,
and he’s performed admirably and consistently considering everyone
sees him as a stopgap QB. Even if you’re not too psyched about
having him on your roster, he’s most likely available, and if
you’ve got Brett Favre, Phil Rivers or Derek Anderson on a bye
this week, he’ll make a sensible stopgap.
Clemens, NYJ – If he gets the start versus Cincinnati, he’s
a solid #2 QB and borderline #1, but you’ll have to stay tuned
to see what Mangini decides this week. The way I see it, Pennington’s
been so bad this season the Jets have no choice but to take a
shot with a guy who can actually throw the ball downfield. And
if they make the move, Lavernues Coles’ value goes up and Jerricho
Cotchery’s probably goes down.
ARI – Is anyone else sick of seeing the Cardinals QBs dubbed as
ushering in a new era every week? First, it was the Matt Leinart
Era, and last week, it was the Kurt Warner Era. Now that Kurt’s
elbow (albeit his non-throwing elbow) is completely shredded,
we’re stuck reading reports of the Tim Rattay Era commencing in
Arizona. From what I can tell, the only thing these guys are worthy
of shepherding is a flock of quip-happy NFL beat writers, let
alone the Arizona offense. Warner was a nice waiver wire pickup
because of his enormous fantasy upside (remember picking him up
on a lark in 1999 after Trent Green went down? I do – it was the
best waiver selection I’ve ever made) but Rattay is a journeyman
QB with many more dud weeks than stud weeks. He’s still capable
of the occasional 300-yard, 3 TD game – it’s just not as likely
he’ll get it with the entire offensive unit struggling as mightily
as they are.
Scouring The Barrel
BAL – The Bills, before they turned Tony Romo into a highly functioning
turnover machine in Week 5, were giving up about 18-22 fantasy
points per contest to opposing QBs, depending on scoring format.
And it’s really about time somebody on Baltimore put up some decent
fantasy numbers from the QB spot. If Boller goes again next week
versus the Bills, he’ll put up respectable fantasy #2 numbers
– about 200 yards and a couple TDs. But I probably wouldn’t consider
giving him a start after that unless the matchup warranted one.
CAR – This is the real reason Cowboys QBs coach Wade Wilson
has been taking HGH. You never know when you’ll get your next
shot. Don’t get me wrong – Vinny’s given us another great story
and the best advertisement for older male potency since Bob Dole
pimped Viagra. But since the Panthers are on a bye this week and
he’ll be 44 years of age before you’ll probably want to start
him again, Vinny is not the smartest pick out there. Go with one
of the other options I’ve discussed and lay off the HGH.
ARI – With Leinart on the shelf for the season, you can’t
give up on Warner just because of the elbow injury. While he’s
not an option for the next few weeks, he could reemerge around
Week 10 or 11 and benefit from an easy schedule – especially if
TB – Garcia totaled 274 yards passing and threw a 69-yard TD pass
to Joey Galloway ion the Bucs Week 6 win over the Titans and has
still not thrown an INT this season. This week, he faces the Lions
and could easily be a top 5 fantasy QB option.
CLE – Another solid performance from a guy who continues to
impress. Now, he’s on a bye – and that’s just one more week for
him to wake up from the dream.
STL – I still considered him a viable fantasy option – maybe a
decent #2 QB, but it’s blatantly obvious that nothing good is
happening with the Rams offense right now. Frerotte turned the
ball over six times Sunday with 5 INTs and a lost fumble, didn’t
score, and the Rams are now trying to rush Marc Bulger back into
the lineup – something you’d better hold off on until a modicum
of consistency emerges from the offensive unit.
David Carr, CAR – This guy’s job has been commandeered
by a 43-year-old dinosaur who’s nickname is Vinny Testicle.
I think that explains it all.
Cleo Lemon, MIA – I wish I’d had the guts to recommend
starting Mr. Lemon against the Browns instead of leaving him in
the barrel. He finished with 2 rushing TDs, 2 TD passes, 2 INTs
and over 200 yards, solid fantasy numbers that reflected a solid
fantasy matchup. Don’t get too excited about his prospects
to repeat that performance.
Off The Top
Williams, CAR – I don’t exactly know what to say. There’s
not a lot of great running backs still available on the wire.
But DeAngelo nearly doubled his ‘07 production last week by rushing
for 121 yards on just 10 carries, which included a 75-yard run
that didn’t reach pay dirt. All this after I dropped him to pick
up Jason Wright in a two-RB league where I had only Leon Washington
and Julius Jones as my other options (My #1 RB is J. Addai, but
I also have K. Keith). So I’m positive he’s available in some
leagues and given what was being said about him last season and
during the first half of training camp, I’d expect him to be of
immense fantasy value during the second half. He’s on a bye in
Week 7, but once he comes back, he faces the Colts, a defense
that’s been playing well against the run but can be exploited.
NE – It’s tough to recommend a guy that’s behind both Laurence
Maroney and Sammy Morris on the depth chart, but if for some reason
both Maroney and Morris can’t go this Sunday versus Miami, he’ll
be a great waiver wire selection simply because he’s the only
guy Bill will trust to shoulder the load on the ground. Maroney
seems to always be hurt – so pay close attention to the injury
report right up until 12:59 p.m. Sunday (if you have the luxury)
and make your roster decisions accordingly. If you have to get
your waiver picks in early this week, it’s probably still worth
taking a flyer on a guy that will be facing one of the worst run
defenses in football if.
DET – You should definitely read my thoughts below on Tatum Bell
before you ad this guy, but realize that Jones was a fantasy superstar
in the making in that potent Detroit offense before his injury
last season. And the Lions will be looking to get him the ball
out of the backfield against a Tampa Bay defense that’s pretty
good at shutting down the conventional plays and forcing coordinators
to mix up the playbook. Jones is a brilliant player in open space
but needs to prove he’s ready to shoulder the load. Again, the
buyer should beware, but he could have some huge weeks coming
in PPR leagues.
White, TEN – He’ll be taken in most leagues, but there are
plenty of formats where LenDale will be floating around in the
free agent pool. He finished Sunday’s game with just 64 yards
on 25 carries, and he’s averaged under 3 yards per carry during
his last three games. But if anything is wrong with Vince Young,
the offense will be forced restructure the running game and get
the most out of White. His bye is already out of the way, and
his next six games are @HOU, OAK, CAR, JAC, @DEN, @CIN – a schedule
which includes some good matchups.
Bennett, TB – New acquisition Michael Bennett should add a
nice mixture of pass-catching ability in the flats and elusiveness
in open space – a nice complement to Earnest Graham. While the
undersized Bennett won’t be an every-down back, he should see
the majority of touches in Tampa’s RBBC and will make a nice waiver
wire pickup if you’re hurting at RB. This week, Bennett should
get some looks against the Lions – but he’ll still
be learning the offense and giving up some carries to Graham.
Remember, don’t jump the gun and only grab him if there
are better options available.
Scouring The Barrel
DET – Bell asked for a trade and was quickly denied, which
means that he could be stuck in Detroit for the remainder of the
season. A couple things could happen here. Kevin Jones could re-injure
himself before the end of the season, giving Bell the starting
nod once again or Bell could remain with the Lions and continue
to flounder as an underutilized back. So you’re taking your chances
any way you slice it, which means that you should stay away from
Bell at this point even if he’s available – something that thoroughly
depresses me because he’s really not that bad a runner and I’d
like to see him succeed somewhere.
Graham, TB – Most of Graham’s fantasy points on Sunday came
via receptions in PPR leagues – but he should be a great play
this week against the Lions, who have given up the most fantasy
points in football to RBs.
Najeh Davenport, PIT – Davenport’s value took a hit
this weekend after he was charged with three misdemeanor counts
for his alleged role in a domestic incident in Cleveland last
week. Najeh allegedly did some bad things during a custody dispute,
including choking out his wife, so keep an eye on how this all
plays with NFL public-relations-maven-turned-commissioner Roger
Goodell. He faces a weak Denver rush defense this week but might
not see as much action as previous weeks.
CLE – Jamal Lewis’s injured foot kept him out of action Sunday
as I expected and and Wright finished with 59 yards rushing a
TD and 3/39/0 receiving.
HOU – Ahman Green was back and Dayne was out – don’t bother with
him for now.
Off The Top
Galloway, TB – Because he’s prone to disappearing over long
stretches during the season, I don’t know too many folks who target
Joey Galloway during their drafts. And he’s one of those guys
you might even try to move after a big week because you just know
it’s not coming again for another three or four. This week, I’d
say, is the exception. While Joey’s not going to be available
in too many free agent pools, he’ll make a nice acquisition facing
the Lions in Week 7 and the Cards in Week 9. He’s recently shown
he’s still got some life left in those soon-to-be-36-year-old
legs, so if he’s out there in shallow leagues and bye weeks are
cutting into your depth chart, snag him.
Stallworth, NE – Following his 69-yard TD from Tom Brady,
I started thinking about how having a Patriots WR on your team
this year is a lot like having a Rams WR around the turn of the
millennium or a Colts WR the year Peyton Manning threw 49 TDs.
I’m not sure who among Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Stallworth is
the Pats’ respective version of “circa ’99” Isaac Bruce, Torry
Holt and Az-Zahir Hakim or the Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and
Brandon Stokely trio in ’04 – but there are definitely fantasy
comparisons to be drawn. Grab Stallworth if he’s available because
it looks like it’s going to be that kind of year.
TE Heath Miller, PIT – Coming off a bye week, it’s
entirely possible somebody dropped Miller in Week 6 to fill the
blank lineup spot, leaving the 6’5, 260-pound Miller on
the wire. He’s had some nice games this season and you won’t
find a better matchup among a top 10 TE this week than Miller’s
trip to Denver – who give up about 12 fantasy points per
contest to TEs in PPR leagues.
Henry, CIN – Is it time yet? I think it might be, considering
Henry is a very productive #3 NFL WR and a solid fantasy #2 WR
when he’s on his game. Carson Palmer sure hopes that Henry can
help this offense emerge from its funk and get something going
for the Bungles. If you wait until next week or the week after,
he might be gone. So grab him now if you can afford him and are
willing to wait.
Walter, HOU – Walter had 12 receptions for 160 yards against
the Jaguars on Sunday, which followed up performances 6/77/0 and
5/67/0 in week 4 and 5. He was the #2 WR on the Texans depth chart
before Jacoby Jones passed him in late August, and I wouldn’t
count on Andre Johnson coming back any time soon. If he’s available,
he makes an okay #3 WR pickup, although I wouldn’t expect him
to flourish once the Texans get healthy.
TE Chris Baker, NYJ – I included Baker here before, noting
he’d caught a couple TD passes. With TE-friendly Cincinnati
on the schedule this week, Baker’s a great option in TD-only
leagues and a decent bet to score the requisite points required
to fill the TE slot admirably. Baker is – above all else
– a solid route runner with good hands, and the undersized
and depleted Bengal defense will have trouble stopping him in
the red zone.
Scouring The Barrel
Moore, NO – He only had 3 catches of 36 yards on Sunday night
versus the Seahawks, but it’s been reported that young Lance has
passed Devery Henderson on the Saints depth chart. He’s only be
a #4 WR in a pinch until the Saints offense put up a couple decent
games back-to-back, but in a passing offense looking for someone
to step up, he might just get his chance, so keep an eye on him.
Patten, NO – This little guy’s been around forever, and he’s
had tracts of solid fantasy production over the years. His 8/113/0
performance Sunday night was another interesting footnote to an
already stellar career. In ’01 during Week 6 versus Indy, he had
his best fantasy game ever (even though he only caught four passes)
while playing for New England – which included a 21-yard TD run,
a 91-yard TD reception from Tom Brady, a 60-yard TD pass to Troy
Brown, and another 6-yard TD catch. He had a somewhat pedestrian
2002, disappeared in ’03, reemerged in ’04 with another average
year, and vanished form the fantasy picture as soon as he left
for Washington in ’05. He’s added some life to the Saints offense,
but there are so many young stars in the unit, I can’t foresee
a 33-year-old journeyman WR doing much to reestablish himself
as a reliable fantasy performer.
WR Bobby Engram, SEA – He blew up Sunday night for 120
yards on 9 catches, but didn’t get a score. Still, he was
a nice fill-in for Branch and/or your bye week WRs.
WR Ike Hilliard, TB – Just 4/59/0, but not a complete washout
and he faces the Lions this week – a team that yields fantasy
points to WRs like Hilliard in healthy gaggles.
TE Ben Watson, NE – Dinged up during the Cowboys game,
Watson will need to be monitored this week.
McCardell, WAS – McCardell only had 2 catches for 30 yards
Sunday, but both Santana Moss and Randle El played, so he should’ve
been on your bench even if you grabbed him off the wire.
WR Dennis Northcutt, JAC – He faces Indy this week and
should improve on his somewhat dull numbers (4/49/0) from Sunday
WR Marty Booker, MIA – If he couldn’t break through
again the Browns, I can’t see him doing it against the Pats.
WR Roscoe Parrish, BUF – He faces the Ravens this week
and gets Losman back, but I probably wouldn’t roll the dice
on him unless you’re out of options.
Off The Top
LB Angelo Crowell, BUF – This all-around linebacker is
still available in many leagues and is just about the only guy
on the Bills who’s been consistent this season. While the
Cowboys don’t yield a ton of fantasy points to LBs, he’ll
make a nice addition to your IDP corps because he’s a steady
scorer, he had his bye and he’ll most likely play well throughout
the rest of the season.
DB Sean Taylor, WAS – He’s not available in too many
leagues, but he’s still out there in some, and he’s
coming off a monster week where he tallied 3 tackles, 4 PDs and
2 INTs. Don’t expect a repeat performance of that magnitude,
but expect good numbers against at Cards offensive unit that’s
struggling to hold onto the football and gives up lots of points
to DBs. The rest of his schedule looks pretty good, too.
DB DeAngelo Hall, ATL – The oft-maligned veteran DB and
Virginia Tech product may have hurt his team on occasion, but
he’s had two monster weeks in a row and he’s facing
the Saints – who surrender loads of fantasy points to opposing
corners. Hall isn’t a brilliant tackler, but he’s
capable of been racking up PDs and INTs and usually is around
the play once it gets past the front seven.
LB Omar Gaither, PHI – I recommended adding him before Week
1 partly because he finished last season well as the starter.
He only blew up in one game sop far, but the Chicago offense offers
many opportunities for opposing LBs to make big plays and rack
up lots of IDP points.
Scouring The Barrel
LB Nate Webster, DEN – Although he won the starting SLB,
he hasn’t shown that much thus far this season, but that
could change against the Steelers, who pound the ball frequently
and will definitely try to expose the Broncos weak run defense.
Expect Webster to make a bunch of tackles against a team that’s
good at sustaining long drives and keeping the opposing defense
on the field.
DL Jovan Haye, TB – Who? Well, he’s got three sacks
in six games and the Lions give up the most fantasy points to
opposing DLs in all of football. Do you need to hear any more?
Okay – Mr. Haye had made a lot of nice run-stuffing plays
and is still improving as a pass rusher. Remember – he’s
a long shot. DL’s are a shot in the dark in IDP, especially
when they are DTs. But if you’ve been looking for an IDP
sleeper spark and some consistency out of the position, he might
be your man – and he’ll definitely be available.
LB Will Witherspoon, STL – Ouch. Witherspoon had nothing
doing versus the Ravens, who generate far fewer points for fantasy
IDPs when Boller is at the helm.
DB Jermaine Phillips, TB – He’s got a great matchup
this week and he’s coming off a down week – I love
that situation for DBs.
DB Marlon McCree, SD – Mr. McCree is one bye and coming
off a lackluster IDP week in which he only notched 2 tackles.
LB Chad Greenway, LB – He’s still getting his tackles
and will probably post below-average numbers versus the Cowboys
DB Roderick Hood, ARI – As I predicted, he posted a solid
fantasy game last week (6 tackles, 2 PD) versus the Panthers,
but will probably see his numbers go down this week against at
Washington Redskins offense that doesn’t yield to many points
to opposing DBs.
DL Kenyon Coleman, NYJ – Coleman hit his weekly average
with 3 total tackles and a sack against the Eagles.