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
Matt Hasselbeck, SEA – Obviously he’s only an option
in shallow, one-QB leagues, but bye weeks can do wild things to
rosters and waiver wires. Hasselbeck may only be out there in
1.3 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, but he’s a great guy
to target in a two-for-one, QB-and-RB for QB trade, especially
considering he’s got his receivers healthy and he’s
coming up on a pretty favorable schedule the next seven weeks
(@CLE, SFO, CHI, @STL, @PHI, ARI, @CAR). There’s not too
many guys who’ve been consistent fantasy QBs this season,
but outside the Pittsburgh game, Hasselbeck has been solid.
DEN – Still available in about a sixth of one-QB fantasy leagues,
Cutler makes a solid backup and decent spot-start this week facing
the Detroit Lions. While Brian Griese didn’t take advantage of
the Lions lowly DBs, Mike Shanahan is very adept at getting his
QBs to take pick on the weak link in any secondary. Sure, Detroit’s
corners have been playing better, but it’s only a matter of time
before a strong-armed QB who can make all the throws (just like
Cutler) tears into these guys. Cutler’s performance Monday night
wasn’t all that memorable, but he limited his mistakes to one
fumble on a botched snap – which wasn’t entirely his fault – and
a couple errant throws, including one in the red zone that could’ve
sealed the game for Denver in the waning seconds.
KC – I still think Huard’s a smart guy, albeit with a modest amount
of football ability for a QB. He’s got an average arm, average
mobility and he’s put up average numbers – but some of his upcoming
matchups bode well for shootouts and he’s become very comfortable
targeting TE Tony Gonzalez and rookie WR Dwayne Bowe in the red
zone. Plus, he’s now got a healthy Priest Holmes at his disposal
– to add some spark to the offense – and he’ll be getting Eddie
Kennison back from a hamstring injury pretty soon. He’s someone
to consider if you’re still looking for answers at the QB slot,
and he’s available in about 80 percent of fantasy leagues.
J.P. Losman, BUF – This week, the Bills play the Bengals,
who love surrendering fantasy points to opposing QBs. And based
on Losman’s performance in the second half Sunday and Trent
Edwards wrist injury, I think that he’s once again earned
the starting nod. Stay tuned to see how it all plays out, and
realize that after this week, he’s no better than a desperation
start or mediocre #2 QB in most fantasy leagues.
Scouring The Barrel
Clemens, NYJ – It’s Clemens Time. Is that anything like Cleo
Lemon Time? For the sanity of Eric Mangini, the recently relegated
Chad Pennington and Jets fans throughout New York and New Jersey,
I sure hope not. In leagues that don’t punish too cruelly for
INTs and lost fumbles, Clemens is a definite fantasy improvement.
But the way I see it, Clemens might still do a little worse than
Pennington from a team perspective. I know that’s not the popular
opinion, but what Pennington lacked in arm strength he often made
up for with experience and guile. He’s like the Paul Byrd of NFL
QBs – only without the copious HGH prescription. Clemens, on the
other hand, is a vocal, strong-armed leader who has decent mobility
to escape the rush and adequate size to shed a few arm tackles.
He’s inexperienced, but he’s certainly capable of improving upon
the Jets current record of 1-7. His schedule coming up is difficult
and starts this week with the Redskins – who may have been overmatched
against the Pats but are undoubtedly salivating at the chance
to get to a young QB. After Washington, it’s a bye, then PIT,
@DAL, @MIA, CLE, and the aforementioned New England Patriots.
Some possibility of a couple decent performances from Clemens
lies in that strange mélange, but there’s also a lot of negativity
looming. Make sure there aren’t better options before you snag
young Kellen off the wire.
Derek Anderson, CLE – Another solid week (248 yards and
3 TDs) from a QB that none of us even mentioned as a fantasy option
before the year started.
Marc Bulger, STL – Bulger tallied some solid yardage in
his second game back but only threw one TD pass. Not great, and
he missed a few plays after banging his thumb, but the schedule’s
not terrible from here on out.
HOU – Matt Schaub played as expected but was seeing stars after
he was hit hard by Chargers LB Stephen Cooper – allowing Sage
another shot. Unfortunately, the game was already out of reach
at 35-3 when Rosenfels came in and the Chargers knew the Texans
were passing every down. He finished the game with 176 yards a
TD and 2 INTs and could be the Texans new starter if Schaub’s
as badly concussed as some think.
Off The Top
Kevin Jones, DET – If there was any doubt about Jones returning
to top fantasy from following his return from injury – it’s
no longer a concern. He’s posted excellent numbers in two
straight games and he gets to face a weak Denver run defense in
Week 9. He was only started in about half of fantasy leagues this
past week and he’s still available in about one out of every
seven fantasy leagues. Jump on him if he’s out there in
Rudi Johnson, CIN – Rudi was unceremoniously dropped in
one of my leagues this week by a somewhat less-than-judicious
owner, although the move could prove shrewd if he never comes
back from the hammy injury that just won’t go away. But
realistically, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take
a flier on Johnson if you’re hurting at RB and somebody
in your league just dropped him. The guy has a couple difficult
matchups coming in the next few weeks, but if the Bengals rest
him enough so that’s he’s fresh for the final three
games (STL, @SFO, CLE) he should put up decent numbers.
Kenton Keith, IND – At this point in the season, when there’s
not too many impact RBs left on the wire, you have to take advantage
of opportunities. This week, my column is definitely focusing
on RBs who may be getting dropped, and Keith definitely qualifies
following a Week 8 performance which seriously disappointed fantasy
owners who were projecting a split in Indy’s carries. For
desperate, impatient folks who think the playoffs are getting
out of reach, usually one bad week is all it takes to put a guy
like Keith back in the mix. So take advantage – Addai owners
and just about anyone else – if Keith is available in your
league. Despite the dropped passes and ineffective running last
week, I think we haven’t heard the last of the carry vulturing
from Kenton. Indy’s a team that could rest starters down
the stretch and Keith would be getting his carries in garbage
TEN – Henry has great size, strength, athleticism and quickness,
but is still behind LenDale White and the oft-injured Chris Brown
on the depth chart. He’s run well in limited action in 2007, averaging
7 yards a carry. My feeling is that Henry will be used as a third-down
back and more often near the goal line as the season progresses.
But you should temper your expectations with the knowledge that
he might not get too many shots at the end zone. If anything should
happen to White, Henry will probably be the go-to guy in the offense.
I’d look to make a move for a true starter before adding a waiver
wire guy who’s shown promise but might not be involved in the
GB – This guy came completely out of nowhere last week during
practice and took most of the snaps with the Packers starting
backfield nursing injuries. On Monday night, he rushed for 104
yards on 22 carries filling in for the injured DeShawn Wynn. Granted
(no pun intended), it was against a weak run defense and he’s
the first Packer to cross the vaunted 100-yard milestone this
season. I don’t think he’ll be the next Dorsey Levens, but the
big Notre Dame-schooled back from Suffern, NY did run well and
head coach Mike McCarthy said he’ll get the start Sunday versus
the Chiefs – so grab him if he’s available.
Scouring The Barrel
NO – Reggie Bush hurt his ribs in Week 8, but the early word is
that he’ll be fine for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. Stecker’s
an important guy to watch as the injury report unfolds, but in
any event, he should probably be owned in all 12-team leagues.
Since there’s really not much happening this week in terms of
available RB talent, he’s not a bad waiver wire selection.
Justin Fargas, OAK – There’s no shortage of folks
who are taking their shot at Fargas on the wire this week, following
a nice performance against the Titans where he gained 61 yards
on 1 carries and caught 3 passes for 36 yards. But he’s
still just Justin Fargas, he’s still Huggy Bear’s
son, he’s still behind Lamont Jordan on the depth chart
and he’s never really had two consecutive fantasy performances
that showed he can get it done on a consistent basis. I’d
Pierre Thomas, NO – See my
comments on Aaron Stecker above, and remember that Thomas’ carries
will be limited even if Bush misses some action. He had a nice
24-yard Td run on Sunday, but at this point, Thomas is just a
dude to keep in the back of your mind.
Jesse Chatman, MIA – Played admirably against a tough Giants
front seven, but failed to reach the end zone in a low-scoring
game that got quite messy pretty early. This week, he’s
on a bye.
Jamal Lewis, CLE – He carried 17 times for just 61 yards
and failed to reach the end zone. But as I said in the last column,
from weeks 12-16, the Browns face HOU, @ARI, @NYJ, BUF and @CIN
– matchups even the Browns running game could exploit. Just
make sure he’s healthy.
Kenny Watson, CIN – Against a tough defense, Watson ran
for 88 yards and had 5 catches for 26 yards. He may not have found
the end zone, but PPR-leaguers who used him to fill in were most
likely satisfied with Watson’s performance. Keep an eye
on Rudi’s status for next week before you decide to play
Selvin Young, DEN – Got his first start due to the Travis
Henry injury, received the bulk of carries and could get more
starts in the coming weeks. Stay tuned to see what’s going
on with Henry, his ribs and his marijuana issues this week, because
any starting RB facing the Lions could produce big numbers. Is
he still available? At this point, probably not – but check
the wire just to make sure.
Graham, TB – Graham had 62 yards on the ground Sunday but
his value will drop as Michael Bennett gets more touches – especially
in the red zone.
Peterson, CHI – The original Adrian Peterson only had yards
rushing on Sunday but scored some points in PPR leagues as he
tallied 6 catches for 41 yards. Why does perennial underachiever
Cedric Benson still have a stronghold on the starting job? You’d
have to ask Lovie Smith and the Bears brass, but I’d suspect it
has something to do with the fact that Benson was a first round
pick. For one game, I’d like to see Peterson get 15 carries, just
to see what he could do.
Holmes, KC – We’ll find out what’s up with the touches in
the Chiefs backfield next week, but I’d expect Holmes to see limited
action and only a few opportunities to score fantasy points.
Robinson, SF – Frank Gore is frustrated and hurt, but Robinson
isn’t much of an answer except in super-deep PPR leagues. If Gore
can’t score, then Robinson will struggle just as much.
Najeh Davenport, PIT – Didn’t vulture a TD this week,
and he faces the Ravens defense in week 9.
Off The Top
WR Lee Evans, BUF – He’s still a big play guy –
as evidenced by his awesome bonus-TD catch versus the Jets on
Sunday, he’s got J.P. Losman back throwing him the ball
(probably), and he’s available in about 25 percent of online
leagues. Oh yeah – he faces the Bengals in Week 9. Need
any more prodding to pick him up and play him this week?
Jennings, GB – Look no further than his huge TD reception
in overtime on Monday night for a reason to grab him if he’s available.
Favre loves throwing the deep ball to Jennings, and without much
of a running game, the Packers will be throwing the ball a lot
versus the Vikings and the Chiefs.
Jenkins, ATL – The 49ers gave up four TDs through the air
in Week 8, and Jenkins is a big WR who’s the same height as Marques
Colston and only giving up about 15 pounds. See what I’m getting
at? He’s had a few decent games this year, and he’ll definitely
be a target – along with Roddy White, inside the red zone this
WR Nate Burleson, SEA – All the Seahawks WRs should get
involved coming off their bye and facing the Browns. He won’t
get targeted and score with the regularity he did near the season’s
start when the Seahawks WR corps was plagued by injury, but he’ll
be a decent #3 or #4 this week against Cleveland.
Jones, GB – He’s not going to get the number of targets that
a healthy Greg Jennings gets, but he’s shown that he fits in the
offense and scored on a nice run-after-the-catch 79-yard TD in
the opening quarter Monday night. Jones has some nice moves and
the speed to create separation from defenders before and after
he gets the ball. I’d definitely grab him and play him as a #3
WR is you’re still searching for a body. He’s certainly a capable
bye week fill-in.
Scouring The Barrel
TE Tony Scheffler, DEN – Cutler likes him and while he’s
not a big name starter, he’s often targeted inside the red
zone. That’s all you really need from a backup fantasy TE
– a moniker that Scheffler will shed as soon as he becomes
more consistent at compiling numbers.
Shiancoe, MIN – 5/50/1 from Visanthe Shiancoe? I can’t even
pronounce it. But Kelly Holcomb loves him (although Kelly Holcomb
has whiplash) and he’s got a great matchup this week against the
Chargers – who are among the top five in allowing points to fantasy
TEs. Does he have a QB? Who knows – I’m not even ruling out Jeff
George after his hilarious comments this week about wanting to
resume his career with the Vikes.
WR Brandon Stokley, DEN – I’m positively stoked that
my boy saw some action and a bunch of targets on Monday night.
His 5/71/0 stat line is encouraging, but I’d like to see
him reach paydirt again – something that could happen as
early as Sunday’s game in Detroit.
WR Muhsin Muhammad, CHI – How does a possession receiver
playing against a pitiful secondary not fire it up with a big
game? His QB is Brian Griese – that’s how.
WR D.J. Hackett, SEA – He should be refreshed after the
bye and he and Hasselbeck get their shot to tear up a vulnerable
WR Isaac Bruce, STL – The Reverend did about what I expected
he would, catching 6 balls for 70 yards on Sunday. But he’s
yet to reach the end zone in 2007 and he’s on a bye this
Davis, HOU – See what happens? The minute I include him in
my column he stinks up the joint. I knew it was coming – and Andre
Johnson is on the verge of a triumphant return from injury.
WR Devin Hester, CHI – If Devin Hester was on the Colts
or the Patriots, he’d be a top 20 WR. But he’s on
the same team as Muhsin Muhammad.
WR Arnaz Battle, SF – Battle didn’t emerge from Week
8 with any special numbers, as he was a non-factor in a game the
TE Donald Lee, GB – Three catches for 34 yards isn’t
a bad game – I’m a little surprised he wasn’t
involved more in the red zone.
WR Amani Toomer, NYG – Just one catch against the Dolphins,
who yielded less than 100 yards in the air. I told you Toomer’s
best days were behind him, but I didn’t think the Dolphins
secondary would be that effective – sloppy field or not.
Ginn, Jr., MIA – Ginn delayed Cam Cameron’s firing by at least
a week with his first career TD on Sunday in Wembley Stadium.
Nice job, Ted.
Off The Top
DB Sammy Knight, JAC – He’s been a reliable IDP producer
for years, and he’s currently in the top 10 among fantasy
DBs. The matchup is great this week at New Orleans against his
old team, so grab him and play him if he’s out there in
DL Mario Williams, HOU – You’ll never find a better
matchup than the Raiders, and while Mario has been very quiet
since Week 1, he’s due for a big game. He may not be out
there in every format, but his less-than-stellar performances
the past few weeks could have left him on the wire in some.
Dumervil, DEN – Elvis didn’t quite leave the building against
the Packers, but he didn’t get in on the action too much, registering
just a tackle and an assist. Thankfully for my opponent this week
– all he needed was two points out of Dumervil to force a tiebreak
at 134-134 (I used Jason Campbell and he used Jeff Garcia) to
get the big win and open up a one-game lead over the second place
team in our division and a two-game lead over me. This week, Elvis
has a much better matchup facing the Lions, who surrender big
fantasy numbers to DL.
Harrison, PIT – He’s had a consistent season and he’s got
a nice IDP matchup this week against the Ravens. He’s an aggressive
LB who can blow up the run and make a big play. And he looks really
scary, too, a trait that definitely helps Pittsburgh LBs.
Scouring The Barrel
Hobson, NYJ – With the underachieving and now-injured Jonathan
Vilma out for the year, Hobson will have to pick up some of the
slack on a defense that’s played poorly its last few outings.
Hobson has outscored Vilma some years anyway, and he’s normally
a pretty reliable IDP performer – he’s just struggled to score
fantasy points on a consistent basis this season. Coming off a
7-tackle game against the Bills, I think he’ll put up some numbers
versus the Redskins, who run the ball a lot.
DL Marques Douglas, SF – He didn’t have much going
on last week, but now he faces the Falcons, who defensive linemen
have done very well against this season. Expect a handful of tackles
and a sack if you need a DL and all the good ones are gone.
LB Derek Smith, SF – 9 tackles but no fun stuff –
that’s about the worst you’re going to get out of
Smith in matchups like that. Atlanta in Week 9 isn’t a matchup
with too much potential for Smith, but I’d probably have
him in my lineup anyway.
DB Antoine Winfield, MIN – The IDP numbers continue to
climb. In week 8, he had 12 tackles and 3 passes defensed –
a monster day. I wouldn’t expect a game like that against
the Chargers, but remember – guys like Winfield tend to
make big plays even if the matchup’s not a great one.
McGee, BUF – He tallied five tackles, 1 PD and an INT in the
win over the Jets. He should post good numbers against the Bengals,
Cole, PHI – I picked Cole up myself to fill in for Jared Allen’s
bye, and he was up to the challenge, finishing with 8 tackles
and 2 sacks. He’s now averaging more points per game than any
DL other than Osi Umenyiora and Allen.
DB Leigh Bodden, CLE – Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes,
well – he eats you. This time around with my Bodden recommendation,
I ate the bar – 8 tackles, 2 passes defensed and an INT.
LB Paris Lenon, DET – 10 total tackles is a good day for
just about any LB. Keep playing him unless there’s a better
matchup somewhere on your bench.
DL Justin Tuck, NYG – One assist? That’s a very quiet
day for this young IDP stud-in-waiting.
DB Marcus Trufant, SEA – Week 9 should prove to be another
nice matchup against the Browns. Bring it.