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 may still be available in many deeper
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Week 11 was a bizarre one for the NFL and for fantasy football.
It included a tie game Donovan McNabb didn’t know was possible
and an 11-10 score that was the first of its kind in NFL history
(but really should have finished 18-10). And while there weren’t
many quality performances turned in by top QBs other than Kurt Warner,
plenty of the usual WR standouts put up typically solid numbers.
I can’t figure it out on first glance, and a deeper study
would most likely only serve to confuse me more. So let’s
just talk waivers.
In the majority of fantasy leagues, there’s a noticeable dearth
of quality players on the wire, but fear not, dauntless fantasy
liege, because there are a few productive veterans and fringe players
– as well as a few relative unknowns – who have decent
matchups and could prove valuable in your time of need. Just remember
– at this point in the season it’s often hard to distinguish
waiver worth from roster players who still provide better value
down the stretch. So don’t get willy-nilly with your pickups
and drop Plaxico Burress or even Derrick Mason to pick up Jabar
Gaffney. In mid-October at the onset of the Larry Johnson debacle,
I made the mistake of jumping on Chiefs RB Kolby Smith and dropping
oft-injured Titans WR Justin Gage – even though I knew the
talented Tennessee wideout would have late-season value as a #3
WR. It hasn’t cost me yet, but seeing a healthy Gage connect
for two TDs with Kerry Collins on Sunday got me a bit verklempt.
So temper your enthusiasm for waiver fodder with the knowledge that
some of your bench players are still a better fit.
I welcome your e-mails
and would like to continue hearing from you regarding my waiver
wire recommendations – whether they have helped or hindered
your success this season. And I’ll also answer specific fantasy
questions and help you deal with roster quandaries. Remember, the
earlier you get your questions in during the week, the more quickly
Off The Top
NE – Cassel’s numbers from Week 11 (30-51 for 400 passing yards,
8 carries for 62 rushing yards, 3 passing TD, no turnovers) speak
for themselves. Add him immediately if some silly, capricious
dope dropped him because he hadn’t magically turned into Tom Brady
SF – I recently added him in a league that relies heavily on QB
performance where you start just one and I already have Tony Romo
and Marc Bulger. See what I did? Insurance is important in the
stretch run, and while I can safely assume I’ll be going with
Romo from here on out, at least I’ll have a choice if something
should happen to my boy.
MIN – Minnesota’s upcoming schedule has a few tough matchups for
RBs coming up, but isn’t too tough on opposing QBs. With Sidney
Rice apparently healthy and things leaning toward greater reliance
on the Vikings’ passing game, we could see more activity from
Frerotte from here on out – closer to the 30-40 pass attempts
per game we were seeing in September and October.
Daunte Culpepper, DET – He’s not a great start against
Tamp Bay in leagues that punish turnovers aggressively, but if
I was in a pinch, I’d be considering him in some leagues
as a QB#2, just because he can get it into the end zone.
Scouring The Barrel
JaMarcus Russell, OAK – It’s frustrating to see a
young QB like JaMarcus Russell take one step forward and two steps
back, but that’s how things work in Al Davis’ world.
On another team, it’s possible the #1 draft pick would already
be making a ton of progress and be winning NFL games, but the
sad reality in Oakland has squelched those hopes. Stay away unless
all the above options have been exhausted.
Jake Delhomme, CAR – While the Panthers held on for a 31-22
victory against the lowly Lions, the game was all about the Panthers
running game – and Delhomme suffered through another meager
passing performance. Week 10’s 72-yard passing total was
the lowest of Delhomme’s career, and his 98 passing yards
on Sunday was the third-lowest of his career. If the Panthers
plan on beating more formidable opponents, they’ll have
to do more than run the ball all game long.
Tyler Thigpen, KC – Thigpen was the #3 QB in fantasy Week
11, compiling 235 passing yards, 2 TD and an INT to go along with
45 rushing yards. He should be owned in all leagues.
SEA – It was a quiet week for a lot of QBs, so Hasselbeck’s first
game back wasn’t a total disaster – even though he threw 3 INTs,
a feat replicated by fantasy standout Donovan McNabb. Seattle’s
schedule isn’t great from here on out, but you can definitely
look forward to Hasselbeck’s Week 15 game versus the Rams.
STL – Bulger’s 295 passing yards were the sixth-highest total
in Week 11, but he only managed 1 TD and threw 2 INTs.
Off The Top
Dunn, TB – With Earnest Graham likely shelved for the remainder
of the season with a serious ankle injury suffered on the first
rushing attempt of the Bucs’ win over Minnesota, Dunn takes over
starting duties and gets to face the Lions. Bucs RBs have a very
favorable schedule the next couple weeks and throughout the rest
of the season, and Cadillac Williams has had some trouble getting
out of the garage, so snag Mr. Dunn up if he’s available and put
him at the top of your waiver priority list.
Ward, NYG – If there’s anything wrong with Brandon Jacobs,
knee, Ward should challenge Dunn as the top pickup for Week 12.
In that scenario, he’d likely share carries with Ahmad Bradshaw
but handle most of the goal line carries, a huge boost to his
mounting fantasy value. Update: The Newark Star-Ledger reported
Tuesday morning that Jacobs doesn't have any damage in his swollen
knee based on a Monday MRI, but that Jacobs said he doesn’t think
the team will let him play in Week 12.
DEN – While it looks like Peyton Hillis will get most of the work
inside the red zone, Bell could provide some fantasy value between
the 20s – and he may still have the speed to break off an occasional
TD run. When Selvin Young returns form a groin injury, all bets
are off, but for now, he has fantasy value.
BUF – I confess – I love Fred Jackson. He’s a great complement
to Marshawn Lynch and he’s a solid pass-catching back with the
innate ability to get the extra yard. On Monday night, he had
12 carries for 60 yards – but no catches and the first two fumbles
– and lost fumble – of his career. So he’s not perfect, but he’s
great Lynch insurance and can help out plenty of teams in deeper
leagues down the stretch.
Scouring The Barrel
NYG – See Derrick Ward above. Bradshaw has a lot of jump in
his step and can easily break long runs, like his 77-yard scamper
on Sunday versus the Ravens. He’s just behind Ward on the depth
Pittman, STL – He’s the starter as long as Steven Jackson
remains out, and he was the more effective runner on Sunday. The
Bears defense hasn’t been great recently, but I have a feeling
they’ll be able to stop the Rams running game. Don’t get too enthusiastic.
Kenneth Darby, STL – If his rib strain isn’t serious,
I actually like Darby ‘s value better than Pittman this
week, especially in PPR leagues. The Rams will likely be forced
to throw the ball and dump it off to Darby occasionally, and the
second-string back had 8-83-0 receiving to go along with 26 rushing
yards this past Sunday. Take a shot if you’re desperate.
Jerious Norwood, ATL – Not his best week, but he’s
allowed that after piling up great numbers as a backup RB.
MIA – He’s a risky play, but you should know that by now.
Consider him a strong RB #4 and weak RB #3.
Felix Jones, DAL – Felix still wasn’t ready to return,
but he’s one week closer and Barber owners can’t afford
to not have him – just in case.
DEN – A huge game from a relatively unknown fantasy commodity.
I can’t wait to see how this plays out in Denver when Young gets
back. It’s going to be pure chaos.
Green-Ellis, NE – Sammy Morris is back, so it’s probably time
to drop BenJarvus.
Taylor, MIN – Taylor had a terrible time Sunday, losing a
crucial fumble that may have cost the Vikings the game. But he’s
still Adrian Peterson’s backup and should be owned in all leagues.
Correll Buckhalter, PHI – Again – great insurance
as you prepare for your playoff run, even though he’s nearly
useless when Westbrook starts.
Williams, TB – He didn’t play in Week 11, and while you should
probably wait until he’s active to add him, it’s likely that Graham’s
injury has pushed up his return.
Off The Top
Harrison, IND – Every WR reaches a point in his career when
he becomes a risky play, but can still produce big numbers. It
happened to Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Cris Carter circa 2001-02,
and it’s happening to Marvin Harrison now. But 9-77-1 last week
tells me he’ll be involved from here on out this season and that
he and Peyton Manning are back on track. Plus, it appears there’s
some uncertainty as to the health of Reggie Wayne’s ankle.
Moore, NO – He saw 9 targets Sunday and converted for 8-102-1.
Let’s not overcomplicate things. Lance Moore, regardless of the
presence of Marques Colston, is a solid WR #3 – and he should
be owned in all leagues.
WR Donnie Avery, STL – I don’t know why everybody
gave up on Avery so quickly. He’s a great route runner and
the Rams are throwing the ball a lot. The rookie had 13 balls
thrown his way Sunday, finished with 9-93-0 and should continue
to see plenty of targets as the season winds down.
WR Justin Gage, TEN – As I mentioned earlier, I had high
hopes for Gage this season but lost patience. Last week’s
4-147-2 proves to me he’s in the Tennessee game plan and
is probably the Titans best deep threat who doesn’t line
up in the backfield.
Scouring The Barrel
WR Antonio Bryant, TB – I’m not the biggest fan of
Bryant since I remember his underachieving days in Dallas, but
he’s developed a niche in Tampa and is probably the team’s
best receiver right now. Sunday’s 5-59-0 wasn’t spectacular,
but it probably helped squeak out a few wins.
WR Michael Jenkins, ATL – He was targeted 6 times Sunday
and caught 5-55-0. Continue to use him as a WR #4 or occasional
flew play but not as a regular starter, since it’s likely
his targets will be steady at around 4-8 a game.
WR Jabar Gaffney, NE – Like I said, don’t drop a quality
WR#3 to snag him, since he’s still the third or fourth receiving
option on the team. But he got a TD and saw the most targets of
2008 on Sunday in a Pats loss (consistent with his previous high
– a Week 3 loss to Miami that produced his only other TD
Bradley, KC – Bradley finished with 3-54-0 on 8 targets, but
the lack of a TD (and Dwayne Bowe getting two) was disappointing
considering his brief track record as a playmaker in KC.
WR Ted Ginn,
Jr., MIA – 4-51-0 receiving was decent, but his 40-yard TD
run paid fortuitous dividends to fantasy owners who started him
WR Antwaan Randle El, WAS – Had only 1 catch for 24 yards,
but was sidelined early with a foot or ankle injury.
WR Brandon Lloyd, CHI – Lloyd was finally active for Week
11, but finished with only 2-17-0 on 3 targets. He should be more
involved and get increased targets in subsequent weeks.
TE Todd Heap, BAL – He retuned to normalcy with 3-16-0,
but he’s still a great TE#2.
Rice, MIN – Oh my goodness! Sidney Rice caught 2 passes for
22 yards and neither was a TD! Look for him to be targeted more
frequently in the red zone in Week 12.
WR Jason Hill, SF – 3-33-0 isn’t terrible, but again
– it’s a disappointment he didn’t put up better
numbers against the lowly Rams.
Off The Top
LB Jerod Mayo, NE – The rookie out of Tennessee went absolutely
nuts on Thursday night, racking up 20 tackles (16 solos, 4 assist)
and a PD. If there’s any leagues where’s he’s
unowned, he won’t be after waivers this week.
DL Trent Cole, PHI – Available in a bunch of leagues (including
one of mine) after a few quiet weeks, Cole has had two solid games
in a row, including a 10-tackle, 2-sack performance against the
Bengals in Week 11. He’s a great DL for your roster slot
because he gets tackles consistently and in Jim Johnson’s
dynamic defensive scheme, gets to the QB pretty frequently as
LB Thomas Davis, CAR – After eight pretty mediocre weeks,
I’m sure a lot of IDP owners gave up on Davis for a trendier
LB mainstay. Now, Davis is coming off two big weeks (21 total
tackles, 1.5 sacks, PD) and will likely see a lot of tackles come
his way against the Falcons.
DB Carlos Rogers, WAS – Great player, great matchup against
a QB (Hasselbeck) who’s bound to throw some picks on his
way back from injury. Rogers does everything well and should make
5-7 tackles this week as well.
Scouring The Barrel
LB Wesley Woodyard, DEN – The undrafted rookie LB out of
Kentucky has played well the last two games and is a solid pickup
in deeper leagues. Take a shot if you’re down a LB.
DB Kevin Payne, CHI – My sleeper of the week, Payne has
done fairly well so far this season in IDP (51 solos, 3 INT, 5
PD) and has a good matchup this week @STL.
Thomas, DAL – Thomas had just 4 tackles (2 solo, 2 assist)
while Bradie James cleaned up the most of the tackle opportunities.
DB Erik Coleman, ATL – A mediocre game -- 5 solos and 1
assist – since he didn’t have a pick.
LB Calvin Pace, NYJ – Not so great (5 solo, 2 assist) in
a matchup that looked pretty favorable.
DL Chris Long, STL – Just 1 assist – easily my worst
IDP call of the year.
DB Asante Samuel, PHI – 4 solo tackles and 4 PDs –
a solid game from a good veteran DB.
DL Matt Roth, MIA – 1 solo, 1 assist, 1 sack. Would’ve
been so much better if it was 2 solos, 2 assists and 2 sacks.