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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Usually, reaching the playoffs is about constructing a team that’s
got a great chance to win each week and getting a few breaks go
your way – be it a feeble performance from an opponent, a
huge breakout from one of your pickups, or just avoiding the injuries
that plague so many fantasy lineups. But sometimes, it comes down
to a big win in Week 13 or 14, whenever your league concludes it
regular season. Hopefully, my recommendations last week of the much-beleaguered
Donovan McNabb, the now-ubiquitous Pierre Thomas, or even the famously
underachieving Mark Clayton helped propel your team to the land
of milk and honey (or chicken wings and beer). I’d like to
do the same for teams who conclude their “first season”
this week, although I’m narrowing my focus to just a few players
in each category, since there’s so much at stake and less
time to dwell on the latent value of “stashed” players.
Many of my updates this week, actually, include guys who could still
be available in your leagues.
While there are a few lucky fantasy owners who may have gotten
this far without much maintenance, the vast majority did it through
smart “start-sit” decision-making, occasional lineup
repairs and frequent tinkering on the wire. This season, I’ve
managed to reach the playoffs in all five of my head-to-head money
leagues, but in none of these situations did I stand pat and let
chance decide my fate. I scoured the Internet for breaking information
on players; I sought advice and consensus from this site’s
writers, columns, rankings and strength of schedule matrix; I
avoided letting complacency creep into my routine; and consequently,
I did everything but stand pat with regard to my roster.
In my most competitive local league, I lost my top three picks
for extended periods of time: Tony Romo, Marques Colston and IR
casualty Earnest Graham, but found ways to win a few of the games
Romo and Colston missed and got by on the strength of Graham’s
few big games and rookie Matt Forte and – once I traded
Colston for Roddy White – on the consistent weekly totals
of Romo and the smooth Atlanta WR. Did I get lucky? Sure. But
I also picked up Pierre Thomas with terribly low waiver priority,
made a few moves that squeaked me out victories (and even an important
tie), and never lost hope.
If you’re in the playoffs, congratulations and good luck.
And even if you’re on the outside looking in this time around,
all it might take is a little more effort next year – or
a little bit of luck. Somebody famous once said (could have been
Samuel Goldwyn, Arnold Palmer, or even Gary Player – some
version of it has been attributed to each of them) that “the
harder I work, the luckier I get.” By this time, you should
know I welcome your e-mails and enjoy hearing from you regarding
my waiver wire recommendations – whether they have helped
or hindered your success this season. So keep working that waiver
wire, keep sending me your ideas, queries and stories, and I’ll
Off The Top
SF – The best thing about his performance last week
was that he got a win and didn’t turn the ball over. If
he can do that against the Jets, he’ll likely finish with
better stats – something like 250 yards and 2 scores. He’s
not Jay Cutler, but you could take a shot if you need a quality
QB #2 or are desperate for a starter. Just make sure one of the
big name QBs isn’t available at this point as a late-season
wire dump by a team focusing on other areas heading into the playoffs.
Gus Frerotte, MIN – He tied an NFL record with a 99-yard
TD pass, giving him 210 yards with a score and an INT on 16-for-25
passing in the team’s Week 13 game. He also ran the ball
in for a one-yard TD and he’s got @DET, @ARI, ATL in the
next three weeks.
HOU – I don’t know if he’s ready to return just yet, but the Houston
offense is looking as potent as ever with Slaton blowing up Monday
night and Andre Johnson, well, being Andre Johnson. Stay tuned
to the injury report.
Scouring The Barrel
CLE – He’s the new starter but was 0-for-3 with an INT in
the waning moments of Week 13 – and he’s got the Titans this week.
This is not a recommendation,it’s a warning. Stay away unless
your league awards points for futility.
Trent Edwards, BUF – He was sidelined Sunday, sat out the
second half with a groin injury, and is questionable for this
Matt Ryan, ATL – Ryan had another good day and is now among
the top15 of fantasy QBs in 2008. Not bad for a rookie heading
to a basement team and rescuing them from the doldrums.
Donovan McNabb, PHI – If you took my advice and started
him against the Cards, you’re a happy camper, for sure.
He probably won’t repeat against the giants, but he’s
probably not getting benched again this season.
Jeff Garcia, TB – He wins ugly, but he wins. Consider him
a average QB #2 from here on out.
Kerry Collins, TEN – While the Titans defense and running
game stole the show, Collins remained quiet and relatively motionless.
No need to actually play football when everybody else is doing
such a good job. Forget about him heading into the final few weeks.
Joe Flacco, BAL – Flacco continues to impress and will be
counted on to carry this team into the future. Eventually, he’ll
be a Top10 fantasy QB. For now, he’s a solid backup.
Off The Top
NE – 10 carries for 45 yards and a TD is a decent game against
anyone, really, but it’s especially impressive versus the Steelers.
He looks good from here on out if can stay healthy and pick up
good yardage on first and second down, since Kevin Faulk seems
to have a lockdown on third-down opportunities.
OAK – I took for granted last week that most leagues had already
rendered him rostered, but it’s possible there’s still a few out
there who haven’t caught on to Fargas’ startling consistency running
the ball. Take a shot if you need an RB and he’s out there. He
won’t disappoint, unless Darren McFadden steals more touches going
forward between the 20s and gobbles up all the goal line opportunities.
McClain, BAL – I regret including earlier in the season and
not including him last week, but it’s just hard to tell what the
situation is in Baltimore from week to week. Suffice it to say
he will not be ignored again.
Choice, DAL – A must-have for Marion Barber owners this week
after the toe injury scare. The early word is that Barber should
be okay, but it never hurts to have a backup plan. This isn’t
a week to start Choice – even if Barber’s not 100 percent (the
Cowboys face Pittsburgh). But he should probably get snagged by
Scouring The Barrel
CHI – If you own Matt Forte and are heading into the playoffs
with some roster room, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick up Jones,
who would likely see the majority of touches in the Bears offense
should anything happen to the rookie out of Tulane who’s already
gone over 1000 rushing yards on the season. As a Forte owner in
three of my aforementioned five head-to-head money leagues, I’m
counting on Forte in the playoffs, so I hope I’ll never have to
use Jones. Still – it’s about insurance, and the former Lion is
still a versatile running back with plenty of talent. And although
he’ll split carries with Adrian Peterson and Garret Wolfe more
than the current scenario, he’s been the most effective Bears
back during the ’08 campaign other than Forte.
Pierre Thomas, NO – Add him if he’s still available.
He’s the man, as he appears to be getting the goal line
carries in New Orleans ample offense. As we saw last week, just
because Reggie’s back, it doesn’t mean Pierre will
fade away. And Deuce is really not an option they’re counting
on right now.
Peyton Hillis, DEN – Peyton had 129 yards and a TD on 22
carries versus the Jets. Methinks Mr. Shanahan likes this versatile
chap, and that you will too.
OAK – D-Mac’s contributions were limited to a few unsuccessful
carries (since Justin Fargas got most of the running work) and
Leon Washington, NYJ – Surprisingly similar to McFadden’s
numbers: 2 carries for 4 yards and 3-60-0 receiving.
Williams, TB – Just four carries, but he did well on limited
duty with 20 yards and a TD.
Maurice Morris, SEA – Six carries for 10 yards and 3-23-0
receiving against a Dallas defense that looked pretty damn tough.
Off The Top
Toomer, NYG – Great TD catch Sunday, wasn’t it? It’s good
to see Amani in the end zone in consecutive weeks, because it’s
a sign he should be added in all formats with Plaxico Burress
literally shooting himself in the foot leg. He should be a valuable
#3 during the fantasy playoffs.
WR Davone Bess, MIA – I wasn’t convinced yet last
week, but now I am. Bess has converted 19 targets in his last
two weeks into 11-171-0. He’s worth adding if you need receiving
help and could be a productive #4 WR.
Scouring The Barrel
Stuckey, NYJ – I don’t know why Brett Favre looked Stuckey’s
way so much and didn’t pass to Laveranues Coles until the fourth
quarter Sunday. Even if he didn’t have a good reason for avoiding
Coles, Stuckey benefited. This week, he’s a nice sleeper pick
since he’s got a nice matchup versus the 49ers.
WR Harry Douglas, ATL – It’s tough to recommend starting
Douglas, but as a sleeper pick for deeper leagues, he’s
a good option this week versus the Saints. Last week he had his
first receiving TD of the season to go along with TDs he’d
already scored rushing and returning the ball. Take a shot with
him as nothing better than a #4, and you won’t have much
to worry about.
Ginn, Jr., MIA – Actually, Ginn saw a couple less targets
than Bess, but should still be the big play threat in the passing
WR Anthony Gonzalez, IND – What a terrible football game.
I wasn’t the only one who bought into Gonzalez last week,
but I’m still ashamed that I didn’t realize that game
wouldn’t be a barnburner with the Colts missing their all-important
center, Jeff Saturday.
WR Isaac Bruce, SF – Okay – so I finally scored with
a Bruce recommendation, as the Reverend had a big day Sunday (5-67-1)
and is the #1 receiving option in San Fran. Can the Niners do
what the Broncos did to the Jets? I don’t think so. But
Bruce should be involved.
WR Kevin Walter, HOU – The Texans really didn’t need
Walter against the Jags, but will undoubtedly utilize him effectively
next week against the Packers.
WR Domenik Hixon, NYG – 5-71-0 on 9 targets isn’t
awesome, but it’s decent for a #3 WR and with Burress shelved
in definitely after the surreal news of the past weekend, Hixon
will continue to see targets in the Giants offense.
Clayton, BAL – Kaboom! I had this guy at one point this season
on a couple teams, but he became a casualty of mid-season shuffling.
If I still had him, I would’ve played him last week and benefited
from a 32-yard TD pass to Derrick Mason and a one-handed bonus
TD reception he caught to give him 5-164-1 receiving on the day.
Was I the only waiver wire columnist who recommended him last
week? I’m not sure. But I might be the proudest – even though
I myself didn’t capitalize.
Off The Top
LB Eric Barton, NYJ – He has a good schedule going forward
and could be a big late-season gamebreaker on the Jets defense
as they shoot for the postseason. He’s a team leader that
capitalizes on the stellar play of the Jets interior lineman.
DB Jacques Reeves, HOU – Reeves has really come on strong
in the second half and should be a good option against the Packers,
who’ve been throwing a lot and turning it over with frequency.
Griffin, TEN – Any Tennessee defensive back is a good choice
this week, as the Titans will likely build an early lead and pick
off Ken Dorsey passes left and right throughout the game. If somebody
dropped Cortland Finnegan after poor outings in either Week 11
or Week 13, you could take a shot on him as well.
LB Thomas Davis, CAR – He had a poor game Sunday, but the
Tampa Bay contest will be his bounce-back performance.
Scouring The Barrel
Ogunleye, CHI – The Texans got to David Garrard pretty easily,
and if I know the Bears, they’re going to go after the Jags offensive
line just as mercilessly. Wally’s had a relatively quiet season,
and I’m hoping for big things from him this week as my sleeper
McIntosh, WAS – London Fletcher, who was a game-time decision,
ended up playing and making all the tackles. So much for Rocky’s
big shot – he finished with 3 total tackles and was a monumental
disappointment for me because I started him over Cowboys LB Bradie
James in my experts league assuming Fletcher wouldn’t go (which
was the prevailing opinion on Thursday and for much of the week).
Bell, MIA – Renaldo Hill and Andre Goodman were the better
Miami DB plays last week, but Bell managed 7 solos. Not bad.
Winborn, DEN – 8 solos, 1 assist, 1 PD = solid numbers. Thanks,
DB Cedric Griffin, MIN – 5 tackles, 1 assist, 2 PD against
the Bears on Sunday night.
DB Ike Taylor, PIT – The Steelers forced turnovers, as expected,
but Taylor wasn’t involved. In fact, he didn’t make
a tackle, and finished with just one PD. His INT-less streak continues
into the Dallas game.
DL Haloti Ngata, BAL – Ngata tied for his lowest fantasy
total of the season – with two solo tackles. Just my luck.