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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Reading a waiver wire column heading into Week 16 is like food shopping
after a satisfying meal. You don’t just grab the first thing
you see because you’re ready to cram just about anything you
can into your mouth. It’s one thing being hungry for wins
in the middle weeks and feeling the need to pick up Robert Royal
– the fantasy football equivalent of snagging a pound of Wunderbar
bologna that’s on sale for $2.99 that you can snack on during
the ride home. Usually, you just end up with greasy hands, lamenting
the fact that you forgot to get eggs, butter and the pack of scallions
you need for the stir-fry you’re making later that night.
Perusing pickups this late in the season means it’s not
a time for desperation. Chances are your team has a roster without
much need for renovations. In your late-season roving through
the wire, you should be purposeful, selective, and bolstered by
the knowledge that the moves you’ve made thus far have been
both judicious and fruitful.
So where are you now? Are you in your league’s Super Bowl?
Are you making a toilet bowl run (admittedly, that sounds pretty
gross) or are you just saving face and playing it out like the
Niners, Saints and Packers? I’m in three out of my five
head-to-head money leagues’ Super Bowls and I’m quite
proud of this . But the two I’ve been ousted from were my
bread-and-butter – IDP leagues where I’d made the
playoffs and got soundly beat by solid squads, and I’m still
not content to just go to the table in the Super Bowl games without
a quick glance at the wire to see who’s lurking. At this
point, making that trip to the fantasy super market with a clear
head and a satiated stomach is the prudent move. Sometimes a few
wacky names emerge in Weeks 16 and 17, so it’s important
we all take a look to see what final tweaks could put us over
As always, I welcome all your
e-mails and enjoy hearing from you regarding my waiver wire
recommendations – whether they have helped or hindered your
success this season. I’m still answering questions of any
variety and responding ASAP. Good luck this week.
Off The Top
HOU – While the Raiders pass defense held it together for a bunch
of games this year, it’s finally coming apart, as we learned last
week from Matt Cassel and the Pats. Schaub has been hot since
returning from a knee injury that forced Sage Rosenfels into action,
and he should be able to generate at least 200 and 2 TDs against
Oakland in Week 16.
SF – This might be the week I finally cave and start Shaun Hill
(@STL) over Tony Romo. I’m not saying it’s a decision I’ve made
just yet, but I’m considering it, and there’s 11 growling, fuming,
dangerous, purple and black reasons why I’m not enthralled with
Romo’s chances on Saturday night against the Ravens. Last season,
my brother-in-law won a championship with the aforementioned Rosenfels
at the helm and Kolby Smith in his backfield, so I don’t think
the fantasy gods would preclude me from winning just because I
started Shaun Hill over Romo. It could come down to a matter of
format, since there’s two championships I’m in with different
scoring systems yet the exact same Romo/Hill scenario, but I’m
willing to throw out last week’s game at Miami – and you should
Scouring The Barrel
Wallace, SEA – The wild card in this bunch, Wallace followed
up an electrifying Week 14 fantasy performance at home with a
hum-ho game in St. Louis that makes me seriously question his
wahoo – to quote a phrase borrowed from an awesome Tom Robbins
novel I’m finishing up. This week, he gets the Jets at home, a
matchup that bodes well for Seattle’s passing game but could result
in devastation if the Jets secondary steps up. I discussed desperation
before, and starting Wallace based on matchup alone smacks of
desperation. If that’s your situation, then by all means, go for
it, but I’d take Hill, Romo and probably even the struggling Kyle
Orton against Green Bay before I went with Wallace this week.
Something just doesn’t seem right.
CHI – Orton’s only score came on the ground, frustrating Mat
Forte owners who already got a pretty terrible scare when he spent
time in the locker room after sustaining a toe injury on his first
carry. Against the Saints and another former Boilermaker QB, I
thought this would be a solid 200 and 2. Just goes to show – you
can’t count on anything in the fantasy playoffs except death,
dilemmas and drama.
TB – Garcia looked all week like he’d be good to go Sunday despite
a calf injury that limited him in practice. Color me surprised
when Jon Gruden ran Brian Griese out there in his stead and rendered
many a waiver wire pickup useless at game time.
David Garrard, JAC – The embattled Jaguars pulled off a
20-16 victory at home, and Garrard did his part, totaling 31 yards
on the ground, 238 passing yards and 2 TD.
WAS – Even without much of an offensive line, Campbell managed
a short TD pass to Santana Moss, 21 rushing yards and 167 yards
passing. Nothing special, but at least he outscored Jay Cutler.
Marc Bulger, STL – For the first time since Week 7, Bulger
made it through an entire game without turning the ball over –
but he only threw 1 TD and finished with 207 yards. He also had
a reception, which just boggles my mind.
Tarvaris Jackson, MIN – Holy desperation fill-in, Tarvaris!
To all of you fortuitous owners out there in fantasy world that
benefited from Jackson’s monster 4-TD day, congratulations.
I hope my recommendation was the one that carried you across the
Off The Top
Pierre Thomas, NO – I’m including him on the off
chance somebody didn’t get the nine memos from the past
several weeks that Thomas is an animal and should be owned in
all leagues. This week, the beleaguered Saints play…wait
for it…the 0-14 Detroit Lions. Is that enough incentive?
To make things even creepier, Thomas and Forte are my starters
in both the aforementioned leagues where I have my Romo/Hill quandary.
Funny how that stuff works out isn’t it? An even better
question would be: How does a guy with such low waiver priority
end up with Pierre Thomas and Shaun Hill in two highly competitive
fantasy leagues? The answer? Timing. I don’t write a waiver
wire column because I’m a good food shopper, although that
NE – Another big game from Faulk has vaulted him into the top
25 RBs in fantasy – and has me scratching my head at the decision
I made last week to drop him for a TE backup in Tony Scheffler,
who actually scored negative yardage in Week 15. He’s got a solid
matchup against Arizona, but Belichick seems content to have Sammy
Morris and now Lamont Jordan involved too, lowering the value
of all three.
DEN – I can’t really tell if he’s for real, but his performance
in Week 15 was oddly similar to Mike Shanahan’s use of Peyton
Hillis in weeks 9 and 11. The Bills are floundering right now,
so he’s not a bad flex option this week. And his value is higher
than that of Tatum Bell because he’s being used more in the red
Morris, SEA – I’m breaking my rule by including him here and
not just in the updates – since he was targeted in last week’s
column – but I didn’t want him getting lost in the shuffle at
such a crucial juncture. Last week, the Bills were surprisingly
effective running the ball against the Jets and moving the ball
in the flats, so Morris, who can catch passes and run well in
space, isn’t a terrible choice as a #3 RB or flex play at home
against New York. He’s available in about two-thirds of fantasy
leagues and he’s clearly ahead of Julius Jones on the depth chart.
Scouring The Barrel
DeShaun Foster, SF – I haven’t heard much on Frank
Gore’s status heading into Week 16, but the matchup in St.
Louis is a good one for whomever starts in the Niners backfield.
Just make sure you check the injury report before you plug any
SF RB in your lineup.
LaMont Jordan, NE – He’s number three on the depth
chart and should only see a bunch of snaps if the Patriots open
up a huge lead like they did in Oakland. Consider him a weak No.
4 RB at best.
Jonathan Stewart, CAR – He had 16 carries for 52 yards
and a TD, but DeAngelo again posted slightly better numbers, thanks
in large part to an extraordinary 56-yard TD run. Check DeAngelo’s
status heading into the weekend considering the reported injury
to the starter.
Rhodes, IND – I said that Rhodes had surpassed Joseph Addai
as the playmaker in the running game and would get the majority
of touches this week against the Lions. And I did so before anybody
else hinted that Addai might be out, making his 116 total yards
and 2 TDs all the more satisfying. This week, Dungy is coming
out early claiming Addai is the starter and will play Thursday,
but you have to keep checking the actives leading up to gametime.
Darren Sproles, SD – With every good waiver wire selection,
there’s usually a bad one. And Sproles was virtually nonexistent
in Sunday’s 22-21 win over the Chiefs, finishing with 4
catches for minimal yardage. My bad.
Fred Taylor, JAC – Taylor was placed on IR with a thumb
injury, but I only heard about it the same time y’all did
– about 2 hours after my column was posted.
DEN – Shanahan fans around the world (is there such a thing?)
can rejoice in the knowledge that all is right in the world and
P.J. Pope is a much better person than Tatum Bell.
Williams, TB – Cadillac finished with 59 yards rushing on
14 carries, a average performance for a back whose best years
are probably behind him, unfortunately.
Off The Top
Chad Johnson, CIN – He’s scored 4 TDs this season,
the first of which came in Week 4 against the Browns. The comedian
formerly known as Chad Johnson hasn’t helped many fantasy
teams this year, but he’s not a terrible WR #3 play if you’re
struggling to find a viable option for that particular slot.
Michael Jenkins, ATL – If the Falcons are going to beat
the Vikings, they can’t just run the ball 75 percent of
the time and pretend the Minnesota line’s going to lay down.
Sure, they’re now without one-half of the Williams Wall
(Pat is done for the year), but the team’s primary weakness
is in the secondary, where teams have been successful. Jenkins
won’t see 10 targets a game, but he’s a huge third
down and red zone receiver and he’s not a bad bet to find
the end zone in Week 16.
Donnie Avery, STL – The matchup isn’t ideal, since
San Francisco has shown improvement defending the pass recently,
but I like the fact that Avery bounced back last week with 6-61-0
on 10 targets. He’s a risk because he’s been feast
or famine since becoming a fantasy factor after Week 6, but his
solid skills can easily translate into a successful #4 WR or maybe
even a #3 because of his upside.
Davone Bess, MIA – Bess continues to contribute, is widely
available in fantasy leagues and has a solid matchup @KC in Week
16. What more do you need to hear?
Scouring The Barrel
Jason Avant, PHI – Coming off the best game of his young
career (5-101-0) Monday night versus the Browns, it may seem that
there’s little chance Avant could repeat his performance
against the Redskins in Week 16. But the alacrity to which Donovan
McNabb sought out Avant on big plays in the Week 15 game bodes
well for his future, starting with Sunday’s game at FedEx
Field in Washington. He’s not a guy I’d start in too
many formats, but I’d definitely take a shot as a WR#4 in
Crayton, DAL – I love the fact that after much speculation
regarding Romo’s preference as the primary receiving target, neither
T.O. nor Jason Witten caught a TD against the Giants. That honor
was bestowed upon both Crayton and fullback Deon Anderson, who
looked as surprised as anyone when he turned around in the end
zone and the ball fell into his waiting arms. It’s tempting to
bump Crayton up a bit after last week and it’s entirely possible
that a similar situation emerges in Week 16 where Crayton’s the
one guy who’s open – but I wouldn’t start a guy who’s essentially
Dallas’ fourth receiver.
SEA – The veteran WR finished with 5-76-0 on 7 targets.
Randle El, WAS – Randle El had his worst fantasy performance
of the season posting just 1-9-0 on 2 targets.
GB – Jacksonville stepped up and shut down most of the Packers
offense, and Jordy only went for 1-9-0 – just like Randle El.
SF – The former Penn State wideout finished with 5-41-0 in
a game that also saw an untimely off-game from Hill – who’s been
a solid fantasy starter.
BUF – Reed was okay (4-43-0) but the Bills running game was
more effective than I had anticipated.
Lloyd, CHI – 2-21-0 isn’t great, but at least he saw action.
I really though the Bears would throw the ball more in this one.
Off The Top
DL Will Smith, NO – The matchup is ideal (he gets the Lions)
and while Smith hasn’t blown anybody away with his sack
totals this year, he’s had at least 4 solo tackles in 5
consecutive weeks, tallying 31 total over that span.
Tulloch, TEN – He’s not a great MLB, as far as MLBs go, but
he’s the starter in Tennessee and the Titans have great matchup
versus the Steelers, who will undoubtedly try to benefit from
the injury to Albert Haynesworth by pounding the ball up the middle.
The outside LBs (Keith Bulluck and David Thornton) aren’t terrible
plays either, but it should be Tulloch who picks up most of the
Adibi, HOU – DeMeco Ryans and Adibi were both quiet last week
versus the Titans, but I expect them to make some plays against
the Raiders, who don’t move the football all that well but provide
ample opportunities to rack up turnovers and all manner of IDP
junk. IF Ryans is unavailable, which is most likely is, grab Adibi.
Lewis, SF – I expect Lewis to harangue the Rams offense quite
a bit in this one, on blitzes, pursuing Stephen Jackson and even
dropping back occasionally to feed off Marc Bulger’s errant throws
and centerfielder. While Lewis is my preference, you can’t go
wrong taking any starting SF DB in this one, making Nate Clements
(check the thumb injury to see if it’s still okay) and Walt Harris
decent pickups as well.
Scouring The Barrel
Griffin, MIN – He’s been on fire lately, and as I said before,
the Falcons will have to throw the ball a bit more this week to
get past the Vikings. Look for Griffin and Antoine Winfield to
have big games.
Parker, PHI – Trent Cole is the best DL in Philly, but Parker’s
having a damn fine season himself. Facing the struggling Redskins,
it’s an ideal matchup for both.
LB D.J. Williams, DEN – Williams didn’t have the
impact I expected (3 solos) in his first game back from a knee
injury that sidelined him for the past five weeks, but it was
encouraging to see him back on the field, albeit sporadically
in Week 15.
DB Bob Sanders, IND – Expected to play mid-week after appearing
as questionable on the injury report, Sanders was a late scratch
Sunday – and it showed as the Colts defense came up lame.
DL Dwight Freeney, IND – Another Colt who didn’t post
a single defensive statistic – but Freeney actually played.
LB David Harris, NYJ – 9 solos, 2 assist and a PD in his
second game back from injury.
Odom, CIN –One measly tackle in his first game since Week
9. That’s why they call them sleepers – because sometimes they
just go to sleep.
DB Brandon Meriweather, NE – 6 solos and 1 assist, but
no junk points.