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 3 was flat-out ridiculous, wasn’t it? There’s definitely
some fantasy fallout, and some of it’s discussed right here.
If you’re in an IDP league and haven’t been reading
my defensive picks, start paying attention. The six DBs I profiled
this week in my column finished with 30 total tackles, 5 interceptions
(including one returned for a score), 11 passes defended and 2 fumble
recoveries. As always, I welcome your
e-mails and would like to hear from you if my waiver wire recommendations
have helped or hindered your fantasy progress over the past couple
years – or so far in 2008. I’m also available for fantasy
questions of any variety. Keep it civil, and so will I.
Off The Top
CAR – After two terrible fantasy performances in a row, Delhomme
will undoubtedly find himself as a free agent in lots of fantasy
leagues and available on more than a few waiver wires. Don’t get
too discouraged – the two horrendous weeks were against Chicago
and Minnesota, who both have outstanding defensive lines. His
next five weeks include: ATL, KAN, @TAM, NOR, ARI.
STL - Its been announced that Marc Bulger has been benched
and Green will get the start against Buffalo this week. While
Bulger's numbers haven't been eye-popping, they haven't been terrible
either. The team is looking for a spark after a 0-3 start and
perhaps a change at QB will provide just that. Green's fantasy
prospects are marginal at the moment until the team proves they
can move the ball on a consistent basis.
MIA – Pennington was 17-for-20 for 226 yards during the team’s
Week 3 game, but most of the Fins’ scoring opportunities in the
red zone were handled by Ronnie Brown, including a TD pass by
the shifty young back. I don’t know that he’s ever going to be
a guy you’ll start as a #1 QB again, but you could do worse for
your bye week fill-in and he’s a cheap replacement.
Brady Quinn, CLE – Browns HC Romeo Crennel has made it abundantly
clear that he’s not happy with the performance of Derek
Anderson. And despite Anderson’s 3787 passing yards, 32
TDs last year (29 pass, 3 rush) and large contract, it looks like
Quinn will get his shot very soon. I’d expect Quinn to get
more reps and Crennel to quickly swap in the second-year man out
of Notre Dame should Anderson struggle.
Scouring The Barrel
MIN – He’s an intense competitor and a wily 13-year veteran, but
the last time he had a real breakout fantasy performance was Week
4 versus San Fran in ’03. At the time, he was in his first stint
with the Vikings, threw 3 TDs to Randy Moss and one to Nate Burleson
– but that was five years ago, people. I’m not that excited about
his prospects in the Vikes passing game, but he’s definitely a
fantasy step up from Tarvaris Jackson and there’s a couple games
coming up in Weeks 5 and 6 (@NO, DET) where he can be used. Just
don’t roll him out there in Week 4 versus the Titans.
CHI – Okay, we can start paying attention now that Rex Grossman
is a thing of the past and Kyle has reached paydirt. He as 22-for-34
for 268 yards with 2 TD, 2 INT and a 2-point conversion in the
team's Week 3 game – a tough 27-24 OT loss to the Bucs in Chicago.
The Bears do have some favorable passing matchups coming up (Weeks
4-6: PHI, @DET, @ATL), so he’s not a terrible #2 option.
Jason Campbell, WAS – Another solid game (22-for-30, 193,
2 TD, 0 INT, 26 yards rushing) and he’s still got some of
his best matchups ahead in Weeks 6-8 (STL, CLE, @DET).
Trent Edwards, BUF – The next five weeks – @STL, @ARI,
bye, SDG, @MIA – look pretty nice and the stretch run in
Weeks 9-16 (NYJ, @NWE, CLE, @KAN, SFO, MIA, @NYJ, @DEN might be
SF – I’d be happy if I had him as my number #2 QB after his
second straight quality fantasy performance – 16-for-23 for 189
yards and two touchdowns in the team’s Week 3 game. Temper your
enthusiasm with the knowledge that he’s still a journeyman QB
and his matchups aren’t exceptionally favorable again until Week
11 vs. STL and again in weeks 15 & 16 (@MIA, @ STL).
Brian Griese, TB – 38-for-67, 407 yards, 2 TD and 3 INT.
That’s a lot of steamy fantasy action right there. It’s
not going to be like this every week, but the drama almost legitimizes
Joe Flacco, BAL – Yep, Flacco’s fitting right in with
the Ravens, who refuse to allow their QBs to pile up fantasy numbers
– but manage to occasionally win a football game.
Off The Top
Steve Slaton, HOU – While it’s a bit delusional to
believe Ronnie Brown was available in more than a small percentage
of fantasy leagues before Sunday’s ’08 breakout against
the Pats, it’s not too crazy to believe some folks slept
on Slaton, who totaled 116 yards and a TD on 18 carries, and 4-8-0
receiving. He’s earned the Texans’ starting RB job
and he’ll hold onto it.
DAL – What an electric runner this guy is. He’s now scored a TD
in his first three games as a pro and will continues to see carries
as the Cowboys split up the running duties between him and Marion
Barber. He’s adept at hitting the corner quickly, cutting upfield
and finding defensive gaps, and while he’s probably not going
to score in every game, he’s well on his way to at least 7 or
8 TDs in ’08.
Pierre Thomas, NO – I neglected to include him last week
in my column because I still wasn’t convinced, but Thomas
proved to me that more than one New Orleans back could post good
fantasy numbers on a consistent basis. There’s some nice
matchups mixed into the next few weeks, so consider using him
as a #3RB or bye week fill-in at #2.
BAL – The Ravens 6-0, 260-pound fullback – a second-year man
out of Alabama – rushed for 66 yards and his first two career
touchdowns on 19 carries Sunday – a lot of action on a team that’s
committed to the ground game. Mr. McLain has my attention now,
and he should continue to see goal line carries. The next couple
matchups are tough (@PIT, TEN), but things get easier from weeks
6-10 (@IND, @MIA, OAK, @CLE, @ HOU).
Scouring The Barrel
Buckhalter, PHI – Buckhalter recorded his highest fantasy
total since 2003 with 87 total yards, six catches and a TD reception
from Donovan McNabb. He’s only a decent fantasy option with Brian
Westbrook injured, but he seems to be BW’s backup right now over
the younger Lorenzo
Booker, so stay tuned to the Westbrook injury (MRI results
were negative, which is good for BW owners) and handcuff him if
necessary. IF Westbrook is out for any number of weeks, Buckhalter’s
a solid #3RB and a decent fill-in at #2.
Warrick Dunn, TB – He’s not as explosive as he used
to be, but not too many backs when they’re closing in on
34 years old. What Warrick will give you is a decent #3 RB in
PPR leagues, predictably consistent fantasy production in the
50-80 total yards per game range, and an occasional score.
Chris Perry, CIN – 20 carries for 74 yards and a TD, with
2/19/0 receiving. Not a bad recommendation for a guy that was
still out there in a few leagues.
Darren Sproles, SD – 77 total yards in the Monday night
win over the Jets, he’s a decent #3 RB and better if LT
misses any time this season.
Michael Pittman, DEN – He snagged another rushing TD because
Mike Shanahan continues to use him near the goal line. As potent
as the Denver offense is, he’s great #2 option in TD-only
leagues and a decent #3 anywhere else.
Kevin Faulk, NE – Can we just throw out the Miami game?
Or should we completely reevaluate the Patriots AGAIN? I’m
at a loss.
Michael Bush, OAK – 14 rushes for 55 yards – not exceptional
but a reasonable total for the guy’s second game and his
status as the Raiders #2 guy.
Off The Top
WR Brandon Lloyd, CHI – Sunday’s 6/124/1 breakout
is a sign that Kyle Orton has found his #1 WR. For you, Lloyd
should still only be used as a #3, but he’s been targeted
a lot in the past two weeks and is capable of big numbers from
time to time. He’s also available in a ton of leagues, as
most fantasy owners have avoided anything pass-related in Chicago.
For more on Lloyd and his fantasy prospects, check out Matt Waldman’s
20/20 Hindsight column this week.
WR Ike Hilliard, TB – With Galloway injured, Hilliard is
Griese’s guy. He went for 6/57/1 against the Bears and will
continue to see plenty of targets. It’s been a while since
Hilliard was the top fantasy wideout on his team, but he not a
terrible option if you’re looking for production from your
WR Greg Camarillo, MIA – Camarillo has another solid game
and appears to be a favorite target of Pennington. His value’s
steady as a #4 WR at this point and he could warrant a fantasy
start in deeper leagues.
TE Anthony Fasano, MIA – Okay – so now he’s
back. Weird – but I’ll take another shot with him.
The Dolphins don’t have a lot of guys capable of hauling
in TDs in the red zone, so they’ll undoubtedly look to Fasano
this season. He’s a great #2 TE and will warrant an occasional
start as a bye week or injury fill-in.
Scouring The Barrel
Austin, DAL – A healthy Austin will be another explosive weapon
for Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense. He’s not a viable fantasy
option yet, but stay tuned to the Cowboys weekly injury report,
because if Patrick Crayton or T.O. ever gets held out because
of injury and he gets a start, he’ll be involved.
Miller, NO – With Jeremy Shockey out for about 3-6 weeks,
Miller’s a good pickup for 2-TE leagues because he’s in such a
WR Isaac Bruce, SF – 2/19/1 isn’t an ideal line for
Bruce in this offense, but at least he had the score and numbers
worthy of a #3WR start.
WR Robert Meachem, NO – Meacham only finished with 2 catches,
but they went for 86 yards. The big play potential is there, and
while there was no score this time, I’d be willing to bet
he’ll grab a couple more before injured WR Marques Colston
returns in a few weeks.
WR Justin Gage, TEN – Add Jeff Fisher to the list of coaches
who aren’t very open about injuries before they’re
required to be. Gage wasn’t mentioned among the team’s
Monday injury rundown but was limited in practice with a groin
injury and was inactive Sunday. His status for week 4 is uncertain.
WR Amani Toomer, NYG – In a PPR league, I’ll take 5/64/0
from my third receiver every week. Wouldn’t you?
Stuckey, NYJ – With a name like Stuckey, he’s got to be good.
He finished with 6/42/1 versus the Chargers Monday night, his
best game so far, and he’s now caught a TD pass in his first three
games. Brett Favre looks for him frequently in the red zone and
thus far he’s shown to be sure-handed. Another guy who’s emerging
as a solid #3 WR play.
WR James Hardy, BUF – Nothing doing against the Raiders,
which worries me. There’s some upside to Hardy in deeper
TD-only leagues, but at this point he’s too risky a play
in any other format unless the Bills receiving corps get seriously
Off The Top
LB Dhani Jones, CIN – The Bengals defense is on the field
quite a bit, and Jones’ tackle totals have benefited in
the first three weeks to the tune of 10, 10, 12. IDP owners looking
for a solid tackle foundation with a few fantasy perks thrown
in can’t do much better than Jones at this point, and he’s
still available in a bunch of IDP leagues.
DB Chris Gamble, CAR – He’s a consistent playmaker
who’s been on the field a lot this season for Carolina.
Through three games, he’s tallied 17 total tackles, 5 PD,
an INT and 2 FR. He’s a solid #1 DB in IDP formats that
DB Marvin White, CIN – He’s got 22 total tackles
thus far in ’08 – and because of his consistency making
tackles, he’s a bona fide fantasy starter in leagues that
require starting DBs.
Jackson, CLE – I love his name – it sounds like he’s going
to squash a running back, doesn’t it – and his fantasy production
is ballooning since the Browns offense is sputtering. Jackson
had 14 total tackles, a PD and an INT last week, and he should
be considered a solid IDP starter and Tier 3 fantasy LB.
Scouring The Barrel
LB Joey Porter, MIA – Once an every-week fantasy starter,
Joey Porter battles gunshot wounds to the butt, nagging football-related
injuries and a foot-in-mouth disease that rivaled the most intense
verbal diarrhea spouted by other ridiculous trash-talkers in the
league. Now, Porter’s playing inspired football (6 total
tackles, 3 sacks last week versus the Pats) but he’s on
a bye in Week 4 and is only a shell of his former fantasy self.
There may be a spot for him on your team, but he shouldn’t
be a high priority pickup.
(Thomas) Parker, PHI – This week the Eagles go to Chicago,
where defensive linemen are racking up big fantasy points. Formerly
Juqua Thomas, he changed his name on March 12. Parker, undrafted
out of Northeastern Oklahoma A& M and a NFL backup most of his
career, broke into the Eagles starting lineup last season and
into my fantasy glossary last week with 5 total tackles, 2.5 sacks
and a PD. He might be a good spot start at DL in deeper leagues.
Finnegan, TEN – If you happened to add Mr. Finnegan based
on my recommendation, then congratulations. He scored on a 99-yard
INT return and finished with 6 tackles (3 solo) and 2 PD. He’s
a poor man’s Antonio Cromartie at this point and could be the
biggest IDP sleeper of 2008.
LB Zach Thomas, DAL – Five solos and a sack – good
numbers but not great. He’ll have his days.
DB Asante Samuel, PHI – I’m on fire this week calling
DBs with picks. Samuel had 5 total tackles, an INT and 2 PD.
DL Shaun Rogers, CLE – 4 total tackles, but what more do
you expect from a fantasy DT? I’m not a miracle worker.
DB Quentin Jammer, SD – Just two tackles and an assist,
but he added a fumble recovery and 2 PD. Next week – the
Matt Wilhelm, SD – Four tackles and an assist. The Chargers
secondary got most of the fantasy points in this one.
DB Mike Adams, CLE – Another solid DB selection, Adams finished
with 4 total tackles, an INT and a PD.
DB Bryant McFadden, PIT – Still relevant with Townsend out,
the “other” fantasy McFadden blew up with 5 solos,
1 assist, an INT, 2 PD and a FR. Wowzer.
DL Lawrence Jackson, SEA – The rookie lineman out of USC
had just two solos in Week 3 against the Rams. Look for better
DB Nick Collins, GB – Not a bad week to include him in my
barrel: 6 total tackles, an INT and 2 PD.