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 6 didn’t deliver too many unforeseen monster fantasy
games – excluding the two-TD day bestowed upon Miami running
back Patrick Cobbs (courtesy of the single-wing “Wildcat”
offensive craze that’s sweeping the nation) and the Addai-injury-driven
numbers of Colts backup Dominic Rhodes. But the week certainly gave
us some wild finishes in Atlanta, Arizona and Houston.
As I usually do after any Dallas loss, I’m feeling a bit queas.
A blocked punt instantly converted into an OT touchdown followed
by Monday’s cruel news that Tony Romo would be out a month
with a broken pinkie finger? It easily ranks up there in my stomach-churning
Hall of Shame along with Romo’s fumbled snap against Seattle
in the playoffs, Leon Lett’s multiple gaffes during the 1990s,
and the Hochuli call in San Diego that cost me $350 in parlay winnings.
Monday night I also found out that Cowboys punter Matt McBriar is
out for the season with a broken foot. Really?
On a lighter note, most of my QB and RB recommendations performed
admirably, and I got a truly exceptional performance out of the
single defensive lineman (Minnesota’s Kevin Williams) I suggested
readers pick up heading into the Week 6 games. I have lots of questions
myself for Week 7, and I’m taking suggestions as to how I
should go about snapping myself out of the nightmare of Sunday’s
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 year or so far in 2008. I’m
a quick responder to almost any fantasy question, and as much as
I like to talk, I’m still a good listener. Now excuse me while
I go puke in my mouth, since I have Tony Romo in approximately 78
percent of my money leagues and it’s going to take some excellent
work to win during the next four weeks.
Off The Top
Jeff Garcia, TB – While he’s not guaranteed the starting
job unless Griese’s out again, he made a pretty good case
on Sunday. Still – he’s the first of this week’s
QB waiver inclusions. Back in 2003, Garcia was still posting solid
fantasy numbers in San Fran – and was the #11 fantasy QB.
Since then, he’s played for four teams in five seasons –
the Browns, Lions, Eagles and now the Bucs.
DAL – Hey! You’re freaking me out. What year is this, seriously?
I’ve been reading lots of stuff on the Romo injury, and Johnson
is being described by many of my fantasy peers as a no-brainer
pickup. I’m not quite as bullish, given the deflated mood in Dallas
and recent loss of offensive wunderkind Felix Jones for at least
a couple weeks with a hamstring injury. But I’d be crazy not to
include him in my column this week near the top of the list considering
all the other weapons in Dallas and the impending matchups. And
in ‘03, Johnson was the #9 ranked fantasy QB. Noticing a trend?
STL – This is getting a little weird. The #12 fantasy QB in ‘03
also makes a noteworthy appearance on the wire this week as the
Rams head to Dallas to take on the reeling Cowboys. And while
his fantasy numbers haven’t been brilliant, the Rams just got
a win and they’ll be looking to open up the offense against a
defense that’s proven to be vulnerable against the pass. Now,
if Adam Jones gets suspended, the Cowboys will be starting rookies
Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick at cornerback. He’ll be available
in about half of the fantasy leagues out there, and I have a feeling
he’ll get it together on Sunday if the Rams can keep the Cowboys
pass rush off.
BUF – At least Trent Edwards was in college in 2003. He’s got
a relatively good matchup against the Chargers in Week 7 (although
they effectively shut down Matt Cassel and the Pats) – just make
sure the head injury isn’t still a problem before you pick him
up off the wire.
Scouring The Barrel
DET – Is this guy really the starting QB? I’m just curious,
because the last time I checked, recently retired Daunte Culpepper
and his agent (also Daunte Culpepper) were available for negotiations.
With Jon Kitna shelved for the season with a back injury, Orlovsky
is worth a look against the Texans.
TEN – I can’t give him a resounding reference, but there’s
undoubtedly a lot of desperate fantasy owners out there this week
with Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb and David Garrard on byes and
a slew of other QBs unavailable or nursing injuries.
Matt Schaub, HOU – He returned against a tough Miami defense
and posted big fantasy numbers (22-for42, 379 yards, TD, 2 INT;
4 carries for 15 yards and a rushing TD). His heroics –
and I use the term liberally – led to Houston’s first
win of the season and more could be on the way during one of his
next three games: DET, CIN, @MIN.
CHI – Another moderately effective day capped by a late-game
TD pass to Rashied Davis, Orton was 26-for-43 with 286 passing
yards. Now the Bears go back home to take on Minnesota. Not a
great matchup, but not terrible, either, as the way to get through
the Vikes is through the air.
Matt Ryan, ATL – The Falcons pulled it out as Ryan went
for 301 yards and a TD on 22-for30 passing. After the Week 7 bye,
it’s a somewhat favorable schedule until Week 12 against
Joe Flacco, BAL – Flacco heads to Miami to take on the Dolphins,
but he’s yet to post any solid fantasy numbers. Sorry, but
something’s got to change in Baltimore before he’ll
even be a viable #2 option.
Off The Top
Pittman, DEN – The Broncos ran Pittman 20 times for 109 yards
Sunday in the Loss to Jacksonville, and the veteran also caught
3 passes for 16 yards. While he didn’t reach the end zone, he
showed he’s still capable of handling the full-time rushing load
of an NFL contender. Keep him in mind this week – even if the
prognosis on Selvin Young has improved.
Rhodes, IND – Until we hear that Joseph Addai is probable
for Week 7, we’ll have to assume that Rhodes is taking over starting
duties for the oft-injured LSU alumnus. If Addai can’t go, start
him with confidence as a #2 RB in any 12-team format and as a
flex if you’ve got two better matchups at your starting RB slots.
Rudi Johnson, DET – For those of you waiting for the opportunity
to give Johnson another shot, here it is. The Lions best shot
at beating the Texans might be a balance of the physical running
of Johnson combined with the quick-hitting abilities of WR Calvin
Johnson. They’re not going to be passing every down with
Orlovsky at the helm, so take a shot with old, reliable Rudi.
He only got 38 yards on 17 carries last week, but that was against
the Vikings, and while he’s still kind of a sleeper, he
should still be owned in 12-team leagues.
Ryan Torain, DEN – The rookie back is slated to return following
Denver’s Week 8 bye, making him possible waiver fodder in
the weeks leading up. Nothing’s guaranteed given Shanahan’s
history of thwarting fantasy owners, but with injuries and ineffectiveness
plaguing the team’s backs, he could be a steal and stash.
Scouring The Barrel
FA/WAS? – He’s coming to Washington, taking a physical with the
Skins and could be signed by the end of Tuesday. But he’s only
there to fill in for Ladell Betts while the veteran Redskins back
nurses a knee sprain – and the whole thing reeks of the Daniel
Snyder idiocracy. Take a pass – unless you’re one of those weirdos
still prospecting for gold in the California hills. Then go for
Choice, DAL – This once-celebrated Georgia Tech back is a
worthy competitor, a born leader and a running back seriously
undervalued in the 2008 NFL draft. Now he’s the #2 back in Dallas
and a guy who is one play away from being “my everything or nothing.”
Marion Barber owners should snap him up if they’ve got the space.
Cobbs, MIA – Don’t do it. Just don’t. He’s behind non-dope-smoking
Ricky Williams and rejuvenated Ronnie Brown, and you’ll never
get another performance like Sunday’s nonsense out of him. I already
know some buddies who’ve grabbed him, and I’m currently offering
them better options through trading that’ll shore their RB ranks
up a lot better than Cobbs will – and help me out with my woes
Michael Bush, OAK – If the Raiders do indeed trade Michael
Bush, he’d instantly be a useful receiving threat out of
the backfield and a possible third down/short yardage contributor.
But who needs a RB? I’m sure the Colts could use a 6’1”
245-lb. beast right now, and while Bush might have a hard time
getting touches, there’s a possibility he’s the starter
by week 10, given Addai’s recent struggles and tendency
to get injured. Other possibilities include the Packers, Redskins
and Eagles – contenders with shaky RB situations.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR – Just 11 carries for 27 yards and
2-8-0 receiving. He’s always a risk – and this week
he really burned owners who started him against a tough Bucs defense
– but he’s still a relevant fantasy pickup and play
given the right matchup.
DAL – Jones left the game with a hamstring injury and didn’t
return after running for 22 yards on 3 carries. He’s 3-for-6 when
it comes to effectiveness in fantasy starts, and the three when
he wasn’t helpful weren’t even his fault. Early word is that he
might be out 2-4 weeks with a hamstring strain, so in some leagues
owners will have to bite bullet and drop him. Keep him on your
Tim Hightower, ARI – Just 7 carries for 20 yards and 4-29-0
receiving, but not a bad day against the Cowboys. Look for him
again after the Week 7 bye.
BAL – McLain, who was looking for a fifth straight game of
fantasy success, finally got busted – carrying the ball just twice
for -2 yards, catching just one ball and losing a fumble – a negative
day for leagues that allow them. Stay tuned to the status of Willis
McGahee and stay away from subsequent matchups that could result
in blowouts – like the game in Indy.
Buckhalter, PHI – 178 total yards (93 rush, 85 rec) along
with a rushing TD and 7 catches makes for a wonderful fantasy
day in any format – and a spectacular one in PPR leagues. Wise
owners who started Buckhalter once Brian Westbrook was officially
ruled out were rewarded handsomely.
Dunn, TB – Dunn was a pretty nice Week 6 pickup for those
that took a shot with him, carrying the ball 22 times for 115
yards and catching 3 balls for 18 yards. He’s benefited from injuries
to the team’s fullbacks – starter B.J. Askew (hamstring, out since
Week 3) and backup Byron Storer (knee injury sustained last week)
– which forced Earnest Graham into more of a blocking role on
Sunday. I still like Graham as the #1 back in Tampa and when Askew
returns, everyone should benefit.
Sammy Morris, NE – While it wasn’t a huge game for
Morris and the Pats, he carried the ball 10 times for 26 yards
and a late TD and posted 4-49-0 receiving – making him an
undeniable Week 6 winner for fantasy owners who used him as a
bye-week stopgap – owners like me.
Off The Top
WR Vincent Jackson, SD – He posted 5-134-1, including a
big play to start off the Sunday night game, and with Chambers
out, he’s a solid pickup in any league where he’s
TE Kellen Winslow, CLE – In the dog-eat-dog world of limited
roster space in shallow leagues, there are often casualties at
the TE position. I’m sure that whatever airborne virus,
venereal disease or temporary illness Winslow was carrying with
him this past week will be gone by the time the Browns get to
Washington in Week 7. So I’d waste no time in grabbing this
extraordinary athlete if he’s available ASAP. Just make
sure he doesn’t have some chronic wasting disease or mitochondrial
condition a la Rocco Baldelli.
WR Derrick Mason, BAL – If the 12-year veteran’s going
to get off the schneid and get a score, this is the week it should
happen. He’s available in about 1/3 of leagues, so take
a shot with him as your #3 WR against a Miami secondary that yields
the most points in the league to opposing WRs.
Breaston, ARI – If he’s still out there, the bye week coming
up doesn’t bother you and you’ve got the roster space, he’s a
must-add. I’ve been on him since early in ’08, following up a
Jerheme Urban recommendation with a shout-out to Breaston in my
weekly updates. Don’t be the guy that lets him go another week.
He’s going to be a factor even when Boldin gets back – because
he’s a good player with hands and solid route-running abilities.
Curtis, PHI – The Eagles are on a bye and many have already
forgotten about McNabb’s favorite target from ’07. Sure, DeSean
Jackson’s making a bid to be Donovan’s new darling, but Curtis
was breathtaking in a few games last season.
Davis, CHI – If Brandon Lloyd continues to be out, Kyle Orton
will have no choice but to target Davis, who’s available in almost
95 percent of leagues. The Vikings defense looked a lot better
last week as the defensive line applied constant pressure to the
Lions, but it’s still vulnerable against the pass and the Bears
line playing better as the season progresses.
Scouring The Barrel
WR Bobby Wade, MIN – He’s had at least 4 catches
and 60 yards receiving in each of his last three games and he’s
facing the Bears – who have a hurting secondary and yield
a lot of points to opposing WRs, especially in PPR leagues. While
he won’t be a gamebreaker, he’ll be a decent bye week
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, OAK – Not a real factor in the loss
to New Orleans, he posted just one catch – although it was
for 35 yards. His name may sound like he’s a Memphis-style
blues guitarist, but he’s really just a big-play WR who’s
been creeping up the boards like Ron Curry once did in Oaktown
(prior to his roster-worthy status as a reliable #3). Stay tuned
to the progress of Johnnie Lee.
WR Donald Driver, GB – The veteran receiver had a solid
day with 6-53-0. The touchdowns will come. No worries.
WR Isaac Bruce, SF – Even the Reverend is allowed a bad
day once in a while, but did 2-28-0 have to come in such a big
game? It’s not a good sign that the offense fell flat in
the fourth quarter, but Bruce is still a must-own receiver.
WR Bobby Engram, SEA – No offensive stats, but he had a
tackle. What gives, Bobby? Are you hurt? Upset that your team
rots now? What?
WR Devin Hester, CHI – I included him last week and he did
not disappoint, with 6-87-0. I like him a lot from here on out.
WR Greg Camarillo, MIA – Cobbs stole the show with the two
TDs, but Camarillo again posted decent numbers (4-49-0).
WR Mike Walker, JAC – Shortly after the column was posted
last week, it was revealed that Walker had sustained a knee injury
in the Pittsburgh game. He was held out this week and has a Week
7 bye – just keep him in mind for Week 8 and don’t
get too overzealous. There will be other options.
Hixon, NYG – Not a factor on Monday night with Plaxico Burress
back as the #1. Steve Smith had a big game with lots of targets,
but even Amani Toomer went without a catch.
WR Sinorice Moss, NYG – See above.
TE Alge Crumpler, TEN – The veteran TE should be fresh coming
off his bye week and I have a feeling Collins will be targeting
him about 6-8 times a game going forward.
WR Brandon Stokley, DEN – I’m including a Stokley
update since he caught a TD in Week 6 but then left with a head
injury and didn’t return. He finished with 3-29-1 and now
has a TD in consecutive games – just make sure he’s
okay if you plan on starting him as a WR #3 or 4 in week 7 against
Off The Top
LB Nate Webster, DEN – He’s still available in a
bunch of IDP leagues – including one of mine – and
has an awesome matchup this week facing the Patriots. He’s
had four quality fantasy performances this season out of six,
so he’s not a sure thing like Patrick Willis or Dhani Jones
(the second most consistent fantasy LB this season – so
if he’s still available go grab him, too), but he’s
getting it done on the regular.
DB DeAngelo Hall, OAK – He’s putting up good numbers
week to week and faces the Jets – and their #1 rank in points
allowed to opposing DBs – this Sunday. Brett likes to challenge
his opponents, and DeAngelo’s ego versus the gunslinger
seems an apropos time for IDP owners to benefit.
Greenway, MIN – With E.J. Henderson out for the year because
of several dislocated toes on his left foot, Greenway will be
forced to step up, along with LB Ben Leber. The Week 7 matchup
at Chicago is ideal, so expect some solid numbers from the third-year
an out of Iowa.
Crowder, MIA – Crowder isn’t the best athlete on the field,
but he’s been doing an excellent job as the new Zach Thomas in
Miami – with last week being his best game to date (13 tackles,
2 PD). Look for another nice week versus the Ravens, who give
up the most fantasy points to LBs.
Lewis, SF – Eli Manning has been telegraphing his throws –
a nugget that was astutely pointed out by Ron Jaworski during
last night’s telecast – and Lewis could be a big beneficiary this
week. He’s the #32nd ranked DB in IDP-land, but he’s the number
one playmaker in the San Fran secondary. Take a shot with him
this week against the Giants.
LB Calvin Pace, NYJ – Against the Raiders, Pace could have
a big game. He’s had fumble recoveries in two straight,
is making his share of tackles and is probably available in most
Scouring The Barrel
LB Leroy Hill, SEA – The forgotten Seattle LB has recovered
from his hamstring injury and has a great matchup this week versus
the Bucs. Other teams whose playmaking LBs have favorable matchups
include: DET @ HOU, CAR vs. NO, TEN @ KC.
DB Leigh Bodden, DET – Eminently available after starting the
season as a nickel back, Bodden has resumed starting duties and
is making plays left and right for the Lions defense – which
spends a lot of time on the field. Cue the Texans – who
present a variety of scoring options to the DBs they face and
will undoubtedly continue doing so.
DL Domata Peko, CIN – My super sleeper of the week, Peko
is owned in just 1-2 percent of IDP leagues and could post acceptable
DL numbers if you need a bye-week stopgap.
LB Zach Diles, HOU – What happened to this guy on Sunday?
Maybe it was the weird Miami offensive wrinkle, maybe I was just
an anomaly, but just 3 solo tackles isn’t what we’d
come to expect from Diles in his first few games. Bad timing for
me to recommend him, really.
Jones, DAL – Again – the “bodyguard bathroom scuffle” news
broke right after we’d posted the column, and Jones had a decent
IDP total Sunday (5 solos) even without making any big plays.
But the prospects of his services in Dallas continuing unfettered
might be in jeopardy – because there was reportedly alcohol involved
in the hotel incident – which is being investigated and could
see a response from the commissioner as soon as Tuesday afternoon.
LB Takeo Spikes, SF – Another nice fantasy day – just
as predicted: 7 total tackles, PD, INT. Spikes – who has
one heck of a fantasy history – should be owned in all IDP
formats at this point.
DB Rashean Mathis, JAC – He had just 2 solo tackles Sunday
against Denver, but also notched a PD and recovered a fumble –
making him a worthwhile fantasy start. He should still be a hot
commodity on the wire in deeper IDP leagues.
Porter, MIA – On Houston’s first possession, Porter blasted
Schaub and caused an INT that fell into the hands of fellow LB
Akin Ayodele. While that hit didn’t make it into the IDP stat
line, the veteran LB managed to compile 3 solos, a sack and a
PD – good enough for to surpass the average output in most IDP
Williams, MIN – Since it’s usually pretty difficult to isolate
one defensive lineman out of the 100-120 guys or so who start
each week in the NFL (one who’s not already snagged in most IDP
leagues) and predict a big game in this humble little column,
I’m ecstatic that the one I targeted in last week’s barrel finished
with 8 solos and 4 sacks – as if he was speaking directly to me.
Kevin Williams, if you’re out there reading this, thanks. You’ve
made me look like an IDP genius yet again.
DB Michael Griffin, TEN – He was on a bye, but he’s
a good addition this week versus the Chiefs.