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Through The Wire - Wk 9
10/28/08

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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 leagues.

By Week 9, the wire is often picked clean of surprise fantasy standouts – although there could be some leagues where Donnie Avery is still available. Now it’s really about finding players that may have been dropped in favor of bye week fill-ins and typical fantasy fodder, aligning your team for a playoff run through transactions of all types, and plugging in those marginal guys who can make or break your fantasy day. In my most competitive home league, a 12-teamer where I share a squad with my brother in-law, both our starting RBs – Matt Forte and Joseph Addai – were obviously unavailable this week. We didn’t think Eli Manning would be tearing apart the Steelers secondary, and Plaxico Burress was being a douche again. It seemed we were against a wall, so we started:

QB Jake Delhomme (Essentially Eli’s backup – drafted 11.05)
RB Leon Washington (picked up this week over several other options and behind a bunch of other teams)
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (late FA pick made Saturday morning)
WR Donnie Avery (FA selection made last weekend)
WR Roddy White (acquired via trade Week 5 for Green Bay RBs Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson)
WR Braylon Edwards (drafted 2.07)
TE Dallas Clark (drafted 6.08)

Going into the game, we were both pretty worried, and considered our team a bit of an underdog facing a squad featuring Ben Roethlisberger, Jamal Lewis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Lee Evans, Dwayne Bowe, Torry Holt and John Carlson at TE. As it worked out, Washington outperformed Tomlinson; White, Avery and Clark went ballistic; and the opposing QB – Big Ben – threw four picks. It’s an IDP league, and while none of our defensive guys posted double-digit numbers, we won 173-132 – walking away on Monday night. Those are the wins that really satisfy us – the ones that come from a balance of smart drafting, shrewd dealing and laboring through the wire.

I continue to welcome your e-mails and enjoy hearing from you regarding my waiver wire recommendations – whether they have helped or hindered your teams this season. Keep ‘em coming, and don’t be shy about firing multiple questions – I’ll get to them all eventually.

Quarterbacks

Off The Top

David Garrard, JAC Wow. The Jaguars are throwing the ball a lot, and Garrard has quietly posting some solid fantasy numbers over his past four games (including 5 TDs and just one lost fumble over that stretch). He could really blow up over the next couple games considering his feeble opponents, although its also very possible the Jaguars return to running the ball right through the Bengals and Lions.

Marc Bulger, STL The emergence of rookie WR Donnie Avery has made him a more viable fantasy threat, although hes yet to fully realize his latent value. He should be able to throw more than 1 TD per game during his next three games: ARI, @NYJ, @SF; and his schedule over the last four weeks is to die for: @ARI, SEA, SF, @ATL.

Digging Deeper

Chad Pennington, MIA The quarterbacks that Pennington has outperformed in fantasy 08? Jason Campbell, Garrard, Jake Delhomme, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Cassel, Derek Anderson and Trent Edwards to name just a smattering of guys directly under him in the statistical rankings. Hes worth consideration in any format, and remains a strong #2 QB play.

Joe Flacco, BAL Consider Flaccos big Week 8 probably his best fantasy performance of this season and Week 9 a possibility for a #2 play. But after the next couple weeks, hes going to struggle against some of the leagues finest defenses.

Scouring The Barrel

Tyler Thigpen, KC He may have a decent game here and there the rest of the way, but Thigpen isnt a real option unless youre in the most desperate of situations.

Seneca Wallace, SEA Again the two TDs to Leonard Weaver are nice, but its not likely you played either guy. Moreover, you shouldnt really start doing it now.

Updates

Derek Anderson, CLE Last years waiver wire darling hasnt lit up the scoreboard much this season, but he hasnt turned the ball over since Week 4 @ CIN. Hes showing some signs if life, and while his remaining schedule isnt too wonderful, its not overly oppressive.

Jake Delhomme, CAR He rebounded from a terrible Week 6 with a 20-for-28 day amassing 248 yards and tossing two TD strikes to his favorite receiver, the much-beleaguered Steve Smith. Hes on a bye in Week 9, then comes back strong in Weeks 10-12: @OAK, DET, @ATL.

Matt Ryan, ATL Sure, I like his progress. But you need more than one good receiver to succeed in the NFL. His schedules tough and teams will be doubling Roddy White like gangbusters from here on out. Take away the 5 TDs to White and hes just thrown 2 on the season. Hell be forced to work for it the rest of the way and his best matchups could be division shootouts versus New Orleans in Weeks 10 and 14 where hell make a great #2 QB.

JaMarcus Russell, OAK He wasnt too spectacular against the Ravens last week, but over his past four games, hes thrice passed for over 200 yards. I know I said thrice.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Ryan Torain, DEN Ill be honest theres not a lot of information I can provide here outside of speculation, the knowledge that scouts are high on his abilities, and that Mike Shanahan likes the way he fits in the offense comparing him to Terrell Davis the day he got carted off the practice field in training camp. The rookie looks like hell be back Sunday against the Dolphins, and since the Broncos other backs are all dinged up in one way of another, he could be a decent start if he goes. Just stay tuned to the injury report in case things change leading up to Sunday.

Leon Washington, NYJ Hes one of the best special teams players in football, a talented back with a nose for the end zone, a valuable receiver on a team that requires a viable outlet, and a guy Ive been high on for years. Last week, he was the third-highest scoring RB in fantasy. Grab him if hes available and pick your spots in the coming weeks.

Digging Deeper

Ricky Williams, MIA Ricky seems interested in football and with the Dolphins playing well, hes in a good place. I dont anticipate his touches ballooning unless something happens to Ronnie Brown, but hes a decent bye-week fill-in and hell be involved against the Broncos.

Jerious Norwood, ATL I love his matchup this week, and Im assuming the Falcons will balance the workload pretty evenly between him and starting RB Michael Turner against an Oakland team thats pretty good at focusing on one back and stopping him. Around the goal line, hes solid, and he can always break off one of those classic Norwood TD scampers and make your fantasy day.

Scouring The Barrel

Chester Taylor, MIN Okay, hear me out on this one. The Vikings are facing the Texans and Packers in the next two weeks, games that theyll need to slow down and mix up the playbook to win. While AP gets the bulk of the carries, Im anticipating Taylor to be used a lot in passing downs and even possibly as the lone backfield inhabitant in the single wing, should the Vikes join the growing list of teams using the fashionable new wrinkle to throw off opponents. Hes available in a bunch of leagues and you could do a lot worse for a RB #3 this week to replace the likes of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Tomlinson, Frank Gore, McAllister or the other Saints backs.

Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG Hes a long shot again this week, but Im not giving up on him and the Giants are going to throw the kitchen sink at the Cowboys to get a win. That could involve a dose of Derrick Ward and a dash of Bradshaw.

Leonard Weaver, SEA Im looking for a good explanation for how Weaver caught not one, but two long TD passes and posted the second-highest fantasy total for all RBS in Week 8. I didnt see the game, which must have been a complete debacle, and Im interested in hearing from someone who did. Until I hear something that makes sense, I cant recommend selecting Weaver even on a team holding out for as hero like Bonnie Tyler.

Updates

Deuce McAllister, NO Hes appealing his suspension and should be available until mid-November. But hes on a bye this week, so if you have more pressing needs, he could be collateral damage.

Cedric Benson, CIN Hes coming off his best game since Week 11 of last season, but the Bengals face Jacksonville in Week 9, have their bye Week 10, then its: PHI, @PIT, BAL. Not very nice, is it?

Ahman Green, HOU 41 yards last week on 9 carries (not bad) and a cramped groin (not good) that could limit him in upcoming games. Id be wary of starting him in the next couple weeks (@MIN, BAL) anyway.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE He scored on a short TD run but wasnt that effective otherwise. Id consider him a weak No. 3 RB this week at Indy.

Kevin Faulk, NE 60 yards rushing and 4-47-1 receiving. Hes probably the best New England back to use next week at Indy, although its possible Bill Belichick shakes things up with Green-Ellis.

Mewelde Moore, PIT Hes been solid in relief of Willie Parker, but his value from here on out hinges on Willies availability. The Steelers are missing some of FWPs explosiveness, and theyve got to be eager to get him back even if Moore stays in the mix as a change of pace.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Kevin Walter, HOU If you dont know, now you know. An owner dropped him in one of my leagues last week during the waiver process and another clever owner tried to snag him on Saturday. Unfortunately, waiver drops are protected for a week a caveat I pointed out to the commissioner soon after noticing the offending action. Now its going to be an issue of priority for the few teams whove got a shot at him as it should be. If youve got a shot at him, go for it. Hes a luminous complement to WR Andre Johnson, especially in the red zone.

WR Bernard Berrian, MIN Hes definitely got a few difficult weeks on the horizon but he should be a solid WR #3 during the playoffs. Because hes coming off a bye, hes still available in a small percentage of leagues even though he grabbed TDs from Gus Frerotte in each of his last three games.

Digging Deeper

WR Matt Jones, JAC You know what he did, you know what hes doing, and you know it could all come to a screeching halt with a suspension. If you grab him, you know the risks, but hes got a decent matchup versus the Bengals.

TE Bo Scaife, TEN Hes only caught one TD on the year, but Scaife is a frequent target of Kerry Collins. Hes also on the field quite a bit and hes got excellent hands making him the better TE option in Tennessee over Alge Crumpler.

WR Ted Ginn, Jr., MIA Ted was far from MIA this week, totaling 7-175-0 in a 25-16 win over Buffalo. Hes also got 24 receptions in his last 5 games, so hes worth consideration as a #3 fill-in or solid #4.

Scouring The Barrel

TE Kevin Boss, NYG Remember what I said about the Giants throwing the kitchen sink at the Cowboys? Boss fits in to that scenario, too. Use him as a strong TE #2.

WR Mark Bradley, KC If youre desperate, then take a flier on Bradley, who finished with 5-42-1 against the Jets. But hes not likely to have great numbers against Tampa Bay, so any enthusiastic buyer should beware.

WR Demetrius Williams, BAL Another one-hit wonder, Williams provides little more value an occasional fantasy spark. And its nearly impossible to tell when hell get off. Dont bother with him.

Updates

WR Donnie Avery, STL He blew up for 6-163-1 against the Patriots Sunday and is unquestionably the biggest deep threat on the Rams going forward. Avery has another nice matchup this week at home versus the Cardinals. He should be owned in all formats.

WR Joey Galloway, TB He returned Week 8 and should be okay in KC. But if the Bucs get a lead, I doubt youll see him on the field much risking further injury. Tampas going to try and grind this one out with Earnest Graham, Warrick Dunn and possession WR Antonio Bryant.

TE Zach Miller, OAK He was relatively quiet against the Ravens (2-56-0) but should see plenty of targets this week at home versus Atlanta.

WR Javon Walker Hes another Raider receiver wholl benefit from the favorable matchup in Week 9, but owners should continue to tread carefully with Walker, as he followed up his big Week 7 with 2-28-0 in Baltimore.

WR Josh Morgan, SF What happened? Good thing I wasnt as gaga over him as some other fantasy writers, because if you started him Sunday you got a big fat stinking goose egg.

WR Nate Washington, PIT He replaced Santonio Holmes as the #2 WR in Pittsburgh on Sunday and hauled in just one catch a 65-yard TD validating his use in lineups throughout the fantasy landscape. My hope is that Holmes should be back this week, although as of Monday night the Steelers hadnt confirmed hed be active @ WAS.

WR Malcom Floyd, SD Chris Chambers, Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson and Tomlinson saw most of the targets, and Floyd converted just one of the three he saw. Stay away for now.

TE Robert Royal, BUF 2-26-0, but he lost a fumble, negating his limited fantasy value.

WR Mike Furrey, DET 5 targets, 0 receptions. Yikes.

IDP

Off The Top

LB Mike Peterson, JAC Hes had a disappointing 2008 campaign but he rebounded last week with 10 solos and could be in lien for huge totals (and even a turnover) against the Bengals in Week 9. Grab him and get him in your lineup if hes out there on the wire.

DB Terrence McGee, BUF I didnt start McGee last week because I wanted to see how the veteran corner would do in his first game back before plugging him in. He made five solo tackles and if he can go this week against Brett Favre and the Jets, hes a must play just pay attention to the NFL injury report and game day inactives.

Digging Deeper

DL Dewayne White, DET White wont be available in a ton of leagues that require a starting DE or even simply a DL, but hes posted three consecutive games with great IDP totals and hes got another nice matchup this week against the Bears. If Whites taken, maybe Jared DeVries is a possibility.

DB Brandon McDonald, CLE Hes one of the only healthy DBs the Browns have, and hell see plenty of acti9on this week against the Ravens, who yield a lot of points to opposing DBs. Hes also the only guy in the Browns secondary whose value doesnt seem to hinge on whether or not FS Sean Jones is starting which might be up in the air after Jones developed some knee swelling after the week 8 game.

Scouring The Barrel

LB Clint Session, IND Hes yet to have a true breakout game, but hes posted consistent tackle totals and he should against New England this week. Session seems to be over a calf injury that slowed him in preseason and started bothering him again during Weeks 6 and 7, so take a shot on him in deeper leagues where he may be the best available. With Gary Brackett and Freddy Keiaho taken in most leagues, Session is the other LB who could have a big day.

DB Jason Craft, STL O.J. Atogwe is awesome, but the other Rams DB racking up IDP points is Craft, a veteran corner in his first season with St. Louis whos had 22 solos in his last three games. Hes a solid sleeper play this week against Arizona.

Updates

LB Will Witherspoon, STL I include him in the wire, and he has his worst fantasy day of 2008. It just wasnt my day for IDP. I got crushed in my IDP experts league, too.

LB Thomas Howard, OAK Howard has 7 solo tackles, but his performance hardly saved my IDP selections this week, which didnt include any real standouts.

DB Nedu Ndukwe, CIN He posted 6 tackles (3 solos, 3 assists) and a PD not great, but not bad.

LB Brandon Johnson, CIN 4 solos, 2 assists. Nothing special, but no news coming out of Cincinnati is very impressive great right now.

DL Darryl Tapp, SEA Tapp didnt get to J.T. OSullivan or Shaun Hill, but it seemed like everybody else on the Seahawks defense line (Patrick Kerney, Rocky Bernard) did. What a weird day for IDP.

DB Will Demps, HOU A great big fantasy stinker, Demps had just one assist Sunday in the Texans rout of the Bengals. I apologize to anyone who used him as a fill-in and lost because of it. Its not a perfect science, but thats terrible.

DL James Hall, STL 3 tackles in Week 8, but Im anticipating a bigger day against the Cards.

DB Brandon Carr, KC So close, and yet so far. The other Chiefs rookie defensive back named Brandon Brandon Flowers, the one out of Virginia Tech had a monster fantasy day (8 tackles, 2 PD, 2 INT, and a 91-yard INT return for TD) while Carr had 6 tackles and an assist. I picked the wrong rookie DB, and while my selection had a decent game, the other rookie went nuts. Hopefully you misread my column and picked up Flowers instead of Carr, or maybe saw that Carr was taken so you went with Flowers? Am I reaching?

LB Ryan Nece, DET Just three solos and an assist. Another pedestrian fantasy total for me in the barrel.