Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to 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 a big 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 — sometimes breakout
stars that eluded your team’s draft — as well as players
who can help your squad that may still be lurking in deeper leagues.
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Off the Top - Includes my premier
recommendations — sometimes players available either only
in more shallow leagues, and occasionally guys more readily available
who’ve been thrust into the fantasy spotlight.
Digging Deeper - Covers the next
tier of quality waiver wire specimens, usually players available
in a majority of online leagues.
Scouring the Barrel - Chronicles
the deepest of fantasy adds — and sometimes highlights players
being tacked onto fantasy squads who I don’t have much confidence
Each week, I’ll also provide a brief update on the 30-40 players
I covered the previous week. It’s the best one-stop waiver-wire
column available on the Internet, and it’s only available
here at fftoday.com.
Feedback is always welcome,
appreciated and encouraged. I’ll get to as many e-mails as
Note: Each player’s
next four matchups are listed in parentheses ()
With injuries to a slew of starting running backs in Week 10, this
week’s column focuses on the backups who just might get off
the bench and produce this week and down the stretch — providing
some punch to your playoff push. I’ve also highlighted several
veteran WRs (many of whom were big names just a few months ago)
that are available in a bunch of leagues and appear primed for a
Off The Top
Eli Manning, NYG (ATL, @DEN, DAL, PHI) – Manning is only
available in about 10 percent of leagues, but it’s possible
somebody was forced to drop him heading into the weekend because
of his bye. He should rebound from a few poor games with a good
performance against the Falcons.
Vince Young, TEN (@HOU, ARI, @IND, STL) – He’s not
recommended in anything but the deepest of leagues, but Young
has the Titans playing their best football of the season and could
have a fantasy impact down the stretch. In Week 11, he faces a
Houston defense that looked better and better in the weeks leading
up to the bye.
SEA (@MIN, @STL, SF, @HOU) – Since the Vikings defense yields
better-than-average fantasy games to QB, it’s tempting to plug
in Hasselbeck, but with its weak offensive line and without Julius
Jones to pick up blitzes, he’ll have little time to find open
receivers. Hasselbeck might compile some garbage points if the
Vikings get way up early, but it’s more likely he throws a few
picks and hurts fantasy owners more than he helps them. However,
if you’re in a deep league that doesn’t penalize for turnovers,
he could be worth a start.
Scouring The Barrel
DEN (SD, NYG, @KC, @IND) – Starter Kyle Orton left Sunday’s game
with an injured left ankle and didn’t play in the second half.
While Orton might play this week against San Diego, it depends
on his progress over the next few days, according to Josh McDaniels,
who refused to rule him out for Sunday. Simms played terribly
when he took over, but having a week of practice under his belt
would undoubtedly help his cause. Even if he starts, playing Simms
would be a fantasy move of pure desperation, but at least he’d
be facing a Chargers secondary that was shredded by Donovan McNabb
in Week 10.
Mark Sanchez, NYJ (@NE, CAR, @BUF, @TB) – Sanchez had another
lackluster game with 212 passing yards, a TD and two INTs. Starting
him against New England isn’t recommended.
David Garrard, JAC (BUF, @SF, HOU, MIA) – Garrard has now
had two respectable games in a row. On Sunday, he posted 221 passing
yards, a TD both passing and rushing, and lost a fumble against
in a last-second win over the Jets.
SF (@GB, JAC, @SEA, ARI) – Smith helped his team get a 10-6 win
by limiting his turnover count to just one. But Smith managed
just 118 yards on 16-for-23 passing and will have a tough time
this week in Green Bay.
CAR (MIA, @NYJ, TB, @NE) – Delhomme had his best game of the season
with 195 passing yards, 11 rushing yards, and 2 TD strikes to
former stud WR Steve Smith. Look for another solid game this week
at home against the Dolphins.
Josh Freeman, TB (NO, @ATL, @CAR, NYJ) – The rookie has
36 rushing yards, a TD pass, an INT, fumble, and 196 passing yards.
He’s a low-end QB2 despite a favorable matchup against a
Saints secondary reeling from multiple injuries.
STL (ARI, SEA, @CHI, @TEN) – Bulger nearly doubled the fantasy
output of his best game of 2009 to date with 298 passing yards,
two TDs and just one INT. Donnie Avery caught both scores.
Off The Top
Moreno, DEN (SD, NYG, @KC, @IND) – Moreno ran much more effectively
than Correll Buckhalter last week in Washington, tallying 97 yards
on 18 carries against a relatively tough run defense. While McDaniels
hasn’t named him the starter, it’s reasonably safe to assume he’s
see the bulk of carries going forward since Buckhalter lacks the
pep that Moreno has shown.
ATL (@NYG, TB, PHI, NO) – Michael Turner could be out a few weeks
with what appears to be an ankle sprain (no official word on its
severity yet), making Snelling and Jerious Norwood the two most
likely backs to get work in his stead. The Falcons also resigned
but most of the carries will likely go to Snelling, who ran well
after Turner’s early exit on Sunday. I’d pencil Snelling in as
a viable RB2 this week at Giants Stadium if you have the waiver
wire priority to do so.
Jamal Lewis, CLE (@DET, @CIN, SD, PIT) – For teams looking
for one matchup to play an aging back in what could amount to
a final hurrah, this is it. Lewis is six seasons removed from
his historic 2,066-yard, 14-TD 2003 season for the Ravens, but
he should still be able to put up respectable numbers against
the Lions. Like I said. Lewis is planning on retiring after this
season and he might only have one or two fantasy relevant starts
left in his 30-year-old tank.
Scott, CIN (@OAK, CLE, DET, @MIN) – Comeback Player of the
Year candidate Cedric Benson might miss this week’s game in Oakland,
which means that Scott would assume starting duties and share
the workload with journeyman back Brian Leonard and newly signed
Larry Johnson — who’ll likely contribute mostly on special teams
in his debut. The matchup is great, so if Benson can’t go, jump
on the rookie.
McFadden, OAK (CIN, @DAL, @PIT, WAS) – McFadden returned from
a torn right meniscus but only had a few carries on Sunday. He
could see an increased workload against the Bengals, since the
highly touted Arkansas product still offers the most upside of
any of the Raiders’ running backs. But temper your expectations
based the team’s current three-man rotation of Michael Bush, Justin
Fargas and McFadden.
Scouring The Barrel
Justin Forsett, SEA (@MIN, @STL, SF, @HOU) – Julius Jones
has a cracked rib and bruised lung, which means he’s likely
out for Week 11 and probably a couple more. This week, Forsett
won’t be able to garner much yardage on the ground, but
could be a presence in PPR leagues. Even in deep leagues, he’s
a FLEX play at best traveling to Minnesota.
Bush, OAK (CIN, @DAL, @PIT, WAS) – Bush rushed for over 100
yards against the Chiefs and is pushing for more playing time
even when McFadden is 100 healthy. He’s a hit-or-miss guy like
the other Raiders backs, so be wary of playing him in the present
CIN (@OAK, CLE, DET, @MIN) – Johnson agreed to a one-year deal
on Tuesday with the Bengals but is technically the fourth running
back and probably won’t suit up Sunday unless Benson is inactive.
He’s worth monitoring, but he doesn’t likely have much fantasy
value unless Benson aggravates his injury and/or Scott is hurt
down the stretch.
Williams, TB (NO, @ATL, @CAR, NYJ) – The Caddy had 52 yards
and a score and faces a Saints defense that gives up points to
opposing RBs. He could be a sneaky add considering all the big
name backs who went down in Week 10.
BAL (IND, PIT, @GB, DET) – McGahee saw limited work but is still
a must-add for Ray Rice owners.
LeSean McCoy, PHI (@CHI, WAS, @ATL, @NYG) – His Week 10
performance (three carries for five yards and 3-18-0 receiving)
offered very little help to fantasy owners, but another Brian
Westbrook concussion (his second in a month) means the rookie
will likely get a handful of starts over the rest of the season.
Maroney, NE (NYJ, @NO, @MIA, CAR) – Maroney was all over the
place, with 13 carries for 31 yards, a lost fumble and a TD, as
well as 2-15-0 receiving. It’ll be tough to start him if and when
Sammy Morris returns, but for now he’s a solid RB3/FLEX play.
Ladell Betts, WAS (@DAL, @PHI, NO, @OAK) – Betts had a big
day versus Denver with 114 yards and a TD. I wish I was more emphatic
with my recommendation last week, because it looks like Portis
might sit out the rest of ’09.
Kolby Smith, KC (PIT, @SD, DEN, BUF) – Against a bad run
defense, he had nine carries for 12 yards. The Chiefs just don’t
have the chops to provide value at RB right now (and especially
this week against the Steelers), even if Smith is the best runner
of the bunch.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Owens, BUF (@JAC, MIA, NYJ, @KC) – Currently available in
21 percent of Yahoo leagues, Owens is showing signs of life. He
had three catches for 85 yards on Sunday in the loss to Tennessee,
and faces a weak Jags pass defense that’s now missing Rashean
Mathis. The Bills announced Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at QB
this weekend, but it doesn’t really matter. If Buffalo can reach
the red zone, T.O. could provide some unexpected WR3/FLEX value.
DAL (WAS, OAK, @NYG, SD) – Roy had his best game of 2009 on Sunday
with 5-105-1, although the TD was a garbage score (the Cowboys
were down 17-0 with less than a minute to go) and he lost a fumble
and dropped a couple passes. I’m not saying he’ll be the WR1 some
expected, but he could have a few big games and is at least worth
a roster slot.
HOU (TEN, IND, @JAC, SEA) – The Texans enter the most favorable
four-game stretch for fantasy WRs this season, and no receiver
will benefit from that more than Walter, who’s available in 40
percent of leagues, has the size (6-3, 218) to exploit the middle
of the field, and can replace the sturdy presence his team lost
when TE Owen Daniels went on IR.
Jeremy Maclin, PHI (@CHI, WAS, @ATL, @NYG) – The rookie
had another solid game (6-76-1) and remains one of the best young
big-play receivers in football. Get him in your lineup this week
in Chicago. The Eagles don’t have an upcoming schedule as
nice-looking as the Texans, but it’s not bad, and McNabb
has shown the ability to rack up huge passing yards by hitting
his speedy WRs in stride — and giving them a shot at the
Antonio Bryant, TB (NO, @ATL, @CAR, NYJ) – Bryant is only
owned in about half of 12-team leagues because he’s not
fully recovered from the arthroscopic knee surgery he had in the
offseason. The knee continues to give him problems, and the swelling
he attributes to the long London flights forced him to sit out
Week 10. But if he somehow gets a green light to play against
the Saints, he makes a solid WRs/FLEX play.
STL (ARI, SEA, @CHI, @TEN) – As I mentioned during the update
on Bulger, Avery caught two TDs last week. He also has a favorable
schedule coming up and seems to be building on some of the rapport
that emerged with Bulger in 2008. He’s also available in about
two-thirds of Yahoo leagues.
Scouring The Barrel
Floyd, SD (@DEN, KC, @CLE, @DAL) – Despite inclusion in scads
of waiver wire columns a couple weeks ago, Floyd is still available
in over 80 percent of leagues, and could see a resurgence as Philip
Rivers is forced to look somewhere other than Vincent Jackson
and Antonio Gates during the Chargers’ playoff run. Don’t forget
about this guy, because he’s still the same huge target he was
two weeks ago when he was popping up on waiver claims all over
CAR (MIA, @NYJ, TB, @NE) – He’s not the receiver he once was,
but Muhammed played well last week(6-91-0) in the win over Atlanta
after missing a couple weeks with a sprained MCL. Considering
some of the matchups on the docket, he could have some value down
the stretch if the Panthers continue to provide decent protection
TE Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN (SEA, CHI, @ARI, CIN) – Shiancoe
didn’t reach the end zone but had 3-43-0 in the win over
Detroit. He continues to be a solid TE1.
WR Lee Evans, BUF (@JAC, MIA, NYJ, @KC) – I called this
one. Evans had his best game of the season with four catches for
50 yards and two scores. He’s a sneaky sleeper play this
week in Jacksonville as well.
WR Mike Wallace, PIT (@KC, @BAL, OAK, @CLE) – Just 1-16-0,
but the Steelers didn’t spend enough time in the red zone
for him to get consistent targets.
WR Laveranues Coles, CIN (@OAK, CLE, DET, @MIN) – Coles
had a good game with 5-67-0, and should have more standout games
with a slew of poor pass defenses coming up.
WR Chris Chambers, KC (PIT, @SD, DEN, BUF) – Chambers is
making nice plays when he gets targets, posting 3-60-0 on Sunday
against the Raiders. And the recent four-game suspension of Dwayne
Bowe means he’ll see more targets. He’s a solid addition
in deeper leagues and could warrant a WR3 start in the right matchup.
WR Robert Meachem, NO (@TB, NE, @WAS, @ATL) – One big catch
(27-yard TD) and one big run (41 yards on one carry). It’s
obvious that Meacham has the ability to produce if he’s
on the field.
Off The Top
DB Charles Woodson, GB (SF, @DET, BAL, @CHI) – For some
reason, Woodson’s a guy who gets no love in fantasy. He’s
owned in just 60 percent of Yahoo IDP leagues despite being among
the Top Five in fantasy points for DBs and the Top 20 among all
LB Paul Posluszny, BUF (@JAC, MIA, NYJ, @KC) – While Posluszny
is owned in just 13 percent of Yahoo IDP leagues, he’s coming
on strong and has played well in his last four games (41 total
tackles, FF, INT, PD). He should be owned in all formats and has
a favorable schedule on the way.
LB David Hawthorne, SEA (@MIN, @STL, SF, @HOU) – Owned
in just 12 percent of Yahoo IDP leagues, Hawthorne has shown in
just a few starts that he’s for real. The injury to Lofa
Tatupu was unfortunate, but it’s given us Hawthorne, a breakout
MLB with the ability to fill up the state sheet and supply more
than just tackles.
LB Dhani Jones, CIN (@OAK, CLE, DET, @MIN) – Despite being
the 37th ranked fantasy LB and relatively consistent tackle totals
all season, Jones also gets little fanfare. He should be a main
contributor for the Bengals defense in the team’s next few
Scouring The Barrel
Keisel, PIT (@KC, @BAL, OAK, @CLE) – Keisel is finding holes
in opposing offensive lines because of the outside pressure applied
by the Steelers standout 3-4 OLBs. He may not do it every week,
but he stands a good chance of getting to KC signal-caller Matt
Cassel if the defense maintains the same approach.
Fanene, CIN (@OAK, CLE, DET, @MIN) – The big Samoan emerged
after RDE Antwan Odom went down for the year in Week Five. He
now has 14 tackles and 4.0 sacks in his last four games and faces
a vulnerable Raiders offensive line Week 10.
LB E.J. Henderson, MIN (SEA, CHI, @ARI, CIN) – Seven total
tackles versus the Lions. He’s a good bet for at least that
in Week 10.
Atogwe, STL (ARI, SEA, @CHI, @TEN) – The somewhat forgotten
DB had five solos, an INT, a forced fumble and a PD against the
Saints — his best game since Week One.
LB Larry Foote, DET (CLE, GB, @CIN, @BAL) – Foote had just
three total tackles against the Vikes — but was limited
by a knee injury. Keep an eye on his status this week.
LB Gary Brackett, IND (@BAL, @HOU, TEN, DEN) – Brackett
had his best game of the season on Sunday night with 11 tackles
(eight solos) and a fumble recovery. He’s a good play this
week in Baltimore as well.
DL Tamba Hali, KC (PIT, @SD, DEN, BUF) – Three tackles and
a half-sack against Oakland, Hali has an excellent matchup at
home versus Pittsburgh this week.
LB Landon Johnson, CAR (MIA, @NYJ, TB, @NE) – Johnson had
seven tackles (six solos) in the win over the Falcons. I’m
expecting another solid day facing the run-happy Dolphins.
DB Derek Cox, JAC (BUF, @SF, HOU, MIA) – The rookie had
four total tackles on Sunday in the stirring win over the Jets.