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Through The Wire - Week 13
12/1/09 Users...
Check out the most popular waiver wire pickups this week across thousands of MFL leagues. Also, quickly see who's available on your waiver wire this week by using the MFL Power feature at FF Today. Just input your league's 5-digit ID number away you go!
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.

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 in.

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

Feedback is always welcome, appreciated and encouraged. I’ll get to as many e-mails as I can.

Note: Each player’s next four matchups are listed in parentheses ()

It’s been a crazy week on the waver wire — with a couple longshot QBs putting up solid stats, and more injuries vaulting names both familiar and unfamiliar into fantasy relevance. This is also the time to start finalizing your playoff strategy, so pay particular attention to the upcoming four-game schedule that concludes in Week 16 — nearly everybody’s fantasy championship week.


Off The Top

Joe Flacco, BAL (@GB, DET, CHI, @PIT) – He’s only available in about 18 percent of Yahoo leagues, but his upcoming schedule looks pretty nice. Flacco still has a big arm, a capable possession receivers in Derrick Mason, and deep threats Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington. He’ll be letting it all hang out the next few weeks as the Ravens push for a postseason berth.

Digging Deeper

Vince Young, TEN (@IND, STL, MIA, SD) – Hopefully you picked him up a couple weeks ago when I recommended adding him. If you didn’t, you might still have a chance. Young is really starting to show what made him such a high draft pick a few years back and new complement of young receivers is helping him hit his stride. The upcoming schedule includes a few tilts where he could rack up big yardage totals and reach the end zone (via his powerful arm or his dangerous legs) multiple times.

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (SF, @HOU, TB, @GB) – I don’t really know what happened last week against the Rams, but with Forsett emerging as a passing game threat, there must be a couple good games left in Hasselbeck’s ’09 tank. The matchups are more favorable than not, so take a shot if you’re hurting at QB and Matty’s hanging on the wire.

Scouring The Barrel

Chris Redman, ATL (PHI, NO, @NYJ, BUF) – With Matt Ryan (turf toe) out at least one game, Redman has already been confirmed as the Falcons’ starter for Sunday’s game against the Eagles. Redman hasn’t been an NFL starter for several seasons but completed 23 of 41 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, including a 5-yard scoring pass to Roddy White with just second remaining that clinched the victory over Tampa Bay. The Eagles provide a lot more pressure on opposing QBs than the Bucs, but this one could be a shootout.

Dennis Dixon, PIT (OAK, @CLE, GB, BAL) – In his first career start, Dixon faced a tough Ravens defense, playing extremely well until he threw a costly pick in overtime. Dixon ran for a 24-yard score and completed 12 of 26 passes for 145 yards with a TD. Dixon will probably start against the Raiders if Ben Roethlisberger feels any concussion-like symptoms following practice during the week or over the weekend. If Roethlisberger owners are teetering and don’t have a great backup, Dixon is available in almost every format and makes a good insurance policy.


Kyle Orton, DEN (@KC, @IND, OAK, @PHI) – Orton wasn’t that great on Thanksgiving, but 245 passing yards, one TD and an INT was enough to beat the scuffling Giants.

Matt Cassel, KC (DEN, BUF, CLE, @CIN) – Cassel compiled just 178/1/1 and lost a fumble. He’s not a viable play until Week 15, when Dwayne Bowe returns and they face a Browns team that made Matt Stafford look like a seasoned veteran.

Mark Sanchez, NYJ (@BUF, @TB, ATL, @IND) – What a pitiful game! Watching Sunday’s NYJ-CAR matchup was like watching two dachshunds hump a Rubik’s Cube. Sanchez continues to struggle, posting just 154/0/1 in the weak win over Carolina.

Alex Smith, SF (@SEA, ARI, @PHI, DET) – Smith appears to be locked in again, posting 232/2/0 last week versus the Jags. He gets another good matchup this week in Seattle.

Josh Freeman, TB (@CAR, NYJ, @SEA, @NO) – Freeman was pretty sharp in the los to Atlanta, throwing for 250/2/0.

Kyle Boller, STL (@CHI, @TEN, HOU, @ARI) – He had good a yardage total (282) but threw two picks to just one TD. I’d take him off my radar even with a few decent matchups the next few weeks.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (NYJ, @KC, NE, @ATL) – Fitzpatrick showed flashes of his ability to light up a scoreboard in the second half and finished with a very respectable fantasy day (246/1/1 passing, 7/50/1 rushing).

Running Backs

Off The Top

Darren Sproles, SD (@CLE, @DAL, CIN, @TEN) – If last week’s game against the Chiefs is any indication what the Chargers will do to the lowly Browns, I want all my Chargers starting, including their backup RB, who’s available in about a quarter of leagues.

Justin Forsett, SEA (SF, @HOU, TB, @GB) – I knew Forsett would be a force in PPR leagues, and said he’d perform like an RB1 in my updates last week, but I didn’t expect as many rushing yards and two scores with Julius Jones active. From here on out, Forsett — who was praised by one of his offensive linemen as a quicker, more dynamic back with amazing stop-and-go ability — should be the man in Seattle.

Digging Deeper

Larry Johnson, CIN (DET, @MIN, @SD, KC) – I predicted 8-10 carries against the Browns in my updates last week, and he had 22, which he converted to 107 rushing yards. Looks like Larry has found a home in Cincinnati, but he might not get as many touches once Cedric Benson returns.

Chester Taylor, MIN (@ARI, @CIN, CAR, @CHI) – He’s more than just a handcuff; Taylor is a quality third-down back and might see more touches down the stretch as the Vikings try to play for possession and cut down turnovers — something that’s plagued superstar starter Adrian Peterson.

Scouring The Barrel

Sammy Morris, NE (@MIA, CAR, @BUF, JAC) – He’s not guaranteed to get the ball more during the next few games, but Bill Belichick can’t be happy about Laurence Maroney’s fumbling issues. He’s a decent add in deep leagues with deep rosters, but he comes with the risk of limited value if Maroney gets a better “handle” on his problems.

Jerious Norwood, ATL (PHI, NO, @NYJ, BUF) – Playing in his first game back after missing five games with a hip flexor, Norwood got just eight touches but converted them into 50 yards against Tampa Bay. With Michael Turner re-inuring his ankle and Jason Snelling a non-factor last week, you have to like Norwood’s chances of starting against the Eagles.


LeSean McCoy, PHI (@ATL, @NYG, SF, DEN) – He had 76 rushing yards against the Redskins, but didn’t find paydirt. Despite a handful of starts in place of Brian Westbrook, he’s only got three scores all season and one TD in his last four games.

Fred Jackson, BUF (NYJ, @KC, NE, @ATL) – As expected, Jackson lit up the Dolphins, not Marshawn Lynch. New coach Perry Fewell said he made the decision to feature Jackson after the back (who got off to a blazing start in ’09 but took a back seat to Lynch starting in Week Four) had a great week in practice…so stay tuned to the practice reports.

Rock Cartwright, WAS (NO, @OAK, NYG, DAL) – Cartwright couldn’t get much going against the Eagles but should be more involved next week against the Saints, who are vulnerable against the run and will give up the short RB route.

Donald Brown, IND (TEN, DEN, @JAC, NYJ) – Just five carries on Sunday for 27 yards and a modest 2/11/0 receiving, but Brown is poised to shoulder a much heavier load during the final couple weeks.

Shonn Greene, NYJ (@BUF, @TB, ATL, @IND) – The rookie had 10 carries for 36 yards, but lost another fumble.

Rashad Jennings, JAC (HOU, MIA, IND, @NE) – If you don’t have Maurice Jones-Drew handcuffed by Jennings, you’re either insane or crazy deep at RB.

Samkon Gado, STL (@CHI, @TEN, HOU, @ARI) – Steven Jackson fought through painful back spasms and had another great outing on Sunday. Jackson’s got heart, but if he’s injured there’s no reason to run him out there in meaningless games. Keep an eye on Gado.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Dwayne Bowe, KC (DEN, BUF, CLE, @CIN) – He’s still suspended for the Denver and Buffalo games, but returns in Week 15 against — wait for it — the Browns! Waiting is exactly what you’ll be doing if you grab him this week, but you KNOW that eager owners who’ve locked up a playoff spot (and probably don’t have great waiver priority as a result) will be doing it if you don’t. If you’ve got roster room, grab him. If you don’t, make some, because he could help you reach a fantasy championship.

WR Jeremy Maclin, PHI (@ATL, @NYG, SF, DEN) – If recently concussed DeSean Jackson misses any time, Maclin will be the primary deep threat for the Eagles. He’s also producing more consistently even without the bi bomb, so he makes a great add heading into Atlanta.

Digging Deeper

WR Donnie Avery, STL (@CHI, @TEN, HOU, @ARI) – Avery is the best receiver on a St. Louis team that’s often forced to throw the ball. It’d be more enthusiastic if Marc Bulger was throwing him the ball, but he still has an excellent chance to get about 8-10 targets per game.

WR Jason Avant, PHI (@ATL, @NYG, SF, DEN) – See Maclin above. Avant has been producing at a high level for the past few weeks and is another Eagle receiver in line for more targets should Jackson be unavailable on Sunday.

Scouring The Barrel

WR Davone Bess, MIA (NE, @JAC, @TEN, HOU) – The Dolphins won’t throw the ball as much on the Patriots as the Saints did Monday night, but it’s obvious the Pats defense gets a little lost in coverage once in a while. Both Bess and Ted Ginn are sneaky WR4 plays this week at home versus New England, and could provide WR3 value.

WR Sam Aiken, NE (@MIA, CAR, @BUF, JAC) – Aiken seems to be the intermediate route runner for the Patriots. He’s not guaranteed to be useful every week, but against teams that are vulnerable to the pass he’ll be a solid WR4 option.


WR Jerricho Cotchery, NYJ (@BUF, @TB, ATL, @IND) – Cotchery had trouble linking up with Sanchez against the Panthers and his value takes an appropriate hit.

WR Michael Crabtree, SF (@SEA, ARI, @PHI, DET) – He’s still a solid possession receiver and finished Sunday with 4/54/0 against the Jags.

TE John Carlson, SEA (SF, @HOU, TB, @GB) – Carlson has cooled off considerably since the Seahawks started struggling mightily. He only had two catches for 14 yards on Sunday in the los to St. Louis.

WR Pierre Garcon, IND (TEN, DEN, @JAC, NYJ) – Garcon had his best game since Week Three with 5/63/1. With Gonzalez still out indefinitely, he’s a solid WR2 going forward.

WR Chris Chambers, KC (DEN, BUF, CLE, @CIN) – Chambers had seven catches for 70 yards, including a 7-yard TD reception from Cassel. He’s obviously developing a nice rapport with his QB and should be owned in all formats.

WR Robert Meachem, NO (@WAS, @ATL, DAL, TB) – Meacham continues to find the end zone. Monday night’s 38-yard TD is his fifth score in the last four games.

TE Jermichael Finley, GB (BAL, @CHI, @PIT, SEA) – Finley had 3/25/0 but fellow TE Donald Lee got the red zone look that resulted in a TD.

WR Kenny Britt, TEN (@IND, STL, MIA, SD) – Behind a breakout performance from Young, Britt exploded for 128 yards on seven catches, including a 51-yard bomb that could signify the start of some truly wonderful things for the Titans offense.

WR Jordy Nelson, GB (BAL, @CHI, @PIT, SEA) – Just 1/19/0 and a lost fumble. Not a game that’ll get him more looks.


Off The Top

DL Aaron Schobel, BUF (NYJ, @KC, NE, @ATL) – The next few games could give Schobel his first double-digit sack total since 2006, when he concluded the most a very productive four-season stretch. His best games of 2009 came earlier in the season, but you can expect a strong resurgence in the coming weeks.

LB Kirk Morrison, OAK (@PIT, WAS, @DEN, @CLE) – The Steelers will undoubtedly run the ball with a vengeance and control the clock next week against the Raiders, and Morrison stands to benefit the most of any Oakland defender. He’s still available in a few IDP leagues and has been quiet for a couple weeks, but he’s rebound with a big game in Pittsburgh.

Digging Deeper

DB Leon Hall, CIN (DET, @MIN, @SD, KC) – He’s been upstaged a bit the past few weeks by fellow corner Johnathan Joseph, but Hall is still a solid IDP performer. I’ve never seen two CBs on the same time produce at a higher level in the past 10 years, and I don’t think we’ll see it again anytime soon. The lack of respect for Hall and Joseph has given them ample opportunities to make plays, and it just keeps happening .The Lions are bound to throw the ball a lot next week, so if you’re looking for help, Hall’s a good DB1 play.

LB A.J. Hawk, GB (BAL, @CHI, @PIT, SEA) – Hawk had 10 total tackles last week and seems to be on the field much more facing run-based offensive attacks. He’s available in a bunch of leagues and could have another big game this week facing the Ravens, who focus their offensive approach around Ray Rice.

Scouring The Barrel

LB Anthony Spencer, DAL (@NYG, SD @NO, @WAS) – Spencer has come on strong the past few weeks (21 tackles, two sacks, INT, two PD in his last three games) and faces a Giants offensive that’s been having problems. Look for constant pressure form Spencer on the strong side and decent numbers for this emerging LOLB.

DB Jordan Babineaux, SEA (SF, @HOU, TB, @GB) – Babineaux is quietly having an awesome IDP season and last week blew up for 13 total tackles (12 solos), two PD and an INT. He’s effective at both run support and in coverage and is facing a 49ers team that’s likely to try to move the ball through the air versus the Seahawks.


DL Robert Mathis, IND (TEN, DEN, @JAC, NYJ) – Just two tackles, but a late-game sack and forced fumble legitimized his start in your DL slot.

LB Lawrence Timmons, PIT (OAK, @CLE, GB, BAL) – Timmons, sidelined early in the season with an ankle injury, had his best game of 2009 with seven total tackles and two sacks in the loss to the Ravens.

LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, CHI (STL, GB, @BAL, MIN) – The much-maligned MLB also had his best game of the season on Sunday versus the Vikings, compiling nine total tackles, a PD and two forced fumbles. I’d say that makes me three for three for my IDP selections.

DB Champ Bailey, DEN (@KC, @IND, OAK, @PHI) – Four solos and two PD, his first passes defensed since Week Six. Based on my scoring, that’s about a half-point higher than his average, which means…four for four.

DB Malcolm Jenkins, NO (@WAS, @ATL, DAL, TB) – Oh, I’m gooood. Eight solos and a pass defensed — that’s about 9-10 points in most IDP leagues, which is an excellent total for a DB without picking up a pick. One more?

DL Cliff Avril, DET (@CIN, @BAL, ARI, @SF) – Ouch. My first miss. Avril didn’t get to Aaron Rodgers and finished with just two tackles. Can’t win ‘em all, right?