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