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Through The Wire - Week 14
12/8/09 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 ()

This week I’m concentrating on the bevy of running backs out there who could provide some late-season value and help get your team some playoff wins. I’ve also targeted a bunch of quarterbacks available in a majority of leagues who have favorable matchups during the stretch run.


Off The Top

Kyle Orton, DEN (@IND, OAK, @PHI, KC) – The Colts have done a better job defending the pass but this game will likely be a shootout. If you’re in dire need of a QB1 this week, Orton is probably your most reliable option of the guys available in over a quarter of fantasy leagues.

David Garrard, JAC (MIA, IND, @NE, @CLE) – Garrard should have a good game against the Dolphins and has a few nice matchups during the final four games, but he’s a guy who’s hard to count on week-to-week. He didn’t throw a TD in Week 12 and last week was the first time he’s throw at least two TDs since Week 4 (during Week 10 he had a rushing TD to go along with a TD pass to Mike Sims-Walker).

Digging Deeper

Alex Smith, SF (ARI, @PHI, DET, @STL) – Smith could have one of the better four-game finishes among Tier 3 QBs and should be useful in most 14-16 team leagues as a QB1 during the playoffs.

Brady Quinn, CLE (PIT, @KC, OAK, JAC) – With eight total TDs (seven passing, one rushing) and 675 passing yards over his last three games, the embattled Quinn is one of the hottest QBs in fantasy. The matchups in the final four aren’t especially favorable or unfavorable, but he’s starting to click with his receivers and doesn’t seem to be overly concerned with preventing turnovers — the old Brett Favre-Tony Romo recipe for fantasy success.

Scouring The Barrel

Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (@KC, NE, @ATL, IND) – If Garrard’s got the best remaining composite schedule for a QB, Fitzpatrick isn’t close behind, with four vulnerable pass defenses on the docket. He’s another major question mark, but could put up big numbers as a QB2 or desperation QB1 in deeper formats.

Matt Cassel, KC (BUF, CLE, @CIN, @DEN) – Cassel — benched during last week’s game but slated to start on Sunday — is listed here for one reason: his Week 15 matchup against the Browns. Other than that, he’s nearly unusable in any format.


Joe Flacco, BAL (DET, CHI, @PIT, @OAK) – He had about 150 passing yards robbed by pass interference penalties and threw a couple late-game picks that cost the Ravens the game, but he has a much better matchup this week at home versus the Lions.

Vince Young, TEN (STL, MIA, SD, @SEA) – Young followed up his career-best performance with a respectable 241/2/1, but the Titans will likely just run the ball all over the Rams.

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (@HOU, TB, @GB, TEN) – Hasselbeck’s terrible offensive line is preventing him from achieving fantasy relevance down the stretch. He posted 198/2/0 on Sunday and lost fumble.

Chris Redman, ATL (NO, @NYJ, BUF, @TB) – He tallied 235/1/2 on Sunday and will probably start against New Orleans this weekend with Matt Ryan likely out once again.

Dennis Dixon, PIT (@CLE, GB, BAL, @MIA) – Ben Roethlisberger got the start on Sunday against the Raiders, rendering Dixon N/A unless head coach Mike Tomlin benches Big Ben while he cleans house.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Jonathan Stewart, CAR (@NE, MIN, @NYG, NO) – He’s only available in a fraction of leagues, but I know a couple instances where he was acquired on Sunday for a spot start and pitched in admirably (120 rushing yards and a score). If he made it through the weekend and he’s still out there, don’t hesitate to grab him.

Laurence Maroney, NE (CAR, @BUF, JAC, @HOU) – Maroney is mired in a committee, but still offers the best value of the New England running backs. He might not be a starter in shallow leagues, but should at least be owned considering the myriad issues at play in the possibly busy Boston backfield.

Marshawn Lynch, BUF (@KC, NE, @ATL, IND) – Lynch looked like the better runner on Thursday night and has resumed at least a time share in Buffalo. With the Chiefs on the docket, both Lynch and Jackson are decent flex plays with upside.

Digging Deeper

Willis McGahee, BAL (DET, CHI, @PIT, @OAK) – As a Ray Rice owner, it’s frustrating to see McGahee steal goal line carries, but against the Lions, there should be plenty of scoring opportunities to go around. Rice is a solid RB1 this week, but McGahee registers as a sneaky RB3/flex play.

Rock Cartwright, WAS (@OAK, NYG, DAL, @SD) – Cartwright isn’t going to blow anybody away, but in PPR leagues he should provide decent RB3 value against the Raiders. I’m even starting him this week in one two-RB league where I’ve been ravaged by injury.

Ryan Moats, HOU (SEA, @STL, @MIA, NE) – It’s a tough call on who has more value against the Seahawks this week, but it’s probably Moats, who’s shiftier back. If Schaub is healthy enough to play and the Texans find themselves throwing the ball a lot, Chris Brown might see more action as a blocking/safety valve option.

Scouring The Barrel

Chris Brown, HOU (SEA, @STL, @MIA, NE) – See Moats above. Brown is the better blocker and has snatched the starting job and most of the goal line ops as of late.

Jerome Harrison, CLE (PIT, @KC, OAK, JAC) – It’s not an ideal matchup, but Harrison is the talk of Cleveland with Jamal Lewis done for the year and likely his career.

Leonard Weaver, PHI (@NYG, SF, DEN, @DAL) – Weaver is a fierce competitor and hard runner who makes the most of his limited touches (five carries, 37 yards and 2/63/1 receiving). He’s doing in Philly what he once did in Seattle — turning fantasy heads when he gets the ball.


Darren Sproles, SD (@DAL, CIN, @TEN, WAS) – Seven carries for 27 yards, 4/56/1 — a solid recommendation for my No. 1 RB pick of the week.

Justin Forsett, SEA (@HOU, TB, @GB, TEN) – Only five carries for nine yards, but three catches for 25 yards and a TD. That’s two selections in a row who scored.

Larry Johnson, CIN (@MIN, @SD, KC, @NYJ) – Two carries, four yards, but you were warned that Benson’s return would nullify his value.

Chester Taylor, MIN (@CIN, CAR, @CHI, NYG) – Taylor tallied 49 total yards and looked more effective than Adrian Peterson. This could lead to more carries down the stretch.

Sammy Morris, NE (CAR, @BUF, JAC, @HOU) – See Maroney above. Morris had 65 total yards on Sunday but is in a crowded backfield.

Jerious Norwood, ATL (NO, @NYJ, BUF, @TB) – The Eagles were tough last week, yielding just 18 yards on 11 carries and 2/24/0 receiving to Norwood.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

Pierre Garcon, IND (DEN, @JAC, NYJ, @BUF) – Garcon continues to perform marvelously for the Colts and had his highest yardage total last week (6/136/0) against the Titans. This week, with Champ Bailey covering Reggie Wayne, he’s for another big game.

Robert Meachem, NO (@ATL, DAL, TB, @CAR) – I’m not going to get into the controversial score that may or may not have helped you win last week. I’m only saying that if Meachem isn’t owned in your league at this point, you and your league mates should have your heads examined.

Digging Deeper

Kenny Britt, TEN (STL, MIA, SD, @SEA) – Justin Gage remains out, and with Britt starting and scoring in three straight weeks, he’s becoming a reliable WR3 in 12-team leagues. This week, he’s an excellent play — since Rams safety O.J. Atogwe could miss the rest of the season with a dislocated right shoulder that eventually will require surgery. Britt is a real deep threat who can help your squad in the coming weeks.

Jacoby Jones, HOU (SEA, @STL, @MIA, NE) – Jones didn’t play Sunday after being fined for missing a crucial team meeting on Saturday, but he’ll likely be part of the action this week and could have WR4 or even WR3 value in deeper leagues over the next few games.

Scouring The Barrel

Mohamed Massaquoi, CLE (PIT, @KC, OAK, JAC) – Massaquoi, who scored last week, isn’t a sure thing for fantasy production. But the youngster could do well this week if Tomlin is serious about playing two rookie corners instead of the Steelers’ veterans. He might also be a decent option in weeks 15 and 17.

Josh Morgan, SF (ARI, @PHI, DET, @STL) – Morgan had six receptions for 56 yards on Sunday, including a 22-yard touchdown catch. He’s got favorable matchups in the final four games, so he could be a help in deeper fantasy formats.


WR Dwayne Bowe, KC (BUF, CLE, @CIN, @DEN) – Bowe is serving the last game of his four-week suspension on Sunday and will return Week 15 just in time to face the Browns. Giddyup.

WR Jeremy Maclin, PHI (@NYG, SF, DEN, @DAL) – His line of 4/83/0 was respectable, but he didn’t find the end zone. His value might be better with DeSean Jackson on the other side instead of Avant — and Jackson should play this week.

WR Donnie Avery, STL (@TEN, HOU, @ARI, SF) – Avery posted 3/30/0 and since the team’s depth chart has been whitewashed at WR, he’ll probably attempt to play through a shoulder injury that limits his value.

WR Jason Avant, PHI (@NYG, SF, DEN, @DAL) – Avant’s 3/36/0 wasn’t too impressive considering the opponent, the opportunity, and his body of work the last few weeks.

WR Davone Bess, MIA (@JAC, @TEN, HOU, PIT) – Bess had his best game of 2009 with 10 catches, 117 yards and his first TD of the season. Easily my best longshot WR call of ‘09.

WR Sam Aiken, NE (CAR, @BUF, JAC, @HOU) – Just one catch on Sunday, but it was an acrobatic grab that went for 81 yards for a score. Another solid recommendation that panned out for you deep-leaguers.


Off The Top

DL Tamba Hali, KC (BUF, CLE, @CIN, @DEN) – Hali is coming off a three-sack game and gets an opponent that yields big points to opposing pass rushers. Hali is an outside 3-4 LB who excels on blitzes and is improving at stopping the run. If he’s DL-eligible in your format, he’s a must start this week at that position.

LB Larry Foote, DET (@IND, OAK, @PHI, KC) – Foote has arguably the best LB matchup of any MLB in football this week facing the Ravens, who will look to get their running game back on track and control time of possession against the Lions. Foote is still available in plenty of IDP leagues and makes an excellent start as an LB1.

Digging Deeper

DB Bryan Scott, BUF (@KC, NE, @ATL, IND) – Scott has been playing LB for the Bills since Week 10 and should have plenty of opportunities to provide excellent value against the Chiefs as a DB-eligible starter. Take a shot on Scott as a DB2.

LB Bart Scott, NYJ (@TB, ATL, @IND, CIN) – This Scott has been relatively quiet this season but should make a bunch of big plays facing the Bucs in Tampa Bay this week. It’s high time Rex Ryan started using Scott a bit more aggressively, allowing the veteran linebacker to blitz more and rack up some jarring tackles behind the line.

Scouring The Barrel

DL Stylez G White, TB (NYJ @SEA, @NO, ATL) – Formerly Greg White, he renamed himself “ Stylez G” (no period after G) after the title character’s best friend in Teen Wolf. Yeah. He’s a great option in deeper leagues facing the Jets and has 24 tackles and 5.5 sacks in his seven games since Week Six.

DB Dawan Landry, BAL (CHI, @PIT, @OAK) – Landry’s had a solid season (66 tackles, four INT, six PD, TD) and gets a favorable matchup for DBs in Week 14 facing Detroit. No word if Ed Reed will be active on Sunday, but it shouldn’t make that much of a difference.


DL Aaron Schobel, BUF (@KC, NE, @ATL, IND) – Schobel had an excellent game as expected with eight tackles and a sack. He should be almost as effective this week facing the Chiefs.

LB Kirk Morrison, OAK (WAS, @DEN, @CLE, BAL) – Seven total tackles doesn’t excite me that much, but at least it’s not a goose egg.

DB Leon Hall, CIN (@MIN, @SD, KC, @NYJ) – Just one PD. Not good — that makes two out of three weeks Hall has struggled to compile IDP numbers.

LB A.J. Hawk, GB (@CHI, @PIT, SEA, @ARI) – Probably my best call given the turnover, Hawk had seven tackles, an INT, and a PD.

LB Anthony Spencer, DAL (SD @NO, @WAS, PHI) – Spencer had another okay performance with five solos and a forced fumble, but he didn’t take an angle on Brandon Jacobs during the outset of the beefy RB’s catch-and-run 74-yard score, possibly costing Dallas a crucial win.

DB Jordan Babineaux, SEA (@HOU, TB, @GB, TEN) – Another solid call on my part, Babineaux finished with nine tackles, a half-sack, a forced fumble and a PD. Nice!