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 ()
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.
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).
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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!