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 ()
Another six NFL teams (CIN, KC, NE, PIT, TB, WAS) have bye weeks
in Week Eight, forcing owners to take to the wire to round out lineups.
Off The Top
David Garrard, JAC (@TEN, KC, @NYJ, BUF) – Garrard isn’t
the most consistent QB in the world, but he’s facing the
league’s worst pass defense and should put up good numbers
after his team’s Week Seven bye — a respite that probably
made him available in quite a few formats.
SF (@IND, TEN, CHI, @GB) – Smith reportedly earned the starting
nod this week against the Colts and will be a popular pickup considering
the team’s enviable fantasy schedule with regards to QBs. It’s
obviously a volatile situation in San Fran, but if Smith can avoid
turning the ball over too many times at Indy, he could be in line
for several productive starts. His relative value is surely the
highest this week in leagues that don’t penalize for turnovers
— because they are bound to happen.
Scouring The Barrel
Culpepper, DET (STL, @SEA, @MIN, CLE) – Three out of Culpepper’s
next four starts are fantasy-friendly — even for the beleaguered
Lions QB. He’s worth a shot in deeper leagues, especially if Calvin
Johnson is ready to go this week.
SEA (@DAL, DET, @ARI, @MIN) – Hasselbeck will be facing a much-improved
Dallas pass defense and could big in for a rough game if the Dallas
front seven gets penetration on passing downs. He’ll no doubt
be available in plenty of formats following his bye, but aside
from the ideal matchup in Week Nine, he’s got some tough games
SF (@IND, TEN, CHI, @GB) – Hill lost his starting job last week
during the Houston game. If you picked him up, it’s time to swap
him out for Smith.
Marc Bulger, STL (@DET, BYE, NO, ARI) – Bulger didn’t
look too good versus Indy, but the Colts have defended the pass
much better this season. He should post much better numbers this
week in Detroit.
TEN (JAC, @SF, BUF, @HOU) – Titans head coach Jeff Fisher is still
sticking with Kerry Collins as his starter, but it might not be
long before Young sees some snaps and climbs into the fantasy
fray once again.
BUF (HOU, BYE, @TEN, @JAC) – Fitzpatrick, the Bills backup until
Trent Edwards went down with a concussion in Week Six, will make
his second straight start while Edwards continues to recover,
making him a decent bye-week fill-in in deeper leagues. Fitzpatrick
was 11-for-22 with 123 passing yards and a TD on Sunday against
Off The Top
MIA (@NYJ, @NE, TB, @CAR) – Williams has come a long way since
his partial hiatus from 2004-07, and tied a career-high with three
rushing TDs against his former team — the Saints — which gave
up much of its future to draft him in 1999. Williams looks explosive
with the football and is making the most out of his opportunities
in the Wildcat. He’s still available in a small fragment of fantasy
leagues, but will be universally owned after his Week Seven performance.
McCoy, PHI (NYG, DAL, @SD, @CHI) – No word yet on Brian Westbrook’s
status (concussion) for next week’s home matchup versus the Giants,
but even if he’s back, it’s a good idea to snag McCoy for insurance.
The capable backup is available in more than half of Yahoo leagues,
but if you don’t jump on him this week, you probably won’t have
ARI (CAR, @CHI, SEA, @STL) – “Beanie” is not a very reliable ball
carrier — even for a rookie — but is getting more opportunities
to prove his worth in Arizona. Hightower will still have the edge
in fantasy value in PPR leagues (where Wells is a liability given
his stone-handed ways), but Wells has regained some of the flavor
that had him ranked among the top five fantasy rookies to own
during the pre-season.
Scouring The Barrel
Greene, NYJ (MIA, BYE, JAC, @NE) – Before this week, Greene
was almost universally available in redraft leagues because of
the Jets’ unwillingness to give him the ball. On Sunday, Greene
took advantage of Leon Washington’s broken leg, rushing for 144
yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns (one an impressive
33-yard scamper). With Washington out indefinitely, he’ll be a
viable RB option and worth a roster slot in all formats.
Brown, IND (SF, HOU, NE, @BAL) – Brown was in line for a big
fantasy day against the Rams (two carries for 58 yards) when a
minor shoulder injury sidelined him. He should be good to go next
week, but since both Joseph Addai and third-string RB Chad Simpson
both found the end zone at St. Louis, owners who played him Sunday
were robbed of what could have been a huge performance.
Stewart, CAR (@ARI, @NO, ATL, MIA) – Stewart only had seven
carries for 25 rushing yards, but chipped in four catches for
20 receiving yards — making him worth an RB3 start in deeper PPR
NO (ATL, @CAR, @STL, @TB) – Though he finished with 12 carries
for 80 yards, Bell couldn’t reach the end zone because of stifling
Miami goal line defense.
Laurence Maroney, NE (BYE, MIA, @ IND, NYJ) – Maroney scored
a TD but only finished with 43 yards in the Pats 35-7 blowout
of Tampa Bay in Wembley Stadium.
Justin Fargas, OAK (@SD, BYE, KC, CIN) – Although he didn’t
light things up (no scores), Fargas totaled 90 yards from scrimmage
and appears to be the best RB option on the team until Darren
McFadden returns — which could be this week.
NE (BYE, MIA, @IND, NYJ) – The Pats didn’t really need Faulk on
Sunday, and are now heading into their bye week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
WR Miles Austin, DAL (@SEA, @PHI, @GB, WAS) – Austin was
still out there in about a quarter of fantasy leagues before Sunday’s
scintillating performance (6-171-2), but that number is dwindling
by the day as leagues go through their waiver process. The guy
is obviously Romo’s BFF these days — a moniker that
could translate into playoff berths for his fantasy owners as
well as the roller-coaster Cowboys.
WR Nate Burleson, SEA (@DAL, DET, @ARI, @MIN) – This guy
was available in a 14-team league I’m in (probably because
of his bye), and I’m kicking myself for not noticing it
(too much writing and helping and not enough “me”
time — sometimes I feel like the classy barber with the
bad haircut). If you see him out there in your league, don’t
delay — Burleson is the best weapon in Seattle.
WR Lee Evans, BUF (HOU, BYE, @TEN, @JAC) – T.O. isn’t
accomplishing much for his fantasy owners, but he’s starting
to doing wonders for the value of Evans (5-75-1 in Week Nine against
the Panthers). Other than the Bills’ Week Nine bye, Evans
has a great schedule coming up.
WR Antonio Bryant, TB (BYE, GB, @MIA, NO) – Bryant won’t
put up any of the gargantuan numbers he produced down the stretch
last season for the Bucs in weeks 14-16 (23-435-4 in those three
games), but he’s proficient in the red zone and will be
counted on when the Bucs are lucky enough to get in scoring range.
He’s on a bye this week and the depressing state of affairs
in Tampa Bay has him available in a majority of leagues, so fantasy
owners with a roster slot to burn can snag and stash, hoping his
numbers improve in the final few weeks like in 2008.
Scouring The Barrel
Wallace, PIT (BYE, @DEN, CIN, @KC) – Another easy grab because
of his upcoming bye week, Wallace has made the most of his targets
over the last four games with nine catches for 221 yards and two
scores — a 24.6 average that reminds me of Nate Washington’s role
in the offense last season. He’s obviously no more than a fantasy
WR4 (he’s the Steelers’ fourth receiving target after Hines Ward,
Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller) but an injury to one of the
Pittsburgh starting wideouts would immediately bump his value.
Britt, TEN (JAC, @SF, BUF, @HOU) – Britt is the most dynamic
of the receivers in Tennessee and he should be able to break off
a couple big plays in the coming weeks against weak opposition.
The more successful Chris Johnson is getting chunks of yardage
out of the backfield, the more the Titans can look downfield to
Washington and Britt. But if Vince Young takes over at QB, his
value will take a hit because the play calling will try to focus
on shorter routes that favor Johnson and Justin Gage.
Rice, MIN (@GB, BYE, DET, SEA) – Rice had another big day
for the Vikings, catching 11 passes for 136 yards, and had a touchdown
taken away on a bogus tripping penalty. Rice will be a frequent
target of Brett Favre this week when the Vikings travel to Green
Bay— a matchup that’s bound to be an exciting, pass-heavy shootout.
WR Torry Holt, JAC (@TEN, KC, @NYJ, BUF) – Holt is back
from a bye and ready to build on the Week Six overtime win over
his old team, when he put up his best numbers of ‘09: 5-101-0.
During his Week Four game versus the Titans, he managed only 3-42-0,
but those numbers should improve this week when the Jags travel
TE Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN (@GB, BYE, DET, SEA) – Shiancoe
disappointed Sunday with just 4-27-0, his worst fantasy performance
since Week Three, but remains an important red-zone target.
Nicks, NYG (@PHI, SD, BYE, ATL) – Nicks officially moved past
Domenik Hixon on the Giants depth chart, and while his 62-yard
TD catch in the loss to Arizona was a fortuitous gift from the
fantasy gods, it still counts. Nicks is a threat to score every
time he touches the ball.
Moore, NO (ATL, @CAR, @STL, @TB) – Moore was conspicuously
absent from the Saints list of star performers Sunday, but it
doesn’t mean he’s not on Drew Brees’ radar. Look for an average
line of 5-50-1 during the Saints’ next four games against weak
Miller, OAK (@SD, BYE, KC, CIN) – A week after a 6-139-1 breakout
in the win over the Eagles, Miller drew bracket coverage and was
stifled for a unsatisfactory 2-15-0 stat line. He’ll do better
in San Diego, and while a Week Nine bye will make him expendable
in many formats, Miller could rebound with big numbers against
the Chiefs and Bengals.
WR Michael Crabtree/Josh Morgan, SF (@IND, TEN, CHI, @GB) –
Crabtree’s debut was impressive (5-56-0 on six targets)
and Morgan played well too (4-62-0 on four targets). I’m
not sure how the QB change will affect those numbers going forward,
but it’s a situation worth monitoring.
WR Josh Cribbs, CLE (@CHI, BYE, BAL, @DET) – Cribbs is
still a long shot to supply any significant fantasy value this
season in standard leagues, but he can be used as a QB/RB/WR/KR
by the desperate Browns and could provide decent value as a special
teams contributor in those formats.
Off The Top
LB Karlos Dansby, ARI (CAR, @CHI, SEA, @STL) – Since he’s
owned in a majority of formats, I probably don’t have to
spend much time extolling his IDP virtues. He’s coming off
a big game (10 tackles @NYG) and should see lots of chances to
make plays with the struggling Panthers (who should be more run-focused
this week) on the docket in Week Eight.
DL Mario Williams, HOU (@BUF, @IND, BYE, TEN) – Super Mario
isn’t blowing up the stat sheet, relegating him to the wire
in many shallower IDP leagues. But the matchup in Buffalo means
he’ll get to the QB at least once and toss in a handful
of tackles. Get him in your lineup this week.
LB Will Witherspoon, PHI (NYG, DAL, @SD, @CHI) – After
experimenting with a few different options this season, the Eagles
have found their MLB in Witherspoon, a veteran IDP standout who
recently came over from the Rams. He gets a huge bump in value
playing monster in the Philly 4-3, and he an incredible debut
on Monday night: Eight tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a PD
and the coup-de-grace — an INT returned for a TD that staked
his new team to an early 14-0 lead. You better jump on him now,
because he won’t be available in many IDP leagues after
this week’s round of waivers.
DB Brian Dawkins, DEN (@BAL, PIT, @WAS, SD) – Dawkins should
have a big game in Baltimore, where the Ravens must take to the
air and attack the middle the field — the veteran safety’s
stomping ground. I anticipate similar numbers to the New England
game (seven total tackles and three PD).
Ogunleye, CHI (CLE, ARI, @SF, PHI) – “Wally” gets to exploit
the “strong” side (I use that term loosely) of the Browns’ offensive
line. He’ll pick apart
matador right tackle John St. Clair
and is a sneaky DL play this week who could provide immense value.
Scouring The Barrel
LB A.J. Hawk, GB (MIN, @TB, DAL, SF) – Hawk’s experienced
a steady decline in fantasy value since his heyday as a rookie
in 2006, when he exploded on the scene for 121 total tackles,
3.5 sacks, two INT, seven PD and a forced fumble. This season,
he’s been especially marginalized in the 3-4, reduced to
a situational run defender. Although he’s been inconsistent,
this matchup provides an opportunity for good numbers in a second
straight week (he posted eight tackles against the Browns).
Byrd, BUF (HOU, BYE, @TEN, @JAC) – Byrd is taking full advantage
of the injuries to Bryan Scott and Donte Whitner, and last week
had two solos, two PD and two more big interceptions — giving
him five in his last three games. He’s still available in a bunch
of formats, he’s got a great matchup this week, and it looks like
he may have locked down a starting job even if his fellow DBs
LB Jonathan Vilma, NO (ATL, @CAR, @STL, @TB) – Vilma posted
his highest tackle total of the season with 10 (seven solos) against
the Dolphins. The next several are favorable and should mean consistently
solid IDP numbers.
DL Julius Peppers, CAR (@ARI, @NO, ATL, MIA) – Peppers had
four tackles and a sack in the loss to Buffalo — giving
him five sacks in his last three games.
DL Richard Seymour, OAK (@SD, BYE, KC, CIN) – Seymour missed
practice last Friday with a stomach illness and didn’t play
too well against the Jets, his old AFC East rival. He should bounce
back this week with an okay performance versus the Chargers. Use
him as a DL2.
LB Dhani Jones, CIN (BYE, BAL, @PIT, @OAK) – The Chicago
game saw him post seven solos, but no garbage points. Still —
the consistent tackle totals make him the best IDP LB on the Bengals.
DB Charles Tillman, CHI (CLE, ARI, @SF, PHI) – Four total
tackles and PD is much less than I expected against the Bengals.
LB David Hawthorne, SEA (@DAL, DET, @ARI, @MIN) – Coming
off a bye, Hawthorne should see significant playing time and solid
numbers in Big D.
DB C.C. Brown, NYG (@PHI, SD, BYE, ATL) – Another great
game from C.C., who had 11 total tackles and a forced fumble in
the loss to Arizona. He’s approaching DB1 status as teams
force the ball into the secondary with more success against the