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. These are sometimes players available only in more
shallow leagues, and occasionally guys who are more readily but
are thrust into the fantasy spotlight because of opportunity or
Digging Deeper - Covers the next
tier of quality waiver wire specimens, usually players available
in a majority of online leagues. There are a lot of gems in this
range who can be plucked rather easily.
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. Make sure you read the fine print.
Each week, I’ll also provide a brief update on the 30-40 players
I covered the previous week. It’s the most accurate, comprehensive
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 ()
Off The Top
Cassel, KC (ARI, @SEA, DEN, @SD) – Many in the elite group
of owners who started Cassel last week were just thinking bye
week fill-in, but the Chiefs QB delivered a huge game (albeit
in catch-up mode) that reanimates his value heading into an interesting
stretch of games. These opponents are bad against the run, which
could open up some spots for Dwayne Bowe to contribute big plays.
Young, TEN (WAS, @HOU, JAC, IND) – With Kerry Collins out
a few weeks, Young takes over for a few favorable matchups. He
should be started in all two-QB formats and is a weak QB1, but
could surprise with a couple big games.
Shaun Hill, DET (@DAL, NE, CHI, GB) – Not too many owners
will be starting him this week but he could be a top scorer against
Dallas - a weapon-laden, nothing-to-lose team that will be getting
involved in shootouts down the stretch.
Scouring The Barrel
Troy Smith, SF (TB, @ARI, @GB, SEA) – Smith is now the
starter in San Fran and things seem to be turning around. He’s
a risky play but should be owned in most 12-team leagues.
Thigpen, MIA (CHI, @OAK, CLE, @NYJ) – Thigpen turned in some
big fantasy performances in 2008 when he took over the reins in
Kansas City. If you can live with nearly as many picks and TD
passes (which Chad Henne owners were doing anyway) he’s a decent
replacement. Since Dwayne Bowe had his best season with Thigpen
throwing him the rock, expect Brandon Marshall’s numbers to improve.
Brett Favre, MIN (GB, @WAS, BUF, NYG) – Favre’s hurting
all over and had another terrible game (one TD, three INTs, fumble).
He’s still capable of big outings, but is way too risky
to count on even in the best of matchups – and he’s
got some good ones on the way.
Fitzpatrick, BUF (@CIN, PIT, @MIN, CLE) – It’s hard to say
what kind of Ryan Fitzpatrick we’ll see now that the Bills have
won a game. Will Buffalo slow it down and give us heavy doses
of Fred Jackson or do they get right back to tossing the pill
a la the scoring bonanzas that characterized the first eight games?
The next few matchups are going to be tough for Fitzie unless
the Bills are playing from behind.
Derek Anderson, ARI (@KC, SF, STL, DEN) – Anderson wasn’t
great on Sunday, but he wasn’t as bad as Favre.
Off The Top
Tim Hightower, ARI (@KC, SF, STL, DEN) – With Beanie Wells
still dealing with knee swelling and LaRod Stevens-Howling questionable
as well, Hightower should get most of the carries this week at
KC. He’s a solid RB3/flex play.
Williams, TB (@SF, @BAL, ATL, @WAS) – There’s obviously still
some life left in the old Caddy, but the difficult matchups make
him a risky play. Don’t get overexcited, as LeGarrette Blount
has a stronghold on the starting job.
Justin Forsett, SEA (@NO, KC, CAR, @SF) – The upcoming matchups
aren’t that favorable, but he’s been the most effective
back the past few weeks (throw out the Giants blowout and he’s
got 271 total yards and two scores in his last four games). He
should get at least 10-15 touches per game during next few weeks.
Brown, IND (@NE, SD, DAL, @TEN) – With so many receivers hurting
in Indy, Brown is getting regular work. Keep an eye on the injury
report to make sure Mike Hart and Joseph Addai remain inactive
and temper your expectations – Brown isn’t going to have too many
Jerome Harrison, PHI (NYG, @CHI, HOU, @DAL) – If you’re
a McCoy owner and don’t own Harrison, you need to stop screwing
around and add him. He’s only owned in about 50 percent
of leagues, and there’s nothing worse than losing a Top
10 back and having to fight with other owners for his backup.
Scouring The Barrel
Brian Leonard, CIN (BUF, @NYJ, NO, @PIT) – The upcoming
schedule is going to be tough for the Bengals, and they’ll
need to look for creative ways to win. Enter Brian Leonard, who’s
about as explosive as any back in Cincinnati right now and gets
work as a change of pace on passing downs. I honestly think Leonard
has some latent value in super-deep leagues and could surprise
in the second half.
Jackson, BUF (@CIN, PIT, @MIN, CLE) – I knew it was only a
matter of time before the Bills utilized Jackson correctly. Jackson
had a career day, blowing up for 133 yards and a TD on 25 carries
and 6-37-1 receiving. He fumbled twice and lost one, but that’s
a small dent in an otherwise brilliant fantasy day. Bills rookie
RB C.J. Spiller injured his hamstring in Sunday's 14-12 win over
the Lions and is out indefinitely.
Willis McGahee, BAL (@CAR, TB, PIT, @HOU) – Three carries,
eight yards, one catch for -4 yards. Not good, but the Ravens
are playing the lowly Panthers on Sunday and McGahee could get
Clinton Portis, WAS (@TEN, MIN, @NYG, TB) – Inactive on
Monday night. Stay tuned.
Javarris James, IND (@NE, SD, DAL, @TEN) – James rushed
for 26 yards on 10 carries while scoring his third touchdown in
two weeks. He appears to be the goal line back going forward.
Mike Goodson, CAR (BAL, @CLE, @SEA, ATL) – Goodson put up
solid RB2 points (100 yards on 23 carries and 3/13/0 receiving)
but didn’t score and lost a fumble. I can’t imagine
his value holding on for multiple weeks, though.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Mario Manningham: Own him if you can.
Mario Manningham, NYG (@PHI, WAS, JAC, @MIN) – I own Manningham
in a 14-team league and had him starting as a FLEX even before
I learned of the injury to fellow Giants receiver Steve Smith
– who’ll be out a couple more weeks. Grab him if he’s still available
– which he is in about 40 percent of leagues.
Nate Washington, TEN (WAS, @HOU, JAC, IND) – Washington scored
a TD last week despite catching just a handful of balls. He should
be owned in all 12-team formats and will produce opposite Randy
Thomas, JAC (CLE, @NYG, @TEN, OAK) – Wow! That was quite a
finish. There’s no reason to doubt the abilities of Mike Thomas,
who’s been the most reliable receiver for David Garrard this season.
Jones, GB (@MIN, @ATL, SF, @DET) – Donald Driver doesn’t appear
to be ready for Week 11, making Jones a must-add, despite his
inconsistency. He could put up WR2 numbers, and he could put up
Scouring The Barrel
Gronkowski, NE (IND, @DET, NYJ, @CHI) – How annoying is Bill
Belichick? Aaron Hernandez owners, you wanna weigh in on this
one? Gronkowski is now getting the bulk of red zone looks for
the Patriots (three TDs last week), but that’s likely to change
next week, as Belichick is clearly the devil.
Butler, SEA (@NO, KC, CAR, @SF) – Matt Hasselbeck (who should
be good to go for Sunday) might have to throw to Butler a lot
in this one. The second-year receiver is often targeted on short
slants but caught a 63-yard TD bomb last week. He might not get
loose versus the Saints, but I have a feeling he’ll be a decent
WR4 in PPR leagues going forward.
Steve Johnson, BUF (@CIN, PIT, @MIN, CLE) – The Bills picked
up their first win, but Johnson posted just 3/37/0.
Mike Sims-Walker, JAC (CLE, @NYG, @TEN, OAK) – MSW only
posted 3/26/0, but teammate Mike Thomas, who caught a Hail Mary
that was batted back into his hands, blew up. He seems like the
guy to add.
Sidney Rice, MIN (GB, @WAS, BUF, NYG) – While Rice remains
on the PUP list and didn't play Sunday against the Bears, he practiced
all week and could be ready. The Vikings aren’t out of the
playoff picture yet, so I’d imagine they’re anxious
to get him on the field.
Nate Burleson, DET (@DAL, NE, CHI, GB) – Burleson caught
four passes for 47 yards on Sunday against the Bills. You’ve
got to like him this week in Dallas.
Ajirotutu, SD (DEN, @IND, OAK, KC) – Barring a setback, Malcom
Floyd could be ready to play on Monday night against Denver. That
would hurt Ajirotutu’s value, but not kill it. When Vincent Jackson
comes off the roster exempt list for the game against the Colts
on Nov. 28, there won’t be much need to own Ajirotutu.
Jacoby Ford, OAK (@PIT, MIA, @SD, @JAC) – If the Raiders
can get the running game going against Pittsburgh then Jacoby
Ford might catch a bomb, but he’s a high-risk WR3 at this
Off The Top
LB Derrick Johnson, KC (ARI, @SEA, DEN, @SD) – Despite
a monster season (76 total tackles, INT-TD, and 10 PD), Johnson
is still available in about a third of IDP leagues. Don’t
hesitate to add this guy if he’s available in yours.
DB Ed Reed, BAL (@CAR, TB, PIT, @HOU) – I think Reed will
provide a much-needed spark for the Ravens defense down the stretch.
This week, he’s a solid risk/reward play against a desperate
Hunter, DEN (@SD, STL, @KC, @ARI) – Hunter is available in
about 75 percent of IDP leagues and is one of the more consistent
producers at DL this season. Last week he scored a TD, but his
base value is good enough to warrant DL2 status or higher.
Diles, HOU (@NYJ, TEN, @PHI, BAL) – I’m still all over Diles
and this week he’s got an excellent matchup. He’s already got
71 total tackles despite not starting every game this year…so
how this guy still available in so many formats? Who cares? Just
Scouring The Barrel
LB Cameron Wake, MIA (CHI, @OAK, CLE, @NYJ) – Wake injured
his hip on Sunday but is expected to play Thursday night against
the Bears. There’s a good chance he’ll record a sack
or two if he’s active.
Long, STL (ATL, @DEN, @ARI, @NO) – Long has 5.5 sacks in his
last six games and at least one sack in his last four. While that
streak could come to an end against the Falcons, who do an excellent
job protecting Matt Ryan, four out his last six matchups are quite
favorable for opposing DLs.
LB Stephen Tulloch, TEN (WAS, @HOU, JAC, IND) – Tulloch
had nine total tackles in the loss to Miami. He remains a Top
DL Calais Campbell, ARI (@KC, SF, STL, DEN) – One of my
better calls this week. Campbell tallied six tackles and a sack.
LB Keith Brooking, DAL (DET, NO, @IND, PHI) – The veteran
LB posted 10 total tackles (eight solos) and now has 62 (46 solos)
on the year.
Winfield, MIN (GB, @WAS, BUF, NYG) – Winfield didn’t pick
off Jay Cutler but posted five solos. He’s got another excellent
matchup this week for a decent tackle total.
LB Tamba Hali, KC (ARI, @SEA, DEN, @SD) – A swing and a
miss. Ryan Clady did an excellent job protecting Orton’s
blind side and Hali finished with just three tackles.