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
Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (PIT, @MIN, CLE, @MIA) – Plenty of
fantasy owners benched Fitzpatrick in Week 11 after he managed
only three TDs in his past three games, probably felt okay about
it during the first half of the Cincy game, and then regretted
their decision after the Bills scored 35 unanswered points in
the final two quarters. The Harvard alum tossed four TDs on the
day, and while the schedule down the stretch is difficult, he’s
had his best games against better teams.
Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (KC, CAR, @SF, ATL) – He’s not
a top fantasy QB, but he’s only thrown one interception
in his last five games and is currently sporting his best QB rating
(79.4) since 2007. If you need a backup, you could do a lot worse.
Scouring The Barrel
Smith, TEN (@HOU, JAC, IND, HOU) – A 2010 sixth-round draft
pick, Smith has the advantage of facing the NFL's worst pass defense
on Sunday. He’s an unknown commodity at this point, but he’s got
good size, a strong arm and might just put up decent numbers until
Kerry Collins is ready to return.
Matt Cassel, KC (@SEA, DEN, @SD, @STL) – He had another
solid game (193-2-0) and his QB rating is at a lofty 96.2 for
the season – better than the 89.4 mark he posted in 2008
with New England.
Vince Young, TEN (@HOU, JAC, IND, HOU) – Young was placed
on IR after suffering s thumb injury and losing his mind yet again.
Hill, DET (NE, CHI, GB, @TB) – Hill has 12 TD to just nine
INTs this season and could provide some value down the stretch,
as Matthew Stafford is not expected back this season.
Troy Smith, SF (@ARI, @GB, SEA, @SD) – The 49ers got blanked
at home for the first time since the 1970s. That’s the risk
of playing Troy Smith.
Tyler Thigpen, MIA (@OAK, CLE, @NYJ, BUF) – Speaking of
Off The Top
Tolbert, SD (@IND, OAK, KC, SF) – Tolbert had another big
game (153 total yards, TD) with Ryan Mathews on the bench, and
the Chargers show no signs of slowing down. He’s still available
in over a third of fantasy leagues and could be a difference-maker
down the stretch regardless of Mathews’ health status.
Woodhead, NE (@DET, NYJ, @CHI, GB) – Like Peyton Hillis, Woodhead
seems matchup-proof. The upcoming schedule includes some tough
opponents for RBs, but it won’t affect Woodhead that much. He’s
an integral part of the offense and is used effectively when the
Pats are on the ropes.
Williams, WAS (MIN, @NYG, TB, @DAL) – Clinton Portis aggravated
his groin injury and might be lost for the season, while Ryan
Torain (hamstring) is doubtful for a Week 12 return. Williams
can be safely inserted as a mid-level RB2 or strong flex.
Scouring The Barrel
Morris, DET (NE, CHI, GB, @TB) – With Jahvid Best battling
turf toe injuries, the veteran Morris had a team-high 10 carries
for 31 yards and caught four passes for 40 yards in Sunday’s loss
at Dallas. He’s a sneaky flex play in Week 12 and could see more
work if Best continues to struggle.
Tim Hightower, ARI (SF, STL, DEN, @CAR) – Hightower ran
62 yards on 12 carries and caught three passes for 24 yards in
Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. He’s not the long-term
answer, but with the constant uncertainty around the knees of
Beanie Wells, he’s good insurance.
Cadillac Williams, TB (@BAL, ATL, @WAS, DET) – The veteran
back ran for 51 yards on seven carries with a TD in Sunday's 21-0
win at San Francisco, providing some much-needed value for desperate
fantasy owners. You heard it here first, folks.
Justin Forsett, SEA (KC, CAR, @SF, ATL) – Forsett is still
technically the backup in Seattle, but Lynch has been bad. I’m
anticipating more work for the youngster.
Brown, IND (SD, DAL, @TEN, JAC) – Brown led the Colts with
68 rushing yards on 17 carries against New England, including
36 yards on one carry in the third quarter. He’s the starter until
Joseph Addai (shoulder) gets activated again.
Harrison, PHI (@CHI, HOU, @DAL, @NYG) – Harrison wasn’t used
much in the win over New York on Sunday night. He’s still a necessary
handcuff for LeSean McCoy
Leonard, CIN (@NYJ, NO, @PIT, CLE) – Cedric Benson was active,
but Leonard still caught three passes for 23 yards.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Holmes, NYJ (CIN, @NE, MIA, @PIT) – Mark Sanchez seems to
have a connection with Santonio Holmes, who’s caught 17 balls
for 316 yards and three touchdowns over the last three games.
Amazingly, he’s still available in over a third of fantasy leagues.
WR Robert Meachem, NO (@DAL, @CIN , STL, @BAL) – Meachem
made the most of his three targets, hauling in all three for 50
yards and a pair of TDs. He’s one of the most efficient
WRs in the game and should be starting every week in 3WR formats
unless you have a Top-25 trio.
Hagan, NYG (JAC, WAS, @MIN, PHI) – The Giants announced Monday
that Hakeem Nicks will miss three weeks with Compartment Syndrome
in his lower right leg. He suffered the injury late in the team's
game on Sunday night at Philadelphia. Derek Hagan is expected
to step up. Hagan caught three balls for 10 yards with a goal
line TD catch at the Eagles in Week 11.
White, IND (SD, DAL, @TEN, JAC) – White had five receptions
for 42 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's loss at New England.
He’s almost universally available and is of great value if Austin
Collie misses additional action.
TE Joel Dreessen, HOU (TEN, @PHI, BAL, @TEN) – Dreessen
had 4-105-1 last week and should be viewed as a Top 20 TE going
forward. The matchups are quite favorable during the coming weeks.
Scouring The Barrel
Obomanu, SEA (KC, CAR, @SF, ATL) – Obomanu, who replaced Deon
Butler as the starter in Seattle, caught five passes for 87 yards
and his third TD of the season Sunday in a loss at New Orleans.
WR Donald Jones, BUF (PIT, @MIN, CLE, @MIA) – A relative
unknown, the undrafted rookie caught five balls for 70 yards and
a score in Sunday’s win over the Bengals, including a 28-yard
strike from Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s shown the ability to
get open and could factor in the Bills’ plans with Roscoe
Parrish done for the season.
WR Mario Manningham, NYG (JAC, WAS, @MIN, PHI) – Manningham
didn’t score on Sunday but gets a bump in value with the
WR Nate Washington, TEN (@HOU, JAC, IND, HOU) – He didn’t
find the end zone, but caught five passes for 117 yards. It’s
hard to say what his role will be with Smith at the helm in Tennessee.
Thomas, JAC (@NYG, @TEN, OAK, @IND) – Thomas had 5-36-1 on
Sunday and Mike Sims-Walker is out a few weeks with a high ankle
Jones, GB (@ATL, SF, @DET, @NE) – The 6-1 Jones hauled in
a TD catch and seems to be part of the offense even with Donald
Driver in the lineup.
Gronkowski, NE (@DET, NYJ, @CHI, GB) – Aaron Hernandez caught
a TD. I give up. @#$% Bill Belichick.
Deon Butler, SEA (KC, CAR, @SF, @SD) – Butler was surpassed
on the depth chart late last week and caught only two passes for
19 yards Sunday in a loss at New Orleans.
Off The Top
LB David Hawthorne, SEA (KC, CAR, @SF, ATL) – with Lofa
Tatupu struggling, Hawthorne (12 total tackles, INT, PD on Sunday)
is the LB to own in Seattle on a defense that spends a lot of
time on the field.
LB Stewart Bradley, PHI (@CHI, HOU, @DAL, @NYG) – Bradley
had a pick on Sunday night and has stepped up his game recently.
He should see plenty of opportunities against the Bears, who yield
big numbers to opposing LBs.
DL Charles Johnson, CAR (@CLE, @SEA, ATL, ARI) – Johnson
has 25 tackles and 2.5 sack sin his last five games, and the upcoming
schedule favors opposing DLs. He’s not guaranteed a sack
every week, but he’s been pretty good lately.
Elam, CLE (CAR, @MIA, @BUF, @CIN) – T.J. Ward has been the
most consistent performer this season, but Elam is starting to
benefit from Ward’s reliable play. Elam has 18 tackles, two forced
fumbles, two fumble recoveries, an INT and a TD over his last
Scouring The Barrel
LB Kevin Bentley, HOU (TEN, @PHI, BAL, @TEN) – Bentley
had eight total tackles, an INT and a fumble recovery and is the
starting MLB in Houston. Add him.
DL Antwan Odom, CIN (@NYJ, NO, @PIT, CLE) – Odom is done
serving a suspension and could make an impact for the Bengals,
who have struggled to establish a solid pass rush.
Johnson, KC (@SEA, DEN, @SD, @STL) – Just when I recommend
him, he posts a stinker (four total tackles). He didn’t see a
lot of action since the Cards offense was so anemic.
Reed, BAL (TB, PIT, @HOU, NO) – Reed picked off a pass and
pitched it to Dawan Landry, who took it to the house. He’s a ballhawk
who should be owned in all IDP formats.
Hunter, DEN (STL, @KC, @ARI, @OAK) – Hunter had five total
tackles on Monday night against the Chargers. He’s a Top 10 fantasy
DL if eligible.
Diles, HOU (TEN, @PHI, BAL, @TEN) – Diles missed Sunday’s
game with flu symptoms but is expected back in Week 12.
Wake, MIA (@OAK, CLE, @NYJ, BUF) – Wake had six tackles, a
sack, and a forced fumble in the loss to Chicago on Thursday.
He now has 9.5 sacks on the season and 38 tackles.
Long, STL (@DEN, @ARI, @NO, KC) – Long had just two solos
on Sunday. He’s still a Top 20 fantasy DL.