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
Vince Young, TEN (@JAC, PHI, SD, BYE) – Young is a high-risk
QB, but he has a few favorable matchups coming, and looked surprisingly
poised in the win over Dallas. It’s worth giving him a look
in deeper formats.
Henne, MIA (@GB, PIT, @CIN, @BAL) – Head coach Tony Sparano
has given Henne a long leash, and rightfully so. While the Michigan
alum has made mistakes, he’s got to be a better option than Chad
Pennington, whose arm strength has always been a major problem.
The banged-up Packers will be out to prove something on Sunday,
but I have a feeling the Dolphins will be up to the task.
Alex Smith, SF (OAK, @CAR, DEN, BYE) – The beleaguered
Smith threw for 309 yards on 25-for-39 passing with three touchdowns
and two INTs, but had a costly fumble that Eagles safety Quintin
Mikell returned for a TD. Smith was nearly pulled during the fourth
quarter of San Fran’s loss to Philadelphia on Sunday night,
but pleaded with Mike Singletary and flourished with his second
chance. While the crowd was chanting for journeyman backup David
Carr, I can’t see him as a better option than Smith, who
still has some upside. If Smith could somehow cut down on his
mistakes, he’d be a solid fantasy backup and decent bye-week
Scouring The Barrel
Matt Flynn, GB (MIA, MIN, @NYJ, DAL) – There’s not
a lot of information available on Flynn, a third-year player out
of LSU who has thrown just 17 passes in his career. But with Aaron
Rodgers’ status in question, desperate owners might take
a look at the young backup. Under stricter guidelines for head
injuries the NFL adopted late last year, Rodgers must be free
of concussion symptoms, even after rigorous exercise, and cleared
by the team doctor and an approved independent neurologist before
he plays again. Food for thought…
Sam Bradford, STL (SD, @TB, CAR, BYE) – Without his favorite
target, Bradford looked lost. Hold off on starting him again until
he proves he can develop rapport with the other St. Louis receivers.
Stafford, DET (@NYG, BYE, WAS, NYJ) – Stafford’s shoulder
still isn’t ready, and Shaun hill has looked good. A Week 8 return
is possible, but the Lions won’t make a change unless they have
Kolb, PHI (ATL, @TEN, BYE, IND) – Andy Reid’s head must be
spinning. Kolb had his second consecutive solid start in place
of the injured Michael Vick, going 21-for-31 for 253 yards and
a TD in the win over San Fran. With Vick’s return still uncertain,
Kolb will likely hold on to the starting job until Week 9, when
the Eagles return from their bye and face the Colts at home.
Delhomme, CLE (@PIT, @NO, BYE, NE) – Delhomme is now dealing
with high and low ankle sprains, and with Seneca Wallace also
injured, there’s talk of rookie Colt McCoy getting the start against
Off The Top
Jones, DAL (@MIN, NYG, JAC, @GB) – Jones rushed 15 times for
109 yards in Sunday’s loss to Tennessee, setting season and career
highs, adding a much-needed spark the Cowboys running game and
freeing up Tony Romo’s capable receivers. While Dallas inexplicably
lost the game, Jones appears to have surpassed Barber on the depth
chart with this performance and should get the bulk of carries
Brown, IND (@WAS, BYE, HOU, @PHI) – The injury-plagued sophomore
tailback has missed the past two games (hamstring), but the Colts
running game is really holding out for a hero – which could be
Brown. If Joseph Addai (shoulder, neck) isn’t available on Sunday,
Brown could get a start.
Scouring The Barrel
Taylor, NE (BAL, @SD, MIN, CLE) – Taylor’s supposed to return
from a lingering toe injury in Week 6, but the situation in New
England remains cloudy because of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the changing
personnel in the passing game, and fringe performers like Danny
Woodhead and Sammy Morris.
Earnest Graham, TB (NO, STL, @ARI, @ATL) – Fantasy owners
anxious for some semblance of order to the Bucs running game might
be nippy at Graham’s heels after his big day Sunday. While
he’s not getting enough work to be a relevant starter, it’s
a situation worth watching, as the veteran fullback was once a
successful tailback and fantasy RB2.
Bush, OAK (@SF, @DEN, SEA, KC) – Bush, returning from a broken
thumb that kept him out of the first two games, rushed for 104
yards and a touchdown on 26 carries in Sunday’s victory against
San Diego. The Raiders can take their time easing Darren McFadden
back into the rotation, and when both are healthy, this situation
smells like a pretty even time share. But if one is inactive,
the other will flourish.
Torain, WAS (IND, @CHI, @DET, BYE) – Torain didn’t gain large
chunks of yardage on Sunday, but he’s active in the passing game
and Clinton Portis won’t be back anytime soon. Consider Shanahan’s
favorite pet a RB2 with upside.
Betts, NO (@TB, CLE, PIT, @CAR) – The early word is that Pierre
Thomas could return to action in Week 6. Keep an eye on the injury
report; it’s clear that the veteran Betts has more value than
Christopher Ivory in Thomas’ stead.
Bell, PHI (ATL, @TEN, BYE, TB) – With LeSean McCoy active,
Bell didn’t see much work. He’s nothing more than a low-grade
handcuff at this point.
Huggins, TB (NO, STL, @ARI, @ATL) – I don’t understand the
carry distribution in Tampa Bay, but with Cadillac Williams struggling,
it seems the perfect opportunity to roll out the youngsters (Huggins,
LeGarrette Blount) a little more than three or four times a game.
Don’t give up just yet, optimistic Huggins owners.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
WR Michael Crabtree, SF (OAK, @CAR, DEN, BYE) – The much-maligned
Crabtree is available in about one-fourth of fantasy leagues (including
one ultra-competitive 14-teamer I’m in), and has benefited
from a change in the offensive playcalling. He broke out against
the Eagles on Sunday night, catching nine passes for 105 yards
and a touchdown, and has gobs of risk/reward value as a WR3. We
all saw what the Chargers did to the Raiders last week with a
fast TE and athletic No. 1 WR, so the favorable matchup elevates
Crabtree’s Week 6 value to WR2.
Williams, TB (NO, STL, @ARI, @ATL) – Williams caught a career-high
seven passes for 99 yards and a touchdown in the Bucs’ victory
over the Bengals on Sunday. The rookie is the most dynamic target
at Josh Freeman’s disposal, and with the running game a major
question mark, he’ll get lots of work.
Marcedes Lewis, JAC (TEN, @KC, DAL, BYE) – You can’t argue
that his production in the red zone has been awesome, so why not
just add him? He’s not going to catch two TD passes every game,
but he’s done it twice this season and Garrard has a soft spot
for his tight end once the Jaguars offense gets close to the paint.
Amendola, STL (SD, @TB, CAR, BYE) – The primary benefactor
of Mark Clayton’s torn patella (placed on IR), Amendola caught
12 passes for 95 yards in Sunday’s blowout loss to Detroit. While
it’s an unfortunate turn of events, the talented Amendola is the
new No. 1 in St. Louis.
Scouring The Barrel
Branch, NE (BAL, @SD, MIN, @CLE) – Branch heads from the uncertainty
of Seattle to nebulous New England, where the football workforce
is in a state of flux. While the best years of Deion’s career
were in the Boston of yesteryear, the veteran is on the wrong
side of 30 and coming off a few lackluster campaigns. Don’t expect
a repeat of the days of yore, especially with Wes Welker, Julian
Edelman, Brandon Tate and Aaron Hernandez clamoring for targets,
but in deeper leagues, I can easily justify a roster spot for
Armstrong, WAS (IND, @CHI, @DET, BYE) – Armstrong had a big
hand in beating the reeling Packers on Sunday, snagging three
passes for 84 yards, including a game-changing 48-yard touchdown.
His athletic TD grab helped ignite the Redskins rally, and going
forward, he’s a viable deep threat for Donovan McNabb, who still
throws one of the best long balls in the NFL.
Derrick Mason, BAL (NE, @BUF, BYE, MIA) – While Mason had
just three receptions for 47 yards during Sunday’s win over
Denver, he led the team with six targets in a game the Ravens
won on the ground.
Roy Williams, DAL (@MIN, NYG, JAC, @GB) – Williams had another
solid game Sunday, catching six passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.
He’s a high-risk WR3/FLEX moving forward.
Bess, MIA (@GB, PIT, @CIN, @BAL) – Before the Week 5 bye,
Bess racked up 15 catches over two games. He’s not a great red
zone weapon because of Brandon Marshall’s presence, but he’s a
viable option in PPR formats.
Thomas, JAC (TEN, @KC, DAL, BYE) – Thomas totaled over 100
yards on Sunday, catching four passes for 51 yards and running
for 53 on three carries. He’s a more consistent option than Mike
Sims-Walker and a must-own WR in deeper leagues.
Devin Thomas, CAR (BYE, SF, @STL, NO) – Thomas was released
by the Redskins and claimed by the Panthers. We’ll see how
much the Panthers plan to use him after the bye week, but the
mess in Carolina isn’t an ideal situation.
Off The Top
Atogwe, STL (SD, @TB, CAR, BYE) – Atogwe (available in 39
percent of IDP leagues) returned to action last week after sitting
out the Seattle game with a thigh injury, and has been pretty
quiet for some time. But the Rams secondary is getting healthier
and both he and CB Bradley Fletcher are worth a look this week
against the Chargers, who offer plenty of scoring opportunities
to opposing DBs.
Delmas, DET (@NYG, BYE, WAS, NYJ) – the hard-hitting Delmas
(still available in one-third of IDP formats) and deep-league
option Alphonso Smith (universally available) both make excellent
plays this week against the Giants. Smith, the Lions RCB will
get the unenviable job of covering Hakeem Nicks, but the talented
second-year corner has interceptions in three straight games and
returned one for a TD. Delmas has battled a groin injury but already
has 33 tackles and two sacks on the season.
Session, IND (@WAS, BYE, HOU, @PHI) – Session returned to
action in Week 5 and posted 10 total tackles. With MLB Gary Brackett
fighting a back injury, Session might have the most value this
week as the Colts WLB.
LB Scott Fujita, CLE (@PIT, @NO, BYE, NE) – He’s not
a stud, but he’s relatively steady, and the Steelers tend
to yield big chunks of points to opposing LBs. Though there’s
not much production from the Cleveland LBs, Fujita has been serviceable
and belongs on deeper IDP rosters.
Scouring The Barrel
Ninkovich, NE (BAL, @SD, MIN, @CLE) – Before the Pats’ Week
5 bye, Ninkovich had four tackles, a sack and two interceptions
in the win over the Dolphins. He’s taken over the role vacated
by former Patriot and reliable IDP standby Mike Vrabel, and has
a favorable matchup against the Ravens.
Clemons, SEA (@CHI, ARI, @OAK, NYG) – The undrafted Clemons
(4.0 sacks on the season) and RDE Red Bryant both make excellent
deep league plays this week facing the Bears. WLB Aaron Curry
also has a pretty good shot at getting to the QB.
LB Brian Cushing, HOU (KC, BYE, @IND, SD) – Last year’s
Defensive Rookie of the Year had nine tackles and a PD in first
game back. He should be started in all formats.
LB James Anderson, CAR (BYE, SF, @STL, NO) – The Panthers
(on a bye in Week 6) WLB continued his impressive IDP assault
with eight total tackles and a half-sack in the loss to the Bears.
LB Shaun Phillips, SD (@STL, NE, TEN, @HOU) – Philips recorded
three solos, and a PD in the loss to Oakland, but should be able
to get to the Bradford this week and post better numbers.
DB Dawan Landry, BAL (NE, @BUF, BYE, MIA) – In a surprisingly
quiet day, Landry has just four total tackles. He’s a solid
play this week at home versus New England.
DB Taylor Mays, SF (OAK, @CAR, DEN, BYE) – In his second
start, Mays had four solos and a forced fumble. Keep him active
in deeper formats.
DL Charles Johnson, CAR (BYE, SF, @STL, NO) – He didn’t
have any sacks on Sunday, but Johnson did manage four tackles
and a PD. He’s a fine DL2 play once the Panthers return
from their Week 6 bye.