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Through The Wire - Week 6
10/12/10 Users...
Check out the most popular waiver wire pickups this week across thousands of MFL leagues. Also, quickly see who's available on your waiver wire this week by using the MFL Power feature at FF Today. Just input your league's 5-digit ID number away you go!
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.

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 exceptional production.

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

Feedback is always welcome, appreciated and encouraged. I’ll get to as many e-mails as I can.

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.

Chad 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.

Digging Deeper

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 fill-in.

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.

Matthew 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 to.

Kevin 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.

Jake 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 the Steelers.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Felix 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 going forward.

Digging Deeper

Donald 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

Fred 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.


Michael 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.

Ryan 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.

Ladell 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.

Mike 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.

Kareem 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.

WR Mike 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.

Digging Deeper

TE 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.

WR Danny 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

WR Deion 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 Branch.

WR Anthony 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.

Davone 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.

Mike 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

DB Oshiomogho 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.

DB Louis 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.

Digging Deeper

LB Clint 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

LB Rob 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.

DL Chris 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.