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 a limitless resource when it comes to discovering
fantasy value. 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
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 20-30 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
Alex Smith, SF (@BAL, STL, @ARI, PIT) – The matchups over
the next few weeks aren’t all that favorable, but it stands
to reason that the 49ers will be forced to throw the ball a bit
more in the coming weeks as teams prepare to shut down what has
been a pretty effective running game. With the season winding
down, and starting QBs going down at a ridiculous rate these days,
it’s a good time to add a third QB. Smith has learned to
cut down on his mistakes and has led his team to a 9-1 record,
so I’m willing to bank on a couple decent fantasy performances
in the final few weeks.
Moore, MIA (@DAL, OAK, PHI, @BUF) – Moore has two three-TD
performances in his last three games and despite having little
to no rapport with Brandon Marshall, is putting together respectable
numbers. I don’t see him easing off the gas pedal during the next
few weeks when the Dolphins have little to lose.
Scouring The Barrel
Hanie, CHI (@OAK, KC, @DEN, SEA) – Starter Jay Cutler already
had surgery to repair a broken thumb and Hanie, barring anything
unforeseen, will see out the rest of the regular season in Chicago.
He’s a capable guy but it’s tough to know how the Bears’ play
callers will handle him the next couple games. If you’re not willing
to take a wait-and-see approach, he could provide some unexpected
Carson Palmer, OAK (CHI, @MIA, @GB) – Palmer was limited
to just 164 passing yards but notched the win, had a TD pass and
a rushing TD, and didn’t turn the ball over. He could be
a decent QB1 down the stretch.
Rex Grossman, WAS (@SEA, NYJ, NE) – In a week where he definitely
was starting for some fantasy teams because of injuries and bye
weeks, Grossman was a Top 5 guy and came through with 289-2-1
and a rushing TD (10 rushing yards on the day), good for about
20-30 fantasy points and a 95.2 passer rating.
Matt Leinart, HOU (@JAC, ATL, @CIN) – Texans were on a bye.
The adventure begins next week.
Vince Young, PHI (NE, @SEA, @MIA) – Young tossed three
INTs but led the Eagles to victory on a final drive that saw him
convert on third down time and again. He finished with 258 passing
yards and two TDs.
Tyler Palko, KC (PIT, @CHI, @NYJ) – Palko showed some signs
of life, but made a few terrible throws that kept the Chiefs out
of the end zone by killing promising drives. I’d stay away.
Off The Top
Williams, CAR (@IND, @TB, ATL, @HOU) – Williams (71 percent
owned) had 10 carries for 73 yards and one catch for 32 yards
Sunday against the Lions, and he’s facing the lowly Colts on Sunday.
He hasn’t been spectacular this season with Jonathan Stewart and
Cam Newton taking away some of his scoring opportunities, but
he’s a must-play in Week 12.
Toby Gerhart, MIN (@ATL, DEN, @DET, NO) – He’s owned
in just 6 percent of fantasy leagues, but that number will definitely
go up with an ankle injury threatening Adrian Peterson’s
availability the next few weeks. ADP is out at least one game,
and could miss a couple more with his Grade 1 high ankle sprain.
Scouring The Barrel
McKnight, NYJ (BUF, @WAS, KC, @PHI) – With LT inactive and
Shonn Greene out due to injury, McKnight stepped in and gathered
59 rushing yards on 16 carries as well as 6-62-0 receiving. Keep
an eye on the injury report, because McKnight could be more productive
than both Greene and LT have been if he’s the only guy available
Shane Vereen, NE (@PHI, IND, @WAS, @DEN) – Keeper leaguers
should be alert to the running of Vereen, who was on display in
the final couple drives of the MNF matchup between the Chiefs
and Pats. The sprightly back showed off some nice moves and finished
with a TD. There’s a possibility he gets more work down
the stretch, although with so many options in New England, it’s
hard to see him making an enormous impact.
Ogbonnaya, CLE (JAC, @CIN, BAL, @PIT) – The third-stringer
who was vaulted into eth starting role rushed for 115 yards and
a TD on 21 carries and contributed a couple catches for 19 yards.
What a steal!
Hunter, SF (ARI, @BAL, STL, @ARI) – Frank Gore ended up starting
the game, but Hunter did finish with 11 carries for 27 yards and
1-15-0 receiving. Not great, but not a complete whiff.
Barber, CHI (SD, @OAK, KC, @DEN) – Barber continued his streak
of game with a rushing TD, barreling in the end zone on a first
half drive that saw him gain the bulk of his 23 rushing yards
(six carries). For a guy with only a few touches a game, Barber
provides some value.
Ball, DEN (NYJ, @SD, @MIN, CHI) – McGahee got the start (though
he stunk) and Ball had five carries for 18 yards and 2-26-0 receiving.
Kevin Smith: Waiver wire darling.
Smith, DET (CAR, GB, @NO, MIN) – For those of you who gambled
on Smith, it paid off big. The prodigal Lion rushed for 140 yards
and two TDs on just 16 carries and added four catches for 61 receiving
yards and a TD as well. It was far and away the best performance
of any back in Week 11.
Rodgers, ATL (TEN, MIN, @HOU, @CAR) – The Falcons had a hard
time putting away the Titans, and Rodgers was effectively left
out of the offensive mix (two carries 2 yards).
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
WR Torrey Smith, BAL (SF, @CLE, IND, @SD) – Smith (60 percent
owned) continues his Jekyll-and-Hyde act, slamming the Bengals
for 6-165-1 on Sunday. He’s among the top 35 WRs in the
league, but he still doesn’t get a lot of respect because
of his inconsistencies.
WR Michael Crabtree, SF (@BAL, STL, @ARI, PIT) – Still available
in about half of fantasy leagues, Crabtree is the best WR option
in SF and he’s done a decent amount of work in the last
five games (27-320-1) even though the TDs haven’t been there.
Expect that to change.
WR Nate Burleson, DET (GB, @NO, MIN, @OAK) – Burleson (33
percent owned) had his best game of 2011 in Week 11 when he put
up 7-63-1 in the win over Carolina. It’s hard to predict
a bigger offensive explosion than Stafford’s five TD game,
but Burleson has been heavily targeted following the Week 9 bye
and has 36 targets (24 rec.) in his last five games.
Simpson, CIN (CLE, @PIT, HOU, @STL) – It makes sense that
Simpson (29 percent owned) isn’t getting a whole lot of respect
from fantasy owners; the 2008 second-round pick out of Coastal
Carolina didn’t do much of anything until the last few weeks of
2010, and has three weeks this season where he caught one ball
or fewer. But he does have three 100-yard games this season and
with A.J. Green nursing an injury, he could keep drawing targets
from Andy Dalton.
Scouring The Barrel
Stallworth, WAS (@SEA, NYJ, NE, @NYG) – Resigned by the Redskins,
Stallworth (0 percent owned) had 4-51-1 in the OT loss to Dallas
and was a huge part of the last couple drives. Jabar Gaffney (42
percent owned) was the clear No. 1 on Sunday and is still available
in many leagues as well.
WR Denarius Moore, OAK (CHI, @MIA, @GB) – Moore busted
in Week 11 with just one catch for 14 yards.
WR Laurent Robinson, DAL (MIA, @ARI, NYG) – Robinson wasn’t
as active as in previous weeks, but he did catch four balls for
34 yards and a TD.
Chandler, BUF (@NYJ, TEN, @SD) – Chandler led the Bills offense
with 5-71-0, the most yards of any Buffalo player in Week 11.
Fred Jackson was limited to 67 total yards and left the game early
with a bruised calf.
WR Earl Bennett, CHI (@OAK, KC, @DEN) – Bennett had just
three catches but totaled 75 receiving yards. He would be a solid
WR3 going forward, but Cutler’s broken thumb throws a monkey
wrench into that situation.
WR Vincent Brown, SD (DEN, @JAC, BUF) – The other Vincent
(Jackson) hogged most of the offensive production against Chicago
and Brown finished with just one catch for 8 yards. He probably
would have caught a TD pass were it not for a Bears defensive
hold in the second half.
WR Harry Douglas, ATL (MIN, @HOU, @CAR) – It wasn’t
his stat line from last week but Douglas filled in again for Julio
Jones and gathered up 4-51-0.
Off The Top
LB Takeo Spikes, SD (DEN, @JAC, BUF, BAL) – Spikes got
off to a great start but hasn’t been making too many plays
lately. He suffered a concussion in Week 10 and wasn’t his
usual self on Sunday against Chicago, though he played and recorded
three solos. If the Chargers are going to start winning, they’ll
need Spikes to resume his early season pace.
DB Troy Polamalu, PIT (KC, CIN, CLE, @SF) – The veteran
safety has been relatively quiet lately, but he’s still
playing at a very high level and is capable of turning in a couple
game-changing plays per contest. Because of bye week issues, some
owners may have dropped him. He’s racked up 62 total tackles,
a sack and seven PDs, though he’s yet to pick off a pass
in 2011. This week against Palko’s Chiefs might be a good
Scouring The Barrel
DL Geno Atkins, CIN (CLE, @PIT, HOU, @STL) – Atkins flies
under the radar for the most part in IDP formats but is putting
together a fantastic season: 28 tackles, 5.5 sacks, PD, FR, TD.
His numbers are relatively consistent for a DL and he’s
on a defense that spends a decent amount of time on the field
but makes big plays. Give him a shot if he’s still available
in your league.
DL Ndamukong Suh, DET (GB, @NO, MIN) – Suh still hasn’t
broken through for a big stat line (three total tackles in Sunday’s
win over Carolina), and it’s obvious the defense could be
playing a lot better.
LB Rob Ninkovich, NE (@PHI, IND, @WAS) – It was another
solid game for Ninkowski, who finished with six solos and a sack.
He’s a must-add in deeper IDP leagues at this point.
DB Cedric Griffin, MIN (@ATL, DEN, @DET) – Griffin didn’t
come through with a pick or any PDs, but he did manage five total
tackles against Oakland.
Cole, PHI (NE, @SEA, @MIA) – With the bye weeks over, many
of my defensive selections at this point in the season are guys
you might be holding onto, so I’ll keep updating the previous
two weeks to help you keep track. Cole and the Eagles defensive
line applied plenty of pressure to Eli Manning, but Cole managed
just four tackles and didn’t register a sack.
Washington, ARI (@STL, DAL, SF) – If San Fran’s Patrick Willis
was the LB1 of this game, Washington was the LB2, posting five
solo tackles, a PD and INT.
DB Joe Haden, CLE (@CIN, BAL, @PIT) – The Browns pulled
off a big win and Haden, who had four solos and three PD, had
one of his best games of the season in coverage.