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
Kevin Kolb, ARI (SF, CLE, @CIN, SEA) – Kolb’s matchups
suck, but if you’re looking for a guy who could still put
up decent fantasy numbers as a QB2, he could be your guy. I’ll
leave it at that.
Matt Moore, MIA (PHI, @BUF, @NE, NYJ) – Moore (20 percent
owned) is probably the top waiver wire option who’s still
available in the majority of fantasy leagues, mostly because he
has favorable matchups and has shown he can get the ball to guys
in the red zone with some consistency. He’s highly underrated
and could be a big sleeper down the stretch.
Scouring The Barrel
Grossman, WAS (NE, @NYG, MIN, @PHI) – Despite being owned
in just 12 percent of leagues and losing his starting job after
Week 6 for three games, Grossman remains an intriguing fantasy
starter for the final few games, based purely on fantasy strength
of schedule. He’ll be without both TE Fred Davis (his safety valve
and popular red zone target) and top lineman Trent Williams, who’ll
be serving four-game suspensions to close out the season as a
result of multiple failed drug tests.
Sanchez, NYJ (KC, @PHI, NYG, @MIA) – Gross. Sanchez had a
rough fantasy day as Shonn Greene bull-rushed his way into the
end zone three times. The Jets face some tougher run defenses
in the final few weeks, so I imagine they’ll be throwing a lot
more than in Week 13.
Kyle Orton, KC (@NYJ, GB, OAK, @DEN) – Orton threw one
pass and dislocated his index finger. Nice.
Yates, HOU (@CIN, CAR, @IND, TEN) – Yates got a win and had
a mistake-free day (188-1-0) but lost Andre Johnson again with
another hamstring injury. This one’s not too severe and is on
the other leg – but the star receiver could still miss up to a
couple more weeks, hurting the prospective value of Yates, who
seemed to be developing a nice rapport with Johnson. Stay tuned.
Off The Top
Barber, CHI (@DEN, SEA, @GB, @MIN) – With Matt Forte lost
for 2-4 weeks with MCL damage, Barber (39 percent owned) takes
over the primary running duties for the Bears, who will undoubtedly
be pounding the ball a lot over the next few weeks. Barber isn’t
the all-purpose back that Forte is, so he won’t put up great numbers
in the passing game. His backup will be undrafted UCLA alum Kahlil
Bell, who’ll mostly fill in on passing downs.
Toby Gerhart, MIN (@DET, NO, @WAS, CHI) – Gerhart (42 percent
owned) is getting it done for the Vikings, who are using him a
lot in the passing game as Ponder’s check-down and on straight-ahead
runs during the first couple downs. He racked up 91 rushing yards
on 21 carries against the Broncos and tallied 8-42-0 receiving
in the tough loss. Coaches are optimistic about getting Adrian
Peterson (high ankle sprain) back practicing and playing, but
I think Gerhart will get at least one more start at RB, especially
since there’s really no point in rushing ADP back on the
field for a 2-10 team.
Dexter McCluster, KC (@NYJ, GB, OAK, @DEN) – I love this
guy’s matchups in the final four games, and his recent resurgence
indicates he’s being turned to as the Chiefs primary offensive
option. He’s still available in 60-65 percent of leagues.
Chris Ogbonnaya, CLE (@PIT, @ARI, @BAL, PIT) – It’s
going to be a brutally tough finish for the Browns, who square
off against some of the best defenses in football the final four
weeks. But if Sunday’s loss was any indicator and Peyton
Hillis is indeed injured again, Ogbonnaya (27 percent owned) will
get a lot of work on passing downs and rack up points in PPR leagues.
Scouring The Barrel
Stephens-Howling, ARI (SF, CLE, @CIN, SEA) – In overtime,
Stephens-Howling (5 percent owned) beat the Cowboys with one swift,
deft blow – a 52-yard TD reception off a screen pass that iced
the game in walk-off fashion. With speed like LSH possesses, it’s
a wonder they don’t use him more. In super-deep leagues, he’s
worth a pickup… plus, Beanie Wells is a brittle dude.
Saine, GB OAK, @KC, CHI, DET) – Like LSH, Saine (1 percent
owned) isn’t a top option, but he could continue to get some work
with James Starks hurting and Ryan Grant being so brittle himself.
Spiller is a RB2 moving forward.
Helu, WAS (NE, @NYG, MIN, @PHI) – I hit on four Top 25 RBs
this week with my recommendations, and Helu was the top scorer
among them, rushing for 100 yards and a TD on 23 carries and hauling
in 4-42-0 on six targets.
Spiller, BUF (@SD, MIA, DEN, @NE) – Spiller had his best game
as a pro, rushing for 83 yards and big TD on just 14 carries.
He added 3-19-0 receiving.
Morris, DET (MIN, @OAK, SD, @GB) – Morris (28 rushing yards,
5-47-1) took over for Kevin Smith, who aggravated his ankle injury
on Sunday night.
Brown, IND (@BAL, TEN, HOU, @JAC) – Brown wasn’t spectacular,
but he did find paydirt and tally 56 total yards in the loss to
Ware, NYG – He scored the two-point conversion that tied up
the game at 35-35 before Aaron Rodgers killed any hope of me getting
a first round bye (I lost by two points in one league because
of the yardage he gained on the final drive). But Ware will mainly
be a non-factor from here on out with Ahmad Bradshaw back in action.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
WR Lance Moore, NO (@TEN, @MIN, ATL, CAR) – The speedy
little slot receiver has been very active in key spots for the
Saints, who are scoring at will these days. Moore is still available
in about a third of fantasy leagues and has a few really nice
matchups in the coming weeks.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK (@GB, DET, @KC, SD) – Heyward-Bey
is the only healthy receiver in Oakland, and had 3-23-1 on eight
targets Sunday in the loss to Miami. He’s only owned in
about one quarter of fantasy leagues and should be busy the next
couple weeks in garbage time.
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN (CHI, NE, @BUF, KC) – Thomas only
had four catches, but two were gamebreaking TD receptions (21,
41) that helped the Broncos steal another last-minute victory.
Scouring The Barrel
WR Golden Tate, SEA (STL, @CHI, SF, @ARI) – Tate won’t
be a remarkably consistent option, but he did have a fine game
on Thursday, going for 4-47-1 in the win over the struggling Eagles.
He could be in line for more targets when the Seahawks take on
St. Louis in Week 14.
WR/QB Brad Smith, BUF (@SD, MIA, DEN, @NE) – The Bills emergency
QB could be used a lot in the final few weeks as the Bills are
seeking out offensive options. He’s got 149 receiving yards
and a TD on 11 catches in his last two weeks and will be actively
involved against San Diego, Miami and Denver.
Wayne, IND (@BAL, TEN, HOU, @JAC) – Wayne was just okay (5-55-0)
while Pierre Garcon (9-150-2) stole the show in garbage time.
WR Eric Decker, DEN (CHI, NE, @BUF, KC) – Like Wayne, Decker
(2-25-0) was upstaged by his teammate as Thomas (4-144-2) broke
out with two second-half TDs.
TE Dustin Keller, NYJ (KC, @PHI, NYG, @MIA) – Keller (3-12-0)
was mostly quiet with the ground game running so effectively in
the red zone against the Redskins.
WR Doug Baldwin, SEA (STL, @CHI, SF, @ARI) – We seem to
have a recurring theme this week, as Baldwin’s teammates
(Golden Tate and Ben Obamanu) were much bigger fantasy factors
in the surprising win over Philly.
Avant, PHI (@MIA, NYJ, @DAL, WAS) – The Eagles passing game
never really got going, and while DeSean Jackson is still languishing
in doghouse hell, Avant had just one catch for 10 yards on Thursday.
WR Riley Cooper, PHI (@MIA, NYJ, @DAL, WAS) – Cooper was
the lone bright spot in the passing game, tallying 5-94-0 in the
loss to the upstart Seahawks.
Davis, CHI (@DEN, SEA, @GB, @MIN) – Davis (2-40-0) didn’t
get into the end zone, but nobody from the Bears did in their
10-3 loss to Kansas City. Only Johnny Knox (5-53-0) had more receiving
yards for Chicago, and the early word is that there’s new interest
in Donovan McNabb.
Off The Top
LB Lance Briggs, CHI (@DEN, SEA, @GB, @MIN) – If anybody’s
going to give Tim Tebow a jarring dose of reality, it’s
Briggs and the Bears defense. The vaunted linebacker has been
relatively quiet this season, without many monster games, but
I think this is the week he goes off.
DL Chris Clemons, SEA (STL, @CHI, SF, @ARI) – Clemons banged
up the Rams in Week 11 to the tune of 3.0 sacks, five tackles
and a PD. I’m banking on another big performance for the
athletic DL, who has 33 total tackles, 8.0 sacks and three PD
on the season.
Scouring The Barrel
DB Vontae Davis, MIA (PHI, @BUF, @NE, NYJ) – Since returning
in Week 10 from injury, Davis (Vernon’s little brother)
has been on a tear, posting 16 tackles, five PD, a sack and two
INTs in four games. His upcoming schedule portends even more success
in IDP formats, and he’s universally available in most formats.
Burnett, MIA (PHI, @BUF, @NE, NYJ) – With the exception of
Denver LB Mario Haggan (and in some formats, Chiefs LB Justin
Houston and Steelers OLB James Harrison), Burnett had the best
performance of Week 13 among linebackers, posting four solos,
a sack, PD, and interception that he returned for a TD.
LB/DL Connor Barwin, HOU (@CIN, CAR, @IND, TEN) – Barwin
had just one solo tackle but knocked down a couple of passes,
somewhat salvaging his sack-free day.
DB Tracy Porter, NO (@TEN, @MIN, ATL, CAR) – Porter finished
among the Top 15 DBs for Week 13, recording seven total tackles,
a PD and INT in the Saints surgical Sunday night win over the
Lions. Again – you are welcome, folks.
LB Takeo Spikes, SD (BUF, BAL, @DET, @OAK) – Spikes didn’t
make any big plays, but he did rack up nine tackles (six solos)
in the decisive victory over the Jags on Monday night.
DB Troy Polamalu, PIT (CLE, @SF, STL, @CLE) – Four tackles
and a PD despite last week’s concussion scare. Not bad.
DL Geno Atkins, CIN (HOU, @STL, ARI, BAL) – Atkins had one
of his most quiet games of the season, posting just two total
tackles in the lopsided loss to Pittsburgh.