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
Matt Hasselbeck, TEN (@PIT, BYE, HOU, IND) – Hasselbeck
turned in yet another solid performance (220-3-1) and might end
up being a Top 15 QB this season. Who knew? He’s probably
not worth a start for a while (the matchups don’t get favorable
again for some time), but he’s worth keeping as a backup
for bye week or injury pinches.
Jason Campbell, OAK (@HOU, CLE, KC, BYE) – It was against
the Pats’ weak secondary, but Campbell had his second 300-yard
passing day this season, tossing for 344-1-2 and scrambling for
29 yards on four carries. With some better blocking, and facing
weaker defensive lines, he could be a dangerous fantasy QB. Weeks
9-14 look good from a matchup perspective.
Alex Smith, SF (TB, @DET, BYE, CLE) – Smith had his best
game since Week 14 against Seattle last season, throwing for 291-2-0
and scraping out a big victory over the Eagles. He’s still
Alex Smith and the schedule isn’t favorable the rest of
the way, but he’s got a new head coach that might be working
out some of his issues. Keep an eye on him.
Scouring The Barrel
Blaine Gabbert, JAC (CIN, @PIT, BAL, @HOU) – Gabbert is
still largely an unknown commodity, and the upcoming schedule
sucks. For now, it’s best to leave him on the wire in everything
but two-QB leagues.
Mark Sanchez, NYJ (@NE, MIA, SD, BYE) – Sanchez couldn’t
solve the Ravens defense and Rex Ryan says the team is going back
to the ground-and-pound approach. Color me disappointed, especially
with the Pats on the docket for next week.
Colt McCoy, CLE (BYE, @OAK, SEA, @SF) – McCoy showed once
again on Sunday that he’s short the weapons he needs to
make a big fantasy impact.
Tarvaris Jackson, SEA (@NYG, BYE, @CLE, CIN) – I didn’t
see Jackson’s crazy performance (319-3-2) coming, but if
you were truly desperate, maybe it worked out for you. Kudos to
those who gave him a start.
Off The Top
Willis McGahee, DEN (SD, BYE, @MIA, DET) – McGahee and
the Broncos didn’t get a win on Sunday, but it’s pretty
clear who the primary back in Denver is right now. The veteran
rushed for 103 yards on just 15 carries. The next four weeks are
rough, but you’re going to want him for weeks 9-10.
Bush, OAK (@HOU, CLE, KC, BYE) – There seems to be plenty
of offense in Raiderland, and Bush contributed 81 total yards
and a rushing TD in Sunday’s loss to New England. He’ll be a decent
flex play some weeks and is necessary insurance for Darren McFadden
Stevan Ridley, NE (NYJ, DAL, BYE, @PIT) – The rookie is
running better than any back on the Pats right now, totaling 97
rushing yards and a score on just 10 carries Sunday. He’s
a quick, shifty runner who handles between-the-tackles grinding
quite well, possessing a nice blend of solid next-level vision
and speed. He’s on the rise and in Bill Belichick’s
Ryan Torain, WAS (BYE, PHI, @CAR, @BUF) – Mike Shanahan
saw some good running from Torain in practice last week, so he
gave him the bulk of carries and it paid off. Of course, this
could all change tomorrow, as Shanahan is a fantasy-hating jerkface.
Torain has a Week 5 bye, but returns against two weak run defenses
in weeks 6 and 7.
Think Torain is the featured-back in Washington?
Wait until next week.
Scouring The Barrel
Redman, PIT (TEN, JAC, @ARI, NE) – Even if the injury to Rashard
Mendenhall isn’t considered serious, I’m adding Redman in deeper
formats. The Steelers appear sluggish and willing to do something
to switch it up on offense – Redman could help answer their needs.
Hilliard, MIA (BYE, @NYJ, DEN, @NYG) – It might just be a
timing thing, but Hilliard was decent on Sunday and could provide
some value if the injury to Daniel Thomas lingers.
Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL (GB, CAR, @DET, BYE) – Rodgers is
the backup to own in Atlanta, but his diminutive size (5-6, 196)
will prevent him from getting consistent looks even if Turner
Darren Sproles, NO (@JAC, @CAR, @TB, IND) – Sproles didn’t
find pay dirt but racked up 131 total yards from scrimmage. He’s
a strong RB2 in PPR leagues and decent RB3/flex in all others.
Thomas, MIA (BYE, @NYJ, DEN, @NYG) – Thomas sat out
Sunday with a hamstring injury. Stay tuned.
LaDainian Tomlinson, NYJ (@NE, MIA, SD, BYE) – Tomlinson
was effectively silenced on Sunday and should only be considered
in PPR leagues going forward.
Montario Hardesty, CLE (BYE, @OAK, SEA, @SF) – He only gained
3.1 yards per carry on Sunday, but saw nine targets from McCoy
and amassed 5-49-0 receiving, increasing his latent value in PPR
Hunter, SF (TB, @DET, BYE, CLE) – Frank Gore played (quite
well) but Hunter was a decent second fiddle, gaining 100 total
yards on 14 touches (nine carries, five catches).
Smith, ARI (@MIN, BYE, PIT, @BAL) – Chris Wells stole the
show and his job back – although he still can’t catch a ball to
save his life. Smith goes to the back burner, at least in my mind.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
WR Eric Decker, DEN (SD, BYE, @MIA, DET) – If you didn’t
jump on him before, shame on you. Decker had a couple more TD
catches and should be owned in all formats after this week.
WR Denarius Moore, OAK (@HOU, CLE, KC, BYE) – Moore isn’t
a 15-20 touch per game guy, but he’s going to get at least
five-six targets from Campbell a game and two-three chances to
spring big plays ruining the ball on end arounds and reverses,
so he’s a good play in deeper leagues and could be in for
a bigger role going forward.
WR Antonio Brown, PIT (TEN, JAC, @ARI, NE) – I’m
still waiting for Brown to break out, but 5-67-0 on 10 targets
isn’t bad. The status of Big Ben will determine if he’s
worth a look the next few weeks (two bad matchups – and
then two good ones).
Jones, HOU (OAK, @BAL, @TEN, JAC) – If Andre Johnson is indeed
out for a significant amount of time, Jones is a must-add and
worth starting in all formats next week.
Scouring The Barrel
Gaffney, WAS (BYE, PHI, @CAR, @BUF) – I love his ability to
move the chains, and so do Rex Grossman and Mike Shanahan. He’s
on a bye, so you might be able to snag and stash him if nobody’s
grabbed him yet. Just sayin, folks.
Ben Watson, CLE (BYE, @OAK, SEA, @SF) – Another bye week dude,
but he’s got McCoy’s eye in Cleveland. Keep tabs on him for the
Seattle game, as Oakland does a good job covering TEs with speedy
MLB Rolando McClain.
Nate Washington, TEN (@PIT, BYE, HOU, IND) – He had
two catches and 62 receiving yards, but the TDs went to the other
guys. Not great.
WR Torrey Smith, BAL (BYE, HOU, @JAC, ARI) – I should stop
talking about the offense in the Jets-Ravens game altogether.
Let’s just move on.
TE Brandon Pettigrew, DET (CHI, SF, ATL, @DEN) – He had
6-64-0 against Dallas and has a great matchup heading home to
TE Heath Miller, PIT (TEN, JAC, @ARI, NE) – The Steelers
are at their best when they get Miller the ball. He had just 3-15-0
(three targets) on Sunday and they lost. Go figure.
Jones, BUF (PHI, @NYG, BYE, WAS) – Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t
find the end zone, so neither did Jones (3-21-0, eight targets).
I still like this guy, so don’t give up just yet if you took him
WR Brian Hartline, MIA (BYE, @NYJ, DEN, @NYG) – He’s
better than 3-31-0, but with Henne injured, his numbers from here
on out are in doubt.
WR Victor Cruz, NYG (SEA, BUF, BYE, MIA) – Nine targets,
6-98-0. It looks like Cruz has found a role in the Giants offense
as a deep threat and is worth considering as a WR4/flex in all
Jenkins, MIN (ARI, @CHI, GB, @CAR) – I’ll take one catch for
one yard if it’s a TD. You? He outscored Brandon Marshall, Santonio
Holmes, Anquan Boldin and Percy Harvin, to name a few.
Off The Top
LB D.J. Williams, DEN (SD, BYE, @MIA, DET) – He posted
eight tackles in his 2011 debut and might still be available on
your IDP waiver wire because of the dislocated elbow he suffered
in the preseason. Plus, his team’s defense is on the field
a lot, bro.
Clemons, SEA (@NYG, BYE, @CLE, CIN) – He wasn’t a factor on
Sunday, but you can bet he’ll get to Eli Manning at least once
this week. He’s available in a ton of formats, although he won’t
be for long.
Scouring The Barrel
DB Eric Smith, NYJ (@NE, MIA, SD, BYE) – The next three
matchups mean plenty of opportunities for Smith, who’s been
the most consistent tackler in the Jets secondary this season.
DB Morgan Burnett, GB (@ATL, STL, @MIN, BYE) – Another
six tackles (five solos) and a PD. This guy’s going to put
up huge IDP numbers this season.
LB Sean Weatherspoon, ATL (GB, CAR, @DET, BYE) – Nothing
special about Weatherspoon’s Week 4: Seven total tackles
and no junk points.
DL Greg Hardy, CAR (NO, @ATL, WAS, MIN) – The Bears line
did a nice job keeping Hardy out of the backfield Sunday, holding
the second-year defensive end to three solo tackles (no sacks).
LB Bart Scott, NYJ (@NE, MIA, SD, BYE) – Both offenses sucked,
as you know, but Scott finished with eight total tackles in the
win over the Jets. Scott seems to be making a lot of plays in
LB Navorro Bowman, SF (TB, @DET, BYE, CLE) – Bowman turned
in another solid outing, racking up six solos, a PD and a fumble
recovery. He should be busy again next week.
DB Sean Jones, TB (@SF, NO, CHI, BYE) – Just two total tackles,
as the Indy offense was mostly Curtis Painter throwing tons of
incompletions and the occasional TD pass. I like him next week
(and the week after that) a lot more.