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Antonio D'Arcangelis | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

Through The Wire - Week 14
12/4/12 Users...
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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.

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 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

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

Jay Cutler, CHI (@MIN, GB, @ARI, @DET) – He’s owned in just 62 percent of fantasy leagues and has one of the best arms (and wide receiver) in the game. The Vikings managed to keep Aaron Rodgers in check this week, but the Chicago offensive line is actually better than the Packers line at this point. I expect another solid game from Cutler next week in Minnesota.

Sam Bradford, STL (@BUF, MIN, @TB, @SEA) – Bradford has been surprisingly consistent this season despite a young receiving corps that’s experienced some minor tumult. He’s available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and could be a decent option against the Bills in Week 14 and the Bucs in Week 16 – championship week for most formats. And I know, I know – while it’s hard to imagine a team taking down a fantasy title with Bradford at the helm, there are still plenty of leagues out there where a Week 16 win is worth something other than the top prize.

Digging Deeper

Brandon Weeden, CLE (KC, WAS, @DEN, @PIT) – Weeden is owned in about 25-30 percent of fantasy leagues and is coming off a relatively impressive performance in the Black Hole. He racked up 364-1-2 and could turn in even better numbers against the Chiefs in Week 14.

Nick Foles, PHI (@TB, CIN, WAS, @NYG) – The Eagles are a mess, but Foles has a strong arm and they’ve got nothing to lose at this point. In two-QB leagues, I can see giving Foles a shot against the Bucs. Update: The team announced Monday that Foles would remain the starter for the rest of the season.

Scouring The Barrel

Brady Quinn, KC (@CLE, @OAK, IND, @DEN) – The Chiefs’ organization experienced a devastating tragedy this weekend and played with heavy hearts on Sunday, managing to win their football game. Quinn was masterful, throwing for 201-2-0 on 19-for-23 passing. He also delivered a must-hear postgame speech on the importance of eschewing social media and handheld electronic devices – things that sometimes keep us from noticing how things are going with those we spend our actual lives around. Quinn (who’s available in about 97 percent of fantasy leagues) showed poise both on the field and off on Sunday, and in my mind, his stock as a football player – and as a person – went up dramatically.

Greg McElroy, NYJ (@JAC, @TEN, SD, @BUF) – In a hilarious turn of events, Mark Sanchez was shown the bench after multiple INTs and McElroy was named the player of the game in the Jets 7-6 victory over the Cards. Update: McElroy began the season as the team’s developmental third QB, but things have gotten desperate in New Jersey. “League sources” are speculating to CBS Sports NFL insider Jason LaCanfora that Rex Ryan is “leaning” toward McElroy this week, but Ryan hasn’t said anything official as of Monday night about his plans for Week 14. And while I can’t seriously recommend McElroy for single-QB leagues save for desperation situations in super-deep leagues, it’ll be interesting to see how the Jets plan on using him going forward.


Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (STL, SEA, @MIA, NYJ) – Fitzpatrick enjoyed another okay game thanks to a rushing TD, but he only threw for 112-2-1 as the Bills focused on a successful ground game.

Russell Wilson, SEA (ARI, @BUF, SF, STL) – Wilson had his best fantasy game of the season, finishing with 293-2-0 and 71 rushing yards. The rookie has now thrown for 2,344-19-8 and has 298 rushing yards on the season.

Jake Locker, TEN (@IND, NYJ, @GB, @IND) – Locker got roughed up by the Texans aggressive defense, losing two fumbles and throwing for 309-1-3. He’s got a much more favorable matchup in Week 14.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Jonathan Dwyer, PIT (SD, @DAL, CIN, CLE) – Dwyer (72 percent owned) is a risky start moving forward but he runs with purpose and was impressive in the victory over the Ravens. He’s a grinder with competition for touches but plenty of fantasy upside as a low-end RB2.

Vick Ballard, IND (TEN, @HOU, @KC, HOU) – Ballard is owned in about two thirds of fantasy leagues and turned in his best performance of the season to date, rushing for 41 yards and a TD on nine carries and contributing 3-21-0 receiving. He’s a low-end RB2 and decent flex option.

Digging Deeper

James Starks, GB (DET, @CHI, TEN, @MIN) – I was this close to including Starks (40 percent owned) in my column last week but decided to leave him out at the last minute. Not. Good. He had 84 total yards and a TD, his best game since the 2010 postseason. Update: Mike McCarthy plans to “stay the course” and ride Starks as the lead back going forward. Editor's Note: Starks suffered a knee injury in Week 13 and is likely to be put on IR. Alex Green will be the starting RB moving forward.

Bilal Powell, NYJ (@JAC, @TEN, SD, @BUF) – Update: Owned in about 35-40 percent of fantasy leagues, Powell has at least 10 carries and 40 rushing yards in three straight games – and an impressive three TDs over that span. He’s worth a look as a flex/low-end RB2 against the feeble Jaguars and should be owned in all formats at this point.

Scouring The Barrel

James Casey, HOU (@NE, IND, MIN, @IND) – He qualifies as a running back and has two TDs in his last three games. Casey (6 percent owned) gets used a lot in the red zone and could be worth a look as a flex option in deeper formats – especially TD-only and PPR leagues.

Montell Owens, JAC (NYJ, @MIA, NE, @TEN) – Update: Maurice Jones-Drew (Lisfranc) isn’t quite ready yet (I’d call him doubtful for Week 14 at this point) and Rashad Jennings (see below) got rocked last week. The matchup isn’t a great one, but it’s on the favorable side and Owens ran well in relief of Jennings last week. He’s a deep-league RB3/flex option with a glimmer of upside.


Michael Bush, CHI (@MIN, GB, @ARI, @DET) – Forte was good to go on Sunday and Bush – relegated to a backup/situational role – finished with just 39 rushing yards on seven carries.

Bryce Brown, PHI (@TB, CIN, WAS, @NYG) – With a second straight monster performance, Brown will be gone from the balance of waiver wires after this week. He had 169 rushing yards and two TDs plus 4-14-0 receiving, but his lost fumble complicates his usage moving forward. Still – he’s been a revelation for fantasy owners.

Beanie Wells, ARI (@SEA, DET, CHI, @SF) – Wells had 15 carries for just 22 yards and no receptions. He’s not a great option facing the Seahawks this week.

Rashad Jennings, JAC (NYJ, @MIA, NE, @TEN) – Jennings had just eight carries for 20 yards and no catches, yielding more touches than expected to Montell Owens. Update: Jennings left the game early on Sunday because of a concussion. Owens is the likely starter for Week 14.

Knowshon Moreno, DEN (@OAK, @BAL, CLE, KC) – Moreno turned in a moderate PPR performance, tallying 69 rushing yards on 20 carries and 4-14-0 receiving.

Shane Vereen, NE (HOU, SF, @JAC, MIA) – The Pats didn’t need Vereen much on Sunday, as he carried the ball just three times for 14 yards.

David Wilson, NYG (NO, @ATL, @BAL, PHI) – Update: Wilson rushed for 9 yards on four carries against the Skins on Monday night. He’ll get some more work and could break off some big runs, but he’s only an option in the deepest of formats unless something befalls Ahmad Bradshaw.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

TE Brandon Myers, OAK (DEN, KC, @CAR, @SD) – Myers exploded for 14-130-1 on Sunday and has some favorable matchups in the season’s last four weeks. He’s a bona fide TE1 who’s a fantasy force to be reckoned with.

WR Golden Tate, SEA (ARI, @BUF, SF, STL) – Update: With four TDs over his last four games and 35-486-7 on the season, Tate is worth starting in plenty of formats, but is only owned in a little over 50-percent of fantasy leagues. He’s definitely a risk as a week-to-week starter, but Wilson looks for him quite frequently in the red zone and the Cards are a poor team likely to yield a few scoring opportunities to the Seahawks in Week 14.

Digging Deeper

WR Donnie Avery, IND (TEN, @HOU, @KC, HOU) – I believed the hype on Ryan Broyles (absent from my column but touted on others) and started him over Avery (38 percent owned) in one of my home leagues. Clearly, it was a crucial mistake, as Avery turned in 5-91-2, including the game winner as time expired. He’s a shifty receiver with tons of ability and fantasy upside. Update: In retrospect, it wasn’t really Broyles’ fault he tore his ACL and is out for the rest of the season. But it still hurts, folks. And Avery is an explosive player who can score from anywhere.

WR Andrew Hawkins, CIN (DAL, @PHI, @PIT, BAL) – I can’t see starting Hawkins (34 percent owned) in Weeks 16 or 17, but the next two games could be huge for the Bengals’ second receiver. He’s finally healthy and as long as he doesn’t have a setback with his knee, should contribute against both the Cowboys and Eagles.

Scouring The Barrel

WR Lestar Jean, HOU (@NE, IND. MIN, @IND) – Jean finally broke out with a huge TD catch in Week 13, but it was his only target of the day. I could see him being used a lot more against the Patriots, but he’s still a major risk – even in deeper formats.

WR Mike Thomas, DET (@GB, @ARI, ATL, CHI) – Update: Thomas vaults into the No. 2 WR spot for the Lions with Broyles done for the season. He struggled against the Colts, but with a week of practice under his belt and Calvin Johnson drawing plenty of attention, the former Jags wideout is worth a look in deeper formats.


WR Davone Bess, MIA (@SF, JAC, BUF, @NE) – Bess had his worst game of the season – one catch for 13 yards. It wasn’t a good week for my WR picks.

WR Pierre Garcon, WAS (BAL, @CLE, @PHI, DAL) – Update: RGIII and Garcon cut up the Giants defense for 8-106-1 on Monday night. He’s a solid WR2 going forward unless his foot becomes a problem again.

WR Donald Jones, BUF (STL, SEA, @MIA, NYJ) – Jones was hit with the questionable tag and missed Week 13 with a calf injury.

WR Chris Givens, STL (@BUF, MIN, @TB, @SEA) – Finally, something to get excited about. Givens was a PPR surprise, hauling in 11-92-0. He’s worth starting as a WR3 in Week 14 against the Bills.

WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN (DAL, @PHI, @PIT, BAL) – Sanu was a mid-week scratch after a Thursday foot injury (stress fracture) and is out for the rest of the season.

TE Robert Housler, ARI (@SEA, DET, CHI, @SF) – Housler had just 4-15-0 and couldn’t break through the Jets stifling defense in the red zone.


Off The Top

DL Cliff Avril, DET (@GB, @ARI, ATL, CHI) – Avril has sacks in three straight games and while he’s battled injuries and is more of a situational pass rusher, he plays with intensity and should be able to get to Aaron Rodgers in Week 14.

LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (@BUF, MIN, @TB, @SEA) – MLB James Laurinaitis steals much of the spotlight among St. Louis LBs, but Dunbar has had an excellent 2012 campaign (80 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, INT, three PD). The word is out, but he’s still available in plenty of IDP formats.

Digging Deeper

DB Jordan Babineaux, TEN (@IND, NYJ, @GB, JAC) – You won’t find a more favorable schedule in weeks 14-17 than the one for Tennessee DBs, and Babineaux is the most overlooked of the bunch. He’s a steady tackler and decent DB3.

LB Demorrio Williams, SD (@PIT, CAR, @NYJ, OAK) – The pick six in Week 13 helped out fantasy owners who gave Williams a shot with Donald Butler out. If Butler can’t go in Week 14, Williams will once again be a solid option. Stay tuned.

Scouring The Barrel

DB Janoris Jenkins, STL (@BUF, MIN, @TB, @SEA) – Jenkins keeps making big plays for the Rams and is among the top IDP rookie performers in the game. He’s worth rolling out versus the Bills in Week 14 as a high-risk/high-reward option since Fitzpatrick’s been much more careful with the football lately.

DL Corey Liuget, SD (@PIT, CAR, @NYJ, OAK) – A run-stopping DE with some fantasy upside, Liuget has improved his game dramatically in 2012 and is worth starting in deeper IDP formats in the coming weeks.


DL Chris Clemons, SEA (ARI, @BUF, SF, STL) – Another epic goose egg from a guy who’s as hard to predict as any DL in football. It’s hard to say how and why he didn’t register at least one tackle.

DB LaRon Landry, NYJ (@JAC, @TEN, SD, @BUF) – Landry had two solos, an assist, a PD and an INT. He’s a solid DB2.

LB Justin Houston, KC (@CLE, @OAK, IND, @DEN) – Three solos and a sack in the win over Carolina. Not terrible.

LB Anthony Spencer, DAL (@CIN, PIT, NO, @WAS) – Spencer tallied eight total tackles and a PD – a good outing for an IDP sleeper.

DB Chris Houston, DET (@GB, @ARI, ATL, CHI) – Houston wasn’t that great on Sunday against the Colts but had six total tackles (five solos).

DL Art Jones, BAL (@WAS, DEN, NYG, @CIN) – Jones was a solid Week 13 sleeper call, registering three solos, an assist and a sack in the loss to Pittsburgh.