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 ()
Editor's Note: This
column will be updated tomorrow after the conclusion of Week 1.
Off The Top
Griffin III, WAS (@STL, CIN, @TB, ATL) – I shouldn’t have
to tell you to add Griffin (85 percent owned) if he’s available
in your league, but it bears mentioning that his rookie debut
was second only to Cam Newton’s 2011 breakout in terms of passing
yardage (Peyton Manning’s debut in 1998 is third). He looked a
little more human as the game wore on, but Griffin is a fantasy
star in the making.
Sanchez, NYJ (@PIT, @MIA, SF, HOU) – At the risk of sounding
disingenuous, I’ll point out that I was impressed with most of
what I saw from Sanchez on Sunday. He missed some easy throws,
but for the most part, there was chemistry among the young receivers
and the offensive outburst portends some light at the end of the
tunnel for the Jets. However – it was only Buffalo, and the Bills
did not look great. The Steelers get Ryan Clark back next week
(his sickle cell trait forced him to sit out Sunday night’s game
due to the high altitude in Denver), and they’ll do a much better
job of clamping down on Gang Green.
Scouring The Barrel
Blaine Gabbert, JAC (HOU. @IND, CIN, CHI) – Gabbert’s
260-2-0 line against the Vikings was solid, but he’ll have
a harder time at home against the Texans in Week 2. Keep him in
mind for favorable matchups in two-QB leagues.
Dalton, CIN (CLE, @WAS, @JAC, MIA) - Dalton struggled against
the rough-and-tumble Ravens defense, a unit that utilized its lead
to get super-aggressive and expose the Bengals with blitzes and
additional pressure from the secondary and its talented playmakers.
Dalton finished with 221 passing yards, an INT and a lost fumble.
Fitzpatrick, BUF (KC, @CLE, NE, @ SF) – If Fitzpatrick (195-3-3)
continues to make so many bad throws in division battles, he’ll
be grabbing a clipboard. Tarvaris Jackson may not be as dynamic
a fantasy option, but he doesn’t throw away games.
Tannehill, MIA (OAK, NYJ, @ARI, @CIN) – Tannehill’s fantasy
debut (219-0-3 on 20-for-36 passing) exceeded only the comedic
exploits of 28-year-old rookie Brandon Weeden, who threw four
INTs and completed just 12 of 35 pass attempts for 118 yards.
Even Tim Tebow had a better day than Weeden.
Off The Top
C.J. Spiller, BUF (KC, @CLE, NE, @SF) – The injury to Fred
Jackson looked serious, but even if it’s not, the interior
running and burst of Spiller (78 percent owned) looked excellent.
He’s a must add in leagues where he’s still available.
Morris, WAS (@STL, CIN, @TB, ATL) – The rookie got the start
and rushed for 96 yards and two TDs on 28 carries. I’m leery of
plugging him too much because of the fickle monster who lives
inside the soul of his coach, but it’s a noteworthy performance
from a sixth-round pick who’s owned in just 37 percent of leagues.
Scouring The Barrel
Shaun Draughn, KC (@BUF, @NO, SD, BAL) – Draughn (less than 1
percent owned) emerged from obscurity on Sunday, rushing for 29
yards and a TD on six carries and hauling in 2-12-0 during the
loss to Atlanta. It could have been a one-time poach in a game
that was pretty much over, but Peyton Hillis owners have reason
to be concerned.
Smith, DET (@SF, @TEN, MIN, BYE) – Smith didn’t necessarily
scorch the Rams, but he did amass 91 total yards (63 rushing,
4-29 receiving) and reach paydirt on a game-winning pass from
Matthew Stafford in the waning seconds.
David Wilson, NYG (TB, @CAR, @PHI, CLE) – He fumbled. He
got yelled at. He cried. Now, he’ll have to work his way
out of the doghouse and learn how to hold the ball high like Tiki
Jonathan Dwyer, PIT (NYJ, @OAK, BYE, PHI) – Dwyer just missed
out on a score (his knee dragged on an apparent TD run but it
was reversed after review), but looked like the better runner
(nine carries, 43 yards) in the Steelers loss to Denver.
Rodgers, ATL (DEN, @SD, CAR, @WAS) – The Falcons running game
was relatively quiet, what with Matt Ryan busting out of the gate
with 3 passing TDs and a vulture score on the ground, but Rodgers
(22 yards on seven carries) was a little more effective than Michael
Turner (11 carries for 32 yards).
Evan Royster, WAS (@STL, CIN, @TB, ATL) – The Shanahanigans
continue, with Morris, not Royster (two carries for 10 yards),
getting all the important work.
Brandon Jackson, CLE (@CIN, BUF, @BAL, @NYG) – No carries,
and 2-20-0 receiving. With Richardson apparently healthy enough
to play, Jackson goes to the back burner.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Moore, NO (@CAR, KC, @GB, SD) – Moore continues to be a favorite
target of Drew Brees, and his performance on Sunday (6-120-1 on
10 targets) assures that his 82 percent ownership rate will shoot
over 90 percent by the weekend.
WR Randall Cobb, GB (CHI, @SEA, NO, @IND) – Available in
more than half of fantasy leagues (41 percent owned), Cobb’s
value to the Packers’ offense is nearly immeasurable. His
Week 1 breakout (9-77-0 receiving, punt return TD) is just one
of many big games he’ll have this season.
Fleener, IND (MIN, JAC, BYE, GB) – The rookie was targeted
10 times by fellow Stanford pal Andrew Luck and finished with
6-82-0 in the loss to Chicago. These numbers nearly mirrored those
of Jimmy Graham (6-85-1) aside from the glaring difference in
the TD column. I think it’s safe to say that Fleener will finish
2012 with at least 60 catches, 750 yards and a handful of TDs,
making him a solid TE1 in 12-team leagues.
TE Marcedes Lewis, JAC (HOU, @IND, CIN, CHI) – Lewis (5-52-1)
played well on Sunday and Cecil Shorts (4-74-1) emerged as a viable
receiving option for Gabbert. Lewis is owned in just 17 percent
of fantasy leagues while Shorts is nearly universally available
in all formats.
WR Stephen Hill, NYJ (@PIT, @MIA, SF, HOU) – I got a text
from a Jets fan friend who attended Sunday’s Jets-Bills
game. I assisted him with his fantasy draft and had rebuked his
selection of Hill (5-89-2 on six targets in Sunday’s win
over Buffalo). I probably don’t need to tell you the text
came off a little swanky, albeit justifiably so.
Ogletree, DAL (@SEA, TB, CHI, BYE) – Only Ogletree’s Wednesday
night revelation (8-114-2 on 11 targets) bested the Week 1 fantasy
performance of Julio Jones. The only difference is that Jones
is 99 percent owned and Ogletree is currently available in 92
percent of leagues. I happen to own him in an experimental IDP
keeper league, but that’s just me tooting my own horn. Pick him
up. He could be this season’s Laurent Robinson.
Scouring The Barrel
WR Andre Roberts, ARI (@NE, PHI, MIA, @STL) – There’s
a dearth of good things happening in the Arizona offense, but
Roberts (4 percent owned) could end up being a reliable contributor.
He had five catches for 54 yards and a TD on nine targets Sunday.
WR Jeremy Kerley, NYJ (@PIT, @MIA, SF, HOU) – Kerley caught
all four balls thrown his way on Sunday for 45 yards and a score.
He won’t be an every-week contributor, but he’s a
solid stash in deeper leagues.
Robinson, WAS (@STL, CIN, @TB, ATL) – Like with Kerley, we
can’t expect the diminutive Robinson to post monster numbers,
but he took advantage of Pierre Garcon’s knee injury as the X
receiver – a role vacated by veteran WR Santana
Moss – en route to a 4-52-1 stat line in his first meaningful
NFL action. The second-year SMU product was targeted six times
by Griffin (while Leonard Hankerson saw zero targets) and he could
emerge as a viable option in 12-14 team fantasy leagues.
WR Kenny Britt, TEN (@SD, DET, @HOU, @MIN) – It’s
time to get Britt back in starting lineups, as long as his wrist
isn’t injured from the slap it got from Roger Goodell.
TE Dustin Keller, NYJ (@PIT, @MIA, SF, HOU) – Sanchez fell
in love with his rookie receiver, and Keller, who is nursing a
hamstring injury, was all but forgotten in the chaos.
Manningham, SF (DET, @MIN, @NYJ, BUF) – Just 4-29-0 with a
fumble, Manningham will lose snaps to Randy Moss (57 percent owned)
if the future Hall-of-Famer continues to make plays for Alex Smith
and the 49ers.
WR Sidney Rice, SEA (DAL, GB, @STL, @CAR) – Rice hauled
in 4-36-1 in the loss to Arizona, and remains the best option
among Seattle WRs moving forward.
WR Davone Bess, MIA (OAK, NYJ, @ARI, @CIN) – Bess posted
a solid Week 1 stat line for deep PPR leagues, catching five balls
for 45 yards.
Miller, SEA (DAL, GB, @STL, @CAR) – I picked the wrong TE
named Miller this week, as Zach finished with 3-40-0 and Heath
Miller (4-50-1) scored for Pittsburgh.
Off The Top
Hightower, NE (ARI, @BAL, @BUF, DEN) – The rookie SLB benefited
from a fumble return TD in his debut, but it might be tough for
him to rack up consistent tackle totals with the likes of MLB
Brandon Spikes and WLB Jerod Mayo at the other starting LB spots.
Hightower’s best bet for fantasy success is an overall mix of
tackles, PDs, sacks and other big plays – something he could get
alongside Mayo on third downs.
DB T.J. Ward, CLE (@CIN, BUF, @BAL, @NYG) – Ward is an IDP
beast who showed up in Week 1 (seven solos, one assist, 1.0 sack).
He’ll be a busy man this season and merits DB1 status.
DL Greg Hardy, CAR (NO, NYG, @ATL, SEA) – The third-year
lineman is one of the most underrated DL in fantasy. He started
off 2012 with eight total tackles and a sack and will be counted
on to apply QB pressure during the coming weeks.
DL Derrick Morgan, TEN (@SD, DET, @HOU, @MIN) – Morgan
has yet to reach his potential but tallied seven total tackles
in Week 1 for the Titans, who will need all the help they can
get on a line that’s a far cry from what it was just a few
DB Cortland Finnegan, STL (WAS, @CHI, SEA, ARI) – The IDP
star of Week 1, Finnegan turned in a full stat line with 10 tackles
(nine solos), two PD, and an INT he returned for a score. The
Rams secondary may be the most improved unit in football.
LB Wesley Woodyard, DEN (@ATL, HOU, OAK, @NE) – Woodyard’s
speed was on display against a sluggish Steelers offense Sunday
night as the veteran special teams maven and linebacker racked
up 12 solos and a sack. He’s immediately a must-own LB2
with upside as he plays all over the field on all downs.
Scouring The Barrel
LB Stephen Nicholas, ATL (DEN, @SD, CAR, @WAS) – WLB Sean
Weatherspoon (seven solos, sack, PD) had a solid game for the
Falcons, but it was the strong-side starter Nicholas who stole
the show, posting 10 solos, two assists, two PD, and INT and a
fumble recovery. This won’t happen every week, but I’m
a believer in the growing value of SLBs because of the need for
coverage LBs with upside in such a pass-heavy league.
DB Jerraud Powers, IND (MIN, JAC, BYE, GB) – Powers didn’t
go nuts on Sunday (six solos, two PD) but as a starting CB in
Indy, he’ll get plenty of opportunities this season.
DL Derek Wolfe, DEN (@ATL, HOU, OAK, @NE) – The rookie out
of Cincinnati had a strong NFL debut with three solos and a sack.
He impressed in camp and could be a great stash in IDP keeper
DB Mark Barron, TB (@NYG, @DAL, WAS, BYE) – The rookie
made his presence felt with three solos and two PD in the win
over Carolina. The unit looks a lot better with him manning the
DL Cameron Wake, MIA (OAK, NYJ, @ARI, @CIN) – Wake failed
to record a sack against the Texans but finished with three total
tackles (two solos). He should have better luck against pass-heavy
LB Lavonte David, TB (@NYG, @DAL, WAS, BYE) – Like Barron,
David was as big part of rejuvenating this defense. He tallied
six total tackles (four solos) on Sunday.
DL Robert Quinn, STL (WAS, @CHI, SEA, ARI) – Quinn recorded
three solos and a sack against Detroit. He’ll be a solid
DE2/3 this season in deeper IDP formats.
DB Antoine Winfield, MIN (@IND, SF, @DET, TEN) – The veteran
made four solo tackles but didn’t register any junk points.
Look for that to change next week at Indy.
LB D.J. Smith, GB (CHI, @SEA, NO, @IND) – Smith didn’t
disappoint, recording nine solo tackles in the loss to San Fran.
He’s one of my top bets for an IDP breakout in 2012.