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
Flacco, BAL (@DEN, CLE, HOU, @BUF) – While Flacco isn’t
universally available, he’s only owned in 77 percent of Yahoo
leagues – and at least two of mine – a somewhat puzzling scenario
considering his arm strength and sparkling play during the Ravens’
march to Super Bowl glory. If you’re No. 1 QB is RGIII, Eli
Manning or even a stud like Aaron
Rodgers, there’s a good chance the XLVII MVP is going to outscore
your starter. The Broncos defense, including its secondary, is
banged up. I’m not saying he’s going to be a fantasy stud all
season long, but if Flacco (who’s also a pretty good value in
daily fantasy games) is available in your league and you’re facing
a difficult Week 1 matchup, it might be an interesting time to
take a shot.
Palmer, ARI (@STL, DET, @NO, @TB) – I’m not going all-in
on Palmer (60 percent owned in Yahoo) this year like it’s still
the ‘00s, but it’s worth mentioning that his squad has some quality
receivers and the Cards will be slinging the ball downfield. I
expect a few shootouts at the outset of the season.
Smith, KC (@JAC, DAL, @PHI, NYG) – Alex Smith (40-45
percent owned) is an unknown commodity in the Chiefs offense and
while that could be a bad thing, it’s better for him than it was
in San Francisco, where a one-week absence to get the cobwebs
out of his head turned into an unceremonious kick down the depth
chart. The first four games could yield some positive results.
Freeman, TB (@NYJ, NO, @NE, ARI) – Owned in about one-third
of fantasy leagues, Freeman took a lot of heat for his erratic
play, most notably from Fran Tarkenton during a radio call-in
this summer. I’m not a huge fan of how Freeman has progressed
during his first few seasons in the league, but I certainly don’t
think he’s as “god-awful” as Tarkenton does. Looking at the first
couple of games, he might be worth grabbing simply as trade fodder,
as he might post monster numbers and generate some interest.
Scouring The Barrel
Manuel, BUF (NE, CAR, @NYJ, BAL) – He may not play
Week 1, but there’s no reason an athlete this dynamic playing
on a team that’s going to get into a TON of shootouts shouldn’t
be rostered in more than 18 percent of fantasy leagues. Manuel
made tremendous strides in camp and he’s now without any significant
competition for his job.
Manuel has been named the starter. for Week 1.
Locker, TEN (@PIT, @HOU, SD, NYJ) – Locker (7 percent
owned) may not have that much going for him but he’s primed for
improvement and should be stashed in dynasty leagues. That’s all
I’m going to commit to!
Off The Top
Ivory, NYJ (TB, @NE, BUF, @TEN) – The Jets QB situation
may suck but it doesn’t take a lot of talent to hand the ball
off to Ivory – who was brought in to add some pop to the Jets
running game after the departure of Shonn
Greene. Ivory (77 percent owned) always ran hard, albeit sparingly,
when he played for the Saints and with his valued combination
of toughness, balance and power could be a featured cog in the
offense. He’s capable of rushing for 1,000 yards and garnering
a handful of TDs.
Ingram, NO (ATL, @TB, ARI, MIA) – Ingram won’t catch
too many balls but in non-PPR formats and scoring-heavy leagues,
there’s no reason he can’t be an effective RB3/flex option. He
should be owned in all 12-team leagues and has a shot at a breakout
campaign in 2013.
Pierce, BAL (@DEN, CLE, HOU, @BUF) – Pierce is owned
in just about half of fantasy leagues despite coming on strong
at the end of last season and being next man up after one of the
league’s top fantasy backs. Plus, it stands to reason he’ll get
more carries in his sophomore campaign when they line Ray
Rice up at WR. His minor preseason knee injury seems fine
and he’s a complete back who could step into Rice’s shoes should
the need arise.
Woodhead, SD (HOU, @PHI, @TEN, DAL) – We know that
he’s capable of carrying a decent workload and he’s got some surprising
big-play pop in the red zone. The main reason he’s owned in just
44 percent of leagues is that he’s still technically a backup,
but the oft-injured Ryan
Mathews hasn’t exactly been the model of NFL durability.
Scouring The Barrel
Hunter, SF (GB, @SEA, IND, @STL) – Hunter (12 percent
owned) got snagged with a late pick in one of my home leagues
just before I had the chance to back up Frank
Gore with the dynamic runner. I didn’t understand why the
Niners didn’t give Hunter more carries early last season, but
I expect a heavier workload in 2013.
Davis, KC (@JAC, DAL, @PHI, NYG) – Jamaal
Charles is a brilliant runner with excellent pass-catching
abilities, while Davis (6 percent) is big and fast – attributes
that could pair well alongside the veteran. There were fumbling
issues in college at Arkansas, and he dropped a bunch of passes
in camp but if Davis can learn a few things from Charles and maintain
possession of the football, there could be a larger role for him
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Britt, TEN (@PIT, @HOU, SD, NYJ) – I targeted Britt
as a late-round pick in several drafts this year, largely because
of his upside and partly because I knew he’d be there. Britt,
as well as Gordon and Givens below, is still available in about
a quarter of fantasy leagues on Yahoo, although in most 12-team
formats they came off the board in the later rounds.
Gordon, CLE (
MIA, @BAL, @MIN, CIN) – The strikethrough
in the first two games is because Gordon is serving a two-game
suspension for ingesting cough syrup with codeine, which he admitted
to taking recreationally while recovering from strep throat. That
may be bizarre, but what’s more remarkable is how easy folks forget
his rookie numbers from 2012, when he caught 50-805-5 despite
being just a supplemental pick. Another positive drug test would
trigger a 16-game suspension, but aside from the inherent risk,
there’s a lot to like about this athletic vertical threat.
Givens, STL (ARI, @ATL, @DAL, SF) – Givens, unlike
the previous two receivers, doesn’t carry as much baggage but
he only caught 42 of his 80 targets last season as a rookie. This
year, he’ll be playing in the same offense as legitimate possession
Austin, and catching 60-900-7 (or even more) is well within
his reach. While the schedule looks a bit tough to start, it’ll
ease up during weeks 5-10, when the sophomore will likely be clicking
Sudfeld, NE (@BUF, NYJ, TB, @ATL) – I managed to somehow
pick him up in a dynasty league about a month ago, but following
the announcement that he’s earned the “move” TE role in the Pats’
offense, he’s now owned in 65 percent of Yahoo leagues. Fortunately
for many fantasy owners, that still leaves them with a chance
to pick him up. Even playing about 60 percent New England’s offensive
snaps will give Sudfeld ample opportunity to contribute, especially
Gronkowski still recovering from surgery and slated to miss
Floyd, SD (HOU, @PHI, @TEN, DAL) – Okay, so the situation
in San Diego isn’t that great, but as a starting wide receiver
for the Chargers, Floyd is certainly capable of producing like
a WR2 in fantasy, achieving something to the tune of 55-850-6
without much effort and little improvement over last season. That’s
worth more than the 47 percent ownership the veteran is currently
sporting in Yahoo leagues, especially when you consider that Vincent
Brown – nearly interchangeable when it comes to objective
fantasy value – is owned in 73 percent of leagues.
Broyles, DET (MIN, @ARI, @WAS, CHI) – Broyles was on
a lot of “sleeper” lists for 2013, but he’s still available in
about 60 percent of fantasy leagues, which is understandable when
you consider (a) he’s not technically a starter and (b), the depth
at WR this season. There’s not much of chance he’ll be a WR2 but
he could be a worthy spot start as a WR3/4 and flex in deeper
Scouring The Barrel
Fleener, IND (OAK, MIA, @SF, @JAC) – The Colts are
expected to use their tight ends a lot more this season and while
Allen (18 percent owned) and Fleener (16 percent owned) will vulture
catches and TDs from each other, one will likely emerge as a Luck’s
favorite in 2013.
Woods, BUF (NE, CAR, @NYJ, BAL) – Woods is an exciting
rookie receiver who the Bills expect to be their receiver of the
future. He impressed just about everybody in training camp with
his maturity level and understanding of Doug Marrone’s offense.
He’s owned in just 9 percent of fantasy leagues and he’s entrenched
as the No. 2 wideout. Go for it!
Streater, OAK (@IND, JAC, @DEN, WAS) – Matt
Flynn’s noodle arm may have been a better fit for Streater’s
football profile, especially in PPR leagues, but it’s expected
that newly crowned starter Terrelle
Pryor will look Streater’s way as well. The second-year receiver
(7 percent owned) suffered a concussion a couple weeks ago but
he’s primed for fantasy relevance in ’13.
Off The Top
Cyprien, JAC (KC, @OAK, @SEA, IND) – The rookie safety
from Florida International is a hard-hitting tackler and ball
hawk – and he’s immediately going to be pressed into action on
the NFL stage. Unlike the guy who went directly ahead of him in
the draft, Matt
Elam, Cyprien won a starting job with a strong camp and could
be a Top 20 DB in 2013.
Campbell, ARI (@STL, DET, @NO, @TB) – Campbell is a
defensive powerhouse who doesn’t quite get the respect he deserves
in the IDP community. He’s coming off a solid season and should
finish with over 60 total tackles and 7-10 sacks, not to mention
a half dozen or so PD.
Liuget, SD (HOU, @PHI, @TEN, DAL) – This should be
Liuget’s breakout campaign but the Chargers defensive end isn’t
surrounded by a ton of talent. He’s a steady run defender and
should post career highs in both sacks and tackles in 2013.
Carter, DAL (NYG, @KC, STL, @SD) – Carter isn’t the
best IDP option on the Cowboys defense but he might emerge as
a worthwhile LB2 from the WLB spot. He’ll chase down ball carriers
and post the occasional big play; it just remains to be seen if
he can stay healthy for an entire season.
Reid, SF (GB, @SEA, IND, @STL) – Another rookie safety
with major upside, Reid has drawn comparisons to Ronnie Lott and
is probably the player the 49ers were seeking when they drafted
IDP bust Taylor
Mays in 2010. He’s smaller than Mays, but the LSU product
and Baton Rouge native plays with both aggression and smarts –
a combination that will help the Niners’ first-round selection
to create some turnovers.
Scouring The Barrel
Bostic, CHI (CIN, MIN, @PIT, @DET) – D.J.
Williams couldn’t stay healthy during camp and Bostic went
out and took the starting job from him. There’s been some talk
that Williams could still get the MLB job, but Bostic could be
worth a pickup just to wait and see what develops.
Fokou, TEN (@PIT, @HOU, SD, NYJ) – Fokou outplayed
the oft-injured Colin
McCarthy, running with the first team for most of camp. He
has some experience as a starter, starting 11 games for the Eagles
in 2010, but don’t expect normal MLB numbers as both SLB Akeem
Ayers and WLB Zach
Brown will rack up numerous tackles in the Tennessee 4-3.