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 ()
Note: Udpates noted
Off The Top
Roethlisberger, PIT (@MIN, BYE, @NYJ, BAL) – Against the Bears,
Big Ben (62 percent owned) threw for 406-2-2, fumbled thrice and
lost two of them. It wasn’t a great night but it was his best
fantasy day and he established a connection with Antonio Brown.
He’s worth rostering in a backup role with the ability to spot
start in 12-team leagues.
Pryor, OAK (WAS, SD, @KC, BYE) -
Pryor (35 percent owned) was sharp Monday night despite constant
pressure from the Broncos. He's coming off a 281-1-0 performance
that included 36 rushing yards heading into a favorable Week 4 matchup
against the Redskins. Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers owners take note:
He's worth a spot start as a low-end QB1 in 12-team leagues given
the Redskins inability to stop anyone so far this season. Pryor
will have to pass concussion protocol on a short week to play against
EJ Manuel, BUF (BAL, @CLE, CIN, @MIA) – Manuel (19 percent
owned) has a relatively favorable schedule coming up, but he’s
still a bit raw. He should be owned in 12-team leagues but probably
shouldn’t get a fantasy start other than during a bye week
Scouring The Barrel
Jake Locker, TEN (NYJ, KC, @SEA, SF) – Locker (just 6 percent
owned) had a monster Week 3, throwing for 299-1-0 and rushing
for 68 yards and a score. He’s a much-improved player and
will definitely contribute some eye-popping fantasy performances
Sam Bradford, STL (SF, JAC, @HOU, @CAR) – Bradford took
a step back on Sunday, completing 29 of 48 pass attempts for 240
yards and a TD. He had no turnovers, but fantasy owners hoping
for a big game in a shootout got a dud.
Philip Rivers, SD (DAL, @OAK, IND, @JAC) – Rivers, despite
winning AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his showing in Philly,
laid an egg in Week 3 (184-1-0), even if he was efficient (112.5
QB rating, 20-for-24 passing).
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (@NO, BAL, BYE, BUF) – The Dolphins
won but Tannehill struggled, possibly due to his sore right shoulder.
He finished with 236-2-1 but lost a fumble, his fifth fumble and
second lost fumble of the season.
Off The Top
Jackson, BUF (BAL, @CLE, CIN, @MIA) – Fred (65 percent owned)
did his best to supply some semblance of a running game Sunday
against the Jets, rushing for 72 yards on seven carries and posting
4-37-0 receiving on five targets. With C.J. Spiller’s status unknown
Monday morning, he’s likely the top RB add.
The injury to Spiller,
first called a knee, is apparently just an issue with his quad.
Spiller said he expects to play against Baltimore.
Danny Woodhead, SD (DAL, @OAK, IND, @JAC) – Woodhead (36
percent owned) only got five carries (31 rushing yards) Sunday
but was targeted eight times and hauled in 7-55-0 receiving. He
lost a fumble, but appears to be a growing part of the Chargers
offense and could get a lot of work against Dallas in Week 4.
Pead, STL (SF, JAC, @HOU, @CAR) – The Rams might be without
Daryl Richardson in Week 4 after he reaggravated a foot injury,
giving Pead (16 percent owned) the nod for most of the day Sunday.
The Rams will likely be in passing mode the next few weeks and
Pead will get plenty of work, especially if D-Rich’s injury lingers.
Richardson said he’d
be “good to go” for Thursday night’s game against
the Niners, but he’s not a very strong play even if he gets
the starting nod. Pead might be work a look in deeper formats;
he’s frequently targeted out of the backfield.
Scouring The Barrel
Franklin, GB (BYE, DET, @BAL, CLE) – He’s on a bye in Week
4, but his surprising numbers from Sunday (103 rushing yards,
TD, fumble; 3-23-0 receiving) will have fantasy owners placing
a high priority on his services going forward. He’ll have a role
in the offense, but with Eddie Lacy most likely slated for a Week
5 return and the presence of James Starks, he’ll take a back seat.
Don’t waste a high waiver pick for the 4th rounder from UCLA who’s
currently available in about 90 percent of fantasy leagues.
Starks has said he wouldn’t
be able to play this week if the Packers weren’t on a bye,
and Lacy plans on returning to action in Week 5. There are better
options out there than Franklin, who complicates the backfield
situation in Green Bay.
Bolden, NE (@ATL, @CIN, NO, @NYJ) – Bolden was limited in
practice last week with a knee injury but showed up on Sunday
and rushed for 51 yards on just three carries and caught five
of the six balls thrown his way for 49 yards. He’s going to be
wildly inconsistent, but he’s a tough-yet-versatile runner and
should be rostered in all 12-team leagues.
Bolden will likely fill
the Shane Vereen role in the Pats’ offense and could be
worth a flex start in Week 4 against Atlanta.
Moreno, DEN (PHI, @DAL, JAC, @IND) –
Moreno led the Broncos with 12 carries (39 rushing yards) but
didn’t do much in the second half when Ronnie Hillman (nine
carries, 66 yards, TD) and Montee Ball (11 carries, 61 yards,
fumble) took over the bulk of the work in the running game.
Pierce, BAL (@BUF, @MIA, GB, @PIT) – Pierce performed as expected
in Ray Rice’s absence, tallying 72 total yards and a TD. He’s
a great play in Week 4 against the Bills if Rice still can’t go,
and maybe even if he can.
No official word on Rice’s
ailing hip, but even if he plays against Buffalo, there’s
still plenty of value in this matchup to give Pierce a look in
Powell, NYJ (@TEN, @ATL, PIT, NE) – Powell, who’s still available
in over half of fantasy leagues, gashed the Bills for 149 rushing
yards on 27 carries and caught a couple passes. With Chris Ivory
(hamstring) taking a back seat and the Jets offense steadily improving,
Powell looks like a viable RB3/flex in 12-team leagues.
Starks, GB (BYE, DET, @BAL, CLE) – Starks had 14 carries for
55 yards but Franklin was more productive on Sunday. It’s hard
to see much value for Starks unless he reestablishes himself as
a standout for the Pack.
Starks is off the fantasy
radar for now but might be worth a bench stash if you’re
not cramped for space.
Reece, OAK (WAS, SD, @KC, BYE) –
Reece hauled in four of his five targets for 45 yards, including
a TD pass from Darren McFadden. He’s not really a factor
in the running game.
Rodgers, ATL (NE, NYJ, BYE, TB) – Snelling had 111 total yards
and a TD while Rodgers contributed 83 total yards. They are a
good combo as complimentary players in the Falcons offense, but
will have rare opportunities for fantasy value.
injury is worse than expected and will likely keep him out until
at least Week 7.
Bell, DET (CHI, @GB, @CLE, CIN) – Bell, who I recommended
after Week 1, had 132 total yards and a TD as the feature back
for the Lions, who were without Reggie Bush. Bell has a tough
road ahead in Week 4 but could be of some flex value against the
Bush plans to play this
week, but HC Jim Schwartz said the team will take a wait-and-see
approach to his status. Sounds like another game-time decision.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Gordon, CLE (CIN, BUF, DET, @GB) – A few fantasy owners who
had stashed him through two weeks may have gotten cold feet when
the Browns dealt Trent Richardson and the QB picture got cloudier.
Gordon’s ownership dipped well below 70 percent before game time
Sunday but he’ll be the top waiver wire pickup in leagues where
he’s available after posting 10-146-1 on 19 targets from Bobby
Hoyer in the win over Minnesota.
On Monday, the Browns refuted
reports of plans to trade Gordon. He’s a WR3 with oodles
of upside going forward.
Thompkins, NE (@ATL, @CIN, NO, @NYJ) – Thompkins (59 percent
owned) was dropped by scores of owners after a couple poor showings
but rallied with 3-41-2 on seven targets from Tom Brady. He won’t
be a viable WR3 every week but this is an encouraging sign.
LaFell, CAR (BYE, @ARI, @MIN, STL) – He’s on a Week 4 bye,
but I never ignore multi-TD WRs again after Royal had two scores
in Week 1 and followed up with three in Week 2. LaFell has been
wildly inconsistent in his career, but Newton looked good on Sunday
and as an excellent red zone option, LaFell put up 3-53-2 on five
Miller, SEA (@HOU, @IND, TEN, @ARI) – Miller has at least
two catches in each of the three games so far, and Sunday he had
two scores. His value is dependent on red zone opportunities,
but he’s a good second option in two-TE leagues and he’ll get
chances around the goal line.
Broyles, DET (CHI, @GB, @CLE, CIN) –
Veteran receiver Nate Burleson broke his arm in a Tuesday morning
car accident, likely opening the door for Broyles to step into
the No. 2 WR spot in Detroit. He’s owned in about 25 percent
of leagues and had 3-34-0 in his 2013 debut against the Redskins.
He’s a talented receiver with plenty of upside.
Washington, TEN (NYJ, KC, @SEA, SF) – The veteran posted 8-131-0
on Sunday and appears to be Locker’s favorite target. He’s worth
adding in all 12-team leagues despite an ownership rate of just
Scouring The Barrel
Hill, NYJ (@TEN, @ATL, PIT, NE) – The Bills secondary was
part of the reason Santonio Holmes (5-154-1) and Hill (3-108-1)
had such big days, but there’s some upside in both receivers,
even if they are on different ends of the career spectrum. Holmes
is owned in just 9 percent of fantasy leagues, with Hill owned
in about 6 percent.
Harris, DAL (@SD, DEN, WAS, @PHI) – If Miles Austin (hamstring)
misses any time, Harris (0 percent owned) could be worth a look
in deeper leagues. He’s a talented receiver with big-play ability.
The Cowboys don’t
believe the latest Austin hamstring injury is as bad as the ones
that have plagued him in the past. Terence Williams and Harris
will work the Y and Z receiver roles if the veteran can’t
play in San Diego.
Hopkins, HOU (SEA, @SF, STL, @KC) – Hopkins followed up his
breakout performance with 7-60-0 in Week 4. If Andre Johnson (leg)
misses any time, he’s the No. 1 target in Houston.
Johnson’s MRI came
back clean and the injury is officially being called a shin bruise.
He’s day-to-day and Hopkins will likely be targeted frequently
against the Seahawks even if Johnson plays.
Royal, SD (DAL, @OAK, IND, @JAC) – Royal didn’t find paydirt
and caught two passes for 34 yards. He’s worth a flex play for
his upside going forward, but will post some stinkers.
Wright, TEN (NYJ, KC, @SEA, SF) – Wright was upstaged by Washington
but hauled in 6-71-0, which is nothing to sneeze at in PPR leagues.
Pettis, STL (SF, JAC, @HOU, @CAR) – Targeted five times by
Bradford, Pettis managed to score a TD on one of the two passes
he caught Sunday.
Ginn Jr. CAR (BYE, @ARI, @MIN, STL) – Ginn had 3-71-1 for
his second score in as many weeks. He’s becoming a bigger part
of the offense after being mostly a special teams player for the
49ers from 2010-12.
Off The Top
LB Daryl Smith, BAL (@BUF, @MIA, GB, @PIT) – Smith had
10 total tackles and a pick six on Sunday. He’s the quarterback
of the Ravens defense and has a very favorable schedule coming
DL Greg Hardy, CAR (BYE, @ARI, @MIN, STL) – Hardy is a tough
defender who’ll contribute big IDP numbers once he gets
back from the Week 4 bye. If you have the room and need a solid
DL1, he’s your guy.
LB Justin Houston, KC (NYG, @TEN, OAK, HOU) – Houston’s
breakout performance on Thursday night (six solos, one assist,
4.5 sacks, FF, two FR, three PD) is the kind of thing that comes
along once in a career, but the ball-hawking Chiefs defense could
give him ample opportunities for impressive stat lines this season.
DB Major Wright, CHI (@DET, NO, NYG, @WAS) – Wright had
a monster game (seven tackles and a pick six) Sunday night but
there are a few favorable matchups coming up as well. Don’t
sleep on this guy.
Scouring The Barrel
Lawson, BUF (BAL, @CLE, CIN, @MIA) – Lawson had 14 total tackles
(11 solos) on Sunday and seems to be playing a large role at OLB
for the Bills. The defense is staying on the field for long periods
of time, making Lawson an emerging LB3 in IDP formats.
Young, OAK (WAS, SD, @KC, BYE) – I’ll update after Monday
night’s game, but Young is poised to assume a huge role with Tyvon
Branch expected to miss time with an ankle injury.
Brandon Ross got the start
in Tyvon Branch’s absence, and Young tallied just two solo
stops. He’s off the fantasy radar for now.
Jordan, NO (MIA, @CHI, @NE, BYE) –As expected, Jordan did
an excellent job getting to Carson Palmer and notched four total
tackles and 2.0 sacks. Boo-yah.
LB Mason Foster, TB (ARI, BYE, PHI, @ATL) – Foster had eight
total tackles (four solos) in the loss to the Pats.
DB Tyrann Mathieu, ARI (@TB, CAR, @SF, SEA) – Honey Badger
had his best game yet, racking up ten total tackles (nine solos)
along with a PD and INT.
LB Geno Hayes, JAC (IND, @STL, @DEN, SD) – My first bad
IDP call of the week. Hayes had just one solo tackle and four
assists in the loss to Seattle.
DB Rodney McLeod, STL (SF, JAC, @HOU, @CAR) – McLeod had
six solos and an assist against the Cowboys, who ran the ball
well enough to neutralize the Rams free safety’s IDP value.
DL Jason Hatcher, DAL (@SD, DEN, WAS, @PHI) – Hatcher had
a sack for the third straight week along with two solos tackles.
He’s a must-own in leagues that require a DT.