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Antonio D'Arcangelis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Through The Wire - Week 4
9/24/13 Users...
Check out the most popular waiver wire pickups this week across thousands of MFL leagues. Also, quickly see who's available on your waiver wire this week by using the MFL Power feature at FF Today. Just input your league's 5-digit ID number away you go!
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 ()

Note: Udpates noted in RED.


Off The Top

Ben 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.

Digging Deeper

Terrelle Pryor, OAK (WAS, SD, @KC, BYE) - UPDATE: 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 the Redskins.

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 quandary.

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 this season.


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.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Fred 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.

UPDATE: The injury to Spiller, first called a knee, is apparently just an issue with his quad. Spiller said he expects to play against Baltimore.

Digging Deeper

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.

Isaiah 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.

UPDATE: 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

Johnathan 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.

UPDATE: 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.

Brandon 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.

UPDATE: Bolden will likely fill the Shane Vereen role in the Pats’ offense and could be worth a flex start in Week 4 against Atlanta.


Knowshon Moreno, DEN (PHI, @DAL, JAC, @IND) – UPDATE: 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.

Bernard 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.

UPDATE: 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 deeper leagues.

Bilal 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.

James 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.

UPDATE: Starks is off the fantasy radar for now but might be worth a bench stash if you’re not cramped for space.

Marcel Reece, OAK (WAS, SD, @KC, BYE) – UPDATE: 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.

Jason Snelling/Jacquizz 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.

UPDATE: Steven Jackson’s injury is worse than expected and will likely keep him out until at least Week 7.

Joique 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 Packers.

UPDATE: 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

Josh 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.

UPDATE: On Monday, the Browns refuted reports of plans to trade Gordon. He’s a WR3 with oodles of upside going forward.

Kenbrell 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.

Digging Deeper

Brandon 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 targets.

Zach 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.

Ryan Broyles, DET (CHI, @GB, @CLE, CIN) – UPDATE: 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.

Nate 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 6 percent.

Scouring The Barrel

Stephen 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.

Dwayne 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.

UPDATE: 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.


DeAndre 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.

UPDATE: 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.

Eddie 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.

Kendall 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.

Austin 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.

Ted 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 up.

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.

Digging Deeper

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

LB Manny 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.

DB Usama 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.

UPDATE: 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.


DL Cameron 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.