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Through The Wire
12/2/08 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 that will 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 just as big a proponent of making trades to bolster your roster, the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll target both offensive and defensive players that may be available in shallow leagues – sometimes just breakout stars that eluded your team’s draft – as well as players who can help your squad that may still be available in many deeper leagues.

Usually, reaching the playoffs is about constructing a team that’s got a great chance to win each week and getting a few breaks go your way – be it a feeble performance from an opponent, a huge breakout from one of your pickups, or just avoiding the injuries that plague so many fantasy lineups. But sometimes, it comes down to a big win in Week 13 or 14, whenever your league concludes it regular season. Hopefully, my recommendations last week of the much-beleaguered Donovan McNabb, the now-ubiquitous Pierre Thomas, or even the famously underachieving Mark Clayton helped propel your team to the land of milk and honey (or chicken wings and beer). I’d like to do the same for teams who conclude their “first season” this week, although I’m narrowing my focus to just a few players in each category, since there’s so much at stake and less time to dwell on the latent value of “stashed” players. Many of my updates this week, actually, include guys who could still be available in your leagues.

While there are a few lucky fantasy owners who may have gotten this far without much maintenance, the vast majority did it through smart “start-sit” decision-making, occasional lineup repairs and frequent tinkering on the wire. This season, I’ve managed to reach the playoffs in all five of my head-to-head money leagues, but in none of these situations did I stand pat and let chance decide my fate. I scoured the Internet for breaking information on players; I sought advice and consensus from this site’s writers, columns, rankings and strength of schedule matrix; I avoided letting complacency creep into my routine; and consequently, I did everything but stand pat with regard to my roster.

In my most competitive local league, I lost my top three picks for extended periods of time: Tony Romo, Marques Colston and IR casualty Earnest Graham, but found ways to win a few of the games Romo and Colston missed and got by on the strength of Graham’s few big games and rookie Matt Forte and – once I traded Colston for Roddy White – on the consistent weekly totals of Romo and the smooth Atlanta WR. Did I get lucky? Sure. But I also picked up Pierre Thomas with terribly low waiver priority, made a few moves that squeaked me out victories (and even an important tie), and never lost hope.

If you’re in the playoffs, congratulations and good luck. And even if you’re on the outside looking in this time around, all it might take is a little more effort next year – or a little bit of luck. Somebody famous once said (could have been Samuel Goldwyn, Arnold Palmer, or even Gary Player – some version of it has been attributed to each of them) that “the harder I work, the luckier I get.” By this time, you should know I welcome your e-mails and enjoy hearing from you regarding my waiver wire recommendations – whether they have helped or hindered your success this season. So keep working that waiver wire, keep sending me your ideas, queries and stories, and I’ll keep responding.


Off The Top

Shaun Hill, SF – The best thing about his performance last week was that he got a win and didn’t turn the ball over. If he can do that against the Jets, he’ll likely finish with better stats – something like 250 yards and 2 scores. He’s not Jay Cutler, but you could take a shot if you need a quality QB #2 or are desperate for a starter. Just make sure one of the big name QBs isn’t available at this point as a late-season wire dump by a team focusing on other areas heading into the playoffs.

Digging Deeper

Gus Frerotte, MIN – He tied an NFL record with a 99-yard TD pass, giving him 210 yards with a score and an INT on 16-for-25 passing in the team’s Week 13 game. He also ran the ball in for a one-yard TD and he’s got @DET, @ARI, ATL in the next three weeks.

Matt Schaub, HOU – I don’t know if he’s ready to return just yet, but the Houston offense is looking as potent as ever with Slaton blowing up Monday night and Andre Johnson, well, being Andre Johnson. Stay tuned to the injury report.

Scouring The Barrel

Ken Dorsey, CLE – He’s the new starter but was 0-for-3 with an INT in the waning moments of Week 13 – and he’s got the Titans this week. This is not a recommendation,it’s a warning. Stay away unless your league awards points for futility.


Trent Edwards, BUF – He was sidelined Sunday, sat out the second half with a groin injury, and is questionable for this week.

Matt Ryan, ATL – Ryan had another good day and is now among the top15 of fantasy QBs in 2008. Not bad for a rookie heading to a basement team and rescuing them from the doldrums.

Donovan McNabb, PHI – If you took my advice and started him against the Cards, you’re a happy camper, for sure. He probably won’t repeat against the giants, but he’s probably not getting benched again this season.

Jeff Garcia, TB – He wins ugly, but he wins. Consider him a average QB #2 from here on out.

Kerry Collins, TEN – While the Titans defense and running game stole the show, Collins remained quiet and relatively motionless. No need to actually play football when everybody else is doing such a good job. Forget about him heading into the final few weeks.

Joe Flacco, BAL – Flacco continues to impress and will be counted on to carry this team into the future. Eventually, he’ll be a Top10 fantasy QB. For now, he’s a solid backup.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Sammy Morris, NE – 10 carries for 45 yards and a TD is a decent game against anyone, really, but it’s especially impressive versus the Steelers. He looks good from here on out if can stay healthy and pick up good yardage on first and second down, since Kevin Faulk seems to have a lockdown on third-down opportunities.

Justin Fargas, OAK – I took for granted last week that most leagues had already rendered him rostered, but it’s possible there’s still a few out there who haven’t caught on to Fargas’ startling consistency running the ball. Take a shot if you need an RB and he’s out there. He won’t disappoint, unless Darren McFadden steals more touches going forward between the 20s and gobbles up all the goal line opportunities.

Digging Deeper

Le’Ron McClain, BAL – I regret including earlier in the season and not including him last week, but it’s just hard to tell what the situation is in Baltimore from week to week. Suffice it to say he will not be ignored again.

Tashard Choice, DAL – A must-have for Marion Barber owners this week after the toe injury scare. The early word is that Barber should be okay, but it never hurts to have a backup plan. This isn’t a week to start Choice – even if Barber’s not 100 percent (the Cowboys face Pittsburgh). But he should probably get snagged by MBIII owners.

Scouring The Barrel

Kevin Jones, CHI – If you own Matt Forte and are heading into the playoffs with some roster room, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick up Jones, who would likely see the majority of touches in the Bears offense should anything happen to the rookie out of Tulane who’s already gone over 1000 rushing yards on the season. As a Forte owner in three of my aforementioned five head-to-head money leagues, I’m counting on Forte in the playoffs, so I hope I’ll never have to use Jones. Still – it’s about insurance, and the former Lion is still a versatile running back with plenty of talent. And although he’ll split carries with Adrian Peterson and Garret Wolfe more than the current scenario, he’s been the most effective Bears back during the ’08 campaign other than Forte.


Pierre Thomas, NO – Add him if he’s still available. He’s the man, as he appears to be getting the goal line carries in New Orleans ample offense. As we saw last week, just because Reggie’s back, it doesn’t mean Pierre will fade away. And Deuce is really not an option they’re counting on right now.

Peyton Hillis, DEN – Peyton had 129 yards and a TD on 22 carries versus the Jets. Methinks Mr. Shanahan likes this versatile chap, and that you will too.

Darren McFadden, OAK – D-Mac’s contributions were limited to a few unsuccessful carries (since Justin Fargas got most of the running work) and 3-50-0 receiving.

Leon Washington, NYJ – Surprisingly similar to McFadden’s numbers: 2 carries for 4 yards and 3-60-0 receiving.

Carnell Williams, TB – Just four carries, but he did well on limited duty with 20 yards and a TD.

Maurice Morris, SEA – Six carries for 10 yards and 3-23-0 receiving against a Dallas defense that looked pretty damn tough.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Amani Toomer, NYG – Great TD catch Sunday, wasn’t it? It’s good to see Amani in the end zone in consecutive weeks, because it’s a sign he should be added in all formats with Plaxico Burress literally shooting himself in the foot leg. He should be a valuable #3 during the fantasy playoffs.

Digging Deeper

WR Davone Bess, MIA – I wasn’t convinced yet last week, but now I am. Bess has converted 19 targets in his last two weeks into 11-171-0. He’s worth adding if you need receiving help and could be a productive #4 WR.

Scouring The Barrel

WR Chansi Stuckey, NYJ – I don’t know why Brett Favre looked Stuckey’s way so much and didn’t pass to Laveranues Coles until the fourth quarter Sunday. Even if he didn’t have a good reason for avoiding Coles, Stuckey benefited. This week, he’s a nice sleeper pick since he’s got a nice matchup versus the 49ers.

WR Harry Douglas, ATL – It’s tough to recommend starting Douglas, but as a sleeper pick for deeper leagues, he’s a good option this week versus the Saints. Last week he had his first receiving TD of the season to go along with TDs he’d already scored rushing and returning the ball. Take a shot with him as nothing better than a #4, and you won’t have much to worry about.


WR Ted Ginn, Jr., MIA – Actually, Ginn saw a couple less targets than Bess, but should still be the big play threat in the passing game.

WR Anthony Gonzalez, IND – What a terrible football game. I wasn’t the only one who bought into Gonzalez last week, but I’m still ashamed that I didn’t realize that game wouldn’t be a barnburner with the Colts missing their all-important center, Jeff Saturday.

WR Isaac Bruce, SF – Okay – so I finally scored with a Bruce recommendation, as the Reverend had a big day Sunday (5-67-1) and is the #1 receiving option in San Fran. Can the Niners do what the Broncos did to the Jets? I don’t think so. But Bruce should be involved.

WR Kevin Walter, HOU – The Texans really didn’t need Walter against the Jags, but will undoubtedly utilize him effectively next week against the Packers.

WR Domenik Hixon, NYG – 5-71-0 on 9 targets isn’t awesome, but it’s decent for a #3 WR and with Burress shelved in definitely after the surreal news of the past weekend, Hixon will continue to see targets in the Giants offense.

WR Mark Clayton, BAL – Kaboom! I had this guy at one point this season on a couple teams, but he became a casualty of mid-season shuffling. If I still had him, I would’ve played him last week and benefited from a 32-yard TD pass to Derrick Mason and a one-handed bonus TD reception he caught to give him 5-164-1 receiving on the day. Was I the only waiver wire columnist who recommended him last week? I’m not sure. But I might be the proudest – even though I myself didn’t capitalize.


Off The Top

LB Eric Barton, NYJ – He has a good schedule going forward and could be a big late-season gamebreaker on the Jets defense as they shoot for the postseason. He’s a team leader that capitalizes on the stellar play of the Jets interior lineman.

DB Jacques Reeves, HOU – Reeves has really come on strong in the second half and should be a good option against the Packers, who’ve been throwing a lot and turning it over with frequency.

Digging Deeper

DB Michael Griffin, TEN – Any Tennessee defensive back is a good choice this week, as the Titans will likely build an early lead and pick off Ken Dorsey passes left and right throughout the game. If somebody dropped Cortland Finnegan after poor outings in either Week 11 or Week 13, you could take a shot on him as well.

LB Thomas Davis, CAR – He had a poor game Sunday, but the Tampa Bay contest will be his bounce-back performance.

Scouring The Barrel

DL Adewale Ogunleye, CHI – The Texans got to David Garrard pretty easily, and if I know the Bears, they’re going to go after the Jags offensive line just as mercilessly. Wally’s had a relatively quiet season, and I’m hoping for big things from him this week as my sleeper DL.


LB Rocky McIntosh, WAS – London Fletcher, who was a game-time decision, ended up playing and making all the tackles. So much for Rocky’s big shot – he finished with 3 total tackles and was a monumental disappointment for me because I started him over Cowboys LB Bradie James in my experts league assuming Fletcher wouldn’t go (which was the prevailing opinion on Thursday and for much of the week).

DB Yeremiah Bell, MIA – Renaldo Hill and Andre Goodman were the better Miami DB plays last week, but Bell managed 7 solos. Not bad.

LB Jamie Winborn, DEN – 8 solos, 1 assist, 1 PD = solid numbers. Thanks, Sara!!

DB Cedric Griffin, MIN – 5 tackles, 1 assist, 2 PD against the Bears on Sunday night.

DB Ike Taylor, PIT – The Steelers forced turnovers, as expected, but Taylor wasn’t involved. In fact, he didn’t make a tackle, and finished with just one PD. His INT-less streak continues into the Dallas game.

DL Haloti Ngata, BAL – Ngata tied for his lowest fantasy total of the season – with two solo tackles. Just my luck.