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Through The Wire
12/16/08 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.

Reading a waiver wire column heading into Week 16 is like food shopping after a satisfying meal. You don’t just grab the first thing you see because you’re ready to cram just about anything you can into your mouth. It’s one thing being hungry for wins in the middle weeks and feeling the need to pick up Robert Royal – the fantasy football equivalent of snagging a pound of Wunderbar bologna that’s on sale for $2.99 that you can snack on during the ride home. Usually, you just end up with greasy hands, lamenting the fact that you forgot to get eggs, butter and the pack of scallions you need for the stir-fry you’re making later that night.

Perusing pickups this late in the season means it’s not a time for desperation. Chances are your team has a roster without much need for renovations. In your late-season roving through the wire, you should be purposeful, selective, and bolstered by the knowledge that the moves you’ve made thus far have been both judicious and fruitful.

So where are you now? Are you in your league’s Super Bowl? Are you making a toilet bowl run (admittedly, that sounds pretty gross) or are you just saving face and playing it out like the Niners, Saints and Packers? I’m in three out of my five head-to-head money leagues’ Super Bowls and I’m quite proud of this . But the two I’ve been ousted from were my bread-and-butter – IDP leagues where I’d made the playoffs and got soundly beat by solid squads, and I’m still not content to just go to the table in the Super Bowl games without a quick glance at the wire to see who’s lurking. At this point, making that trip to the fantasy super market with a clear head and a satiated stomach is the prudent move. Sometimes a few wacky names emerge in Weeks 16 and 17, so it’s important we all take a look to see what final tweaks could put us over the edge.

As always, I welcome all your e-mails and enjoy hearing from you regarding my waiver wire recommendations – whether they have helped or hindered your success this season. I’m still answering questions of any variety and responding ASAP. Good luck this week.


Off The Top

Matt Schaub, HOU – While the Raiders pass defense held it together for a bunch of games this year, it’s finally coming apart, as we learned last week from Matt Cassel and the Pats. Schaub has been hot since returning from a knee injury that forced Sage Rosenfels into action, and he should be able to generate at least 200 and 2 TDs against Oakland in Week 16.

Digging Deeper

Shaun Hill, SF – This might be the week I finally cave and start Shaun Hill (@STL) over Tony Romo. I’m not saying it’s a decision I’ve made just yet, but I’m considering it, and there’s 11 growling, fuming, dangerous, purple and black reasons why I’m not enthralled with Romo’s chances on Saturday night against the Ravens. Last season, my brother-in-law won a championship with the aforementioned Rosenfels at the helm and Kolby Smith in his backfield, so I don’t think the fantasy gods would preclude me from winning just because I started Shaun Hill over Romo. It could come down to a matter of format, since there’s two championships I’m in with different scoring systems yet the exact same Romo/Hill scenario, but I’m willing to throw out last week’s game at Miami – and you should too.

Scouring The Barrel

Seneca Wallace, SEA – The wild card in this bunch, Wallace followed up an electrifying Week 14 fantasy performance at home with a hum-ho game in St. Louis that makes me seriously question his wahoo – to quote a phrase borrowed from an awesome Tom Robbins novel I’m finishing up. This week, he gets the Jets at home, a matchup that bodes well for Seattle’s passing game but could result in devastation if the Jets secondary steps up. I discussed desperation before, and starting Wallace based on matchup alone smacks of desperation. If that’s your situation, then by all means, go for it, but I’d take Hill, Romo and probably even the struggling Kyle Orton against Green Bay before I went with Wallace this week. Something just doesn’t seem right.


Kyle Orton, CHI – Orton’s only score came on the ground, frustrating Mat Forte owners who already got a pretty terrible scare when he spent time in the locker room after sustaining a toe injury on his first carry. Against the Saints and another former Boilermaker QB, I thought this would be a solid 200 and 2. Just goes to show – you can’t count on anything in the fantasy playoffs except death, dilemmas and drama.

Jeff Garcia, TB – Garcia looked all week like he’d be good to go Sunday despite a calf injury that limited him in practice. Color me surprised when Jon Gruden ran Brian Griese out there in his stead and rendered many a waiver wire pickup useless at game time.

David Garrard, JAC – The embattled Jaguars pulled off a 20-16 victory at home, and Garrard did his part, totaling 31 yards on the ground, 238 passing yards and 2 TD.

Jason Campbell, WAS – Even without much of an offensive line, Campbell managed a short TD pass to Santana Moss, 21 rushing yards and 167 yards passing. Nothing special, but at least he outscored Jay Cutler.

Marc Bulger, STL – For the first time since Week 7, Bulger made it through an entire game without turning the ball over – but he only threw 1 TD and finished with 207 yards. He also had a reception, which just boggles my mind.

Tarvaris Jackson, MIN – Holy desperation fill-in, Tarvaris! To all of you fortuitous owners out there in fantasy world that benefited from Jackson’s monster 4-TD day, congratulations. I hope my recommendation was the one that carried you across the threshold.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Pierre Thomas, NO – I’m including him on the off chance somebody didn’t get the nine memos from the past several weeks that Thomas is an animal and should be owned in all leagues. This week, the beleaguered Saints play…wait for it…the 0-14 Detroit Lions. Is that enough incentive? To make things even creepier, Thomas and Forte are my starters in both the aforementioned leagues where I have my Romo/Hill quandary. Funny how that stuff works out isn’t it? An even better question would be: How does a guy with such low waiver priority end up with Pierre Thomas and Shaun Hill in two highly competitive fantasy leagues? The answer? Timing. I don’t write a waiver wire column because I’m a good food shopper, although that doesn’t hurt.

Digging Deeper

Kevin Faulk, NE – Another big game from Faulk has vaulted him into the top 25 RBs in fantasy – and has me scratching my head at the decision I made last week to drop him for a TE backup in Tony Scheffler, who actually scored negative yardage in Week 15. He’s got a solid matchup against Arizona, but Belichick seems content to have Sammy Morris and now Lamont Jordan involved too, lowering the value of all three.

P.J. Pope, DEN – I can’t really tell if he’s for real, but his performance in Week 15 was oddly similar to Mike Shanahan’s use of Peyton Hillis in weeks 9 and 11. The Bills are floundering right now, so he’s not a bad flex option this week. And his value is higher than that of Tatum Bell because he’s being used more in the red zone.

Maurice Morris, SEA – I’m breaking my rule by including him here and not just in the updates – since he was targeted in last week’s column – but I didn’t want him getting lost in the shuffle at such a crucial juncture. Last week, the Bills were surprisingly effective running the ball against the Jets and moving the ball in the flats, so Morris, who can catch passes and run well in space, isn’t a terrible choice as a #3 RB or flex play at home against New York. He’s available in about two-thirds of fantasy leagues and he’s clearly ahead of Julius Jones on the depth chart.

Scouring The Barrel

DeShaun Foster, SF – I haven’t heard much on Frank Gore’s status heading into Week 16, but the matchup in St. Louis is a good one for whomever starts in the Niners backfield. Just make sure you check the injury report before you plug any SF RB in your lineup.

LaMont Jordan, NE – He’s number three on the depth chart and should only see a bunch of snaps if the Patriots open up a huge lead like they did in Oakland. Consider him a weak No. 4 RB at best.


Jonathan Stewart, CAR – He had 16 carries for 52 yards and a TD, but DeAngelo again posted slightly better numbers, thanks in large part to an extraordinary 56-yard TD run. Check DeAngelo’s status heading into the weekend considering the reported injury to the starter.

Dominic Rhodes, IND – I said that Rhodes had surpassed Joseph Addai as the playmaker in the running game and would get the majority of touches this week against the Lions. And I did so before anybody else hinted that Addai might be out, making his 116 total yards and 2 TDs all the more satisfying. This week, Dungy is coming out early claiming Addai is the starter and will play Thursday, but you have to keep checking the actives leading up to gametime.

Darren Sproles, SD – With every good waiver wire selection, there’s usually a bad one. And Sproles was virtually nonexistent in Sunday’s 22-21 win over the Chiefs, finishing with 4 catches for minimal yardage. My bad.

Fred Taylor, JAC – Taylor was placed on IR with a thumb injury, but I only heard about it the same time y’all did – about 2 hours after my column was posted.

Tatum Bell, DEN – Shanahan fans around the world (is there such a thing?) can rejoice in the knowledge that all is right in the world and P.J. Pope is a much better person than Tatum Bell.

Carnell Williams, TB – Cadillac finished with 59 yards rushing on 14 carries, a average performance for a back whose best years are probably behind him, unfortunately.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

Chad Johnson, CIN – He’s scored 4 TDs this season, the first of which came in Week 4 against the Browns. The comedian formerly known as Chad Johnson hasn’t helped many fantasy teams this year, but he’s not a terrible WR #3 play if you’re struggling to find a viable option for that particular slot.

Michael Jenkins, ATL – If the Falcons are going to beat the Vikings, they can’t just run the ball 75 percent of the time and pretend the Minnesota line’s going to lay down. Sure, they’re now without one-half of the Williams Wall (Pat is done for the year), but the team’s primary weakness is in the secondary, where teams have been successful. Jenkins won’t see 10 targets a game, but he’s a huge third down and red zone receiver and he’s not a bad bet to find the end zone in Week 16.

Digging Deeper

Donnie Avery, STL – The matchup isn’t ideal, since San Francisco has shown improvement defending the pass recently, but I like the fact that Avery bounced back last week with 6-61-0 on 10 targets. He’s a risk because he’s been feast or famine since becoming a fantasy factor after Week 6, but his solid skills can easily translate into a successful #4 WR or maybe even a #3 because of his upside.

Davone Bess, MIA – Bess continues to contribute, is widely available in fantasy leagues and has a solid matchup @KC in Week 16. What more do you need to hear?

Scouring The Barrel

Jason Avant, PHI – Coming off the best game of his young career (5-101-0) Monday night versus the Browns, it may seem that there’s little chance Avant could repeat his performance against the Redskins in Week 16. But the alacrity to which Donovan McNabb sought out Avant on big plays in the Week 15 game bodes well for his future, starting with Sunday’s game at FedEx Field in Washington. He’s not a guy I’d start in too many formats, but I’d definitely take a shot as a WR#4 in deeper leagues.

Patrick Crayton, DAL – I love the fact that after much speculation regarding Romo’s preference as the primary receiving target, neither T.O. nor Jason Witten caught a TD against the Giants. That honor was bestowed upon both Crayton and fullback Deon Anderson, who looked as surprised as anyone when he turned around in the end zone and the ball fell into his waiting arms. It’s tempting to bump Crayton up a bit after last week and it’s entirely possible that a similar situation emerges in Week 16 where Crayton’s the one guy who’s open – but I wouldn’t start a guy who’s essentially Dallas’ fourth receiver.


Deion Branch, SEA – The veteran WR finished with 5-76-0 on 7 targets.

Antwaan Randle El, WAS – Randle El had his worst fantasy performance of the season posting just 1-9-0 on 2 targets.

Jordy Nelson, GB – Jacksonville stepped up and shut down most of the Packers offense, and Jordy only went for 1-9-0 – just like Randle El. Bizarre.

Bryant Johnson, SF – The former Penn State wideout finished with 5-41-0 in a game that also saw an untimely off-game from Hill – who’s been a solid fantasy starter.

Josh Reed, BUF – Reed was okay (4-43-0) but the Bills running game was more effective than I had anticipated.

Brandon Lloyd, CHI – 2-21-0 isn’t great, but at least he saw action. I really though the Bears would throw the ball more in this one.


Off The Top

DL Will Smith, NO – The matchup is ideal (he gets the Lions) and while Smith hasn’t blown anybody away with his sack totals this year, he’s had at least 4 solo tackles in 5 consecutive weeks, tallying 31 total over that span.

LB Stephen Tulloch, TEN – He’s not a great MLB, as far as MLBs go, but he’s the starter in Tennessee and the Titans have great matchup versus the Steelers, who will undoubtedly try to benefit from the injury to Albert Haynesworth by pounding the ball up the middle. The outside LBs (Keith Bulluck and David Thornton) aren’t terrible plays either, but it should be Tulloch who picks up most of the tackles.

Digging Deeper

LB Xavier Adibi, HOU – DeMeco Ryans and Adibi were both quiet last week versus the Titans, but I expect them to make some plays against the Raiders, who don’t move the football all that well but provide ample opportunities to rack up turnovers and all manner of IDP junk. IF Ryans is unavailable, which is most likely is, grab Adibi.

DB Michael Lewis, SF – I expect Lewis to harangue the Rams offense quite a bit in this one, on blitzes, pursuing Stephen Jackson and even dropping back occasionally to feed off Marc Bulger’s errant throws and centerfielder. While Lewis is my preference, you can’t go wrong taking any starting SF DB in this one, making Nate Clements (check the thumb injury to see if it’s still okay) and Walt Harris decent pickups as well.

Scouring The Barrel

DB Cedric Griffin, MIN – He’s been on fire lately, and as I said before, the Falcons will have to throw the ball a bit more this week to get past the Vikings. Look for Griffin and Antoine Winfield to have big games.

DL Juqua Parker, PHI – Trent Cole is the best DL in Philly, but Parker’s having a damn fine season himself. Facing the struggling Redskins, it’s an ideal matchup for both.


LB D.J. Williams, DEN – Williams didn’t have the impact I expected (3 solos) in his first game back from a knee injury that sidelined him for the past five weeks, but it was encouraging to see him back on the field, albeit sporadically in Week 15.

DB Bob Sanders, IND – Expected to play mid-week after appearing as questionable on the injury report, Sanders was a late scratch Sunday – and it showed as the Colts defense came up lame.

DL Dwight Freeney, IND – Another Colt who didn’t post a single defensive statistic – but Freeney actually played.

LB David Harris, NYJ – 9 solos, 2 assist and a PD in his second game back from injury.

DL Antwan Odom, CIN –One measly tackle in his first game since Week 9. That’s why they call them sleepers – because sometimes they just go to sleep.

DB Brandon Meriweather, NE – 6 solos and 1 assist, but no junk points.