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Through The Wire - Wk 5
9/30/08 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.

Week 4 featured some stirring upsets and monster fantasy totals from several QBs and a slew of marginal WRs. Hopefully, either you had some of those guys plugged in already or took one of my recommendations and inserted Jake Delhomme. Interestingly enough, several of the WRs I profiled in Week 2 had monster games in Week 4. Here’s to hoping you stashed them away and used them this past week.

As always, I welcome your e-mails and would like to hear from you if my waiver wire recommendations have helped or hindered your fantasy progress over the past couple years – or so far in 2008. I’m also available for fantasy questions of any variety, and as many of you already know, I’m exceedingly prompt in my replies during the week – but a little less punctual on weekends, when I’m usually swimming in a handle of Captain Morgan.


Off The Top

Trent Edwards, BUF – If Edwards is ever going to throw more than 1 TD pass in a game, it should be this week against the Cards. While the matchup probably won’t yield 761 yards and 8 TDs from the two starting QBs like last week’s shootout, The Bills secondary will likely be missing Terrence McGee and there could be some offensive fireworks.

Matt Cassel, NE – We’ll find out Sunday if the week off did young Cassel any good. I’m betting that he’ll return poised and prepared to beat upon the 49ers, and if the Pats do fall behind the upstarts from San Fran, New England's offense will take to the air early and often to keep pace. Cassel’s available in many leagues after his Week 4 bye, so here’s your chance.

Digging Deeper

Jon Kitna, DET – I expected more out of Kitna in Week 3 versus the Niners, but again – he’s coming off a bye and should be ready to spread it around to his talented receivers against a depleted Bears secondary. I’m expecting the Lions to move the football using lots of slants to “Megatron” Calvin Johnson, Roy Williams and the talented Shaun McDonald.

Marc Bulger, STL – Hey Scott Linehan was an idiot anyway, right? It looks like Bulger will return as the starting QB after the Week 5 bye – and starting Week 9 the schedule starts looking pretty nice. I’ve no longer got the confidence to start him as my #1, but see how he performs after the bye and maybe he’ll be worth the pickup.

Scouring The Barrel

Kerry Collins, TEN – If you would’ve told me four months ago that in late September, Vince young would be suicidal, Kerry Collins would have a stabilizing effect on the Titans and the team would be winning NFL games without any real receiving threat other than Justin McCareins and a speedy rookie back, I would have said: “Yeah right – and John McCain’s running mate’s going to be a MILFy, gun-toting Alaskan babe who can see Russia from the stripper pole in her living room.” And yeah – we’d both be right. Unfortunately, the lack of quality receivers and thorny upcoming schedule – which includes a Week 6 bye – means Mr. Collins is probably only a QB#3 at best.


Jake Delhomme, CAR – 294 and 2 TDs is a nice way to return from a few bad weeks, especially considering the injuries to Jordan Gross, Jeff Otah and subsequent linemen shuffle. Let’s see if he can keep it up.

Trent Green, STL – Yeah – any other bright ideas, Mr. Linehan? Oh – you’re no longer working? Not surprising.

Chad Pennington, MIA – Overall, it’s not a terrible schedule, but he’s still Chad Pennington. Stay tuned and we’ll see what kind of year it’s going to be. He’s very accurate and 15-yard TD passes still count in fantasy.

Brady Quinn, CLE – The Browns won, but it didn’t have much to do with Derek Anderson. Mostly, it was because Carson Palmer’s backup, Ryan Fitzpatrick, got the start and looked completely lost. Keep an eye on this situation for now, since it appears Anderson has bought himself at least one more start after the Week 5 bye.

Gus Frerotte, MIN – Tarvaris Jackson took over after Frerotte cut his non-throwing hand, but the injury doesn’t appear to be serious. Check the injury report for updates this week.

Kyle Orton, CHI – In leagues that don’t penalize for turnovers, he had an excellent game with 199, and 3 TDs. In leagues that punish such gaffes (2 INT and 2 lost fumbles), his performance was a tad more pedestrian.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Deuce McAllister, NO – McAllister had a couple carries in Week 2 against the Redskins, but the win over San Fran was his comeback party. Finally healthy after reconstructive knee surgeries in ’05 and ’07, Deuce tallied 73 yards on 20 carries and scored a TD. In this offense, he’ll assume most of the classic running duties and occasionally haul in a pass. If anything should befall Reggie Bush, he’s an unambiguous #2 fantasy back. For now, he’s a solid #3 and an appropriate bye week fill-in.

Digging Deeper

Fred Jackson, BUF – I just love me some Fred Jackson. The undrafted back out of Coe College has got great lateral mobility, better-than-average speed and nice balance. He’s already got 211 total yards in ’08, including 11 catches for 93 yards and a sweet 22-yard TD run last week versus the Rams. He should be owned in all deeper leagues and in all PPR leagues.

Mewelde Moore, PIT – RB Rashard Mendenhall has been placed on injured reserve, ending his rookie season after sustaining a shoulder fracture during the Monday night game against Baltimore. Moore will see increased time on the field and could be the starter next week against the Jaguars. Unfortunately, the Steelers running game hasn’t been effective at all since the Week 2 win over the Browns, and now they’ll be without G Kendall Simmons (torn Achilles) the rest of the way too. Moore’s probably a starting RB now, at least for a game, so he’s a must add for Week 5. The injury to Mendenhall still gives him some value once Fast Willie Parker returns after the Week 6 bye, but things aren’t looking good for the Steelers running attack.

Scouring The Barrel

Ladell Betts, WAS – The workload increased last week to 11 carries, but Betts probably needs a Portis injury to be fantasy-relevant. There may be some games where he’ll be used more frequently in the rotation, the passing game and on third downs (Weeks 6-8: STL, CLE, @DET), but Portis is running effectively and appears to be the picture of health.

Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG – He’s been quiet thus far, but don’t forget about him. He’s a nice guy to stash away on rosters with deep benches and he’s bound to get his shot sometime in ’08.


Steve Slaton, HOU – 8/83/1 receiving and 10 carries for 33 yards – a wonderful statistical line for PPR leagues and pretty decent anywhere else.

Felix Jones, DAL – The Cowboys completely abandoned their running game and Jones didn’t get a carry. And unlike ESPN’s Ed Werder reported prior to the game, he didn’t see much action in the passing game, either. A brief aside to fellow Cowboys fans: Do you think Jason Garrett realizes he’s not running the ball at all when he gets caught up in this madness, or is he so consumed with appeasing T.O. that he forgets the Cowboys have one of the best running back tandems in football? Just wondering.

Pierre Thomas, NO – The Deuce was loose in Week 4 and Thomas only saw 1 measly carry. Not sure how this is going to play out as the season wears on, but the Saints’ primary ball carrier gig appears to be McAllister’s job to lose.

Le’Ron McClain, BAL – Another injury to McGahee (chest) could lead to more time for this bulldozer. McLain has a good low drive and can even get small to hit holes in the opposing defensive line. He really impressed me when he blasted Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons into the end zone in the fourth quarter on a crucial game-tying drive, and he totaled 63 yards on 16 carries. Keep an eye on the injury report and Ravens’ depth chart.

Correll Buckhalter, PHI – Westbrook didn’t suit up and Buckhalter got the call, although he didn’t find the end zone late in the fourth when he could have won it for the Eagles – something a healthy Westbrook probably would have managed. Still, Correll finished with 90 total yards and a TD. Stay tuned to the injury report to see if he’s worth any more starts.

Warrick Dunn, TB – It was good for Dunn owners to see him so involved in the offense, with 16 carries for 63 yards and 2/23/0 receiving. He’s not going to get many looks inside the 20, but in PPR leagues, he’s still a serviceable bye week fill-in.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR DeSean Jackson, PHI – If he’s not added in all leagues at this point it’s because people are overly concerned with the idiotic play in the Cowboys game. And while it was stupid, a rookie with 22/327/1 and 3 carries for 36 yards after just four NFL games is a sign Donovan McNabb has finally found his receiver. And a bunch of fantasy teams have found a solid #2 WR. So if he’s still out there in your league, don’t hesitate.

WR Kevin Walter, HOU – Last year, he showed us what he could really do as the Texans primary target during Andre Johnson’s absence. Now, he’s outperforming a healthy Johnson and torched the Jacksonville secondary for 8/76/2 in Week 4. Isn’t it time we give him the respect he deserves and add him in all our leagues? Look at this upcoming schedule: IND, MIA, DET, CIN – all home games, as long as Reliant Stadium is good to go.

WR Muhsin Muhammad, CAR – Just when you think the dynamic veteran is done, he shows up with a huge fantasy game. Delhomme was adequately synced-up with his receivers Sunday, and the Panthers offense could be back on track after sputtering the first couple weeks without perennial fantasy standout Steve Smith. The schedule is beautiful the next four weeks (KC, @TB, NO, ARI) and there’s some bright spots the rest of the way after the Week 9 bye (@OAK, DET, @ATL, @GB, TB, DEN, NYG, @NO) He’s a reliable WR #3 and could excel even more once the Panthers’ offensive line gets healthy again.

Digging Deeper

WR Matt Jones, JAC – Even with Jerry Porter back and Reggie Williams supposedly healthy, Jones remained David Garrard’s favorite target and snagged 5/71/1 on Sunday in the win over Houston. He’s the Jaguars leading receiver and the only one with fantasy relevance so far in ’08. He should be owned in all leagues by now, a startling development considering his checkered fantasy past and off-field troubles this summer.

WR Steve Breaston, ARI – Breaston’s numbers in Week 4 (9/122/0) were probably somewhat of an anomaly considering the Cards were playing from behind shortly after the games’ outset, and while I wouldn’t expect Breaston to see as many targets in one half as he did in the game’s second half on Sunday, he’s a pretty viable #3WR if Anquan Boldin (head) misses any extended period of time.

WR Lance Moore, NO – 7/101/2 is an incredible stat line for an undersized, underappreciated receiver like Moore. As long as David Patten (groin) remains hampered by injury and Marques Colston is out, Moore will see plenty of action. But you have to realize that grabbing him now is adding him after the bulk of his fantasy value has already been spent.

WR Brandon Stokley, DEN – Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal get all the press, but Stokley’s got a terrific work ethic and has been to the mountain when it comes to fantasy success. It’s clear to me that Mike Shanahan has no interest in running the ball anymore (at least not effectively) and Jay Cutler will be spreading it around quite a bit this season. Marshall and Royal seem kind of fragile, as well, so it’d be wise to find a roster spot for a veteran receiver like Stokley.

Scouring The Barrel

WR Arnaz Battle, SF – His line of 7/120/0 matched the highest reception total of his career and was far and away the highest receiving yardage total he’s ever had. I even started him in one of my leagues. I’ve always been a fan of Battle – it’s just difficult to know when he’s going to break out. While I think he’s worth adding in deeper leagues, he won’t be effective every week.

WR Jordy Nelson, GB – The rookie has consistently seen targets and has responded well. Monitor his progress – but only add him if James Jones continues to sit out this week and Aaron Rodgers’ shoulder is okay.

WR Jabar Gaffney, NE – My sleeper pick for Week 5 versus the 49ers, Gaffney was involved in the offense quite a bit in Week 3, finishing with 5/61/1 against the Dolphins.


WR Brandon Lloyd, CHI – Lloyd was hindered by a balky hip, was a game-time decision and didn’t see much time on the field Sunday night. He managed to grab a couple balls for 33 yards, but he was a non-factor. Still – if he’s healthy he’ll get his targets. But a knee injury sustained in the second quarter kept him out of action the rest of the game. The Bears passing game looked pretty good in the first half, and if Lloyd is healthy next week, he’s a decent start against the Lions – just make sure he’s at least probable.

WR Ike Hilliard, TB – 2/21/0 is pretty terrible – but Hilliard will be back with better games, starting with this week versus Denver.

WR Greg Camarillo, MIA – On a bye but a decent #4 WR play in Week 5 against the Chargers. Maybe he’ll get his first TD of ’08 – he caught 2 in the last three games last year from Cleo Lemon.

TE Anthony Fasano, MIA – Fasano’s a good bet for multiple red zone targets next week, assuming the Dolphins show up for the game and Ronnie Brown is still getting some direct snaps.

WR Miles Austin, DAL – I would have busted on all my WRs had I not included Austin in the barrel. With his 3/45/1, he’s now scored in 2 straight and has about the same fantasy value as Jets WR Chansi Stuckey.

TE Billy Miller, NO – 3/30/0 isn’t great, but it’s respectable for a fill-in TE.


Off The Top

LB Paris Lenon, DET – Opposing LBs have feasted against the Bears and Lenon get his shot this week. The undrafted MLB out of Richmond is a great tackler and is due for a big game against this division rival. So far in ‘08, he’s only tallied 18 tackles and 2 Pd in 3 games, but he’s ready to break out.

DL Darnell Dockett, ARI – I like his chances of getting a sack on Trent Edwards and making some stops close to the lien of scrimmage versus the Bills. Another guy who’s yet to have a standout performance in ’08, Dockett posted 9.5 sacks and 58 tackles in ’07. When healthy, which he now appears to be, he’s a beast.

LB Adalius Thomas, NE – Another guy who’s due for a big game – Thomas heads to San Fran to take on the 49ers. A solid pass rusher who also drops back into coverage well, Thomas will likely get ample opportunities to target J.T. O’Sullivan in the pocket and Frank Gore as he comes out of the backfield. He’ll have his chances to make some plays and is a good spot-start this week.

Digging Deeper

DB Antoine Bethea, IND – With the defense struggling and Bob Sanders out, Pro Bowl safety Bethea is the only thing standing between Colts opponents and the end zone. He’ll start making some plays this week against a Houston team that yields the second most IDP points to opposing DBs.

LB Kawika Mitchell, BUF – He’s not on most people’s fantasy radar after his slow start, but Mitchell’s got a great matchup this week against the Cards. I think he’s due for a big week.

DB Anthony Henry, DAL – Another guy who’s capable of huge games is Henry, who’s been relatively quiet other than his 2-sack day in Green Bay. Facing the Bengals, he’ll get some chances to make plays and should finish with 4-6 tackles.

Scouring The Barrel

DB Donte Whitner, BUF – Terrence McGee has a sprained MCL and while backup CB Ashton Youboty is what I would call an IDP “super-sleeper” in Week 5 if McGee can’t go, the Bills face the Cardinals – and Whitner, Ko Simpson and Jabari Greer will see lots of action as Kurt Warner aimlessly flings it around the field.

LB LaMarr Woodley, PIT – Between him and fellow LB James Harrison, these guys are always up in the QB’s face and making plays in the backfield. While his tackle totals haven’t been impressive, he responded with a big game Monday night against the Ravens and took a Joe Flacco fumble caused by a Harrison sack right to the house. Again – you shouldn’t rely on plays like this to win in IDP, but it’s nice to have a guy like that in the mix because he’s capable of creating big points.

DB Dre Bly, DEN – Available in most IDP leagues, Bly has yet to record an INT and is a good tackler with the ability to post exceptional numbers. I think he’s due for a big week against the Bucs, who are throwing the ball a lot with Griese at the helm and will try to stay away from fellow Broncos CB Champ Bailey.


LB Dhani Jones, CIN – 5 tackles, 4 assists against the Browns is a solid total from a consistent weekly IDP contributor. I can’t say I’m surprised he didn’t go nuts, since he’s yet to register a sack or INT in ’08. But when 9 total tackles is your lowest output for the season, it’s not polite to complain.

DB Chris Gamble, CAR – He finished with 6 solos, an assist and a PD – also slightly below his usual weekly yield but a respectable line nonetheless. He’s a worthwhile addition to any IDP roster and he’s got a great matchup this week.

DB Marvin White, CIN – Also finished with 6 tackles and an assist. White has been the model of consistency; he’s had between 6 and 8 total tackles each game so far.

LB D’Qwell Jackson, CLE – D’Qwell laid a veritable fantasy egg in Week 4, only mustering 1 solo and 3 assists, a paltry total for a guy emerging as a stud LB. Hope fully the Week 5 bye will allow him some time to recover.

LB Joey Porter, MIA – Porter had the week off, but he’s undoubtedly ready for the Chargers and LaDainian Tomlinson in Week 5. It might be a good week to give him a shot.

DL Juqua Parker, PHI – He got a sack, 2 solo tackles and an assist versus the Bears. I was hoping for a bit more sleeper love, but at least he got to Orton.