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Through The Wire
11/14/06 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 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 will still be available in most deeper leagues.


Off The Top

Tony Romo, DAL – He’s been the topic of much conversation and while I’m positive many owners have scooped him up, he’s still available in my 10-team league (probably shouldn’t even have divulged that, but in the interest of the column and full disclosure, I guess it’s got to be done). The similarities to Favre are getting more and more evident – right down to the “I can’t believe I’m starting at QB for one of the most storied franchises in NFL history” grin he’s always wearing both on the field and on the sidelines. And the upside potential to Romo is off the charts. It sounds crazy out loud, but right now, Romo’s among a handful of quarterbacks in the league capable of putting up four to five scores in a game. And this week he gets to face the number one suspect on that list – Peyton Manning. If the Cowboys can keep Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis off Romo’s back, he should put up solid numbers. The Colts have a generally porous defense that has surprisingly yielded just 10 passing TDs all year. But they’re beat up and are overdue to get torched this week. Plus, the mobile Romo can take advantage of the fact that the Colts have allowed 3 rushing TDs to opposing QBs, something you could easily see in this game.

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA – I’m not trying to insult anybody’s intelligence. I’m just saying that it’s possible somebody in your league dropped Hasselbeck prematurely when Seneca Wallace started running the Seahawks offense like Jim Zorn did in the late 1970s. If the guy’s available, grab him. It’s just that simple.

Digging Deeper

Jason Campbell, WAS – In retrospect, I’m sure the Redskins are glad they passed on Mike Williams and took CB Carlos Rogers at #9 and traded three draft picks – including their 2006 first-round selection – to land the 25th pick in 2005 from Denver and take Jason Campbell. It wasn;t the quick fix move, and it did nothing to improve what was then the NFL’s 30th-ranked offense. But Campbell’s evolution – from fledgling college underclassmen to thriving West Coast-style QB during an undefeated senior season at Auburn – impressed Gibbs enough to draft him with pretty high expectations, at least a heck of a lot higher than the teams that dubbed him a “project.” Campbell’s been brought along slowly a la Tony Romo during the past couple seasons; he has yet to even take an NFL snap. For as much as Gibbs believes in thrusting him into the starting spot to take over a 3-6 ball club, there’s honestly not a ton of pressure on Campbell. Around the league, nobody’s talking about the Skins anymore, and the offense is without Portis, possibly until the end of the season. Ladell Betts – much like Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams at Auburn – catches a lot of balls out of the backfield and will help Campbell gain confidence as he works through the offense. The Redskins have several athletic receivers who can adjust to misthrown balls and make their quarterback look good. Heck, look what they did for Mark Brunell for a few weeks this season. The Redskins face New Orleans and St. Louis in weeks 15 and 16, and while we should all watch Campbell closely over the next couple weeks, his overall size and athletic ability are considerable attributes that could lead to big fantasy numbers in both those games.

Scouring The Barrel

Jay Cutler, DEN – If you don’t have the roster space and are convinced Jake Plummer will be the starting QB for the remainder of 2006, don’t bother reading further. Now, for the rest of you are who ARE familiar with the way Mike Shanahan does things in the thin air of Denver, listen up. Every coach wants to win games, and despite the litany of behavior Shanahan has exemplified to the contrary, he wants to win big just as much as anyone. He doesn’t, for instance, want to sweat out 17-13 games versus AFC West opponents for the rest of the year. Plummer’s played well, and the Broncos are winning, but if something goes wrong, Cutler might get the call, and it may be right in the middle of your fantasy playoffs. The Broncos face San Diego, Arizona and Cincinnati in weeks 14-17, so it’s really worth considering him for a bench spot – especially in two-QB leagues where everybody will be looking for an ace in the hole come playoff time.


Alex Smith, SF – He started out the season strong, but San Fran has fallen in love with pounding Frank Gore and limiting turnovers in order to win games. I really thought they’d open it up against Detroit, but to the 49ers’ credit, you can make it two wins in a row and counting.

David Garrard, JAX – Where’s the real mayor? Wha’ happened?

Seneca Wallace, SEA – The guy has wheels and puts up decent numbers – flat out – but it looks like Hasselbeck is ready to return.

Steve McNair, BAL – As Titans head coach Jeff Fisher’s mullet flapped around uncontrollably during the fourth quarter, his old quarterback led a huge comeback that proved he is a worthy fantasy option when he has to be. How satisfying do you think that win was for McNair and Mason? I benched Huard last week in favor of McNair and reaped the benefits – along with Waldman, I see. Hope some of you got a chance to take advantage of that matchup as well.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Ladell Betts, WAS – This is a no-brainer, especially considering Betts was putting up decent numbers BEFORE Portis broke his hand. If they were smart, Portis owners prepared for this day by handcuffing Betts. If they weren’t, and you’ve got the waiver priority to make this happen, then you shouldn’t need any more provoking. Ladell Betts is like MoJo Drew if Fred Taylor got stabbed.

Digging Deeper

T.J. Duckett, WAS – Where has this guy been all year? I have no idea, but he must be a consideration with Portis down for the count. T.J. Duckett is like LaBrandon Toefield if Fred Taylor got shot.

Correll Buckhalter, PHI – As a Brian Westbrook owner, I’m a little concerned my boy won’t hold up for the entire season, although he’s played admirably considering all the pain he plays through every week. I have a slew of decent running backs in my Westbrook league (10 teams) including Kevin Jones, Julius Jones, Dillon, Maroney and Mike Bell, so I don’t truly NEED to back him up. I’m also somewhat reticent to boldly proclaim that Buckhalter would put up huge numbers in Westbrook’s absence, because I’m not really sure that’s what would happen. But if you’re in a deep league where handcuffing the superstar could mean big things when a more serious injury occurs, then I wouldn’t hesitate to make sure I had a roster spot for C-Buck.

Michael Pittman, TB – The looks that Jon Gruden was giving Cadillac Williams on Monday Night were scaring me. It’s only a matter of time before the sophomore gets benched, giving way to this proven veteran with big pipes and decent hands.

Scouring The Barrel

Damien Nash, DEN – Is it even fair that we’re talking about this guy right now? No, but given Shanahan’s Abu-Ghirab-like torture of fantasy football owners, it what we’ve come to expect from the King of the Coaching Rats – all apologies to Prince of the Coaching Rats Mike Krzyzewski. I’m not planning on using this jerk – I’d sooner spend a waiver pick on Greg “Toe” Nash – but if you’re one of those “I must have whoever is starting in the backfield for the Broncos this week” people, go ahead and waste a roster spot on him and pray he gets his shot. Because if that’s the mentality with which you’re living your life, it can’t really hurt.


Anthony Thomas, BUF – The numbers will be probably be similar to McGahee’s as long as the A-Train’s in there, which unfortunately means few scoring opportunities. But he ran for over 100 yards last week. What more can you ask from a week 10 waiver pickup? Like I said last week, I’ve had him on my bench all year in one of my leagues, and he’s getting the starting nod in Week 11 against the Texans because my #2 RB – Portis – is broken once again.

DeAngelo Williams, CAR – DeShaun Foster looked sluggish on Monday night against Tampa Bay, and I continue to expect Williams to see more touches.

Noah Herron, GB – I’m glad I had a good week with my RB picks, especially considering my QB selections. Herron caught a TD pass from Brett, and if anything should happen to Ahman Green (not too far-fetched, is it?) he could do a whole lot more.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Mark Clayton, BAL – He’s been up here before and after the big game last week, he’s deserving again, because I know he’s still lurking on lots of waiver wires out there. Don’t hesitate again, because you’ll regret it even more. McNair obviously likes him, and the Ravens are passing a lot more as they come to the realization that Jamal Lewis and the rest of the backs just aren’t reliable enough to carry the offense anymore.

Digging Deeper

WR Patrick Crayton, DAL – When Glenn comes back, his value will drop, but he’s worth a look if you’ve got roster room. If the planets align correctly when Indy heads to Dallas this week and Glenn doesn’t suit up, he could have another solid week. But temper your enthusiasm with the reality that T.O. is still the show in Dallas.

Scouring The Barrel

WR Reche Caldwell, NE – Just when Tom Brady’s love affair with Doug Gabriel looks like it’s ready to take off, the guy fumbles his way to bench and clears the way for ANOTHER flavor of the month. I had Caldwell listed here a couple weeks ago, but then he pooped his pants in Week 9. Belichick didn’t show too much patience with Gabriel, did he? Could there be more to that story than anybody’s admitting? In any event, Caldwell was Brady’s go-to guy last week, but that’s not something that’s guaranteed to carry over into subsequent weeks – far from it. He’s listed here for several reasons. First, because I’m obligated to consider him with the big numbers from the Jets game, second, because he’s available in just about any format, and third, because the Patriots are still a team capable of putting up huge offensive numbers via the pass, and SOMEBODY’s got to collect those benefits.


WR Devery Henderson, NO – I can’t figure out the Saints offense. How do you go from being a 2-TD guy one week to barely playing – behind Terrance Copper, for God’s sakes – the next?

WR Ernest Wilford, JAC – The Jaguars receivers are not to be trusted. None of them.

WR Eric Parker, SD – Huge shootout, zero numbers. Parker left the game with a neck injury, so keep an eye on his status.

WR Arnaz Battle, SF – He was my sleeper pick for Sunday, and he actually showed some consistency in an offense that focuses an awful lot on Gore. He’s on my roster, and he might end up being a nice #3 WR sleeper in the last couple weeks.

WR Marty Booker, MIA – Didn’t see a lot of action on Sunday, but this week he faces a Minnesota team that yields the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing WRs. He’s really not a Not a bad #3 WR this week.


Off The Top

DB Dawan Landry, BAL – Landry, a talented young strong safety, has taken over from FS Ed Reed as the most consistent tackler in the Ravens secondary. He also blitzes effectively and has posted big weeks in two of his last three. Expect more solid numbers this week as Michael Vick and the Falcons head into town, since Atlanta’s tied for first in the league in most sacks allowed to defensive backs.

DL Leonard Little, STL – He’s been quiet for most of the season, but his solid Week 10 numbers indicate he might be ready to make some of the big plays he’s been known for over the years. He’s got a favorable schedule for most of the remaining schedule, so if you’re looking for an impact DL to fill a roster quota at a position that offers little upside except for the weekly performances of Jared Allen and Julius Peppers, Leonard’s your guy.

Just a quick aside (not really that quick) regarding Julius Peppers: My bro-in-lo Dan’s opponent put up big IDP numbers against him this week, and Dan went into the Monday night game down 141-123, needing a 19-point performance from Peppers to win (his opponent was done but had Favre as the tiebreaker player). At the half, I checked up and saw Peppers had 3 tackles (3 points) and two sacks – each worth 3 points by our scoring system. So he needed another HUGE half for Dan to get the improbable win. So Peppers recovers a fumble (4 points) and knocks down a pass (2 points), but the clock’s ticking away and pretty soon it’s essentially the last play of the game on a Tampa Bay fourth down with under two minutes to play. And I’m thinking “Damn, he came so close,” when Peppers screams through the line and drops Gradkowski like he’s a cardboard freakin’ cutout. The NFL credits sacks as a tackle as well, giving him a total of 4 points on the play, and a game total of exactly 19. Final score Mindfreak 142, Bottoms Up 141. Whowouldathunkit? I’ve never seen a defensive player win a fantasy game like that in what boiled down to the closing seconds. Dan’s team name immediately changed from the Criss Angel-inspired Mindfreak to the simple but effective “Julius Peppers.” He even considered using a shot of Peppers dunking a basketball at UNC for his team log, but opted instead for a pic of Peppers in-game sporting a blood-stained Panthers jersey. Awesome.

LB Al Wilson, DEN – He’s fallen out of favor in lots of IDP leagues for his less-than stellar numbers during the first three games. But he’s been playing much better, getting more chances, and with fellow LB Ian Gold sidelined last week and the Chargers on the docket, I’d expect fistfuls of tackles to go around for the Broncos. He’s a solid pickup and he’s always a threat to have a huge day.

Digging Deeper

DL Alex Brown, CHI – Many leagues won’t have this guy available, but he’s still out there in my 10-team IDP league, so he can’t be universally coveted. He may not rack up the points this week, facing the Jets D’Brickshaw Ferguson, but in Weeks 14, 15 and 16, he faces Orlando Pace’s replacement in St. Louis, a useless offensive line in Tampa Bay, and the Lions. ‘Nuff said.

LB E.J. Henderson, MIN – I’ve mentioned him a couple times already in previous weeks, and his numbers haven’t been spectacular the last two weeks. But I expect a big week from him against a Miami team that surrenders a decent amount of points to fantasy LBs.

Scouring The Barrel

LB Chris Draft, CAR – A consistent performer when he isn’t sidelined by asthma, he has done well in this league. In Carolina, the big plays usually get stolen by the DLs and DBs, but Draft is the unquestioned leader of this defensive unit. He gets his tackles – sure – but doesn’t do a whole lot else.

DB Asante Samuel, NE – Not a high-profile DB, Samuel just does his job and makes the occasional big play. With Harrison sidelined for what looks like a couple weeks at least (hard to give a timetable considering the Patriots’ policy on giving accurate injury updates) the starting right corner is more important now than he ever was, considering teams are now more likely to take shots deep. He’s a decent play facing the Packers in week 11, but it’s definitely a higher-risk, higher-reward proposition.


LB Kirk Morrison, OAK – He’s as solid as solid can be and a great presence on any IDP roster. I don’t know what else I can say.

LB Marcus Washington, WAS – didn’t do much versus the Eagles, which is surprising considering how often they ran the ball Sunday. The Redskins just have one of those defenses that’s hard to figure out. Take a look at DB Sean Taylor: He’s amazing, all-over-the-field good one week and pitiful the next, getting beat deep and making inexcusable penalties.

DB Darrent Williams, DEN – Champ stole the show on Sunday, but keep Darrent in mind later on down the road.

LB Julian Peterson, SEA – Not much (4 tackles) versus the Rams, but with Frank Gore the focal point of the San Fran offense, he’s a good play in week 11.

LB Bradie James, DAL – Another consistent performance (9 tackles 2 PD) from a quality fantasy linebacker.