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Through The Wire
12/4/07 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 will still be available in many deeper leagues.


I never write intros to these columns, because it's usually unnecessary. But this week, with plenty of your fantasy lives on the line, I'm making an exception. It's a bizarre week for arguably the most important fantasy position on your roster - the one that can make or break your season. There's really only two stud signal callers with favorable matchups this week: Tony Romo (vs DET) who give up the third-most points to opposing QBs - and Carson Palmer, (vs STL) - a team that possesses a vulnerable, if not terrible, secondary. I know, I know, you never bench your studs, but here's something to consider: The worst matchups in Week 14, if you're curious, belong to the injured Brett Favre (vs. OAK), the surprisingly steady Kurt Warner (@SEA), the enigmatic Kyle Boller (v. IND), the heavily pressured (as of late) Tom Brady (vs. PIT) and the gunslinging-but-unrefined Jay Cutler (vs. KC). But there are even more unfavorable matchups among some the leagues best fantasy QBs, including Ben Roethlisberger (@NE), and Jon Kitna (vs. DAL). So there will be plenty of folks looking for QBS on the wire who could win them a playoff game or get them in - depending on your league. I'll try to cover as many as I can - including updates from last week that still offer some suitable selections.

Off The Top

Rex Grossman, CHI – The Redskins are still reeling from the tragic loss of Sean Taylor and last week’s loss to the Bills in the waning seconds – due in large part to head coach Joe Gibbs’ inexcusable time out gaffe – have put them on a fast track to disaster, a lonely train they’ll have to resume all too quickly on Thursday night against Chicago. The Bears, despite the tough loss to the Giants, have looked much better in the passing game since Cedric Benson went down and cleared the way for Georgia Southern product Adrian N. Peterson. I picked up Grossman to back up Palmer in one of my leagues based on his matchups in the final three weeks (@MIN, GB NO), and now he’s coming off his best week of the season and looks poised for a stretch run.

Tarvaris Jackson, MIN – I’ve taken some shots at him this season, but Ray Childress believes he’s the real deal, even comparing him to a young Donovan McNabb at this point in his development. He’ s had two decent fantasy games in a row, and he’s got great matchups the next three weeks (@SF, CHI , WAS).

Digging Deeper

Kellen Clemens, NYJ – If you believe in exploiting favorable fantasy matchups and you’re desperate for a Week 14 waiver wire gem to fill in for one of the many roster-bound QBs who have horrific matchups this week, he might just be your man, since he faces the Browns – fantasy’s most generous team in allowing fantasy points to QBs. He’s yet to explode for a big fantasy game, but if it’s going to happen, it’s this week.

Brodie Croyle KC, – The rookie out of Alabama hasn’t really inspired too much fantasy confidence, but the Broncos defense has been so horrible that he’s an option I have to consider for this column. If Kolby Smith can punish up the Broncos defense until they have to stack the box to stop him, I don’t think it’s improbable for Croyle to finish with 200 yards and a couple scores.

Chris Redman, ATL – Only the Browns give up more fantasy points to QBs than the Saints – the Falcons’ opponent in Week 14. We haven’t seen hide nor hair of Byron Leftwich, and Joey Harrington’s been horrific. Could Redman get the start on Sunday? Sure. Does he have an excellent matchup if he does? Absolutely. Should he be your starter? Only if you’re really desperate.

Scouring The Barrel

Vinny Testaverde, CAR – I don’t like recommending 44-year-old starting QBs for your fantasy team, but Testaverde’s facing a defense that’s struggled against the pass lately and was exposed versus the Colts early on. While the Panthers aren’t the Colts and Testaverde is definitely not Peyton Manning, I have to believe Steve Smith is capable of a huge day and that Vinny can get him the ball.

JaMarcus Russell, OAK – He was solid in limited play Sunday and if he gets in again this week and plays well, he could have the starting job locked up by Week 16 against the Jags – a game where he’ll be forced to spread the ball around to Ron Curry, Jerry Porter, Tim Dwight, his backs and TE Zach Miller. Plus, he can make plays with his legs. He’s a long shot, but worth considering after his performance in Week 13 and the Raiders’ season relegated to spoiler mode.

John Beck, MIA – Like the matchup, hate the six picks he threw last week. If your league doesn’t punish for turnovers, go ahead and take a shot, because the Bills secondary’s endured its share of injuries and the defense has actually been daring teams to throw.


Philip Rivers, SD – He played okay against the Chiefs, but LaDainian Tomlinson stole the show. This week he’s got the titans, who have been weak versus the pass lately and will probably stack the line to stop LT and force Rivers to toss it deep. Not a bad option if he’s still lurking on the wire, and the matchups in weeks 15 and 16 (at home versus Detroit and Denver) couldn’t get much better.

A.J. Feeley, PHI – He followed up his big Week 12 with a total stinker, Andy Reid’s got to be ready for Donovan McNabb to come back – and it appears he will, silencing all the ridiculous talk of a quarterback controversy in Philly.

Gus Frerotte, STL – He's out at least one week with a sprained throwing shoulder and partially torn labrum. Plus, it looks like Marc Bulger has been cleared to start Sunday.

Trent Dilfer, SF – He threw four picks Sunday but will probably get another start this week against the Vikings. The only problem is that the Vikings have improved dramatically against the pass and don’t make such a great matchup anymore. Next week, the Niners face the Bengals, but Alex Smith might be back by then.

Trent Edwards, BUF – The Dolphins didn’t do a horrible job against Clemens last week, but they’ll have a harder time stopping Edwards, who’s coming off a decent week where he didn’t score – but didn’t turn the ball over, either. It might be the week Lee Evans resumes his funk-breaking tendencies and gets behind the defense, and it might be another pedestrian performance. I’m not willing to find out which it will be with a fantasy win on the line, but a few desperate owners might be, right?

Running Backs

Off The Top

Ryan Grant, GB – He’s been snagged off most wires but I picked him up as recently as last week in a 10-team PPR and IDP league where I sealed up a first round bye after a dominating 11-2 record, but have been forced to confront some serious injury and reliability issues with my RBs and WRs (Joseph Addai, Reggie Bush, Marshawn Lynch, Selvin Young, Plaxico Burress, Larry Fitzgerald, Roy Williams, Jerricho Cotchery). I mean, it’s getting a little ridiculous. I will tell you that Grant would probably be getting the start for me this week against an Oakland defense that might hold Favre in check – but just cannot stop the run..

Digging Deeper

Reuben Droughns, NYG – Go Reuben, it’s your birthday. Derrick Ward’s leg is broken, so it’s your birthday. Brandon Jacobs is brittle, so it’s your birthday. And the Eagles don’t care it’s not your birthday.

Ron Dayne, HOU – He’s the best running back not taken on thousands of waiver wires, and no matter how many respectable performances he turns in, he’ll get ignored for several factors. Number one, because he plays for the Texans, like Ahman Green, who is supposed to be back every week until a weekend decision sits him – for another week. He’s also not going to get picked up by any Giants fan who happens to play fantasy football, and there are plenty of them. And no matter how bad the average Giants fan’s fantasy football team is struggling – and as a New York resident, I can tell you most of them are struggling – they won’t pick up Ron Dayne. There’s just too many painful memories. But you can take him. And he’ll probably do well for you.

Scouring The Barrel

Chris Brown, TEN – I’m bringing Chris Brown back for a few reasons. First, his songs are hot. Second, he can dance. And third, he might decide to turn in two decent fantasy performances in a row. If Justin “Timberlake” Fargas can do it, why not C. Brown? I have a feeling that the Titans are going to “Run It” a lot more this week, possibly even “Wall to Wall” running from the first quarter on. And since I’m considering picking him up in at least one league, I might just give him a little “Kiss Kiss” if he helps me through the next round of the playoffs. Sorry – I just couldn’t resist, and the guy can definitely dance.

Lorenzo Booker, MIA – Our resident guru Matt Waldman has got a sample scouting report on Booker in his Weekly Gut Check, Volume 112 from October 25 – and it’s excellent. But it’s just a sample, so make sure you purchase his complete 2008 Rookie Scouting portfolio to get the upper hand on your ‘08 competition before the offseason’s even here. Last week, Booker got his shot against the Jets and looked great catching passes out of the backfield. With the Dolphins RB situation in a state of flux and nothing more to lose except the rest of their games in ’07, I’d expect to see more of Booker down the stretch. He’s especially worth a shot in deeper PPR formats or in leagues that play up until Week 17, when the Dolphins play the Bengals.


Adrian Peterson, CHI – “PPR leaguers should benefit significantly, as well, since he – unlike Benson – sees frequent targets in the passing game.” – Me, in my Week 13 column. Yeah, so you can thank me now, PPR leaguers – especially after he rattled off 7 catches for 82 yards to go with his respectable 67 yards on the ground.

Kolby Smith, KC – He finished with 83 yards and a couple catches, but you can expect a lot more yardage and some scores in his final four weeks: @ DEN, TEN, @DET, @NYJ. The rookie is still starting in place of the injured Larry Johnson, and playing well in his stead. And he’s still out there in about half of ESPN leagues, making him a great selection this week against a terrible Broncos defense that’s been shredded against the run all year. At this point, we shouldn’t expect LJ back for a t least a couple weeks, so Smith’s a solid selection if he’s still out there.

Aaron Stecker, NO – Reggie’s playing though the pain and Stecker’s not showing up.

Justin Fargas, OAK – Another solid performance – 164 total yards and a score – has vaulted Fargas into the top 20 fantasy RBs for ’07. He’s the 9th-ranked RB in fantasy during the last three weeks and during the last six games has tallied 730 total yards and 3 scores.

Cecil Sapp/Mike Bell, DEN – I warned you Henry and Young might be back.

Fred Jackson, BUF –82 total yards rushing and 4/69/0 made him a nice play. You didn’t really expect him to find the end zone, did you?

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Mike Furrey, DET – With Roy Williams out for a few weeks and likely the rest of the season, last year’s waiver wire darling makes a nice selection. Last week against the Vikings, Furrey caught seven passes – a season-high – for 57 yards in the 42-10 loss. He should be able to post similar numbers in a starting role versus the Cowboys. Sure, he’ll fight for catches with Shaun McDonald and Calvin Johnson, but can you afford to pass on a guy who finished the last five weeks of last season against the Pats, Vikes, Packers, Bears and Cowboys with, get this: 42 catches, 436 yards and three scores. That’s not a misprint, unless the quick math I did in my head is off. Oh yeah – he’s still available in about half of all fantasy leagues.

WR Bobby Engram, SEA – Engram is still available in 1 out of 5 ESPN leagues, was started this past week in only 50 percent of ESPN leagues and is turning in a career year: 72/874/4. He’s on pace for 96/1,165/5 – not bad for a guy who was about the 82nd-ranked fantasy WR coming into ’07. I first recommended Engram in my column following Week 2, touting him as a sure-handed receiver adept at running solid routes – with the requisite experience to accrue lots of fantasy points against young secondaries. I also marveled at the fact that at 34 and in his 12th season, he was just with his second team – a sign of reliability. Since then, I’ve included him a couple other times and he’s proven to be the excellent fantasy sleeper I thought he’d be. If he’s still available in any format, don’t hesitate any further.

Digging Deeper

WR Joe Jurevicius, CLE – I wasn’t as high on Jurevicius, whom I also included in my Week 3 column, and I took some flack in e-mails for calling him out as an inconsistent, slow white guy. I apologize for that, although he still hasn’t topped the fantasy totals he posted in Week 2 against the Bengals. But now I really like his matchups in the last four weeks: @NYJ, BUF, @CIN, SF – and I’m giving him a shot to prove he can be consistent.

WR Bryant Johnson, ARI – With Larry Fitzgerald’s groin still bothering him and Anquan Boldin out this week nursing a dislocated toe (to go along with the hip injury that has plagued him in ’07), I think Johnson tops the list of solid fantasy pickups for the week. The only thing keeping him from topping this list is the fact that both Fitzgerald and Boldin might play in Week 14 – and obviously beyond that date. His matchups offer some possibilities, especially in the odd weeks: @SEA, @NO, ATL, STL – and he’s a proven backup with upside as a starter.

Scouring The Barrel

WR Roscoe Parrish, BUF – I don’t know why I ever bother with this guy, but the simple truth is that the matchups down the stretch couldn’t be much better. I don’t really know if it’s Parrish or fellow wideout Josh Reed will be the receiver that benefits from that schedule – along with, of course, Lee Evans – but I’d be willing to take a shot with one of them.

TE Leonard Pope, ARI – He could also benefit from the injuries to Fitzgerald and Boldin, and has excellent matchups in two of the next three weeks (see above), with the only downside that Week 14 against the Seahawks is the toughest one he’s got remaining.


WR Javon Walker, DEN – Are you tired of reading injury reports telling you to get Walker back in your lineup? I haven’t listened to any of them yet, but I’m still stashing Walker on a couple rosters hoping he’s healthy by the playoffs. The guy’s a big play receiver on a team with a strong-armed QB. How about it, football gods?

WR Deion Branch, SEA – Branch managed 5/40/0 in Week 13, but that’s not the kind of effort you’d expect from the team’s projected #1 WR for ’07. But he remains a pretty nice play Sunday against the Cards.

WR Isaac Bruce, STL – 4/31/1 is a decent game from a former fantasy stud who’s currently a solid #3 WR in the right matchup.

WR Anthony Gonzalez, IND – The Colts were so happy to have TE Dallas Clark healthy again they didn’t look to the rookie WR from Ohio St. very much – which is a shame, because he was coming off a nice game against the Falcons.

TE Tony Scheffler, DEN – Finished with just one catch Sunday and the prospects against KC don’t look much better – the Chiefs even shut down Antonio Gates in Week 13.

WR Greg Lewis, PHI – No action Sunday – but you knew the risks going in if you grabbed him.

WR Justin Gage, TEN – You could have still gotten him pretty cheap last week but now you’ll be hard pressed to find him available on too many wires after his 5/64/1 performance in Week 13.


Off The Top

LB Lance Briggs, CHI – It’s been a relatively quiet year for Briggs, who’s probably been dropped along the way from a few IDP rosters. But there’s no better matchup for opposing LBs than the Redskins, who run the ball nonstop and could be looking at multiple turnovers hitting the field so quickly after Sunday’s loss. Briggs seems to be coming alive lately, so I think he’ll make an excellent play this week.

DB Marcus Trufant, SEA – even in my 12-team league, Trufant is still available, and he’s facing a Cardinals team that surrenders the most fantasy points in football to opposing DBs. On the Seahawks, there’s no better IDP DB than Trufant, who’s got 62 total tackles, 12 PDs and 4 INTs on the season.

Digging Deeper

LB Freddy Keiaho, IND – Keiaho’s coming off a big game against the Jaguars, his first exceptional game since Week 1, totaling 11 tackles and a half a sack. As effective as Willis McGahee was Monday night against the Pats, I’d expect to see a lot of him pounding through the Colts line and Keiaho picking up the slack.

LB Rocky McIntosh, WAS – Another guy’s who’s been under the radar lately, McIntosh is a solid tackler who’ll be hungry to stymie the Bears running game this Thursday. He could see a lot of time on the field and have a huge day, so pick him up if he’s out there on the wire.

DB Oshiomogho Atogwe, STL – He’s having a second straight season racking up decent IDP totals, and he’s coming off a big week (6 tackles, 1 PD, 1 INT). I think he’ll have a field day versus the Bengals, who allow opposing DS to tee off on their WRs all day long, posting PDs, INTs and tackles galore.

Scouring The Barrel

LB Omar Gaither, PHI – I’ve taken a shot on Gaither before and have been burned, but he’s been playing much better and he’s got an excellent matchup with the Giants, where he’ll rack up tackles on Rueben Droughns, and Eli Manning might throw a ball or two right into his hands.

DL Elvis Dumervil, DEN – This column’s IDP theme is players who’ve fallen off their big numbers from early in the season but have nice matchups in Week 14. Against a Kansas City offensive line that surrenders the fifth-highest point totals in fantasy to DLs, Elvis may decide to reenter the building this weekend and Jerry Glanville might even have tickets waiting at will call for him.


DB Jermaine Phillips, TB – Nine solo tackles. Those who played him were not disappointed.

LB Adalius Thomas, NE – Just 3 tackles and 3 assists. I expected much more in his return to Baltimore, but hey – it wasn’t the kind of game I expected, either.

LB Antonio Pierce, NYG – He performed poorly against the Bears in a game where he could’ve seen a lot of action.

LB Angelo Crowell, BUF – Easily my best IDP call of the week, Crowell vaulted even high on the top LB list with a tie for his best fantasy performance of the year – 9 total tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.

DB DeAngelo Hall, ATL – He finished with 6 tackles but no junk stats, a surprising thing considering Gus Frerotte was throwing the ball into the Atlanta secondary.

DL Justin Smith, CIN – 6 total tackles but no sacks – an average game for a fantasy DL.