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Through The Wire - Week 11
11/17/09 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 to 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 a big 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 — sometimes breakout stars that eluded your team’s draft — as well as players who can help your squad that may still be lurking in deeper leagues.

Off the Top - Includes my premier recommendations — sometimes players available either only in more shallow leagues, and occasionally guys more readily available who’ve been thrust into the fantasy spotlight.

Digging Deeper - Covers the next tier of quality waiver wire specimens, usually players available in a majority of online leagues.

Scouring the Barrel - Chronicles the deepest of fantasy adds — and sometimes highlights players being tacked onto fantasy squads who I don’t have much confidence in.

Each week, I’ll also provide a brief update on the 30-40 players I covered the previous week. It’s the best one-stop waiver-wire column available on the Internet, and it’s only available here at

Feedback is always welcome, appreciated and encouraged. I’ll get to as many e-mails as I can.

Note: Each player’s next four matchups are listed in parentheses ()

With injuries to a slew of starting running backs in Week 10, this week’s column focuses on the backups who just might get off the bench and produce this week and down the stretch — providing some punch to your playoff push. I’ve also highlighted several veteran WRs (many of whom were big names just a few months ago) that are available in a bunch of leagues and appear primed for a second-half resurgence.


Off The Top

Eli Manning, NYG (ATL, @DEN, DAL, PHI) – Manning is only available in about 10 percent of leagues, but it’s possible somebody was forced to drop him heading into the weekend because of his bye. He should rebound from a few poor games with a good performance against the Falcons.

Digging Deeper

Vince Young, TEN (@HOU, ARI, @IND, STL) – He’s not recommended in anything but the deepest of leagues, but Young has the Titans playing their best football of the season and could have a fantasy impact down the stretch. In Week 11, he faces a Houston defense that looked better and better in the weeks leading up to the bye.

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (@MIN, @STL, SF, @HOU) – Since the Vikings defense yields better-than-average fantasy games to QB, it’s tempting to plug in Hasselbeck, but with its weak offensive line and without Julius Jones to pick up blitzes, he’ll have little time to find open receivers. Hasselbeck might compile some garbage points if the Vikings get way up early, but it’s more likely he throws a few picks and hurts fantasy owners more than he helps them. However, if you’re in a deep league that doesn’t penalize for turnovers, he could be worth a start.

Scouring The Barrel

Chris Simms, DEN (SD, NYG, @KC, @IND) – Starter Kyle Orton left Sunday’s game with an injured left ankle and didn’t play in the second half. While Orton might play this week against San Diego, it depends on his progress over the next few days, according to Josh McDaniels, who refused to rule him out for Sunday. Simms played terribly when he took over, but having a week of practice under his belt would undoubtedly help his cause. Even if he starts, playing Simms would be a fantasy move of pure desperation, but at least he’d be facing a Chargers secondary that was shredded by Donovan McNabb in Week 10.


Mark Sanchez, NYJ (@NE, CAR, @BUF, @TB) – Sanchez had another lackluster game with 212 passing yards, a TD and two INTs. Starting him against New England isn’t recommended.

David Garrard, JAC (BUF, @SF, HOU, MIA) – Garrard has now had two respectable games in a row. On Sunday, he posted 221 passing yards, a TD both passing and rushing, and lost a fumble against in a last-second win over the Jets.

Alex Smith, SF (@GB, JAC, @SEA, ARI) – Smith helped his team get a 10-6 win by limiting his turnover count to just one. But Smith managed just 118 yards on 16-for-23 passing and will have a tough time this week in Green Bay.

Jake Delhomme, CAR (MIA, @NYJ, TB, @NE) – Delhomme had his best game of the season with 195 passing yards, 11 rushing yards, and 2 TD strikes to former stud WR Steve Smith. Look for another solid game this week at home against the Dolphins.

Josh Freeman, TB (NO, @ATL, @CAR, NYJ) – The rookie has 36 rushing yards, a TD pass, an INT, fumble, and 196 passing yards. He’s a low-end QB2 despite a favorable matchup against a Saints secondary reeling from multiple injuries.

Marc Bulger, STL (ARI, SEA, @CHI, @TEN) – Bulger nearly doubled the fantasy output of his best game of 2009 to date with 298 passing yards, two TDs and just one INT. Donnie Avery caught both scores.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Knowshon Moreno, DEN (SD, NYG, @KC, @IND) – Moreno ran much more effectively than Correll Buckhalter last week in Washington, tallying 97 yards on 18 carries against a relatively tough run defense. While McDaniels hasn’t named him the starter, it’s reasonably safe to assume he’s see the bulk of carries going forward since Buckhalter lacks the pep that Moreno has shown.

Jason Snelling, ATL (@NYG, TB, PHI, NO) – Michael Turner could be out a few weeks with what appears to be an ankle sprain (no official word on its severity yet), making Snelling and Jerious Norwood the two most likely backs to get work in his stead. The Falcons also resigned Aaron Stecker, but most of the carries will likely go to Snelling, who ran well after Turner’s early exit on Sunday. I’d pencil Snelling in as a viable RB2 this week at Giants Stadium if you have the waiver wire priority to do so.

Digging Deeper

Jamal Lewis, CLE (@DET, @CIN, SD, PIT) – For teams looking for one matchup to play an aging back in what could amount to a final hurrah, this is it. Lewis is six seasons removed from his historic 2,066-yard, 14-TD 2003 season for the Ravens, but he should still be able to put up respectable numbers against the Lions. Like I said. Lewis is planning on retiring after this season and he might only have one or two fantasy relevant starts left in his 30-year-old tank.

Bernard Scott, CIN (@OAK, CLE, DET, @MIN) – Comeback Player of the Year candidate Cedric Benson might miss this week’s game in Oakland, which means that Scott would assume starting duties and share the workload with journeyman back Brian Leonard and newly signed Larry Johnson — who’ll likely contribute mostly on special teams in his debut. The matchup is great, so if Benson can’t go, jump on the rookie.

Darren McFadden, OAK (CIN, @DAL, @PIT, WAS) – McFadden returned from a torn right meniscus but only had a few carries on Sunday. He could see an increased workload against the Bengals, since the highly touted Arkansas product still offers the most upside of any of the Raiders’ running backs. But temper your expectations based the team’s current three-man rotation of Michael Bush, Justin Fargas and McFadden.

Scouring The Barrel

Justin Forsett, SEA (@MIN, @STL, SF, @HOU) – Julius Jones has a cracked rib and bruised lung, which means he’s likely out for Week 11 and probably a couple more. This week, Forsett won’t be able to garner much yardage on the ground, but could be a presence in PPR leagues. Even in deep leagues, he’s a FLEX play at best traveling to Minnesota.

Michael Bush, OAK (CIN, @DAL, @PIT, WAS) – Bush rushed for over 100 yards against the Chiefs and is pushing for more playing time even when McFadden is 100 healthy. He’s a hit-or-miss guy like the other Raiders backs, so be wary of playing him in the present committee.

Larry Johnson, CIN (@OAK, CLE, DET, @MIN) – Johnson agreed to a one-year deal on Tuesday with the Bengals but is technically the fourth running back and probably won’t suit up Sunday unless Benson is inactive. He’s worth monitoring, but he doesn’t likely have much fantasy value unless Benson aggravates his injury and/or Scott is hurt down the stretch.


Carnell Williams, TB (NO, @ATL, @CAR, NYJ) – The Caddy had 52 yards and a score and faces a Saints defense that gives up points to opposing RBs. He could be a sneaky add considering all the big name backs who went down in Week 10.

Willis McGahee, BAL (IND, PIT, @GB, DET) – McGahee saw limited work but is still a must-add for Ray Rice owners.

LeSean McCoy, PHI (@CHI, WAS, @ATL, @NYG) – His Week 10 performance (three carries for five yards and 3-18-0 receiving) offered very little help to fantasy owners, but another Brian Westbrook concussion (his second in a month) means the rookie will likely get a handful of starts over the rest of the season.

Laurence Maroney, NE (NYJ, @NO, @MIA, CAR) – Maroney was all over the place, with 13 carries for 31 yards, a lost fumble and a TD, as well as 2-15-0 receiving. It’ll be tough to start him if and when Sammy Morris returns, but for now he’s a solid RB3/FLEX play.

Ladell Betts, WAS (@DAL, @PHI, NO, @OAK) – Betts had a big day versus Denver with 114 yards and a TD. I wish I was more emphatic with my recommendation last week, because it looks like Portis might sit out the rest of ’09.

Kolby Smith, KC (PIT, @SD, DEN, BUF) – Against a bad run defense, he had nine carries for 12 yards. The Chiefs just don’t have the chops to provide value at RB right now (and especially this week against the Steelers), even if Smith is the best runner of the bunch.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

Terrell Owens, BUF (@JAC, MIA, NYJ, @KC) – Currently available in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues, Owens is showing signs of life. He had three catches for 85 yards on Sunday in the loss to Tennessee, and faces a weak Jags pass defense that’s now missing Rashean Mathis. The Bills announced Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at QB this weekend, but it doesn’t really matter. If Buffalo can reach the red zone, T.O. could provide some unexpected WR3/FLEX value.

Roy Williams, DAL (WAS, OAK, @NYG, SD) – Roy had his best game of 2009 on Sunday with 5-105-1, although the TD was a garbage score (the Cowboys were down 17-0 with less than a minute to go) and he lost a fumble and dropped a couple passes. I’m not saying he’ll be the WR1 some expected, but he could have a few big games and is at least worth a roster slot.

Digging Deeper

Kevin Walter, HOU (TEN, IND, @JAC, SEA) – The Texans enter the most favorable four-game stretch for fantasy WRs this season, and no receiver will benefit from that more than Walter, who’s available in 40 percent of leagues, has the size (6-3, 218) to exploit the middle of the field, and can replace the sturdy presence his team lost when TE Owen Daniels went on IR.

Jeremy Maclin, PHI (@CHI, WAS, @ATL, @NYG) – The rookie had another solid game (6-76-1) and remains one of the best young big-play receivers in football. Get him in your lineup this week in Chicago. The Eagles don’t have an upcoming schedule as nice-looking as the Texans, but it’s not bad, and McNabb has shown the ability to rack up huge passing yards by hitting his speedy WRs in stride — and giving them a shot at the end zone.

Antonio Bryant, TB (NO, @ATL, @CAR, NYJ) – Bryant is only owned in about half of 12-team leagues because he’s not fully recovered from the arthroscopic knee surgery he had in the offseason. The knee continues to give him problems, and the swelling he attributes to the long London flights forced him to sit out Week 10. But if he somehow gets a green light to play against the Saints, he makes a solid WRs/FLEX play.

Donnie Avery, STL (ARI, SEA, @CHI, @TEN) – As I mentioned during the update on Bulger, Avery caught two TDs last week. He also has a favorable schedule coming up and seems to be building on some of the rapport that emerged with Bulger in 2008. He’s also available in about two-thirds of Yahoo leagues.

Scouring The Barrel

Malcom Floyd, SD (@DEN, KC, @CLE, @DAL) – Despite inclusion in scads of waiver wire columns a couple weeks ago, Floyd is still available in over 80 percent of leagues, and could see a resurgence as Philip Rivers is forced to look somewhere other than Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates during the Chargers’ playoff run. Don’t forget about this guy, because he’s still the same huge target he was two weeks ago when he was popping up on waiver claims all over the Internet.

Muhsin Muhammad, CAR (MIA, @NYJ, TB, @NE) – He’s not the receiver he once was, but Muhammed played well last week(6-91-0) in the win over Atlanta after missing a couple weeks with a sprained MCL. Considering some of the matchups on the docket, he could have some value down the stretch if the Panthers continue to provide decent protection for Delhomme.


TE Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN (SEA, CHI, @ARI, CIN) – Shiancoe didn’t reach the end zone but had 3-43-0 in the win over Detroit. He continues to be a solid TE1.

WR Lee Evans, BUF (@JAC, MIA, NYJ, @KC) – I called this one. Evans had his best game of the season with four catches for 50 yards and two scores. He’s a sneaky sleeper play this week in Jacksonville as well.

WR Mike Wallace, PIT (@KC, @BAL, OAK, @CLE) – Just 1-16-0, but the Steelers didn’t spend enough time in the red zone for him to get consistent targets.

WR Laveranues Coles, CIN (@OAK, CLE, DET, @MIN) – Coles had a good game with 5-67-0, and should have more standout games with a slew of poor pass defenses coming up.

WR Chris Chambers, KC (PIT, @SD, DEN, BUF) – Chambers is making nice plays when he gets targets, posting 3-60-0 on Sunday against the Raiders. And the recent four-game suspension of Dwayne Bowe means he’ll see more targets. He’s a solid addition in deeper leagues and could warrant a WR3 start in the right matchup.

WR Robert Meachem, NO (@TB, NE, @WAS, @ATL) – One big catch (27-yard TD) and one big run (41 yards on one carry). It’s obvious that Meacham has the ability to produce if he’s on the field.


Off The Top

DB Charles Woodson, GB (SF, @DET, BAL, @CHI) – For some reason, Woodson’s a guy who gets no love in fantasy. He’s owned in just 60 percent of Yahoo IDP leagues despite being among the Top Five in fantasy points for DBs and the Top 20 among all IDP contributors.

LB Paul Posluszny, BUF (@JAC, MIA, NYJ, @KC) – While Posluszny is owned in just 13 percent of Yahoo IDP leagues, he’s coming on strong and has played well in his last four games (41 total tackles, FF, INT, PD). He should be owned in all formats and has a favorable schedule on the way.

Digging Deeper

LB David Hawthorne, SEA (@MIN, @STL, SF, @HOU) – Owned in just 12 percent of Yahoo IDP leagues, Hawthorne has shown in just a few starts that he’s for real. The injury to Lofa Tatupu was unfortunate, but it’s given us Hawthorne, a breakout MLB with the ability to fill up the state sheet and supply more than just tackles.

LB Dhani Jones, CIN (@OAK, CLE, DET, @MIN) – Despite being the 37th ranked fantasy LB and relatively consistent tackle totals all season, Jones also gets little fanfare. He should be a main contributor for the Bengals defense in the team’s next few games.

Scouring The Barrel

DL Brett Keisel, PIT (@KC, @BAL, OAK, @CLE) – Keisel is finding holes in opposing offensive lines because of the outside pressure applied by the Steelers standout 3-4 OLBs. He may not do it every week, but he stands a good chance of getting to KC signal-caller Matt Cassel if the defense maintains the same approach.

DL Jonathan Fanene, CIN (@OAK, CLE, DET, @MIN) – The big Samoan emerged after RDE Antwan Odom went down for the year in Week Five. He now has 14 tackles and 4.0 sacks in his last four games and faces a vulnerable Raiders offensive line Week 10.


LB E.J. Henderson, MIN (SEA, CHI, @ARI, CIN) – Seven total tackles versus the Lions. He’s a good bet for at least that in Week 10.

DB O.J. Atogwe, STL (ARI, SEA, @CHI, @TEN) – The somewhat forgotten DB had five solos, an INT, a forced fumble and a PD against the Saints — his best game since Week One.

LB Larry Foote, DET (CLE, GB, @CIN, @BAL) – Foote had just three total tackles against the Vikes — but was limited by a knee injury. Keep an eye on his status this week.

LB Gary Brackett, IND (@BAL, @HOU, TEN, DEN) – Brackett had his best game of the season on Sunday night with 11 tackles (eight solos) and a fumble recovery. He’s a good play this week in Baltimore as well.

DL Tamba Hali, KC (PIT, @SD, DEN, BUF) – Three tackles and a half-sack against Oakland, Hali has an excellent matchup at home versus Pittsburgh this week.

LB Landon Johnson, CAR (MIA, @NYJ, TB, @NE) – Johnson had seven tackles (six solos) in the win over the Falcons. I’m expecting another solid day facing the run-happy Dolphins.

DB Derek Cox, JAC (BUF, @SF, HOU, MIA) – The rookie had four total tackles on Sunday in the stirring win over the Jets.