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Through The Wire - Week 12
11/24/09 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 ()

A few injuries to QBs and one big mess in the Washington backfield make this week’s waiver wire an interesting pasture of potential value. I’m assuming that interested readers are only looking for backups or QB2s at this point, although Kurt Warner (and possibly Ben Roethlisberger) owners could probably use another QB for insurance. And if you haven’t handcuffed your star RB heading into the homestretch, it’s time you do.


Off The Top

Kyle Orton, DEN (NYG, @KC, @IND, OAK) – Orton was supposed to miss Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, but Chris Simms was so terrible even staunch-minded head coach Josh McDaniels was compelled to stray from the game plan and insert Orton. Unless the injury got much worse, I expect to see Orton back under center this week, kicking off a stretch of favorable matchups.

Matt Cassel, KC (@SD, DEN, BUF, CLE) – He’s a viable option to replace an injured fantasy starter, but the matchups are pretty tough in the next three. Still, he’ll have Dwayne Bowe back for the Cleveland game, which could amount to a huge fantasy performance. If your roster’s got room for a stash and your main QB has a bad matchup Week 15, he’s your man.

Digging Deeper

Mark Sanchez, NYJ (CAR, @BUF, @TB, ATL) – If Rex Ryan isn’t worried about the multiple picks Sanchez threw to Pats CB Leigh Bodden, I’m not worried either, considering the next four games are played against teams much more vulnerable to multiple TD passes. If your format penalizes harshly for INTs, however, he probably shouldn’t even be starting at QB2 against the ball-hawking Bills.

Alex Smith, SF (JAC, @SEA, ARI, @PHI) – Smith has one of the best upcoming schedules of any QB in fantasy, altjhough his history of inaccuracy and the limited effectiveness of the San Fran offensive line could still create some major problems. If you’re a in a deep league and he’s available, you could do a lot worse (See below for more on Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kyle Boller).

Scouring The Barrel

Josh Freeman, TB (@ATL, @CAR, NYJ. @SEA) – Freeman also has a pretty decent arm and a few favorable games on the docket, but there’s a big difference between potential and performance. Be careful if he’s your backup, although a healthy Antonio Bryant should help the rookie’s cause.

Kyle Boller, STL (SEA, @CHI, @TEN, HOU) – On paper, the matchups look favorable for Boller, who takes over from the injured Marc Bulger (leg fracture), but Boller doesn’t have the offensive line or rapport with the St. Louis receivers to make things happen. He’s a desperation play at best.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (MIA, NYJ, @KC, NE) – Fitzpatrick’s big week doesn’t change the fact that he’s still a journeyman on a shaky team. If you’re a Bills fan in a deep league certain your team could still shake things up behind a new game plan, I can’t blame you for getting excited, but I wouldn’t recommend adding him.


Eli Manning, NYG (@DEN, DAL, PHI, @WAS) – Manning was fantasy’s fourth-ranked QB in Week 11, making me look once again like I know what I’m talking about. I appreciate it, Eli.

Vince Young, TEN (ARI, @IND, STL, MIA) – Young throws the ball long without much effort and can do a lot of things right in the Titans offense. He cracked the top 20 fantasy QBs this week behind his 73 rushing yards and passing score, so he’s once again fantasy relevant in deeper formats.

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (@STL, SF, @HOU, TB) – The matchup just wasn’t a good one last week since the Seahawks aren’t a come-from-behind team, but better performances are on the way.

Chris Simms, DEN (NYG, @KC, @IND, OAK) – As I explained, Simms is, was, and will probably remain absolutely putrid as an NFL QB. Forget about him.

Running Backs

Off The Top

LeSean McCoy, PHI (WAS, @ATL, @NYG, SF) – I don’t know exactly why McCoy isn’t universally owned at this point, but he’s still out there in one out of four leagues. The latest on Westbrook’s concussion is that he’s unavailable for Week 12 and might not return for a couple more weeks. Need I say more?

Fred Jackson, BUF (MIA, NYJ, @KC, NE) – Marshawn Lynch went down in Week 11 and could miss a game or two with a shoulder injury. Pick up Jackson (the more dynamic fantasy RB anyway) accordingly.

Digging Deeper

Rock Cartwright, WAS (@PHI, NO, @OAK, NYG) – The prognosis on Clinton Portis gets worse each week, and backup Ladell Betts blew out his ACL and PCL early in the Dallas game. Cartwright, a hard-nosed veteran who’s effective in the passing game, could be a dream come true for PPR owners in need of a solid RB2 or FLEX play. He’s not just the only show in town; he’s a guy who could factor in a few fantasy titles.

Donald Brown, IND (@HOU, TEN, DEN, @JAC) – Brown’s value is on the rise with the Colts looking more and more like the runaway AFC home field holders. He might not be more than a fantasy backup with upside at this point, but when the starters rest the final two weeks against the Jets and Bills, he could be a huge aspect in the Jim Sorgi-led Indy offense.

Scouring The Barrel

Shonn Greene, NYJ (CAR, @BUF, @TB, ATL) – If you’re Thomas Jones owner, Greene is a necessity. And with the Jets likely out of the playoff picture, he could get more work so they can assess his strengths.

Rashad Jennings, JAC (@SF, HOU, MIA, IND) – Jennings hasn’t seen too many carries this season but will be thrust into relevance should Maurice Jones-Drew miss any action down the stretch.

Samkon Gado, STL (SEA, @CHI, @TEN, HOU) – Unlike the previous two handcuffs, the starter in St. Louis might be nursing a minor injury. Reports of soreness in his lower back aren’t a big deal, but it’s a sign Jackson has been overworked. S-Jax owners need to take heed.


Knowshon Moreno, DEN (NYG, @KC, @IND, OAK) – Moreno had 80 rushing yards on just 10 carries, but didn’t find paydirt.

Jason Snelling, ATL (TB, PHI, NO, @NYJ) – Snelling score twice and was the second-ranked fantasy back of the week behind Ricky Williams.

Jamal Lewis, CLE (@CIN, SD, PIT, @KC) – His 75 rushing yards might be the most we see out of him for the rest of his career.

Bernard Scott, CIN (CLE, DET, @MIN, @SD) – Scott finished with 151 yards from scrimmage but was vultured by two Carson Palmer goal line sneaks. It looks like Benson will miss another week.

Darren McFadden, OAK (@DAL, @PIT, WAS, @DEN) – McFadden is still the best back on the Raiders and should be involved more on Thanksgiving in Dallas.

Justin Forsett, SEA (@STL, SF, @HOU, TB) – With Julius Jones probably out another week, Forsett should have a field day in St. Louis. In PPR leagues, he’s an RB1 given his favorable matchup.

Michael Bush, OAK (@DAL, @PIT, WAS, @DEN) – Not much of a factor in the win over Cincinnati, but he did average 6.8 yards per carry on his four touches.

Larry Johnson, CIN (CLE, DET, @MIN, @SD) – Just two carries against the Raiders, but should get 8-10 carries against the Browns on Sunday.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Jerricho Cotchery, NYJ (CAR, @BUF, @TB, ATL) – Cotchery (still available in about a quarter of leagues) is Sanchez’s favorite target, and it’s unlikely the Jets will start getting conservative in the next few weeks. Ryan’s comments on Sanchez are encouraging, and I foresee a few big weeks from the veteran reliever.

WR Michael Crabtree, SF (JAC, @SEA, ARI, @PHI) – Crabtree is also still out there in one out of our leagues, and has a very favorable schedule. It’s clear he’s adjusted to the NFL game and makes an excellent WR3 in 12-team formats.

TE John Carlson, SEA (@STL, SF, @HOU, TB) – Carlson should be getting more looks in the Seattle offense as they enter a TE-friendly stretch in their schedule. If you’re still looking for that replacement to Owen Daniels, Carlson could be your guy.

Digging Deeper

WR Pierre Garcon, IND (@HOU, TEN, DEN, @JAC) – Garcon had his best game as a pro on Sunday, sneaking away from the secondary for a 61-yard TD catch that put a cheery on a solid 6-108-1 afternoon. With Anthony Gonzalez still out and the Colts showing no signs of slowing down, he’s a must-own in all formats.

WR Chris Chambers, KC (@SD, DEN, BUF, CLE) – Chambers obviously has something to say to his former team about the perceptions that he was washed up, but he’s a little battered after a brutal game with Pittsburgh. If he’s good to go on Sunday, He makes a decent WR3.

WR Robert Meachem, NO (NE, @WAS, @ATL) – Meacham is the player we all once thought he was, and he’s making it happen with very few targets. This week the Saints will need everything they’ve got to beat the Pats, and they’ll be using all their receivers to do it.

Scouring The Barrel

TE Jermichael Finley, GB (@DET, BAL, @CHI, @PIT) – Finley’s healthy and has a cake matchup against the Lions. Unless this one gets away early, and the depleted state of the Packers defense means it likely won’t, the second-year TE’s got a chance at a score or two.

WR Kenny Britt, TEN (ARI, @IND, STL, MIA) – Britt had his first career TD on Monday night and seems to be coming along well in the absence of veteran Justin Gage. If Gage misses any additional time, the nearly universally available Britt could provide some nice late-season value given his upcoming schedule.

WR Jordy Nelson, GB (@DET, BAL, @CHI, @PIT) – Three catches for 21 yards and a TD show he’s ready for a more integral part of this offense. Detroit offers a prime opportunity for more of the same.


WR Terrell Owens, BUF (MIA, NYJ, @KC, NE) – Owens, no doubt bolstered by my recommendation last week (at that point he was still available in about one out of five leagues), had his best game of the season and one of the finest WR performances of ’09, posting nine catches for 197 yards, including a 98-yard TD. For those of you who didn’t grab him, your window isn’t yet closed — only about three out 20 owners in leagues where he was languishing on the wire picked him up. Tougher matchups are on the way, but the game plan has obviously shifted toward more TO.

WR Roy Williams, DAL (OAK, @NYG, SD, @NO) – Williams, on the other hand, didn’t have a catch, and isn’t a very good option going forward.

WR Kevin Walter, HOU (IND, @JAC, SEA, @STL) – Walter regressed slightly from his Week 9 totals against Indy with just 4-46-0 in the Monday night tilt, but he’s still available in over a third of fantasy leagues and remains an important part of the Houston offense.

WR Jeremy Maclin, PHI (WAS, @ATL, @NYG, SF) – Maclin tied his season-high for receptions with six but failed to reach the end zone. He’s still got four TDs in his last seven games.

WR Antonio Bryant, TB (@ATL, @CAR, NYJ, @CIN) – The Bucs are being cautious with Bryant, but the veteran still had three catches for 40 yards on Sunday. If he can stay on the field, he’ll make a solid WR3 during the next few games.

WR Donnie Avery, STL (SEA, @CHI, @TEN, HOU) – Week 11’s line (4-65-0) was similar to Week 10’s save for the glaring omission of two TD receptions. And now he’s without his QB, making him a WR4 at best moving forward.

WR Malcom Floyd, SD (KC, @CLE, @DAL, CIN) – Floyd had his highest reception total of ’09 (four catches) but only 38 yards. He’ll be used more in the red zone during the next several weeks.

WR Muhsin Muhammad, CAR (@NYJ, TB, @NE, MIN) – A 3-27-0 outing against a vulnerable pass defense doesn’t do much for his fantasy stock.


Off The Top

DL Robert Mathis, IND (@HOU, TEN, DEN, @JAC) – The glaring omission of Mathis from last week’s box score was bizarre, and may have shaken some owners to their roots. If you see him on the wire, grab him. He and Dwight Freeney didn’t play much as the Colts went with a run-stopping front four against the Ravens with multiple defensive tackles and not much outside pressure. When Mathis did play, RT Michael Oher did a great job on him. Technically, the D-line starters were Keyunta Dawson, Antonio Johnson, Raheem Brock and Daniel Muir. Against the Texans, both he and Freeney will resume their usual roles.

LB Lawrence Timmons, PIT (@BAL, OAK, @CLE, GB) – Timmons will be counted on eve more without the presence of Troy Polamalu on this unit, and the matchup in Baltimore will be his first test. He’s the RILB in the 3-4, but he’ll essentially be playing MLB against the Ravens if Pittsburgh employs a similar front that made Indy successful last week.

Digging Deeper

LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, CHI (@MIN, STL, GB, @BAL) – The Vikings, Rams, Packers and Ravens are all going to run right at this guy. Despite being the worst defender on the Bears defense, Hillenmeyer still has a job because Lance Briggs refuses to move to MLB. And he’ll get a shot at a lifetime worth of tackles in the next four games because everybody knows just how much of a weakness he is. In IDP, though, it’s not such a bad thing.

DB Champ Bailey, DEN (NYG, @KC, @IND, OAK) – The Giants will definitely throw the ball plenty Thursday night, and Bailey stands to benefit from Eli Manning’s newfound confidence. The veteran corner is a solid tackler and could easily get his hands on three or four Manning throws, making him a valuable IDP performer in leagues that reward PD.

Scouring The Barrel

DB Malcolm Jenkins, NO (NE, @WAS, @ATL, DAL) – Tom Brady and the Patriots will undoubtedly pick on the rookie if Jabari Greer (groin) is unable to go on Monday night. Jenkins had seven tackles, an INT and two PD last week standing in for Greer against a team that doesn’t throw the ball half as much as the Pats.

DL Cliff Avril, DET (GB, @CIN, @BAL, ARI) – Avril had his best game of the season against the Packers and will get a few cracks at Aaron Rodgers again this week. He’s nearly universally available and should post good stats as a DL2.


DB Charles Woodson, GB (@DET, BAL, @CHI, @PIT) – Woodson comes off a lackluster game and should shine once again versus the lowly Lions — regardless of who’s under center.

LB Paul Posluszny, BUF (MIA, NYJ, @KC, NE) – His 12 total tackles and forced fumble continued a serious hot streak, and the matchups just keep on getting better.

LB David Hawthorne, SEA (@STL, SF, @HOU, TB) – Another 15 tackles later, Hawthorne looks even more like the real deal. He should be owned in all IDP formats.

LB Dhani Jones, CIN (CLE, DET, @MIN, @SD) – I was really on a solid streak myself picking Jones, who finished Sunday with nine tackles and a force fumble — pretty decent for a second-tier LB nobody respects.

DL Brett Keisel, PIT (@BAL, OAK, @CLE, GB) – And finally, a dud. Keisel had just two solos and didn’t get into the garbage stats.

DL Jonathan Fanene, CIN (CLE, DET, @MIN, @SD) – Make it two. Fanene started at RDE according to the NFL gamebook but didn’t show up in the box score.