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Through The Wire - Week 2
9/15/08 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 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

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

What a weekend of football! Several waiver specials came up big on Sunday, but a couple key injuries to star players on both sides of the ball have owners scrambling for help in Week 2. The deepest position so far this season is WR, and there are a bunch of hot tickets sitting on the wire this week. Feedback is always welcome, appreciated and encouraged.


Off The Top

Kyle Orton, DEN (CLE, @OAK, DAL, NE) – I’d be lying if I said I had Orton finishing Week 1 with better numbers than Jay Cutler (largely because it looked like Orton might not even play), but once you examine the matchups Monday-morning-style, it makes sense that it happened. Besides, the Broncos got Brandon Marshall involved – albeit mainly as a decoy – and the Bengals are pretty terrible. Without the last-minute, fluky roundabout TD connection to Brandon Stokely, Orton’s numbers would have been pedestrian at best. But he’s in a conference known for bad pass defense and high-scoring games, so it’s safe to assume he’ll get in a couple shootouts this season.

Byron Leftwich, TB (@BUF, NYG, @WAS, @PHI) – Maybe it was just a lackluster performance by the Cowboys defense, but Leftwich and the Bucs offense didn’t look nearly as bad as most prognosticators had them looking in their game previews. The matchups don’t look all that great right now, but once the rash of NFC East opponents is finished, the Bucs settle into a much more manageable schedule.

Digging Deeper

Kerry Collins, TEN (HOU, @NYJ, @JAC, IND) – The Titans won’t make it a practice to throw the ball 35 times a game like Thursday’s tilt in Pittsburgh, but it looks like they’ll pass the ball more than last year. Given the right matchup — namely a staunch run defense and weak secondary — Collins could rack up some decent yardage and be worthy of a spot-start.

Michael Vick, PHI (NO, KC, BYE, TB) – The Donovan McNabb injury is still being evaluated, and the latest news is that he’ll play if he can handle the pain. In any event, Vick’s value gets bumped accordingly, even though he’s not available until Week 3 at the earliest.

Scouring The Barrel

Kevin Kolb, PHI (NO, KC, BYE, TB) – See McNabb injury above. If Kolb gets the start Sunday, he’s worth a shot just because New Orleans games get so darned woolly. The Eagles signed Garcia on Monday, but he’ll be used to back up Kolb if McNabb can’t go. Stay tuned to the news out of Philly right up until game time.

JaMarcus Russell, OAK (@KC, DEN, @ HOU, @NYG) – Russell didn’t look great on Monday night, but he did throw one beautiful deep ball to Louis Murphy that showed he can unleash a bonus TD once in a while. Don’t count on him putting up excellent numbers in more than a quarter of the games, but playing in the AFC West does have its benefits, and this week he’s really not a terrible start as a QB2.


Brett Favre, MIN (@DET, SF, GB, @STL) – He didn’t come out like his normal gun-slinging self, but why would he? Remember the stable of Week 5 bye QBs (Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler) and make your move if you haven’t already; you saw what Matt Hasselbeck did to St. Louis, right?

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (@SF, CHI, @IND, JAC) – You didn’t? How about 279 yards and three TDs (two INT) on 25-for-36 passing? Granted, it doesn’t get much weaker than the St. Louis pas rush, but it’s clear Hasselbeck has turned a corner and I’m off to a pretty decent start with my ‘09 waiver picks.

Joe Flacco, BAL (@SD, CLE, @NE, CIN) – Flacco threw for a career-high 307 yards and three TDs with just one INT. I’m buying in all formats.

Shaun Hill, SF (SEA, @MIN, STL, ATL) – Hill lost a fumble but turned in an otherwise–solid performance: 209/1/0 and a W.

Matthew Stafford, DET (MIN, WAS, @CHI, PIT) – Where was the Stafford-Megatron connection we’ve heard so much about? I’m still waiting.

Mark Sanchez, NYJ (NE, TEN, @NO, @MIA) – Sanchez received high praise from a host of former NFL QBs after his performance Sunday in Houston. Things are looking promising for the USC standout.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Julius Jones, SEA (@SF, CHI, @IND, JAC) – I soaked in some severe condemnation for taking Julius Jones in one home league, and while I’m not gloating over his Week 1 numbers (136 total yards and a TD) since they came against the Rams, I feel a lot less dim-witted.

Cedric Benson, CIN (@GB, PIT, @CLE, @BAL) – You want the good news or the bad news? The good news is that Benson looked good Sunday against the Broncos, compiling 108 total yards (including 4/32/0 receiving) and a rushing TD. The bad news is that you’ll only be able to play him one more time over the next four weeks.

Darren Sproles, SD (BAL, MIA, @PIT, BYE) – If there’s anything seriously wrong with LaDainian Tomlinson’s ankle, Sproles has the ability become a solid RB2, especially in PPR leagues. Tomlinson apparently rolled the ankle in the first quarter of Monday night’s game. Sproles is tiny, but he’s very effective hitting small holes and scampering in the flats. The upcoming schedule is a concern, but this early in the season he’s a great investment.

Digging Deeper

Willis McGahee, BAL (@SD, CLE, @NE, CIN) – Two TDs later, and everybody’s interested in Willis McGahee again. See what one game against the Chiefs can do for your fantasy value? With the emergence of Ray Rice, I’m not bullish on his prospects of getting more than 10-15 touches per game, but he’s clearly got value in deep leagues.

Tim Hightower, ARI (@JAC, IND, BYE, HOU) – He’ll be a reception machine for the ’09 Cards, as Beanie Wells couldn’t catch H1N1 if he licked an entire bus terminal floor in a crowded Northeast metropolitan area; PPR leaguers rejoice.

Scouring The Barrel

Correll Buckhalter, DEN (CLE, @OAK, DAL, NE) – Nobody excelled for the Broncos in their win over Cincy, but Buckhalter looked like the best runner of the bunch. Take a shot in deeper leagues and wait for the right matchup — like this week!

Michael Bush, OAK (@KC, DEN, @ HOU, @NYG) – Bush split carries with Darren McFadden and had 12 carries for 55 yards and a TD, which exceeded McFadden’s fantasy tally (17 carries, 68 yards, 0 TD, 2/25/0 receiving). He also looks like he’s the Raiders’ goal line back, so he’s a good add in deep leagues and could shoulder a larger burden in Oakland should anything befall MCFadden.

Mewelde Moore, PIT (@CHI, @CIN, SD, @DET) – Not sure exactly what’s wrong with Fast Willie (could have something to do with the Titans’ awesome rush defense) but Moore might be a cheap RB5 to own on the Steelers in PPR leagues.


Felix Jones, DAL (NYG, CAR, @DEN, @KC) – Just be patient. He had a thigh bruise in Week 1 but should be okay if he practices this week. I think he’ll be part of the offense when he gets fully acclimated to game speed again.

LeSean McCoy, PHI (NO, KC, BYE, TB) – His value hinges on Westbrook’s health, and Westbrook seems healthy — even if McNabb is not.

Leon Washington, NYJ (NE, TEN, @NO, @MIA) – Leon didn’t score, but he looked every bit the player he was in 2008, finishing Sunday with 84 total yards and a Jets win.

Fred Jackson, BUF (TB, NO, @MIA, CLE) – Jackson was a one-man gang for the Bills on Monday, finishing with 57 rushing yards on 15 carries and 5/83/1 receiving. He should see a similar workload against the Bucs this week.

James Davis, CLE (@DEN, @BAL, CIN, @BUF) – A one-car accident and accompanying head injury gave Davis owners a scare, but it was the stifling Williams Wall that precluded the young back from posting viable fantasy numbers. Things will surely get better the next four weeks for Davis, as long as the shoulder injury he suffered Week 1 isn’t serious.

Peyton Hillis, DEN (CLE, @OAK, DAL, NE) – Hillis wasn’t used much in the Broncs’ win over Cincinnati, but if Moreno and Buckhalter falter, he’ll get some looks.

Carnell Williams, TB (@BUF, NYG, @WAS, @PHI) – Cadillac had 13 carries for 97 yards and a TD and appeared rejuvenated against the Cowboys and its solid run defense. He should continue to see 10-15 carries per game.

Mike Goodson, CAR (@ATL, @DAL, BYE, WAS) – Goodson actually finished Sunday with negative fantasy yards after he lost a fumble and tallied just one yard on two carries.

Mike Bell, NO (@PHI, @BUF, NYJ, BYE) – He was probably the fantasy pickup of the week (28 carries, 143 yards) with Pierre Thomas out, and could continue to post big numbers via the New Orleans juggernaut. Keep an eye on Thomas’ status for Week 2 against the Eagles.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Devery Henderson, NO (@PHI, @BUF, NYJ, BYE) – In the New Orleans offense, he’s got the ability to be an excellent fantasy WR2, and his numbers Sunday (5/103/1) show he’s the guy who Brees looks to with the deep ball. A must-add in all formats.

TE Jeremy Shockey, NO (@PHI, @BUF, NYJ, BYE) – Shockey has two TDs last week and should continue to reap the benefits of the talented offense this week in Philly. I’m immediately bumping his value to a Tier 2 TE and he should be owned in all 12-team leagues by this coming weekend.

WR Percy Harvin, MIN (@DET, SF, GB, @STL) – So that’s what they were talking about. Harvin adds a new dimension to the Vikings offense and should be involved in just about every facet of the game plan. I sure wish I drafted him.

Digging Deeper

WR Patrick Crayton, DAL (NYG, CAR, @DEN, @KC) – Not much to add other than “add this guy.” Tony Romo trusts him as a possession receiver and a red zone threat. He’ll see plenty of balls this season.

TE John Carlson, SEA (@SF, CHI, @IND, JAC) – I was fortunate to wait and get him late in my work league, although I’m not sure how many more six-reception, 95-yard, two-TD performances he has left in him. On the bright side, he was targeted eight times by Hasselbeck and is clearly one of Matty’s favorite receivers.

WR Justin Gage, TEN (HOU, @NYJ, @JAC, IND) – See Collins, Kerry. The same applies to Gage, who will be spotty as a WR3. If you can put up with a few stinkers, he’s your man.

Scouring The Barrel

TE Todd Heap, BAL (@SD, CLE, @NE, CIN) – It was only a matter of time before Heap got healthy enough to catch another Flacco TD. It’s a great sign the Ravens are throwing the ball more, because that means more targets for Heap (he had eight on Sunday) and better numbers from the cagy, oft-injured veteran, whose 35/403/3 were less-than-inspiring.

WR Mark Clayton, BAL (@SD, CLE, @NE, CIN) – Another veteran receiver reaping the benefits of the Ravens new offensive approach, Clayton is a great deep threat who could always bust loose from the WR4 slot for a WR1 day. Expect the occasional miss, but grab Clayton if you’re in a deep league that starts three WRs.

WR Louis Murphy, OAK (@KC, DEN, @ HOU, @NYG) – After watching Monday night’s game, it’s clear who the No. 1 receiver in Oakland is. Murphy got robbed of his first career TD on an official review but came back later in the game with a bomb from Russell. He’s worth a look in 12-team leagues and could be a valuable sleeper in ’09.


WR Derrick Mason, BAL (@SD, CLE, @NE, CIN) – 4/47/0 isn’t anything great, but it’s encouraging to see Flacco posting such big numbers.

TE Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN (@DET, SF, GB, @STL) – He had a few catches but didn’t find the end zone, which should happen with more frequency when the Vikings face stiffer competition.

WR Josh Morgan, SF (SEA, @MIN, STL, ATL) – 3/38/0 — not a total wash, but a TD would have been nice.

WR Isaac Bruce, SF (SEA, @MIN, STL, ATL) – 4/74/0 seems like a line we’ll see a lot this year for Bruce, with a handful of TDs thrown in.

WR Nate Burleson, SEA (@SF, CHI, @IND, JAC) – Easily my best WR call of the week: 11 targets, and 7/74/1 receiving. Giddyup.

WR Earl Bennett, CHI (PIT, @SEA, DET, BYE) – Bennett was Cutler’s favorite target Sunday night. He had 13 balls thrown his way (sandwiched among Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, Calvin Johnson and Steve Smith for the most ion football last week), catching 7 for 66 yards — a great sign for a guy who went without a catch as a rookie in ’08.

TE Jermichael Finley, GB (CIN, @STL, @MIN, BYE) – Didn’t make the big splash many had expected; he’ll need some time to adjust and earn Rodgers’ respect.

WR Robert Meachem, NO (@PHI, @BUF, NYJ, BYE) – Maybe his 39-yard TD is a sign of things to come; maybe it was just a painful moment for the Lions. A solid 2/51/1 line, but he just saw the two targets.

WR Chansi Stuckey, NYJ (NE, TEN, @NO, @MIA) – 4/64/1 on eight targets means Sanchez is looking his way — and Stuckey’s got value as a WR3 in 12-team leagues.

WR Hakeem Nicks, NYG (@DAL, @TB, @KC, OAK) – Ouch. A week 1 foot injury (he left the game on crutches) has the rookie sidelined for a few weeks. Early reports say it’s not a Lisfranc sprain, but he’ll need 2-3 weeks at least.


Off The Top

DB DeAngelo Hall, WAS (STL, @DET, TB, @CAR) – Hall might not finish the season as strongly as he did last year, but he’s a playmaker with the ability to change a game and post solid tackle numbers, especially in the next few weeks facing INT-happy QBs.

LB Stephen Cooper, SD (BAL, MIA, @PIT, BYE) – Cooper busted out Monday night in Oakland with 13 solo tackles, and he’s obviously the best run-stopping LB in Chargerville. As the LILB in the Bolts’ 3-4, Cooper will compile similar numbers against the Ravens, who will do a lot of running in San Diego. He’ll also threaten to surpass his 98 tackles in 2008 with a new career-high in ’09.

Digging Deeper

LB Andra Davis, DEN (CLE, @OAK, DAL, NE) – Davis, at RILB, will see plenty of action against the Browns, who will definitely run the ball at him. Using occasional run blitzes and shots at young Brady Quinn, Davis and the Broncos bend-but-not-break defense and will clean up a lot of plays as they grind against the Browns. He’s not a top IDP option, but he’ll be serviceable in deeper leagues.

LB Demorrio Williams, KC (OAK, @PHI, NYG, DAL) – He’s the SLB when the Chiefs play a 4-3 and I’m not sure how long he’ll hold onto the starting LILB slot over Derrick Johnson in the KC 3-4 – especially after DJ’s big interception in Week 1 – but Williams does possess excellent speed and athleticism for a LB. He still needs to mature and work on anticipating blockers, but he’ll make a worthy addition in deeper IDP formats.

Scouring The Barrel

LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, CHI (PIT, @SEA, DET, BYE) – Obviously, Lance Briggs will be the main recipient of the Brian Urlacher injury because he’s the fastest LB on the team now. If Briggs moves to the middle — which he’s reluctant to do — his value will go up even more. If not, Hillenmeyer might be a solid pickup in deeper leagues. He’s undersized and not that great in coverage, but he should post good tackle numbers if he’s the Bears’ MLB.

DL Jason Jones, TEN (HOU, @NYJ, @JAC, IND) – The Titans defensive line is impressive, and Jones is probably the best available IDP option on it. He’s also got a good matchup this week and could post big numbers.


DL Chris Long, STL (@WAS, GB, @SF, MIN) – 6 total tackles isn’t bad out of a DL slot, even if he didn’t get to Hasselbeck. He’s an excellent play Week 2 at Washington.

LB Derrick Johnson, KC (OAK, @PHI, NYG, DAL) – Despite losing the starting LILB job to Williams, Johnson tallied three tackles and a PD and snagged an interception that he returned 70 yards midway through the third quarter. He’s the MLB when KC plays a 4-3.

DB Michael Lewis, SF (SEA, @MIN, STL, ATL) – Lewis finished with just three tackles and an assist, but I like his prospects for a big game this week a whole lot better.

DL Richard Seymour, OAK (@KC, DEN, @HOU, @NYG) – Seymour joined the Raiders at the last minute and…

DB Abram Elam, CLE (@DEN, @BAL, CIN, @BUF) – Kaboom! I’ve been hyping Elam for weeks, and his nine tackles (eight solo) and a sack pushed him among the top tier of fantasy DBs on Sunday.

LB Stephen Tulloch, TEN (HOU, @NYJ, @JAC, IND) – How about two in a row? Tulloch’s 12 tackles (eight solo) led all Titans and portends good things for the rest of ’09.

DL Bobby McCray, NO (@PHI, @BUF, NYJ, BYE) – The Starcaps linemen got to play (and might continue to be allowed on the field), seriously diminishing McCray’s value.

LB Rocky McIntosh, WAS (STL, @DET, TB, @CAR) – While London Fletcher finished with 18 tackles (11 solo) McIntosh held his own with six total tackles.

DB Anthony Henry DET, (MIN, WAS, @CHI, PIT) – I transposed Henry’s actual team with the team he was playing (hope y’all caught that), but calling Henry was spot-on. The veteran DB had 12 tackles (10 solo) as well as an INT and two PD. Huge game.