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Through The Wire - Week 3
9/21/10 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. These are sometimes players available only in more shallow leagues, and occasionally guys who are more readily but are thrust into the fantasy spotlight because of opportunity or exceptional production.

Digging Deeper - Covers the next tier of quality waiver wire specimens, usually players available in a majority of online leagues. There are a lot of gems in this range who can be plucked rather easily.

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. Make sure you read the fine print.

Each week, I’ll also provide a brief update on the 30-40 players I covered the previous week. It’s the most accurate, comprehensive 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 ()

Some readers seem a bit confused about my column categories, so I’ll clarify…scouring the barrel doesn’t mean a player sucks. It means he’s nearly universally available in fantasy leagues with a waiver wire. Last week, Michael Vick and Brandon Jackson were clearly top adds, but before last Sunday, they were owned in less than five percent of leagues. In leagues that have an open free agent pool? Obviously not, since many folks were rushing to their computers as soon as Kevin Kolb and Ryan Grant went down during Week 1. My only advice is to read the entire write-up on each player. If you disagree with me after that, feel free to shoot me an e-mail. Okay -- let’s plow through the wire…


Off The Top

Alex Smith, SF (@KC, @ATL, PHI, OAK) – For the most part, Smith’s throws were on the money on Monday night against a tough Saints defense. He finished with 275/1/2, 28 rushing yards and a two-point conversion pass on the impressive game-tying drive. Under the right circumstances, he could be worth a start, and should definitely be owned in all formats.

Digging Deeper

Mark Sanchez, NYJ (@MIA, @BUF, MIN, @DEN) – Sanchez silenced his critics (including me) with an impressive Week 2 performance against the Patriots. Throwing a career-high three touchdown passes, Sanchez looked good on his shorter throws and could be worth adding in deeper leagues. But he still can’t throw a deep out.

Scouring The Barrel

Jimmy Clausen, CAR (CIN, @NO, CHI, BYE) – With Matt Moore struggling, second-round pick Clausen takes over. The Notre Dame alumnus could be a surprise star down the road, but his fantasy prospects for 2010 aren’t great.


Kyle Orton, DEN (IND, @TEN, @BAL, NYJ) – The addition of rookie wideout Demaryius Thomas makes Orton start-worthy in deeper formats. My boy Derek Tompkins, who just started his own site, was all over this guy heading into 2010. Good call, D-man.

Vince Young, TEN (@NYG, DEN, @DAL, @JAC) – He got benched on Sunday after turning the ball over for the third time (two INT, one fumble), but he’s still the starter over Kerry Collins.

David Garrard, JAC (PHI, IND, @BUF, TEN) – Garrard was benched Sunday following a back injury and four interceptions, but Luke McCown isn’t much of a threat to his job with a torn ACL. I can still see decent numbers from Garrard this year, although I’m tempering those expectations.

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (SD, @STL, BYE, @CHI) – Hasselbeck returned to Earth in Week 2 (233 yards/1 TD/3 INT), and is even iffy as a fantasy backup.

Derek Anderson, ARI (OAK, @SD, NO, BYE) – Yuck. Can we have Kurt Warner back once he’s done dancing? How about Matt Leinart? Oh, that’s right…he’s in Houston. Never mind.

Sam Bradford, STL (WAS, SEA, @DET, SD) – In two-QB leagues, Bradford would be getting my attention. Just saying.

Josh Freeman, TB (PIT, BYE, @CIN, NO) – Freeman is a sneaky good player who’s led the Bucs to a 2-0 record. He’s already on a few of my fantasy rosters, and I’m happy.

Michael Vick, PHI (@JAC, WAS, @SF, ATL) – Vick had a huge game in his first start since 2006, but Andy Reid has already announced Kevin Kolb will resume starting duties in Week 3. I wouldn’t drop Vick just yet.

Shaun Hill, DET (@MIN, @GB, STL, @NYG) – The Lions are mum on Matthew Stafford’s timetable. Hill might have a few serviceable QB2 games left until he returns.

Running Backs

Off The Top

Tim Hightower, ARI (OAK, @SD, NO, BYE) – Still available in 30 percent of leagues, Hightower put together two solid fantasy weeks and will still see work even when Chris Wells is activated. He’s especially helpful in PPR leagues.

Donald Brown, IND (@DEN, @JAC, KC, @WAS) – Brown was quite effective on Sunday night, reaching paydirt against the Giants and racking up 88 total yards from scrimmage.

Digging Deeper

Jason Snelling, ATL (@NO, SF, @CLE, @PHI) – With Michael Turner sidelined, Snelling racked up 186 total yards and 3 TDs. The early word on Turner is that he’s okay, but it’s hard to imagine Snelling not involved at all after this showing. Stay tuned.

Mike Tolbert, SD (@SEA, ARI, @OAK, @STL) – Tolbert had 16 carries for 82 yards and a score following the early exit by rookie RB Ryan Mathews. He’ll be a popular add this week, but if Mathews is fine, Tolbert’s value doesn’t leapfrog that of Mathews and Sproles.

Scouring The Barrel

Rashad Jennings, JAC (PHI, IND, @BUF, TEN) – Jennings got a lot of work on Sunday after the Chargers put the Jags away early. He’s a must-own for Maurice Jones-Drew owners.

Danny Ware, NYG (TEN, CHI, @HOU, DET) – With Brandon Jacobs requesting a trade, the universally available Ware could be a sneaky add in deeper leagues. On Monday, Tom Coughlin refuted rumors Jacobs would be dealt, but the seed has been planted.


Darren McFadden, OAK (@ARI, HOU, SD, @SF) – McFadden had 145 rushing yards on Sunday and looks to be the clear No. 1 offensive option in Oakland.

Peyton Hillis, CLE (@BAL, CIN, ATL, @PIT) – Hillis finished with 61 total yards and a score this week; he’s good enough for solid RB3/flex consideration in PPR leagues.

Fred Taylor, NE (BUF, @MIA, BYE, BAL) – Taylor couldn’t get anything started against the Jets, but will see the bulk of the load in upcoming weeks.

Kevin Faulk, NE (BUF, @MIA, BYE, BAL) – The better fantasy back in PPR leagues, Faulk had 37 total yards but didn’t reach the end zone.

Brandon Jackson, GB (@CHI, DET, @WAS, MIA) – Last week’s top fantasy add only rushed for 29 yards and had just one catch for 10 yards, but he found the end zone. He’s a solid RB2 in 12-team leagues.

Javon Ringer, TEN (@NYG, DEN, @DAL, @JAC) – Ringer might get more carries in the coming weeks, but he’s still just a handcuff.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Off The Top

WR Kevin Walter, HOU – A huge Week 2 (11-144-1) catapulted Walter back into the collective minds of fantasy owners everywhere. He’s a veteran receiver who’s been a top fantasy producer in the past. Andre Johnson has an ankle sprain that could force him to miss some time, although it’s not very likely they’d have let him return to action on Sunday if it was serious. In any event, you shouldn’t hesitate to add Walter in any format, because this Houston offense is gooood.

WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN – So this is why scouts have raved about Thomas. The guy took over on Sunday (8-97-1) against the Seahawks secondary, who simply couldn’t cover him. He’s available in over two-thirds of Yahoo! Leagues, but as a rookie in a crowded receiving corps, you can’t expect these numbers every week.

Digging Deeper

TE Dustin Keller, NYJ (@MIA, @BUF, MIN, @DEN) – Keller is the favorite red zone target of Mark Sanchez. He should be owned in all 12-team formats.

WR Josh Cribbs, CLE (@BAL, CIN, ATL, @PIT) – Two big Sunday scores may elevate Cribbs’ value, but I’m not expecting much with four really tough defenses on the upcoming docket.

Scouring The Barrel

WR Louis Murphy, OAK (@ARI, HOU, SD, @SF) – Bruce Gradkowski has a better rapport with Murphy than Jason Campbell, so the young receiver could shine even mor with Campbell on the bench.

TE Tony Moeaki, KC (SF, BYE, @IND, @HOU) – Moeaki produced solid numbers for a second consecutive week. It appears he’ll be involved as the team moves forward.


WR Austin Collie, IND (@DEN, @JAC, KC, @WAS) – Collie posted 4/25/1 Sunday night and remains an active slot receiver in a potent offense.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi, CLE (@BAL, CIN, ATL, @PIT) – Massaquoi laid an egg in Week 2 but should be owned in all 12-team leagues.

WR Mike Williams, TB (PIT, BYE, @CIN, NO) – Williams scored in his second straight game, but faces a tough Pittsburgh defense in Week 3. He won’t be a viable fantasy starter for a few weeks.

WR Nate Washington, TEN (@NYG, DEN, @DAL, @JAC) – Washington’s value is probably the same with either Young or Collins at QB. He’s a big play threat who’ll be a hit-or-miss fantasy performer in 2010.

WR Mark Clayton, STL (WAS, SEA, @DET, SD) – Clayton has emerged as Bradford’s go-to guy and should be owned in all formats.

TE Jermaine Gresham, CIN (@CAR, @CLE, TB, BYE) – Gresham didn’t reach the end zone on Sunday, but hauled in thee catches for 15 yards.

WR Mike Thomas, JAC (PHI, IND, @BUF, TEN) – The second-year WR had 4/43/0 on Sunday. He’s a WR4 with upside.

WR Brandon Lloyd, DEN (IND, @TEN, @BAL, NYJ) – Lloyd played well on Sunday 3/53/0 but should see fewer targets with Demaryius Thomas active.

TE Marcedes Lewis, JAC (PHI, IND, @BUF, TEN) – As expected, Lewis didn’t reach the end zone. He did, however, rack up five catches for 70 yards, and he was targeted a whopping nine times. He’s a viable fantasy backup who could see a spot start or two.


Off The Top

Rocky McIntosh, WAS (@STL, @PHI, GB, IND) – McIntosh has come into his own as a dynamic OLB who’s just as god stopping the run as he is as a pass rusher. He’ll continue to post excellent numbers this season in Jim Haslett’s defense.

Antwan Odom, CIN (@CAR, @CLE, TB, BYE) – He’s been quiet thus far, but Odom has some prime matchups coming up where he’ll be able to feast on opposing QBs. Only 11 percent owned in Yahoo! Leagues and should finish the season with double-digit sacks.

Digging Deeper

Michael Boley, NYG (TEN, CHI, @HOU, DET) – Boley seems to be getting the most tackles at WLB in Giants’ DC Perry Fewell’s 4-3. He’s still available in a ton of leagues.

Leon Hall, CIN (@CAR, @CLE, TB, BYE) – Like his teammate Odom, Hall should benefit from the upcoming matchups and post big numbers. He’ll get Steve Smith next week, and I’m putting him down for a handful of tackles, a pick and a couple PD.

Scouring The Barrel

Jason Babin, TEN (@NYG, DEN, @DAL, @JAC) – An underrated pass rusher, Babin has already posted 10 tackles and 2.0 sacks. He plays with a mean streak and could be this year’s breakout DE.

Cameron Wake, MIA (@NYJ, NE, BYE, @GB) – Wake continues to rack up sacks and a few tackles. He makes a fine week-to-week play, but could lay some eggs against tougher opponents that are more adept at picking up the weakside blitz.


LB Dan Connor, CAR (CIN, @NO, CHI, BYE) – Connor had six total tackles against the Bucs and remains an excellent LB3.

DL Kyle Vanden Bosch, DET (@MIN, @GB, STL, @NYG) – Six total tackles, 1.5 sacks. Not too shabby. He should be a starting DL in all IDPs leagues.

DB Michael Griffin, TEN (@NYG, DEN, @DAL, @JAC) – Griffin has five tackles and a PD against the Steelers. Look for even better numbers facing the Giants, who are throwing the ball more than usual this season.

LB Derrick Johnson, KC (SF, BYE, @IND, @HOU) – Seven solos last week; he’s got Frank Gore in his sights in Week 3. Johnson is an LB2 with upside in IDP leagues.

DB Kenny Phillips, NYG (TEN, CHI, @HOU, DET) – As expected, Phillips saw a lot of action, posting six total tackles, but he didn’t pick up any garbage points.

DL Juqua Parker, PHI (@JAC, WAS, @SF, ATL) – Parker had two solos, a sack and a forced fumble against the Lions. That’s a pretty solid line for any DL.

LB Bryan Thomas, NYJ (@MIA, @BUF, MIN, @DEN) – Thomas disappeared against the Pats with just two solos.

DL Charles Johnson, CAR (CIN, @NO, CHI, BYE) – Johnson has yet to register a sack in ’10.