On the Wire: Waiver Wire Saviors from Week 1

A disastrous and tragic Week 1 has left plenty of teams hurting for new talent. Was there a group shot on the cover of Madden this year?

Since Week 1 is always the best time to grab the waiver wire studs AND since this week was full of injuries and failures, this week’s waiver wire gems is pretty comprehensive. Next week, we’ll bring it down a notch. We’ll start things off at QB since I hear we lost one this week.

If these guys went undrafted in your league, make sure you correct that. Now.

Matt Cassel, QB New England Patriots

Jesus. If you don’t know why Cassel is going to be a top grab this week, GO BACK UNDER YOUR ROCK AND STAY THERE.

It’s possible if you are a Tom Brady owner — or former Brady owner, as the case may be — that you have other, better options than Cassel. In one league, for example, Delhomme is still out there somehow.

If you’re stuck choosing between a bunch of dangerous options, Cassel makes a nice replacement. At least, he has a great group of receivers to throw to this year even if his skill set is still in question.

Trent Edwards, QB Buffalo Bills

It’s good to know that Edwards knows Lee Evans is on the team now. They must have had some sort of Kumbaya camping trip this offseason.

Edwards looked good in the offense, and I might lean on him over Cassel knowing he has the skills to get his receivers the scores. He had 215 yards and a TD in Week 1, but I think he can do better. In Week 2, he’ll have Jason Peters back on the offensive line — and so will Marshawn Lynch.

Chad Pennington, QB Miami Dolphins

He has had fantasy success in the past — even last year when healthy — and he might have found a team in Miami that will come together around him.

With a strong Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown run game, Pennington looks like a QB2 and could contribute as part of a fantasy QB rotation.

He’s better than Damon Huard.

Kerry Collins, QB Tennessee Titans

Vince Young looks to be sidelined for a few weeks. If you need a stopgap, Collins could be your man. He’s very unlikely to be drafted by anyone in your league, but there is always the issue of who he will throw it to this season for the Titans…

If you can’t be picky, Collins could be a decent fill at QB for a few weeks.

Eddie Royal, WR Denver Broncos

Rookie sensation had THE BEST performance of any WR this week. Royal could be a slightly more productive version of Patrick Crayton last season, and he’ll always draw the weaker corner once Brandon Marshall returns in Week 2. He’s an excellent WR3 or more if he can keep catching Cutler’s eye once Marshall is back.

DeSean Jackson, WR Philadelphia Eagles

McNabb spread the ball in Week 1, but he liked targeting the rookie. As long as Kevin Curtis remains banged up, Jackson should be on a roster — and maybe even after. As an added bonus, he might return a kick or two for some additional TD points.

Jackson’s six catches for 106 yards isn’t too shabby, and Hank Baskett and Greg Lewis might even be worth stashing as well if both continue to see looks from McNabb.

L.J. Smith, TE Philadelphia Eagles

If McNabb is firing, Smith should see end zone looks. McNabb knows Smith is attached to a couple of the most reliable hands he can throw at this season, so look for Smith to continue to have nice games in good matchups. In Week 1, he posted 39 yards a score. He’s worth a TE2 spot if you carry two of them, or he could be part of a nice TE rotation with one of breakout TEs of 2008.

Dante Rosario, TE Carolina Panthers

The deep TE ranks get even deeper as long as Rosario remains a reliable target for Delhomme. He came down with seven receptions for 96 yards and a TD in Week 1. Worth rostering if you have a weak TE or want to trade away your stud to take advantage of the depth here this year, but be cautious. We don’t know how Rosario will be affected by the return on Steve Smith in Week 3.

Robert Royal, TE Buffalo Bills

Again, TEs look deep this year. The new offense in Buffalo smiled favorably on Royal, who caught six passes for 52 yards and a score against Seattle. After Jacksonville, the Bills schedule gets easier. I like Rosario better than Royal, but Royal is likely to see his fair share of looks this season unless rookie James Hardy starts to steal his end zone opportunities as Hardy gets more playing time.

Anthony Fasano, TE Miami Dolphins

We know Pennington doesn’t have a big arm (Girlish arm chant…Begin!), but he got his TEs involved early in the showdown against his former team, the Jets. Fasano practiced behind Jason Witten in Dallas, and look how Witten turned out. Fasano could be one of Pennington’s most reliable targets this season.

Matt Forte, RB Chicago Bears

Likely drafted in every league, Forte proved he could be a consistent fantasy starter in Week 1. He could put up a fight for offensive rookie of the year if he keeps it up. We know the Bears won’t have much on offense, so they’ll use their defense and Forte to control the game.

Felix Jones, RB Dallas Cowboys

I feel like THIS Jones will be far more effective than Julius Jones was last year for the Cowboys. His performance in Week 1 was worthy of a FLEX play (or even a low-end starter) with 62 yards and a TD. Barber bruised his ribs late in the game, and even though he is still expected to play in Week 2, look for Felix Jones to see increased action along with Tashard Choice against the Eagles.

Sammy Morris, RB New England Patriots

He’s the running back for the Patriots. I don’t care what the depth chart says. With Brady out, he could see an increased role in this offense. He’ll certainly be in the mix however the offense is rearranged to suit Cassel.

Pierre Thomas, RB New Orleans Saints

Thomas might make Deuce McAllister a ghost this season if he keeps stealing carries. He’s a must-grab for any McAllister owners and could be the workhorse back of the Saints offense this season.

Buffalo Bills D/ST

The Bills defense had a few shining moments last season, but being healthy this season and free agent additions (Marcus Stroud) have made them an emerging sleeper.

In Week 2, they get to play Jacksonville — suffering from a devastated offensive line. Their schedule gets pretty easy from there. Stash them now before the other teams in your league see them spark.

Ones to Watch

Carolina Panthers D/ST

I’m not entirely sold just yet, but the Panthers were on of my sleeper defensive units coming into 2008.

They kept L.T. tame in Week 1. That’s promising. Panthers face off against the Bears this week. I’m still a little worried about the 300+ yards that the Panthers gave up — Forte could tear them apart this week if he keeps his stud status. On the other hand, the Bears could look like…well, the Bears this week.

If you have a roster spot or lack confidence in your defense, it might be worth rostering Carolina this week to see where they go from this Week 1 performance.

J.T. O’Sullivan, QB San Francisco 49ers

Yeah, it’s a bit of a reach, but he still has upside. He got the ball to Frank Gore and Vernon Davis in Week 1, and he could expand on that in Week 2.

Hey, it’s Mike Martz, okay?

Matt Ryan, QB Atlanta Falcons

Still a rookie QB, but obviously, he’s going to have his good weeks every now and then. Worth a chance? Let’s see his Week 2 unless you desperately need QB help this season. Turner looks like the focus of this offense.

Tim Hightower, RB Arizona Cardinals

I didn’t see Hightower taking the goal line carries from Edgerrin James once the regular season got started, but apparently, they’re still doing that in Arizona. Edge is turning 30, but he still looks productive this season. Hightower might be worth rostering if you have the room, but he’s little more than a TD vulture. Other than his score, he only had 34 total yards.

Steve Slaton, RB Houston Texans

Slaton had more carries than Ahman Green, but Green went out with an injury in this one. Wait a sec, that makes Slaton look even better.

Regardless of the depth chart, the starting RB job in Houston is Slaton’s to earn if he performs well this season. While Green is sidelined, Slaton will probably share carries with the platoon of backs in Houston (Chris Taylor and possibly Darius Walker), but he should continue to see more and more carries.

Warrick Dunn, RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The wily veteran’s role in this offense might be worth getting. He put up 54 yards in just nine carries in Week 1. He could play a larger role in future games.

Yes, I just wanted to use the word wily.

Kevin Walter, WR Houston Texans

If the Texans get a potent passing game going, Walter could benefit from Andre Johnson pulling the better corner. He’s worth rostering in deep leagues and seeing how he pans out. Otherwise, keep an eye on how much he contributes to see if he could be worthy of your WR3 spot.

Ignoring, as in “LA LA LA, I can’t hear you!”

LeRon McClain, RB Baltimore Ravens

Let’s see where he goes when McGahee is back. My guess is somewhere behind Ray Rice. I don’t think he’s worth rostering unless he reappears in Week 2.

Dominic Rhodes, RB Indianapolis Colts

Probably going to be just as valuable as Kenton Keith last season. There are better options out there who will get more than yardage and a few scores. I think Addai comes back from his head injury in Week 1 with no problems.

Michael Pittman, RB Denver Broncos

Yes, you scored two touchdowns. Congrats. Not sure I trust any Denver back this season. Pittman’s a TD vulture — feast or famine. Too risky to roster in my opinion.

Damon Huard, QB Kansas City Chiefs

It’s Damon Huard in a pretty terrible offense in Kansas City. Plus, he’s only in there for a few weeks until Brodie Croyle returns. I think I’d rather have Kerry Collins. “The Bowe Show” is nice and all, but I don’t like the season premiere that much.

Matt Jones, WR Jacksonville Jaguars

They say dead people twitch sometimes.

See other waivers around the Internetz at Fantasy Football Goat, at The Hazean, at Yahoo! Sports, at Pancake Blocks, at The Fantasy Football Geek Blog, at CBS Sportsline, at Fantasy Football Toolbox (also with upgrades for this week), at Pro Football Weekly, at Football Docs, at Bruno Boys, and at Fantasy Football Librarian.

How to Draft (or Not Draft) the Houston Texans Running Backs

My first draft of this article was just “AVOID THE HOUSTON RUNNING BACKS AT ALL COSTS. The end.”

While contemplating whether to put that in bold or change the text to some nice shade of red, I realized my very intelligent warning doesn’t help you much. Many people, through bad luck, absent-mindedness or sadistic desires, will be in need of a running back and have to choose between drafting a member of the Houston backfield at some point in their fantasy drafts or skipping over them.

While they’re not ideal roster grabs, the Houston running backs make a decent bye week fill for your fantasy team in a pinch and might even become a low-end starter. The only drawback is that they come as a pack.

Even though the most senior members of the backfield in Houston all have some kind of injury concern, there’s still some upside to be seen.

The Texans have brought in Alex Gibbs and his highly touted zone blocking expertise to put some fire in the running game this year and strengthen the offensive line. With his help, the running game could flourish.

Ahman Green is the big name and the supposed starter, but coming off a knee injury last season, he is likely to share a lot of carries with Chris Brown, the frequently injured former Tennessee Titan. Green is on what’s left of his last legs, and Brown has already been banged up in training camp.

Behind those two, the Texans have rookie Steve Slaton and the recently signed former Bronco Mike Bell.

Bell impressed enough in Denver’s zone-blocking system a couple of seasons ago to beat Tatum Bell for the starting job, but then again, that was Tatum Bell. With the same last name, smooth-as-leather Mike Shanahan might have just gotten them confused.

Despite being buried on the depth chart in Denver last season, Bell must have impressed his former coach at Denver, Gibbs, enough for Gibbs to bring him into Houston with a two-year contract. Like Chris Brown, Bell has had success in a zone running system, but it’s unclear where he fits in the depth chart now.

Rookie Steve Slaton has all the upside with the potential to take over Houston’s patched-together run game. Still, it might not be his year in 2008 unless the RBs are ravaged by injuries. Slaton would have to learn to pass block like a veteran–a necessity with Matt Schaub getting knocked around under center last season.

The two unknowns in the Houston backfield are Darius Walker and Chris Taylor.

Taylor got love in the offseason from the coaching staff, but had received similar praise last year before his season-ending injury. He hasn’t seen the field enough to earn a spot in the run game just yet, so don’t expect him to be a Ryan Grant this year. He is a super, SUPER sleeper–so sleeper he’s comatose.

Darius Walker filled in when needed last season but failed to blow anyone away. He bounced into the active roster from the practice squad last year only because of injuries to Chris Taylor and Ahman Green. He’ll probably bounce to the practice squad by the end of camp.

How do you play this one if you are in need of a running back late in your fantasy draft?
Treat the Houston RBs like Pokemon. You gotta catch ‘em all!

The good thing about the Texans running game is that it comes cheap. If you want another backup or, heaven forbid, need a second starter but waited too long, take both Ahman Green and Chris Brown somewhere near the 11th round or later. You will likely be able to draft both RBs as back-to-back picks and, at the very least, have a decent bye week filler between the two of them.

If you miss on Brown and Green or want a sleeper pick, take Steve Slaton late and sit on him. As injury prone as Chris Brown and Ahman Green tend to be, it wouldn’t surprise me if Slaton starts a game or two late in the season. Even if you don’t look at Green for your roster, Slaton’s probably worth a flier.

It’s a murky situation and difficult to predict this far out, but the Houston running backs still have some value.

In short, AVOID THE HOUSTON RUNNING BACKS AT ALL COSTS. Maybe that is the best way to say it.

Going for Broke: Sure things and daring moves to win Week 15 in fantasy football

Well, it’s probably round 2 of the playoffs for most of you. Some of you may already be drowning your sorrows in a bottle of fine liquor–or a jar of Papa’s moonshine.

For the sober ones, it’s beyond time to start plotting next week. What studs does your opponent have? Who will have a big week to save you? If you have studs in a big match up, you are set–and we all hate you. If you are lacking in a few key areas, you may need to take some risks to put down the Tom Brady or Randy Moss owner in your future.

First, some pretty obvious things. Several studs are lined up to have big games and should stay on your starting roster.

STUDS THIS WEEK

  • Joseph Addai   against OAK
    He’s my pick of the week to have a big game against the worst run defense in the NFL. Just look at what Ryan Grant did to them last week.
  • Willis McGahee against MIA
    Even though he struggled last week, he couldn’t ask for a more powerful bounce back match up. Miami allowed 2 100-yard rushers in a single game last week against Buffalo, so what if McGahee just makes it 200+?
  • Kurt Warner against NO
    Kurt Warner likes to pretend he’s a pitcher and throw the ball for the entire game. It just so happens that he gets the Saints defense this week. They like to act like a horrible baseball outfield and just watch the balls sail over their head.
  • Drew Brees against ARI
    With the above message in mind, Brees is going to have to keep up if Warner really turns it on this week. While he’s not as much of a lock as Warner, he will definitely be putting it up big this week.
  • Earnest Graham against ATL
    The Hawks are broken and feeling a little bit rejected this week with Petrino leaving them. I don’t think they will even be able to sleep without a light on with all those feelings of abandonment, and the league took away all their dogs. Graham is a solid runner, and he will put the hurt on them this week.
  • Carson Palmer against SF
    It’s San Francisco, people.
  • Jamal Lewis against BUF
    While Buffalo was getting those 200+ yards rushing, Miami’s Samkon Gado was getting 2 TDs against the Buffalo defense. Expect Jamal Lewis to be able to do some damage after the bruising performance he showed this week.

What? Did I not mention any Patriots? No LT?   Don’t worry. If you have a stud rated at the top and performing hot all season, you should feel safe starting them, and I don’t think you need my advice.

For those of you that need a little daring this week, he is your chance-y plays of the week. They could be big enough to get you over a hump, or they could be snubbed and snub your championship hopes. Say a little prayer for each of them, and only play them if you have a huge deficit to overcome with your week 15 opponent or no other options.

DARING PLAYS THIS WEEK

  •  Lee Evans against CLE
    Buffalo wants to win and lock in a playoff appearance. Now that Trent Edwards has met Lee Evans, they might hook up again with the Browns being one of the worst receiving defenses (30/32). He will either get his due TDs or he will get nothing, and the Bills will lose.
  • Bernard Berrian against MIN
    You can’t run on Minnesota–unless you are Ryan Grant. Berrian will be a key performer if the Bears win this week. The only risk is whether Kyle Orton can come off the bench at QB to make him a star. Better hope his star shines bright, but Berrian could put up a TD and plenty of yardage if he has a good day.
  • Trent Edwards against CLE
    Much like Lee Evans, he is hit or miss. He will either be on and winning the game with his arm, or he will let us all down.
  • Darius Walker against DEN
    Denver’s defense is unpredictable, but as the lead in the RBBC that is now going to operate for the Texans, Walker has the best chance of making them look bad again if he can get the running game going in this one. He could save you or just put up enough numbers to be average and let you lose.
  • Derrick Mason/Mark Clayton against MIA
    With so many passes going out last week over Miami defender’s heads, you would expect one of these guys to have a big game with at least one TD. My money would be on Mark Clayton, but it all depends on whether the Ravens find TOO much success running the football and just stick with Willis McGahee.
  • Jabar Gaffney against NYJ
    Gaffney is consistently getting looks in the zone. Considering the bad blood between these two teams, the Patriots wide receivers could all get big days, and Gaffney could receive a hefty load of that–more so than the likes of Stallworth.
  • Jerheme Urban against NO
    Urban could benefit from a lot of Warner passing this week especially if Boldin sits this one out. Keep your eye on the injury report, but keep in mind that Bryant Johnson could also take some catches. It’s a gamble who takes any TDs from Larry Fitzgerald in this one.
  • Sidney Rice against CHI
    Rice has the ability to take it to the house with every catch. If Tavaris continues to develop, he could get at least one TD in this one against the Bears. He’s probably the most risky play at receiver, but he could pay off in a pinch. It’s possible.

If you still have questions or you just find yourself feeling lonely and vulnerable after absorbing all that, feel free to comment and have the fantasy football genie answer all your questions. Just give me a heads up. It takes awhile to rub this lamp.

Week 15 Wire: Sneaky pickups to save your playoff run

petrino yell

Don’t run out the door like Petrino when your team takes an injury late here in the playoffs–or just stinks. There’s a few sneaky plays this week that could still save you and win your championship.

RB Help

Darius Walker, RB HOU
Word is that Ron Dayne will be out week 15. If that happens, there will probably we a running back committee setup, but Darius Walker is likely to be the head of any committee. He got close to 100 yards in his relief role after Dayne went down this week, and the match up for week 15 is the ever-tricky Denver run defense.

Samkon Gado, RB MIA
With Jesse Chatman hurting, Samkon Gado will take the hand offs from Cleo Lemon. Unfortunately, even if Chatman doesn’t start, he is up against Baltimore, who could shut down the running game of Miami even if it is the only offensive weapon they have.

Aaron Stecker, RB NO
If no one grabbed him when Reggie Bush went down, you should have by now. Stecker will be starting the rest of the season since Bush broke down. Get him while he’s hot coming off a 100 yard performance on Monday night.

WR Help

Jabar Gaffney, WR NE
I don’t know if anyone has noticed that Gaffney is really the third receiver in the Patriot offense, not Stallworth. While Stallworth hasn’t been dancing to the goalposts much at all this season, Gaffney has been scoring TDs in the Patriots games. Look for him to continue to be a risky WR but a great play if you need a potential upset sub in a 3 WR roster.

Anthony Gonzalez, WR IND
I think he finally woke up and realized he was in Marvin Harrison’s shoes. He should be a nice sub until Harrison comes back–wait, who am I kidding? He will play out the rest of the regular season. Don’t expect 2 TDs, but he can put up yardage and possibly a TD every week with Manning throwing the way he is. As a cautionary note, the match up for this week is not that great since Oakland should let Addai take an express train to the TD every time he gets the ball.

Reggie Williams, WR JAX
The butterfingers of Williams have gotten a better grip with Garrard at the helm. Look for him to have a big day whenever Garrard does, but don’t start him over a stud since he is risky except for 3 WR sets.

QB Help

Trent Edwards, QB BUF
Edwards is the choice pick coming off his 4 TD performance against Miami. He now faces Cleveland’s pass defense, so grab him if your stud has a HORRIBLE match up or if you just like taking chances for big plays this week.

Sage Rosenfels, QB HOU
Sage is a wise one. Even in tough match ups, he tends to perform well. He does get to throw to Andre Johnson. While Edwards is the better grab. If you miss him, Rosenfels could help you out at QB this week.