Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Winning on the Waiver Wire: Week Two

Perhaps more important than drafting a good squad is picking up the right players throughout the season on the waiver wire. Fantasy teams lucky enough to snag Ryan Grant, Earnest Graham, or Kevin Walter in 2007 know exactly what I am talking about. In fact, it is so important that ESPN dedicated a series of commercials to the waiver wire aspect. For those of you who have not seen them, you probably still do not know who the aforementioned players are, so don't bother contending this season. For the rest of you, here is a list of some names to avoid and some names to consider.


Tony Scheffler, TE, DEN: At the start of the season, Denver declared Nate Jackson as the starting tight end. However, they also claimed that Selvin Young would be the starter and look how profitable he has been for fantasy owners. The true reality of it all is that Selvin Young is anything but a starter and Nate Jackson has eleven yards in two games. Like I told you in Sleeper v. Creeper, Tony Scheffler will be one of the best sleeper tight ends, if not one of the best all around tight ends, in the NFL. Scheffler has two touchdowns and 136 yards in the first two games of the season. In addition to those stats, he has been targeted four times in the endzone and fell short of another touchdown by four yards. Scheffler is anything but a back up tight end, so you better add him in all leagues.

John Carlson, TE, SEA: Carlson was a rookie at the start of the season, so most fantasy owners avoided him. Since then, Seattle's top four receivers on the depth chart are out and Carlson has been the favorite target in Seattle. He has 130 yards in two games. Despite failing to score a touchdown in the first two weeks, Carlson has been very impressive and will continue to improve in Seattle. If Scheffler is not available, add Carlson immediately.

Matt Jones, WR, JAC: Drugs and night life aside, the kid is a pretty good receiver. At 6'6/218, he has the size of a tight end and the speed of a receiver. He has led all receivers in Jacksonville with receptions and has 130 yards on the season. Garrard continues to target him near the end zone, failing to capitalize on one opportunity and falling two yards short on another. Also, he has been targeted more than any other receiver currently on the wire. As long as the looks are there, expect good things in the future. Add him as a solid number three receiver, and if he starts to find the end zone, consider starting him.

Tim Hightower, RB, ARI: Do not jump on the bandwagon with this one until you consider all the upsides and downsides. The upside is that the Cardinals are giving him the pigskin on goal line situations. Another upside is that Edge is old and his carries may decrease over the long, arduous season. The downside is that he is only averaging nine carries a week at a dismal 2.1 yards per carry. This would result in under twenty yards a week, so unless he gets in the endzone, he will not be worthy of a start. In leagues that award little points on yards and heavy points for touchdowns, you should probably add him. If you are in a yardage league, wait until Edge is on the injury report to take a flyer on Hightower.

Eddie Royal, WR, DEN: Royal should have been unavailable on the wire since last Tuesday, but if he is still available, stop reading and pick him up. The rookie has 14 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns in two games this season. Despite the return of Brandon Marshall, Royal caught the game winning touchdown and two-point conversion on Sunday. He is a small, speedy receiver which means he will be difficult to cover. In the season opener, he made DeAngelo Hall look like a bad episode of dancing with the stars. Unless he gets pummeled across the middle and suffers a setback, Royal will continue to produce for fantasy owners.

Avoid Them

Justin Gage, WR, TEN: The good news is that he is the number one receiver in Tennessee. The bad news is that either Kerry Collins or Vince Young will be throwing to him. I will let you choose what is better, depression or alcohol. The fact of the matter is that I would rather start a strong number two receiver over a number one receiver in a confused, erratic offense. In addition to the quarterback confusion, LenDale White and Chris Johnson are performing as expected in the backfield.

Michael Pittman, RB, DEN: The same reason for avoiding Hightower in yardage leagues applies to Pittman in Denver. Denver has a three running back system where each running back's workload varies depending on the week. Predicting who will start in Denver is about as easy as predicting what drug Amy Whinehouse will do over the weekend. You know that there are a lot of options and each one will be considered, but that is about it. Once Ryan Torain returns, this will complicate the mess even more. Pittman is a touchdown machine, but justifying a starting role is difficult to do at this point. Monitor him over the next week or two and then make your decision.

LaMont Jordan, RB, NE: I take back all my predictions about Lawrence Maroney. The injury suffered to Tom Brady hurt the entire squad, including the potential of the running game. With Cassel steering the ship, defenses will force him to throw the ball and focus on the run. If Cassel is unable to do so, this will cause problems for the running game all year long. In addition to a inexperienced quarterback, the Patriots have three running backs and will continue to divide the workload throughout the year. Even though I told you Belichick liked him, he doesn't take that into consideration when determining who will get the majority of the carries. Stay away from Jordan until the Patriots make up their mind.

Brandon Stokley, WR, DEN: The emergence of Eddie Royal will significantly affect the role Stokley will have in Denver for the 2008 season. Royal is expected to play opposite of Brandon Marshall, limiting Stokley's playing time to three receiver sets. Denver is dedicated to the air game, dedicating 50 plays on offense to the passing game on Sunday against San Diego. Stokley may see some action on a weekly basis, but his limited role in the offense suggests that he is not worthy of a starting position in fantasy lineups.

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