Waiver Wire Wonders: Only the Playoff-Bound Need Apply
There's no denying the harsh reality that occurs after this week in the majority of fantasy football leagues: the teams that missed the playoffs officially check out for the season. Hence, the waiver wire gets less competitive with only about half of the league interested in bettering their squad from here on out. Hopefully you qualify as one of these playoff bound juggernauts -- which most likely you do since you are still reading -- because the pickings are pretty slim this week, Still, make every single effort you can to optimize those lineups as the challenges of winning in the playoffs pile up. Most importantly, make sure you have depth for any stars likely to play limited roles due to clinching playoff berths (i.e., Indy) and make sure you have depth in the event of injury at every position.
Louis Murphy (WR, Raiders) - Murphy single-handedly keeps destroying my D/ST rankings, this time leading the Raiders to a monster upset against the Steelers with his four catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns -- including his second game-winner in three weeks. Bruce Gradkowski played his first dominant game, throwing for 308 yards and three touchdowns and tallying an impressive 121.8 passer rating. While it's hard to feel too strongly about the Raiders' passing attack, it certainly keeps improving -- making Murphy a quality add, particularly in deep keep leagues.
Leonard Weaver (RB, Eagles) - While LeSean McCoy would seem to be the obvious benefactor in Brian Westbrook's absence, Sunday Eldra Buckley got the most carries with eight, but Weaver (the fullback) put up the only fantasy-worthy numbers. He carried the ball five times for 37 yards, and more importantly caught two passes for 68 yards including a huge 59-yard touchdown.
Jamaal Charles (RB, Chiefs) - Maybe the most actively moved player in the 2009 season, Charles emerged yet again with a solid effort, notching 56 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in the Chiefs latest bust of a game. Don't rush out and waste a spot though, because Charles had trouble hanging on to the ball again. He lost a fumble for the second consecutive week.
Devin Thomas (WR, Redskins) - The latest in the long line of MSU Spartan receivers to potentially emerge as a premier receiver in the league, Thomas busted out with seven catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns including a 40 yard game-breaker. Thomas' effort nearly propelled the Redskins to an upset of one of the elite teams in the NFL, the New Orleans Saints. He is really starting to look like the real deal, so snatch him up if you need depth at wide receiver.
Chad Henne (QB, Dolphins) - It's only a matter of time before Henne ascends to fantasy-relevant as he possesses the tools to be a great NFL quarterback. Sunday, he put up his first big-time numbers with 335 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also led Miami to one of their bigger victories of the season against the always-tough New England Patriots.
Davone Bess (WR, Dolphins) - Alongside Henne's big game came his trusty sidekick and go-to receiver, Davone Bess. Bess caught an eye-popping ten passes for 117 yards and scored on a 19 yard touchdown strike. An offense that has been turning heads all season with its running game now looks pretty promising in its passing game as well. I really like Bess down the stretch as he also turned it on around this time last season.
Bo Scaife (TE, Titans) - With Vince Young providing a complete turnaround for the Titans offense, their tight end provides a nice pick up for fantasy owners still struggling to fill voids left by Chris Cooley, Owen Daniels, and even Brandon Pettigrew. Owned in just about 10% of leagues, Scaife's five catches for 56 yards and a teeder make him a great pickup for fantasy owners stuck in this situation.
Jerome Harrison (RB, Browns) - Just as it looked like Harrison lost his panache as a fantasy stud, he played a lights out all-purpose game today. In total, he caught seven passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns as well as adding 35 yards on 10 carries. The Browns played well in the 30-23 loss to the surging Chargers and most importantly, Brady Quinn is playing great and seems to love his running back as an option in the passing game.
Antonio Bryant (WR, Buccaneers) - After struggling with a knee injury for the better part of the season, Antonio Bryant has come on strong as of late. Sunday, he came through with five catches for 115 yards including a 40-yarder. Quarterback Josh Freeman struggled today (five interceptions), but as he finds his footing down the stretch, expect Bryant to continue to post solid numbers. He makes a nice backup receiver for matchup plays in most formats.