Every week, I highlight a few players that you should target in waivers. I use the ESPN league data when filtering players, so the only guys eligible for discussion here are those that are available on the waiver wire in at least 40% of ESPN’s leagues. I’ll list each player’s percentage-owned after their name so you have an idea of how available they are in leagues around the country. I’ll always try to mention a few players that are available in 90% of leagues for those of you in 12-team leagues or leagues with big rosters. I’ll rank them in the order I’d pick them up in a league with a high-performance scoring system.
Please note that these rankings are for total value through the end of the year. Players with particularly good matchups this week are in bold.
Josh Freeman (57.1)
In a not-so-great matchup against the Panthers, Freeman still produced. Other than a poor Week 3 outing against the Steelers, he’s been remarkably consistent throwing for at least 212 yards or 2 TDs in every game this season. Other than a shaky Week 12 matchup in Baltimore, the rest of his schedule is quite favorable.
David Garrard (56.5)
Garrard was the beneficiary of a fluke Hail Mary TD to win Sunday’s game against the Texans, but he still would have posted nice numbers without it. He has a nice matchup with the Browns this week before two tough matchups with the Giants and Titans.
Jon Kitna (8.8)
I’m shocked at Kitna’s line from Sunday in a matchup with a very good Giants pass defense: 327 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT. The Lions are a pretty good matchup in Week 11.
Shaun Hill (5.4)
I’m pretty surprised that Hill struggled in the first half against the Bills, but maybe he was just shaking the rust off. He finished with solid numbers (323 yards, TD, INT) though another TD would have been nice. He has the Cowboys and Patriots coming up, so he’s a fine starter in the short term.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (39.5)
It was a surprisingly quiet day for Fitzy against a suspect Lions pass defense, but he still finished with 146 yards and a TD. He almost connected with Lee Evans on a long TD pass earlier in the game as well. The Bengals held Peyton Manning in check in Week 10, so the Buffalo pass offense might have problems in Week 11.
Matt Cassel (39.3)
The Chiefs were in catch-up mode for the entire Denver game, so don’t let Cassel’s numbers fool you — the Chiefs are a running team. Still, Cassel now has 12 TDs in his last five games, and that’s not bad at all. His upcoming schedule (ARI, @ SEA, DEN) is favorable.
Sam Bradford (28.6)
The rookie keeps chugging along, throwing for 251 yards and a TD on the 49ers. His short term schedule (ATL, @ DEN, @ ARI) is nice.
Troy Smith (3.1)
Smith now has three touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush) in two games and will continue to start for the 49ers. His next two matchups (TB, @ ARI) are favorable.
Jason Campbell (7.4)
It looks like Tom Cable is going to stick with Campbell and why not — he has thrown for 743 yards and five TDs in three straight wins. If the Raiders can get Zach Miller and Louis Williams healthy, they could be in business. Too bad Oakland faces the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 11.
Vince Young (59.6)
He’s really nicked up, but he has Randy Moss and Nate Washington to throw to and the threat of Chris Johnson to keep the safeties honest.
Tyler Thigpen (0.2)
Please see: What can we expect from new Miami QB Tyler Thigpen?
Colt McCoy (3.5)
Outside of a quiet game in Week 7, McCoy has thrown or ran for one TD in his other three starts. He’s not a bad start this week against a very sketchy Jags defense.
Matt Hasselbeck (14.5)
He threw for 333 yards and a TD against the Cardinals, but did break a bone in his non-throwing wrist. Given a matchup with a pretty stout Saints defense in Week 11, he’s not starter-worthy anyway.
Derek Anderson (3.8)
He’s something of a turnover machine, but Anderson has thrown three TDs in the last three games and his upcoming schedule isn’t terrible.
Keiland Williams (1.2)
Williams got the start with Clinton Portis sidelined and Ryan Torain gimpy. He finished with 139 yards and three TDs on 20 touches and has obviously earned more work going forward. But with Mike Shanahan, it’s anyone’s guess who’s the RB1 in Washington in Week 11.
Tim Hightower (56.5)
He’s starting to hit the waiver wire, and I’m not sure why. Don’t people know that Chris Wells is out with a swollen knee?
Clinton Portis (54.7)
He’s not back yet, but he’s getting closer.
Cadillac Williams (52.7)
He rattled off a long TD run on Sunday, but is definitely playing behind LeGarrette Blount.
Mike Hart (5.0)
If he can get healthy before Joseph Addai, he’d likely be the Colts main RB.
Mike Goodson (7.8)
DeAngelo Williams and/or Jonathan Stewart will likely be back this week, but if not Goodson would get the bulk of the carries once again.
Javarris James (2.4)
With Joseph Addai and Mike Hart sidelined, James is the Colts’ goal line back. He carried the ball 10 times for 26 yards against the Bengals.
Chris Ivory (13.3)
Ladell Betts (1.5)
Julius Jones (1.2)
Reggie Bush is due back soon, so this ugly three-headed RBBC is about to get uglier.
Vincent Jackson (56.2)
He’s due back in Week 12, and with the way the Chargers have been decimated at WR, I’d expect he’ll be used early and often. He could be a great addition for a playoff run, and unlike Sidney Rice, he’s not trying to come back from injury.
Danny Amendola (19.6)
He’s the receiver to own in St. Louis. He now has 16-108-3 in the last three weeks and is more valuable in PPR leagues than in standard formats.
Mike Thomas (6.7)
If he’s not the best WR in Jacksonville, he’s certainly the most consistent, at least when David Garrard is under center. He was sitting at about 7-100 on Sunday before he caught that now-famous Hail Mary ricochet to win the game.
Steve Breaston (51.3)
He posted 4-98 against the Seahawks, but is competing with Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet for targets.
Deion Branch (39.5)
He appears to be healthy again after a 7-71 effort against the Steelers.
Jabar Gaffney (39.1)
I saw Gaffney hit the waiver wire in one of my 12-team leagues, and he turned around and went for 3-57-1 against the Chiefs. If Kyle Orton continues to play well, Gaffney will be a decent PPR league start.
Nate Washington (37.3)
He posted 3-26-1 in Randy Moss’s first game as a Titan. His value is pretty up in the air, but one look at his upcoming schedule (WAS, @ HOU, JAX) and he looks to be startable in deep leagues.
Sidney Rice (40.0)
He’s getting close, but I suspect he’ll be on a snap count and won’t be of much use for another two weeks.
Davone Bess (31.9)
He’s still startable in deeper PPR leagues, but with three straight weeks of fewer than 55 yards receiving (and zero TDs), he’s starting to lose his luster. Plus, we’re not sure how the targets are going to shake out with Tyler Thigpen at QB. I still like his game, but the MIA passing attack can’t support three wideouts.
Robert Meachem (54.8)
He’s plenty good to be a WR2 in the NFL, but Drew Brees spreads the ball around a lot, and right now he seems to be favoring Lance Moore.
Nate Burleson (28.3)
After a nice four-game stretch (24-266-3), Burleson was rather quiet (4-47) against the Bills.
Seyi Ajirotutu (5.1)
After a huge Week 9 (4-111-2 against the hapless Texans), Ajirotutu should continue to start if Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee continue to miss time.
Kevin Walter (26.1)
After going three straight games without scoring and five straight without more than 35 yards receiving or a TD, he erupted for 6-90-1 against a sketchy Jags defense and appears to have moved back into the Texans’ WR2 role.
Eddie Royal (41.8)
There just aren’t enough targets to go around in Denver.
Louis Murphy (21.9)
He’s coming back from injury, but may be pushed by Jacoby Ford for targets.
Jacoby Ford (4.0)
He burst onto the scene in Week 9 with a 6-148 effort against the Chiefs. He has a bad matchup in Week 11 (PIT), but things get easier after that. It sounds like the Raiders intend to get him more involved.
Jason Avant (0.9)
His upside is limited, but he has gained 60+ yards in three of his last four games. He’s on the radar in PPR leagues.
Brian Hartline (1.0)
Hartline has 23 catches in the last five games, and has scored double digits PPR formats in the last three games. He’s worth a look.
James Jones (6.4)
Jones’s value is dependent on Donald Driver, who is supposed to return this week.
Brandon Gibson (0.3)
PPR leaguers should take note: Gibson now has 14 catches in the last two games. File this one under ‘someone has to catch the ball in St. Louis.’
Anthony Armstrong (2.2)
He posted 3-83 on Monday night, which is his second straight game with 80+ yards and his sixth-straight with 40+ yards.
Todd Heap (59.9)
Heap now has three good games in his last four outings and has a very nice upcoming schedule.
Brandon Pettigrew (33.4)
Pettigrew didn’t quite have the game I was expecting against the Bills, but he was targeted eight times by Shaun Hill, and that’s a good sign.
Benjamin Watson (30.1)
After a pair of bad outings, Watson rebounded with 5-74 against the Jets. His upcoming schedule is very nice, with three good matchups in the next four games.
Rob Gronkowski (5.2)
Aaron Hernandez owners have to be dismayed at Gronkowski’s performance against the Steelers (5-72-3). Are we witnessing a sea change in New England? I doubt it, but Hernandez owners should pick up Gronkowski to hedge their bets.
Greg Olsen (54.9)
Over the last month, Olsen is tied for 12th in targets at 5.7 per game and has three catches in each of his last three games.
Heath Miller (43.6)
Miller posted 5-60 against the Pats and has favorable matchups in Weeks 11 and 12. If Hines Ward misses any time, Miller’s value will be enhanced.
Anthony Fasano (6.5)
Fasano had his best game of the year (5-107-1) thanks to Tyler Thigpen, who found him for a long pass and again for a TD. Since Thigpen is going to be QBing the Dolphins for now, Fasano’s stock is on the rise.
Kevin Boss (10.2)
With Steve Smith 2.0 sidelined, Boss got seven targets against the Cowboys and responded with his best game of the season (5-81-1). As long as Smith 2.0 is out, Boss is a respectable start.
Tony Moeaki (37.9)
Moeaki only got three targets even though Matt Cassel threw the ball 53 times. Not good.
Jeremy Shockey (46.9)
Jermaine Gresham (9.4)
Look at it this way: Gresham’s 9-85-1 outing against the Colts is better than his last three games combined. He just isn’t consistent enough to be counted on.
Joel Dreessen (1.6)
He had a chance to shine with Owen Daniels sidelined and posted just 2-24 in a terrific matchup with the Jags. This is worrisome.
Bo Scaife (3.6)
Scaife posted 7-51 against the Dolphins and faces three terrible pass defenses in a row. He will be open with defenses focused on Randy Moss and Chris Johnson. The question is — will Vince Young throw to him consistently.