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.
Shaun Hill (8.8)
In his last six full games, Hill has averaged 290 yards and 1.8 TDs, so why is he still available in 91% of ESPN leagues. He has a great matchup this week (NE) and the fantasy playoffs (@TB, @MIA) look pretty good too.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (32.4)
The Bengals weren’t a great matchup for Fitzy, but he shredded them to the tune of 316 yards and four TDs in a big comeback win. He has proven that he’s startable even in bad matchups, but Week 14 (CLE) and Week 16 (NE) look tasty, assuming the weather in Buffalo cooperates (and that’s a BIG assumption).
Josh Freeman (59.1)
Freeman has now thrown two TDs in each of his last three games, and has thrown for at least 212 yards or two TDs in nine of 10 games this season. In other words, he’s been really consistent, and with a favorable fantasy playoff schedule (@WAS, DET, SEA), he’s a nice guy to have on the roster.
Sam Bradford (28.4)
Bradford is posting the best rookie season of any QB since Matt Ryan. He had two more TDs (along with 233 yards) against the Falcons on Sunday, and has a couple of nice matchups (@DEN, @ARI) coming up. And while other QBs will be battling the elements, Bradford will be playing indoors during the entire fantasy playoffs (@NO, KC, SF).
Jon Kitna (11.7)
Kitna has posted back-to-back three-TD games in the last two weeks against a pair of pretty good pass defenses. The next two weeks (NO, @IND) are kind of tough, but Week 15 (WAS) and 16 (@ARI) are tantalizing, assuming Tony Romo is still sidelined.
Matt Cassel (43.8)
After a tremendous 469-yard, four-TD effort in Week 10, Cassel posted a solid 193 yards and two scores against the Cardinals. The schedule for the next two weeks is nice (@SEA, DEN) and he wouldn’t be a terrible start in Week 15.
David Garrard (53.3)
It wasn’t pretty, but Garrard mustered 254 yards and two scores against CLE, though he did turn the ball over four times. He has a terrible matchup this week (@NYG), but can be used in Week 14 (OAK) and Week 16 (WAS) as part of a QBBC.
Matt Hasselbeck (14.3)
He posted good numbers (366 yards, TD) in a bad matchup, and other than a semi-tough matchup against the Panthers pass D in Week 13, his schedule is quite favorable down the stretch.
Bruce Gradkowski (0.9)
He replaced the ineffective Jason Campbell and is likely to be the starter going forward. He has nice matchups in Week 14 (@JAX) and 15 (DEN).
Tyler Thigpen (0.9)
Okay, he looked pretty awful against the Bears, but everyone is struggling against Chicago’s pass defense right now. With OAK, CLE, BUF and DET up in the next five weeks, Thigpen isn’t a bad guy to use in deeper leagues.
Derek Anderson (3.8)
He hasn’t been terrible lately, throwing for one TD in each of the last four games. Other than a Week 15 game in Carolina, the schedule looks pretty nice down the stretch.
Colt McCoy (4.2)
He has accounted for one TD (two pass, one rush) in each of the last three games, but other than a Week 14 trip to Buffalo, the schedule is pretty rough.
Brian St. Pierre (0.1)
Well, the schedule is pretty nice, so there’s that…
Rusty Smith (0.0)
He’s taking over for the Titans at the right time, with the Texans and Jags up the next two weeks. Throw in another date with Houston in Week 15, and Smith could post surprisingly decent numbers down the stretch.
Keiland Williams (12.4)
Clinton Portis returned to the starting lineup and almost immediately injured himself, so the job is Williams’s for the time being. Ryan Torain and/or James Davis could take over if Williams proves to be ineffective.
Mike Goodson (10.5)
Goodson now has two straight 100-yard days, which is two more than the number of 100-yard games DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have combined for this season. Moreover, he racked up 120 yards in Week 11 against a pretty good Balitmore rush defense. Until Stewart comes back, Goodson should continue to be a decent RB2 start for owners in a pinch.
Chris Ivory (11.7)
Ivory was iffy all week, but carried the ball 23 times for 99 yards and a TD against the Seahawks on Sunday. Reggie Bush is due back soon and Pierre Thomas should be back in Week 13, so Ivory’s long-term value seems to be limited.
Maurice Morris (0.7)
Has Jahvid Best left you in a pinch? With Kevin Smith headed to IR, Morris will be the Lions’ feature back while the team lets the rookie rest his toes. Plus, he has a pretty nice matchup with the Pats this week.
James Davis (0.5)
With Portis likely done for the season and Ryan Torain out for the time being, it looks like Davis will be the RB2 in Washington for now.
Vincent Jackson (59.2)
He’s due back this week and with the Charger receiving corps banged up, Philip Rivers sure could use him.
Sidney Rice (43.1)
He saw 10 targets in his first game back, and only posted 3-56. The important thing is that Brett Favre was looking his way often, and with a pair of nice matchups coming up (@WAS, BUF) he’s usable in deeper formats.
Nate Washington (45.8)
I have my doubts about his consistency, especially with Randy Moss on the other side and Rusty Smith under center, but I can’t argue with his upcoming schedule (@HOU, JAX).
Nate Burleson (27.1)
Burleson has a pretty nice run going — he has posted an average of 5.8-68-0.7 over the last six weeks. With the Pats’ suspect pass defense on tap this week, he’s a decent start.
Danny Amendola (26.6)
Amedola continues to be a solid PPR start. He has 21 catches in his last three games.
Mike Thomas (16.4)
Thomas is another PPR star — he has gone for double digits in that format in six of his last seven games, and has scored a TD in his last three outings. Beware: His upcoming schedule is pretty tough save for a great matchup in Week 16 with the Redskins. However, with Mike Sims-Walker out with a high ankle sprain, Thomas should get plenty of targets.
Blair White (0.6)
With Austin Collie sidelined for half of the NE game, White stepped up with 5-42-2 during the Colts’ near-comeback. He has a bad matchup this week, but with the Cowboys in Week 13 and the Jags in Week 15, he could surprise down the stretch if Collie remains sidelined.
Deion Branch (40.5)
Branch has turned 18 targets over the last two weeks into 14 catches for 141 yards. He probably won’t score many TDs as the Pats like to use their TEs and Danny Woodhead in the redzone, but he should be rostered in most PPR formats.
Ben Obomanu (0.0)
Even before Mike Williams hurt his foot, Obomanu was starting to gain some fantasy relevance with his 4-60 outing against the Cards in Week 10. If Williams is sidelined for any length of time, Obomanu becomes the Seahawks’ de facto WR1, and given his 5-87-1 line against a pretty good Saints’ pass defense, he’s capable.
Derek Hagan (0.1)
With Steve Smith 2.0 sidelined and Hakeem Nicks out for three weeks with a leg injury, the Giants are likely going to turn to Hagan as a fill in. He caught three passes for 10 yards and a TD against the Eagles on Sunday, and has a pair of great matchups (JAX, WAS) coming up. He’s probably not going to help you in the fantasy playoffs, but he may help you get there.
Kenny Britt (57.1)
He has a hamstring issue, but if he can get healthy, the Titans have some great matchups coming up.
Robert Meachem (53.4)
I wouldn’t get too excited about Meachem’s fine 3-50-2 day against the Seahawks; he was only targeted three times. However, with the Cowboys up on Thanksgiving, Meachem isn’t a bad stab-in-the-dark play.
Jabar Gaffney (39.4)
Eddie Royal (39.6)
They didn’t do much against the Chargers, but San Diego has been tough on opposing WRs all year. In PPR leagues, they’re worth rostering.
Louis Murphy (22.5)
Murphy has a chance to make a little noise down the stretch if Bruce Gradkowski can recapture his early season magic.
Davone Bess (29.5)
The former PPR machine has only been targeted 11 times in the last two weeks as Tyler Thigpen has taken over at QB.
James Jones (7.4)
He has 11 catches for 174 yards and two TDs over the last two weeks, but Donald Driver looked pretty good in his return against the Vikings, and that’s going to eat into Jones’s value.
Donald Jones (0.0)
Jones has apparently taken over for Roscoe Parrish in the slot. He posted 5-70-1 against the Bengals, which will put him on the fantasy radar.
Brandon Pettigrew (36.9)
Pettigrew continues to play an integral role in the Lions’ passing attack, as evidenced by his 8-75 outing against the Cowboys on Sunday. He’s not going to set the world on fire, but in PPR formats, Pettigrew has posted at least 8.8 points in each of his last nine games.
Greg Olsen (54.6)
Cutler looks for him in the redzone, so you’re banking on a TD when you start Olsen. He has three-plus catches in his last four games, so at least he’s involved.
Kevin Boss (10.5)
With both Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith 2.0 sidelined, Boss could make some noise in the next two weeks against the sketchy secondaries of the Jags and Redskins.
Jimmy Graham (0.3)
He’s been drawing comparisons to Jermichael Finley, which is a stretch, but Graham now has eight catches for 121 yards and a TD in his last two games. With Jeremy Shockey sidelined and a date with the Cowboys on Thursday, there’s some upside here.
Benjamin Watson (29.9)
Watson squandered an outstanding matchup with the Jags and failed to register a single catch. So he’s now caught less than two passes in three of his last four games.
Joel Dreessen (1.1)
Dreessen posted 4-106-1 on Sunday, which was the kind of numbers I was expecting in Week 10 against the Jaguars. Better late than never, I guess.
Heath Miller (43.0)
Miller only posted 3-26 despite Big Ben’s monster day. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
Bo Scaife (3.9)
PPR leagues should be aware that Scaife has cuaght 11 passes for 102 yards in his last two games, and faces the Texans and Jaguars over the next two weeks.