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Adding Talent -- Wonders of the Waiver Wire
By Joe Levit
October 16, 2003
 

Too many owners in fantasy football ultimately fail to reach their league playoffs for the simple reason that they think their terrific draft is enough to take them to the title game. In reality, it is usually the owners who refuse to cruise through the season that construct a team ready to dominate in the big games at the end of the year. Trades aside, adding a player via the waiver wire is the best way to instantly, and constantly, upgrade your team. The best part of this practice is that if you do it well, you decrease the talent base for your opponents at the same time your team gets stronger.

There are usually two parts to a waiver wire system. The first part involves a priority order for choosing the top players who are available that week. Everyone who pays attention to the games, or even box scores, knows who the hot pickups are going to be. You will get your man only if you are slotted high enough in that week’s pecking order. The second portion of the waiver system is that time during the week after the priority waiver selections when all remaining players are available to anyone. This is a critical period when you can separate yourself from the competition if you add wisely. Remember, you don’t need to win every waiver wire battle to win the overall 17-week war.

The first thing to do is figure out who you can cut on your team to add other players. The place to start is by dropping all but one tight end, kicker and defense after their bye weeks. Put every other added player into taking wide receivers, quarterbacks and running backs. Not only does this give you added depth to deal with injury, and increase your odds of hitting it big with a suddenly stellar fantasy player, but it also depletes the pool of talent for other owners looking to replace injured starters, or looking to replace name players who aren't cutting it. Just by maximizing the talent on your bench you can hurt other owners. If you have Jeremy Shockey for instance, you aren’t going to start anyone else anyway, and he won’t need to be replaced unless he is injured.

The second place to make cuts involves bench players who aren’t keeping up statistically. Look for guys who are scoring touchdowns. If your last wide receiver or running back doesn’t play much and doesn’t score either, cut him. You can find someone better.

By adding players at this time, you are able to accomplish one of three things – adding a key player who may become a starter for you in future matchups, adding a player to use as trade bait in a big deal later in the season or adding a player simply to take him off the market for other owners.

When you are adding a player who has potential to be a starter for you, look for backups with talent who may get the opportunity to star if a veteran goes down. Picking up DeShaun Foster a few weeks ago would have been exactly this type of move.

For trade bait adds, find players who have been hot recently, especially quarterbacks and receivers. These are players you would be willing to throw in on a multiple-player deal to get a talented player in return. A good example would be Redskins wideout Darnerian McCants, who has four touchdowns this year for Washington.

To Add players that you want off the market, find that last running back or receiver who might just eke out a touchdown to help an owner who is desperate defeat you in a fluke week. Players like Najeh Davenport or Ricky Proehl fit this description.

Below are some players who may be available in your league for pickup. Scour through them and find one or two you have the room to add, building depth for your team and making it harder for other owners to succeed.

QUARTERBACKS

Kurt Kittner, Falcons – Why not take a chance on him if your quarterbacks are average? New starters often rally a team, and Brian Finneran is back at wide receiver.

RUNNING BACKS

Robert Holcombe, Titans – Eddie George is still the main back on this team, but Holcombe gets his fair share of touchdowns, and if George gets hurt, guess who will be the man.

DeShaun Foster, Panthers – It looks like Foster is all the way back from his serious injury early last year. Don’t hesitate to stash him away for a rainy day trade. His 85 yards on 16 carries in relief of Stephen Davis are no joke.

Mike Cloud, Patriots – For the second straight week, Cloud scores. The fact is he is fresh and able to elevate the Patriots’ running game. If he should beat out both Faulk and Smith for the majority of the carries, then you will find yourself with a valuable fantasy runner. He is already a serviceable substitution.

Chester Taylor, Ravens – Taylor is getting involved in the rushing and receiving game. Those opportunities mean he could be a decent play in yardage leagues.

Najeh Davenport, Packers – Davenport is a lot like Holcombe from above. He gets the odd yards and a decent number of scores.

Adrian Peterson, Bears – If Anthony Thomas is out this week, Peterson may get the carries he needs to make and impact.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Darnerian McCants, Redskins – Even the third receiver in DC is receiving enough looks to warrant a second look from fantasy owners.

Dez White, Bears – White almost topped 100 yards and did catch a touchdown in the recent loss to New Orleans. Even without Stewart, the windy city may have found a decent fantasy wideout.

David Patten, Patriots – Now that David is healthy, look for him to make some big plays for the Patriots during the stretch run of the season.

Bryan Gilmore, Cardinals – Bryan scored a touchdown this week for the Cardinals. Wait until he starts getting more receptions to add him, but remember that he was penciled in to be a starter before the rookies got hot. If one or both of them start to cool down, he may pick up the slack.

Tyrone Calico, Titans – Calico seems to get better by the week, and Steve McNair has no reservations about going to him during a key down. Grab him if you have a slacker wide receiver.

Joe Jurevicius, Buccaneers – He was playing well before he was hurt. He’ll be catching balls again soon.

Steve Smith, Panthers – The running game is all that is mentioned about the offense, but Smith is a playmaker who is quickly becoming Delhomme’s favorite target.

TIGHT ENDS

Anthony Becht, Jets – Becht scored twice last Sunday, and will probably be a bigger part of the offense once Chad Pennington returns.

Jabari Holloway, Texans – Holloway has always been a talent, and now he is getting some looks in Texas.