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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Waiver Wire Warriors - Week 11
Dennis Leonard
November 16, 2005

Hello again and welcome back to Waiver Wire Warriors. Sort of a good news/bad news Week 10 for me. *Finally* won a game in my Huddle league but had to get the week’s high score to do it, which is a recurring problem. My 1-8 opponent picked last week to go ballistic and scored the second most points, resulting in a nail bitter that came down to Brian Westbrook’s last 40 yards on Monday night. Absolutely thrilling. I also took over as points leader, though my squad is still just 5-5. I gave my local team the week off (i.e., I got slapped around like a jail house snitch) but I’m still tied for the best record and remain the points leader. However, with the byes over, all injured players healthy, and facing only weak opponents during the remainder of the regular season I should finish strong. Hopefully there are a few names here that will help you do the same now that we move into this next phase of the fantasy season.

The New Recruits

Aaron Brooks – NO QB: Brooks is maybe a top 15 QB, so he’s fair game in this column. And while he is tied (with Culpepper) for the 2nd most INTs, Brooks offers good value to those searching for a replacement to McNabb, Culpepper, or merely a more permanent solution than rotating lesser signal callers. Brooks’ stats aren’t terribly impressive, but he’s certainly better than most of what you’ll find on waivers:

  • 1924 passing yards – 16th most in the NFL;
  • only 7 passing TDs – which is one less than Joey Harrington (eww);
  • but he has added another 220 yards on the ground (3rd most in the NFL); and
  • has 2 rushing TDs – only Vick has more.

While Brooks is largely considered inconsistent and undependable, it is interesting to note that he’s only really had one terrible game this year: Week 5 against the Packers. Aside from that, he’s always contributed something at least somewhat useful and actually demonstrated good upside in Weeks 6 and 7 against the Falcons and Rams, respectively. Note how both of those teams are notoriously suspect against the pass. Hmmm, who do the Saints play this week? Oh yeah, the Patriots. Do they have a suspect pass defense? Why, I believe they do…

  • allowed an average of 255.1 passing yards per game – 2nd most in the NFL;
  • allowed 18 passing TDs – tied for the most;
  • only picked off 4 passes – only Oakland and Houston have less;
  • collected a mere 14 sacks – only three teams have fewer; and
  • continue to lose players on both sides of the ball to injury.

Brooks makes a good play this week and, despite a mixed schedule going forward, isn’t as bad of a week-to-week option going forward as most might think. First off, all Saints’ receivers have had an extra week to heal during the team’s Week 10 bye. Horn and Hakim’s absence have certainly hurt Brooks’ value and one or both should be back in Week 11. Furthermore, because most people loathe Aaron Brooks as a fantasy option, you shouldn’t have to pay a premium in order to pry him loose from his owner. Alternatively, if he’s already on your roster, you should consider him a viable back up and a potential spot starter this week. I’ve got him in my Huddle league and, at this point, if my regular starter went down I’d honestly rather roll with Brooks than trade one of my starters at another position to get a different QB. Brooks also has serviceable match ups in Weeks 12, 14, and 16 versus the Jets, Falcons, and Lions, respectively.

Ricky Williams – MIA RB: If I lacked a decent #3 RB I’d seriously consider trading for Williams, assuming I didn’t have to over-pay. And you shouldn’t have to, since he’s splitting time with Ronnie Brown and coming off a bad game in Week 10. Also remind his owner that Williams is only sporting 3.1 yards per carry and he’s only scored once this year.

On the plus side, Williams has received double-digit carries in each of his last three games. And with Gus Frerotte very unlikely to play this week the entire Miami run game should see its workload increased. This week in particular looks decent to unleash Williams, if you need to, because Week 11’s opponent – the Browns – have allowed an average of 132.7 yards per game – 5th most in the NFL.

While I would not want to rely on Williams as a week-to-week starter, he offers upside RB depth at reasonable price, because Miami probably has the softest schedule against the run from here on out, with San Diego in Week 14 as the only rough spot.

Maurice Morris – SEA RB: At this point in the season two notions enter my mind. First, the bye weeks are over, which means my line up is, for better or worse, mostly set. Barring injuries I probably won’t need to use the waiver wire as much for weekly starters. And even if I did, after the last ten weeks the talent pool has been thinned considerably. Second, I may refocus my bench depth with an eye towards the post-season. More specifically, backing up key players begins to offer more value than speculative upside investments that might never pay off. Morris falls into that first category.

Shaun Alexander is having a career year and towing most of his owners’ fantasy teams along with it. If he were unavailable during your playoffs the loss would be devastating. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, he stays cemented in your starting line up, and the other RBs on your bench never matter. But if Alexander couldn’t go, what then? I have guys like Patrick Pass, Alvin Pearman, Duce Staley, and Chester Taylor on various rosters. And some of them may still become valuable starters before the season is over. But who knows if their potential will materialize – if at all – at the same time as my hypothetical injury-replacement need? *If* Morris would produce better than my current #4 or #5 RB, then I must seriously consider making room for Morris. Because then I’m about 99% certain that in a worst-case scenario, and Alexander goes down, I’ve got a playoff-worthy solution already on my roster.

Morris is actually having a decent season in his own right, though Alexander is simply hogging – he’s taken over 83% of the team’s carries (208). Still, Morris is averaging a very high 5.5 yards per carry. The only running backs of significance doing any better are Adrian Peterson (5.7 YPC), Patrick Pass (6.0 YPC), and Tatum Bell (6.3 YPC). Morris is even doing a hair better than Alexander himself (5.4 YPC), though that’s not an uncommon phenomenon. Morris has scored 1 TD in 28 carries, including five in the red zone. No fumbles, either. And the Seahawks have one of the six or seven easiest schedules against the run from here on out; the Colts in Week 16 are the only opponent of concern.

Morris has been with the Seahawks for four years now; they’ve been his only team. He knows the coaches, knows the play book, and I firmly believe he would be effective if called up on to start. Probably not as effective as Alexander, but likely a universe apart from what the likes of Patrick Pass, Alvin Pearman, Duce Staley, or Chester Taylor would give me. Plus, while conventional wisdom mandates the Seahawks will sign Alexander to a long-term contract before he’s a free agent at the end of the year, that hasn’t happened yet. Thus, for those in keeper/dynasty leagues, on the off chance the Seahawks’ organization suffers a collective blunt force head trauma, Morris would be the front-runner for the Seahawks’ starting spot next year.

Michael Turner – SD RB: Ditto.

Turner has had a similarly productive back up role behind LaDainian Tomlinson this year. Both backs are averaging 4.3 yards per carry (Turner has earned 137 yards on 32 carries). No scores, but no fumbles. Turner is a speedy second year Charger, so he’s familiar enough with the offense. And the Chargers have a fairly average schedule against the run going forward. Only the Colts in Week 15 pose a significant road block. If Tomlinson couldn’t play for me, for whatever reason, I’d have to have a very strong #3 running back on my roster not to roll with Turner.

Dominic Rhodes – IND RB: Ditto.

Rhodes is averaging a serviceable 4.1 yards per carry, has three TDs in just 27 attempts, and one lost fumble. Rhodes is also the Colts’ main kick returner, if you can use that production to your advantage. (Though he’d likely see that role reduced or eliminated if he were the starter). Edgerrin James has similarly been harnessed as the featured piece of many fantasy teams this year. Yet, Rhodes has spent his entire five-year career with the Colts and has almost always been productive when called upon to fill James’ shoes. While the Colts have one of the tougher schedules against the run going forward, it is highly unlikely opposing defenses would focus on stopping Rhodes if he did start. You know, because of that Peyton Manning guy, and some dudes named Harrison and Wayne.

Adrian Peterson – CHI RB: Ditto.

Yeah, he technically belongs in the “Veteran Recommendations” section. (Forgive me, but I’ve got a theme going here). Thomas Jones’ owners have likely been flogging that work horse for all they can get, but his injury concerns leave palpable doubt as to whether he can be relied on for each of his next six games. Cedric Benson will miss a minimum of one month by the latest guestimates, which means Peterson is the handcuff to have from now until at least Week 15.

I recommended adding Peterson last week before Benson got hurt, but because I thought he’d make a decent play in Week 10; not for his handcuff value. What a difference a week makes! Because now we know Peterson can run well behind the Bears’ spectacular offensive line. Peterson is boasting a freakish 5.7 yards per carry (thank you New Orleans and San Francisco), has had 8 of his 36 carries come in the red zone, and scored twice. I honestly don’t know if Thomas Jones will miss any more games. But with Adrian Peterson firmly planted on my roster, I really don’t care one way or the other. The Bears’ remaining rushing schedule isn’t a cake walk, but at least they face Atlanta and Green Bay in Weeks 15 and 16, which are both tolerable run defenses to face in what would be the most important games of your season.

LeRon McCoy – ARI WR: McCoy is a conditional recommendation: if Boldin sits, McCoy is worth starting. In my opinion, that makes McCoy most valuable to Boldin owners. Boldin says he’ll play, but we’ll see how things look after a week of practice. But the naked truth is that McCoy was targeted 9 times in Week 10, which made him the 2nd most targeted player on the team that has thrown the most passes this season. Not a bad gig, if you can land it. McCoy has caught 9 of the 13 passes thrown to him so far this season for a seemingly good 69.2% reception ratio. However, it’s hard to put a ton of faith in that number due to the small sample size.

All indications are that Bryant Johnson will sit in Week 11. Given that McCoy was praised by Head Coach Denny Green after his 6 reception, 70 yard game in Week 10, there is no reason to believe McCoy would not produce if he started against a St. Louis pass defense that has allowed the 6th most passing yards to date (averaging 240.9 per game). So McCoy is worth picking up until more is known about Boldin’s status, however, McCoy probably offers only short-term help at best.

Denvers’ DEF: Denver Broncos, come on down! This week’s opponents – the New York Jets – have the following desirable characteristics:

  • Scoring the 3rd fewest average points on regular offense (touch downs, field goals, extra points, 2-point conversions) – a mere 12.8 per game;
  • Gaining the 3rd fewest average yards per game – 242.4;
  • 5th fewest first downs per game – 15.7;
  • Tied (with San Francisco and Chicago) for 3rd most giveaways – 22; and
  • Has allowed the 3rd most sacks – 31.

From the Bronco’s perspective, they are only owned in about 40% of Fanball leagues, so they should be moderately available. They’ve also fallen out of the top 12 team defenses from a points per game perspective, coming off four tepid games (for fantasy purposes) in Weeks 5 through 8, which was followed by their bye week. However:

  • The Broncos have 18 turnovers – only 8 teams have more;
  • They’ve allowed the 4th fewest average rushing yards per game – 85.1; and
  • A very low 5 rushing TDs all season.

Denver doesn’t get many sacks (only 14 thus far), but the Broncos should contain the Jets’ one offensive strength – its run game. Turnovers are likely. A bumper crop of Jets’ offensive yardage and scoring is not.

Olindo Mare – MIA PK: Mare hasn’t done anything special this year, except in Weeks 1, 6, and 8. But he’s made all 16 of his extra points and 14 of his 16 field goal attempts. The reason he looks better than usual this week is that Week 11’s opponent – the Browns – are tied (with New Orleans) for allowing the 2nd most field goal kicking opportunities (22). Opponents have connected on 17 field goals against Cleveland and only two other defenses have allowed more than that: the Giants (18) and Seahawks (21). Therefore, Mare looks good to have multiple kicking opportunities this week.

Todd Peterson – ATL PK: Peterson is still perfect on the season (22 extra points and 12 field goals) but he hasn’t been asked to kick many 3-pointers. That may change in Week 11 because the Buccaneers have allowed the 4th most field goal attempts (21) in the NFL. And, as with Cleveland (above), 17 of those kicks have been completed and only the Giants and Seahawks have permitted more.

Veteran Recommendations

Quarterbacks On A Budget

The wheels have already come off this high-risk, moderate reward short bus. I suggested four pairings last week, two of which need to be scrapped. Bollinger/Holcomb turned out to be an abomination on nature. And Bollinger/McNair looks too risky to rely on this week because Bollinger lost any confidence I had in him and McNair’s match up with the Jaguars isn’t favorable enough to use him this week. Two options remain:

Warner/McNair: This week it’s Warner versus the Rams’ secondary. He’s looking useful but not overly dangerous:

  • Already named the starter for Week 11;
  • Completing 62.9% of his passes, which ties him with Tom Brady – only 8 current starters have been more accurate;
  • Throwing an average of 38.8 passes per game – only McNabb is averaging more;
  • Averaging 277.8 passing yards per game – 4th most in the NFL;
  • Cracked into the top 10 fantasy QBs for the first time last week; and
  • This week’s opponent – the Rams – are fertile hunting ground for opposing passers. As stated above in the McCoy recommendation, the Rams are allowing the 6th most passing yards to date (averaging 240.9 per game).

Warner/Holcomb: Still Warner, which buys us a week to figure out what the QB deal is in Buffalo. I still like Holcomb, but Losman looked pretty good last week, too. Either way, the Bills match ups haven’t changed. So we can still use this pair.

Greg Jones – JAX RB: Greg Jones has proven useful; he is averaging a nice 4.2 yards per carry on a run-first team and has scored 3 rushing TDs, which is more than any other Jaguar. Jones was the 12th or 13th most productive running back in Week 10 against a Ravens’ defense that’s allowed a stingy 3.7 yards per carry (5th lowest in the NFL) and a below average 6 rushing TDs. Furthermore, the Jaguars seem to have committed to Jones as their clear #2 RB, as neither LaBrandon Toefield nor Alvin Pearman saw significant action in Week 10.

Jones was a pretty popular pick up last week, so he’s now available in the less than half of Fanball’s leagues, but he’s worth adding if available. If you already own Jones, this week looks like another workable match up, assuming Fred Taylor sits. The opposing Titans aren’t allowing many rushing TDs – just 4 so far. However, Tennessee has given up 1017 rushing yards. This number appears to be understated due to opponents electing not to run heavily on the Titans despite the fact that they are allowing the NFL’s 8th highest yards per carry to opposing rushers (4.7 YPC). Since Jacksonville has thrown only thrown 264 passes (9th fewest in the NFL this season) relative to running the ball 275 times (10th most this season), Jones could be in productive work day.

Marion Barber III – DAL RB: I told you weeks ago that as long as there were questions surrounding Julius Jones’ status that Barber’s Shop was open for business. He shouldn’t be on waivers in any sized league. That he’s currently available in over a third of Fanball leagues baffles me, as you’d think Julius Jones’ owners would have figured out that he’s a mandatory handcuff. If he’s on waivers in your league, make room. If he is named the starter against an average Lions’ run DEF (below average 105.6 yards per game but allowing an above average 4.1 yards per carry) play him. Because – news flash – the Cowboys like to run the ball; 305 times so far this year, which is the 3rd most in the NFL.

J.J. Arrington – ARI RB: Arrington may or may not be retaking the role of the Cardinal’s starting running back. Head Coach Denny Green recently insisted that Marcel Shipp is still the starter, however, this is the same Denny Green that insisted Arrington was the starter earlier in the season while simultaneously transitioning Shipp into that very role. So you’ll excuse me if I don’t put 100% faith into Coach Green’s comments.

Arrington took just 8 hand offs (3 in the red zone, where Shipp had zero) for 24 yards and a score in Week 10 versus a Detroit run defense that has allowed a below-average 105.6 yard per game and just four rushing TDs (only five teams have allowed fewer). He was also targeted twice in the passing game and had 1 reception for 4 yards. All things considered, that’s a great game from Arrington.

No team has thrown more passes than the Cardinals this year (381) and that won’t change against the Rams, so we can’t expect Arrington will ever become the centerpiece of his teams offense. However, this week he’ll be running on the Rams’ DEF that has permitted the 6th highest average yards per game (132.3) and 12 rushing TDs. Only four other teams have allowed more (13 each for Houston, Buffalo, Arizona, and San Francisco). Therefore, Arrington is facing a fantastic opponent if his role gets increased this week. Furthermore, the Cardinals have one of the easiest schedules against the run from now until Week 16. Only Jacksonville in Week 12 looks impossible. Seeing as how Arrington is currently only owned in 30% of Fanball leagues, if you’re still turning over stones looking for a potential starting RB on waivers, Arrington might not be totally worthless. And this week, at least, he looks to contribute at a modest but useful level.

Combo Defenses: Updated, For Your Pleasure

Going into Week 9 I did a featured piece on combining certain defenses to rotate based on the match up. Considering none of them were top 12 team defenses for fantasy purposes at the time, I’ve been pleased with the results. But like I said back then, the baseline data I use – weakness of opponent – is something of a shifting target. So let’s update things.

As you’ll recall, I rank opposing offenses based on six criteria: (1) points scored on regular offense; (2) yards gained on regular offense; (3) first downs; (4) turnovers/giveaways; (5) sacks allowed; and (6) offensive penalties. I arbitrarily give the worst in each category 7 “points,” the second worst 6 points, and so on. Then we look for the teams with the most points and the teams who appear on the most lists. Here is how the grading going into Week 9 stacks up against the grading going into Week 11:

Week 9 Week 11 Movement
Houston San Francisco +1
San Francisco Houston -1
Chicago New York Jets +5
New Orleans New Orleans same
Cleveland Baltimore +2
Minnesota Chicago -3
Baltimore Minnesota -1
New York Jets St. Louis new
Arizona (honorary member) Arizona (honorary member) same

The Jets and Ravens’ offenses got worse. The Bears got better. Cleveland dropped off the list (but just barely). The Cardinals, while not garnering a lot of crapola points under my grading system, nevertheless is listed as an honorary member because they were among the seven worst teams in three of the six criteria I graded (6th most turnovers, 6th most sacks allowed, and 7th most penalties on offense). The Rams join the list because they have the 2nd most turnovers and 5th most sacks allowed. However, your defensive scoring system would have to virtually ignore points and yards in order to bet against the Rams’ offense. If it doesn’t, just forget about the Rams.

Okay, let’s check in on how these Combo Defenses are looking now.

Option #1 - Jaguars and your choice of Rams or Seahawks.

OPTION #1 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Jaguars @ TEN @ ARZ @ CLE IND SF @ HOU
- and -            
Rams ARZ @ HOU WAS @ MIN PHI SF
- or -            
Seahawks @ SF NYG @ PHI SF @ TEN IND

Clearly the Jaguars’ DEF is the back bone of Option #1. However, the match ups still look good. The only change is that Cleveland is no longer a primary target of ours, but like I said, they just barely moved off the list. Cleveland could easily return next week, or maybe you just let the Jags do their thing in Week 13 and step away from strict adherence to the “weakness of opponent” philosophy. Because over the last three weeks the Jaguars’ defense has pretty much been in the top 6 as far as points per game go. Seahawks have been in the top 10. Rams, top 15. So this Combo Defense is lookin’ slick.

Option #2 - Rams/Lions: still looks good but we may have an opportunity to improve it, or at least expand it to be useful to more people.

OPTION #2 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Rams ARZ @ HOU WAS @ MIN PHI SF
Lions @ DAL ATL MIN @ GB CIN @ NO

Nothing spectacular but at least the match ups still look good; no changes. And with the loss of both Owens and (at least potentially) McNabb, the Rams’ Week 15 game with the Eagles isn’t looking as scary as it was two weeks ago. The weak link here is the Lions’ DEF, which has regressed a little for fantasy purposes over the last three weeks. However, after revisiting other potential combo partners, you could just as easily substitute the Packers or Cardinals. Though, the Cardinals are playing terrible defense right now, so I don’t advise them. Here’s how a modified Option #2b could look:

OPTION #2b Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Rams ARZ @ HOU WAS @ MIN PHI SF
Packers MIN @ PHI @ CHI DET @BAL CHI
- or -            
Cardinals @ STL JAX @SF WAS @ HOU PHI

Clearly the Rams and Packers make a good pair. In fact, notice how the Packers play against Baltimore in Week 15, which is a much more favorable match up than the Rams versus Eagles, or Lions versus Bengals. And the Packers have been playing a bit better than the Lions on defense lately, at least for fantasy purposes. So this dog can still hunt.

Option #3 - Panthers/Titans: didn’t see any relevant changes in the schedule of match ups.

OPTION #3 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Panthers @ CHI @ BUF ATL TB @ NO DAL
Titans JAX SF @ IND HOU SEA @ MIA

However, since recommending this Combo Defense two weeks ago the Panthers’ DEF has been resurrected back to elite status; over the last three weeks they’ve been a top 3 DEF from a points per game perspective. Hope you got them already because if you do, you’re gonna wanna keep ‘em. In fact, using Carolina as a nucleus for Option #3 you can easily pair Baltimore, Green Bay, or New England if they are more appealing or more available than the Titans. Here is how a modified Option #3b could look with those guys:

OPTION #3b Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Panthers @ CHI @ BUF ATL TB @ NO DAL
- or -            
Baltimore PIT @ CIN HOU @ DEN GB MIN
Green Bay MIN @ PHI @ CHI DET @BAL CHI
New England NO @ KC NYJ @ BUF TB @ NYJ

Green Bay provides a lot more options, especially during Weeks 13 and 16 when the Panthers have their most difficult remaining games. But they all work.

Well, there’s our update for Combo Defenses. I’ll probably take one more look at this gimmick going into Week 14, which is the beginning of most leagues’ fantasy playoffs. But I’ll let you know if there are any major changes in the ranking of weak offenses that we’re targeting.

Seahawks’ DEF: They’re playing my Niners, which is all but a formal invitation. The Seahawks also have recorded the 2nd most sacks (30), has allowed a below average 313.6 yards per game, and is tied (with Buffalo) for allowing the 8th fewest points to opposing defenses (18.0). Not much for turnovers, though. Course, the Niners are tied for the 3rd most giveaways, so Seattle should get some. The ‘Hawks are currently owned in only 43% of Fanball leagues, so I know this squad is available to some of you. FYI, if you normally start the Bears’ DEF, the Seahawks face the Niners in Weeks 11 and 14 when the Bears are playing against the Panthers (i.e., Steve Smith) and the Steelers (i.e., healthy Roethlisberger), respectively. Something to consider, anyways.

Guys I Thought About Recommending In More Detail But Opted Not To

Kyle Boller – BAL QB: Woof. Three interceptions, no TDs, and only 142 passing yards last week. I realize the Jaguars’ DEF played very well, but Boller is simply not an NFL-caliber quarterback. So let’s move on and never mention him here again.

Tommy Maddox – PIT QB: “Back away, not today, disco lady.” – Disco Stu

Chris Simms – TB QB: Tampa Bay is tied (with San Francisco) for allowing the 7th most sacks this year (25). On the other hand, only five teams have accrued more sacks than Week 11 opponent, the Falcons’ (also 25). The forces of numerical irony may collide here. And while Simms has improved recently, he’s still turned the ball over more times (6) than he’s scored (5), which means he’s a real risky play this week. But Tampa Bay has an average schedule against the pass moving forward, so you could do worse for emergency QB depth down the stretch if he continues to make strides.

Sam Gado – GB RB: against the Vikings? No analysis required.

Matt Jones – JAX WR: Great game last week for the rookie. But his value is dependant on whether or not Wilford starts, whether or not Jimmy Smith’s recent demands for more looks in the passing game are met, how the run game unfolds with Fred Taylor and Greg Jones, how dominant the Jags’ defense is going forward, whether the Jags elect to pass more, and a bunch of other factors that make Jones a speculative upside gamble at best. Jacksonville has thrown the 9th fewest passes in the NFL so far – only 264. With so many mouths to feed and conservative passing game, Jones isn’t worth much unless he’s starting. Add him if you like him, but do not start him until he’s secured the #2 spot.

Bobby Engram – SEA WR: Anyone can torch San Francisco’s secondary, if they want to. Expect my Niners to try – and fail – to stop Shaun Alexander first and foremost. That’s going to leave a lot of room to roam for Engram, who is the team’s best option for moving the chains and running out clock through the air. Engram is typically good for 60+ yards and a half-dozen receptions but not much love in the end zone; that’s Alexander’s sand box. However, Engram looks better than usual this week if he’s someone you’d normally play. I’ve detailed the guy too already, so I’m listing him here in passing.

Heath Evans – NE RB: Nice Game. Any chance your coach will be upfront with who is starting this week? Yeah, didn’t think so. Enter this hall of mirrors at your own risk. Even if Evans is productive you will likely never know when it is safe to start him.

Kevin Curtis – STL WR: Recommended countless times already, he’s basically off limits at this point. But it is worth noting that Isaac Bruce does not look like he’s fully recovered. And after as much time as he’s had off, he may not be healthy for the rest of the season. Turf toe takes a long time to heal, so expect Curtis to hold his value. Keep playing him unless you have substantially better options.

Lee Evans – BUF WR: Nice game. But where were you in Weeks 1 through 8? I see the upside, but one good week and a boiling QB controversy does not a recommendation make. I’d only add him if Losman were under center, as the two have obvious chemistry. But starting Evans is a risky proposition until Week 10’s output is shown to be more than a fluke. However, *if* Losman gets the start, Evans will at least have the opportunity to reproduce his Week 10 success. This week’s opponent – the Chargers – have allowed about the 4th most fantasy production to wide outs.

Panthers’ DEF: Obvious play this week against the Bears, as noted in the Combo Defense report.

Packers’ DEF: You could do a lot worse than facing the Vikings when they’re on the road. That Minnesota offense is a Gordian knot of disappointment to its fans. But even in defeat the Giants’ DEF did fine for fantasy purposes because Minnesota’s defense and special teams scored all the TDs.

Rams’ DEF: As mentioned in the Combo Defenses section, the Cardinals have given up the 6th most turnovers, allowed the 6th most sacks, and committed the 7th most penalties on offense. Arizona wide receiver Bryant Johnson shouldn’t play and Boldin is suspect. Again, you could do worse than facing this team when they are on the road.

The Waiver Wire Report Card

Week 10’s recommendations wrote a sad, new chapter for this column: it was the first time ever than fewer than 50% of my picks met my criteria for being a “hit.” I’d love to blame it all on unexpected injuries, bad weather, and the liberal media but that would be weak and lame. So I come to you, hat in hand, with the following results from last week. Let’s hope it’s the first – and last – time we bat less than .500.

QBS ON A BUDGET REVIEW:

Combo #1 - Warner/McNair : Didn’t highly recommend either this week, but with McNair on a bye that means Warner was the de facto pick. While I wasn’t expecting anything much this week Warner actually looked good. He’s still allergic to scoring more than once a game, but 1 TD, 359 passing yards, and no turnovers equals a top 6 fantasy QB last week. Hit.

Combo #2 – Warner/Holcomb : Recommended Holcomb for this week. Warner turned out to be the better play, but only because Holcomb got knocked out of the game with a concussion. Miss due to injury, but a miss nonetheless.

Combo #3 – Bollinger/Holcomb : Dealer’s choice, but both came up bust. Let’s not mince words; this pick sucked. Miss.

Combo #4 – Bollinger/McNair : Recommended Bollinger for Week 10 and he got killed. You were probably better off playing Kyle Boller, which is so very, very sad. Miss.

Kyle Orton – CHI QB: Going 8 of 13 for 67 yards and an INT is a miss regardless of the reason. But the severe wind did have a lot to do it. I guess the lesson is that if you’re deciding between two equally risky QBs, play the guy who isn’t playing in 40 mile an hour winds.

Sam Gado – GB RB: This pick was creepy-weird. I predicted in jest that if Green Bay’s Walt Williams ever became the Packers’ featured back he’d likely spontaneously combust given the injuries plaguing his other blood relatives in the NFL and the fates of Green, Davenport, and Fisher. Two days later Williams was put on injured reserve for a hamstring injury suffered in practice. Creepy. Weird. Gado, on the other hand, blew up the scoreboard: 25 carries for 103 yards and two TDs, plus 4 receptions for 5 yards and yet another TD. This pick wasn’t very original, but it was very, very successful. Hit.

Michael Bennett – MIN RB: The good news is that Bennett got 19 carries (all but two last week) and had 6 receptions – the most of any Vikings pass target. The bad news is that amounted to 27 total yards, no scores, and a lost fumble. Egads. On the one hand Bennett got a ton of opportunities and I like that we spotted the potential. But on the other, he was useless for fantasy purposes and will likely get summarily fired from the starting spot. Thus, I’m forced to call this pick a miss.

Adrian Peterson – CHI RB: I recommended picking up – and playing – Peterson last week, assuming Thomas Jones sat. That advice was particularly geared towards Thomas Jones’ owners. I took my own advice and I’m a happier man because of it. I sure didn’t see Benson’s injury coming, but now I’ve got the only two backs that matter in one of the NFL’s more productive and consistent run-first offenses. This pick was 600-pound gorilla sized hit: 24 carries, 120 yards, 1 TD, and no fumbles. I doubt many people actually played him, but he came through huge if you did.

Duce Staley – PIT RB: I felt lucky to get Staley off waivers last Wednesday in my local, considering I had the worst waiver priority in the league. But his output was lackluster. The Steelers’ run game was spread out between a number of players, yet Staley at least chipped in 64 yards on the ground (led all rushers) and another 16 on two receptions. A score would have been nice, but at least he didn’t turn the ball over. I can’t call this pick a miss because he contributed. But it was a lot smaller than I’d hoped. A small hit.

Alvin Pearman/Greg Jones – JAX RB: The Jaguars sat Fred Taylor in Week 11, and with advance notice this time. Jones was the obvious pick up and he did well: 106 yards on the ground, 1 TD, no fumbles, and 1 reception for 7 yards. So the Jones part of the recommendation was a nice hit. Pearman, on the other hand, did very little. It’s not that he did anything wrong, the Jags just gave virtually all the work to Jones. So I’m taking partial credit on this one: fractional hit.

J.J. Arrington – ARZ RB: Normally I don’t include the “guys I thought about recommending in more detail” candidates here in the report card. But I said if Arrington’s sprain turned out to be nothing that I liked his chances to contribute modest production, especially in point per reception leagues. It was known Arrington would play after last week’s column came out and Arrington built on his Week 9 success: 8 carries for 24 yards and a TD, no turnovers, 1 reception for 4 yards. Turns out the points per reception aspect of the recommendation didn’t matter, but in virtually all leagues Arrington contributed useful points. Modest hit.

Scotty Vines – DET WR: Only 4 pass targets, of which he caught 2 for 17 measly yards. The problem here was lack of opportunity. And that’s odd because Charles Rogers (targeted twice, caught 1 ball for 4 yards) did nothing to supplant Vines in the line up. This pick was a miss for Week 10, but the jury is still out on Vines’ value for the rest of the season because it is highly unlikely future opponents are going to allow Roy Williams to roam free like he did in Week 10.

Amani Toomer – NYG WR : The Giants lost but at least Toomer pulled his weight, stats wise. This pick was a hit, but Toomer was targeted 12 times and only caught 6 for 61 yards and a TD. So he could have been even more productive.

Ernest Wilford – JAX WR: Picked up and played Wilford in both my leagues and he killed me. Targeted 7 times, only 1 catch, then he gets hurt. But I guess getting covered by Raven’s stud corner back Samari Rolle has that effect on some people. The severity of Wilford’s shoulder sprain appears to be minor and early reports are that he’ll be “available” this week. No word yet on whether he or Matt Jones will be the starter, so it's hard to say whether to hold or drop Wilford. I loved his numbers going into Week 10 but it was a miss any way you slice it.

Justin McCareins – NYG WR: I said, “I’ll consider this pick a hit if McCareins starts to appreciably turn his reception ratio around this week or sees some meaningful attention from Bollinger.” Neither of those things happened. Coles and McCareins split the lion’s share of the pass targets at 5 each. McCareins only caught 2 of his, which was right in line with his 40% reception ratio on the season. Miss.

Matt Stover – BAL KR: Ugh. Miss. Hard to fault Stover, though. He made the one kick the Ravens asked him to and scored 100% of the team’s points in Week 10. Clearly, he isn’t the problem. Yet while I maintain that Stover’s game is up to snuff after a slow start, he failed to contribute at an acceptable level last week.

Combo DEF Watch:

Combo DEF #1 Jaguars and Seahawks/Rams: Recommended the Jags portion this week. Hit. The Jags went berserk in Week 10 and are looking very good going forward. If you had them, or traded for them recently, you’ve got to be happy with the production you’ve seen in the last few games.

Combo DEF #2 –Lions and Rams: Recommended the Lions portion this week. They didn’t do much; only 1 fumble recovered and a safety. Despite the fact that the Lions did slight better than the Rams, both were in the bottom third for team defense production last week. Aggravating miss.

Combo DEF #3 – Panthers and Titans: Recommended the Panthers' portion this week. Like the Jags, the Panthers’s DEF came to play in Week 10. Hit.

That’s our show for this week, folks. We’ll return next Wednesday with more home-baked waiver wire goodness fresh from the Huddle’s oven. Good luck in Week 11, may you avoid injuries, and game on!

* Non-football note : Must sleep, as my eye ballsare oozing with caffeinated fatigue. However, you can count on more non-football irrelevance next week right here at Waiver Wire Warriors.