Welcome to this week’s discussion of hot waiver wire pickups. We’ll be doing this column all year, but the early weeks usually end up being the most important. A hot pickup or two in the first week can really turn a mediocre squad into a contender! For example, I’m in a league at work where one of the guys isn’t what you’d call a huge wealth of football knowlege. This fact was made all the more obvious when he drafted Michael Jackson, Frank Wycheck, and Ed McCaffrey with high draft picks last year. Turns out he was using a cheatsheet he found on the internet. A good idea, but the problem was that the cheatsheet was from 1998! Obviously his team was awful, right? Well, that’s where the importance of the waiver wire comes in. After getting beaten like Bob Backlund’s head against the turnbuckle in week 1, he scored Dominick Davis and Anquan Boldin off the waiver wire, finished 10 – 3, and made the final in a 16 team league. Moral of the story: Don’t neglect the waiver wire! It can fix many a draft day mistake for you.
Each week, the players listed will be split into three categories:
Smokin’ Hot!!! – These are guys who look to be the hottest pickups and are players that may even be worthy of putting in your starting lineup right off the waiver wire.
Solid Pickups – These players are coming off good weeks and have potential to be contributors to your team during bye weeks or in a position where you’re weak.
On the Radar – These are the ‘sleepers’ of the waiver wire. Perhaps not worthy of a pickup in smaller leagues, but someone to keep an eye on. Have potential to move up to Smokin Hot!!! or Solid Pickups in future weeks.
So, without further adieu:
Lamar Gordon RB Miami Dolphins
If your league doesn’t allow free-agent signings until after week 1, expect Gordon to be the hottest waiver wire pickup of the week. After being buried on the bench for a couple of years in St Louis, he’s now the projected starter for the Dolphins. He looked pretty poor in limited action this past weekend, but the Dolphins are built to run and Gordon is a solid #2 back if he can keep the job. He can catch too, as evidenced by his 5 grabs vs the Titans. If you have the #1 waiver pick in your league, look no further!
Maurice Morris RB Seattle Seahawks
I’ve had this guy squirreled away on my Dynasty team for years now, and it looks like he’s finally going to get a chance to play. Shawn Alexander tweaked his knee this past week, and early reports are that he could miss two weeks. The Hawks offensive is explosive, and Morris has looked teriffic when he’s had the chance to play. He tore up the Pac-10 while at Oregon, and all he needs is the chance. He’s also an interesting pickup for Dynasty and keeper leagues, as Alexander becomes a Free Agent at the end of the year…if Morris looks good, Alexander may be gone in 2005. MoMo may very well fade back into oblivion in another week or two, but he’s an instant starter for you as long as he keeps the starter job.
Onterrio Smith RB Minnesota Vikings
In larger leagues, it’s likely that this guy is already on a roster. But if you’re in a small league, or if the guppies in yours think Onterrio is just a Canadian province, snag this guy ASAP!! Smith looked fantastic this weekend against what was supposed to be a solid Dallas defense, and he looks to be the starter for at least another week or two with Michael Bennett nursing yet another injury. The timetable for Bennett’s return is a little murky, but once again, this guy’s an instant starter for you as long as he’s the Vikes starter. Ironically enough, this guy split carries for the Oregon Ducks with none other than…Maurice Morris. Insert Twilight Zone theme here.
Michael Clayton WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Keenan McCardell still refusing to report, and with Joey Galloway reportedly out 4 to 6 weeks, the Bucs need someone to step up at reciever. Clayton might be that guy. He’s a big target at 6′ 4″, and looked great snagging 7 balls against the Skins on Sunday. I’m not usually a huge fan of rookie receivers, but Clayton’s in the position to become the best of the rookie class this year.
Cedrick Wilson WR San Francisco 49ers
You heard it here…someone is going to step up and produce some good reciever numbers for the 49ers this year. In the preseason, the popular belief was that Brandon Lloyd would be that guy. But after week 1, it appears that Cedrick Wilson might steal that title. With 7 catches for 94 yards and a TD, Wilson looked solid against the Falcons this past weekend, outproduced Lloyd, and was the go-to guy late in the game. A nice pickup for your squad and may blossom into something more than a spot starter as the season progresses.
David Terrell WR Chicago Bears
Another guy I spotlighted in my preseason ‘Sleepers’ article, Terrell looked solid as the new #1 option for the Bears with 126 recieving yards against the Lions last week. If he has indeed turned it around, Terrell has a monster upside. Originally the #8 pick in the entire draft, he’s been largely forgotten in many fantasy leagues. Be the guy to remember.
Eric Johnson TE San Francisco 49ers
If he’s available on the waiver wire in your league this week, he won’t be for long. With the offense in total flux in San Fran, Johnson caught 8 for 86 and a TD…monster numbers for a fantasy TE. Don’t expect these numbers every week, but if he does this a couple of more times this season, mark him down as a starter for your squad. And look smart having a Yale grad on your team. Or if you’re dropping Dartmouth grad Jay Fiedler, all the better!
Ken Dorsey QB San Francisco 49ers
Dorsey looked good in camp, and Rattay has had some major problems staying on the field this year. With Rattay likely out this week with a shoulder separation, Dorsey is the likely starter against a mediocre Saints defense. The 49ers quarterback has traditionally been a good guy to have, and Dorsey is a proven winner. Don’t expect superstar numbers from him right off the bat, but if you have roster space for him, he may help you down the line. An interesting Dynasty league pickup for sure.
A.J Feely QB Miami Dolphins
After pimpin’ Jay Fiedler in my preseason sleeper article, he lasted a whoppin’ 30 minutes before getting yanked for Feely. Perhaps a quick hook, but the Fins have announced Feely as the week 2 starter and he’ll be given every chance to succeed. Once again, don’t expect miracles here, but Chambers, Booker, and McMichael are decent recievers and he may make a decent injury or bye-week starter for you. Another Dynasty pickup prospect.
Vinny Testaverde QB Dallas Cowboys
Yeah, I know your Grandfather has war medals that are younger than Vinny. Yeah, I know that he has the mobility of Fridge Perry leaving the buffet line. But Vinny threw for 355 yards last week, which is probably more than whoever you started. Lots of his stats were padded in garbage time, but we learned that Vinny can still sling the rock, has an experienced and savvy recieving corps, and can put up good number from time to time. I fully expect him to completely vaporize some day by a rabid lineman sacking him from the blindside. But until then, consider Vinny a servicable bye-week fill-in with the right matchup. And for those wondering…he’s NOT an interesting Dynasty league pickup!
On the Radar
ReShard Lee RB Dallas Cowboys
Lee looks like he could be what the Cowboys envisioned Eddie George’s role to be; a power back who can pick up tough short-yardage gains. A rookie from Middle Tennessee State, he ran hard Sunday and is a sleeper to find a spot in Parcells running back rotation. I wouldn’t recommend picking him up in any but the deepest of leagues, but keep your eye out for his name in the boxscore next week. The expected return of Julius Jones may return Lee to dog-meat status, but he’s one to track.
Doug Gabriel WR Oakland Raiders
The reciever pecking-order in Oakland is still unclear, but Gabriel had a solid camp and with 81 yards and a TD last week against the Steelers, he’s clearly in the mix. Keep an eye on this fella…he might be worth a pickup down the road.