Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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No Plax, No Problem

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


As the designated Dynasty sherpa at Rotoworld, I've developed quite a few keeper league maxims over the years. The ne'er-do-well Plaxico Burress was the impetus for one of my earliest rules: stay away from players with high knucklehead potential. Ever since he arrived in Pittsburgh as a Top-10 pick in the 2000 draft, Plax has been a threat to lose fantasy value at a moment's notice simply because of his knucklehead nature. Plax's offenses have run the gamut: crimes, benchings, suspensions, laziness, tardiness, insubordination, outright stupidity, vanishings and now the coup de grace – a self-inflicted gunshot wound with multiple layers of repercussions.

The initial repercussion for fantasy owners is the sudden value spike for his replacement, Domenik Hixon. I advised handcuffing Hixon to Plax last week after the hamstring injury made an appearance. As the week went on and it was obvious that Plax wouldn't suit up, Hixon's value continued to rise. Once Plax went the way of "Lawyers, Guns and Money" Saturday morning, Rotoworld dubbed Hixon a mandatory pickup. Oddly enough, Plax's big-play replacement in the Giants offense is owned in just 25 percent of all fantasy leagues. If he's still sitting out there, grab Eli Manning's new weapon and consider starting him this week.

As for the rest of the Waiver Wire options, we would advise not getting overly cute in turning to a guy coming off one strong game while benching a struggling stud. As a general rule, owners should stick with the lineup that got them to this point.

The Waiver Wire is now about insurance. Fine-tune your depth and maximize your roster to deal with the types of injuries suffered by Plaxico Burress, Kellen Winslow, Marion Barber, and Ryan Grant in Week 13. This week's column will feature the Top-5 options to replace both Plax and Winslow as well as the Top-5 fliers at quarterback and running back.

On to the lists. Here is how I rank the Top-5 players available at each position as we head into the fantasy playoffs. Full writeups of each player are below.


Top 5 Plaxico Burress Replacements
1. Domenik Hixon, Giants
2. Davone Bess, Dolphins
3. Amani Toomer, Giants
4. Mark Clayton, Ravens
5. Deion Branch, Seahawks

Top 5 Kellen Winslow Replacements
1. Tony Scheffler, Broncos
2. Zach Miller, Raiders
3. John Carlson, Seahawks
4. Heath Miller, Steelers
5. Todd Heap, Ravens

Top 5 Running Back Fliers
1. Pierre Thomas, Saints
2. Brandon Jackson, Packers
3. Sammy Morris, Patriots
4. Tashard Choice, Cowboys
5. LeRon McClain, Ravens

Top 5 Quarterback Fliers
1. Shaun Hill, 49ers
2. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
3. Matt Schaub, Texans
4. Joe Flacco, Ravens
5. Gus Frerotte, Vikings

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Top 5 Plaxico Burress Replacements

1. Domenik Hixon, Giants - Considering all of the factors – Plax's hamstring injury and knucklehead nature plus Hixon's playmaking ability and history of success as a fill-in – we made Hixon a mandatory handcuff prior to Plax's "your move, Pacman" moment Saturday morning.

After this weekend's events, Hixon has moved to the head of the class as a viable playoff WR2/WR3 and the waiver wire target of Week 14. He saw nine targets as Plax's replacement against the Redskins and is easily the best playmaker of the remaining Giants receivers. As of press time, Hixon is owned in just a third of all leagues. Go get him.

2. Davone Bess, Dolphins - Move him down your list in big play leagues or TD-heavy leagues. But Bess believe he's a sure-handed slot receiver of the Lance Moore/Greg Camarillo ilk as matchup starter in PPR leagues the rest of the way. The undrafted steal out of Hawaii is not a great bet to go off with a huge game, but expecting Camarillo-like production is well within reason.

3. Amani Toomer, Giants - In addition to Hixon, Toomer also saw an increase in production with Plax out of the lineup in Week 13. Eli is throwing more the past couple of weeks as defenses sell out against the run, so Toomer is back on the radar after being worthless in October and November. I'm ranking the Giants stretch-run receivers as 1. Hixon 2. Toomer 3. Steve Smith.

4. Mark Clayton, Ravens - Is the playmaking ability for real? Signs point toward "yes." After Clayton's 939-yard sophomore season, he was a third-year breakout candidate entering 2007 before a string of injuries sabotaged his season. He struggled to get his groove back with rookie Joe Flacco at the helm early in the season, but he's flashed big play ability the past month as Flacco has grown. Clayton has exceeded 75 yards in three of the past five weeks, but inconsistency and a tough schedule dampen his value.

5. Deion Branch, Seahawks - Not yet simpatico with Matt Hasselbeck, Branch has done little despite leading the Seahawks in targets since returning from a heel injury. He's a weak WR3 right now and won't find the end zone with any sort of regularity, but PPR leaguers can hope for a late-season revival in Seattle.

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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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