Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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Rewarding Anticipation

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Last week provided a useful reminder about keeping up with player news and practice updates into the weekend. By early Tuesday afternoon, Fred Taylor was thought to be healthy, Mohamed Massaquoi was expected to continue to feast off the single coverage provided by Braylon Edward's presence on the other side, Sam Hurd was considered the top choice to replace Roy Williams, and Kevin Curtis had already returned to practice for the Eagles.

By Friday afternoon, however, it became obvious that Sammy Morris would have a major role in the Pats' offense, Mohamed Massaquoi would draw extra defensive attention in a passing offense likely to struggle mightily, Miles Austin would replace Roy Williams at split end, and talented rookie Jeremy Maclin would take over for Kevin Curtis. If you made the late-week moves in anticipation of the Week 5 breakout games, congratulations are in order. If not, welcome to this week's waiver wire lottery – and good luck.

On to the lists. Here is how I rank the top players available at each position as we head into Week 6. Full writeups of each player are below.

Editor's Note: Join subscriber only chats, get weekly rankings before anyone else, plus exclusive weekly projections, stat tools, dynasty ranks, columns, and much more including the Rotoworld Oracle in our Season Pass.

Wide Receivers
1. Miles Austin
2. Jeremy Maclin
3. Donnie Avery
4. Hakeem Nicks
5. Austin Collie
6. Muhsin Muhammad

Running Backs
1. Sammy Morris
2. Derrick Ward
3. Jamaal Charles
4. Michael Bush
5. Correll Buckhalter
6. Jerious Norwood

Quarterbacks
1. Josh Johnson
2. Jake Delhomme
3. Matt Cassel
4. Chad Henne
5. Daunte Culpepper

Tight Ends
1. Jermichael Finley
2. Zach Miller
3. Ben Watson
4. Tony Scheffler/Daniel Graham

Defenses
1. Jaguars
2. Redskins

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WIDE RECEIVERS

Miles Austin, Cowboys – The Week 5 perfect storm of 10/250/2 won't happen again. Roy Williams will return to the starting lineup, Austin won't be targeted 15 times against one of the slowest secondaries in the league, and the Cowboys won't play an overtime game every week. The good news, however, is that Austin's talent is legit and coach Wade Phillips suggested that he will see just as much playing time in Dallas' next game. Patrick Crayton has always been ideally suited for the slot role, so Austin will take over as the starter opposite Williams. With Williams struggling to separate from defenders, Austin is easily the best big-play threat among the Cowboys receivers. Pick him up as a potential WR3 for the rest of the season, but keep in the mind the Cowboys' bye this week.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Jeremy Maclin, Eagles – The No. 19 overall picked earned his quarterback's confidence with a well-rounded breakout game in Week 5. We knew the blazer could get deep, but he was also willing to make tough grabs over the middle. The bad news is that Maclin won't get the Bucs' burnable secondary every week, and Kevin Curtis looms as a possible timeshare. The good news is that Curtis just can't shake his knee injury, and Maclin seized his opportunity. I'm expecting the rookie to hold onto the starting job in a pass-first offense.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Donnie Avery, Rams – Avery showed no ill effects from the hamstring injury that limited him in practice last week as he reeled in five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. Now entrenched as the Rams No. 1 receiver, it was Avery's best performance since Week 11 of last season. The only option worth using in the St. Louis passing game, the speedster has an inviting matchup against a Jags secondary that surrendered four touchdowns to Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh in Week 5.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Hakeem Nicks, Giants – The first-round rookie is suddenly a threat to Mario Manningham's starting job. Nicks led the Giants in both targets and receptions in Week 5, and he's flashed home-run hitting ability in preseason and early-season action. Even if he dethrones Manningham, however, the two would likely split time and production. Grab Nicks as a stash for now.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues

Austin Collie, Colts – Are we sure that Anthony Gonzalez will go right back to being the No. 2 receiver when he re-enters the lineup? Collie has obviously earned Peyton Manning's confidence, catching six-of-seven targets in Week 4 and eight-of-nine in Week 5. The diligent rookie blocks well, runs great routes, knows the playbook, and hasn't been limited to slot duty the past two weeks. While Pierre Garcon grabs all of the accolades, Collie has been the more productive player. Keep in mind that the Colts are on bye this week, but Collie has the look of this year's Lance Moore.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues

Muhsin Muhammad, Panthers – The Bucs were able to shut down the Eagles' No. 1 receiver, DeSean Jackson, in Week 6, but No. 2 receiver Maclin exploded for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Steve Smith will draw the extra defensive attention this week, leaving Moose to make hay against the fourth most generous wide receiver defense in the league. Owners desperate for a WR3 should consider Muhammad as a one-week patch.

Recommendation: Worth a look as a matchup play

Long-Term Fliers

Michael Crabtree - Very long-term. Don't count on any fantasy contributions before Thanksgiving.

Josh Morgan - Growing more involved by the week; just missed two touchdowns over the past two games.

Lance Moore - Can he regain the No. 2 job following the Saints' bye?

Chris Henry - Now healthy after a painful early-season thigh injury, Henry is starting to get more involved in the offense. Laveranues Coles is toast.

Mike Wallace - Playing the Nate Washington role to perfection.

Cut Bait

Mohamed Massaquoi - Not ready yet to be the No. 1 receiver in a lifeless passing attack.

Lee Evans - Trent Edwards is killing the Buffalo passing attack.

Kevin Curtis - Unlikely to be 100 percent all season?

Justin Gage - Splitting production with rookie Kenny Britt. Vince Young sightings are bad news for all Titans receivers.


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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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