We’re two weeks into the season and your 2009 fantasy football draft class hasn’t worked out the way you wanted it to. You’re looking for waiver wire pickups to boost your team’s chances, so let’s look at which free agents you might acquire through waivers. I’ll separate these picks on the ones who are likely on teams already and the ones you should definitely be able to grab.
As always, there are more wide receivers in free agency than any other position. This once again proves why you draft running backs high and generally worry about receivers later.
Fantasy Football Free Agents – Grab Them If You Can
Grab these guys if they’re still available in your league’s free agency. Some of these guys are already on rosters in certain formats, so you’ll have to find the ones available in your league. I would go Mario Manningham, Laurent Robinson, Pierre Garcon, Chaz Schilens and Mike Sims-Walker among receivers, and LeSean McCoy and then Mewelde Moore among running backs.
Mario Manningham – Wide Receiver – New York Giants
It was only a matter of time before Eli Manning was going to find a big play receiver to replace Plaxico Burress. Two weeks into the NFL Season, it appears to be 2nd-year wide receiver Mario Manningham. While Steve Smith appears to be the receiver who Eli Manning looks to when trying to move the chains, Mario Manningham has been the big play receiver two weeks in a row. It’s possible, even when Hakeem Nicks and Domenic Hixon return from injury, Manningham has forced his way into the New York Giants starting lineup.
Manningham might be available in leagues that don’t have instant add/drops. Mario Manningham had a surprising Week 1 in fantasy football, but it wasn’t so big that teams in your league necessarily grabbed Manningham off the waiver wire. In my leagues, Manningham was a free agent in just under half the leagues. Make him your top priority in leagues with waiver wire priority list or blind bidding.
Laurent Robinson – Wide Receiver – St. Louis Rams
Laurent Robinson is likely to have been drafted late in fantasy drafts or picked up in free agency week one. On the off chance Laurent Robinson, starting WR for the St. Louis Rams, is still out there on the waiver wire, add him to your roster this week. Both weeks, Laurent Robinson caught multiple balls and put up respectable fantasy football stats. The thing is, Marc Bulger has to have someone to throw to and Laurent Robinson appears to be developing a rapport with Bulger, while Donnie Avery is working his way back from injury. Expect Laurent Robinson to get a few fewer looks when Avery is healthy and whole again, but the Rams Offense might improve, offsetting the drop in percentage of looks with more overall plays for the Rams O.
Mike Sims-Walker – Wide Receiver – Jacksonville Jaguars
The fantasy football magazines will list this Jacksonville Jaguars WR as simply “Mike Walker”. Mike Sims-Walker was being touted as a sleeper pick by certain fantasy football draft services in 2009, but he was overshadowed late in Jags training camp by the seeming emergence of Troy Williamson. When the Jaguars got down 31-3 to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, David Garrard started looking in Mike Walker’s direction. Sims-Walker ended with 6 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Mike Walker or Mike Sims-Walker, however your league site lists him, should be available on waivers. He had a big fat zero in week one. Given that Mike Walker is a rookie WR, he’s likely to be inconsistent in 2009. But his 100-yard game shows Mike Sims-Walker is worth being on a fantasy football roster.
Denver Broncos Defense – Waiver Wire Pickups
If you’ve played fantasy football the last two years, you know the Broncos Defense has sucked. The Broncos have been the worst defense against the run over that time and one of the worst overall. Lost in the Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall controversies this offseason is that Josh McDaniels new regime has tried to rebuild the defensive unit.
First of all, Mike Nolan took over as Broncos Defensive Coordinator. You might know Nolan for his failed stint as Niners head coach, but he got that job as a successful defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, as well as the New York Jets, New York Giants and Washington Redskins before that. Next, the Broncos added Brian Dawkins, Renaldo Hill and Andre Goodman to their secondary. Then the Broncos added nose tackle Ronald Fields and Andra Davis at linebacker. Eventually, the Denver Broncos might see help from rookie high round draft picks like Robert Ayers, Alphonso Smith and Darcel McBath. With a 3-4 defensive scheme in place, the Denver Broncos are an entirely different unit than the one that’s stunk it up for years.
So far, the Broncos have held opponents to 13 points in two games. Those opponents were the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, of course, but that Bengals Offense just hung 28 on a supposedely improved Green Bay Packers Defense. Most importantly, the Broncos play the Oakland Raiders in Week 3. The Raiders can run the ball some, but their passing game is a joke. Even though the Raiders have been in both games this season, their offense is anything from high-powered. So if you need an emergency Team Defense in Week 3, pick up the Denver Defense and start it.
Chaz Schilens – Wide Receiver – Oakland Raiders
Chaz Schilens is still a week or two away from returning from a broken foot for the Oakland Raiders, but the receiver looked to be securing the job as the Raiders #1 receiver in preseason before he got injured. With the Raiders passing game struggling, the 6’4″, 225 lb Chaz Schilens should get the opportunity to start. This is one you grab and stash on your roster, but it’s probably worth holding an extra week or two, to jump the gun on your opponents.
LeSean McCoy – Running Back – Philadelphia Eagles
Okay, in any kind of deep league or middle depth league, LeSean McCoy was drafted and is sitting on a roster somewhere. But in those 12-team, 14-man rosters, you might look to see if LeSean McCoy is free. Brian Westbrook went out of the game on Sunday and his status is uncertain. With the Eagles on a bye in Week 4, it’s possible LeSean McCoy gets a significant amount of carries to spell Brian Westbrook in Week 3.
Mewelde Moore – Running Back – Pittsburgh Steelers
It appears the Pittsburgh Steelers have made Mewelde Moore their 3rd down runner. That doesn’t mean he’ll be getting a whole lot of production, but it does make Mewelde Moore worth starting. With the ineffectiveness of Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall in the first two weeks, you can make their owners nervous. Even better, Mewelde Moore showed the potential to put up big fantasy football numbers when those guys went out last year. If one goes out for any significant time, Mewelde Moore could be a big fantasy producer again. Don’t wait until someone gets hurt, if you have the roster spot.
Pierre Garcon – Wide Receiver – Indianapolis Colts
Grab Pierre Garcon if he’s still out there, as the Colts #2 receiver (or at least big play receiver) until Anthony Gonzales returns, perhaps as late as midseason. Garcon is a second year WR who has shown flashes in limited exposure with the Indianapolis Colts offense. If you’re in a really deep league, consider stashing Hank Baskett on your bench. Baskett was signed by the Indianapolis Colts last week as a veteran replacement for Gonzales.