Waiver Wire Pickups & Playoff Advice

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The vast majority of leagues set a predetermined roster freeze date just before the playoffs begin. It's a time when you must strategize, prioritize and scrutinize every aspect of your lineup. Have only one tight end? Probably want to grab another just in case you're not caught without one if your starter goes down with an injury.

Carrying only one defense?

Well make sure that defense has a favorable string of matchups throughout the postseason if you plan on making it to the championship.

So many little nuances, so little time. Such is life in fantasy and we love it.

Week 14 proved to be one of the most unpredictable this season, and that's not what you had hoped for going into the playoffs. We want the chalk, the expected and the projected at this crucial time because a fluke is not the way you want to be beaten at any point in the season.

Leave a comment or question and we'll respond to every single one to help you prepare for the rocky road ahead.

If your waiver wire is still open, I'd suggest the following players:

Tatum Bell / Selvin Young, Broncos RBs: Let's just take a moment of silence for departed Broncos back Peyton Hillis...thank you.

He's done for the season with a bad hamstring, making Hillis the 376th running back the Broncos have lost this year. Bell looked decent filling in for Hillis against the Chiefs, but I'd monitor this situation closely to see who Shanahan is planning on giving the carries to.

Shaun Hill, 49ers QB All of you out there who've been left scrambling after Daunte Culpepper went down with an arm injury, look no further.

Hill is about as dependable as they get, on a team that's getting better every week under the tutelage of one Mike Singletary.

Davone Bess, Dolphins WR: He's led the Dolphins in receiving yards for consecutive weeks and is easily Pennington's favorite target.

He should be picked up in every league out there.

Tashard Choice, Cowboys RB: He ran for 88 yards against the Steelers.

What? You're looking for more than that?

If a rookie, playing in Pittsburgh, in the cold, against the number one run defense, in a game with playoff implications, can produce like that he's definitely worth a look.

Matt Schaub, Texans QB: By the way, Schaub is back from a MCL injury and lit up the Packers for 400 yds and a couple touchdowns last weekend.

Is that something you'd be interested in?

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Hey, me again!

Our playoffs is this week and we snuck in with a victory last weekend. Thanks as always with your advice. Now to the question:

I need to start 2 RBs:
M Barber
M Lynch
J Stewart
T Choice

I need to start 1 DEF:

I need to start 1 K:
M Crosby
A Vinatieri
N Kaeding
J Carney

Again, thanks for always taking the time to answer my gazillion questions! You rock!

Olsen responds: As far as your defense is concerned, you should be leaning towards starting the Redskins.

I really don't trust any defense out there when they're matched up against that aerial assault known as the Arizona Cardinals. So no go on the Vikes.

Jets vs. the Bills? The Jets have been too up and down lately for you to be able to count on very much from them. Which team is going to show up? The one that knocked around the Titans for an afternoon, or the one that got embarrassed by the 49ers last weekend?

Don't stick around to find out.

And Seattle just isn't very good. At all.

For your kicker, I like Kaeding. Trying to predict kickers is an imperfect science and depends heavily on the matchup. The Chiefs defense isn't very good, but will be able to stop the Chargers inside the thirty, giving Kaeding a shot for a decent day.

Enough with the easy stuff, let's get down to the toughest decision you have to make at running back.

Tashard Choice did look good in Barber's absence, but I don't think he'll be sneaking up on the Giants if he gets the start this weekend. And if Barber manages to get the start, I'd consider benching him as well for two reasons. First, the Giants have a great run defense that's currently ranked fifth in the NFL. Second, he's hurt and when he faced the G-Men healthy back in Week 9, Barber managed a paltry 54 yds and 0 TD.

Go with Lynch and Stewart, they have the best matchups and should make the best plays.

Hi! Would you play Eddie Royal, Devon Bess or Dominick Rhodes in a flex position for Week 15.


Olsen responds: Give it to Rhodes against the Lions. It doesn't sound very good for Addai this weekend, making Rhodes a great play against the worst run defense in football. But even if Addai does suit up, Rhodes will still get enough carries to warrant the start.

I'll combine questions from both my leagues:

PPR league with -2 for INT's 20 yds per point for rec
Brees at CHI or McNabb vs Cle.
pick 2 out of these WR's:
Calvin Johnson @ IND, Housh vs Wash, Hines @ BAL, Bowe vs SD and Royal @ CAR

My other league is standard scoring.
Ryan vs TB or Rivers @ KC

Thanks for the help throughout the year.

Olsen responds: For some reason or another, the Bears have consistently found ways to disrupt Brees and the Saints' high powered passing game. He's struggled playing in the Chicago cold and the forecast for Thursday night's affair is a frosty 28 degrees.

McNabb, on the other hand, is playing the Browns and their third string quarterback Ken Dorsey. The Browns were torched by Peyton Manning and company last weekend and really appear to have nothing to play for the rest of the way.

On paper, I like McNabb. But Brees is who I'd play.

The Colts threw the ball last weekend because their running game has absolutely vanished this season. Addai has been a tremendous disappointment and Rhodes is just a stopgap until they find a long term solution to the problem. Manning had to throw, while McNabb won't need to.

What's the common factor in the Eagles' recent resurgence? A healthy dose of Brian Westbrook, which is exactly what you're going to see against the Browns.

Brees is going to deliver against the Bears in a short week that will prevent Lovie Smith and his gang of misfits from really tinkering very much with that Cover 2 defense.

Start Bowe against that brutal Chargers pass defense that couldn't stop me on a dig route. Housh is a PPR monster and will continue to pay dividends for you against the Redskins. And the last of the three is a little tougher. How Calvin Johnson is putting together a Pro Bowl caliber season (1,055 yds, 9 TD) with a carousel of quarterbacks that will now apparently include Drew Henson is beyond me.

Unfortunately I think you have to bench him this week against the league's fourth best pass defense that has only allowed four touchdowns through the air. This one will be ugly from the word go, and I wouldn't want any part of it.

Ward's personal history against the Ravens is enough to make you sick (120 yds combined last 3 games vs. Ravens). Not to mention the Ravens' unstoppable defense is targeting Ward personally, and that doesn't bode well for fantasy performances.

I'd go for Royal. He can do a little bit of everything and the Broncos will take advantage of his speed on short routes to alleviate the pressure of the Panthers rush.

Good luck.

Hi, thanks for you advice last week! Helped me a lot!!

I have a few more questions...my line up, in case you don't remember, has:
Peterson, Thomas Jones, Portis, and Turner!! This week I am seriously torn as to what to do...

Is this actually a week (week 15) where one might want to consider benching Peterson and playing Jones and Turner? Peterson seems to give up carries near the goal line to Taylor. But Portis is playing Cin. What do you think are the best bets this week, seeing that I can only play 2!? Man, if I was in a league with a wr/rb spot I'd be dominating for sure!


Olsen responds: The thing with AP is, you never know what's going to happen. You expect him to run wild against the Lions last week and instead, he fumbled four times and struggled to reach the 100-yard plateau. Luckily, none of those fumbles were recovered by the Lions, salvaging his day.

But AP also tends to defy expectations and does so against very good defenses. The Bears know this all to well, and so do the Chargers after getting torched by AP last year.

I actually think this is a great matchup for him, but that might not even matter because the Cardinals may very well have a field day against that Vikings defense. Being ranked fourth against the run doesn't matter much because the Cardinals run game is more of a bonus than a central figure in their offense.

How about the Burner?

He's been lights out at home and has only gotten better. But you've got an angry and embarrassed Bucs defense coming to the Georgia Dome on Sunday wanting to earn back some respect.

Portis is in the midst of a media firestorm after his little outburst on national radio this week. Rookie head coach Jim Zorn has hinted at giving Portis the full workload against the lowly Bengals, meaning big things may be in store. He practiced fully today and is on schedule to make the start.

The Jets forgot what allowed them to go on a five game winning streak and gave Thomas Jones his lowest amount of carries (10) last weekend since Week 3. This week they'll get back to pounding the ball on the ground and TJ will be more than happy to provide the power.

So...Matt, stop droning on and on about stuff I already know and just answer the question.


Bottom line, and I can't believe I'm saying this, I'd start Thomas Jones and Clinton Portis.

Jones is going to be busy Sunday as the Jets recommit to the run. Portis will get all the work he can handle and Zorn will make sure he finds the end zone at least once this Sunday.

To be honest Evan, you could start any combination of these backs and the difference would be marginal. Good luck buddy.

As you might know its Playoff time..

Thanks for your help last week. I went against you regarding MJD and started Dunn..(MJD is so inconsistent)but still survived...

This Week:

I got Brees heading north to face your Bears. What is the weather forecast. Is it suitable for the Saints passing game. I own Shockey and Lance Moore...

Should I start Moore over Calvin Johnson or B. Marsh??

Should I stick with Shockey or pick up Carlson or Miller?

Should I drop the Saints kicker, who faces DET in a superbowl should I advance, in favor of the Pats DEF at Oakland???



Olsen responds: How dare you go against me?!

Nah, I'm just kidding Carlos. Glad to see you took it down in a weird week of football in general.

Let's see what ya got this weekend.

The weather in Chicago is surprisingly decent for this time of year. It'll get down to around 20 degrees with chances of flurries and light wind. Those are actually better conditions than the last few times Brees has visited Soldier Field.

I'm worried about Moore at this point in the season. Bush is back healthy, Shockey has been playing better, Pierre Thomas is a slimmer, faster version of Deuce McAllister and don't forget about Colston and Henderson either.

The most effective part of Brees' game is his ability to spread the ball around to different receivers and I'm afraid it'll be hit or miss for Moore the rest of the way. It's not an indictment upon his skill set, just an unfortunate situation for a guy who's helped so many of us reach this point in the season.

I'd stick with Marshall and Johnson, both are too good to ignore right now.

Brees will do just fine and he'll find Shockey for his first TD of the season. He's due and his yardage totals have been improving each week.

Depending on who your defense is, I'm inclined to think you should stick with what you got. The New England unit is losing players to injury at an alarming rate and will won't be more than average against the Raiders.

Good luck.

Thanks for the detailed response.

How about Rivers at K.C. or Ryan vs TB? I'm going with Rivers as of now.


Olsen responds: Stick with Rivers. As much as I love Matt Ryan, choosing him over Rivers would be a mistake.

I'm new to the website and I'm Desperate for some advice.

I’ve got my roster figured out except my 3rd WR slot.

My choices are

Hines Ward at Baltimore
Laveranues Coles at Home vs Buffalo
Devon Bess at Home vs 49ers

Thanks in advance.

Olsen responds: I'd go with Bess.

Hines Ward has an absolutely wretched track record against the Ravens and with that defensive unit publicly admitting they'll be gunning for him, you should stay away from him.

Coles called out Favre recently and hasn't meshed well with the success that's been the New York Jets in 2008. He's been a tough sell on the move from day one and still hasn't really clicked with Favre.

Bess and Pennington are on the same page and will make a great combo against the 49ers.

Good luck.

pennington or mcnabb?

Flex option...hixon, harry douglas, kevin faulk, or santonio holmes

Olsen responds: I'd go with McNabb. The Eagles have been playing much better lately and McNabb has been much more consistent along the way.

As for your flex, I'd go with Hixon. It's important for the Giants to have this kid ready for play in the post season and what better way to do that than calling his number in a showdown with the division rival Cowboys.

Manning will try to build back Hixon's confidence after he dropped that perfect deep ball for six.

McNabb and Hixon.

Good luck.

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Matt Wood is a web editor for suntimes.com and editor of CenterstageChicago.com. He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Olsen published on December 9, 2008 8:45 AM.

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