The Wire: Waiver Wire pickups for week 7, 2008

Here’s a look at the players to target on your league’s waiver wire this week. This list is ordered by the percentage of ESPN leagues in which the player is available; even if you’re not a ESPN user, it’s a decent indication of how likely you are to find the player on waivers in your league. We also note here how strongly we feel about this pickup with three categories: Instant Starter, Grab ‘n’ Stash, or Desperation Pickup.

Brad Johnson, QB, Cowboys (0.5% owned, Instant Starter) – Adding injury to insult, it appears that Tony Romo will be out for up to four weeks with a broken finger that he suffered in the loss to the Cardinals on Sunday. Brad Johnson will start for Dallas while Romo is out and he climbs into the driver seat of a very nice ride…but he hasn’t started in over a year and is 40 years old. If you are a Romo owner, or are just desperate for a quarterback, Johnson could be your man in the short term.

Donnie Avery, WR, Rams (2.4% owned, Grab ‘n’ Stash) – Avery was the first wide receiver taken in the draft this year, but it took him a few weeks to get his first catch in the NFL. Since week four however, he’s racked up 10 catches for 119 yards. While Torry Holt gets double covered, it seems that Avery is starting to step up and make the best of his opportunities. Don’t start him right away, but in keeper leagues, or in a deep league where you can afford to use a bench spot on him, you might think about scooping up Donnie and hoping this offense can improve a bit over the course of the season.

Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts (11.9% owned, Grab ‘n’ Stash) – It appears that Joseph Addai’s hamstring injury isn’t as bad as first expected, but if you happen to own Addai, you’re going to want to pick up his security blanket. Rhodes proved that he still has some skills on Sunday, rushing for 73 yards and a score in relief.

Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars (18.7% owned, Desperation Pickup) – In a year where tight ends aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, you may have resorted to playing match-ups from week to week at the position. Marcedes Lewis isn’t going to get a whole lot of receptions each game, but he does have two touchdowns over the past two games now and appears to be a red zone target of quarterback David Garrard’s.

Michael Bush, RB, Raiders (29.9% owned, Grab ‘n’ Stash) – It appears that I may have missed the mark slightly when I said that Michael Bush and Darren McFadden would be the future of the team. Apparently, Bush is now on the trading block, which actually might not be a bad thing (it appears that Justin Fargas could also be dealt, so maybe I would be right, but it’s a little less likely.) He’s proven that he can perform in the league when given the chance (4.3 yards per carry) and has shown versatility in the passing game as well. If he can find his way onto a team that needs help at the position (maybe the Broncos?) he could resume putting up solid fantasy stats.

Devin Hester, WR, Bears (36.6% owned, Desperation Pickup) – Hester has been getting more and more involved in the Bears passing game over the past three games and at this point I’d almost say he’s worth starting at the WR3 spot if you aren’t getting much production from that position. If he puts up another good week, I’ll move him to the instant starter category. Keep in mind though that his kick return skills have been lacking this season, which may or may not have to do with him serving double-duty. If the team thinks that he has more value in the return game, you could see a decline in his stats in the near future.

Steve Breaston, WR, Cardinals (42.0% owned, Instant Starter) – Breaston has been great while teammate Anquan Boldin is out with a sinus injury and while Boldin should be returning to action shortly (probably after the bye this coming weekend), I still think the Cardinals would be wise to keep him in the game plan. Arizona loves to throw the ball and I think Breaston can produce out of the WR3 position…that is, after the bye week.

Kevin Walter, WR, Texans (42.1% owned, Instant Starter) – While he’s not the most consistent player in the world, Kevin Walter has put up three solid fantasy efforts out of a possible five games so far this season. The Texans have some teams coming up on their schedule (Lions next weekend?!) that make picking up Walter and plugging him in look like a good idea.

Warrick Dunn, RB, Buccaneers (48.8% owned, Grab ‘n’ Stash) – When the Buc’s fullback, Byron Storer, left the game on Sunday with an injury, starter Earnest Graham assumed the role and blocked for Warrick Dunn. It appears that Storer is out for the season (he actually was the backup FB) and the starter is a week or more from returning to the field, so Graham could see some more action in the near future. Worst case scenario, Dunn continues to see a split in carries, but he could get most of the carries for a game or two if Graham is forced into a blocking role.

Michael Pittman, RB, Broncos (57.4% owned, Instant Starter) – It looks like Shanahan has settled on a running back to fit his offense with PIttman. Pittman had over 100 yards rushing in his first start of the season and will most likely continue to start for Denver unless something unexpected happens. The great part about Pittman is that he’ll also get the goal-line carries.

Sammy Morris, RB, Patriots (65.1% owned, Desperation Pickup) – With injuries starting to rack up in the New England backfield, the majority of the rushing responsibilities will now be on Morris’ shoulder for the time being. While the offense is a whole lot less explosive than it’s been in the the past few years, Morris should still get enough carries to put up stats for your team if you’re in a bind.

Waiver wire defense(s) of the week: Houston (vs DET), Redskins (vs CLE), Denver (@NE), or maybe even Miami (vs BAL)