The Wire: Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 12, 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, but 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.

J.J. Arrington, RB, Cardinals (1.8% owned, Grab ‘n’ Stash) – Rookie Tim Hightower just hasn’t gotten it done the past two weeks and we’re starting to wonder if he’s really starter-material. With Kurt Warner opening the field up dramatically with the passing game, Hightower should have all the room in the world to run the ball, but the numbers just aren’t there. On Sunday, J.J. Arrington was able to weasel some carries from Hightower (including a touchdown) and did fairly well with them. If Hightower continues to struggle, look for Arrington’s carries to increase steadily.

Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks (9.2% owned, Grab ‘n’ Stash) – Branch finally played another game this season…and survived! He ended up the game with over 50 yards and as he gets more playing time, he should get more comfortable in the offense and put up decent numbers down the home stretch. He’s probably not worth starting right away, but you might pick him up and hide him on your roster to see what he can do.

Justin Gage, WR, Titans (12.5% owned, Desperation Pickup) – After weeks of running the ball down opponents throats, the Titans have changed it up a bit and have decided that they are a passing team…which is OK with Gage. He has three touchdowns in the past two games and blew up for 147 yards this past weekend. Although I don’t expect him to repeat those numbers for the rest of the season, he still makes a decent WR3 play against a Jets defense that just let up 400 yards to Matt Cassel and the Patriots (Tennessee plays Detroit, Cleveland and Houston after that too!)

Peyton Hillis, RB, Broncos (13.3% owned, Desperation Pickup) – As usual, there’s no rhyme and reason to who will get the bulk of the carries for the Broncos in the future weeks, but Hillis had 10 carries on Sunday, two of which were for touchdowns.

Antonio Pittman, RB, Rams (14.0% owned, Desperation Pickup) – It doesn’t appear that Steven Jackson’s rehab is going all that great and in his absence, Pittman has been handed the rock. He rushed for 95 yards on Sunday and has a fairly weak schedule coming up that puts him on the fantasy radar for teams in need of running back help.

Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints (19.4% owned, Grab ‘n’ Stash) – If Reggie Bush doesn’t come back 100% and Deuce McAllister is suspended, look for Thomas to put up some more decent numbers along the lines of what he did on Sunday, when he rushed for 88 yards, caught passes for 56 yards and had a touchdown.

Mark Bradley, WR, Chiefs (20.1% owned, Instant Starter) – He continues to be Thigpen’s primary receiver and should do pretty well as long as the Chiefs offense continues to put up decent numbers.

Shaun Hill, QB, 49ers (21.8% owned, Desperation Pickup) – Hill had a big game this weekend, with a combined three touchdowns passing and rushing, but it was against the Rams. If you desperately need quarterback help, you might look his way, but I’d wait and make him prove that there’s more where that came from before I put him in my lineup.

Tatum Bell, RB, Broncos (23% owned, Grab ‘n’ Stash) – Bell has quickly worked his way into the running back mess of the Broncos after signing with the team a couple weeks ago. He’s most likely to get the bulk of the carries going ahead, but what that will translate to in terms of fantasy production is still up in the air.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants (23.8% owned, Desperation Pickup) – With Brandon Jacobs banged up a bit, the team might try to rotate in their alternates a bit more in upcoming weeks, but that will probably mean more Derrick Ward…until the fourth quarter at least. Bradshaw continues to perform well when given opportunities and he is a good guy for Jacobs owners to have on the bench going into the playoffs.

Michael Jenkins, WR, Falcons (26.5% owned, Desperation Pickup) – Jenkins continues to put up solid numbers as quarterback Matt Ryan looks his way whever Roddy White is double-covered. He’s not going to go nuts for your team (unless he has another two touchdown outburst), but he’ll put up 60 yards on five receptions consistently, which might be what you’re looking for.

Dustin Keller, TE, Jets (27.1% owned, Instant Starter) – Keller has become Brett Favre’s go-to guy the past few weeks (much to the chagrin of Laveranues Coles and Jericho Cotchery owners!) and has become a starter worth TE for most fantasy teams.

Tyler Thigpen, QB, Chiefs (52.1% owned, Instant Starter) – Somehow out of the rubble that is the Kansas City Chiefs offense pre-week eight, Thigpen crawled out and has been tearing it up ever since. In the past four games, Tyler has thrown for eight touchdowns (he also has rushed for around 30 yards a game on top of his passing yards) and has become a fantasy viable start, especially given his scheule during your fantasy playoffs (Broncos and Chargers in weeks 14 and 15.)

Warrick Dunn, RB, Buccaneers (52.2% owned, Instant Starter) – It looks starter Earnest Graham’s ankle injury this past weekend could sideline him for the rest of the season. While Cadillac Williams has been activated from the PUP list, look for Dunn to take the bulk of the hand-offs for the remainder of the season. He’s used in the passing game as well, making a bit more valuable.

Ted Ginn, Jr., WR, Dolphins (52.8% owned, Instant Starter) – Although he isn’t scoring all that many touchdowns yet, Ginn should be universally owned at this point. He is racking up the receptions and has shown his versatility on trick plays, making him a solid WR3 or flex play for your team.

Jeff Garcia, QB, Buccaneers (53.3% owned, Desperation Pickup) – He really hasn’t done anything to warrant you having him on your fantasy roster, but the fact that he’s playing against the Detroit Lions this weekend makes him an intriguing play for teams in need of a signal caller.

Brady Quinn, QB, Browns (55.2% owned, Grab ‘n’ Stash) – While he didn’t put up that great of numbers (he would have had a lot better if Braylon Edwards had caught that long pass!) he’s still continuing to prove that he’s ready for the NFL. Over the next few weeks expect the Browns to open the playbook up more and more and his numbers should only get better.

Matt Cassel, QB, Patriots (61.5% owned, Instant Starter) – If 400 passing yards, 60+ rushing yards, and three touchdowns isn’t enough to encourage you to pick up Cassel off waivers (if he’s still available in your league), than I’m not sure what else you’re looking for.

Derrick Ward, RB, Giants (64.1% owned, Grab ‘n’ Stash) – While the injury to Brandon Jacobs doesn’t appear to be anything serious, if Ward is given more carries in this offense, he’d make for a great play.

Ricky Williams, RB, Dolphins (64.4% owned, Desperation Pickup) – Williams continues to get carries as the team tries to keep he and Ronnie Brown fresh in case they make the playoffs. He makes a decent RB2 or flex play if your team is in a bad spot.

Waiver wire DEFENSES of the week: Denver (vs OAK), Kansas City (vs BUF), Washington (@SEA), Dallas (vs SF)

Waiver wire KICKERS of the week: Phil Dawson (vs HOU), Nick Folk (vs SF), Shaun Suisham (@SEA), Adam Vinatieri (@SD)