October 13, 2009

All Jeremy Maclin did at the University of Missouri was catch passes and make plays -- 182 catches his final two years in the lineup, in fact, and 22 of those for touchdowns.

When he slipped to Philadelphia in the middle of round one, it was a surprise. But keen fantasy owners knew his day was going to arrive sooner rather than later, and in Sunday's win over Tampa Bay, Maclin didn't just arrive ... he launched.

Playing for an injured Kevin Curtis, Maclin made the most of his opportunity by snagging six of the eight passes thrown to him for 142 yards. His day included first-half scores of 51 and 40 yards.

True, DeSean Jackson must still be considered the primary receiver for Philadelphia, but long-term Maclin could become the team's possession-type, leaving Jackson to serve as the big-play wideout.

As for the rest of the 2009 season, the Eagles have no choice now but to continue to give their top choice opportunities in the gameplan. Fantasy owners should expect Maclin to be up and down, offering value mostly as a fill-in option in traditional leagues.

Here are a few other waiver wire candidates to consider...

WR Chris Henry, Cincinnati

Before any fantasy owners fall hard for Henry, consider his rap sheet: He has a history of making poor off-the-field decisions, he is not a full-time starter (or contributor) and his yards come in bunches. On Sunday, most of his 92 yards came on one play: a 73-yard pass in the second quarter that helped to set up Cincinnati's first points of the day. Even so, the reason fantasy must consider Henry is because of his raw talent. Still just 26 years old, no one can say what the future holds for Henry. What we do know is that he is slowly working his way up the Bengals depth chart, and that Carson Palmer is showing him more looks than he did earlier in the year.

WR Bobby Wade, Kansas City

Wade has shown signs of encouragement the past three weeks. He scored touchdowns in Weeks 3 and 4, and against Dallas on Sunday he caught four passes for 42 yards. Even better news: only primary Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe was given more looks from quarterback Matt Cassel than the 28-year-old well-travelled Wade. The Chiefs offense is still finding its way, with Cassel getting better bit by bit with each passing week. Wade is a reach, even in a deep league, but fantasy owners can expect him to share a few more solid weeks this season.

K Jason Hanson, Detroit

This summer nobody wanted anything to do with Detroit's 39-year-old kicker. Now he's one of the hottest legs in football, much thanks to the Lions' many stalled drives in enemy territory. Hanson is presently tied for fifth among kickers in points (37) and has averaged a respectable 7.4 points per contest. Most important, he's been consistent (no games with fewer than six points). He has made nine of 10 attempts, four of those successful tries coming from beyond 40 yards.

Here is a look at this week's buy and sell candidates:

RB Jonathan Stewart, Carolina

Last week wasn't pretty for the Panthers rushing attack (86 yards on 32 carries) but one thing that can be said is that Stewart out-performed DeAngelo Williams (3.9 to 2.2 yards per carry). Stewart's Achilles' injury has been a concern, but his performance on Sunday should help to ease the fears of fantasy owners. The road ahead is promising, and Stewart is set to explode. The Panthers' next two opponents -- Tampa Bay and Buffalo -- both allow 4.7 yards per carry, and the Bills have allowed the third most rushing scores of any team this season. All of this evidence points to a smooth recovery for Carolina's sensational sophomore back.

RB Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia

The Eagles are bringing Westbrook along slowly, evident by the six carries the team gave him in their win over Tampa Bay. Westbrook has said his ankle is fine, and with the games the Eagles have on tap, fantasy owners should hope they can believe him. This week Philadelphia will visit an Oakland run defense that just allowed Ahmad Bradshaw 165 yards of offense on 12 touches; the following week the Eagles will face Washington's 23rd-ranked run defense. For those considering making a move on the top-tier back, now is the time.

TE Vernon Davis, San Francisco

Too late to get in on Davis? Hardly. He is having a great season but his numbers have not put him into the elite tight end category -- yet. Since his Week 3 explosion (96 yards, two touchdowns) he has cooled some, but nonetheless has produced viable fantasy totals (five catches for 51 yards on Sunday). In two weeks he gets to face the league's worst pass defense (Tennessee) and no team in the next two months should be able to contain the 49ers top target. At his current pace Davis will reach 70 catches and 10 touchdowns. Sound appealing? Time to make a bid.

QB Kurt Warner, Arizona

The old man's right shoulder has given the Cardinals coaching staff reason to admit they will try to run a more balanced offense to cut down on Warner's passing workload. On Sunday it didn't seem to matter (302 yards and two touchdowns), but looking ahead, Warner could be in for trouble, healthy shoulder or not. After this week the Cardinals will face three straight top 10-ranked pass defenses, including the top-ranked Giants in Week 7, and No. 2-ranked Carolina the following week. The Giants game should especially worry fantasy owners, as New York will bring pressure on the 38-year-old quarterback all evening. Start asking those owners in need at the quarterback position about what they'd be willing to give up for Warner.

RB Jamal Lewis, Cleveland

Who cares what the road ahead looks like, or how well Lewis ran in Sunday's win over Buffalo (31 carries for 117 yards), this guy is trouble. Fantasy owners have never been able to get a feel for the bruising back -- not during his time in Baltimore or since he's been on board in Cleveland. He's a tough read. Coming off of his most recent performance, in which he put to rest concerns about his bum hamstring, Lewis now can be shopped on the market for something worthwhile. For those holding on to him, it's advisable to put out a sign seeking interest.

WR Miles Austin, Dallas

Austin could very well be the big-play guy Dallas' offense is lacking, but too much going on in Big D suggests Austin will not develop into someone fantasy owners can rely on this season. Tony Romo has been too inconsistent, and Jason Witten has not been fully utilized in the offense yet. To complicate matters further, the Cowboys' running game is a mess. While Austin has great vertical potential, his best value to fantasy owners is as trade bait. Sell his statline from Sunday (10 catches for 250 yards and two touchdowns) and find a sucker willing to believe that Austin is going to become an overnight star.

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