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Waiver Wire: The best of the best

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Michael Vick has already said he would pick himself for the MVP award. We wonder if he would also vote for himself as the best player added off the waiver wire.

The answer is probably yes. And he would be right.

Vick could win the NFL MVP award -- he's also the best player in all Fantasy leagues this year -- but we're not here to talk about that. We're here to honor Vick as the best player added off the waiver wire in 2010.

Every Tuesday on CBSSports.com we tried to help Fantasy owners with Playing the Waiver Wire, which highlighted players to add, avoid and scout. The basis for finding players to mention was their ownership percentage in Fantasy leagues.

Vick, who was not drafted in the majority of leagues, has easily been the best free agent this year. He went from Kevin Kolb's backup in Week 1 to competing with Tom Brady for the No. 1 overall scorer in standard formats. Vick's ownership jumped from 7 percent in Week 1 to 81 percent in Week 2 when Kolb was first injured against Green Bay.

Heading into Tuesday's game against Minnesota in Week 16, Vick has 2,755 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He's also run 92 times for 613 yards and eight touchdowns with one fumble. And he's done all this while missing three games with a rib injury.

Vick has the potential to be the No. 1 quarterback drafted in 2011, and Fantasy owners should consider him a top keeper. He has been the catalyst for many Fantasy playoff runs and championship games (myself included), and he could be again next year.

He's been a great story with his release from prison to returning as an NFL star. And Fantasy owners who added him at the beginning of the season were definitely rewarded with an award-winning performance.

Now, you might not consider Vick the best free agent added this year, and we'll look at some more additions below. So feel free to send an e-mail to dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com with the waiver wire moves you made this year and put "Awards" in the subject line. Let us know when you picked up that player and what impact they made on your team.

Here are the best free agent pickups we suggested this year in Playing the Waiver Wire. We listed them in order based on their Fantasy production for the season.

Quarterbacks ...

Michael Vick, Philadelphia
We said to add him heading into: Week 2
Comment: Vick was an easy addition for Fantasy owners who lost Kolb in Week 1, but no one expected him to become a starter in the majority of leagues. The last time he was a starting quarterback was 2006, but this has been his best season in the NFL. Many Fantasy owners relied on him as a starter all the way through the playoffs -- he was started in 96 percent of leagues in Week 16 -- and his value should remain high heading into 2011.

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Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay
We said to add him heading into: Week 2
Comment: We liked Freeman's potential last year as a rookie, but he played better than expected as a sophomore with limited turnovers and the ability to make plays on the run. The Bucs gave Freeman a new weapon in rookie wide receiver Mike Williams, and he leaned on him to have an outstanding season. Freeman was more of a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback during the year, but his stats made him good enough to start many weeks. That should be the case in 2011.

Kyle Orton, Denver
We said to add him heading into: Week 2
Comment: A poor finish and the emergence of Tim Tebow at the end of the season put a damper on Orton's year, but he was a solid Fantasy option for many owners. In fact, coming into Week 16, Orton was still a Top 12 Fantasy quarterback in standard leagues. He might not be a starter again in 2011, but Orton had plenty of big games early on, which was a surprise since Denver lost Brandon Marshall in the offseason.

Running Backs ...

Peyton Hillis, Cleveland
We said to add him heading into: Week 2
Comment: The Browns were expected to rely on Jerome Harrison and Montario Hardesty this season, but Hardesty never made it to Week 1 due to injury. Harrison then struggled to start the year, and Hillis took advantage to become a star. He challenged for the No. 1 Fantasy running back spot all season before faltering at the end, but he became a starting option in the majority of leagues and should enter 2011 as a high draft pick in most formats.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, New England
We said to add him heading into: Week 3
Comment: When the Patriots traded Laurence Maroney to Denver it opened the door for Green-Ellis to emerge as a starting Fantasy option. He didn't falter as he became a great source of touchdowns and the No. 1 running back in New England. As long as the Patriots don't make any additions to their backfield in 2011, plan on drafting Green-Ellis with a mid-round pick as a potential starting option.

Mike Tolbert, San Diego
We said to add him heading into: Week 3
Comment: The expectation in San Diego was rookie Ryan Mathews would emerge as the replacement for LaDainian Tomlinson. But Mathews battled injuries all year, which allowed Tolbert to go from fullback to solid Fantasy option. Mathews should enter 2011 as the starter, but Fantasy owners should spend a late-round pick on Tolbert in case Mathews falters again. The Chargers showed this year they are not afraid to use him as a starting option, even over Mathews.

LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay
We said to add him heading into: Week 4
Comment: The Bucs were looking for a starting running back when Cadillac Williams struggled, and Blount provided an answer. Many Fantasy owners didn't rely on him until later in the season, but he showed he can be a starting option -- especially in matchups at home -- and enters 2011 as a potential No. 2 Fantasy running back in standard formats. The Bucs have a lot of young talent on offense, and Blount should be the centerpiece of the backfield.

Danny Woodhead, New England
We said to add him heading into: Week 4
Comment: The Patriots themselves went to the waiver wire for Woodhead when he was released by the Jets, and he turned out to be a valuable commodity once Kevin Faulk was lost with a knee injury. Woodhead proved to be the perfect complement to Green-Ellis as a good receiver out of the backfield and a change-of-pace rusher. As we said with Green-Ellis, if the Patriots don't make any changes to their backfield, Woodhead is worth a late-round pick.

Ryan Torain, Washington
We said to add him heading into: Week 4
Comment: Torain has been one of our favorite running backs since Mike Shanahan drafted him in Denver. When Shanahan brought him to Washington, we knew it was only a matter of time before he would play a role for the Redskins. He dealt with hamstring injuries throughout the year, but he was a quality starting option when healthy. He should enter 2011 as a starter, and Fantasy owners should consider him a No. 2 Fantasy running back.

Wide Receivers ...

Brandon Lloyd, Denver
We said to add him heading into: Week 4
Comment: We were reluctant to tell Fantasy owners to add Lloyd because he's never been a consistent contributor. But this season he took advantage of Marshall being gone and playing in an explosive offense. He was not only a quality replacement for Marshall but he could finish the season as the No. 1 wide receiver in standard Fantasy leagues. Lloyd has the chance to be a bust in 2011, but he should still be drafted as a No. 2 option in case he does this again.

Steve Johnson, Buffalo
We said to add him heading into: Week 5
Comment: Chan Gailey turned around the offense in Buffalo despite trading Marshawn Lynch, not getting anything from rookie C.J. Spiller and going with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Johnson became the No. 1 wide receiver ahead of Lee Evans, and he played well despite a case of the drops. We can see him as a solid No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver in 2011 after playing as a No. 2 option this season.

Mario Manningham, N.Y. Giants
We said to add him heading into: Week 3
Comment: Manningham took a backseat to Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith to start the season, but he closed the year like a star once Nicks and Smith dealt with injuries. He will remain third on the pecking order when everyone is healthy in 2011, but the Giants passing game has developed enough to where Manningham is worth drafting with a late-round pick. And if Smith doesn't return next year then Manningham should be considered a starting option.

Deion Branch, New England
We said to add him heading into: Week 6
Comment: We had Branch as an avoid in Week 2 when he scored in the first game for the Seahawks. We didn't have any faith in him in Seattle. But the Patriots rescued Branch from offensive purgatory when they traded for him to replace Randy Moss. He didn't put up Moss-like stats from 2007, but he wasn't far behind and showed his rapport with Tom Brady remained from their first stint together. He should be considered at least a No. 3 Fantasy option in 2011.

Lance Moore, New Orleans
We said to add him heading into: Week 4
Comment: Moore took advantage of Reggie Bush missing most of the season with a broken leg to be a viable target for Drew Brees. He had a breakout game in Week 3 against Atlanta and remained a surprising source of touchdowns all season. Moore was the second-best receiver for the Saints behind Marques Colston, and he has proven to be a good slot receiver. We don't expect this type of production in 2011, but he's still worth drafting with a late-round pick.

Davone Bess, Miami
We said to add him heading into: Week 4
Comment: Bess was a star for owners in leagues where receptions count, but he also played well in standard formats. He took advantage of Marshall seeing extra coverage to become a go-to threat for Chad Henne, and he was a breakout wide receiver in his third season. The Dolphins will likely have a new quarterback in 2011, but Bess will remain one of the top possession receivers in the NFL. He's worth drafting as a No. 3 option depending on the format.

Tight Ends ...

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville
We said to add him heading into: Week 2
Comment: Lewis finally had a productive season. He had three games with multiple touchdowns and was a tremendous red-zone threat for David Garrard. We figured out early on that Lewis took advantage of good matchups, but Fantasy owners still used him as a starter in the majority of leagues, especially with plenty of injuries at tight end during the year. He will be a No. 2 tight end again in 2011, but he still has potential as a starter in deeper formats.

Aaron Hernandez, New England
We said to add him heading into: Week 3
Comment: We're going to include Rob Gronkowski here since we said to add him in Week 2. The two rookie tight ends are joined together since they both played well and alternated production each week from Week 9 on. They were potential starters in the majority of leagues and should remain in that capacity in 2011. Hernandez has more big-play ability, but Gronkowski is the better red-zone threat. Both should be drafted as low-end starters next year.

Jacob Tamme, Indianapolis
We said to add him heading into: Week 8
Comment: Once Dallas Clark went down with a wrist injury it was clear that the Colts would rely on Tamme as the starter. And that led to instant Fantasy production. He wasn't as consistent as Clark, but he did prove to be a quality replacement for Fantasy owners. Clark should return in 2011, making Tamme a low-end Fantasy option, but if he does get the chance to start again Fantasy owners should be confident in using him like they did this season.

As for the Week 17 waiver wire ...

Quarterbacks ...

Add 'Em

Shaun Hill, Detroit
Owned: 27 percent of leagues
Week 16: Completed 14 of 26 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns and also had one carry for 10 yards at Miami.
Analysis: Hill returned last week against the Dolphins after being out three games with a broken finger and finished with 21 Fantasy points. It was his fifth game with at least 20-plus Fantasy points this season in just eight full games. He has a favorable matchup in Week 17 against Minnesota, and as long as Calvin Johnson (ankle) is healthy he should have another quality performance. If you miss on Hill, two other quarterbacks to consider this week are Kerry Collins (27 percent) and Tim Tebow (23 percent). Collins has a favorable matchup at Indianapolis, and he had 27 Fantasy points against the Colts in Week 14. He also has seven touchdowns in his past three games. And Tebow was a star last week against Houston with 26 Fantasy points and now has 50 points in two career starts. He's worth using again this week against San Diego.

Running Backs ...

Add 'Em

Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville
Owned: 39 percent of leagues
Week 16: Had 15 carries for 32 yards and four catches for 29 yards against Washington.
Analysis: Jennings started for the injured Maurice Jones-Drew against the Redskins and struggled. But if Jones-Drew is out again this week at Houston then Jennings has the chance to be productive in another start in what should be a good matchup. Correll Buckhalter (11 percent) scored two touchdowns with 92 total yards against the Texans and could be useful again if Knowshon Moreno (ribs) remains out this week against the Chargers. Marion Barber (45 percent) and John Kuhn (7 percent) are worth adding in deeper leagues based on their performances in Week 15. And Jason Snelling (41 percent) could also be useful in deeper formats against Carolina this week if the Falcons decide to rest Michael Turner.

Wide Receivers ...

Add 'Em

Mike Thomas, Jacksonville
Owned: 51 percent of leagues
Week 16: Caught six passes for 96 yards and a touchdown against Washington.
Analysis: Mike Sims-Walker is dealing with an ankle injury, and Thomas took advantage against the Redskins with his best game since Week 11. The last time he faced Houston, his Week 17 opponent, was Week 10 when he had eight catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. Some other wide receivers to consider in Week 17 include Blair White (44 percent), Jacoby Jones (19 percent) and Jerome Simpson (14 percent). All three played well in Week 16 and are doing a good job as injury replacements. White is the slot receiver for the Colts with Austin Collie (concussion) out for the year, and he scored a touchdown at Oakland. Jones is the new No. 1 receiver in Houston with Andre Johnson (ankle) possibly out for the season finale after missing Week 16, and he had 115 yards receiving at Denver. And Simpson had two touchdowns against the Chargers in Week 16 with Terrell Owens (knee) and Chad Ochocino (ankle) out.

Tight Ends ...

Add 'Em

Owen Daniels, Houston
Owned: 57 percent of leagues
Week 16: Caught eight passes for 73 yards and a touchdown at Denver.
Analysis: Like Jones, Daniels played well with Johnson out for the Texans against the Broncos. He has looked good the past three games, but the Broncos game was his best of the season. And he has another favorable matchup against the Jaguars this week. Some other tight ends to consider this week based on matchups include Brent Celek (56 percent), Heath Miller (45 percent) and Jared Cook (1 percent). But Daniels should be considered a must-start Fantasy option in all formats in Week 17, and he finally can help owners following a disappointing season due to injuries.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Jamey at @jameyeisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
Ex-teammate: Marshawn Lynch to hold out of training camp
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who's reportedly unhappy with his contract, is expected to hold out of training camp, former teammate Michael Robinson told NFL Network Total Access on Thursday.

"Marshawn Lynch just called me, we just talked. He said he will be holding out from training camp," Robinson said on the show.

Lynch attended the team's mandatory minicamp and is subject to fines if he holds out of training camp. He totaled over 1,500 yards of offense with 14 total touchdowns last year but had over 400 total touches between the regular season and postseason.


Chris Johnson looks 'light on his feet, and fast'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) Jets running back Chris Johnson, who had offseason knee surgery, "looked light on his feet, and fast" at practice Thursday, reports ESPN.com. "I haven't really [gone] 100 percent with the team since I have been here so being able to go out there and run and do all the team periods felt good," Johnson said.

The Jets used him on rushing plays and also lined him up wide as a receiver. Johnson fumbled on a running play but overall "seemed right at home," the website said. "I felt good," Johnson said. "I felt no pain or anything like that."

His main competition for carries, Chris Ivory, sat out with a hamstring problem.


Bills make roster moves
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) The Bills claimed center Jared Wheeler off waivers from the Panthers and waived/injured cornerback Brandon Smith.

Giants working extensively on no-huddle
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) The Giants ran 59 no-huddle plays all of last season. That represented 4.7 percent of their total plays. In contrast, the Eagles ran a league-high 705 no-huddle plays (51.1 percent) and the Broncos ran 537 (35.4 percent).

It appears the Giants plan to have Eli Manning operating out of the no-huddle more often. Their first three practices featured frequent use of the no-huddle.

"It keeps defenses on their toes," running back Rashad Jennings said. "[Offensive coordinator Ben] McAdoo has a way to keep the defense on their toes, put pressure on them, get the long shots, get the grinding yards. It’s a lot of different ways to attack a defense. Also, it puts a lot of ownership on the players to learn the playbook. It puts the capability in the quarterback’s hands to make decisions."

Jennings said the team can run its entire offense out of the no-huddle. Wideout Rueben Randle also loves it.

"It gives us time to get set and see what the defense is going to do, to keep them out of position," he said. "Switching in our personnel to take advantage of the personnel they have out there. Hopefully, they’re in regular [defense] and we’re in three-wide, so we can spread the ball out a little bit and use our speed to make a few plays."


Steve Smith 'puts on a show'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) New Ravens receiver Steve Smith "put on a show" in the team's first training camp practice, reports ESPN.com. Smith faked out starting corner Lardarius Webb on an out route, then beat Webb and projected No. 3 corner Chykie Brown on deep passes, the report said.

The website also credited Smith with raising the intensity level at practice.


Vince Wilfork practicing without limitations
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who's coming back from a ruptured Achilles, looked good during the team's first practice and said he's working without restrictions.

"If I had limitations, I wouldn’t be practicing," Wilfork told the Boston Herald. "My job is to help my teammates the best way I can, whatever that may be. The only way for me to help my teammates is to be on the field and be healthy. Right now, I’m on the field and I’m healthy. If anything happens in the future, I can’t predict that. But right now my job is to help this team the best way I can and get better each day and that’s what I’m going to do."


Ronald Leary has strained hamstring
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) Cowboys starting guard Ronald Leary strained his hamstring taking a conditioning test Monday, reports ESPN.com. He's starting camp on the PUP list. It's unclear how long he'll be out.

Jamaal Charles gets $8.3 million guaranteed
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) Jamaal Charles' four-year contract extension includes $8.3 million guaranteed but no guaranteed money beyond this season, reports Pro Football Talk. The Chiefs' star running back is now signed through 2017.

Marcus Lattimore on NFI list with two injuries
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said running back Marcus Lattimore is starting camp on the non-football injury list because that's what doctors and trainers recommended, reports the Sacramento Bee.

Asked if the problem was Lattimore's surgically reconstructed knee or the hamstring strain he suffered in the spring, Harbaugh replied, "A combination of the two." Harbaugh declined to elaborate.

Other reports indicate Lattimore is not too far away from being ready. He could be activated at any time.


'Won't be too long' until Knowshon Moreno returns for Miami
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7/24/2014) Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said he's not worried about Knowshon Moreno coming back in bad shape. The team opens training camp on Thursday and will begin practicing soon thereafter. Moreno had offseason knee surgery after reportedly showing up to camp out of shape. 

"Not full throttle 100 percent reps yet but won't be too long," Philbin said of Moreno via the Miami Herald.


 
 
 
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