On Tuesday morning, I received a flurry of emails from Yahoo! Sports. The subject line was always the same. So was the content:
"Sorry, but the waiver request you made in (whichever league) has been denied."
"Player Dropped: (usually some Jones)"
"Player Added: Ward, Derrick"
"This happened for the following reason:"
"There was another manager with a higher waiver priority requesting the player."
Long before I began writing for Yahoo!, I had learned to hate these emails. You're really better off just selecting "No" when asked if you'd like to receive notifications of pending trades and waiver adds. Especially if you're the sort of owner who doesn't need prompting to check on your leagues. Those emails are generally more malicious than helpful.
In the Yahoo! Tank Johnson Desert Classic, Deadspin's Will Leitch would have received an email that read, "The waiver request you made has been processed." Nice for him.
Will's team, the Mattoon Green Wave, won the Derrick Ward sweepstakes. Although maybe "sweepstakes" isn't the right word. When Derrick Ward is the prize, it's less of a sweepstakes and more like one of those carnival games where your kid sticks their hand into a metal tub filled with rubber goldfish and phlegm-colored water. Will's team figures to have a Fred Taylor/Ahman Green platoon at the flex position, so Ward isn't the worst add. He out-produced the combination of Taylor and Green in Week 1.
I really think that Derrick Ward's value is as trade bait, though. That's why I'd wanted him somewhere in the fantasy portfolio. Starting Ward against the Green Bay defense in Week 2 isn't ideal.
Here's the full list of Wednesday waiver claims in the Tank Classic:
Player Type From To
Brandon Marshall (Den - WR) Add Waivers I Forgot My Mantra
Greg Olsen (Chi - TE) Drop I Forgot My Mantra Waivers
Chris Brown (Ten - RB) Add Waivers Malibu Treehorns
Joe Horn (Atl - WR) Drop Malibu Treehorns Waivers
Derrick Mason (Bal - WR) Add Waivers Wrath of Farrakhan
Derrick Ward (NYG - RB) Add Waivers Mattoon Green Wave
Brady Quinn (Cle - QB) Drop Mattoon Green Wave Waivers
Don't underestimate just how painful it is to drop Brady Quinn and/or Greg Olsen if you happen to be a writer who follows asshattedness and duplicity in sports.
Approximately one month ago, I'd mocked Mantra – a team managed by Unsilent Majority of Kissing Suzy Kolber – for using their post-draft waiver priority to add Olsen, their team's second tight end. And I'm someone who likes Olsen far too much. But Mantra didn't really pay any sort of price for the move, still snagging Marshall off waivers following that five-reception, 52-yard, one touchdown performance in Week 1. Marshall and Ronald Curry certainly look like the strongest early candidates to be this year's breakout wide receiver.
Wrath of Farrakhan, managed by Nation of Islam Sportsblog, did well to add Derrick Mason. According to Matt Buser's Looks and Touches – which is not actually a live webcam, despite the name – Mason was targeted 12 times on Monday. That tied him for the third-highest total in the NFL.
The top scorers in Week 1 of the Desert Classic were a pair of Kissing Suzy Kolber writers, Unsilent Majority (121 total fantasy points) and Big Daddy Drew (125). Both teams featured a two-Johnson attack. For Unsilent, this meant Andre and Calvin. For Drew, it meant Chad and Larry.
Like most teams that lead their league in total points after Week 1, Drew started Tony Romo at quarterback. That was enough to topple the Green Wave, even though Will started both Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress at wide receiver and finished with 113 points.
The tightest match-up in Week 1 involved fantasy skank A.J. Daulerio and more respectable Dan Shanoff. Daulerio narrowly edged Shanoff, 69-66, thanks almost entirely to Adrian Peterson's awesomeness. It helped that Dan lost Brandon Jacobs in the first half of the Sunday night game. He'll replace him in Week 2 with Sammy Morris. Almost seems like he'd be interested in dealing for Derrick Ward, doesn't it?
• Both Steve McNair (groin) and Chad Pennington (ankle) now seem likely to miss Sunday's Ravens-Jets game. Kyle Boller is the more interesting Week 2 add here. The Jets did little to impede the Patriots' receivers in Week 1. But if Kellen Clemens can manage to earn a few more starts, he has better weapons at his disposal, and he has the Bills and Giants on the schedule in Weeks 4 and 5.
• Two injuries that appear to not be nearly as serious as early reports suggested: Eli Manning's shoulder and Ray Lewis' triceps. Manning's injury in particular is one that we'll all be following breathlessly over the next four days.
• A few interesting players who've been cut in Yahoo! leagues in recent days: Mark Clayton, Chester Taylor, Brandon Jacobs, and Jerious Norwood. Those guys are all among the more heavily-dropped players according to the Buzz Index.
Those are some panicky owners right there. This gets me to a piece of fantasy strategy that I pushed hard during baseball season: Don't simply drop a player who has obvious trade value. Injured or not, you don't think Brandon Jacobs belongs on a roster anywhere in your league? Really? And what can you possibly have found on the waiver wire that's significantly better than Norwood?
Take advantage of these desperate 0-1-0 owners if you can. If you happen to be a desperate 0-1-0 owner, at least shop your players around before cutting them.
• Finally, I can't recommend this Chad Johnson/Degree trash talk gimmick highly enough. I honestly don't care how you deodorize, or if you do. I'm willing to bet Chad doesn't, either. But this is outstanding. If I'm playing you in a fantasy league anytime soon and you don't want advertisers to possess your phone number, you'd better hurry up and tell me.
- Derrick Ward