Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Every week the hardcore fantasy player combs the injury list and boxscores to unearth the next "superstar" off the waiver wire and in some years that actually works. While no stars have been discovered this year, there have been at least half a dozen quality fantasy starters picked up in the first four weeks.
But that is the normal modus operandi.
The first week usually sees a few solid pickups as we finally see what the head coaches have planned for their offenses.
An example here was the large number of requests for Cleveland running back Peyton Hillis in Week 2. After the preseason, most fantasy "experts" believed that the Brown's primary ballcarrier was Jerome Harrison and drafted him accordingly (RapidDraft ADP 79).
However, in the season's first game against Tampa Bay, Harrison and Hillis both received nine carries. The change to a shared situation saw plenty of Hillis waiver claims before Week 2.
And when a starter gets injured, the team's first backup usually still has some talent to put on display.
When Harrison missed game No.3 Hillis performed so well (180 yards from scrimmage) that the team couldn't sit him back down in Week 4. Despite Harrison dressing for Sunday's game with Cincinnati, Hillis had 29 touches, Harrison none.
There have been other fantasy pickups worthy of the costs.
Quarterbacks Michael Vick (ADP 316), Sam Bradford (277) and Kyle Orton (ADP 266) have played well after being claimed. So have receivers like Brandon Lloyd (264) and Mark Clayton (343).
Other than Hillis, however, the running back position has been pretty weak.
Ryan Grant was injured and declared out for the season in Week 1, and everyone in the world put in a waiver claim for Brandon Jackson. How's that working out?
Jackson has "accumulated" just 187 total yards (137 on the ground) and one touchdown in four contests. That's 22 fantasy points, or about the same amount that Terrell Owens scored in the first half yesterday. Or that Clayton scored in Week 1. Or Lloyd in Week 3 and Week 4.
A few of the other running back pickups have been equally poor. Fred Taylor was a favorite waiver claim who has done little to help a fantasy team. Nor has Javon Ringer, John Kuhn or Chris Ivory lit up the scoreboard.
Mike Tolbert of San Diego might be a decent option in deep leagues and we will see tonight if BenJarvis Green-Ellis was worth the waiver selection that many made him this week.
However, as the season wears on, the quality of your pickup will drop significantly. There is a reason a player is third string and deeper on an NFL team's roster. They have flaws which come to the surface the more they play. So beware of putting too much hope into your pickups the rest of the way.