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Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to help your team from week to week while you strive
to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs and win the
elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While
I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster,
the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes
to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll
highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can
help your squad and may still be available in your league.
Note: This column
will be updated tomorrow at the conclusion of Week 1.
Marcus Mariota's four-TD performance against
the Bucs will make him a popular waiver wire add.
Mariota, TEN – The rookie’s debut performance was an
electrifying one, as he threw for a touchdown on his first pass
and tallied 209-4-0 with no turnovers against the Bucs – and rookie
counterpart QB Jameis Winston. Mariota’s maturity and talent make
him a must-add in all fantasy leagues following his Week 1 breakout,
and although he completed just 13 (out of 16) passes on the day,
he’ll be encouraged to throw the ball to his capable group of
receivers. He’s owned in roughly 30-50 percent of fantasy leagues
and will likely be the top QB add following Week 1.
Dalton, CIN –I neglected to include Dalton
in my column yesterday because I assumed his ownership was too
high, but apparently he’s still available in anywhere from
20-50 percent of fantasy leagues, depending on format and platform.
Dalton is often overlooked because he can look – well, terrible!
He had a down year in 2014, but in 2012 and 2013 he compiled a
combined 66 TDs, a figure that should surprise his detractors.
He has a bevy of offensive weapons, his schedule is not an oppressive
one, and he’s both talented and experienced. What else do
you need out of a high-upside backup QB?
Smith, KC – The much-maligned Smith, often criticized
for not throwing downfield and labeled a “game manager,” posted
an excellent Week 1 stat line with 243-3-0 (15 rushing yards on
nine carries) in the Chiefs’ win over Houston. The veteran, in
his 11th season and third with Kansas City, connected for 2 TDs
with dynamic TE Travis Kelce in the first quarter, including a
42-yard completion, the longest of his career. Smith is owned
in about 20-40 percent of fantasy leagues and makes sense as a
Foles, STL – There were a lot of questions surrounding
Foles heading into Week 1, and he was nearly unplayable facing
the stout Seattle defense, but the Rams QB had a solid 2015 debut
with 297-1-0 and a 1-yard rushing TD. This will likely be a run-first
team (especially once Todd Gurley and Tre Mason are healthy) but
Foles could surprise and should be owned in 12-team leagues as
a capable backup.
Taylor, BUF – A major X-factor heading into the 2015
season, Taylor (10-30 percent owned in fantasy leagues) was impressive
in Week 1, throwing for 195-1-0 and rushing for 41 yards on nine
carries in the decisive 27-14 win over Indianapolis. Head coach
Rex Ryan discussed Taylor’s “explosiveness” during the preseason,
and the more robust toolbox of offensive weapons the Bills are
sporting makes him a decent pickup (with moderate upside) in deeper
Fitzpatrick, NYJ – He’s not guaranteed to hold onto
the starting job all season, but for now, Fitzpatrick is leading
the Jets offense and has shown excellent rapport with Brandon
Marshall and Eric Decker. His 179-2-1 performance in Week 1 leaves
a little to be desired, but there will be games when he racks
up over 300 yards and multiple scores, so he must be considered
as a deep-league option.
Sankey, TEN – He’s not going to be available in more
than 15-25 percent of leagues, but if he’s still there in yours,
you’ll have to run out and get him. Sankey has shaken off the
bad vibes of 2014 and his two-TD game (including 74 rushing yards
and 2-12-1 receiving line) shows he’s an integral part of the
Titans game plan with little competition for carries until David
Cobb (PUP) makes his return at some point in the second half of
Woodhead, SD – Owned in about 40-70 percent of fantasy
leagues, Woodhead is still available in plenty of formats and
will be the San Diego running back to own in PPR leagues. The
Chargers prefer Woodhead in pass protection and catching the ball
over rookie Melvin Gordon. Woodhead had two TDs, 42 rushing yards
on 12 carries and 4-20-0 receiving in the Chargers’ come-from-behind
win over the Lions. He’ll have a more difficult time facing the
Bengals next week, but he’s a must-add in all formats.
Johnson ARI – The rookie from Northern Iowa touched
the ball once in his NFL debut, taking a screen pass 55 yards
for a TD. An explosive back who can contribute in both the running
and passing games, Johnson (25-50 percent owned) should be scooped
up in all formats given Andre Ellington’s fragility (left Week
1 with PCL injury). Chris Johnson would likely get the bulk of
traditional carries and also warrants a pickup with Ellington’s
Hillman, DEN – Hillman (40-65 percent owned) ran for
41 yards on 12 carries and looked much quicker than C.J. Anderson
(toe), whose “bell-cow” status took a bit of a hit with the Broncos
riding Hillman’s hot hand against the Ravens. Both backs are probably
going to see carries moving forward especially on a short week
heading to Kansas City.
Reece, OAK – As a Latavius Murray fan and owner, I
hoped I wouldn’t have to address Marcel Reece (0-5 percent owned)
this season, but the veteran back continues to produce in garbage
time for the Raiders, tallying a 3-26-2 receiving line (no carries)
in the loss to Cincinnati. The Raiders could face a similar situation
against the Ravens in Week 2, and Reece could be a surprise value
in deeper PPR leagues.
Lewis, NE – I’m from just south of Albany, NY, where
Lewis played high school ball, so I’ve been hearing about his
upside for years from guys familiar with Lewis who rave about
his work ethic and ability. The Patriots certainly got a sense
for what he could do on Thursday when he rushed for 69 yards on
15 carries and added 4-51-0 receiving in the win over Pittsburgh.
Since New England is a fluid RB environment and LeGarrette Blount
is on the way back, we can’t get too excited about this performance
– but the young back should be owned in 12-team leagues.
Williams, BUF – Aside from LeSean McCoy, Williams has
the most upside of any RB in Buffalo, and he showed some spunk
on Sunday with a six-carry, 55-yard performance that featured
a 26-yard TD run. He’s about 10 percent owned, and a great value
add in all formats given McCoy’s uncertain injury issues and the
Bills offensive relevance.
Dunbar, DAL – Dunbar (5-15 percent owned) will likely
be a PPR fixture this season after racking up 8-70-0 as a pass
catcher in his 2015 debut. And with Dez Bryant out for 4-6 weeks
with a broken foot, the Cowboys will be spreading the ball around
and utilizing Dunbar extensively in the passing game.
Robinson, NO – As expected, Mark Ingram (nine carries,
24 yards; 8-98-0 receiving) got the majority of touches out of
the Saints backfield, but Robinson (5-15 percent) wasn’t far behind,
rushing for 19 yards on eight carries and adding 5-51-0 receiving.
He’s a solid deep-league add with moderate upside and would likely
be the feature back if Ingram went down. He’s being investigated
by NFL (and now the NFLPA) for allegedly striking an intern in
the head during training camp, but the team has already fined
him and the matter might not result in further discipline.
Hayne, SF –The much-ballyhooed rubgy transplant
wasn’t expected to see much work in the season opener, but
a minor injury to Reggie Bush (calf strain) necessitated his involvement
when Carlos Hyde wasn’t gashing the Vikings’ front
seven for chunks of yardage. Hayne had an inauspicious beginning
when he fumbled a punt, but had four carries for 13 rushing yards
and a one catch for 7 yards. He’s a project and a longshot,
but if Hayne can adapt to the game, he’s a special talent
who could have some impact as both a runner and receiver on a
team devoid of quality offensive options.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Wright, TEN – Yes, there are leagues where Kendall
Wright (65-85 percent owned) went undrafted, and it’s because
people are silly. The talented wideout hauled in 4-101-1 from
his rookie QB on Sunday and is a must-add WR2 in all formats.
Jones, GB – I added Jones (30-40 percent owned) in
staff league (I got burned by the Kelvin Benjamin injury about
18 hours after I drafted him) but neglected to start the former
and current Packer WR because I favored a wait-and-see approach.
That was a mistake, as Jones caught 4-51-2 in the win over Chicago,
solidifying his status as the likely top WR add following Week
Benjamin, CLE – Dwayne Bowe sat out Week 1 and with
Johnny Manziel assuming the reins following Josh McCown’s concussion,
Benjamin (0-1 percent owned) vaulted into fantasy relevance with
3-89-1, catching all three targets that went his way. He’s a big-play
receiver with upside but there’s just not a lot to get excited
about with the Cleveland offense right now.
Harvin, BUF – Harvin is owned in about 50-70 percent
of fantasy leagues and looked excellent in his debut as a Bill,
catching all five passes thrown his way for 5-79-1. We all know
how good he can be, and with Sammy Watkins not registering a catch,
there will be a lot of teams scrambling to add Harvin via waivers
Moncrief, IND – With the hype surrounding Phillip Dorsett
and the arrival of Andre Johnson, Moncrief (just 10-20 percent
owned) became the forgotten man in Indy heading into Week 1, but
his 6-46-1 performance (11 targets) eliminated any doubt that
he’d be a big part of Andrew Luck’s game plan this season. He
could be an enormous factor in Week 2 with Darrelle Revis and
Buster Skrine (Antonio Cromartie is likely out for the season
with knee ligament damage) likely assigned coverage of T.Y. Hilton
UPDATE:Moncrief is expected
to be the starter opposite Johnson if T.Y. Hilton (knee bruise)
can’t play in Week 2.
Coleman, NO – Coleman (30-40 percent owned) has already
earned the trust of Drew Brees and was targeted seven times Sunday
during his 4-41-0 performance in the matchup with Arizona. He’s
a big red zone target and has worked hard to improve his hands
and physicality as a receiver. He makes a decent WR4/deep flex
play facing the Bucs in Week 2.
Washington, HOU – He didn’t catch a TD, but he did
see 11 targets and catch 6-105-0 in the loss to Kansas City. Washington
is an old man by NFL standards (32 and in his 11th season) but
he’s still a hardworking contributor and universally available
in fantasy leagues. He’s not a great play against the Panthers
next week, but he’s worth looking at with a relatively thin WR
group in Houston.
Cotchery, CAR – Another veteran WR who just won’t go
away, Cotchery (5-10 percent owned) hauled in 4-45-1 in the win
over Jacksonville and could be a popular Cam Newton target this
season if Devin Funchess takes some additional time to develop
and defenses clamping down with bracket coverage on Greg Olsen.
Beasley, DAL – Beasley (5-10 percent owned) operates
primarily out of the slot and could take on a larger responsibility
given the Bryant injury. He caught 4-49-0 but fumbled away the
ball as he was going to the turf on a crucial play before the
half – allowing the Giants to pick it up and get an easy score.
He’s a popular player in Dallas and Romo will likely continue
to look his way despite the mistake, which ultimately did not
cost the Cowboys a win. He’s undersized but has that Wes Welker/Julian
Edelman speedy makeup which is excellent for PPR leagues.
Seferian-Jenkins, TB – Jenkins was largely unheralded
as a TE2 heading into the season, but more informed fantasy owners
may have drafted him as a high-upside option. Even so, he’s currently
available in 50-70 percent of leagues and turned in a monster
Week 1 with 5-110-2 as the most trusted of Winston’s receiving
options. He’s a low-end TE1 with plenty of big-game upside moving
Eifert, CIN – Eifert’s ownership levels (50-60 percent
owned) are a bit higher than those of Seferian-Jenkins, and his
QB is a lot more polished as well. Injured or overshadowed for
much of the past couple seasons, Eifert exploded for 9-104-2 in
the win over Oakland Sunday and could be the top overall add this
week in fantasy.
Fells, ARI – The behemoth Fells (6-7, 289 pounds) is
in his second season in the league and saw a ton of action Sunday
facing New Orleans. He hauled in 4-81-1 and is the No. 1 TE in
Arizona after the retirement of John Carlson this May. He’s owned
in about 2-3 percent of leagues and is a fine sleeper TE2 with
Green, SD – With Antonio Gates serving a four-game
suspension for a banned substance, Green (10-20 percent owned)
is finally getting his shot in San Diego. He caught 5-74-1 in
the come-from behind Week 1 win over Detroit and looks to be an
integral part of the Chargers passing game. He should be owned
in all 12-team leagues, at least until Gates returns in Week 5,
and possibly longer as the veteran TE is 35 and has lots of wear
Cook, STL –Another player I left off my
Monday column who’s just 30-50 percent owned in fantasy
leagues despite being one of the premier big-play threats at the
position. His numbers have been decent the past few seasons and
with tight ends being targeted more and more on seam plays, he’s
a good bet for a few games of fantasy relevance in the right matchup.
He’s not the flashiest of selections, but he’s worth
a look if some of the bigger names are gone and you need a fill-in
at the position.