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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.
Sure, it was against the Browns but Carson
Wentz was the right call to be the Eagles Week 1 starter.
Smith, KC – In the absence of Jamaal
Charles, Smith (25-50 percent owned) completed 34-of-48 passes
for 363 yards, two TDs and an INT in Sunday's win over the division
rival Chargers. He added 15 yards and a TD on four rushes and
stuck to his usual script of dumping off short passes to open
targets underneath (24 of his 34 passes went to backs and tight
ends). Fantasy owners normally don’t have much to get excited
about regarding Smith, known primarily as a game-manager, but
the veteran QB flashed some athleticism and panache on Sunday
in the comeback win that marked the first time in his three plus
seasons that he went over 300 passing yards with more than one
Osweiler, HOU – Osweiler has excellent weapons in DeAndre
Hopkins and rookie WR Will Fuller (more on him later), and
he played well in his debut for the Texans (22-for-35, 231-2-1,
16 rushing yards). He’s owned in about 50-75 percent of leagues
and is worth adding as a solid-upside backup in 12-team leagues.
The Texans will likely use a balanced attack this season, but
he’ll be a little more free to throw downfield than he was in
his seven starts for the Broncos last season, when he threw for
over 300 yards just once.
Wentz, PHI – Owned in just 10-20 percent of leagues,
Wentz will be a popular pickup this week after a sparkling NFL
debut (278-2-0, lost fumble) and a 29-10 win over the lowly Browns.
He was an unknown fantasy commodity heading into Week 1, and heads
to the road to face the Bears in Week 2 – where he’ll likely have
a more difficult time.
Stafford, DET –UPDATE:It
never occurred to me that Stafford might be available in enough
10-team leagues to be of use in this column, but he’s apparently
still out there in almost 25 percent of ESPN leagues. This offense
seems freed up by the retirement of Calvin Johnson, so don’t hesitate
to add Stafford as your main backup and possible spot starter
in prime matchups.
McCown, CLE –UPDATE:With
RGIII on the shelf for most of the season, if not all of it, McCown
takes over under center. This likely improves the value of TE
Gary Barnidge, so despite the quiet Week 1 we could see more of
him post-haste. McCown is a chucker, and the Browns have nothing
to lose after the devastating Week 1 loss to the Eagles. Give
him a look in deeper leagues and DFS going forward.
Riddick, DET – Ownership percentage for Riddick is
all over the map (40-85 percent) as he’s got much more value in
PPR leagues and wasn’t picked up in many shallow leagues despite
the Lions plans to keep him involved in the run game. Riddick
had 80-697-3 receiving last season but had just 43 rushes for
133 yards on the ground. In Week 1, he had seven carries for 45
yards and a TD and added 5-63-1 receiving. It’s safe to assume
that he’ll be snatched up in the balance of leagues heading into
Week 2, so jump on him unless you have much more pressing needs.
UPDATE: Riddick had to pass a concussion protocol before returning
to the game Sunday and rocking a couple of big runs, so he appears
good to go heading into Week 2. Isaiah
Crowell, CLE – He’s about 70-90 percent owned and isn’t
sexy as fantasy options go, but Crowell is still getting carries
and turned in a solid performance in Week 1 with 62 rushing yards
and a TD on 12 carries and 2-16-0 receiving. It’s already a thin
field at RB in most formats, but Crowell is available in a couple
of my 10-team leagues.
Michael, SEA – With ownership levels similar to Crowell,
Michael is surely to close to 100 percent owned after Week 1,
when he was much more effective than Thomas
Rawls (ankle). It is hard to say exactly how this situation
will play out when the Seahawks face the Rams next week, but expect
a balanced timeshare between the two backs going forward until
someone gets hot.
UPDATE: The Seahawks will likely play it safe and give Michael
a bunch of carries against the Rams in Week 2. If you were disappointed
in his performance against Miami, he might just get back in your
good graces this week.
Richard, OAK – While Latavius
Murray is the lead back in Oakland and fellow rookie DeAndre
Washington got much of the preseason hype, Richard (0-1 percent
owned), an undrafted rookie out of Southern Miss, locked up a
roster spot and had a stellar debut. He was third in carries behind
the other backs but busted a big 75-yard touchdown run in the
fourth quarter, totaling 84 rushing yards and adding 2-11-0 on
two receiving targets. He may be buried a bit on the depth chart,
but Richard has likely earned more snaps going forward.
Thompson, WAS –UPDATE:Matt
Jones out-touched Thompson 8-6 and looked sluggish and still
a little beat up, while Thompson appeared fresh and was a better
participant in the passing offense. Despite assurances that Jones
is fine, Thompson (four carries for 23 yards, TD; 2-16-0) saw
more snaps Monday night and I’m inclined to make room for the
shifty Florida State back in deeper PPR leagues. He could be an
overlooked weapon against the Cowboys in Week 2.
Draughn, SF –UPDATE: There is no question that Carlos
Hyde is the workhorse for the Niners, but Draughn is a solid passing
down back who looked good in the opener (seven rushes for 18 yards
and a TD; 2-18-0 receiving). He’s not as valuable as Darren Sproles
Riddick, but could be worth adding as an RB4/5 in PPR leagues
– especially if they fall behind and need to play catch-up.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Snead, NO – Owned in about 75-80 percent of leagues
heading into Week 1, Snead will be the first player selected to
replace the injured Keenan
Allen in most shallow leagues this week, while Fuller (below)
gets that honor in most 12-team leagues. His 9-172-1 combined
Cooks 6-143-2 created a monster 315 receiving yards between
the two – gaudy numbers which came in a losing effort to Oakland.
Sanu, ATL – Sanu’s debut for the Falcons (5-80-1, 2XP
on eight targets) went as swimmingly as his work during the preseason
and in training camp, where he showed an early bond with Matt
Ryan. While the former Bengal is owned in about 50-75 percent
of fantasy leagues, there’s a chance he’s available in yours.
The fourth-year receiver stands a good shot at eclipsing his solid
2014 numbers (57-790-5), which represent his career highs thus
UPDATE:Julio Jones tweaked his left ankle in the opener, so this
could increase Sanu’s targets in the short-term. Stay tuned.
Fuller, HOU – Fuller, a rookie out of Notre Dame, is
owned in a little more than half of all fantasy leagues and had
a wonderful debut for the Texans, hauling in 5-107-1 despite nursing
an hamstring injury in practice last week. He’s a must-add in
all formats and could be in line for a huge rookie season opposite
Hopkins, who will draw frequent double coverage. Fuller’s not
very big and there have been questions about his receiving skills
but his speed and ability to add a vertical element to the Houston
offense turned heads in the preseason.
Adams, GB – It looks like Adams (5-20 percent owned)
could be more productive as a slot receiver in 2016 now that Jordy
Nelson and Randall
Cobb are both healthy. The third-year WR made a nice TD catch
on an Aaron
Rodgers pass through a tight window Sunday, finishing with
3-50-1 in the win over Jacksonville. He won’t be a consistent
contributor, but there’s no reason Adams should be left on the
waiver wire heading into Sunday.
Agholor, PHI – Agholor (5-10 percent owned) hauled
in four of five targets for 57 yards and a score on Sunday. Almost
completely absent from box scores in 2015, the beleaguered second-year
receiver got his sophomore campaign off to a blistering start,
scoring on a gorgeous 35-yard touchdown Sunday. Although he finished
third in targets in Week 1, Agholor brings a dynamic dimension
to the offense that Wentz will likely utilize going forward –
and he’s available in almost all formats.
UPDATE: With TE Zach Ertz expected to miss a significant amount
of time, Agholor could be a smart bet to pick up a few extra targets
as an additional safety valve for Wentz.
Cruz, NYG – Cruz is probably not available in too many
fantasy leagues based in New York, as Giants fans are insufferable
homers when it comes to peppering their rosters with G-Men, but
he’s still out there in about 65-75 percent of leagues and makes
a decent pickup after a strong 2016 debut. Knee and calf injuries
forced him to miss the last two seasons, but a 4-34-1 performance
(on four targets) means he’ll likely be in the fantasy mix this
year if he can stay healthy.
Williams, SD – Williams (0-5 percent owned) caught
two of five targets for 71 yards in Sunday's loss to Kansas City.
The 6-4 WR is appears destined to follow in the footsteps of Vincent
Jackson and Malcom
Floyd as a tall-and-lanky small-school prospect with big-play
ability who makes his mark for the Chargers. Should Allen's knee
injury be season-ending, he and Dontrelle
Inman (0-2 percent owned) will likely be the main beneficiaries
– along with more targets for Danny
Woodhead and Antonio
Gates. Williams was impressive in training camp and has the
early edge in the competition to start opposite Travis
Rogers, PIT –UPDATE: Rogers had a dynamic debut (6-59-1)
that included an early gaffe (a miscue that led to a Big Ben INT)
and a 3-yard TD reception that bounced off teammate Sammie
Coates in traffic. He was a presence in the slot and used
frequently by Roethlisberger as a safety valve on underneath routes.
The hype was warranted, and you’ll see his 10-20 percent ownership
skyrocket heading into Week 2 against the Bengals.
Kerley, SF –UPDATE: Kerley (owned in just 0-5 percent
of fantasy leagues) hauled in 7-61-0 on 11 targets on Monday night
just a couple weeks after being acquired and making the 53-man
roster. He’s a highly underrated PPR piece and will provide the
49ers with a steady veteran presence in the slot. He should be
added in all 12-plus-team PPR leagues and should see about 8-10
targets per game in that role.
Sharpe, TEN –UPDATE: Sharpe got the start in about
5-10 percent of fantasy leagues despite an ownership level around
40-60 percent. The rookie finished with 7-76-0 on 11 targets from
Mariota in Week 1. Expect similar output with some upside
for a possible TD when the Titans face the Lions in Week 2. This
kid already has the trust of Mariota and there’s not a lot of
WRs clamoring for attention in Tennessee.
Walford, OAK – Walford (20-50 percent owned) had just
3-25-0 on five targets in Week 1, but he figures to be a bigger
part of the Raiders offense this season. I personally expected
more from Walford against the Saints with fellow Oakland TE Mychal
Rivera inactive, notching the big guy as a cheap daily fantasy
option at TE in a bunch of my GPPs, but the Raiders promise to
be a bizarre team in 2016 – capable of just about anything from
week-to-week in terms of game plan and execution.
Doyle, IND – Doyle (0-1 percent owned) stole some of
Allen’s thunder by hauling in two TD passes from Andrew Luck,
finishing with 3-35-2 on four targets in Week 1. After logging
zero receptions during the preseason, he really surprised in the
box score. The 6-6, 267-pound veteran is only worth adding in
deep 16-20 team formats, as he probably won’t have many
more two-TD games in his career.