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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.
Here are some options for leagues that offer a Week 1 waiver wire
or open the free agent pool post-draft. With injuries to Spencer Ware, Julian Edelman and Cameron Meredith, many owners who drafted in
early August are scrambling to fill those spots will viable bodies.
Palmer, ARI – I’m not bullish on his long-term prospects
for fantasy greatness this season, but he’s not a bad QB2 in Week
1 given the defensive issues in Detroit. Palmer is available in
about two-thirds of fantasy leagues and he’s a better bet to succeed
in the first half of the season while he’s healthy.
Flacco, BAL – Owned in just 12% of ESPN leagues and
largely forgotten by most fantasy owners, Flacco has a decent
Week 1 matchup (@CIN) and could surprise in 2017. He’s more worthy
of a high draft selection than Jay Cutler, but is owned in fewer
leagues. The back seems to be healed and he’ll have a full complement
of offensive weapons in Week 1.
Kizer, CLE – Kizer will get a long leash as the Browns
starter and has shown flashes of talent in the preseason. He’s
far from a sure thing and doesn’t have the polish required of
an NFL starter just yet – but he wouldn’t be the first rookie
to surprise and show us some dynamic upside.
Watson, HOU – Tom Savage is the Texans’ starter, per
Bill O’Brien, but Watson could be a sneaky waiver wire selection
in deeper leagues for his upside and mobility. Don’t expect success
right away, but after Week 8 he could be a hot commodity.
Shane Vereen should be a waiver wire consideration
for those of you playing in deep PPR leagues.
Vereen, NYG – I really like Vereen for PPR formats
and he’s often overlooked given his injury history. Fortunately,
these haven’t been knee or soft-tissue ailments, but ankle and
arm injuries that have been addressed. A healthy Vereen can give
you a monster stat line and the Giants are likely to go to him
if Paul Perkins struggles. Only 30 percent owned, Vereen should
be owned in all 12-team PPR leagues.
Perine & Chris
Thompson, WAS – With Matt Jones off to Indianapolis,
both Perine and Thompson are assured of touches in the Redskins
offense behind de facto starter Rob Kelley. Washington is a team
without a lot of stability, so things can change quickly here.
Thompson is available in about 40-50 percent of leagues and could
be a decent RB3/flex option in PPR formats, while Perine (10-15
percent owned) is a superior talent who could overtake Kelley’s
primary role before long.
Mack, IND – Mack got some preseason hype, but he’s
still almost universally available in shallow formats and is only
4.6% owned in ESPN leagues. He’s got similar upside to Philly’s
Wendell Smallwood and Oakland’s DeAndre Washington in that he
could explode if given the chance to tote a large workload. For
now, all three of these guys should be monitored and/or added
in deeper formats.
Lewis, NE – I’m a shameless supporter and shill for
Lewis, but he’s got a chance to help fill some of those targets
left by Julian Edelman. He’s a RB, and while that position is
a carousel of touches in New England, it’s also a place for high-upside
if Bill Belichick is warm to your abilities. Lewis is a staggeringly
low 7.7 percent owned in ESPN leagues and could conceivably get
10-15 touches/targets a game if he’s healthy.
Breida, SF – The word is that Carlos Hyde is poised
for a breakout season, but the undrafted Breida (Georgia Southern)
appears to be the primary backup now and should have an immediate
role as a pass receiver and change-of-pace back. He should be
drafted in most 12-team leagues or picked up if he managed to
make it through your draft un-rostered.
Henderson, DEN – Our very own Steve Schwarz included
Henderson in his deep
sleepers column a few days ago and there’s reason to pay attention
– given the upside that fringe Broncos backs have shown in recent
years. If he gets an opportunity, which history tells us he will,
the rookie could be a waiver wire steal.
Hogan, NE – Hogan often steps up in the absence of
Edelman, and he’s got his chance heading into 2017 to be an every-week
contributor. He’s 96 percent owned because most leagues drafted
after the Edelman injury, but he’s available in a couple of my
leagues that drafted before Edelman tore his ACL.
Beasley, DAL – I knew Beasley would have a breakout
season in 2016 and he responded with career highs in targets (98),
receptions (75) and yards (833), even if he only scored 5 TDs.
This season, he should be right back in the slot doing his thing,
but he’s only 26 percent owned in ESPN leagues. Pick him up, even
in 10-team formats.
Kupp, LAR – Kupp has built up a nice rapport with Jared
Goff and has superior route-running skills that often translate
into fantasy success despite being undervalued. Just 16 percent
owned in ESPN leagues, he’s one of those rare rookie WRs who could
be an immediate and prolific contributor. Don’t let him languish
on the waiver wire, because he won’t be there for long.
Gabriel, ATL – It’s mind-boggling that more folks don’t
have Gabriel on their teams, and his 9.1 percent ownership rate
is a slap in the face to his contributions in the second half
of 2016. He may not be a world beater, but he deserves to be owned
in 12-team leagues.
Thomas, MIA – Thomas is a dynamic player and solid
red zone target who lost some valuable time during his years in
Jacksonville. I’m no Cutler apologist, but he is capable of finding
Thomas (15-20 percent owned) and making him a valuable fantasy
option in 2017.
Hooper, ATL – Hooper should see lots of snaps and targets
this season, and he’s being undervalued because he’s not a big
name. But he’s one of my picks for breakouts at the position,
despite his low ownership rate (11.5% in ESPN leagues).
Doyle, IND – With Erik Swoope on IR and Dwayne Allen
long gone, Doyle won’t have much competition for targets and Scott
Tolzien could look his way a lot in Week 1.