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
target both offensive and defensive players — sometimes breakout
stars that eluded your team’s draft — as well as players
who can help your squad that may still be lurking in deeper leagues.
I’ll also provide an occasional daily fantasy recommendation,
as I’m hopelessly addicted to DFS sites.
|Check out the most
popular waiver wire pickups this week across thousands
of MFL leagues. Also, quickly see who's available on
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Off the Top - Includes my premier
recommendations. These are sometimes players available only in more
shallow leagues, and occasionally guys who are more ready but are
thrust into the fantasy spotlight because of opportunity or exceptional
production. Usually, they are available in at least 25 percent of
Digging Deeper - Covers the next
tier of quality waiver wire specimens, usually players available
in a majority of online leagues. There are a lot of gems in this
range who can be plucked rather easily. Usually, these players are
available in at least 50 percent of public leagues.
Scouring the Barrel - Chronicles
the deepest of fantasy adds — and sometimes highlights players
being tacked onto fantasy squads who I don’t have much confidence
in. Make sure you read the fine print because I don’t always
love them. For the most part, you’ll find these players available
in about 75-100 percent of fantasy leagues
Each week, I’ll also provide a brief update on the players
I covered the previous week. It’s the most accurate, comprehensive
one-stop waiver-wire column available on the Internet, and it’s
only available here at fftoday.com. Let’s get to some of
the players who could be still out there on the waiver wire and
in the free agent pool as you prepare for Week 1!
Feedback is always welcome,
appreciated and encouraged. I’ll get to as many e-mails as
Note: Each player’s
next four matchups are listed in parentheses ( ). Since IDP league
composition is so varied, I’ll just list defensive players
per position and use their Yahoo ownership rates – which due
to site ranking anomalies and the high rate of variance in availability,
are often much lower than actual ownerships rates.
Off The Top
Looking for a backup QB? Carson Palmer
is a fantasy QB2 with plenty of weapons at his disposal.
Palmer, ARI (SD, @NYG, SF, BYE) – He’s absolutely loaded
with offensive weapons in Arizona, aside from the glaring absence
of a top-quality tight end. Palmer is available in about 50 percent
of Yahoo leagues, and while he may not be the same quarterback
he was in the mid-2000s, he threw for 4,274/24/22 last season
and makes an excellent backup in yearlong fantasy and a value
spot start in weekly fantasy contests. If your league doesn’t
penalize for INTs – his main bugaboo – you’ll be better off.
Tannehill, MIA (NE, @BUF, KC, @OAK) – Tannehill is
available in 40-60 percent of all fantasy leagues and remains
a work in progress as an NFL signal caller. With an improved running
game in Miami, there should be less pressure on him to carry the
offense, and I’m anticipating a step up from 2013, when he threw
Smith, KC (TEN, @DEN, @MIA, NE) – The Chiefs offense
isn’t structured to make Smith a star, and that hurts his value.
But he remains a safe backup option and has plenty of relevance
in two-QB leagues.
Flacco, BAL (CIN, PIT, @CLE, CAR) – A couple years
ago, Flacco was entering the “elite” quarterback discussion, and
he’s since inked an enormous contract and failed to impress. While
he threw more picks than TDs last season, it’s not a bad time
to stash him away and wait for the resurgence that is eminently
possible under new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak in Baltimore.
McCown, TB (CAR, STL, @ATL, @PIT) – McCown got the
starting nod over Mike Glennon, and while he’s not flashy, he’s
capable of throwing for over 4,000 yards and 25 TDs with the talented
wideouts in Tampa.
Scouring The Barrel
Locker, TEN (@KC, DAL, @CIN, @IND) – Still waiting
for the Jake Locker breakout? Join the club. I’m still pimping
for the dynamic Titans quarterback, and as his WRs mature and
the team adds offensive weapons, things have to get better, don’t
they? Locker’s value is higher in leagues where passing TDs only
count for 4 points, since he usually adds a few TDs on the ground.
Manuel, BUF (CIN, PIT, @CLE, CAR) – Manuel has upside,
so he makes my list. But he hasn’t looked sharp in preseason and
could end up being a total bust if he doesn’t show marked improvement
Off The Top
Moreno, MIA (NE, @BUF, KC, @OAK) – Moreno probably
won’t be the bell cow he was in Denver in 2013, but he’s a good
interior runner, solid blocker and excellent receiver – and he
seems to have the edge over the speedy Lamar Miller (who will
likely get early-down work) as the primary fantasy option in Miami.
He’s still available in about 25-30 percent of fantasy leagues
and may have escaped your draft since he’s technically still behind
Miller on the depth chart.
Hyde, SF (@DAL, CHI, @ARI, PHI) – Hyde has a great
combination of speed and power and could poach a few of Frank
Gore’s TDs this season as the 49ers work him into the mix. He’d
likely take over primary rushing duties should Gore go down, since
LaMichael James doesn’t have the requisite size.
McFadden, OAK (@NYJ, HOU, @NE, MIA) – There’s no reason
Darren McFadden of the Oakland Raiders shouldn’t be owned in a
12-team PPR league. He’s a dynamic receiver and runner who’s never
been able to stay healthy, but when he’s on, he’s ON.
Greene, TEN (@KC, DAL, @CIN, @IND) – Greene had some
success as Chris Johnson’s second fiddle and looked, at times,
much better than CJ2K. He’s among the lowest upside of the starting
RBs in the league, but he should be owned in more leagues since
rookie Bishop Sankey isn’t ready, despite recently being tagged
the No. 2 back in Tennessee.
Scouring The Barrel
Davis, KC (TEN, @DEN, @MIA, NE) – Davis is the necessary
handcuff to Jamaal Charles and should get more carries this season
even if Charles stays healthy. He’s owned in just 14 percent of
Yahoo leagues and could be a RB2-3/FLEX if Charles goes down.
Dunbar, DAL (SF, @TEN, @STL, NO) – Dunbar’s stock has
improved dramatically since 2013, when he received little fanfare,
but he’s now the primary backup to DeMarco Murray and will be
a change- of- pace back who gets a few carries per game. The Cowboys
run blocking is much better, so if anything happens to Murray
(and something usually does), Dunbar (10 percent owned) would
step in and see 75-80 percent of his production.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
Wheaton, PIT (CLE, @BAL, @CAR, TB) – He was drafted
to replace Mike Wallace, and while he saw little action as a rookie,
he’s primed for a big season. There’s not another receiver in
the AFC North owned in fewer than 75 percent of leagues with as
much upside as Wheaton (60-65 percent owned in Yahoo leagues)
in the Pittsburgh no-huddle.
Hartline, MIA (NE, @BUF, KC, @OAK) – Hartline is a
consistent, back-of-the-rotation fantasy WR who is best deployed
in PPR leagues. He slipped in many drafts, but you shouldn’t let
him escape ownership in yours.
Amendola, NE (@MIA, @MIN, OAK, @KC) – Amendola’s draft
stock dropped precipitously since last season, when owners assumed
he’d jump right in as Tom Brady’s Wes Welker 2.0. Injuries and
inconsistency have plagued him, but there’s a chance he shows
up for a few games and puts up numbers.
Walker, TEN (@KC, DAL, @CIN, @IND) – I’m high on Walker
in 2014. Ken Whisenhunt’s system is very TE-friendly, and Walker
is a playmaker with solid red zone skills who could have a career
year. He’s owned in a little more than 50 percent of fantasy leagues,
but I’m sure he won’t be after a couple weeks.
Eifert, CIN (@BAL, ATL, TEN, BYE) – Eifert’s upside
is limited by the presence of Jermaine Gresham, but the young
tight end is a better pass catcher and red zone guy. He’s a capable
fantasy backup and low-cost spot starting option in DFS.
Dobson, NE (@MIA, @MIN, OAK, @KC) – Dobson is the deep
threat in Brady’s arsenal, but he’s wildly inconsistent as a receiver
and won’t be a steady weekly option. Still,his 26 percent ownership
rate on Yahoo seems quite low given his ability.
Austin, CLE (@PIT, NO, BAL, BYE) – While Miles Austin’s
hamstrings are like those old, brittle rubber bands that dry up
and snap, he’s a talented player who could be a solid slot receiver
if he can stay healthy. At 17 percent owned, he’s among the most
underrated receivers in the league heading into Week 1.
Scouring The Barrel
Johnson, SF (@DAL, CHI, @ARI, PHI) – He’s just 10 percent
owned and could be a fixture in this offense if he eventually
gels with Colin Kaepernick, which he’s struggled to do thus far.
He’s far from a sure thing but could see his statistics build
as the season progresses.
Brown, ARI (SD, @NYG, SF, BYE) – Bruce Arians said
last week that John Brown could play up to 60 percent of the Cards’
offensive snaps, which means he has plenty of upside as Palmer’s
third receiver since Larry Fitzgerald will continue to get a lot
of attention and the word is out on Michael Floyd.
Woods, BUF (CIN, PIT, @CLE, CAR) – Woods (10 percent
owned) was a disappointment as a rookie, but he didn’t have a
real QB for half the year and he’s only in his second season.
He’s a decent route runner who just needs consistent targets.
Rodgers, GB (@SEA, NYJ, @DET, @CHI) – Rogers could
have the biggest upside of any relatively unknown tight end this
season, mainly because he has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball.
The Packers drafted him in the third round despite less-than-ideal
athleticism and experience, but he’s the son of a football coach
– a smart player with good hands who’s only going to get better
in the Green Bay system.
Roach, OAK (@NYJ, HOU, @NE, MIA) – Roach (11 percent
owned) could emerge as an IDP force this season. He’s slated for
an every-down role and will provide consistent tackle numbers.
Riley, WAS (@HOU, JAC, @PHI, NYG) – Riley (8 percent
owned) no longer must deal with the ubiquitous London Fletcher,
who finally retired following the 2013 season. He’s developing
a leadership role and could end up being a top 10-15 LB.
Foster, TB (CAR, STL, @ATL, @PIT) – Foster (5 percent
owned) is the other every-down linebacker next to IDP stud Lavonte
David but still manages excellent numbers. He also provides an
interior blitzing presence and is a ball-hawking defender in coverage.
Foote, ARI (SD, @NYG, SF, BYE) – Foote is just 2 percent
owned and could be the most underrated IDP linebacker in the game.
He’s an every-down guy, and he always shows up to play. In the
absence of Karlos Dansby (CLE) and Daryl Washington (suspended),
he’ll be counted on for production.
Reid, SF (@DAL, CHI, @ARI, PHI) – Reid (7 percent owned)
is a playmaker who has a great Week 1 matchup. He’s also going
to see more ball carriers slip through to the next level this
season as the depleted San Fran LB corps struggles to deal with
injuries and suspensions.
Moore, ATL (NO, @CIN, TB, @MIN) – Moore is another
underrated guy who’s owned in just 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
but has huge games on occasion. He’s not as consistent as some
other safeties, but he’s got more upside in the Atlanta secondary
Elam, BAL (CIN, PIT, @CLE, CAR) – Elam (3 percent owned)
is criminally underowned and should be in line for breakout IDP
season following an up-and-down rookie campaign. He’s an excellent
tackler and could finish as a top 10 DB this season.
Dareus, BUF (CIN, PIT, @CLE, CAR) – Dareus (9 percent
owned) has had some off-field issues but remains an IDP stalwart
for such a young player. He’s a beast of a run defender and gets
to the quarterback pretty consistently, as well.
Johnson, TB (CAR, STL, @ATL, @PIT) – The former Bengal
(3 percent owned) is now in Tampa alongside Adrian Clayborn and
McCoy, the other Bucs defensive linemen of note. He’s got
the most upside of the three and should be a force from jump street.
Heyward, PIT (CLE, @BAL, @CAR, TB) – Heyward
may not match the numbers he put up in 2013. But at 1 percent
owned, he’s being underrated by IDP owners. Give him a look
in the early going, and you’ll have an idea if he can follow
up his breakout with another good season.