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Sunday 23rd Apr 2017

Week 4 has arrived and with it the first of the bye weeks are upon us. This week, Green Bay and Carolina will get the week off and owners will have to find replacements for Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, as well as the various other position players for the first time this year, which could lead to some desperation plays in deeper leagues. As the bye weeks continue, and the teams affected each week increases, you’ll want to make sure you try to plan ahead when you can to ensure you have a quality replacement ready and thus avoid having to battle your league mates for the best options when you really need them. I know it is rudimentary advice, but it never hurts to hear it again. Take a look at your bye weeks this week, and see what your backup plan looks like. With that out of the way, let’s get on to this week’s report.


Ben Roethlisberger, PIT – I poured a little ice water on Big Ben a couple weeks back when I said that I would dump him for Sam Bradford in a heartbeat. After two straight stinkers to open the year, Roethlisberger showed that he can still be a difference maker in fantasy as he passed for 406 yards and two touchdowns. Of course, he also threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles as well. If you drafted Big Ben in a deeper league, the chances are you have stood by him, but his ownership in standard leagues is as low as it’s been in years. This week brings hope of another solid performance in the form of the Minnesota Vikings defense, which is giving up big chunks of yardage through the air. Funny how these things work, but in the one league I own Rodgers in, I drafted Bradford as my backup, and I am thinking of switching to Roethlisberger, who was dropped, to get me through the bye week.

Jake Locker, TEN – Locker gets his first mention in the report coming off his strong game against the Chargers where he passed for 299 yards and a touchdown. The real eye opener was his six rushes for 68 yards and a touchdown. The biggest knock against Locker usually is the conservative offense he plays in, but if the team starts to take the reins off a bit more and let Locker use his athleticism, he is capable of more days like this and at least is worthy of a roster spot in deeper leagues again due to some tasty matchups that arrive later in the year.

Geno Smith, NYJ – Smith bounced back from his lousy performance against the Patriots by gashing the Bills for 331 yards and two touchdowns through the air and chipped in another score on the ground. Yes he’s raw, but he’s also shown he’s pretty fearless. He’s still too inexperienced to really trust, but he’s definitely worth hanging onto or grabbing in really deep leagues.

Digging Deeper

Brian Hoyer, CLE – Hoyer got a mention last week, but after leading the Browns to a victory last week and tossing three touchdowns in the process, he may have just stolen Brandon Weeden’s job for good. The Browns have no running game anymore, but they do have two exciting playmakers in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, which at least gives Hoyer some appeal in two-QB leagues.

Nick Foles, PHI – After watching the Chiefs deliver the hits to Michael Vick last week, I just wanted to once again mention his backup as a guy that two-QB leaguers should scoop up. The Vick injury could arrive at any time.

Mike Glennon, TB – Tampa Bay is going to come to the realization that fantasy owners already have, that Josh Freeman has regressed to the point of no return. Glennon will get a shot soon.

Week 3 Update

Terrelle Pryor, OAK – If you held onto Pryor as we suggested last week, then you had to like what you saw last week against the Broncos. Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion late in the game that may prevent him from missing a tasty matchup against Washington this week.

Philip Rivers, SD – On the surface, last week’s 184 yard, one TD day doesn’t look so great. But Antonio Gates got tackled just short of the end-zone and Eddie Royal had another potential touchdown called back by penalty. Focus instead on the fact that he completed 83% (20-24) of his passes and didn’t turn the ball over.


Bilal Powell, NYJ – In our blurb on Powell last week, we acknowledged his performance to start the year and pointed out the boost he would get if the injury-prone Chris Ivory got hurt again. Well, the injury to Ivory came sooner than I expected, and Powell took full advantage, rumbling 27 times for 149 yards against the Bills. While he is unavailable in almost all deeper formats, his ownership was only about 50% in standard leagues. He has this job to himself for at least the next two weeks and should be picked up everywhere he is available this week, even if it means just keeping him off your opponent's roster. Those who own him should feel comfortable inserting him into their flex spot the next two weeks.

Brandon Bolden, NE – My goal with the report beyond highlighting the obvious names each and every week is to try and provide some names for you to speculate on cheaply before they make a splash. This is the best way to try and improve your roster in deeper leagues and save FAAB bucks in the process. Bolden topped the Digging Deeper section in Week 2, as we identified him as the guy to speculate on in the wake of the injury to Shane Vereen and the struggles of Stevan Ridley. Sure enough, in his first week back he likely locked down at least the third-down job and finished the day as the most productive back ahead of Ridley and LeGarrette Blount, who split the early-down work. He is best suited to PPR leagues for now and should keep this role until Vereen returns.

Johnathan Franklin, GB – Franklin took over for an injured James Starks and ripped off 103 yards and a score with just 13 carries. While I think he needs to be picked up this week, especially in deeper leagues, there are a couple of factors clouding his prospects. First off is the bye, which arrives this week for the Packers. Next is the status of Starks and Eddie Lacy, both of whom could return to the lineup in Week 5 and send Franklin back to the bench. I think he showed enough to hopefully leapfrog Starks on the depth chart and should at least share the load with Lacy upon his return. Hopefully you didn’t break the bank on Starks, so you can spend some on Franklin this week if you need depth at the RB position.

Pierre Thomas, NO – Thomas was mentioned the last two weeks as we highlighted the fact that he was clearly outplaying Mark Ingram and would eventually eat into his workload. While the results weren’t great this week, the fact that Ingram was scratched with a toe injury and then surfaced in trade rumors confirms what we reported. Thomas saw an increase in snaps last week that should continue and caught six passes. He is trending into flex territory in PPR leagues as long as he can maintain a 50/50 split with Darren Sproles.

Isaiah Pead, STL – We have preached patience with Pead so far this year, and will do so again this week. Pead finally saw some extended playing time with the toe injury sustained by starter Daryl Richardson. He didn’t do much on the ground, but did catch seven passes for 43 yards. He makes for a better target in PPR formats, but with Richardson’s status in question he should be picked up in most leagues while we wait to see how things shake out in St. Louis.

Jason Snelling, ATL – While I profiled Jacquizz Rodgers last week, I gave Snelling only a passing comment as the likely goal-line back in the wake of Steven Jackson’s injury. Snelling proved to be more than that on Sunday, rushing for 53 yards on 11 carries and adding four catches for another 58 yards and a touchdown.  Like Rodgers, he needs to be owned in 12-teams leagues and up for the time being. Just bear in mind the matchups aren’t great the next two weeks (NE, NYJ) and Jackson could be back following the bye in Week 6.

Willis McGahee, CLE – McGahee was signed after last week’s column, but we did talk about the Browns backfield on the Blog. He’s old and the rust showed last week, but he should get any goal-line touches that materialize and the bulk of the early-down work as long as he’s able.

Digging Deeper

Andre Ellington, ARZ – The Cards rotated three backs last week with Ellington, Rashard Mendenhall and Alfonso Smith all seeing action, but Ellington was by far the most explosive and exciting of the committee. The Cards are going to continue to be forced to air it out and that will just increase Ellington’s role in this offense. PPR owners who were unconvinced last week should give him a second look this week. Mendenhall’s value is going to continue to slide and as such Smith could also emerge down the road.

Jonathan Stewart, CAR – Stewart has starting running again and looks to be on track to return in Week 7 and reclaim his role as DeAngelo Williams' running mate. He is sitting out there in a lot of leagues, so it’s time to start thinking about making room for him at the back end of your bench.

Marcel Reece, OAK – We have a soft spot for Reece after he made our year-end list of favorite pickups last year. So we were pleased to see the Raiders finally try to find ways to incorporate him into the offense last week. He caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown on a nice halfback pass from Darren McFadden. Like last year, he is just a McFadden injury away from being a viable flex play, especially in PPR leagues.

Khiry Robinson, NO – Robinson got some late carries after the Saints had the game in hand. He actually looked pretty good, gaining 38 yards on his four rushes. If the Saints finally pull the plug on Mark Ingram for good, then Robinson likely sticks as the new “power” back for the Saints. That’s worth some early speculation in really deep leagues.

Week 3 Update

Danny Woodhead, SD – Woodhead followed up last week’s solid effort with another solid PPR performance.

Jordan Todman, JCK – Todman converted a goal-line chance and solidified his status as the handcuff to Maurice Jones-Drew.


Ryan Broyles, DET – Readers from last year may remember my man-crush on the Lions receiver. He finally returned to action last week and promptly caught all three balls thrown his way for 34 yards. Nate Burleson suffered a broken arm in a car accident and will be out of action for quite awhile. This will thrust Broyles, gimpy knee and all, into the starting lineup and makes him the top receiving target this week. Those in PPR leagues should bid aggressively since he will rack up receptions as long as his knee holds up.

Stephen Hill, NYJ – We had Hill in the DD section last week, and mentioned his big play ability. He showcased it last week, hauling in a 51-yard bomb to highlight a three-catch, 108-yard day. He should continue to be Geno Smith’s favorite deep target and his big play ability will make him a nice guy to have on the bench through the bye weeks.

Santonio Holmes, NYJ – Back-to-back Jets on the list this week? While I like Stephen Hill's upside better long-term, I can’t deny the performance Holmes delivered, as he was targeted 10 times and exploded for 154 yards and a touchdown. While I might let someone else outbid me this week, he needs to be owned as the number one receiver on this team.

Denarius Moore, OAK – His disappearing act in Week 2 got him dropped in a bunch of leagues and just as it looked like Rod Streater had passed him by, he drops 124 yards and a touchdown to say “Not so fast!” If an impatient owner let him go, scoop him back up and enjoy the resurgence.

Sidney Rice, SEA – Rice took advantage of the matchup against Jacksonville, grabbing two touchdown passes and reminding everyone what a lethal red-zone target he can be. He needs to be owned again in all leagues as we enter the bye weeks.

Digging Deeper

Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN – The Vikings' season is slipping away, so at some point they are going to have to take the training wheels off their first-round pick. He was my top WR on this list to start the year and is worth stashing in hopes that he eventually gets more touches.

Donnie Avery, KC – Look, I am not a big Avery fan, but he took advantage of the attention Dwayne Bowe got last week to the tune of seven catches for 141 yards. He is locked in as the clear No. 2 option in the offense, but see the bigger picture. The offense is still too conservative and this was against the Eagles pass defense. You can add him in deep leagues if you want, just don’t expect too many repeats.

Davone Bess, CLE – Bess has finally jumped ahead of Greg Little in the pecking order for the Browns, and with Josh Gordon back he had his most productive game so far with seven catches and 67 yards. He’s a possession receiver who can help out in a pinch in PPR leagues. If the Browns somehow traded Gordon, besides me putting my fist through the computer screen, Bess would become the No. 1 guy by default.

Terrance Williams, DAL – Anyone who owned Miles Austin last year can tell you how frustrating his troublesome hamstrings can be. They are predictably acting up again, which puts Williams on the radar as the next in line.

Justin Hunter, TEN – Nate Washington and Kendall Wright are not the only Titans WR’s taking advantage of Kenny Britt’s struggles. Hunter showed that he can go up and get it on the last-second 34-yard pass from Jake Locker to win the game. Yes, he got away with a push-off, but he also put himself on the radar since he’ll take over for Britt if the Titans send him packing.

Week 3 Update

Marlon Brown, BAL – Brown cooled off last week, but should have a good chance to score again in Week 4 against the Bills.

Eddie Royal, SD – Royal came up short on production finally, but he got another red-zone look and would have had his sixth TD of the year if not for a penalty.

Ted Ginn Jr., CAR – Two weeks in a row with another long touchdown. Not getting the volume, but worth monitoring to see if he can keep this up.


Heath Miller, PIT – We recommended stashing Miller in deep leagues to start the year, and again last week. Now that he’s back, you may have competition for his services. Still, he got right back into the mix and as he gets healthier he’ll serve as the safety net Big Ben sorely needs.

Digging Deeper

Scott Chandler, BUF – Chandler has kind of been a forgotten man, but he made some noise last week with a touchdown and 79 yards on five catches. If you are in a bind this week, he’s worth a shot as a fill-in.

Jordan Reed, WAS – Reed was really starting to emerge before a quad injury knocked him out of the game last week. Keep an eye on his status, because if he plays, I like him much more than Chandler for both this week and going forward.

Week 3 Update

Coby Fleener, IND – Fleener was a victim of the entire Colts passing game taking a week off against the Niners. Don’t jump ship on last week’s top TE and go get him if he is still available and you need to upgrade your backup.

Charles Clay, MIA – Clay is still available in a ton of leagues and will continue to see consistent looks. He’s a solid backup and bye week replacement.


Kansas City – We tabbed the Chiefs as a defense to watch ahead of Week 2, and they have lived up to that billing. They figure to get another chance to make some noise against a Giants team in distress. This could be the last chance to get a share of them somewhere this year.

Tampa Bay – The Bucs can make some noise this week at home against a Cardinals team that can’t run the ball or protect the passer very well.


Ryan Succop, KC – Succop is coming off a big game last week, and the matchup with the Giants sets him up for more success this week.



Injuries were the big stories of Week 2 as Ray Rice, Andre Johnson, Eddie Lacy, Steven Jackson, Larry Fitzgerald, Malcolm Floyd and Maurice Jones-Drew all left their owners in the lurch last week, and possibly scrambling for some help this week. The key of course is not only identifying who to target, but also determining how much to spend and how much long-term value they can deliver. While this week figures to have a couple fairly high priced names, I think the better long-term plays will come from those further down the ranks. With that in mind, let’s get to this week’s report.


Philip Rivers, SD – I panned Rivers heading into the season coming off last year’s performance, but through two weeks it’s clear that he has found new life under Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt’s offense.  Antonio Gates looks healthy again, and the schedule has some tasty matchups with games against Oakland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Washington on the horizon. I still am leery of trusting him too much, but can’t deny that he is looking much better than I first thought.

Alex Smith, KC – Smith was one of my QB value picks prior to the season, and for what it likely cost to acquire him, he has more than lived up to expectations. Andy Reid is going to keep chucking the ball, and this week’s matchup against the Eagles should allow Smith to produce another solid performance.

Digging Deeper

Nick Foles, PHI – It’s likely only a matter of time before Michael Vick gets hurt in Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense. If you are in a very deep or two-quarterback league and have a roster spot to play with, why not stash Foles away and wait. He will play at some point this year, and when he does he’ll produce.

Brian Hoyer, CLE – With Brandon Weeden out, Hoyer surprisinglywas named starter over Jason Campbell. With the depth at the position this season, anyone outside of two-quarterback leagues can ignore him.

Mike Glennon, TB – Josh Freeman’s days as the Bucs starter could end any day now. If you own him in two-quarterback leagues, then you may have to bite the bullet and pick up Glennon this week.

Week 2 Updates

Ryan Tannehill, MIA – Tannehill took another step forward against the Browns in Week 2, getting Mike Wallace involved and finishing with 319 yards and a TD. He should be able to put up some decent numbers the next two weeks against the Falcons at home and on the road against the Saints.

Terrelle Pryor, OAK – Pryor wasn’t asked to do much in the win against the inept Jaguars. He rushed for 50 yards on 9 carries, but only passed for 126 yards and 0 touchdowns. If I owned him as a backup, I might hold and see how he performs against the Broncos before cutting bait.

Geno Smith, NYJ – Smith looked every bit the rookie last week completing fewer than 50% of his passes and throwing three interceptions.

Chad Henne, MIA – Henne got some garbage-time stats to salvage something last week, but with Seattle coming up this week, I hope you have other options.


James Starks, GB – Starks took advantage of Eddie Lacy’s concussion and the porous Washington defense to rack up 132 yards and a touchdown, making him one of the hottest pickups this week. But my advice is to let someone else pay the price, since the Packers have a tough matchup against the Bengals and then a bye. Lacy should be back by Week 5 and relegate Starks to handcuff status again. We mentioned him as the handcuff to own in last week’s column, so if you are a Lacy owner in a deep league hopefully you got him on board last week, because the price won’t be right this week unfortunately.

Bernard Pierce, BAL – I just put a claim in on Pierce in one of my shallow leagues, and frankly was surprised to see him available even in a 10-team league. The injury to Ray Rice should get him scooped up in more leagues, which is how it should be since he has a chance to be a stud if Rice misses significant time. If Rice doesn’t play this week Pierce is a Top 15 RB easy.

Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL – Steven Jackson will miss 2-4 weeks with his thigh injury leaving Rodgers and Snelling to shoulder the load. I actually cut Rodgers in a 12-team league with a short bench and honestly I am not rushing to pick him back up this week. He underwhelmed again last week after Jackson went down, managing only 17 yards on 11 carries. He also ceded the goal-line work to Jason Snelling. The best place to take a shot on Rodgers is in PPR-leagues.

Bilal Powell, NYJ – It’s time to give Powell a little plug, since he has looked pretty good to start the year both running and catching the ball. He is getting enough work to be a viable flex play in PPR leagues that could get a nice boost in value if Chris Ivory gets hurt again.

Danny Woodhead, SD – Woodhead finally got some touches last week and promptly showed that he needs to be a bigger part of the offense going forward. He caught eight passes for 37 yards and chipped in another 27 on the ground. It’s possible an impatient owner dropped him in your PPR league, if so he’s a worthy grab as depth to help you navigate the bye weeks.

Digging Deeper

Isaiah Pead, STL – Pead returned to the lineup and although he didn’t do much on paper, he was on the field a lot as the Rams went into comeback-mode. Don’t drop him just yet in deeper leagues as Daryl Richardson’s grasp on the starter’s job is tenuous at best.

Brandon Jacobs, NYG – Jacobs returned to the Giants and promptly resumed his old goal-line job, scoring a touchdown, with little else on the day. Still, as long as he is around and getting goal-line looks, he rates as at least a desperation play.

Andre Ellington, ARZ – Ellington has grabbed the third-down back job in Arizona and offers some nice upside as a pass-catching back in a Bruce Arians offense. He showed what he can do last week with a nice 36-yard touchdown grab last week. Rashard Mendenhall isn’t known for his durability, so grab Ellington now in hopes that he can continue to expand his role in the offense.

Jordan Todman, JCK – Maurice Jones-Drew injured his surgically repaired ankle on Sunday which puts Jordan Todman on the radar not only for this week, but potentially longer if the injury is worse than expected. He’s just a stash for now, but he looked good in preseason and would likely get the goal-line work in any time-share with Justin Forsett should MJD miss significant time.

Felix Jones, PIT – Jones led the Steelers backfield in touches last week, thanks to Isaac Redman getting banged up on the opening kickoff. The Steelers running game is a mess, so no reason to mess with it against the Bears this week.

Week 2 Update

Knowshon Moreno, DEN – Moreno continues to take advantage of the struggles of Montee Ball, who fumbled in the red-zone in Week 2. If he is still out there on your waiver-wire he should be scooped up since he should continue to see the bulk of the work for the Broncos until Ball snaps out of his funk.

Joique Bell, DET – Bell topped our RB list last week, because he could be a PPR-monster if (when?)Reggie Bush goes down. Bush got banged up again last week, meaning Bell will continue to get more work regardless going forward.

Vick Ballard/Ahmad Bradshaw – The situation got a lot clearer in Indianapolis after Ballard’s season ending injury. Bradshaw will be the lead dog with Donald Brown back on the radar as the backup.

Pierre Thomas, NO– Another week where Thomas outplayed Ingram, a trend that should continue this week against Carolina. He’s a hold in deeper leagues in hopes that he’ll finally push Ingram to the sidelines completely.


DeAndre Hopkins, HOU – Hopkins stepped up after Andre Johnson was knocked out of last week’s game,  helping the team prevail in overtime. He showed that he is more than ready to fill Johnson’s shoes as a WR1 if the former goes down again at any point this year. This is the last week he should be on any waiver wires.

Marlon Brown, BAL – The rookie got the start last week in place of the injured Jacoby Jones and delivered a nice game scoring another touchdown for the second week in a row. I recommended him last week for deeper leagues, but now he’s looking like even a viable flex-play in standard leagues the rest of the way as I believe he can hang onto this job all year. The Ravens have little else behind Torrey Smith, so the targets should continue to be there going forward.

Eddie Royal, SD – Okay, I openly joked about Royal after his Week 1 heroics, only to be forced to eat my words this week. Three more touchdowns? Yeah, everyone saw that one coming.  By now you have already heard that he’s already matched his career high from his rookie year in 2008. With the injuries to the Chargers wideouts, even I have to admit he should continue to have value, particularly in PPR-formats in the new Chargers offense.

Nate Burleson, DET – Burleson is like a rash that keeps coming back. Just when you think it’s time to forget him, he catches another seven passes. He is a decent plug-and-play option this week against the Redskins.

Digging Deeper

Aaron Dobson, NE – One of the takeaways for me from last week’s sloppy Patriots game, is that despite dropping far too many passes and getting yelled at by Tom Brady, he showed flashes of talent that could make him a waiver-wire darling at any moment. Kenbrell Thompkins stole much of his sleeper appeal, but Dobson is the more highly regarded prospect. Get him now if he was dropped in your league and see if he can figure things out. Brady will feed whoever catches the ball, and if that happens to be Dobson the sky is obviously the limit.

Robert Woods, BUF – Woods in the number two guy in Buffalo, which doesn’t give him much appeal in standard leagues, but as the Bills expand the playbook for EJ Manuel, his workload should continue to increase. He’s a WR5 at this point, but he could emerge as the bye weeks arrive.

Stephen Hill, NYJ – Hill is locked into his role as the deep-threat for a Jets team that will continue to play catch-up this year. It makes him worth a roster spot as the bye weeks approach.

Austin Pettis, STL – Pettis surprised people with his 8/78/1 game against the Falcons, but it was a byproduct of the blanket coverage on Jared Cook. Congratulate him on his nice game and look elsewhere for help this week.

Ted Ginn, CAR –Ginn is still just a specialist, despite his eight target game that saw him haul in a 40-yard touchdown.

Ace Sanders, JCK – Greg Morgan mentioned the rookie yesterday, and I agree with the assessment that Sanders could put up some sneaky numbers since garbage-time in Jacksonville usually arrives at half-time these days.

Markus Wheaton, PIT – Wheaton isn’t seeing the field very much in the early going, but with the Steelers playing so poorly, they need to get their best playmakers on the field and that means Wheaton. He’s worth stashing in deep leagues to see if Mike Tomlin finally gives the speedster a look.

Week 2 Update

Julian Edelman, NE – The injury to Danny Amendola will keep last week’s top waiver claim locked in as Tom Brady’s favorite target at least through the team’s Week 5 bye.

Rueben Randle, NYG – Randle had a quiet week, but don’t drop him because he just an injury away from being an every week starter.

Rod Streater, OAK – Streater is clearly the number one option in the Raiders passing game right now, and he could deliver some garbage time stats this week against the Broncos making him a decent gamble in deep leagues.

Jerome Simpson, MIN – Ah, that’s the Jerome Simpson we all remember.


Coby Fleener, IND – Fleener finally had a breakout game and perhaps is ready to stake his claim as the top TE in this offense. Obviously Andrew Luck knows him well from their time together at Stanford, and without Dwayne Allen around he should continue to see more targets going forward.

Tyler Eifert, CIN – Eifert returns to the list this week as a player on the rise who should continue to be an integral part of an improving Bengals defense. The Bengals are running two TE sets all the time, and moving Eifert all over the field.

Charles Clay, MIA – Clay gets a bump up this week after his five-catch, 109 yard effort on Sunday. He even got a rushing touchdown as the fullback. The Dolphins offense has improved enough to allow Clay to continue to be a factor. He’s looking like a solid TE2 with matchup upside.

Heath Miller, PIT – Miller continues to near his return and man does Ben Roethlisberger ever need his most reliable pass-catcher.

Digging Deeper

Zach Ertz, PHI – This week it was the rookie Ertz who got the TE production for the Eagles offense. They are scoring and moving the ball so much, it makes sense to grab a piece of it if you can, and Ertz seems like the better long-term bet than Brent Celek.

Week 2 Update

Kellen Winslow, NYJ – Winslow fell back to earth last week, but it’s worth noting he would have had his second touchdown of the year had he not gone to the ground to catch a pass late in the game.


Alex Henery, PHI – If the Eagles kicker hasn’t already been scooped up in your league, then you should rectify the decision if you are looking to make a change based on the same logic we applied to Zach Ertz above.

Caleb Sturgis, MIA – The first kicker taken in this year’s draft is off to a strong start, nailing all four of his field goal attempts, including one from 54 yards last week. I like him on the road, in the dome against the Falcons this week.


Bills – The Bills defense has been playing very well against elite quarterbacks and this week they get to face Geno Smith and the Jets. Granted, it’s on the road, but more turnovers and sacks seem like a sure thing.

Titans – I know San Diego has been hot, but they travel to Tennessee, where the Titans will slow the game down on offense and put pressure on Philip Rivers all day. Would it surprise you that much to see Rivers chuck a couple interceptions this week?

With only one day left for drafting before the football season kicks off on Thursday night, it is time for the first installment of this year’s Waiver Wire Report. Throughout the season, my goal will be to shine a little light on the names you need to have on your fantasy radar each week. We will strive to provide a solid mix of players to suit those in leagues of all sizes. We will try to stick to players whose ownership levels make them reasonable pickups in standard 12-team leagues. Beyond that, we will try and touch upon some names for those of you in deeper formats as well.

For those of you who followed the column last year, you already know that along with the week’s hot pickups, I will mix in some of my favorite weekly plug-and-play calls, as well as sometimes updating last week’s names where applicable. As is the case in columns such as these, I won’t always list a guy you are curious about. If that is the case, please feel free to jump into the conversation and ask about anyone you are interested in via the comments section and you will get some analysis on the player in question. Now, with the introduction out of the way, let’s get onto this week’s report.


Ryan Tannehill, MIA – I profiled the Dolphins signal-caller in my early sleeper column back in June, and my thoughts on him haven’t changed since then, but I see he isn’t getting very much love in my drafts this year. I think he is a good bet to make some nice strides in his second season, thanks in large part to the addition of Mike Wallace. If you are going to wait until the bitter end to grab a backup QB, then he makes a worthwhile target. The biggest question mark surrounding him is the offensive line and if they can improve from last year’s showing.

Brandon Weeden, CLE – Weeden is the best returning starting quarterback that nobody wants to draft this year. I understand why coming off a season where he looked lost at times, tossing more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (14). But the arrow is at least pointing in the right direction with the arrival of Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner and a vertical offense more suited to Weeden’s skills. He is coming off a pretty solid preseason, and could really take off once Josh Gordon is back in Week 3. He’s a QB2 with upside for deeper leagues.

Digging Deeper

E.J. Manuel, BUF – Manuel suffered a knee injury during training camp which took some of the wind out of his fantasy stock. But now it looks as if he could be back on the field as soon as Week 2. While Manuel will surely have and up-and-down rookie season, he showed that he can be an exciting player in the new up-tempo offense the Bills are going to use this year. His rushing ability will give him a decent floor most weeks. In dynasty leagues, he is an intriguing prospect.

Terrelle Pryor, OAK – Pryor should get the starting nod for the Raiders in Week 1, and while it likely won’t be pretty, his athletic ability and the fact that he should be in comeback-mode early and often this year, means he will put up numbers. He is big and fast and that is good since he will be running for his life quite often. Garbage time stats still count, and if Pryor can show some maturation in the passing game, he could be this year’s big surprise.


Isaac Redman, PIT – Jonathan Dwyer was cut by the Steelers last week, so for now Redman will trot out onto the field with the starters until Le’Veon Bell makes it back from his foot injury. Reports suggest that could be as soon as Week 2. He will share carries with Felix Jones and La’Rod Stephens-Howling, but should get any goal-line carries in the short-term. He is an unexciting player who doesn’t figure to hold much long-term value, but if you need a plug-and-play for Week 1, then he is it.

Christine Michael, SEA – If you watched Michael at all during the preseason, than you saw the talent that will make him a star in the not-too-distant future. For now, he will watch Marshawn Lynch carry the load for Pete Carroll’s offense. If for some reason the Lynch owner in your league didn’t lock him up, then make room for him on your roster. If Lynch goes down, Michael will jump over Robert Turbin as the Beast’s replacement.

Roy Helu, WAS – Helu burned a lot of people last year as Alfred Morris and a season-ending toe injury dashed any hopes of him building on a promising 2011. He is back and healthy and locked in as the pass-catching back, which should give him value as a reserve, especially in PPR leagues. Last time I looked, Mike Shanahan still coaches this team, meaning Helu needs to be owned in all leagues. If Morris goes down, Helu’s value will shoot up accordingly.

Mike Tolbert, CAR – Jonathan Stewart will be out of action for the first six weeks after being placed on the PUP list. Tolbert is a savvy veteran with a nose for the endzone when given the chance to punch it in. While DeAngelo Williams will get most of the carries, Tolbert could be a sneaky flex play in touchdown-only leagues until Stewart returns.

Knowshon Moreno, DEN – I have avoided the Broncos backfield for the most part this year, and the fact that I am writing about Moreno this week sums it up nicely. Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman are younger and more exciting players, but John Fox has to keep Peyton Manning healthy, and that means the veteran Moreno will be on the field just as much in the early going, until one of the other backs steps up. That means he’s worth owning in all leagues until further notice.

Digging Deeper

Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy,  STL – Pead is suspended for Week 1, and even after he returns he will be second-in-line behind Daryl Richardson, and then will also have to contend with rookie Zac Stacy for touches. While Richardson is the back to own for now, this figures to be a fluid and potentially frustrating situation all year. Still, Pead and Stacy make viable stashes in deeper leagues.

Stepfan Taylor, ARI – Arizona is not a place to look for consistent running back production, even less so after losing starting guard Jon Cooper. Rashard Mendenhall is slated to be the starter, but his surgically-repaired knee is already flaring up. The team lists Ryan Williams second on the depth chart, but he has been hampered by his own knee ailments all preseason and I don’t see him as being a viable handcuff. While I like Andre Ellington more long-term, it looks like Taylor will get first crack at spelling Mendenhall if the former can’t get it done.

Da’Rel Scott, NYG – Andre Brown’s broken leg will keep him out until Week 10 at the earliest. For now, that leaves Scott and journeyman Michael Cox as the only backups to David Wilson on the roster. I would expect to see the Giants sign a veteran later this week, but Scott will now see touches that he wouldn’t have seen before.

Kendall Hunter, SF – LaMichael James’ knee injury has opened the door for Hunter to cement his role as the compliment to Frank Gore to start the year. He’s your handcuff here for now and should get 7-10 touches every week until James returns to the fold.

Chris Ogbonnaya, CLE – Season-ending injuries to Dion Lewis and Montario Hardesty and the surprising release of Brandon Jackson leave Ogbannaya as the best back left behind Trent Richardson. Listed as the starting FB, Ogbannaya’s versatility pushed Owen Marecic off the roster. He can block and catch passes, and could carve out a role in Norv Turner’s offense.


Cordarelle Patterson, MIN – Patterson is the most dynamic name that you might potentially see on waivers to start the year in your league. He is a raw talent, but his physical ability is worth taking a flier on at the end of your draft, or if you have a spot to play with this week. As the year progresses, he should be able to work his way into the starting lineup at some point.

Kenny Stills, NO – Stills has locked up the No. 3 job in New Orleans, and will operate as the deep-ball threat for Drew Brees. Stills can burn, and anyone catching passes from Brees needs to be on the fantasy radar to start the year. Nick Toon has also shown flashes, but he won’t see much action unless Marques Colston goes down with an injury. Stills will have a chance to make some noise right out of the gate.

Andre Roberts, ARI – The Cardinals will likely employ more three receiver sets than most teams this year with the arrival of new head coach Bruce Arians. Roberts is coming off a very solid 2012 and will get more than his share of passes out of the slot this season. He should be a decent bye-week option in PPR leagues.

Riley Cooper, PHI – The injury to Jeremy Maclin boosted Cooper’s stock early in camp, before his racial-slur incident knocked him back down. Now as the season starts, he has won the job as the starter opposite DeSean Jackson. He has the size to be a factor in the red-zone and will have a chance to put the unfortunate incident behind him.

Digging Deeper

Quinton Patton, SF – Michael Crabtree’s injury opened the door for someone. Marlon Moore is currently listed as the starter, but the rookie Patton has looked like the better player the last few weeks and should lock up this job, likely as soon as this week. He’s a nice flier to take in deeper leagues.

Robert Woods, BUF – Woods beat out T.J. Graham for the No. 2 job as expected and as such, has a chance to make some noise in deeper PPR leagues since the Bills should throw the ball a lot. I have him stashed in a couple deep leagues and I suggest making room for him on one of yours if you are looking for a late-round flier.

Patrick Edwards, DET – As of now, Edwards is slated to start outside opposite Calvin Johnson. Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles do not possess the ability to stretch the field like Edwards does, and playing alongside Megatron means single-coverage in an offense where they throw the ball all the time. There is upside here if Stafford actually starts looking his way when the games begin.

Markus Wheaton, PIT – We talked about the speedy Wheaton last week, and while he showed flashes in the preseason, he doesn’t figure to see a lot of action out of the gate. He is a guy to stash in deeper leagues or to remember if Antonio Brown or Emmanuel Sanders gets hurt.


Julius Thomas, DEN – Thomas gets a mention again this week since he has been the guy on the field with the first team offense all preseason. Peyton Manning loves his tight ends, especially in the red-zone. Yes, there are plenty of mouths to feed in Denver, but Thomas is worth a shot as your backup in all leagues with his mix of size (6’5” 250) and athleticism.

Brent Celek, PHI – Rumors of Celek’s demise in the Eagles offense were premature, I guess. He will open the year as the primary TE, and with Maclin gone, he could see more balls thrown his way than you might expect. I still think Zac Ertz will catch up at some point, but til then Celek is still a viable TE2 in deeper leagues or those that start two tight ends.

Digging Deeper

Luke Stocker, TB – He is about as under-the-radar as you can get, but he is the starter for the Buccaneers, and will finally get a chance to show what he can do. At least you know he is going to play every week.

Heath Miller, PIT – Miller looks like he will return to the Steelers earlier than expected coming off major knee surgery. Big Ben loves him in the red-zone, and he is a steady contributor when healthy. He’s worth stashing in deep leagues, especially if you have some IR spots to use.


Tampa Bay – The Jets will likely be a weekly whipping boy when it comes to DST choices. If your regular defense has a tough matchup, the Bucs could be a nice fill-in.

Cleveland – As a Browns fan, I am excited to see what the new-look defense brings in Week 1. I expect a bunch of sacks and a couple turnovers. Travis Benjamin can take it to the house as well.


Steven Hauschka, SEA – Hauschka is my choice to move up the ranks this year.

Welcome to Week Two of the Waiver Wire Report. Throughout the season, my goal will be to shine a little light on the names to have on your fantasy radar each week. We will strive to provide a solid mix of players to suit those in leagues of all sizes. We will try to stick to players whose ownership levels make them reasonable pickups in standard 12-team leagues. Beyond that, we will try and touch upon some names for those of you in deeper formats as well.

For those of you who followed the column last year, you already know that along with the week’s hot pickups, I will mix in some of my favorite weekly plug-and-play calls, as well as sometimes updating last week’s names where applicable. 


Terrelle Pryor, OAK – Pryor gets a deserved bump up to the top of the quarterback list this week after rushing 13 times for 112 yards in the loss to the Colts. He also chipped in 217 yards and a touchdown through the air. He did throw two picks, but he did more than enough to justify getting the starting job over Matt Flynn. His rushing ability alone makes him worth a pickup in deeper leagues, and he has a juicy matchup against the Jaguars at home this week. This is likely your last chance to get him relatively cheaply, so you should make the switch if you aren’t that excited about your backup and want to take a chance on the former Buckeye.

Digging Deeper

Geno Smith, NYJ – Okay, I will admit it. Geno Smith looked a lot better in his first NFL game than I thought he would. The Jets kept the playbook simple in the rookie’s first game, but he showed his ability to run with the ball and looked pretty poised leading the team to a game-winning field goal. Heck, he managed to make Kellen Winslow potentially relevant again. Smith is only worth considering in the deepest of leagues, but he should hang onto this job and get better as the year goes along.

Chad Henne, JAX – At the very least, Cecil Shorts owners should be excited about Chad Henne getting the start thanks to the injury and lackluster play of former No. 1 pick Blaine Gabbert. The new coaches in Jacksonville aren’t married to Gabbert, and Henne showed last year that he is capable of putting up respectable numbers in this offense. This week’s matchup against the Raiders makes him a reasonable plug-and-play option this week in two-QB leagues.

Week 1 Update

Sam Bradford, STL – Sam Bradford was a favorite of mine before the season started, when I predicted he would finally eclipse 4,000 yards and 25 TDs. The offensive line is much better and with Jared Cook and the other new weapons on offense, he should be owned in all 12-team leagues going forward. If I had Ben Roethlisberger as my backup, I would make the switch in a heartbeat.

Ryan Tannehill, MIA – I pumped up Tannehill as a late-round flier last week, and while his Week 1 numbers don’t jump off the page, he did spread the ball around and lead his team to victory despite zero help from his running backs. He has a nice matchup this week against the Colts if you play in a two-QB league.

E.J. Manuel, BUF - Manuel didn’t disappoint in his debut, even if he didn’t run the ball as much as anticipated. That likely is a result of the knee injury he suffered in camp, but on the bright side he tossed two touchdown passes and made Tom Brady and the Patriots sweat on Sunday. He has a tough matchup against Carolina this week, and the Bills figure to keep things conservative, but he needs to be owned in more leagues than Josh Freeman, at the very least.

Brandon Weeden, CLE – Weeden had a rough start to the season, throwing three interceptions (although one was Greg Little’s fault) while completing less than 50% of his passes. He was under constant pressure and fell back into a lot of bad habits that plagued him last year. I still think he’ll have better days, but it may not materialize until after starting RG Shaun Lauvao returns, possibly in Week 4.


Joique Bell, DET – After scoring two touchdowns, Bell’s ownership will get a nice bump this week beyond the PPR leagues that already were on board. Reggie Bush is already banged up, and Bell showed that he is more than capable of taking over if need be. In the meantime, he will continue to be an integral part of the offense and will get the ball more and more as the seasons progresses, as the Lions can’t continue to ride Bush (25 touches) so hard if they expect him to stay on the field.

Pierre Thomas, NO – In one of my auctions, I got caught holding the bag on Thomas and wasn’t that thrilled about it. After Thomas rushed for 43 yards on nine carries and clearly outplayed Mark Ingram last week, I feel much better about things. Ingram really needs a change of scenery because he looks lost in the Saints' offense. Thomas, meanwhile, also caught four passes and should continue to eat into Ingram’s workload.

Vick Ballard, IND – Ballard was on the field much more than Ahmad Bradshaw versus the Raiders, and that trend should continue as long as the Colts continue to ease Bradshaw into action. Bradshaw‘s ownership level is more than double that of Ballard’s, but Ballard is the lead dog for now, and should be able to maintain at least a share of the job all season long. If you drafted Bradshaw thinking you were going to get potential RB2 value, it’s time to recalculate.

Fred Jackson, BUF – Fred Jackson gave us all a reminder that he is a very good football player, and served notice that he will be more than a mere handcuff to C.J. Spiller this season. The Bills are going to run the ball a ton this year, and that means more touches than many were projecting.

Digging Deeper

Brandon Bolden, NE – Would it surprise anyone if Bolden were activated for tomorrow night’s game against the Jets, and proceeded to lead the Patriots in rushing in his return to the lineup? We all know by now that we can’t predict what Bill Belichick will do, but Shane Vereen’s injury opens the door for Bolden to pick up the slack and potentially take over at some point if Stevan Ridley can’t hang onto the football. Leon Washington will also see more action, but Bolden has much more appeal as a potential feature back at some point this season. Some people might place their bets on LeGarrette Blount, but Bolden is the guy you want to speculate on.

Da’Rel Scott, NYG – When we mentioned Scott last week, we were right to predict he would see touches he wouldn’t have normally. We just didn’t think that they would come at the expense of David Wilson. The Giants went out and signed former Giant Brandon Jacobs off the scrap heap to provide some stabilizing depth, but in deep leagues you can hang onto Scott and see how this thing shakes out for another week at least.

Daniel Thomas, MIA – Lamar Miller really struggled against a very good Cleveland front seven, opening the door for Thomas to stake a claim to a share of the carries going forward. I know what you are thinking, and I can’t blame you for looking the other way, but Thomas got the look at the goal line and converted it. It’s a role he’s likely to hold onto and it's a serious blow to Miller’s breakout potential.

Jonathan Dwyer, PIT – Well, look who is back. A week after being cut by the team, Dwyer finds himself back in Pittsburgh thanks to the terrible play of Isaac Redman and the injury to LaRod Stephens-Howling. LeVeon Bell could be back this week, but if not, Dwyer will likely get the start over Redman. It’s a mess for the Steelers, but Dwyer has some short-term value again.

James Starks, GB – Starks looks like the clear backup to Eddie Lacy in Green Bay, so make the switch from Jonathan Franklin if needed.


Isaiah Pead, STL – Zac Stacy did nothing as Daryl Richardson’s backup in Week 1, so Pead is poised to take advantage once he gets back in the lineup.

Knowshon Moreno, DEN – As we mentioned last week, Moreno will play more than Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman thanks to his ability to block for Peyton Manning. He’s not going to be a difference maker and it’s only a matter of time before the transition to the more talented backs is complete, but for now Moreno at least has some Flex appeal, even with Ball getting the goal-line carries.


Julian Edelman, NE – It is obvious to me now that Edelman should have been listed here last week, at least for those of you in deeper leagues. After last week’s two touchdown performance, it’s safe to say he will be the most added player this week off the wire. Edelman was on the field all day long, and Danny Amendola is already hurt again. The struggles of Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld means that Tom Brady will continue to rely on Edelman until reinforcements return. I’m not sure if I want to get into a bidding war on a player that has some injury concerns himself, but if I needed a spark for my receiving corps in deeper leagues, I’d find room for him on my roster at the right price.

Brian Hartline, MIA – I didn’t mention Brian Hartline last week mainly because he is already owned in most PPR leagues, and that still figures to be the place that he will have the most consistent value. But, after hauling in nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown against the Browns, he’s worth grabbing in all formats thanks to his chemistry with Ryan Tannehill and the fact that Mike Wallace will continue to put him in a position to succeed. He’s looking like a potential steal in PPR formats.

Rueben Randle, NYG – Deep-leaguers were on board with Randle as an emerging talent with great upside heading into the year. After his 101-yard performance last week, he’s worth grabbing in all leagues in anticipation of the yearly Hakeem Nicks injury. Even as the WR3 for the Giants, he’s capable of putting up numbers good enough to be a quality flex option in many formats. Sign me up!

Marlon Brown, BAL – The injury to Jacoby Jones has thrust the rookie Brown into the spot across the field from Torrey Smith. After the injury to Jones, Brown never left the field and hauled in a touchdown strike from Joe Flacco. With playing time all but assured for the next month, Brown should be able to lock down this job for the rest of the year. As such, he likely is the best option after Edelman out there this week in deeper formats.

Digging Deeper

Rod Streater, OAK – Streater has emerged once again from the pack to claim a starting spot in the Raiders lineup. Pryor looked his way a team-high eight times on Sunday, which puts him in a position to become a factor as the young quarterback’s passing improves. If you have room at the end of your bench, Streater is a nice guy to grab in hopes that the duo can emerge together.

Jerome Simpson, MIN – Simpson made noise with 140 yards on seven catches, which even I have to concede makes him worth a pickup in deep leagues to see if he has turned his career around. I’m not really buying it, but since Cordarrelle Patterson saw very little action, Simpson could very likely block him for the forseeable future.

Leonard Hankerson, WAS – Hankerson got some play in this column last year, and largely came up short of expectations. He is still too far down the pecking order for me to have that much faith in him just yet.

Harry Douglas, ATL – Roddy White is banged up and may not see the field this week after serving as a decoy to open the year. It could mean Douglas will get the start, but that doesn’t mean you should be forcing him onto your roster at the sake of better long-term plays.

Eddie Royal, SD – If you think that we’ve just seen the best game Eddie Royal is going to have all year, raise your hand. Yeah, that’s what I think too. Place your bets somewhere else.


Kenny Stills, NO – Stills lived up to his billing in Week 1 as the primary deep threat for Drew Brees. It means he will be a desperation play most weeks, albeit one with the potential to put up big points with one long reception.

Patrick Edwards, DET – Edwards was on the field plenty in three receiver sets and caught all three of the balls thrown his way. Supposedly, he’s going to keep this job even after Ryan Broyles returns. For now, I think he’s a tentative hold in deeper leagues for another week.

Quinton Patton, SF – Patton barley saw the field against the Packers and can be dropped for speculation elsewhere.


Julius Thomas, DEN – No doubt this will be the last call for Thomas’ services after his monster performance against the Ravens. We recommended you make room for him with the buzz he was creating, so hopefully you had him locked up in advance of the feeding frenzy that will now ensue in any league he is still available in. He’s for real, and while the touchdowns won’t always be there, he’s looking like a solid TE1 the rest of the way

Tyler Eifert, CIN – Eifert played more than I thought he would in his debut and it is a very good sign for his value increasing down the line. He’s a very versatile receiver and in deeper leagues I would grab him now and wait for the fantasy goodness that will come at some point. I am seriously considering dumping Kyle Rudolph for him in one of my leagues this week.

Kellen Winslow, NYJ – As I mentioned earlier, Geno Smith leaned heavily on the veteran TE in his debut, and will likely continue to do so as long as Winslow’s knees allow him to play. Until then, he is a worthwhile add in two-TE formats.

Digging Deeper

Charles Clay, MIA – Clay isn’t a very exciting option, but he looks like he has the job to himself for the time being.

Dallas Clark, BAL – Clark’s numbers don’t look so bad if taken on their own, but consider he dropped three passes and looked beaten up by the game's end. It is just a further reminder of what a huge loss Dennis Pitta was for this team. But until the Ravens find another option, he can provide depth for really deep leagues.


Brent Celek, PHI – Celek showed what he can do in the new Eagles offense, and he should continue to put up numbers with the amount of snaps this offense will generate from week-to-week.


Chiefs – The Cowboys come into town with Tony Romo nursing bruised ribs and Dez Bryant at less than 100%. Romo's shaky status makes the KC defense a great start this week, as they should further state their case as a defense to watch this year.


Greg Zuerlein, STL – Zuerlein has the leg to do some damage, and now it looks as if the offense will be able to provide ample opportunities, as his 4-for-4 showing last week indicates.

With teams heading into the final week of preseason, roles are starting to solidify and as such fantasy drafters are taking notice and acting accordingly. It also means that come this time next week, it will be time to kick off another season of the Waiver Wire Report. As always, the goal will be to highlight players to add from the ranks of the undrafted to help you navigate your way to fantasy glory. So for our final installment of drafting season, we'll check in on some names that have been on my radar during the past week. Whether it is through injury or performance, there have been some definite movers in the ADP ranks the last few weeks, highlighted by what looks like a potential feature back in Green Bay and a potential diamond-in-the-rough emerging in New England. However, to kick things off this week, we'll start with the guy you likely don't want to draft as your QB1 but just might be the best bang for the buck of all the QB1's this year.


Tony Romo, DAL – If your plan is to wait as long as possible to draft a starting quarterback this year, then the Cowboys' signal-caller is my choice as the prime target. He doesn’t have near the injury concerns of Robert Griffin and is often going after him in drafts. He is coming off a season that saw him flirt with 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. He has good weapons to spread the ball around to, and I expect the interceptions to come back down from last year’s league leading 19. If someone snipes you on Romo, hopefully Russell Wilson is still there as a backup plan.

EJ Manuel, BUF – Since we’ve already highlighted several of our favorite QB2’s this preseason, we’ll take another look at Manuel heading into the season. The rookie’s knee injury looks like it may sideline him for Week 1, but make no mistake; he is the future at the position for the Bills. If I am in a deep league where I might roster a third QB, then Manuel and his rushing ability are at the top of that wish list.

Brandon Weeden, CLE– Weeden will likely be sitting on the wire in most leagues when the season starts, but if things break right in Cleveland, he could move up the ranks and stake a claim as a solid QB2. It likely won’t happen until after Josh Gordon returns in Week 3, if at all, so keep him on your post-draft watch list for now.

Terrelle Pryor, OAK – Greg Morgan touched on the former Buckeye yesterday, and as of today he looks like the potential starter in Oakland. That alone vaults him ahead of anyone wearing a Jets uniform at the very least.


Eddie Lacy, GB – The news of the day yesterday was the fact that DuJuan Harris was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury, ending his season. That will help make Lacy one of the biggest movers on draft boards heading into the season, as he know has a much clearer path to locking down the lead role in any RBBC for the Packers. While the Pack is not known for delivering big rushing numbers, there is no denying the potential upside for a power-back like Lacy in this offense. Hopefully, you got him on the cheap.

Giovani Bernard, CIN – While BenJarvus Green-Ellis is still technically the starter for the Bengals, Bernard, the first running back drafted this year, is going to play a much bigger role in this offense than many believe. He is a very good receiver, and will see lots of work on third downs and late in games right out of the gate, which will be enough to make him a reliable weekly Flex play to start out. If the Law Firm goes down, Giovani will have you singing.

Jonathan Dwyer, PIT – Just when we were ready to ignore him in drafts, last year’s leading rusher for the Steelers (623 yards) looks like he will get first crack at leading the committee in wake of Le’Veon Bell’s foot injury. Isaac Redman and Felix Jones are also in the conversation.


Kenbrell Thompkins, NE – The undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati continues to be one of the biggest and best stories of training camp. After another big performance against the Lions (8 catches, 116 yards), Thompkins has just about locked up the WR2 position for the Patriots. Anyone, even an undrafted rookie, who has Tom Brady tossing them the ball has a chance to make a fantasy impact. His ADP continues to rise, but he’s still going in WR5 territory. If he sticks as a starter, he easily passes a lot of guys taken ahead of him on draft day.

Rueben Randle, NYG – When I look for bargains at WR, I look for guys who have already shown flashes of talent but are just waiting for the opportunity to come knocking. Randle fits this description perfectly. He has the size and the hands to be a lethal red-zone weapon, and I can see Eli Manning using him much like he did Plaxico Burress, before he shot himself out of the league. With a firm grip on the number three job in the Big Apple, Randle is only the yearly Hakeem Nicks injury from being an every week starter.

Markus Wheaton, PIT – The Steelers drafted the speedy Wheaton in the third round of this year’s draft to help replace some of the speed that Mike Wallace took with him to the Dolphins. While the Steelers will try to return to their rushing roots, injuries and a shaky O-line will force them to throw more than they might like. Emmanuel Sanders is all that stands between Wheaton and more significant numbers. When I am taking late-round WR shots, give me home run hitters every time.

Travis Benjamin, CLE – Benjamin is an absolute after-thought in drafts, but keep in mind he will be filling in for Josh Gordon to start the year and he will also be returning kicks. He took two kicks to the house in the preseason (one was called back) and could be a real sneaky flex play in deeper leagues to start the year.


Jordan Cameron, CLE – Yeah, he is this year’s Kyle Rudolph for me I guess, but I will keep drafting him as a TE to wait on in drafts. He has been banged up a little the last week, so hopefully that will put the brakes on his ADP rise after his two TD game a few weeks back. He has great upside in this offense, but staying healthy and gaining consistency will be key to him living up to the hype.

Julius Thomas, DEN – Thomas has been getting some buzz through the preseason, and has been rising up the TE charts as the season approaches. He has the size to become a factor if he can gain Peyton Manning’s favor.

Zach Sudfeld, NE – Another TE making a move up draft boards is Sudfeld, who has inherited Aaron Hernandez’s role in the offense. If Rob Gronkowski doesn’t make it back or gets hurt again, then Sudfeld could be a steal at his current price.

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