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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Sunday night, I participated in my first real draft since pre-season games started, a 12-team league helmed by none other than my colleague Zach Steinhorn. I had put the word out a few weeks back that I was looking to get into a few more local leagues, and Zach graciously invited me to join the ranks. Two things that I really liked about the league when I signed on were the early draft date and that it was an auction. Granted, this was going to be an online auction, but seeing as I have another big auction right before the season starts, I was excited to get my feet wet again, and get a feel for the player flow, which varies somewhat from your basic straight draft.
The first order of business in preparing for the auction was to take another look at the scoring rules and hammer out a basic set of values. Every league has its own scoring quirks, and this one was no different. It was a 12-team PPR league, but rather than a full point per reception, this league awards 0.75 pts. It also awards points at a slower rate for receivers, with a point every 12 yards rather than ten. The other thing that really stuck out to me as I looked at the numbers was that defenses had a potential to score a ton of points in this league. Beyond the usual settings, this league awards points for both points and yards allowed, or rather the lack of them. This meant that a top ranked defense could score on par with second tier running backs and wide receivers.
The last thing I took note of was the roster size. This would be a 15-round draft, and with a Flex spot in the starting lineup that meant a shallow 5-man bench. My strategy going in was pretty simple. I wanted to lock up three starting running backs, so I could flex one, while still securing a top WR. Other than that, I would look for values, mainly at the WR position. Here is the team I drafted in the order I purchased them. The first number indicates the point in the auction I bought them.
#11 – Trent Richardson, RB, CLE - $46 – As a lifelong Browns fan, I admit I view T-Rich’s prospects through slightly rose-colored glasses. But, the recent injury to Dion Lewis, who was slated to get a lot of third-down work, means as long as Richardson stays healthy, he will be near the league leaders in touches this season. He is coming off a season in which he caught 51 passes, and is the unquestioned bell-cow back for a team that will find itself in the red zone more often this season. I was happy to get him at just below my market price. At #23 I nominated Drew Brees as the second quarterback nominated (Aaron Rodgers went for $50) to drain some money off the table and further gauge the QB market. Brees went for $44 and was followed immediately by Peyton Manning at $38.
#35 – Cam Newton, QB, CAR - $18 – When it was my turn to nominate again, I decided to try and suck more money off the board by nominating Newton, who I had ranked as the second overall QB for this system. Tom Brady was the fourth QB off the board at $30 and Andrew Luck then went for $17. I had planned to wait on the position, but found myself price enforcing on Newton until I ended up with him at $18. Honestly, I feel that in the context of this auction it was an absolute steal for the guy who could easily lead this league in overall points.
#37 – Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI - $24
I sat on the sidelines for awhile watching most of the elite wide receivers come off the board. Calvin Johnson went for $45, Brandon Marshall $38, A.J. Green $37, Dez Bryant $36 and Julio Jones for $37, to name a few. Since my goal was to get three quality RB’s, I didn’t want to pay that much for my top WR. Fitzgerald was the last of my personal top-10 left on the board, and I was thrilled to get him at what I considered a discount.
#47 – Chris Johnson, RB, TEN - $40 – I nominated Johnson with the intention of buying him, and unfortunately got into a late bidding war which cost me about $6. But I had another top-12 RB in the fold; one who I think is in a great position to outperform his projections this year. The Titans upgraded their offensive line, which will make life a lot easier on the home-run hitting Johnson. He also will hopefully see more balls thrown his way this season. Looking at my list, I circle the name Reggie Bush, whom I have ranked at number 12.
#64 – Reggie Bush, RB, DET - $23 – I was almost sitting back and waiting for Bush to get nominated so I could get the final piece of my puzzle, an elite pass catching back to deploy at the flex position. With Darren Sproles ($22) already gone, Bush was not only the best pass-catching back left, but the only other starting backs left were Lamar Miller, Ryan Mathews and Rashard Mendenhall. I was forced to go a little higher than I had hoped, but well below what I think he can earn if he stays healthy. His receiving numbers out of the flex will also help offset the fact that I will be searching for value at the WR position the rest of the way.
At this point in the draft, I was pretty happy with my start. I had a top QB, three of my top-12 ranked RB’s, all of which contribute in the passing game. I also had a top-10 WR on the cheap. I had spent $151 on five core players. That left me with $49 to spend on the rest of the roster:
#89 – Shane Vereen, RB, NE - $8 – I thought Vereen was too valuable to let go for $7, so I got my backup to Bush for a buck more.
#93 – Mike Williams, WR, TB - $10 – I missed on a few WR values like Eric Decker $8, Pierre Garcon $10 and Cecil Shorts $10 that in retrospect I should have opted for as my WR2. As it was, I was forced to pay as much for Williams.
#101 – 49ers D/ST - $7 – Since I was faced with less than ideal pickings for my WR3 slot, I decided to make a play for the Niner D when they came up. Seattle went for $10 earlier, and while this is more than I would pay for a defense normally, as I stated earlier, an elite defense can be a real difference maker and I go for it since I know my TE and WR3 will be bargain barrel.
#102 – Miles Austin, WR, DAL - $10 – My least favorite buy, but he should be a decent WR3 most weeks.
#105 – Kenny Britt, WR, TEN - $6 – Since I didn’t love Austin, I dove back in quickly and decided to take a chance on Britt as a WR4 with upside. If he doesn’t stay healthy, I will look elsewhere.
#119 – Justin Tucker, K, BAL - $1 – I had a max bid of $4 left and I was saving it for Cameron. Nominated my 3rd ranked K and got him for a buck.
#152 – Sam Bradford, QB, STL - $1 – I like Bradford, but he has a lousy matchup for Newton’s bye. I may have to look elsewhere in Week 4.
#162 – Michael Floyd, WR, ARI - $1 – Floyd gives me some Fitzgerald insurance and could be a decent trade chip.
#171 – Jordan Cameron, TE, CLE - $2 – Was surprised he lasted as long as he did and that no one forced me to go to $4.
I think this team will be in contention thanks to a strong RB trio. Hopefully, that will help offset my less than exciting WR class. I need Cameron to be an every week starter and it would be nice if Kenny Britt stayed healthy too. WR will be my priority on the waiver wire, but there will be talent there due to the short benches. Feel free to share your thoughts or ask about other players' values in the comments section.
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.
A few weeks back, I wrote about two of my favorite quarterback sleepers in Sam Bradford and Ryan Tannehill. Today, I wanted to take a look around at some of the other potential backup quarterback options coming out of the first week of preseason games. For this Six-Pack, I’ll start off with three players who I like as undervalued commodities heading into drafts and follow that up with three players who you won’t see me drafting this year if I can help it.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs – Smith is an easy guy for fantasy players to write off if you just look at the pedestrian passing numbers he put up during his tenure in San Francisco. But savvy owners see the potential now that he has taken the reigns of Andy Reid’s version of the West Coast offense. The Chiefs are starting to become one of the trendier sleeper picks to make a big turnaround this year, and obviously Smith will be a big key to their potential success. Just the increase in passing attempts alone should be enough for the former first overall pick to establish new career highs in yards and touchdowns. Smith also can provide some hidden value with his feet, as the Chiefs will also be incorporating some read option looks into their offense. Smith can run with the ball if he’s asked to, and his value could be buoyed further if he can add some consistent rushing numbers to his resume. Jamaal Charles will help keep defenses honest and Dwayne Bowe should be rejuvenated. Even though it was against the Saints last week, Smith looked pretty great leading the team to a touchdown in his first (and only) drive of the preseason, completing seven of eight passes for 68 yards. Everything is pointing to a career season for Smith, and I love the upside he has as a QB2.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals – Palmer has a couple of things working in his favor that give him some nice upside if you decide to wait on drafting your QB2. First and foremost is getting to throw the ball to Larry Fitzgerald. Second is he will be working in a system perfectly suited to his skills at this point in his career. Bruce Arians loves to throw the ball downfield, and Palmer can still chuck it downfield, as he showed with a beautiful 38-yard touchdown strike to Andre Roberts in the preseason opener. The offensive line is still a work in progress, and the rushing game will likely sputter again this year. That and a tough schedule will mean a lot of deep balls flying down the field as the Cards will be forced to throw and throw some more to stay in games. On the plus side, if you draft a cold weather QB as your starter, the Cardinals have a virtually weather proof schedule outside of their Week 13 trip to Philadelphia.
EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills – The surprise first-round choice of this year’s draft, Manuel’s fantasy stock is on the rise after he showcased his athleticism in the Bills' preseason opener. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. He also chipped in 28 rushing yards on three attempts. Kevin Kolb missed the game with an injury, and he will have to play better to keep Manuel from starting in Week 1. There is some decent upside here, as the Bills will be implementing a more high-octane offense, and his rushing ability will give him a decent floor most weeks, making him a solid spot starter and late round QB flier in deeper leagues.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – Flacco is coming off a storybook postseason, and in many drafts, he’s going to be over-valued just enough that I doubt he’s going to land on too many of my teams this year. The departure of Anquan Boldin has been widely discussed, but now he has also lost a valuable safety valve in TE Dennis Pitta. Even prior to losing these two key contributors, he has never delivered a 4,000 yard season or topped 25 touchdowns. Personally, I want more upside from my backup QB. I think you can make a stronger case for Flacco if you decide to eschew the top choices and employ a committee at the position or if you play in some of the deeper formats.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles – I will concede that there are not many QB2’s that have as much potential upside as Vick does. However, there are numerous red flags that give him plenty of risk. He has Nick Foles breathing down his neck for a starting job and is coming off an injury marred 2012. Chip Kelly’s new offense has some people salivating over Vick’s potential if he can win and keep the starting job for the Eagles, and that alone makes him perhaps the most intriguing choice of all the second-tier quarterbacks. You definitely don’t want to hitch your fantasy fortunes to Vick’s aging legs, but I can’t blame anyone for taking a shot if he falls too far in your draft.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers – I understand the argument that Rivers is due for a bounce-back this season. I’m just not buying it, especially after Danario Alexander was lost before the season even started. About the best thing I can say about Rivers is his price tag is at an all-time low, which I guess makes him a decent target if you draft a top-5 QB and want to wait as long as possible to draft your QB2. Even so, I’d rather take my chances with talents on the upswing like Bradford or Tannehill.