It’s official. We’re all screwed. David Wilson owners, screwed. Dez Bryant owners, screwed. Zach Sudfeld owners, screwed. Stevan Ridley owners and Shane Vereen owners, somehow both screwed. Owners who played against Peyton Manning, screwed seven times! By Phillips or by flathead, Week 1 of the fantasy football season took some portion of our fantasy hopes and buried them in pilot holes.
But never fear, fake footballers, when Bob Vila’s divine fantasy hammer pounds you into a wall, you might break through and find some daylight on the other side. That’s what working the waiver wire is all about and for those of you demoralized the most in the NFL’s opening weekend, chances are you’ll have first choice of all the options below.
With that said, try to avoid results-oriented thinking going forward. A bad opening week for any player doesn’t necessarily forecast a bad season to come. Similarly, a Week 1 breakout doesn’t guarantee a top-10 finish. For example, don’t be surprised if Eric Decker and Julius Thomas flip-flop stat lines in Week 2. Thomas is certainly worth a pick-up, but it might still be correct to keep him behind the tight end you drafted on your fake depth chart. Overall, don’t let the results of Week 1 make you forget why you drafted the players already on your squad.
Without further ado, here are your waiver wire targets for Week 2, sorted and ranked by position:
Before Monday, no player had more rushing yards than Terrelle Pryor with 112 on 13 carries. LeSean McCoy eventually eclipsed that total against Washington, but Pryor will make frequent appearances at the top of the weekly rushing charts. Furthermore, Pryor wasn’t the passing train wreck many assumed he would be. Grain of salt alert! Pryor made all this noise against a subpar Colts defense. He gets the equally soft Jags in Week 2, but be wary of using him against better defenses.
Matt Schaub also benefited from a mediocre defensive opponent in Week 1, but his solid performance wasn’t out of character. He is perennially underrated as a fantasy passer and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins makes the Houston passing attack more dynamic as long as Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels stay healthy. Look for Schaub to continue his reliable fantasy production in the weeks ahead.
No team in the NFL has improved their fake football chemistry more than the Arizona Cardinals with their signing of Carson Palmer. It’s hard not to appreciate the symbiosis of Palmer breathing life into the Arizona receiving corps while they simultaneously lift their veteran quarterback back to fantasy relevance.
E.J. Manuel only passed for 150 yards, but his two passing touchdowns allowed him to sneak into the top-20 QBs in Week 1. The Bills passing game is a work in progress, but Manuel should be able to do more damage with his legs while his quarterbacking skills develop.
Despite Reggie Bush’s huge game, Joique Bell posted a nice line on Sunday with 92 total yards and 2 TDs. Bell is most valuable in PPR formats for now, but with Bush already nursing minor injuries, it might only be a matter of time before Bell’s stock rises from flex-worthy to high-end RB2.
Knowshon Moreno proved to be John Fox’s RB du jour Thursday night. Maybe “amassed” is vocabulary overkill, but Moreno amassed 12 touches to Montee Ball’s 8 and Ronnie Hillman’s 6. It’s important to note that when the game was contested, Moreno got the work. He’s the best bet for consistent usage out of the Denver backfield, but stay away from this platoon if you can.
After Tom Coughlin banished David Wilson to the proverbial doghouse, Da’Rel Scott came on for the Giants and posted 74 total yards on 5 carries and 5 catches. Before you push your FAAB into the pot for Scott, know that Willis McGahee and Brandon Jacobs will work out for New York this week. It’s unlikely either would be ready to eat into Wilson or Scott’s workload as early as Week 2 if signed, but Scott’s value is primarily short-term.
Speaking of pathetic re-signings, the Steelers brought back Jonathan Dwyer after LaRod Stephens-Howling was lost for the season against the Titans. Dwyer immediately becomes a candidate for the best RB in Pittsburgh, but that’s a little like being the best ice skater in Death Valley. The Steelers’ offensive line is a mess and Le’Veon Bell will return soon enough, limiting Dwyer’s potential impact.
Fantasy managers all thought the Dolphins were messing with us when they said Daniel Thomas would remain involved in their rushing attack. We had daydreams of Lamar Miller, the feature back, racking up countless yards and touchdowns for our fake teams. It turns out the ‘Phins were serious about Thomas and those pleasant daydreams have become terrifying nightmares in which Miller gains 10 yards on 11 touches while Thomas gets 9 touches and vultures the only rushing TD. It pains me to recommend Thomas as a pick-up, but deep leaguers can’t ignore him if Miami maintains this platoon.
Roy Helu didn’t touch the ball much on Monday night against the Eagles, but he looked quick and explosive when given opportunities. He is one of the better backups in the league and has value as a handcuff and as a lottery ticket in case Alfred Morris breaks down.
New England’s backfield has been a roller coaster of fantasy value over the past two days. First, Stevan Ridley gets benched for a pair of fumbles. Shane Vereen then takes over and excels in Ridley’s absence. Somewhere along the line, Vereen breaks his wrist, but finishes the game. This injury requires surgery and suddenly any doubts about Ridley’s role going forward evaporate. With Vereen out for several weeks, Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount are suddenly relevant. I prefer Bolden’s talent, but only Blount saw the field on Sunday, rushing for 15 yards on 7 carries. Leon Washington could also enter the mix, especially on passing downs, which makes him potentially valuable in PPR formats.
When Jamaal Charles left Sunday’s contest against the Jags with a bruised quad, Knile Davis took over and gained 17 yards on 5 touches. Charles has a history of injury, so Davis is worth a speculative add if you have roster space.
DeMarco Murray played pretty well on Sunday night, but he is an incredibly violent runner. It’s difficult to foresee injuries in most cases, but Murray seems destined for the trainer’s table if he maintains his reckless style. With that in mind, Phillip Tanner and the currently injured Lance Dunbar are decent stashes along the same lines as Roy Helu and Knile Davis.
In a bit of news that will shock exactly no one, Danny Amendola is hurt. Thanks to 79 yards and 2 TDs on Sunday, Julian Edelman was a decent waiver target before we found out that Amendola would likely miss Thursday’s game. Now he’s likely this week’s most coveted free agent, slightly ahead of Joique Bell.
Denarius Moore caught Terrelle Pryor’s only touchdown pass on Sunday, but Rod Streater led the Raiders in targets and receiving yards. As with Pryor, Streater’s performance should be judged within the context of playing against a lousy defense, but he appears to be Pryor’s preferred receiving option.
Marlon Brown garnered some buzz in the preseason, but Jacoby Jones was the wideout on display for Baltimore early in the season opener. When Jones left the game with a knee sprain, Brown’s prospects were rejuvenated and he responded with 4 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. Besides Torrey Smith, Joe Flacco doesn’t have much to work with in the passing game, so Brown should hold value while Jones is sidelined and possibly beyond.
Similarly, Roddy White’s ankle injury gives Harry Douglas a significant boost in value for the coming weeks. While White played decoy, Douglas caught 4 passes for 93 yards against New Orleans. High ankle sprains like the one afflicting Roddy are notoriously slow to heal and Douglas is in line to supplement the production originally expected from White in Atlanta’s passing game.
Sick of hearing about the fantasy potential of Ryan Broyles, Nate Burleson caught all six of his targets for 78 yards on Sunday. There’s nothing flashy about Burleson’s game, but he’s a viable fantasy play based solely on Detroit’s volume of pass attempts.
Seattle’s top receiver in Week 1 wasn’t Sidney Rice or Golden Tate. It was Doug Baldwin with 7 catches and 91 yards on 8 targets, all team-highs. This isn’t necessarily a narrative I expect to continue, but Baldwin was a trendy sleeper in 2012 and it wouldn’t shock me if he pulled ahead of Rice on Seattle’s depth chart.
Are we sure that Mike Wallace is even good anymore? Granted, he was blanketed by stud cornerback Joe Haden on Sunday, but it is worrisome that the Steelers were so willing to let Wallace go to Miami in the offseason. Meanwhile, the Dolphins also brought in Brandon Gibson and unlike Wallace, he didn’t disappoint in Week 1. If opposing defenses continue to key on Wallace, Gibson could be in line for more performances like the one we saw on Sunday (7 catches, 77 yards).
Jericho Cotchery beat out Markus Wheaton for the Steelers’ third WR spot and scored a touchdown to go with 34 yards on Sunday. Cotchery’s upside is limited by the presence of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, so only deep leaguers need apply.
Eddie Royal found the end zone twice and actually led the Chargers in receptions with 3 on Monday night. We in the fantasy community may have been too quick to bury Phil Rivers, but I still prefer Vincent Brown, Antonio Gates, and Malcom Floyd to Royal. If those guys are owned, go nuts.
Josh Gordon has one more game to serve on his suspension so if you’re desperate for a one-week PPR substitute at wide receiver, Davone Bess could be the guy for you. He had 10 targets on Sunday and should receive a similar workload in Week 2. All bets are off when Gordon returns, though.
Julius Thomas exploded onto the fantasy scene in the season opener, but remember that there are many mouths to feed in Denver before you slot Thomas into your lineup ahead of more proven fantasy producers.
Brent Celek scored a touchdown on one of his two Monday night receptions and I’m buying, despite the low volume of catches. The receiving options in Philly are limited beyond DeSean Jackson, so Celek should continue to produce in Chip Kelly’s offense.
While everyone else is bailing off the Zach Sudfeld bandwagon, I’m grabbing the wheel. The injuries to Amendola and Vereen will create opportunity in the New England offense. We shouldn’t assume that Sudfeld’s lack of usage in Week 1 is indicative of Bill Belichick’s future strategies. His game plans often change based on match-ups and Sudfeld could still deliver on the preseason hype in the coming weeks.