Waiver Wire Madness: Week 1
September 9, 2014 | Jeff
Week 1 has drawn to a close and we have lots to break down as we bust out the shovels and dig through the Week 1 waiver wire. A rookie blew up in Jacksonville (not the one we expected) and more than a few NFL backfields were thrown into disarray, leaving us with some nice options for improving the depth of our fake football teams as the fantasy calendar flips to Week 2. Let’s get crackin’…
There weren’t a ton of surprises in the QB ranks this week, as most of the high scores were turned in by the usual suspects (Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, etc..), but we do have one quarterback who stood out and is still underowned and that is Jake Locker. I spent plenty of time discussing Locker here at The Fake Football over the offseason, as he was one of my favorite late round targets. Locker didn’t disappoint in Week 1 as he threw for 266 yards and two scores. Locker is owned in just 12% of Yahoo leagues and 6% of ESPN leagues, so he is available nearly everywhere. Locker’s accuracy looked a bit better than in the past (22 of 33) and he certainly has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Now, how about even MORE good news?! Locker and Tennessee get the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2. If you’re a quarterback streamer or are looking for some nice depth, Locker is your guy.
The other top scoring quarterbacks who are largely available were Chad Henne, E.J. Manuel, and Derek Anderson. Leave those guys alone to collect dust on the wire.
This is where things get fun. There are a boat load of waiver options for this week at the running back spot, as the most infuriating position in fantasy football was at it again in Week 1. For this week, I am going to list our waiver wire targets by team. Each of these backfields had their own issues over the first week of the season and we will break them down one by one:
By now, you have undoubtedly learned that Ray Rice in unemployed. This is a good thing you, me, and the entirety of the world. What this does, however, is leave us with a wide open Ravens backfield. Bernard Pierce played only eight snaps on Sunday after he got benched for an early fumble. Justin Forsett (8% owned Yahoo, 1% ESPN) then came in and handled 11 carries and five catches for 84 total yards and a score. So, where does this leave us? The Ravens play in the Thursday Night game this week and I fully expect Bernard Pierce to get the start. There is no way that Baltimore will toss Pierce to the curb after eight snaps and one lost fumble. I think Forsett will still hold some value this season but I wouldn’t burn a waiver priority or too much of my FAAB budget on him unless I was really thin at RB and it was a PPR league. For those in 14 team leagues or deeper, rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro (0% ownership in Yahoo & ESPN) is worth a spot at the end of your bench until we figure out exactly how Baltimore will split things up.
With Ben Tate leaving Sunday’s game early with a knee injury, rookies Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West stepped up and did a nice job filling in. Crowell scored twice and West took 16 carries and turned them into 100 yards. The tricky part here is that no new information has been released about Ben Tate’s injury, so we are working blind. West (39% owned in Yahoo, 81% ESPN) is the best bet for a pickup, with Crowell (3% Yahoo, 1% ESPN) a distant second. West saw 38 snaps to Crowell’s 14 after Tate went down, so don’t let those two scores lure you in too deep.
With Eddie Lacy knocked from Thursday’s game with a concussion, James Starks (16% owned in Yahoo, 69% ESPN) filled in nicely as he ran for 37 yards on seven carries. It sounds as if Lacy is on the way to recovery and has a shot to play in Week 2, but Starks needs to be owned in every league at this point. He is in too good an offense to not be productive if/when Lacy misses more time.
Doug Martin, stop me if you heard this about 12 months ago, left Tampa bay’s game with an injury on Sunday and this time it was of the leg variety. Bobby Rainey (4% owned in Yahoo, 2% ESPN) handled all of the running back duties after Martin departed but was largely ineffective against Carolina’s defense. We are still awaiting word on whether Martin will miss game action, but Rainey is the add here.
Zac Stacy owners are shaking their heads in disappointment this week, as the Rams split their backfield work evenly on Sunday between Stacy and Benny Cunningham (12% owned in Yahoo, 5% ESPN). Cunningham saw 33 snaps while Stacy saw 31, leaving us in a tough spot with the Rams backs. Stacy handled more touches in Week 1, but Cunningham won’t be going away anytime soon. The worst part of the equation is the St. Louis quarterback position, which will likely prevent the Rams from playing with a lead very often this season. Cunningham is worth a pickup, but don’t go crazy for him as you likely wouldn’t start him unless Stacy is out.
In order of priority: James Starks, Terrance West, Justin Forsett, Benny Cunningham, Bobby Rainey, Isaiah Crowell, Lorenzo Taliaferro.
Ownership percentages are too low but should be 100% owned: Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, Ahmad Bradshaw, Shonn Greene.
The wide receiver scene wasn’t nearly as happening as the running back scene in fantasy land in Week 1, so we have just a few players to discuss. First, make sure old vets like Greg Jennings (38% owned in Yahoo, 97% ESPN) are not sitting around on your waiver wire. He may not be exciting but he will produce plenty this season. While we are talking about old crusty vets, Steve Smith had a nice game on Sunday, catching seven of 15 targets for 118 yards and a score. He won’t be seeing this much action on a weekly basis, so temper your expectations,. but he could be a decent bye week fill-in option.
The fools gold pickup of the week has got to be Donnie Avery (2% owned in Yahoo, 8% ESPN). Avery caught seven of 13 targets on Sunday for 84 yards, as the Chiefs figured that Avery and not JAMAAL CHARLES was their best bet to lead the team to victory. Lots of things are working against Avery heading into Week 2 including the return of Dwayne Bowe and the expected realization by Andy Reid that he needs to feed Charles. Leave him on the wire.
Rod Streater (5% owned in yahoo, 3% ESPN) was the top dog out of the Oakland receiving crew on Sunday as he led the team in routes run, targets, and receptions as he racked up five catches for 46 yards and a score. 20 of Streater’s 34 routes came in the slot, so it appears that rookie quarterback Derek Carr was looking for Streater underneath in Week 1. He probably won’t rack up huge yardage totals, but Streater could be a decent add in PPR leagues.
This brings us to Mr. Allen Hurns. Hurns (12% owned in Yahoo, 6% ESPN) tallied 110 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday as he continued his hot play from the preseason. The main issue for Hurns is the impending return of Cecil Shorts to the Jacksonville starting lineup, which would undoubtedly take snaps away from the rookie. Fellow rookie Allen Robinson only played 19 snaps and doesn’t appear ready to see a leap in playing time, so Hurns will likely be #3 on the WR depth chart when Shorts is back. I wouldn’t expect big things from Hurns, but he is certainly worth an add at this point. If Shorts’ hamstring fails him again, we could be looking at a useful flex option as bye weeks roll into town.
There weren’t any standout performances among the underowned tight ends in the fantasy world in Week 1, but a few players are worth monitoring as we head into Week 2. Larry Donnell (1% owned) is the top add among tight ends this week after leading the New York Giants in targets (8), catches (5), and yards (56). Donnell is a prime candidate for your “watch” list, or you can go ahead and add him to the end of your bench if you have room and waited on selecting a tight end in your draft. In any event, I don’t think Donnell is turning into Julius Thomas, but he is worth watching.
Dwayne Allen (7% owned in Yahoo, 4% ESPN) had a decent game on Sunday at Denver with four grabs for 64 yards and a score. Allen is an upper echelon TE2 who could be useful during bye weeks. He is purely depth so take a look if that’s your thing.
Marcedes Lewis and Levine Toilolo (both under %5 owned) turned in useful games in Week 1. Toilolo will be strictly dependent on red zone action, so he won’t be worth an add, but Lewis played 72 of 76 snaps for Jacksonville and was targeted nine times so he will be a name to watch in coming weeks.