Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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Pyrotechnic Passing

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The fallout from the lockout and lost offseason? Quarterbacks are shredding incohesive secondaries, and special teams coaches are having a hard time translating kickoff coverage practice to game-day situations. Among the records broken and landmark performances in Week 1:


  • NFL teams passed for 7,842 net yards, the most in any week in NFL history.
  • Fourteen QBs passed for more than 300 yards, the most of any week in NFL history.
  • Five games in which both QBs passed for more than 300 yards, the most in any week in NFL history.
  • Four 400-yard passers were the most in a single week in NFL history.
  • The combined 752 points scored are tied for ninth-most in a single week in NFL history.
  • The 89 touchdowns are tied for sixth-most in a single week in NFL history.
  • The eight combined kickoffs and punts returned for touchdowns are the most in any week in NFL history.
  • Games averaged 47.0 total points compared to 36.6 in last year's Kickoff Weekend.
  • The 906 net passing yards between the Patriots (516) and Dolphins (390) is the most in a single game in NFL history.
  • The Patriots-Dolphins game was also the first in NFL history to feature a both a 500-yard passer and a 400-yard passer.


Perhaps most telling are the performances of two quarterbacks from Monday night's games. Henne went from hearing "We want Orton" cheers in training camp to carving up the Patriots defense for 475 combined passing and rushing yards. Orton had to withstand "We want Tebow" cheers from the Denver crowd while clearing 300 yards against the Raiders. It's no coincidence that the waiver wire features an abundance of quarterback talent entering Week 2. 

On to the players. Here is how I rank the top players available at each position as we head into Week 2. Full writeups of each player are below.

Editor's Note: Join subscriber only chats, get weekly rankings before anyone else, plus exclusive weekly projections, stat tools, dynasty ranks, columns, and much more including the Rotoworld Oracle in our Season Pass.


Cam Newton 

Chad Henne  

Rex Grossman 

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Alex Smith 


Running Backs

Cadillac Williams

Jerome Harrison

Ricky Williams

Deji Karim 

Marion Barber 

Tashard Choice 

Dexter McCluster 


Wide Receivers

Jordy Nelson

Jacoby Jones

Devery Henderson 

Brandon Gibson

Domenik Hixon 

Mohamed Massaquoi

Jabar Gaffney 

Randall Cobb 


*Note: Lance Moore (86), Robert Meachem (62), and Deion Branch (68) are owned in the majority of CBS Sports leagues. Moore would top the list if he was dropped last week. Meachem would be right behind him, with Branch closer to Henderson. 


Tight Ends

Fred Davis

Ed Dickson

Jermaine Gresham

Evan Moore

Scott Chandler


*Note: Aaron Hernandez and Greg Olsen are owned in 74 percent of CBS Sports leagues. Rotoworld had Hernandez ranked as a top-10 tight end entering the season. If he's available, Hernandez would be the No. 1 overall waiver pick this week. If Olsen is available, he's a better bet for the long haul than any tight end on the list above. 


Defense/Special Teams







Cam Newton - Let's be honest: Nobody expects a 42 percent preseason passer to duplicate his masterful performance from his first career regular-season start. Newton could faceplant in a much tougher matchup against the Packers this week. For fantasy purposes, though, he showed an upside that makes him worthy of the top waiver claim this week. No quarterback in college football ran for more yards in any season from 2000 to 2009 than Newton did at Auburn last season, and his weapons are better than advertised. Steve Smith and Greg Olsen are both Pro Bowl caliber talents. If Vince Young could finish as the 13th ranked quarterback as a rookie thanks to 552 rushing yards and seven running touchdowns, Newton can surpass that mark. 


Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.


Chad Henne - No longer gun-shy, Henne played his best game as a pro in a losing effort Monday night. Along with Matt Cassel and Hall of Famers Steve Young and Bobby Layne, Henne became just the fourth player in NFL history with 400+ passing yards and 50+ rushing yards in the same game. If the light has finally clicked, Henne is in line for a breakout season in an offense that can't run the ball. 


Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.


Rex Grossman - The inventor of the fumble-six and the master of the pick-six has found new life under the Shanahans. Coordinator Kyle Shanahan has Grossman slinging the ball all over the field, and the results have been surprisingly promising. Grossman has four 300-yard performances in his nine-year career, three of which have come with the Redskins in his last four starts. It gets better. Grossman's Week 2 matchup is against the Cardinals defense that just surrendered a record 422 yards to Cam Newton in the opener. Grossman is arguably a top-10 fantasy option this week.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.


Ryan Fitzpatrick - Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Cam Newton stole the spotlight, but it was Fitzpatrick who finished first in ESPN's Total QBR for Week 1 on the strength of an efficient four-touchdown performance against an overmatched Chiefs defense. Fitzpatrick will be up and down all season behind a patchwork offensive line, but coach Chan Gailey's offensive system gives him borderline QB1 value against the weaker secondaries. 


Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.


Alex Smith - I need a fifth quarterback this week, and I'm admittedly reaching on Smith only for matchup purposes. Mark Sanchez skewered Dallas' secondary for 335 yards and two touchdowns in the opener. The Cowboys will be without Orlando Scandrick while Mike Jenkins (shoulder) and Terence Newman (groin) are on shaky footing themselves. If Smith can't torch this defense, he can't torch any. 


Recommendation: Worth a look only in desperation.


Cut Bait: Peyton Manning, Kerry Collins, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Cassel, Luke McCown


Manning will need at least three months to recover from surgery. The Colts may still be looking for their first win by then. Dump him. ... Collins is one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL. He's not going to perform CPR on Indy's offense. ... Hasselbeck's Week 1 numbers were skewed by a fluky 80-yard touchdown to Kenny Britt. ... The Chiefs offense is in the tank since Charlie Weis left. ... McCown is only a caretaker in a run-heavy offense. 


Watch List: Vince Young, Shaun Hill, Matt Flynn, Chase Daniel, Tim Tebow


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling

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