Waiver Wired Debut!Tuesday, September 03, 2013
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More than any other fantasy sport, the football landscape is dominated by the waiver wire. The constant flow of injuries leads to holes in fantasy rosters and simultaneous real-life opportunities for players. And that’s what makes this column so crucial.
I’m taking the reins of Waiver Wired for the next 17 weeks, filling the Shaq-like shoes of Chris Wesseling. Everyone should tweet “thank yous” at him for helping all of us win over the last six seasons.
The goal here is to navigate the season by identifying players that can help us both now and down the line in all kinds of formats – anything from 10-team standard scoring to 16-team PPR (point per reception). Sometimes we’ll be forced to plug in an inferior talent who happens to find himself in a good situation. Other times we’ll be adding physical freaks without a role yet. When we can combine athletic ability and playing time, we’ll strike gold. Alfred Morris, Randall Cobb, Cecil Shorts, Knowshon Moreno, Colin Kaepernick and Danario Alexander were all 2012 waiver scoops that ended up wearing a lot of fantasy title rings.
As for Week 1, it’s a slow time on the wire. I’d much rather roster a talented guy with a questionable role than a short-term plug-n-play. There are no bye weeks and the injury reports are short. We can use this week to examine the usage on some of our Favorite Fliers.
On to the assets. Here is how I would rank the top players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues at each position heading into Week 1. Notes and recommendations on each player will follow below.
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Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a $100,000 Fantasy Football Contest in Week 1. It's $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Here's the link.
1. Terrelle Pryor
2. Brandon Weeden
3. Jake Locker
4. E.J. Manuel
1. Isaiah Pead
2. Isaac Redman
3. Roy Helu
4. Joique Bell
5. Mike Tolbert
6. Knowshon Moreno
7. Stepfan Taylor
8. Michael Cox
1. Cordarrelle Patterson
2. Andre Roberts
3. Santonio Holmes
4. Kenny Stills
5. Quinton Patton
6. Nate Washington
7. Marlon Brown
8. Markus Wheaton
1. Julius Thomas
2. Brent Celek
3. Coby Fleener
4. Heath Miller
1. Randy Bullock
2. Greg Zuerlein
3. Garrett Hartley
1. Terrelle Pryor, Raiders – Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
Remember when Tim Tebow was starting games for the Broncos in 2011? Of course you do, because he was a weekly top-12 fantasy quarterback. During that 11-game span, Tebow averaged 150.0 passing yards, 56.6 rushing yards, threw 11 touchdowns and ran for five more. We can draw some similarities in the game of Terrelle Pryor, a 6’6/233 monster with legit 4.4 speed and the agility of a running back. In Pryor’s lone NFL start (2012 Week 17 at San Diego), he went 13-of-28 for 150 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while adding nine carries for 49 yards with a touchdown – good for 22.9 fantasy points. Although the Raiders haven’t officially named their starter yet for Sunday’s game against the Colts, it's going to be Pryor instead of the noodle-armed Matt Flynn. Pryor is going to rack up garbage-time stats when the league’s worst team is in “comeback” mode. On 81 preseason snaps this year, he rushed 14 times for 131 yards and scored once. Expect 60 snaps a week for Pryor starting this week against the Colts.
Recommendation: Should be owned in standard 12-team leagues
2. Brandon Weeden, Browns – Owned in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues
I’ve been the president of the Browns bandwagon all offseason. Their front seven is nasty, they have a shutdown corner in Joe Haden, they have a top-eight offensive line and they have an elite running back. Their 6.5 win total in Las Vegas is laughable. All this will help Brandon Weeden, who is operating a Rob Chudzinski/Norv Turner vertical offense that is always quarterback-friendly. Weeden takes a hit without supremely talented No. 1 wideout Josh Gordon for two weeks (suspension), but he’ll be a fine plug-n-play as we move along. The second-year man went 30-of-50 (60.0 percent) for 334 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the preseason. He’s made giant strides since last year’s ugly rookie campaign.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a QB2 in 14-team standard leagues
3. Jake Locker, Titans – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Now entering his third NFL season, it’s put up or shut up time for Locker. He’s always been very long on athleticism and arm strength, but woefully short on accuracy and pocket presence. Now armed with a vastly improved offensive line, a full camp as the starter and a healthy Kenny Britt, there’s room for a breakout. During four exhibition appearances (116 snaps), Locker completed a sterling 67.3 percent of his passes while averaging a reasonably healthy 10.2 yards per completion. If you don’t think he can run, check out this bootleg for a TD against the Saints in 2011.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all two-QB leagues
4. E.J. Manuel, Bills – Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
Manuel was gaining steam as a fantasy sleeper until he went on the shelf in mid-August with a knee injury. It turned out that he needed a mere cleanup of his meniscus, one of the most minor surgeries an athlete can undergo. Manuel has already returned to practice and is on track to start Sunday’s opener against the Patriots. Although he’s one of the rawer first-round rookies to come into the league, Manuel has upside because – like two men above him in this column – he can run. In just 62 preseason snaps, he went 26-of-33 for 199 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. He added four rushes for 29 yards.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all two-QB leagues
Watch List: Ryan Tannehill, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder