Locker’s timing couldn’t have been worse in Week 1. The early fourth quarter shoulder injury robbed him of a prime opportunity for garbage-time success in the fantasy friendly come-from-behind mode. Coach Mike Munchak assured after the game that Locker would start Week 2 at San Diego. Although he’s owned in just under half of Yahoo leagues, Locker remains a high-upside QB2 option. Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.Wesseling's Waiver Wired column
It’s hard to fault fantasy owners for keeping Ponder unowned in nearly 80 percent of Yahoo and CBS leagues after he was kept out of the end zone in Week 1. Although Ponder didn’t enjoy much fantasy success versus the Jaguars, the 74.1 percent completions and 10.0 YPA are promising indicators of future value. This offense has more fantasy potential than commonly believed. Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.Wesseling's Waiver Wired column
The season opener was a tale of two halves, as Cassel played as well as he ever has in the opening frame. Behind one of the league’s strongest offensive lines, Cassel took advantage of a deep corps of receivers and tight ends to post a top-10 QB rating. Falcons defensive boss Mile Nolan won the half-time adjustments battle, harassing Cassel throughout the second half. Glass half-full types can roll the dice on his first half performance.Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.Wesseling's Waiver Wired column
Don’t ever expect to start Gabbert outside of the bye-week crunch, but he’s now followed up an encouraging preseason with a strong performance in the opener. Justin Blackmon, Laurent Robinson and Cecil Shorts are major upgrades in Bob Bradkowski’s quick-passing offense, giving Gabbert a chance to sustain a modicum of success in his second season.Recommendation: Should be owned in two-quarterback leagues.
Kolb was impressive with quick reads and catchable balls in the game-winning drive, but it’s a small sample size. While it’s not a bad idea to give him a spin for 2-4 weeks in two-quarterback leagues with John Skelton sidelined, there’s still a high risk of implosion for a habitually hesitant passer behind a porous offensive line.Recommendation: Worth a look in two-quarterback leagues.
The bizarro Chris Johnson, Morris makes up for a lack of high-end speed with decisive cuts and a forward lean. The sixth-round rookie scored more fantasy points than any back save C.J. Spiller in Week 1. Although Mike Shanahan’s endorsement has been the “kiss of death” in the past, Morris’ 28 carries at New Orleans suggest he’s earned the coaching staff’s trust -- for now. Keep long-term expectations low, as Morris has managed to clear 3.6 yards per carry in just one of four combined preseason and regular-season games. For those owners looking for an immediate payoff, however, Morris will be a top-20 fantasy option versus the Rams in Week 2.Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.
Leshoure’s ownership is sporadic, as he’s rostered in 80 percent of CBS leagues but just a third of Yahoo leagues. As we saw in Week 1, Kevin Smith posted RB1 production due more to the Lions offense than his own talent level. Given Smith’s injury history, it’s a solid bet that Leshoure will be thrust into the starting lineup at some point this season. He returns from suspension in Week 3.Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
Don’t go crazy here. Banging into bodies with no burst whatsoever, Michael Turner couldn’t be more ill-suited to the Falcons up-tempo offense. We fully expect Quizz’s role to grow at Turner’s expense over the course of 16 games, but he remains a niche player. Roster Rodgers as a potential flex option in PPR formats; just realize his fantasy upside is limited with Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez hogging the production in Atlanta’s offense.Recommendation: Should be owned in all PPR leagues.
Dwyer’s best run at Denver was called back on a questionable penalty and came one knee short of a touchdown. Clearly a stronger runner than Isaac Redman, he won the snap-count battle 42-24 in the opener. Don’t assume that Rashard Mendenhall will be plugged back into the feature back role once he returns to game action. Dwyer has earned a slice of this backfield pie.Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
The demise of Frank Gore may have been greatly exaggerated, but Hunter was on the field early and often in Green Bay. One of the league’s strongest No. 2 backs, Hunter will be a good bet for 8-12 touches per week.Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
Scott’s surgically-repaired hand is healed, and he should be back in football shape for Week 2. BenJarvus Green-Ellis put his stamp on the feature back job with a strong performance at Baltimore, but his lack of playmaking ability will come back to bite him in the end. Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
Go behind the box score in Donald Brown’s 5.3 YPC performance versus the Bears. Brown dropped two passes, including a pivotal screen play, and was exploited in pass protection once again. With limited lateral agility, Brown is not going to sustain a rushing attack in Indy. We expect Ballard’s role to grow at Brown’s expense over the long haul.Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
The Ravens dumped preseason star Bobby Rainey just before Monday night’s inactives were released. Pierce is locked in as the backup to Ray Rice in what finally has the look of a high-scoring offense. Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
If your sights are set on short-term fix, grab Alfred Morris or even teammate James Jones as a potential Greg Jennings replacement this week. If you’re looking for the best chance of a breakout season, though, Cobb is your man. We’ve been comparing Cobb to Percy Harvin since early last season, and the Packers finally began using their versatile weapon in a similar fashion as the team leader in receptions versus the 49ers. Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.
We should have seen McCluster’s team-leading 10 targets coming. Chet Gresham’s handy column on preseason targets from starting quarterbacks showed McCluster as one of the five most targeted receivers in the NFL throughout August. Ex-scout Daniel Jeremiah predicted hours before Sunday’s game time that McCluster would catch 80 passes this season as a perfect slot fit in Brian Daboll’s scheme. McCluster can’t touch Randall Cobb’s playmaking ability, but he’s going to be an asset in PPR formats all season long.Recommendation: Should be owned in all PPR leagues.
Waiver pickers chasing Jones’ points have burned more often than not in the past, but there are two reasons to believe that could change this week. Jones played all but 11 snaps as the No. 3 receiver in the opener, and Greg Jennings’ (groin) status is up in the air on a short practice week. Keep an eye on Tuesday’s practice report. If Jennings sits out, I would choose Jones over Kevin Ogletree this week. Jones would be a top-30 fantasy option versus the Bears if he ends up starting for Jennings.Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
Ogletree renewed his football focus after an offseason wakeup call, but nobody could have seen his 8/114/2 performance coming. Ogletree’s 23 Week 1 standard-scoring fantasy points were two more than he had produced in his first three seasons combined. Research from 4for4.com’s John Paulsen on surprise Week 1 receiver studs suggests WR4/5 production should be the expectation over the course of the season. Ex-scout Bryan Broaddus, one of Ogletree’s biggest critics (justifiably) over the past couple of years, concedes the Cowboys’ new No. 3 receiver has shown toughness and a play making ability over the past month “that I was sure did not exist.” Ogletree’s football epiphany leaves him as the natural successor to Laurent Robinson, but he’s not going to match the latter’s 11 touchdowns from last season. Expect to hear much more from Dez Bryant and Miles Austin than Ogletree going forward. The Cowboys won’t be facing street-free agent types at third cornerback every week.Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
If we could trust the Jets’ aerial attack, Hill’s upside would be Torrey Smith’s rookie season. With a similarly freakish size/speed package and a limited route tree, Hill’s production will be hit-or-miss depending on his ability to get behind overwhelmed cornerbacks. Although his strong blocking prowess will keep him on the field, Hill will not be a reliable fantasy starter from week to week.Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
The Bears coaches insist every offseason that Devin Hester is an integral part of their offense, only to abandon that plan by midseason. They’ve already thrown in the towel this year, thanks to their impressive second-round rookie. Jeffery played 10 more snaps and ran four more pass routes than Hester in the season opener. Don’t put too much stock in Jeffery’s 3/80/1 line, however. His 42-yard touchdown came in garbage time. Jeffery is still more of a roster stash than a weekly starter.Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
After holding off all competitors for the No. 2 receiver job with a strong August, Jones posted a 5/41/1 line on seven targets in the opener. With David Nelson out for the season, Jones should be locked in as the second option in the passing game. There’s WR4/5 value here in deeper leagues.Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
A trendy offseason “sleeper” pick before missing all of August with an appendectomy and a lingering calf injury, Hartline returned as Ryan Tannehill’s top target in the opener. Hartline is never a good bet to top 100 yards, and the Dolphins anemic passing attack further deflates his potential. He’s purely a deep-league option.Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
Rod Streater (pictured), Jerome Simpson, Cecil Shorts, Aldrick Robinson, Andrew Hawkins, T.J. Graham, Emmanuel Sanders
Streater played five more snaps than Darrius Heyward-Bey in the opener, but Denarius Moore’s return leaves his future role cloudy. … Simpson returns from suspension in Week 4. … Shorts significantly out-produced No. 3 receiver Michael Thomas despite playing 28 fewer snaps. … Robinson saw a team-high six targets in replacing “X” receiver Pierre Garcon in the first half. … Hawkins and Sanders are worth a look in deeper PPR leagues. … Graham figures to pick up playing time with David Nelson out for the season.
Andrew Luck’s college tight end is still unowned in roughly half of Yahoo leagues. Although Fleener’s production was boosted by the halftime two-minute drill versus a Cover-2 defense, it’s worth noting that he was targeted 10 times to zero for fellow rookie Dwayne Allen.Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
Joe Flacco is spreading the wealth in the Ravens’ new up-tempo offense, but Pitta took a commanding targets lead with nine in the opener. Nicknamed “American Express” by Terrell Suggs because he’s “everywhere you want him to be,” Pitta became an integral part of the 2011 stretch-run game plan. Going back to Week 14 of last season, Pitta has 24 receptions for 259 yards and four TDs compared to Ed Dickson’s 13/148/2 line. Pitta has been targeted at least seven times in three of his last four games.Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.
The Giants beat writers as well as NFL Films guru Greg Cosell believe Bennett will have a bigger role going forward after impressing in the opener. Eli Manning habitually looks to his tight ends, from Kevin Boss to Jake Ballard. Bennett is just as big and more athletic than either of those players.Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.
As Ben Roethlisberger’s security blanket on third downs and in the red zone, Miller fell one target short of the team lead with seven targets at Denver. The concern, as always, is that Miller will have to stay in to block after the Steelers had two more offensive linemen forced from the field in the opener. The good news is those injuries don’t appear to be of the long-term variety.Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
After a strong offseason and training camp, Chandler posted a 4/38/1 line on six targets versus the Jets. Already one of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite red-zone targets, Chandler’s role figures to grow with David Nelson out for the season.Recommendation: Worth a look in touchdown-heavy leagues.
Zach Miller, Marcedes Lewis (pictured)
The two veterans caught all eight of their combined targets. Although they’ve proven capable of producing in the past, Miller and Lewis were afterthoughts last season. We need to see more consistent targets.