Your drafts have been completed, and the smack talking has begun. You’re feeling pretty good about your team, but for week 1, there are a few question marks. Perhaps you’ve drafted Adrian Peterson, but reports are that he’s likely to play on a limited basis at most. Maybe you have MJD, but missed out on Rashad Jennings, and it’s now likely that MJD will be relegated to 3rd down duty for week 1. Or maybe you’re waiting on Ryan Mathews, but don’t want to trust Ronnie Brown until he returns. No one wants to start 0-1, so if you’re finding yourself in a bit of a bind here are a few possible waiver options that may be available to help salvage your lineup the first week.
It appears that each of the top QBs are good to go, so you shouldn’t have too many issues at QB as of yet. But looking into the future, if you’re someone who likes to grab a backup QB off the wire instead of drafting one, here are my favorite waiver wire acquisitions that could have some real value later on this year.
- The buzz has been building on Locker, but if he’s available, go ahead and grab him. He’s not the most accurate QB, but was effective in limited snaps last year, and should even add a few points on the ground with his rushing ability. Tennessee has put plenty of weapons around him, so while it won’t always be pretty, Locker should do enough to be a legit fill-in in the case your starter is out. I see 3800 yard, 30 TD upside here.
- He may have already been drafted in your league, but if not, I expect Freeman to take advantage of his improved weapons, and return good value this year. Freeman should safely average 230 yards and 1.5 TDs in the air, plus add an addition 3-4 TDs on the ground.
- Smith will likely not develop into a weekly starter, but he did show some really good things in the playoffs, especially against NO. Smith is no more than a matchup play, but if you have Aaron Rodgers, Smith’s week 10 matchup against St. Louis should look awfully nice.
If you have a place on your roster for upside, go ahead and gamble on Russell Wilson, Brandon Weeden, Ryan Tannehill, or even Christian Ponder. Worst case, they fail and you cut them in a week or so when another need arises. But it’s relatively likely that at least one of those guys will perform pretty well this year, and if you grab one now, that could provide good long-term value for your team.
Andrew Luck, Matt Schaub, Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco, and Andy Dalton are all likely owned. If any of those are available on the wire, they would also certainly be viable backup options.
- The year was 2005, and the Steelers were decimated at RB. Both Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis were injured and unavailable to start the season. In stepped an unknown 3rd stringer named Willie Parker. Parker put up 320 combined yards and 2 TDs in his first two games and never looked back, starting 15 games that year, accumulating over 1200 yards rushing, and even chipped in the longest run in Super Bowl history in helping the Steelers win their 5th championship. The year is now 2012, and Pittsburgh is again dealing with issues at RB. Dwyer has been the healthiest and most impressive back in camp, and in my opinion, is the most likely Steelers RB to end September with at least 15 touches per game. If you have Adrian Peterson, Ryan Mathews, or even MJD, and are not enamored with your current backups, grab Dwyer off the wire and don’t hesitate to start him this week if your lineup warrants.
- It’s Royster, not Roy Helu Jr or Alfred Morris, who is currently slotted in as the Redskins starting RB for week 1. We’ve all learned that with Mike Shanahanigans, anything is possible regarding the RB situation, but if you are desperate, Royster is certainly worth a roster spot, and is not a terrible week 1 flex play against the Saints.
- I am not high on Ronnie Brown as a fill in. However, if he is available, sometimes the most important aspect for an RB is opportunity, and he certainly should have some of that in week 1. It looks like he’ll be starting over Mathews, and while this is merely a temporary option, if you are desperate for a back, you could do worse.
- Thomas showed some good things in Miami as a rookie, prior to an injury derailing his season. Reggie Bush is unlikely to take on a full workload, so expect Thomas to grab 8-10 carries per week. If Bush ends up injured at some point, Thomas would likely be the benefactor over Lamar Smith, and could easily yield top 20 production.
Upside Gambles- Ronnie Hillman, Kendall Hunter, Alex Green
Kendall Wright and Brandon LaFell
- I’m pairing them because every time I mention receivers, I talk about each of these guys. I’m hoping that both have been drafted in your league, but if not (and both are still more available than they should be), make sure you swipe either or both. The upside is 1000-1100 yards and 8 TDs.
Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin
- Someone in Seattle is going to have a nice season at WR, and these are the two best bets. Baldwin had a terrific rookie season out of the slot last season with 9.1 yards per target. Rice, of course, is a health risk, but is still young, and has a 1300 yard season under his belt. Rice is currently healthy, so if he’s available, he’s got the upside to warrant a spot on your bench, or to even fill in week 1 if Miles Austin or Hakeem Nicks are unable to go.
Steve Smith (St. Louis)-
As far as fliers go, this isn’t a bad one. Steve Smith is starting in St. Louis, and Sam Bradford should take at least a small step forward in his 3rd season. While Amendola has been there, it’s Smith who will likely be the best fit and most productive receiver in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense. With a 107 catch, 1200 yard 2009 on his resume, Smith is now healthy, and a worthy gamble for your team.
- Bennett has the talent, but has been stuck behind Witten in Dallas. He is now the starter with the Giants, and is going into the season realizing this may be his last chance at NFL success. Eli has made guys like Kevin Boss and Scott Ballard relevant, and Bennett has more receiving ability than both. At this point in the season, it’s always good to play upside, and no one going undrafted in typical leagues has bigger upside than Bennett.
If you have any other roster questions, whether regarding waiver wire pickups, or whom to start/sit in week 1, please place a comment in this thread. And if you have any other fantasy football questions, never hesitate to PM me. I'm happy to answer any and all questions that come my way. Good luck to all in week 1!