By: Adam Myers (Twitter: @AdamTMyers)
Week 1: Waiver Wire
Week one of the NFL season has come and gone and with it came some clarity as to fantasy assets and their value going forward. Injuries hit some big names leaving starting roles to be filled on both fantasy and NFL lineups. Who’s going to fill those roles going forward? What players are currently unowned that have value moving forward? Here are the week one waiver wire targets for you to keep an eye on.
*Waiver wire targets are selected based on many factors including previous performances, change in workload, and upcoming matchups. All waiver wire targets are available in roughly 50% of ESPN or NFL.com leagues. Percentages listed is current percent owned on the respective sites.
Sam Bradford (11.0% ESPN, 23.7% NFL) – Bradford was nothing short of incredible in his first regular season game. Bradford was 27/32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns on Monday night. His completion percentage was through the roof and that was including three drops by his pass catchers. Bradford also surprised with eight of his completions going for 20 or more yards. All of this should be taken with a grain of salt as the performance came against the Saints and their lackluster defense, but his performance still warrants a second look for fantasy players who are streaming the position.
Carson Wentz (45.6% ESPN, 24.2% NFL) – The Eagles went out this season and loaded up on talent to help their sophomore quarterback Carson Wentz. Offseason additions of Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and LeGarrette Blount, coupled with the return of a healthy Zach Ertz and a jump for third year wide receiver Nelson Agholor have surrounded Wentz with all the weapons he could ask for. In Wentz’s first game of the season he completed 26/39 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. A tipped ball lead to an interception but isn’t fully on the shoulders of Wentz. With new weapons surrounding him, and a solidified offensive line with the return of right tackle Lane Johnson, the future is bright for Wentz.
Alex Smith (41.0% ESPN, 16.6% NFL) – Smith had a strong showing against New England posting a statline of 28/35, for 368 yards and four touchdowns. Saying Smith outperformed his expectations would be an understatement, and this new look, big play, stretch the field Chiefs offense is worth monitoring going forward. Smith had two touchdown passes that went for over 70 yards; one to Kareem Hunt, and one to Tyreek Hill. Both of these players are taking on a new or expanded role with the team and could very well be the difference for Alex Smith’s fantasy value this season.
Carson Palmer (11.3% ESPN, 32.5% NFL) – I know what you’re thinking, “Why is Palmer on this list after losing David Johnson, and already having a down week one?” Palmer gets to face a sieve of a defense in the Indianapolis Colts that just gave up 46 points to a Los Angeles Rams team that finished last season near the bottom of the league in scoring. Jared Goff, coming off a rookie campaign that can only be described as absolutely awful, posted a stat line of 21/29 for 306 yards and one touchdown. The loss of Johnson, while detrimental to the Cardinals offense as a whole, should lead to more pass attempts for Palmer. Pick up and play Palmer with confidence against the Colts this week.
Tarik Cohen (23.7% ESPN, 1.5% NFL) – Cohen was nothing short of spectacular in his NFL debut catching eight passes for 47 yards and one touchdown while rushing the ball five times for 66 yards. Cohen was used in a variety of ways including taking snaps as a slot and outside receiver. The injury to Kevin White leaves this Bears offense even more devoid of pass catcher than they previously were which should lead to plenty of opportunity for Cohen. He’s a must add in all formats, but especially in any form of points per reception.
Kerwynn Williams (5.5% ESPN, 0.3% NFL) – The injury to David Johnson leaves a huge hole not only in the Arizona Cardinals backfield, but also in every single fantasy team line up that owned Johnson. Coming into week one Williams was the backup to Johnson and scored a touchdown after the injury to Johnson. While Williams appears to be the back to claim off waivers, the addition of DJ Foster from the practice squad of New England, presumed signing of former Cardinals running back Chris Johnson, and presence of Andre Ellington could mean that the Cardinals go full on running back by committee and Williams carries little value. Williams is worth an add, but don’t break the bank or invest too much to get him on your team.
Javorius Allen (0.8% ESPN, 1.6% NFL) – Allen carries some fantasy value going forward because of the injury to Danny Woodhead. Woodhead injured his hamstring early on in the Ravens first game of the season and is expected to miss four to six weeks. This opens up an opportunity for Allen to become the primary pass catching running back for the Ravens, as well as handling a large workload rushing the ball. Allen carried the ball 21 times in week one, and with Woodhead down he looks to be in line for an even larger workload.
Shane Vereen (30.7% ESPN, 2.6% NFL) – Vereen is the primary pass catching back for the New York Giants and Eli Manning. Manning seemed to struggle with the pressure put on him due to the lackluster offensive line play in New York causing him to read to his checkdown quite often. This led to Vereen securing nine targets for a grand total of 51 yards. Vereen doesn’t hold much value outside of PPR formats, but expect the Giants line to keep breaking down, and Manning to keep dumping the ball to Vereen. Roster vereen in any form of PPR.
Cooper Kupp (20.8% ESPN, 4.7% NFL) – Kupp is one of the most productive receivers in recent memory at the FBS level in college, but his NFL landing spot seemed less than ideal going to the Los Angeles Rams. Following a productive preseason, however, the fantasy upside of Kupp seemed to be higher than previously anticipated. Week one Kupp was targeted six times securing four of those targets for 76 yards and one touchdown. Kupp has value and should be rostered moving forward.
Kenny Golladay (21.3% ESPN, 2.0% NFL) – After a flashy preseason including a two touchdown game, Golladay flashed again in his NFL debut. Seven targets led to four receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns including an impressive diving catch that hit paydirt. The flashy preseason combined with the impressive NFL debut is enough to warrant a roster spot as he’s likely earned the Detroit Lions number two receiver role, and the trust of Matthew Stafford.
Jermaine Kearse (2.7% ESPN, 1.4% NFL) – Kearse was traded to the New York Jets during the preseason as part of the deal sending Sheldon Richardson to Seattle. Arriving in New York Kearse was arguably the most talented weapon, and definitely the most experienced at the NFL level. Questions surrounding the Jets quarterback and Kearse’s transition to a new offense put a damper on any perceived fantasy value. A strong showing in week one, however, is cause to reexamine Kearse’s fantasy value. Targeted nine times and securing seven catches for 59 yards, Kearse will continue to be a high volume target in an offense with limited upside but opportunity is king for fantasy and Kearse is worth an addition.
Allen Hurns (2.3% ESPN, 1.2% NFL) – Hurns is merely one season removed from a 1,000 yard and ten touchdown campaign, but disappointed on his draft investment in 2016. The season ending ACL injury to Allen Robinson, however, thrusts Hurns into the focal point wide receiver role for the Jaguars. Hurns has the volume and opportunity in Jacksonville as well as the talent and pedigree of having produced at the NFL level. This combination could lead to the development of a fantasy relevant weapon in Jacksonville, and because of that Hurns is worth a roster spot.
Kendall Wright (7.0% ESPN,1.1% NFL) – As I said above opportunity is king in fantasy and that’s exactly the situation that Wright finds himself in. The season ending injury suffered by fellow Chicago Bears receiver Kevin White leaves an already depleted receiving corps searching for even more answers which should only lead to an uptick in target volume for Wright. All four of Wright’s targets came in the final 12 minutes of the game when White was out with his collarbone injury. While he may not the sexiest player available, he’s the only player available in Chicago which gives him fantasy value.
Jesse James (14.1% ESPN, 3.9% NFL) – James was targeted eight times, hauling in six catches for 41 yards and two touchdowns. Ben Roethlisberger seemed to look to James early and often in the red zone and on a high octane offense he has the potential for many more to come.
Austin Hooper (51.3% ESPN, 4.2% NFL) – Hooper was targeted only twice but hauled in both receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns. While explosive performances like this can’t be expected as the norm for Hooper, plays like that go a long way in earning the trust of Matt Ryan and securing a role in that Falcons offense. Hooper is a high upside tight end worth picking up for anyone streaming the position.
Charles Clay (12.2 % ESPN, 3.9% NFL) – Clay is one of the few pass catchers that can be counted on in Buffalo, and the only one there who has a rapport with Tyrod Taylor. That rapport showed in week one when Clay was targeted nine times securing four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. Clay deserves to be rostered in nearly every league and will continue to be a go to target for Taylor in the future.
Coby Fleener (16.7% ESPN, 57.2% NFL) – Fleener had a lot of hype surrounding him entering the 2016 season but failed to live up to that billing. Week one of the 2017 season and Fleener showed flashes of his potential in that New Orleans Saints offense. Targeted six times Fleener hauled in five catches for a total of 54 yards and a touchdown. The potential for Fleener is high in New Orleans, maybe the loss of Brandin Cooks, and a season under his belt, was all he needed to capitalize on that potential.
Baltimore Ravens (27.2% ESPN, 12.6% NFL) – The Baltimore Ravens defense harassed Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals all day. Recording five sacks, four interceptions, a fumble recovery, and giving up zero points is about all you could ask for from a defense; with the exception of a positive matchup like playing, oh I don’t know, Cleveland. That’s exactly where Baltimore finds themselves, so add them in every league you can.
Oakland Raiders (5.9% ESPN, 11.4% NFL) – The Oakland Raiders aren’t the defensive juggernaut you typically look for in a fantasy defense. However, the Raiders had a decent showing against Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans offense in week one allowing only 16 points and recording a sack. Their opponent on the docket this week, the New York Jets, is far from that offensive threat that the Titans represent. A worse offensive line, fewer offensive weapons, and a drastic difference in the level of quarterback play all lead to the Raiders being a solid fantasy defense option for week two.