Take a quick photo of your fantasy squad. Done? Good. Because in most cases, you’re never going to feel as good about your team as you do right now. Soon the season will begin, injuries will befall you and some of those high-round stars, and late-round sleepers won’t work out the way you’d hoped.
Fear not, because an astute fantasy owner is always on the prowl to enhance his or her squad, keeping names others might not think about on their watch list as they try to improve areas that need help.
This week I don’t have a long list of waiver pickups, but I will give you a long watch list of names I will be paying attention to through the early portion of the season. Maybe these names won’t appeal to you now, but they are good options to keep an eye on as we work our way through September.
QB. Russell Wilson -
Who knows what it took for Pete Carroll to convince his higher-ups that they should go with the rookie, but it's an interesting move, especially after the Seahawks paid Matt Flynn starter-type money in the offseason. Not only that, but they also traded away a second-round pick a few years ago to land Charlie Whitehurst from the Chargers, who is now back in San Diego behind Philip Rivers.
Yes, it’s a gutsy decision from Carroll, but in the end I think it will turn out smelling like a rose.
Wilson would have had the skill set to go as high as a top-10 pick this past spring if it had not been for his height. Watching film on Wilson through the preseason, I love his pocket presence, ability to side step the rush, keep his eyes down field and deliver an accurate pass.
Anyone who watched Wilson back at Wisconsin knows he can run when he wants. This element to his game will help the Seahawks' running attack because it should freeze a linebacker, so defensive coordinators will have to respect his running ability.
It will also be an asset to fantasy owners, and I think he’s worthy of being a top-20 fantasy quarterback right away. Look to Wilson as a respectable backup if you missed out on options like Andrew Luck or Ben Roethlisberger in the later part of your draft.
RB. Jonathan Dwyer -
Isaac Redman is still the starter, and when healthy I believe he should see 20 touches per game, but right now he isn't 100 percent. Redman had a hip injury after the team's first preseason game, which eventually led to the Steelers activating Rashard Mendenhall from the PUP list.
Redman worked his way back to play in the team's third preseason game but suffered an ankle injury. Through it all Dwyer has played well, and if Redman struggles early on (which is likely), we could see Dwyer take over as the starter by Week 2.
RB. Alfred Morris -
Morris received buzz after his 100-yard performance against the Colts in the Redskins' third preseason game. While it was nice to see the rookie excel, it was against the Colts, and both Evan Royster and Roy Helu came back in the team's fourth preseason game.
Perhaps we will see Morris start Week 1, so it’s worth picking him up as someone who is sure to have success in the Redskins' zone-blocking scheme that now presents more matchup problems since Robert Griffin III is playing quarterback.
Montario Hardesty -
Early in camp Hardesty looked to be a shoe-in to work behind Trent Richardson and possibly get a few starts early on as Richardson recovers from another knee surgery. Unfortunately Hardesty fell ill with a case of fumblitis, and now it looks like Brandon Jackson may have moved past him on the depth chart.
Keep an eye on this situation, though, because if Richardson should suffer a setback, Hardesty could be a decent hold on your bench and a bye week fill-in.
Bilal Powell -
Raise your hands if you actually like Shonn Greene. That’s what I thought, no hands raised. Greene will likely have a long leash, but if Powell should flash in a back-up role, he could force the coaching staff to give him more playing time.
Maybe Powell isn’t worth holding now, but if Tim Tebow starts at some point and Powell gets a chance to start, we could have an RB2 on our hands with an explosive element to his game.
Vick Ballard -
Ballard is a better fit for the Colts' power-run game and has looked good at times through the preseason. Donald Brown will start, but I’m hedging my bets that he struggles to hold up through the season.
Keiland Williams -
This one is time sensitive because Mikel Leshoure will return in Week 3, but Keiland Williams figures to play behind Kevin Smith on the depth chart. If Smith suffers another injury, then Williams could get a start next week. Furthermore, if Williams plays well in a back-up role, he could prove to the coaching staff that he is worth trusting should Smith and Leshoure suffer injuries during the season.
Dexter McCluster -
I like what the Chiefs are doing with McCluster in the passing game. He’s in line to catch a decent amount of passes, so he’s worth having on the radar for PPR leagues.
Doug Baldwin -
A hamstring injury slowed down my optimism for Baldwin from earlier this summer. While Baldwin figures to be used in the slot, I’m still holding out hope he can one day earn more snaps on the outside in base packages. At this time, Baldwin should be left on waiver wires unless you have the depth on your roster to hold him, until he makes a full recovery from his injury.
Steve Smith -
Smith looked good in training camp, and I have to believe he will move up the depth chart that surprisingly had him listed as the No. 3 receiver for the Rams this weekend. That’s not all bad because Smith is a good slot receiver, but he can be a good option on the outside as well.
A friendly matchup against the Lions this weekend, Smith could be a hot waiver wire pickup next week.
Kellen Davis -
Now that Mike Martz is out of town, tight ends are free to roam the fruited plains of Chicago again. The Bears management did a 180 by appointing Mike Tice as the team's new offensive coordinator, but now Davis should be of use in fantasy leagues.
Let’s keep an eye on him in the early weeks of the season, and if you need help he could be an option to go after.
Lance Kendricks -
I like what Kendricks and Sam Bradford are developing together in the preseason. He isn't a player you want on your roster at this point, but he’s likely to be on rosters by some point this season.
Redskins Defense -
They play the Rams in Week 2, so you might want to think about stashing the Redskins a week early if you need help. St. Louis has a horrible pass-blocking offensive line, and Washington blew this team out last year.
Patriots Defense -
For Week 2, the Patriots travel back to New England for their home opener against the Cardinals. This should be a productive game for New England's defense and could be Chandler Jones’s coming-out party.
Raiders Defense -
The Raiders have shaky corners, but they should handle the Dolphins' pathetic receiving corps next week. Unfortunately, this game will be played in Miami, but the Raiders' front four should have some fun in Miami’s backfield.