Being able to successfully work the waiver wire in fantasy football is often the difference between making the playoffs and finishing in last place.
While the waiver wire certainly has some risk involved, the reward can be absolutely gigantic. For example, all those who ended up picking up Victor Cruz off the waiver wire last year probably went on to dominate their league.
Despite the fact that we're only entering the first week of the NFL season, there are still plenty of viable options sitting on the waiver wire this week. Today we'll take you through the 15 hottest additions for Week 1.
Note: All percentages provided are based on standard Yahoo! leagues.
Percentage Owned: 37 Percent
The only rookie quarterbacks worth taking a chance on this year are Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. While Luck and Griffin are owned in 88 percent and 96 percent of leagues, respectively, Wilson is only owned in 37 percent.
Even though the Seattle Seahawks won't run their offense through Wilson like the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins will with their rookie quarterbacks, Wilson still has plenty of fantasy value. His ability to make plays with both his arm and legs is what could make him such a huge addition to your fantasy team.
Wilson also gets a nice matchup in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are far from being an elite defense, and Wilson's overall athleticism should give them problems.
In four preseason games, Wilson had six total touchdowns (one rushing) and only one turnover. While it is hard to imagine him being that efficient during the regular season, if he can continue to score through the air and on the ground, he could become quite the sleeper this year.
Percentage Owned: 2 Percent
The only reason you should have Nick Foles on your team is if you have Michael Vick on your team. Furthermore, if you own Vick but don't own Foles, you should no longer be allowed to play fantasy football.
The likelihood of Vick getting injured is always quite high, and keeping Foles on your bench will save yourself from disaster when Vick does ultimately gets injured. It may be hard to give up a bench spot to a player who may never see the field, but you'll be thankful you have Foles should anything happen to Vick.
Percentage Owned: 44 Percent
The fact that Alex Smith is owned in less than half of fantasy football leagues is rather surprising. While he has never been a big producer in fantasy football, this year could be huge for him.
For starters, Smith is surrounded by the most weapons he has ever had since being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. With Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, Smith has plenty of options to throw to.
Combine that with Frank Gore's increased age and likely decreased workload, and you have a potential top-10 quarterback still available on the waiver wire in over half of fantasy football leagues.
If you're weak at the quarterback position in your league, do yourself a favor and pick up Smith.
Percentage Owned: 16 Percent
Even if Rashard Mendenhall is able to miraculously play Sunday night against the Denver Broncos—it's looking like he might—Jonathan Dwyer is still a solid pickup on the waiver wire this week.
Of all the Pittsburgh Steelers running backs, Dwyer was the most impressive during the preseason. While he is still second on the depth chart to Isaac Redman, he should still see plenty of touches during Week 1.
Dwyer certainly isn't a long-term answer for your fantasy football team, but if you have a running back on your roster still struggling with injuries, he is a great fill-in option for Week 1.
Percentage Owned: 10 Percent
It's always difficult trusting a Mike Shanahan running back, but Alfred Morris is certainly worth the risk heading into Week 1.
No player was as impressive for the Washington Redskins during the preseason as the sixth-round draft pick out of Florida Atlantic. In his Week 3 start during the preseason, Morris rushed for 107 yards and one touchdown on just 14 carries.
While those numbers did come against the pedestrian Indianapolis Colts defense, it's hard to imagine them not yielding a good chunk of carries for Morris in Week 1. He certainly isn't a long-term answer for your fantasy team, but he'll be worth a pickup until Shanahan decides to completely ruin his fantasy value.
Percentage Owned: 19 Percent
Much like Nick Foles for Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles, if you own Frank Gore, you should probably own Kendall Hunter.
This isn't because Gore is as injury-prone as Vick—although he has missed nine games in the past four seasons—but rather because of Gore's age and the talent of Hunter. Yes, he'll lose some carries to Brandon Jacobs and rookie LaMichael James. However, Hunter is still the No. 2 running back on the depth chart, and if anything should happen to Gore, Hunter will be the man to take his place.
As a rookie last year, Hunter had 668 total yards and two touchdowns with Gore playing all 16 games. Those numbers should go up this year, especially if Gore gets injured.
Percentage Owned: 27 Percent
Until Ryan Mathews can get completely healthy, Ronnie Brown will be getting the majority of the carries for the San Diego Chargers. Considering Mathews has yet to take contact in practice, Brown could be the man in San Diego for a few weeks.
With Brown's abilities as a receiver, he has the potential to be a legitimate starting fantasy football running back with Mathews out. He may never rush for 100 yards in a single game, but 100 combined yards is certainly a possibility.
Plus, with Mike Tolbert now with the Carolina Panthers, there is no one to take away goal-line carries. While Brown won't be nearly as useful once Mathews returns, until that happens he could be quite the pickup off the waiver wire.
Percentage Owned: 19 Percent
With Marshawn Lynch suffering from back spasms that may keep him out of Week 1, all eyes will be on rookie Robert Turbin.
Turbin gained tremendous praise throughout the preseason and should carry that momentum to a successful game against the Arizona Cardinals this week. The most action he saw during the preseason was in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs, when he had 93 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries.
Much like the other waiver-wire pickups for this week, Turbin's value will drop dramatically once Lynch is back to full strength. However, as long as Lynch continues to struggle with his back, Turbin is a must-have player.
Percentage Owned: 36 Percent
If you don't have the No. 1 waiver wire heading into this week, it's unlikely you'll end up with Kevin Ogletree. After torching the New York Giants for 114 yards and two touchdowns, Ogletree is the hottest pickup in the world.
While it is unlikely that Ogletree will be able to consistently produce at this high of a level, the Dallas Cowboys have clearly shown that he'll be a part of the offense this year. With Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, Ogletree will be a flex option at best for the remainder of the season.
However, he could end up being the best flex player in fantasy football and the difference between a first- and last-place finish.
Percentage Owned: 8 Percent
The Buffalo Bills face the New York Jets in Week 1, which means that Stevie Johnson will be seeing Darrelle Revis all game long. That means that Johnson will be absolutely worthless in fantasy football this week and also to the Bills.
Without Johnson, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will need another target. The most obvious answer is David Nelson, the No. 2 receiver on the depth chart.
While Nelson doesn't have an easy matchup with Antonio Cromartie, it is the matchup that the Bills will need to exploit to have a chance in this game. Look for Nelson to be targeted early and often while leading Buffalo to a Week 1 victory over the Jets.
Percentage Owned: 4 Percent
While Steve Breaston struggled to live up to expectations when he came to the Kansas City Chiefs last year, he still had 61 receptions and 785 receiving yards. What really killed Breaston as a fantasy option last year were his two measly touchdown receptions.
Despite losing his starting job to Jon Baldwin this year, Breaston is still a capable receiver who has the potential to be a dynamic weapon for the Chiefs. He should easily have more than two touchdowns, and as long as he can have similar receiving yards, he should be a viable flex option.
Percentage Owned: 3 Percent
Many expected Lance Kendricks to be one of the top rookie tight ends last year, but Kendricks sputtered out of the gate and was never able to get on the same page with quarterback Sam Bradford.
However, Bradford and Kendricks have looked good in the preseason together. They connected for five receptions, 78 yards and a touchdown in three preseason games.
While Kendricks won't be in the same league as juggernaut tight ends Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, he is young and talented with a young quarterback. A top-15 fantasy football season could certainly be in the future for Kendricks.
Percentage Owned: 25 Percent
Despite struggling over the past two seasons, Dallas Clark enters an ideal situation with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He's a seasoned veteran on a young team that needs stability in the passing game. He'll be Josh Freeman's safety valve and should see some quality looks throughout the season.
Clark will need to be aware of youngster Luke Stocker taking away his snaps, but his experience should make him a solid waiver-wire pickup if you're already desperate for a tight end.
Percentage Owned: 17 Percent
Even though Billy Cundiff has only been with the Washington Redskins since August 28, he'll be their starting kicker.
Playing with a rookie quarterback means that the Redskins could be settling for a number of field goals this season. That means Cundiff could actually be quite the steal on the waiver wire.
Percentage Owned: 10 Percent
While the Minnesota Vikings defense wouldn't normally be a pickup on the waiver wire, they do have an ideal matchup in Week 1.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will be with a rusty Maurice Jones-Drew and a developing quarterback in Blaine Gabbert. Few offenses were as bad as the Jaguars were last year, and Minnesota has enough defense to put up big numbers this week in fantasy football.