Week 1 Waiver Wire: Rookies Who Are Worth Picking Up After Stellar First Game

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 10, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 09: Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups before a preseason game against the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field on August 9, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Broncos defeated the Bears 31-3.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

No matter how much studying you do for your fantasy football team heading into the NFL season, there are always players who come out of nowhere to surprise us in Week 1.

The 2012 season has proven that trend to be true once again.

With fantasy football having to do with stats and past successes, there's not a whole lot of room available for high-potential rookies. There's always the exceptions (Trent Richardson, Robert Griffin III, etc.), but there's no denying that rookies are often overlooked when it comes to fantasy.

These players proved in Week 1 that they can break the mold and be big-time contributors to not only their NFL teams, but also fantasy owners. 


Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears

Former South Carolina standout Alshon Jeffery was one of the more highly touted receivers coming into the league this year, but that didn't keep him from sneaking under the radar heading into the 2012 season.

In Chicago's 41-21 blowout of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Jeffery shined brightly with three receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. That's good for 14 points in ESPN Fantasy Football, and I think I speak for many of you when I say I could've used some production like that in my starting lineup this week. 

Jeffery is owned in only 14.9 percent of ESPN leagues, and that number is sure to soar after his Week 1 performance. 

Jay Cutler has many weapons on his Bears offense, which was a main sticking point that kept Jeffery from being drafted in many leagues. But after a strong first game, it looks like Cutler will be throwing Jeffery's way many times this season.


Blair Walsh, K, Minnesota Vikings

Blair Walsh's name might not be an unfamiliar one if you're an SEC football fan (he's from Georgia), but he's all but an afterthought when it comes to fantasy football.

That is, until Week 1.

Walsh single-handedly kicked the Vikings to victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars in their 26-23 overtime victory, including a 55-yarder as time expired that sent the game to OT. He finished with 17 points in ESPN leagues, despite being owned in just 2.4 percent of leagues

If you aren't completely comfortable with your kicking situation, rolling the dice on Walsh could end up being a brilliant move. 


Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets

Not many—not even head coach Rex Ryan (h/t NFL.com)—envisioned rookie wideout Stephen Hill having a major impact on the Jets offense this year.

He turned out to be just what they needed, as he pulled in five catches for 89 yards and 2 TDs in his NFL debut against the Buffalo Bills Sunday. All three stats were team highs. 

QB Mark Sanchez's passing game wasn't expected to be glamorous in 2012, but it's gaining steam after a strong 48-point outing in Week 1. If it continues on this trend, Hill could end up being more than just a fantasy bench player. 

At the very least, he's worth picking up as a high-potential bench player who could explode at any moment. 


Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson is breaking the mold just by gaining the starting spot in Seattle over highly paid backup Matt Flynn, and proved he's the right man for the job in his debut.

Wilson, a third-round draft pick, brought his team to the goal line with a chance to win on the road against Arizona. Despite throwing three straight incompletions in the end zone (one blatantly dropped by Braylon Edwards) and an eventual 20-16 defeat, he made a big statement Sunday.

With so many young starting quarterbacks in this league who struggle to put up significant numbers, solid fantasy backup QB's are in high demand.

If Wilson finds a way to utilize his dual-threat abilities and accurate passing game, he could be in for a big year statistically in Seattle.


Greg Zuerlein, K, St. Louis Rams

It's not very often that rookie kickers get a chance to have a major impact on the game, and we saw it two separate times in Week 1.

A sixth-round pick out of Missouri Western State, Greg Zuerlein earned his way into the Rams' starting spot prior to the 2012 season. He proved his worth in their 27-23 loss to Detroit on Sunday.

Zuerlein made all three of his field goal attempts, including a 48-yarder and an overtime field goal that was ultimately one-upped by a game-winning TD toss by Matthew Stafford

St. Louis' offense has been in question for some time, but they were sharp in their Week 1 action and it's looking like Zuerlein will get plenty of chances to hit long field goals.