Week 2 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Top Pickups at Every Position
Soon, your fantasy waiver wire will be barren like the desert. You will be walking around aimlessly, trying to get water out of cacti like actors do in the movies before succumbing to heatstroke.
Now is the time to strike. We have seen things in Week 1 that allow winning owners to make these critical early-season decisions.
Sometimes, the best moves are the ones you don't make. But every now and then, a great pickup can make your season.
These are the guys who you should be targeting on this week's waiver wire.
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In a historic week for fevered waiver-wire mulling and analysis, the wide receivers are the headlining act. Most 12-team leagues with waivers scheduled to run Tuesday night have a "Big Three" of potential breakout studs at the position available.
Kevin Ogletree, Dallas Cowboys
I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.
The third WR in Dallas was one of my most coveted fantasy positional targets in this draft, and it has become clear that position belongs to Ogletree.
Ogletree has upside to be 2011's Laurent Robinson 2.0 in Dallas, and that is a season-changing pickup if it pans out.
Stephen Hill, New York Jets
Stephen Hill took fellow-rookie CB Stephon Gilmore to school on Sunday, while Janoris Jenkins was picking off balls and busy getting up in Titus Young's head.
The issue with Hill has been the "Demaryius Thomas" issue—a huge, blazing talent that came from a very un-NFL-like triple-option offense at Georgia Tech that included horrible routes and general misunderstanding to start.
If Hill is catching on, this could develop into something. Mark Sanchez needs a big target because he is not an accurate passer, and my worries are being shed quickly regarding Hill. If I have a need at WR, Hill has the upside this season to becoming Sanchez's No.1 option.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Let's not go too crazy on James Jones just yet. I actually think Randall Cobb could be the third-best WR option in a high-octane Green Bay offense.
He's like Percy Harvin; he lines up everywhere, including the backfield. I love that, because this means Cobb is going to get carries—and not just pound-them-out, everyone-knows-they're-coming carries either. Not Cedric Benson "running into the back of the offensive line and falling down" carries, but carries designed to utilize Cobb in choreographed, designed space.
I love it. This is a great week on most waiver wires for WRs.
Others of Note
Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers
As many predicted, LaFell appears to be the clear No. 2 WR in an NFC South offense sure to rebound from a slow start.
T.J. Graham, Buffalo Bills
Injury to David Nelson opens the door for the speedy rookie.
Donnie Avery, Indianapolis Colts
I have heard Colts OC Bruce Arians compare Avery to Mike Wallace, and no concussion is a "minor concussion" with starter Austin Collie.
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The obvious top pick in smaller leagues is Buffalo's C.J. Spiller, with the news that 31-year-old Fred Jackson is (surprise!) hurt again.
Spiller was unbelievable in Jackson's absence last season and kept form on Sunday with an absolute fantasy monster.
Too bad nobody started him.
But here's some pickups for 12-team leagues.
Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
My worst fear—and the biggest headache a fantasy owner can take on—is a Mike Shanahan running back in recent seasons.
It used to be that Shanahan polished relatively unknown runners into serviceable options like Olandis Gary or beasts of fantasy dominance like Terrell Davis. All he needed was a runner who could "make one cut and go," the type of runner that would simply execute their assignment, then benefit from the fantasy rewards of the zone-blocking system.
But the problem is he hates you; Mike Shanahan hates you.
Understand this before putting in that waiver claim over one of the available WRs (or bidding your entire season budget as some are ridiculously doing) on Morris because he scored two touchdowns in Week 1.
If you are needy at RB and have an early waiver spot, scooping Morris up is a no-brainer. A headache is better than a death sentence. You've had your initial look at your team and, hopefully, your players; you have an idea of what might be missing.
Best case, Alfred Morris becomes at top-12 fantasy RB. Robert Griffin could put on a Cam Newton mask and ignite that whole offense to new heights with Morris setting the pace on the ground.
Worst case, Morris "starts" next week and gets four carries for seven yards, while Roy Helu gets heavily involved in the screen game for a 185-yard explosion. Then, you realize that Shanny is playing the matchup and keeping his opponent off-balance the same way he is doing to you.
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
Fifty-seven snaps and 10 targets in the opener for Kansas City's offense? McCluster is basically a WR with RB eligibility in most fantasy leagues, which makes his upside most valuable in PPR leagues, but the value is there for standard scoring as well.
The worries of a crowded backfield in Kansas City, one featuring Peyton Hillis and Jamaal Charles, should be tabled for now. McCluster is used in his own way, and he was a player whom many thought former OC Todd Haley did not know (or care to figure out) how to properly utilize.
I love the prospect of this kind of weapon in an AFC West offense as a bench stash to plug in at the flex against great matchups. This is the time when you have to grab those guys. Soon, the wire will be dry as a bone.
This week's waiver-wire RB slate is obviously stacked heavy at the top. Alfred Morris may be the biggest pickup of the season.
For some reason, though, it reminds me of the time Ryan Grant got hurt and everyone went crazy on Brandon Jackson. Take a stab if you can, but be smart. If you are putting in a blind bid, keep it around 25 percent of the absolute max.
Others of Note
Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons
In PPR leagues, he was better this week than Michael Turner. This is no longer a Mike Mularkey offense, and while I am not rendering Turner totally useless, I would recommend picking up Rodgers to owners in all 12-team leagues putting in later waiver-position claims, especially Turner owners who haven't yet rostered Rodgers.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
I don't love him, but he seems to have found some sort of niche in and around goal-line sets, judging on what we've seen. Willis McGahee is still serviceable as the starter, but it appears that Moreno will handle the duties if he is unavailable, and let's face it, McGahee is old and close to being done.
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Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
Bennett has been an enigmatic NFL personality who does things like rap about Cap'n Crunch (his favorite kind of lunch) and was thought of as a general malcontent during his time as a Dallas Cowboy.
The self-proclaimed "black unicorn," however, is an undeniable natural talent.
Bennett was utilized in Dallas mostly for his blocking ability, and he did it well. Well enough to be signed by a division rival in the Giants, who saw that his pass-catching ability and the mismatch that he presents against linebackers could prove valuable given league trends.
Giants TE coach Mike Pope is thought of by many as the best TE coach in football, and Bennett is the best natural talent he has had to work with in some time. He should be off the wire within the first four to five claims.
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
Who is this guy acting like Marcedes Lewis, and is he related to the guy who is acting like Blaine Gabbert?
My goodness, what a difference a season can make. Blaine Gabbert is looking like he may become a QB that could bring some of the previously cast-aside cogs of the Jacksonville offense back into fantasy relevance.
As a young NFL QB, this emergence generally comes with the accompaniment of a running game, an X receiver and a dependable tight end. Lewis was thrown at five times in Jacksonville's NFL loss/moral victory on Sunday.
He caught all five for 53 yards and a touchdown. He also looked great as a run-blocker, which is further evidence of positive development as an overall player. A definite snatch at the bottom of waiver-wire orders or as a result of sneaky small-auction bids.
Others of Note
Tony Moeaki, Kansas City Chiefs
An elite natural talent that appears to be healthy, Moeaki was thrown at six times on Sunday. What worries me is that two of those throws resulted in interceptions.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
If, by some miracle, Carolina's Greg Olsen is available on your waiver wire (even in a 10-team league), he should be your No. 1 option.
There are no other "relatively unknown/un-owned" targets you will be interested in or need to acquire, no matter how dire your TE situation is at this time—even in 14-team leagues.
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Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
Blaine Gabbert is developing into the NFL QB the Jaguars drafted.
This is not a knee-jerk reaction to one game. This is an entire NFL preseason of analysis that most people would find absurd.
Gabbert is using a killer cadence in his dropback; he is setting his left foot, and he is releasing with his palm pointed down to add touch without sacrificing force. I was laughed off my radio show by co-hosts when calling for a 275-yard, two-touchdown performance out of Gabbert on Sunday morning, but he proved me right.
Gabbert is progressing and is likely to continue. If you waited until after Ben Roethlisberger to draft your QB, pick up Gabbert and stash him. You may need him. This is not 2011 Blaine Gabbert—be ahead of the curve.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
What a great backup quarterback with starter upside.
The connection with Dwayne Bowe has been obvious throughout their time together, and the offense will only improve as they were seeming to click in a new way under Crennel and OC Brian Daboll during the preseason.
If you waited on your QB in the draft and feel a little "iffy" about your week-in and week-out prospects, Cassel provides a boom-or-bust sort of fantasy QB option and will win you fantasy weeks when based on matchups and employed correctly.
Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
The ultimate game manager and sneaky play week in and week out, Smith is typically good for 10 to 13 points per week in standard leagues.
There is no one else on your waiver wire worth even sniffing at, unless, somehow, Josh Freeman is still available.