Fantasy Football 2013: Predicting Top Waiver Wire Pickups Following Week 1
The path to fantasy football stardom begins with favorable matchups in Week 1 for Vick Ballard, Brian Hartline and Tyler Eifert.
You can pick up these guys now, or wait to fight it out on your league’s fantasy football waiver wire after the weekend passes.
That’s your choice.
But either way, you’d do well for yourself by keeping your eyes on a couple of players who not only have high upside this week, but long-term potential to become fantasy studs in 2013.
RB Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts (Owned in 44 percent of leagues)
The Indianapolis Colts struggled to run the ball last year, so they brought in a new offensive coordinator. Pep Hamilton, Andrew Luck’s former coordinator at Stanford, took the reins of the Colts offense. He recently identified his new team as a “physical, downhill running football team,” per Colts.com writer Craig Kelley.
Will Vick Ballard or Ahmad Bradshaw score more fantasy points in 2013?
But fantasy owners were hardly inspired by Ballard last season. On just a 3.9 yard-per-carry average, the then-rookie back complied just 814 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He added another 152 yards and one score in the passing game, but those numbers are hardly intriguing.
Then the Colts signed Ahmad Bradshaw during the offseason. Yes, the same oft-injured back that the New York Giants cut. But he missed the entire preseason while he recuperated from foot surgery and shouldn’t see much action in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders, according to ESPN’s Mike Wells.
While Bradshaw may have more long-term upside in a more rush-oriented offense, Ballard is less of a concern. Plus, a favorable matchup against the Raiders could result in a huge day for him and lots of hungry waiver requests on the wire next week.
WR Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins (Owned in 44 percent of leagues)
For whatever reason, Brian Hartline is still available in the majority of leagues out there. The fifth-year receiver is looking to build on his best professional performance, by far, after grabbing 74 passes for 1,083 yards a season ago.
Mike Wallace’s addition to the Miami Dolphins offense could be a factor. However, Wallace’s speed will draw a lot of attention from defenses, freeing up Hartline to get better matchups.
Against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, we’ll see that scenario play out. With Joe Haden likely honed in on Wallace, Hartline will be matched up against Buster Skrine. The third-year corner is a tough-nosed defender who plays physical and takes chances.
If Ryan Tannehill and Hartline can exploit that, Hartline should put up some big numbers in Cleveland and be a hot commodity on the waiver wire next week.
TE Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (Owned in 21 percent of leagues)
Right now, Jermaine Gresham (owned in 58 percent of leagues) is the tight end drawing the most attention in Cincinnati. Sooner or later, though, the athletically gifted rookie Tyler Eifert is going to steal the show.
We didn’t get to see much of the Bengals’ first-round pick during the last two weeks of the preseason. Don’t worry, though, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer said he looked spectacular during training camp practices.
Quarterback Andy Dalton badly needs a new weapon and Eifert perfectly fits the bill. This week, there’s a good chance the rookie emerges against the Chicago Bears. Dalton will be challenged on the outside by their formidable secondary, but he has an ace in the hole in Eifert.
*Player availability is according to Yahoo! Fantasy Football league data.
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