Week 2 Waiver Wire: Top Pickups and Drops
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You might have "earned" the No. 1 waiver priority with your Week 1 disaster, but consider it a blessing in disguise. You get the first pickings of a pretty good class of free agents now.
Hardly anyone goes undefeated in fantasy football. There are just too many variables out of a fantasy owner's control week to week.
We help you load up for fantasy Week 2 here as we dissect the top options who are likely available on your waiver wire. We cannot precisely project who is actually available in each of your leagues, so we use the fantasy ownership data from ESPN leagues and focus on the players underowned there.
There should be ample quarterbacks (Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer and Matt Schaub), wide receivers (Julian Edelman, Eddie Royal and DeAndre Hopkins) and tight ends (Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron and Martellus Bennett) to go around, but we are left to dig deeper into the running back pool. It is truly the toughest position in fantasy to stock, and Week 1 didn't give us a big injury to take advantage of.
We have all of your waiver candidates to add, monitor and even ignore in this slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Add Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer and Matt Schaub
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Quarterbacks to Add
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Week 1 stats: 14-of-29 for 195 yards, four TDs, one INT and 18 yards rushing
Rivers needed to find some go-to targets. While he didn't have a true go-to man, he spread the ball around Monday night and posted four touchdown passes to three receivers against a good Texans defense. Owned in just 19.1 percent of leagues, Rivers gets a suspect Eagles defense and will be playing in a shootout in Week 2. He might emerge as a starting option in all leagues again.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Week 1 stats: 26-of-40 for 327 yards, two TDs and one INT
It didn't take long for Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald to develop a serious connection, eh? Palmer has arguably his best set of receivers he has had in his career, and he has a coach in Bruce Arians who loves to throw, especially downfield. Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts are going to have career years, and Palmer and Fitzgerald might, too. He is available in almost 70 percent of ESPN leagues and is a good start at home against the Lions in Week 2.
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Week 1 stats: 34-of-45 for 346 yards, three TDs and one INT
Schaub's big Monday night performance was partly due to the game situations—the Texans had to rally, which they rarely have to—and the fact Arian Foster wasn't 100 percent ready to carry a full load. But Schaub has something he hasn't had before in rookie DeAndre Hopkins, a complement to Andre Johnson on the outside. This could be Schaub's best year. Available in almost half of ESPN's leagues, he will prove to be a valuable backup or matchup-based fantasy option this year.
Quarterbacks to Monitor
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Week 1 stats: 26-of-33 for 282 yards, two TDs and two INTs
Dalton faces a still-stiff Pittsburgh Steelers defense in Week 2, but he has A.J. Green ready to join Calvin Johnson in the upper stratosphere among fantasy receivers in his third season. Also, Mohamed Sanu and his combination of tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert give him his best set of weapons in his career. The running game didn't look that capable—albeit against a good Bears defense—so more will be expected on Dalton this season. He will get a great matchup and is a bye-week play.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Week 1 stats: 21-of-33 for 242 yards, two TDs, one INT and 16 yards rushing
That was a good Bengals secondary Cutler managed his numbers against in a sign Marc Trestman will finally make something of this talent. Cutler, available in 38 percent of leagues, is in a contract year, and the addition of Martellus Bennett and the emergence of second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery should help him become a 4,000-yard, 25-touchdown fantasy quarterback.
EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
Week 1 stats: 18-of-27 for 150 yards, two TDs and 23 yards rushing
He is not going to throw for a high volume of yards, but wait until C.J. Spiller gets going against a subpar defense. The Pats shut down Spiller while Manuel posted a couple of touchdowns in what has to be categorized as a solid NFL debut. Manuel draws an underrated Carolina Panthers defense in Week 2, but he emerged as a must-start in two-quarterback leagues, despite being owned in just 14.3 percent of leagues. His best numbers will come once he becomes truly comfortable.
Quarterback to Ignore
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
Week 1 stats: 19-of-29 for 217 yards, one TD, two INTs and 112 yards rushing
Don't fall in love with those rushing numbers. They won't come every week. You still want your fantasy quarterback to pass, not run. Pryor has a weak offense and, although he has a favorable matchup in Week 2 against the lowly Jaguars, you are better off taking a shot on one of those quarterbacks above. He is going to be more of a mess than any help in fantasy over the long haul.
Running Backs: Add Kendall Hunter, Knowshon Moreno and Joique Bell
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Running Backs to Add
Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers
Week 1 stats: 24 yards rushing
Those numbers don't stick out to you, but his mere 11 percent ownership does to us. This is arguably the most important running back handcuff in football.
Frank Gore is 30 and the 49ers still have one of the most potent running games in all of football. Also, LaMichael James (knee) is out about a month. Hunter is clearly a Gore handcuff right now, but he is going to be a fantasy starter later this year once Gore goes down. Even if Gore manages to somehow stay healthy, Hunter will be a bye-week play in more favorable matchups than the Packers' or Seahawks' run defenses.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
Week 1 stats: 28 yards rushing; three receptions for 37 yards
We are not sure how it happened or how much it will happen in the future, but Moreno opened the season as the Broncos' starting tailback. He played far less in the second half and won't get the goal-line carries, but Moreno is far more valuable to fantasy owners than Ronnie Hillman now. Hillman is stuck between a rock (Montee Ball) and a hard place (Moreno, the starter?).
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
Week 1 stats: 25 yards rushing, two TDs; five receptions for 67 yards
It wasn't just the two touchdowns or the wicked receiving numbers the Lions put up with their backs. It was the fact Mikel Leshoure is a complete nonfactor in fantasy now. Bell is absolutely the Reggie Bush handcuff, and there is wide expectation Bush won't be able to handle all this work for a full 16-game season. Bell is a fringe flex play right now, but an injury to Bush would make him a must-start option.
Running Backs to Monitor
Da'Rel Scott, New York Giants
Week 1 stats: 23 yards rushing; five receptions for 51 yards
Everyone will see the numbers and figure the fumbling David Wilson is going to be stuck deep in coach Tom Coughlin's doghouse like a year ago, but that doesn't make Scott a factor yet. The numbers won't show the equally boneheaded play that ultimately cost the Giants the game: Scott tipped a screen pass up into the air, and it was returned for the decisive touchdown. Eli Manning won't have any trust in Scott going forward.
The Giants have to trust Wilson, because he is an incredible talent and breakaway threat. He will get his fumbling issues figured out, and Scott will be a waste of a reserve spot. With all that said, Wilson is just one more fumble or injury from Scott starting for a potent offense. Watch this situation.
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 1 stats: DNP (foot)
There has been growing speculation Bell might be available for Week 2 against the Bengals on Monday night. The loss of La'Rod Stephens-Howling (knee) for the season and the disaster that was Isaac Redman in Week 1 might necessitate a sooner-than-expected return for Bell from his mid-foot sprain. This is an important division game, and you cannot start him, but you have to make sure he is stashed on your roster for the long haul, if possible.
Running Backs to Ignore
Jackie Battle, Tennessee Titans
Week 1 stats: 21 yards rushing and one TD
Battle isn't the touchdown vulture for Chris Johnson; Shonn Greene was. Greene came out of the game right before Battle's touchdown, so ignore this statistically anomaly and Battle on waivers.
Vonta Leach, Baltimore Ravens
Week 1 stats: three receptions for 37 yards and one TD
Leach's touchdown was near the goal line. Expect almost all of those to go to Ray Rice in the future. Leach could sneak in a few more of these type games, but he isn't worth a roster spot in any league.
Wide Receivers: Add Julian Edelman, Brian Hartline and DeAndre Hopkins
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Wide Receivers to Add
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Week 1 stats: seven receptions for 79 yards and two TDs
The preseason was all about Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, TE Zach Sudfeld, Aaron Dobson and even Josh Boyce. But it was the unheralded incumbent Edelman who reeled in two Tom Brady touchdown passes.
That is so Bill Belichick. He game-plans for the guy you don't expect. It should worry you Edelman could disappear entirely any given week, but Brady is a loyal guy who works off trust. Edelman appears to have that right now. At a mere 9 percent ownership, he might wind up being the most added player in waivers in Week 2, even if he isn't a first priority for anyone.
Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
Week 1 stats: nine receptions for 114 yards and one TD
The Dolphins have a rhythm passing game that promises to be a high-volume one, and Hartline is the more high-volume receiver vs. Mike Wallace this year. Wallace is more of a deep route-runner. Hartline is likely already owned in PPR leagues, but his good start and favorable Week 2 matchup at Indy can make him a sleeper to start in any format right now.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Week 1 stats: five receptions for 66 yards
Everyone loves the raw talent of Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson, but this is the rookie receiver you want to have, and potentially start, right now.
Hopkins, available in over 33 percent of leagues, is going to benefit from all the attention paid to Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels in the passing game, even if the Texans are a run-first team. Great running teams use the pass for big plays in play action, so Hopkins' numbers can really pop once Arian Foster gets into midseason form.
Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers
Week 1 stats: three receptions for 24 yards and two TDs
The Chargers under a new regime might not have a high-volume passing game, but it certainly was an effective one against a good Texans defense.
Royal was once a fantasy darling, and he can still be a sleeper catching passes out of the slot for Philip Rivers. Vincent Brown and Malcom Floyd might be the starters, but Royal might get the bulk of the targets working the underneath routes. It has been said Rivers has lost some zip, so becoming a dink-and-dunk passer might do him some good. Royal is a solid add in all leagues.
Marlon Brown, Baltimore Ravens
Week 1 stats: four receptions for 65 yards and one TD
The undrafted rookie's numbers were great, but the best news for his fantasy status is the fact Jacoby Jones will be out at least a month with a knee injury.
Brown is a lanky target, and Joe Flacco desperately needs someone to take the defensive attention from Torrey Smith. Brown will start now and prove useful in deeper fantasy leagues. With the Browns' Joe Haden covering Smith this weekend, Brown could be a sleeper play getting the targets on the other side, a la the Dolphins' Brian Hartline.
Wide Receiver to Monitor
Greg Little, Cleveland Browns
Week 1 stats: four receptions for 26 yards
Brandon Weeden proved mostly ineffective, and that might have been Little to blame, but this third-year receiver can still surprise us in fantasy. He has to at least be licking his chops at a Ravens secondary that was victimized for a record seven touchdown passes in Denver. Little is more valuable than about 20 receivers that outproduced him in Week 1, even if that belies his mere 12 percent ownership.
Wide Receivers to Ignore
Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings
Week 1 stats: seven receptions for 140 yards
He was a revelation out of the gate, but you cannot forget how little he produced a year ago, can you? Christian Ponder might be improved, but the Vikings will still have one of the worst passing games in football. Simpson's targets and yards are going to go to Greg Jennings and TE Kyle Rudolph in future weeks. Don't waste your claim here.
Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks
Week 1 stats: two receptions for 49 yards and one TD
Kearse was a surprise performer, despite rating behind Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin on the depth chart for the Seahawks. Kearse was only targeted twice, and that is all you should expect in future weeks from him: a couple of targets. A fourth receiver in the most run-heavy offense in football is just not worth stashing.
Tight Ends: Add Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron and Martellus Bennett
Tight Ends to Add
Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Week 1 stats: five receptions for 110 yards and two TDs
You have to add and start this guy in all leagues, even if there might be some lean weeks as he gets lost in the multitude of targets Peyton Manning has at his disposal. Thomas is the Broncos' starter at tight end and so undeniably good that Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen shouldn't be owned in any leagues any longer.
Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
Week 1 stats: nine receptions for 108 yards and one TD
It is rare a preseason star opens the regular season so well, especially one owned so far under his true fantasy value. Cameron is still available in two-thirds of leagues run by ESPN.com, the website that called him a top-10 fantasy tight end. Clearly, he has to be added and started in all formats now, especially facing a Ravens defense that was abused by Thomas above.
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears
Week 1 stats: three receptions for 49 yards and one TD
Marc Trestman's West Coast offense figures to make Jay Cutler far more productive than he has been with the Bears. Someone has to benefit outside of Brandon Marshall, whose volume won't change much. Bennett got off to a good start, and he should prove more consistent than even those two Week 1 stars above.
Tight Ends to Monitor
Kellen Winslow, New York Jets
Week 1 stats: seven receptions for 79 yards and one TD
A tight end tends to be a rookie quarterback's best friend, and Winslow looked like he has revived his once-lost career. Still, though, there has to be a reason so many teams have given up on him. With so many tight ends around starter-quality, leave this one on the waiver wire or as someone else's object of frustration before you trust him in your fantasy lineup.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
Week 1 stats: two receptions for 56 yards and one TD
Chip Kelly's offense sure looked dangerous Monday night, and Celek benefited. The best news for those taking a flier on Celek is Zach Ertz caught just one pass for 11 yards. The fact Celek caught just two himself, despite a touchdown, is reason enough to make him a "monitor" over an "add" this week. There are just too many tight ends to pick through in fantasy in a given week.
Tight Ends to Ignore
Dallas Clark, Baltimore Ravens
Week 1 stats: seven receptions for 87 yards
Clark had a busy Week 1, but his production should be largely pinned on the game circumstances. The Ravens were getting blown out, and they had to try to pass their way back into the game. That won't happen that frequently. Clark is going to be a sketchy proposition for fantasy week to week.
Garrett Graham, Houston Texans
Week 1 stats: four receptions for 27 yards and one TD
This is another one who is a function of game circumstances. The Texans had to rally and use the pass to do it. It will be Arian Foster and big leads in most weeks. Graham will sneak up for some short touchdowns, but you will lose your hair trying to figure out which weeks that will be.
Joseph Fauria, Detroit Lions
Week 1 stats: three receptions for 27 yards and one TD
We are not going to lie: Fauria was intriguing in the preseason and now Week 1. The problem we see here is Brandon Pettigrew is still the starter for the Lions and in a contract year. Also, Calvin Johnson is going to do more in future weeks. We can at least agree on that. Fauria is still too far down the rankings at the deep tight end position.
Defensive/Special Teams: Add Carolina Panthers, Monitor Dallas Cowboys
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Defense/Special Teams to Add
Carolina Panthers D/ST
Week 1: Two sacks, one turnover and 12 points against
That wasn't an impressive effort statistically against the Seahawks, but that is one of the toughest fantasy matchups a D/ST can face. Now the Panthers and their underrated defense draws the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. The Patriots defense didn't have a big fantasy day against them, but you have to figure a rookie quarterback (EJ Manuel) is going to have some implosion games. The Panthers are No. 1 streaming option among the defenses owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues.
Defense/Special Teams to Monitor
Dallas Cowboys D/ST
Week 1: Two TDs, three sacks, six turnovers and 31 points against
Eli Manning and David Wilson handed the Cowboys touchdowns, even if the yards were easy to come by. You probably don't want to trust this unit on the road at Kansas City, but the Tampa 2 had a big debut in Big D and might be an attacking-type defense that can make it a fantasy option more often than not down the road.
Defense/Special Teams to Ignore
Kansas City Chiefs D/ST
Week 1: Six sacks, two turners and two points against
The defense victimized a bad Jaguars team and now has to face a Dallas offense that has a healthy DeMarco Murray and the potent Tony Romo-to-Dez Bryant connection. The Chiefs are a streaming option in the right weeks, but this is not one of them.
Kickers: Add Greg Zuerlein and Ignore Rob Bironas
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Kickers to Add
Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis Rams
Week 1 stats: 4-for-4 field goals (long 48) and one extra point
His record-setting rookie year couldn't do it and neither could last week's advice to pick him up, but Zuerlein is one of the most intriguing kickers in all of fantasy. He has a huge leg, and the Rams offense showed a lot more life than it did a year ago. At just 30 percent ownership, Zuerlein is a must-start kicker. He should get more field goals than extra points against the Falcons this week.
Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys
Week 1 stats: 3-for-3 field goals (long 45) and three extra points
Turnovers and the Cowboys' ineffectiveness in capitalizing on field position helped make Bailey the second-most productive kicker in fantasy. The Cowboys are going to score a lot of points every week, and Bailey should have another busy day at Kansas City. He is a must-have kicker and yet is owned in under 50 percent of leagues.
Kicker to Monitor
Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins
Week 1 stats: 3-for-3 field goals (long 49) and two extra points
As much as we can love Sturgis' leg strength and accuracy, we shouldn't feel all that confident in the Dolphins getting him a consistent number of chances. He still looks like a mere bye-week replacement right now.
Kicker to Ignore
Rob Bironas, Tennessee Titans
Week 1 stats: 3-for-3 field goals (long 44) and an extra point
He has been a fantasy starter in years past, but that wasn't in the Jake Locker era. The Titans mustered some opportunities for him against the bumbling Steelers, but Bironas should get shut out against the Texans in Week 2.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.