Week 1 Waiver-Wire Pickups: 5 Sleepers Who May Still Be Available

Sean ODonnellContributor IIISeptember 3, 2014

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) runs for a touchdown reception in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Ed Zurga/Associated Press

Even though your fantasy football draft is over and your team is the envy of your buddies, that doesn't mean there isn't a little room for improvement. Did one of the other owners snag your sleeper target in the late rounds and you had to settle for someone you're unhappy with? Don't fret—it happens to us all.

Luckily, there's always the waiver wire.

In the days leading up to the regular season, waiver-wire activity can be pretty crazy. After all, late roster moves by NFL teams could lead to the rise and fall of fantasy value for a bevy of players. There are plenty of team-improving players sitting on the waiver wire in ESPN fantasy leagues that are ripe for the picking.

Here's a look at five of the best pickups and the percentage of leagues that own them.


Cody Latimer, WR, Denver Broncos  (3.4 percent)

Aug 17, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer (14) catches a pass before the start of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Latimer may only be owned in 3.4 percent of fantasy leagues right now, but that won't be the case for long. On Tuesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported wide receiver Wes Welker would be suspended for the first four games of the 2014 NFL season:

In a Peyton Manning-led offense, Latimer could become highly valuable. With Manning's slot man missing games, expect Emmanuel Sanders to move to the inside due to his experience there. That shift will be followed by Latimer joining the starting unit on the outside opposite Demaryius Thomas.

ESPN Stats & Info broke down how many points there are to go around without Welker in the fold:

Grab Latimer now and reap the benefits later.


Miles Austin, WR, Cleveland Browns (6.1 percent)

Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

Here's another wide receiver who could contribute nicely because of a suspension. With Josh Gordon missing the year, Austin becomes the team's top threat at the wide receiver position.

Expect tight end Jordan Cameron to get most of the team's looks in the passing game, but Austin will be a solid second option. After all, 2012 was the last season the receiver played a full 16 games, and he tallied 66 receptions for 943 yards and six touchdowns.

While Cleveland's passing offense isn't as prolific as Dallas', Austin is in a much larger role and could be expected to duplicate that kind of production if he remains healthy. Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman expects a healthy season:

That's not too shabby for a waiver-wire addition.


Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis Colts (19.5 percent)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Ahmad Bradshaw #44 of the Indianapolis Colts rushes for an eight yards gain to the San Francisco 49ers six yard line during the fourth quarter at Candlestick Park on September 22, 2013 in San Francisco, California. The C
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

How on earth is Bradshaw only owned in 19.5 percent of fantasy leagues? That's the question fantasy owners should be asking themselves as Week 1 approaches. Yes, Bradshaw is injury prone, but he sits behind just Trent Richardson—a running back with plenty to prove.

There isn't another experienced ball-carrier behind Bradshaw on the Colts roster, so if Richardson continues to falter—he averaged a dismal 2.9 yards per carry with Indianapolis last season—expect the eighth-year veteran to become the team's instant starter.

With Richardson on a short leash, fantasy owners should be reeling in his backup.


Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs (7.4 percent)

Mike McCarn/Associated Press

Kelce may currently be sitting behind Anthony Fasano on Kansas City's depth chart, but don't expect that to last very long. In Fasano's eight previous NFL seasons, he's never flashed big-play ability, averaging 11.3 yards per reception over his career.

On the other hand, Kelce is an incredibly talented tight end capable of stretching the field—a threat the Chiefs have been without for quite some time. The second-year tight end flashed his speed and playmaking ability during the preseason, which led to some high praise from quarterback Alex Smith during a press conference, via Pete Sweeney of KCChiefs.com:

But, Kelce, two huge plays and then even had some other ones underneath tonight and was making guys miss and getting north and south and it was good to see He’s kind of adds another element to that tight end position. I think can [he] really stretch some defenses and can do some things with the ball in his hands, so exciting to see from him.

Smith already loves Kelce, and fantasy owners will follow suit in short order—especially after Week 1 against a Tennessee Titans team that struggles to corral tight ends. Brad Evans of Yahoo! Sports agrees:

Get Kelce while you can.


Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals (31.3 percent)

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

Palmer is owned in less than one-third of fantasy leagues despite finishing the 2013 season ranked 15th among quarterbacks in fantasy points, according to FFToday.com. There's plenty of reason to believe he'll fare even better this year.

Not only does Palmer have Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd—arguably one of the league's best wide receiver duos—at his disposal, but he also has the services of Andre Ellington out of the backfield for the entire season.

Those three targets can provide matchup nightmares for most defenses, and considering the San Diego Chargers finished the 2013 season ranked 29th against the pass while allowing an average of 258.7 yards per game, Palmer's value could be rather significant right out of the gate.