Snap Judgments: Wavier Options for the Anxious Owner

Dan WadeSenior Analyst ISeptember 15, 2009

BALTIMORE - SEPTEMBER 13:  Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens looks to ass against the Kansas City Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium on September 13, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Chiefs 38-24. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

With the extended edition of week one nearly in the books, plenty of fantasy owners checked their position heading into tonight’s Patriots/Bills and Raiders/Chargers matches, only to nearly pass out from the fright.

Plenty of top picks disappointed with their week one performance, while plenty of late-round picks and unheralded players dominated the day.

One week, of course, isn’t nearly enough of a sample to make a judgment, but that’s never stopped some owners (real or fantasy) from making early moves. He who hesitates is lost after all.

My advice, take a more stayed approach; get a cup of coffee, read Doonesbury, and laugh off week one as more of an extended preseason game than an indication of future results.

But, if you’re already ready to cut bait on your high picks in favor of whoever you can get from the waiver wire, here are some guys available in most* leagues worth taking a look at.

Most is defined as x> 50 percent of leagues. 


So you drafted: Jay Cutler

Waiver Savior: Joe Flacco

The parallels between Cutler and Rex Grossman were eerie last night, as the Bears QB threw four picks, including one to Al Harris to ice the game. Talk about a fall from grace, in week one of the 2008 season, Cutler threw for 300 yards and two scores with nary a turnover to his name.

This time around, not so good.

Flacco is owned in 56 percent of leagues, so it’s a coinflip as to whether he’s an option for you or not. Matt Ryan was the rookie QB that turned heads last year, and rightly so, but Flacco is no slouch himself, as his performance on Sunday showed.

His 307 yards and three scores is certainly a serviceable mark and with just one pick and one sack to mar his day, Flacco looks to have picked up where he left off last year. His 43 attempts were the second most of any QB so far, just one off of pass happy Kurt Warner’s 44.

Two things make me nervous about recommending Flacco to anyone actually looking for a QB.

First, the KC defense isn’t exactly our modern equivalent of the Iron Curtain. Flacco did well against a team he should have done well against, and while that’s more than can be said for a number of other players, it isn’t a ringing endorsement.

Second, while he did put up a ton of yards, he did so on a ton of passes, completing 60 percent of his tosses. Against the stouter defenses of the AFC East, Flacco may not get 43 attempts, which will make it more difficult for him to put up similar totals.

Still, unless you’re sitting pretty with Drew Brees, Flacco may be worth keeping an eye on, as he doesn’t look set for a sophomore slump.


So You Drafted: Steve Slaton

Waiver Savior: Correll Buckhalter

Donovan McNabb, Percy Harvin, Brady Quinn.

If you answered “Players with more rushing yards than Steve Slaton” You’re our big winner!

In all seriousness, unless you drafted Adrian Peterson, you were probably disappointed with the production you got out of your RBs. Just five players went over the 100 yard mark, just two scored more than one touchdown, and fewer than 20 scored at all.

The easy answer would be Mike Bell, who touched the Lions for 143 yards on the ground.

Two things keep me from making this a recommendation at all.

First, as soon as Lance Moore is back, Mike Bell drops to the No. 2 back in a system that barely uses one. The Saints are pass-first to the extreme, just look at Drew Brees’ day if you’re at all unsure of that fact.

Second, the gashed opponent was the Lions. Yes, I know they have a defensive mindset this year, and I know they added Larry Foote to prove it, but in the words of my dear brother: “You can’t improve what you never had”.

The Lions allowed opposing runners an average of 172 yards per game last year, and while they may have improved from that mark, they are still closer to that team than to one that can actually stop the run.

Instead, I’m going to tip Correll Buckhalter as the pick here.

Forty-six yards isn’t much to write home about, but he received the same number of carries as Knowshon Moreno and did more with them than the rookie did. His 5.8 average should be enough to keep him in the rotation and maybe see a bit more of the ball. 

He's owned is under 20 percent of leagues, so unless you're in a tremendously deep league, he's probably an option for you. 

In reality, the field is thin here, no one has emerged as a threat yet among the players readily available. If you’ve given up on your backs already, I’d recommend streaming whoever’s running backs are playing the Lions, even if it means taking a back up instead of a starter.


So you drafted: Steve Smith (CAR)

Waiver Savior: Steve Smith (NYG)

These twins (ok, not really) are more or less photo negatives of one another. The Panthers' Smith is an incredibly talented receiver who will be held back more by the man throwing him then ball than the defenses trying to prevent him from catching it. The Giants' iteration of Steve has a solid QB throwing the ball downfield, but may not be proficient enough to take advantage of it. 

What we know is this: The Giants have to throw the ball sometimes and, lacking an obvious star receiver, Smith is bound to get his number called. 

Smith lead the Giants in yards and targets against the Redskins, and perhaps most importantly, he turned six of those eight targets into receptions. That's the kind of thing that brings one's stock up in the QB's progressions. 

The Giants receivers are young and fairly unproven across the board. Eli Manning showed some confidence in Domenik Hixon last year, but this isn't the same type of connection that, say, Aaron Rogers and Greg Jennings have.

A few solid games could easily move Smith ahead of Hixon on the depth chart, which would make him that much more valuable. 

Sunday's game was a good start to this end, but it may take two or three more games like this to cement his status as a trusted receiver. Irrespective of mental processes, Smith clearly has something to offer and is available in 75.2 percent of leagues.

Like I said at the opening, I wouldn't make any of these moves right now. One week does not a season make, no matter how much you hate losing in week one. 

That said, Smith and Flacco are definitely worth watching next week and may be worth picking up at the expense of your back up TE or fifth WR. Be thankful that injuries stayed away from most, if not all, first round picks, but that isn't going to last. 

If you find yourself in need of offensive help, these are good places to start.



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