Week 2 Waiver-Wire Pickups: Sleepers Who May Still Be Available

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2019

Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown (15) runs for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Bills won 17-16. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Early in the NFL season, the fantasy football world can awaken to newfound sleepers at a rapid rate.

In other words, this is hardly the time to practice patience. The early bird gets all the waiver-wire worms, and there is too much talent available to sit this process out.

With actual game film on file and the injury report growing at an alarming rate, we have enough information to identify the best sleepers—available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo Sports leagues, per FantasyPros—worth your waiver-wire attention.


Week 2 Waiver-Wire Targets

QB: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (10 percent owned)

QB: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (26 percent owned)

RB: Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams (13 percent owned)

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RB: Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (14 percent owned)

RB: Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins (13 percent owned)

WR: John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals (11 percent owned)

WR: Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens (32 percent owned)

WR: John Brown, Buffalo Bills (50 percent owned)

TE: Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders (44 percent owned)

TE: Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins (2 percent owned)


Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

Darryl Webb/Associated Press

Welcome back to fantasy relevance, Matthew Stafford.

A former 5,000-yard passer who had a seven-year streak of 4,000-plus passing yards snapped last season, Stafford erupted in a season-opening tie with the Arizona Cardinals. The top overall pick in 2009 tallied 385 yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-45 passing.

To put those numbers in context, his 2018 highs were 347 yards and three scores. To some, that might mean regression is imminent, especially with a tougher challenge coming against the Los Angeles Chargers defense.

But every time an apparent statistical anomaly occurs, it's worth checking whether there might be a reason behind it.

In this case, there was more than one. This was Stafford's first game under new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. It was also an encouraging debut for new pass-catchers T.J. Hockenson (six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown) and Danny Amendola (seven for 104 and one).

If the Lions can keep Stafford upright—no guarantee against the Chargers' pass rush—he could be looking at another big outing.


Malcolm Brown, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Brian Blanco/Associated Press

It wasn't too surprising to see the Rams utilize two running backs in the opener, given all the offseason noise around Todd Gurley's knee. But most would've assumed any non-Gurley carries were earmarked for 2019 third-round pick Darrell Henderson.

To borrow a phrase from the great Lee Corso: not so fast, my friend.

Instead, those rushes went to the power-running Brown, who's in his fifth season with the Rams after going undrafted out of Texas in 2015. The 5'11", 222-pound back had 11 rushes—10 more than Henderson and only three fewer than Gurley—and turned them into 53 yards and two touchdowns.

Given the success, he might have more red-zone work in front of him.

"If you're looking for a cheap share of one of the league's elite offenses (and you should be), place an aggressive bid for Brown," Yahoo Sports' Andy Behrens wrote. "Sean McVay gave him the bubble-wrap treatment in the preseason, a clear sign that he was going to have a substantial role. Consider him a handcuff with benefits."


John Brown, WR, Buffalo Bills

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 8: John Brown #15 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a touchdown with Josh Allen #17 against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

By the time you read this, Brown may no longer meet our threshold of 50 percent available. But as of Tuesday night, he's exactly at that point, so feel free to pause your reading and go place your waiver claim now.

A third-round pick in 2014 who struggled with consistency during previous stops in Arizona and Baltimore, Brown made the best first impression possible on his new team.

"According to team statistician Mike Haim, Brown is the first Buffalo receiver to surpass the 100-receiving-yard mark in his debut," Bills Wire's Kyle Silagyi noted. "He's the first Bills wideout to pass that plateau in Week 1 since Eric Moulds, who caught seven passes for 142 yards in the 1999 season opener."

Brown hauled in seven receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown, but neither of those numbers is the most important in his stat line. That distinction goes to his team-high 10 targets, indicating the organization's expectation he can be its primary perimeter receiver.

While there are more explosive passers than Josh Allen, a No. 1 option is still a No. 1 option. Brown will have a chance to cement that status and build off his success as he draws a New York Giants defense that surrendered the most fantasy points to wide receivers in the opening weekend, per Yahoo Sports.