Just one week into the season and there are already several candidates for Waiver Wire pickups heading into Week 2. As usual, the first games of the NFL season provided some great fantasy value, while others make you wonder whether that first-round pick was worth it (Looking at you Jamaal Charles).
Lets see what gifts are in the waiver wire bin this week. Remember that this list will be updated throughout the day Monday and Tuesday. Yahoo and ESPN percentage owned numbers will start next week.
Jake Locker - Titans
Locker was kind of a hit-and-miss prospect in most leagues. You either saw him taken or you didn't, with most leagues dealing with the latter. If Sunday was any indication of Ken Whisenhunt's tutoring, Locker could be in for a big contract year. Against the Chiefs, Locker lit up the field with 266 yards and two scores. The Titans got off slow early, with three-straight punts, but Locker soon looked comfortable in the pocket and hit Delanie Walker and Kendall Wright in the endzone. Still nowhere near a QB1, Locker might finally have the upside as a plug-and-play if the matchup is too enticing.
Brian Hoyer - Browns
This one is for desperate owners only. Hoyer was Jekyll and Hyde against the Steelers, throwing for a mere 57 yards in the first half as the Browns were down 27-3. Hoyer bounced back in the second, throwing a touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin and finishing the day with 230 passing yards. Hoyer isn't the future of the franchise. Fans know that. Nor should he be considered as anything more than a very desperate option for your bench. He'll have his hands full with Seattle next week and could be without Jordan Cameron (sprained AC joint).
Terrance West - Browns
It didn't take long for Ben Tate to go down with his first injury. It was initially reported that he was going to be fine and eventually return, but Tate was ruled out for the rest of the game against Pittsburgh with a knee injury. Enter West, who had initially gained much praise from coaches, only to see his value drop after a mediocre training camp and preseason. Goes to show you just how fast a player's fortune can turn. With Tate out, West rambled for his first 100-yard game off 16 carries. However, his scoring opportunities were taken away by Isaiah Crowell, who ran for 32 yards and two touchdowns. If Tate misses Week 2, West is the better upside player between he and Crowell, but......
Isaiah Crowell - Browns
....it wouldn't be a shock to see Crowell set up some form of committee after playing so well in Week 1. According to HC Mike Pettine, Crowell wasn't even in the team's initial game plan:
"It was going to be Tate and West," Pettine said. "To Crowell's credit, he prepared like the starter. He went in there and did his job."
Crowell could be a very low-end flex option if he continues to be a force around the goal line. He has certainly earned more time on the field after the loss of Tate.
Justin Forsett - Ravens
While the matchup against the Bengals wasn't a good one for Bernard Pierce, he still had a good shot at proving he is a better back to use over Ray Rice in the team's new blocking scheme. That certainly didn't happen after a fumble slapped him on the bench. Pierce wound up with a ridiculous 14 yards off 6 carries. Forsett, however, looked better than expected after rushing 11 times for 70 yards and a touchdown. He also racked up 5 receptions. Forsett is familiar with Gary Kubiak's offense when both were in Houstin in 2012. Forsett could be a sneaky flex play in PPR leagues against the Steelers in Week 2.
Ahmad Bradshaw - Colts
If Week 1 is any indication of how bad Trent Richardson's year is going to be, owners are going to be in for a very long season. T-Rich didn't come anywhere close to improved value option many of us were predicting, plodding for 20 yards on 6 carries. He added 31 receiving yards off 3 catches, but that still isn't enough for us. Bradshaw, on the other hand, averaged 5 yards on each of his 3 carries and rang up 70 yards off 5 catches. Richardson will get the start in Week 2, with the coaching staff hoping he can get something going, but watch Bradshaw continue to push for more touches as the weeks go on. Pick Bradshaw up now before it's too late. Bradshaw's biggest drawback has always been health.
Allen Hurns - Jaguars
One of our subscribers told me to look out for Hurns this year. I'll admit I had my doubts with how far down he was on the depth chart initially. But after bypassing Mike Brown and starting against the Eagles due to the loss of Cecil Shorts (hamstring), it looks like the Jaguars have some gold in their passing game. After a very strong preseason, Hurns lit up Eagles DB Cary Williams with two touchdown passes and 110 receiving yards on the day (4 catches). It was an early victory for the Jags offense, who were up 17-0 early, only to let the Eagles score 34 straight points in the loss. Hurns is worth a pick up, obviously, just don't go crazy and overvalue him. His quarterback situation is still a problem until the team finally realizes Henne isn't the answer. And there is a subtle chance Hurn's could be this year's version of Kevin Ogletree after he went off in Week 1 against the Giants last year.
Brandin Cooks - Saints
While I'm not posting the owned percentage for players this week due to time constraints, I looked up Cooks and saw he is only owned in under 70% of ESPN leagues. He should be owned in 100%. With Kenny Stills out against the Falcons, Cooks brought his training camp momentum into Week 1 after catching 7 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Cooks did most of his damage in the first half until Atlanta made adjustments in the second to shut him down. However, it's a good sign that Drew Brees has not lost any of his confidence in the young rookie. Cooks should be picked up and considered a starting option in Week 2 against the Browns.
Markus Wheaton - Steelers
With most of the Browns' defensive coverage rolling towards Antonio Brown, Wheaton was able to use his incredible speed to tally 6 catches (7 targets) for 97 yards. It was an incredible game for a player many owners figured would be an afterthought in the team's run-heavy offense. Wheaton still isn't the greatest at route running, but his quickness makes up for that. He's looking at WR3/Flex value going forward as he continues to see single coverage.
Brian Quick - Rams
Quick was expected to be the centerpiece of the Rams' passing game when he was drafted at the top of the second round in the 2012 draft, but he's been on a slow pace so far. This makes me wonder whether Sunday's 7 catch/99 yard game against the Vikings was a fluke or if Quick is finally where he should be in terms of fantasy value. Even if he is, the Rams quarterback situation is awful with Sam Bradford done for the year, Shaun Hill looking absolutely horrendous (8-of-13 passing, 81 yards and one pick) and Austin Davis, who took four sacks and threw a pick-six to Harrison Smith in the fourth quarter. Buyer beware on Quick this week.
Harry Douglas - Falcons
Owners have been burned by Douglas in the past. But with Tony Gonzalez now retired, Douglas steps into the No. 3 passing role behind Roddy White and Julio Jones. Against the Saints, Douglas reeled in 6 catches for 69 yards. This was a big game for Douglas, but one that might not be replicated again for awhile. He's worth an add as a very low-end WR3, but the consistency will be hard to come by as long as the "BIG TWO" are on the field.
Josh Gordon - Browns
Never thought I'd see Gordon on the field this year. However, with the NFLPA and the NFL working out a new drug policy, there is a better than 50% chance Gordon could play this year. There is the DUI he received back in July, for which he could wind up having to serve a small suspension. But if you have room and can wait the talks out, and the suspension, picking up Gordon and stashing him away might be worth it in the end. In 14 games last year, Gordon averaged over 117 receiving yards and hauled in 9 touchdowns.
Dwayne Allen - Colts
While everyone was hopping on the Coby Fleener express, I predicted Allen would wind up having better fantasy value of the two. It looks like I was right. Allen caught 4 of his 5 targets for 64 yards and a score. Fleener was only able to reel in 3 of his 8 targets on the night. Allen is going to get a lot of work around the goal line and will continue to gain more trust from Andrew Luck as the season goes on. Allen is squarely on the TE2 radar.
Niles Paul - Redskins
Jordan Reed had a lot of momentum going into the season, but injury concerns caused many owners to pass on him. After a hamstring injury knocked him out against the Texans, this might be the start of an injury-riddled season......maybe. Paul came in and showed off tremendous athleticism while catching 4 passes for 86 yards. Paul isn't a TE1 if he is forced to start again, but he makes for a worthy TE2/Flex option if you can use the tight end at your flex position.
Delanie Walker - Titans
With Ken Whisenhunt's emphasis on the tight end in his offense, I had Walker pegged as a low-end TE1 before the season. Looks like my prediction might come true after Walker reeled in 3 catches for 37 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs. If he's on your waiver, then it's doubtful Walker will be that much better than your TE1 on your roster now. Although Walker is as good a backup as you'll get this early in the year.
Travis Kelce - Chiefs
Owners might think Anthony Fasano is the one to add from the Chiefs tight end group after he secured 3 catches for 29 yards and a score against the Titans, but Andy Reid was quoted as saying Kelce is "capable of playing more than 18 plays." Kelce also added 3 receptions for 49 yards (on only 18 plays) and should slowly see an increase in snap count going forward. Watching Fasano on the field, he just doesn't have the athleticism Kelce displays when he has the ball. Kelce won't be an overnight sensation, but he'll be someone worth picking up once the Chiefs realize he needs to be on the field a lot more than he was Sunday.
Larry Donnell - N.Y. Giants
The Giants tight end spot has always been somewhat of a haven for fantasy value. Not over-the-top stardom, but guys like Martellus Bennett, Jake Ballard and Brandon Myers have had their fair share of TE2 value. Donnell should fall in line with this trend after catching 5 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown against the Lions. The Giants didn't have one tight end secured for the starting spot in training camp or the preseason, so Donnell looks like the winner over Daniel Fells and Adrien Robinson. Eli Manning is going to need all the help he can get after his disastrous Monday night performance.