The Waiver Wire – Week 1
Fantasy Football is back and as drafts around the country begin to wrap up this week we are primed to kick the NFL season off in just a few short days! Welcome back to another installment of our weekly waiver wire series, where I bring you the players you want to be targeting to pick up each and every week. Not every league is able to draft after the pre-season is over and so injuries are a major concern and unfortunately this preseason we saw some major fantasy options go down for the season. Julian Edelman, Spencer Ware, and Cameron Meredith are the top names who were all lost to knee injuries in week 3 of the preseason, causing owners to run to replace them. The waiver wire is where fantasy championships are won and lost. Take last years week 1 article for example (Click here to read it), I told you to go and pick up Dak Prescott & Jordan Howard. They ended up being top 10 finishers at their respected positions and they helped anyone who owned them on a championship run.
If you take one thing from this article remember this, The waiver wire matters!
From this Tuesday all the way to the end of the season I am going to give you the best players at each position to target on the waiver wire. Since our week 1 article comes out before any games have been played, I am going to only focus on a player at each position that I feel you might want to target before the season even begins and before your league mates even know what they missed out on. Enjoy, good luck and may the health gods shine brightly on you this season!
Carson Wentz (ESPN 47% / Yahoo 62%) – As you can see Wentz went undrafted in over 50% of all leagues on ESPN and just under 40% in Yahoo. Wentz is heading into the all important Sophmore season and what makes him such a compelling target is the new pieces that Philly brought in this offseason to help him grow. Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and (Struggling) LeGarrette Blount are all new this season and the first two names have shown to add some fire power to the offense during the preseason. You add that to Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor, and the always quick Darren Sproles and you have a decent nucleus of players around Wentz. Last year Wentz had the 6th most RZ attempts (91) but the 23rd best RZ completion percentage 49.5%. The addition of Jeffries should drastically improve these numbers and I can see Wentz improving in passing yards (3,782 in ’16) & TD’s (16 in ’16) with the core they have around him this year. Great stash option who could either be a great trade chip or a major weapon during the season.
BONUS: DeShone Kizer (ESPN 8% / Yahoo 10%) – Named the starting QB for the Cleveland Browns once had a negative connotation to it but something feels different about this year’s Browns. I love what they have done on both sides of the ball and they have a roster that is exploding with talent. Kizer seems to fit perfectly into the system, evidence from a preseason which helped him win the starting job (25/49 for 351 / 1 int / 1 TD). Similarly to Prescott last year, Kizer is working with an elite offensive line which should help give him the time needed to transition to the NFL and sustain a rookie quarterbacks best friend, a running game. Kizer might be in the best situation of all the Rookie QB’s and no one would have ever thought you would say that about the starting QB for the Cleveland Browns.
Rex Burkhead (ESPN 45% / Yahoo 31%) – You could go Jamaal Charles here and I wouldn’t be mad at you. Charles has name recognition and because of it a greater market share but I am more bullish on the offensive system of New England than I am of Denver’s. I know it’s a murky offense to attach yourself to but the Pats are going to be one of the highest scoring teams in the NFL this season and don’t you want to potentially have the primary RB in a Brady run offense? If the Pats came out tomorrow and declared Burkhead the starting RB it wouldn’t shock me and he would be owned in every league on the planet. So the upside is the #1 back in the offense, the downside he is a rotational player who is a handcuff for Gillislee, White, and or Lewis. Burkhead will cost you nothing and would be worth stashing for a few weeks until the entire fantasy community figures out how the Patriots are going to run their offense.
Names to Remember: Marlon Mack (ESPN 5% / Yahoo 10%), Alvin Kamara (ESPN 21% / Yahoo 13%), Samaje Perine (ESPN 14% / Yahoo 41%), and Matt Breida (ESPN 1% / Yahoo 2%) – Give me all the rookie RB’s! All 4 of these are names to write down and not to forget because before the season is over I believe they all might play a pivotal role. All are backups and all have tremendous upside given the opportunity to see the field. Mack has the ageless wonder Gore in front of him in Indy, Kamara (PPR stand alone value) has a crowded backfield in front of him in NO but could play the Darren Sproles role, Perine is clear #2 to Kelly in Washington, and lastly Breida the UDFA looks to have won the #2 job behind Hyde in SF. No need to run to grab any of them unless you have deep benches but I don’t think this is the last you have heard from them.
Kendall Wright (ESPN 5% / Yahoo 10%) – The Injury to Cameron Meredith and the cut of Victor Cruz opens the door for Kendall Wright to be on the field week 1 starting for the Chicago Bears in the role vacated by Meredith. Meredith ran the majority of his routes out of the slot last season and it’s an area of the field Wright has seen the most success. With a 94 catch, 1,079 receiving yard season on his resume, as well as a 6 TD campaign while in Tennessee, it looks like Wright is the WR to own in Chicago if you want shares in that offense in a player who’s last name is not Howard. Kevin White is the easy choice but we want to look beyond that and ask ourselves what’s the logical choice? White hasn’t proven he can be productive at the NFL level or stay healthy what makes you think a larger target share as well increased focus from the defense will make up for that? Wright has proven he can produce at the NFL level and should see the #2 or #3 corner routinely and out of the slot either Glennon or Trubisky should have no problem targeting him on positive route depths. Low Touchdown floor is the red flag with Wright as well as health. He hasn’t played in all 16 games since 2013. Proceed with caution but don’t get blinded by the Spotlight on Kevin White. A name to remember who might be able to break out in Chicago is Deonte Thompson.
Evan Engram (ESPN 21% / Yahoo 20%) – I am going to come out and say it, Evan Engram is going to finish as the top rookie TE this season in fantasy and a top 10 finish in the position isn’t out of the realm of possibilities in his first season. Hold me to it fantasy Twitter, I will say I was wrong if it happens but my brain is having trouble figuring out a scenario in which it won’t (barring an injury of course). Engram was my #2 TE during the draft process (#1 was Howard) in one of the best TE classes of all time. Of the top Rookie, TE’s only Engram has a defined role as the starting Tight End in the Giants offense and they have already shown they are going to line him up all over the place (inline and off the line) to find miss matches. Engram possesses rare talent at the TE position, as he is more a wide receiver (6’3 234) with top end speed (he ran a 4.42 40) then he is a Tight End. Engram has the potential to be the best Tight End the New York Giants have had since Jeremy Shockey and in his rookie year, Shockey saw 128 targets, 74 Rec, 894 Yds, & 2 TDs. Engram is as great a late round flyer as you can take and should be on every roster you have. I don’t think he see’s 128 targets but I also don’t think he only scores 2 TD’s!
Los Angeles Rams (ESPN 28% / Yahoo! 52%) – New Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is a defensive guru and I can’t find a single person who doesn’t think he is going to turn the talent in LA into the next defensive juggernaut in football! A first-week match up against the Scott Tolzien / Jacoby Brissett lead Indianapolis Colts doesn’t hurt either. Love the Rams as a top week streamer along side Buffalo as they face the hopeless New York Jets.
Kai Forbath (ESPN 2% / Yahoo 2%) – I am all in on Will Lutz this year but I’m going to look to the other side of the ball for this one. Kai Forbath is barely owned in either ESPN or Yahoo! and the Saints gave up the 2nd most points to kickers last season. With out much to run on outside of historical data, I will take the home kicker in the dome against a consistently bad defense to kick the season off with!
Week 1 of The Waiver Wire is in the books. The start of the 2017 Fantasy Football season is only a few days away and I can’t wait to see banner number 5 drop at Gillette Thursday night! Need more fantasy advice? You can find me on Twitter @TFFGurus or feel free to email us at TrophyTime@TFFGurus.com. I will see you all next Tuesday for another edition of The Waiver Wire!