Sometimes things go as planned during the course of your draft. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes your guys make it through the season without suffering major injuries. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes your sleepers perform just as you planned. Sometimes they don’t.
When those things go wrong – and from time to time they will – you’ll turn to the waiver wire in your moment of need. And that’s why I’ll be here at the beginning of each week to highlight players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues.
It’s free to enter, you get to compete against MSF writer and readers, and $250 in prizes will be awarded. What could be better than that?
As luck would have it, we just held our 14-team auction for many of the MSF writers, and since my strategy eventually morphed into a modified version of “stars and scrubs,” my bench is weak to put it kindly. That means I’ll have a chance to practice what I preach here, as I troll the waiver wire right along with you.
Although the season hasn’t started yet, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking to improve your roster. A handful of players on the wire are potential starting options this week, while others can be speculative pickups or simply guys to monitor early in the season.
Here are a few guys to check out heading into Week One:
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Advice for Week 1: Quarterback
Colt McCoy (38%), Cleveland
Putting too much stock in preseason stats can be dangerous, but McCoy was sharp in his first experience with Cleveland’s new offense, completing better than 60 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and one interception.
However, the real allure for McCoy is Cleveland’s early schedule. The Browns start the season with games against Cincinnati, at Indianapolis, and home versus Miami and Tennessee before a Week Five bye. It doesn’t get much tougher from there until four of the final five games coming against Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
Still, in the wake of the latest Peyton Manning injury news, McCoy gives you a chance to get off to a hot start. You can worry about the end of the season when you get there.
Matt Hasselbeck (16%), Tennessee
Sure, Hasselbeck didn’t throw for a touchdown in the preseason, but he also played just two series with Kenny Britt and didn’t have Chris Johnson in the backfield. He also has a nice opening week matchup against a Jaguars secondary that was absolutely horrendous in the preseason. That doesn’t mean he’s a great start outside of two-QB leagues quite yet, but he’s proven to be a reliable option in the past, which makes him worth watching as a backup.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Advice for Week 1: Running Back
Ben Tate (43%)/Derrick Ward (7%), Houston
Unless you’ve been incarcerated (see: Benson, Cedric) or otherwise deposed for the past week, you know all about Arian Foster’s balky hamstring and the myriad of opinions on how significantly it’s damaged. As you can see from the ownership percentages, popular opinion has tipped the scales toward Ben Tate, but as Sigmund Bloom of Footballguys.com pointed out on Twitter last week, Ward is officially listed as the second-string running back.
Few would argue that Tate is the more talented of the two, but the fact remains that there are pass protection concerns with him. So if you’re looking for help in the short-term, go for Ward. If you’re prospecting for long-term gain, Tate is your guy, but don’t forget that he isn’t without injury risk after missing last season with a knee injury.
Roy Helu (34%), Washington
Tim Hightower has emerged as the starter in Washington, and for now, he’s the guy to own. That said, he has a history of fumble problems, and the mere mention of Mike Shanahan’s name is enough to reduce some fantasy owners to tears. Helu’s running style meshes well with the Redskins’ blocking scheme, which makes him worth a prospective pickup.
Jerome Harrison (22%), Detroit
If history has taught us anything, it’s that I have a better chance of riding a unicorn to work on Friday than Jahvid Best does of staying healthy for the bulk of the season. Harrison racked up over 1,000 total yards for Cleveland in 2009 and was decent in spot duty for the Eagles last year, so he’s not exactly a stiff.
Delone Carter (21%), Indianapolis
I have yet to end up with Carter in any leagues, despite my strong belief that he is the guy to own in the Indy backfield. Remove Donald Brown from the equation; he’s now an afterthought. That leaves Joseph Addai, who the Colts brought back on a one-year deal, but his future in Indy is tenuous beyond that. And with Peyton Manning’s situation getting worse with every report, the Colts may opt to lean more heavily on the run game in an attempt to minimize the damage Kerry Collins can do. Carter is a solid goal line option as well and has a legit shot to become the feature back by the end of the year.
Bernard Scott (6%), Cincinnati
If history has taught us anything, it’s that I have a better chance of riding a unicorn to work on Friday than Cedric Benson does of staying out of trouble. Too soon to use that again? Regardless, Benson was grossly ineffective last season, and like Addai, he was only signed to a one-year deal. Scott showed flashes in the preseason and brings another level of athleticism to the mix that fits better with the Bengals new offensive scheme.
Deji Karim (5%), Jacksonville
With Rashad Jennings out for the season, Karim is the guy to own if you don’t believe in the health of Maurice Jones-Drew’s knee. And I don’t.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Advice for Week 1: Wide Receivers
Nate Burleson (44%), Detroit
The Lions have become a trendy pick after a solid stretch of preseason performances, and with Calvin Johnson as the focal point for opposing defenses, Burleson should see plenty of single coverage. He parlayed that into three preseason touchdowns, which should have earned his way onto more rosters. Burleson caught six TDs last season and has proven to be an effective receiver when healthy. Get him before it’s too late.
Antonio Brown (28%), Pittsburgh
Few players made a bigger leap onto the fantasy landscape this preseason than Brown, who made the most of extra opportunities with Emmanuel Sanders sidelined following foot surgery. Sanders is back now, but he’ll need to wrestle the number three receiver role away from Brown, who racked up 230 yards and three scores in the exhibition season. Hines Ward is on the downside of his career, and Brown has clearly earned Ben Roethlisberger’s trust along with some glowing reviews throughout training camp. The Steelers throw more than most people think, and Brown has speed to burn against nickel and dime corners.
Greg Little (21%), Cleveland
Even before missing all of last season at North Carolina, Little was a work in progress at receiver. Despite being raw, he’s shown flashes for the Browns over the course of the preseason, and if anyone in that receiving corps has the potential to become a clear-cut top target, it’s Little. As I mentioned above with Colt McCoy, the schedule is favorable, but you need to let Little sit on your bench or the waiver wire until we get a better idea of how involved in the offense he’ll be.
Denarius Moore (15%), Oakland
At least one Raiders beat writer said Moore was the best player on the field at times during training camp, and even though that’s like being named soberest guy at the infield of a NASCAR race, it has earned him a high post in the Oakland pecking order. He’s certainly not a guy you can count on yet, but the upside is there.
Andre Roberts (7%), Arizona
If you’re skeptical that Beanie Wells can hold up as a feature back, that means you’ve actually followed his career and/or seen him play. Either way, the Cardinals figure to throw a lot with Kevin Kolb in the mix, and Larry Fitzgerald will draw most of the defensive attention. That leaves Roberts to compete with the oft-injured Early Doucet and the aging Todd Heap for targets, which makes him someone to keep an eye on.
Brandon Gibson (3%), St. Louis
To my surprise, Gibson caught at least three passes in nine straight games to end last season and finished with 620 receiving yards. With the much-publicized addition of Josh McDaniels as Offensive Coordinator, Sam Bradford is expected to air out in his second season. Gibson is listed as one of the team’s starting wideouts, and the opportunity is there to post solid, but likely unspectacular, numbers.
Dezmon Briscoe (1%), Tampa Bay
With Arrelious Benn still recovering from knee surgery, Briscoe seized the opportunity this preason. He’s slated to start alongside Mike Williams and has developed a nice rapport with Josh Freeman. Another guy to monitor as the season gets underway.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Advice for Week 1: Tight Ends
Lance Kendricks (30%), St. Louis
All this rookie from Wisconsin did was lead the Rams in receptions, yards, and touchdowns this preseason. He was one of the nation’s top tight ends in college and looks to be a major part of the St. Louis passing game already. Just another example of how deep tight end is this season.
Evan Moore (2%), Cleveland
He may be listed as the Browns’ backup tight end, but Moore is being used all over the field on offense in an effort to create mismatches. In fact, the team’s official site recently predicted him as the team’s leading receiver. That may be a long shot, but he caught a pair of TDs in the preseason and will be one of the team’s top targets in what is expected to be an improved passing game.