Waiver Wire Watch: Week 2
Editor’s Note: We’re happy to announce that 4for4 Contributor Pat Fitzmaurice (formerly of Pro Football Weekly) is back on the Waiver Wire Watch this year. He will continue to work in conjunction with Senior Editor John Paulsen to compile this list of the top pickups each week.
Here is a look at the top waiver wire pickups for Week 1. To be eligible for discussion, the player must be owned in 50% or fewer Yahoo leagues, though we’ll stretch the rules a bit for the RB position, which is usually very thin. We’ll also include suggested bid prices (with a $100 budget) for those leagues that use Free Agent Acquisition Budgets (FAAB). Of course, player value depends on league characteristics and team needs. Players are listed by position in order of importance. For extremely shallow or extremely deep leagues, be sure to review our Rest-of-Season Rankings (updated every Tuesday) to get an idea of how to value players not on this list.
Titans QB Marcus Mariota ($6)
Could I have a moment alone with the Peyton Manning owners, please? (Waits for room to clear) OK, Peyton owners … I think you have a serious problem. Sometimes it’s sensible to be patient with players who get off to slow starts. In Peyton’s case, I think you have good reason to frantically mash the panic button. There’s mounting evidence that the Peyton Manning we once knew no longer exists. If you’re thinking about abandoning ship and have more interest in a high-risk, high-reward property than, say, Andy Dalton or Alex Smith, think about what sort of FAAB bid it will take for you to acquire Mariota. The No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft was ruthlessly efficient in his first professional start, completing 13-of-16 passes for 185 yards with four TDs and no INTs in the Titans’ 42-14 thrashing of the Buccaneers. There are those who think Jameis Winston is a superior QB prospect, but the mobile and consistent Mariota might prove to be more NFL-ready, and if he can punctuate reasonable passing numbers with Cam Newton-caliber rushing numbers, Mariota could finish as a top-10 fantasy quarterback. Peyton owners, this is a risk worth taking. Bid aggressively.
Next up: @ Browns, Colts, BYE
Chiefs QB Alex Smith ($5)
Some fantasy owners will want nothing to do with the notoriously conservative Smith, who’s never thrown for more than 3,313 yards or 23 TDs in a single season, but it’s at least worth entertaining the possibility that he could produce a career year with the help of TE Travis Kelce, who’s blossoming into a superstar, and WR Jeremy Maclin, easily the best wide receiver Smith has played with during his time in Kansas City. Smith opened the season by throwing three TD passes (all in the first half) in the Chiefs’ 27-20 win over the Texans. He completed 22-of-33 passes for 243 yards, and that yardage total might have been better if the Chiefs hadn’t put the game out of the Texans’ reach so early. Smith is a viable streaming option, though his Week 3 matchup vs. the Packers is more appealing than this week’s Thursday-night matchup against Denver.
Next up: Broncos, @ Packers, @ Bengals
Bengals QB Andy Dalton ($4)
With his pass-catching corps riddled by injuries in 2014, Dalton turned in the worst season of his four-year NFL career. But now, with TE Tyler Eifert and WR Marvin Jones back from major injuries, star WR A.J. Green fully fit after an injury-plagued year, and a good offensive line protecting him, Dalton has a good chance to put up the sort of numbers that he produced in 2012 and 2013, when he threw 60 TD passes over two seasons. Dalton finished QB12 in fantasy scoring in 2012, and was QB5 in 2013, so it’s not inconceivable that he could be a top-10 fantasy quarterback this year. Dalton threw for 269 yards and two TDs, both to Eifert, in an easy season-opening win over the Raiders.
Next up: Chargers, @ Ravens, Chiefs