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 2. 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. 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.
Jets QB Geno Smith ($4)
A lot of smart fantasy football analysts spent the offseason touting Geno as an inexpensive value play at quarterback. A week into the new season, he’s the highest-rated passer in the AFC East, ranking well ahead of that no-talent bum Tom Brady. (Just teasing, Pats fans; put down the sharp objects.) A Week 2 trip to Green Bay will provide Geno with a stiffer test than last week’s home game against the Raiders, though the Packers hardly have a waterproof defense. If the Jets’ young QB follows up a strong opener with a poised performance at Lambeau Field, he won’t be so inexpensive at this time a week from now.
Next up: Packers, Bears, Lions
Titans QB Jake Locker ($4)
Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of Locker. Far too many of his throws wind up in a different area code than that of his intended receiver. But Locker has a nice set of pass catchers – Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Nate Washington, Delanie Walker, Dexter McCluster – and I don’t mind making a small investment in Locker as an inexpensive way to make a mutual-fund investment in that group. Locker put up 266 passing yards and two TDs in Week 1, and he’s a fine option this week against the Cowboys’ dumpster-fire pass defense.
Next up: Cowboys, Bengals, Colts
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill ($2)
Miami RBs took 35 combined handoffs in the Dolphins’ opening day victory over the Patriots, suggesting that new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is going to be as run-heavy as his mentor, Chip Kelly. That might not benefit Tannehill’s fantasy stats, but it might not hurt them that much either, as it will likely mean greater efficiency and far fewer hits. (Tannehill was a human piñata last year.) Tannehill threw for 178 yards and a TD in Week 1, and he and WR Mike Wallace seemed to be on the same page for most of the game – an encouraging sign.
Next up: Bills, Chiefs, Raiders
Chiefs QB Alex Smith ($2)
Smith was intercepted only seven times in the 2013 regular season, but the Titans managed to pick him off three times in their Week 1 road win over the Chiefs in Kansas City. Smith was 19 of 35 for 202 yards and one TD pass in K.C.’s loss to Tennessee, though he did manage to nearly double Jamaal Charles’ rushing output, with 36 rushing yards to Charles’ 19. The Chiefs’ WR situation is awful, even with Dwayne Bowe’s Week 2 return from a one-game suspension, and Smith tends to eschew deep throws downfield for sake of turnover avoidance. But Smith did manage to finish 13th in QB fantasy scoring last season, and he plays for the pass-happy Andy Reid.
Next up: Broncos, Dolphins, Patriots
Ravens QB Joe Flacco ($1)
Flacco was terrible for much of the Ravens’ season-opening loss to the Bengals, but Baltimore’s early deficit gave him the chance to crank out 345 passing yards and a TD while playing catch-up. There’s not much to get excited about here, and the short-term schedule isn’t especially favorable, but Flacco is a reasonably competent quarterback with a pretty good group of pass catchers.
Next up: Steelers, Browns, Panthers
Bills QB E.J. Manuel ($1)
After an abysmal preseason, Manuel acquitted himself well in the Bills’ unexpected Week 1 road win over the Bears, completing 16 of 22 passes for 173 yards and a TD while adding 19 yards and a TD on the ground. He might be worth a minimum bid if you’re looking to add a QB on the cheap or if you’re planning for a Week 5 QB bye. (Manuel draws the Lions in Week 5.)
Next up: Dolphins, Chargers, Texans
Vikings QB Matt Cassel ($1)
We know, of course, that Cassel is a mere stopgap for the Vikings while they prep rookie Teddy Bridgewater for the rigors of NFL competition. But with Norv Turner coordinating the Minnesota offense and with Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph as weapons, Cassel could be a potentially useful short-term play for fantasy owners. His Week 4 matchup against the Falcons is an appealing one for QB streamers.
Next up: Patriots, Saints, Falcons
Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick ($1)
With the Houston defense choking the life out of the Washington offense in Week 1, Fitzpatrick attempted only 22 passes in his Texans debut, completing 14 of them for 206 yards and one TD. He’s always going to throw interceptions, but that’s because he’s aggressive about throwing downfield, and he has two attractive targets in WRs Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Fitzpatrick draws a nice matchup against the Raiders this week and might be worth a bid for Philip Rivers stakeholders, since Rivers faces the Seahawks in Week 2.
Next up: Raiders, Giants, Bills