The first Sunday of the NFL season is officially in the books and we have already been treated to some exceptional comebacks and surprising finishes. As many of you already know, to win a Fantasy Championship you must actively seek to improve your team throughout the season, whether through the waiver wire or via trade. At the start of every season the waiver wire tends to be full of players with the potential to breakout, like Keenan Allen and Julius Thomas did last year. Some players end up becoming valuable fantasy assets due to the injuries sustained by a teammate which end up providing these players with an opportunity to play a more prominent role with their respective teams.
Take a look at what Zac Stacy did last season when he was given the opportunity. Other players were merely undervalued to start the season and have the potential for breakout fantasy seasons, or to be consistent fantasy producers. With week one wrapping up tonight, we will take an early look at who you should be targeting on the waiver wire based on what we have seen in week 1. With the availability of some players for week 2 uncertain due to injuries sustained in their first game of the season, you will want to make sure you have a viable replacement in the case that they can’t go this week. In order to be eligible for this list the player in question must be owned in less than 25% of teams participating in Fantasy Football on the NFL site.
10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers DEF (17.1% Owned)
If you are like me and prefer to roll your defenses on a weekly basis, this week’s best option would be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. The Buccaneers did not have a great week against the Panthers who were starting their backup QB. However, the good news for the Bucs is that they are going up against a third string QB in week 2 and an offense that managed to only put up 6 points against the Vikings in week 1. Pick up the Bucs and start them with confidence this week as they face the St. Louis Rams.
9 Josh Gordon (19.2% Owned)
The NFL and the NFL Player’s Union are currently discussing modifying the current drug policy which may result in Josh Gordon’s suspension being reduced or eliminated completely... if an agreement is reached soon. Josh Gordon has the potential to play in week 2 if the new agreement includes a higher threshold for the testing of marijuana. Josh Gordon would have been a borderline 1st round pick in redraft leagues, so he is well worth the roster spot. Pick him up and stash him until a final decision is reached between the NFL and the NFL Player’s Union.
8 Steve Smith (21.5% Owned)
Steve Smith is an ageless wonder and it seems it doesn't matter who’s throwing him the ball, as he continues to be a large part of his team’s offensive game plans. In his first game as a Raven, Steve Smith provided Joe Flacco another viable receiving option opposite Torrey Smith. Steve Smith racked up 118 yards on 7 catches and found the end zone. Though you can’t expect these numbers every week, Steve Smith will be a consistent fantasy producer over the course of the season as he has been over the course of his career. If he’s available pick him up with confidence.
7 Allen Hurns (0.7% Owned)
Allen Hurns had a great pre-season which put the undrafted wide receiver on the fantasy radar. He followed up his impressive pre-season performance by taking full advantage of his opportunity to start in week 1 as Cecil Shorts was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Hurns’ first two career catches went for TDs and he finished the day with an impressive 110 yards on 4 catches to go along with his 2 TDs. Hurns looked good in the opener and should be picked up in most leagues.
6 James Starks (3.4% Owned)
As is the nature of the NFL, players will get injure. This week Eddie Lacy suffered a concussion, so James Starks’ fantasy stock is on the rise. If Lacy is unable to play this week, Starks is in line for the start. If you have Lacy you should be targeting Starks to assure you have a starter this week. Throw in the fact that Starks averaged 5.3 yards a carry against a stout Seahawks Defense and he is a viable flex starter if you have been bit by the injury bug early this fantasy season.
5 Andrew Hawkins (1.6% Owned)
Given Josh Gordon’s current suspension, someone in the Browns passing game had to pick up the slack. Many expected that to be Jordan Cameron, however he aggravated a shoulder injury in the opener, so the speedy Andrew Hawkins dud. Hawkins figures to be a big part of the Browns offense as long as Gordon and Cameron are absent. Hawkins caught 8 passes for 87 yards against the Steelers in a game in which the Browns were down big early, as will likely be the case in most weeks for the Browns. So, we can expect them to throw a lot going forward.
4 Dwayne Allen (6% Owned)
If you happen to have Jordan Reed or Jordan Cameron on your roster with no back-up TE, you are probably scrambling to try and find a replacement until they are ready to return. Have no fear, Dwayne Allen is available in 94% of leagues and you should consider picking up the Colts TE as a short-term replacement with upside. Dwayne Allen looked like the most reliable TE in a pass-happy Colts offense as he hauled in 4 balls for 64 yards and a score in the Colts Sunday night match-up against the Broncos.
3 Rod Streater (1.7% Owned)
At times the Oakland Raiders offense looked overwhelmed by the New York Jets defense, which was to be expected since the Raiders elected to start a rookie QB. However, Derek Carr seems to already have a favorite target in third year wide-out Rod Streater. He was targeted 7 times, hauling in 5 of those targets for 46 yards and a TD. Don’t sleep on Streater. He is well worth a roster spot as his numbers are likely to improve as Derek Carr become more comfortable with the offense and the speed of the NFL game.
2 Ahmad Bradshaw (6.4% Owned)
Ahmad Bradshaw looked good in the Colts week 1 match-up against the Broncos. This is bad news for Trent Richardson owners as Bradshaw saw the field quite often in passing situations. Although Bradshaw managed to accumulate only 15 yards rushing on 3 attempts, he coupled this with 70 receiving yards on 5 receptions. Bradshaw’s value will increase if Richardson continues to struggle. Bradshaw is worth stashing at the moment with the potential to play a larger role in the Colts offense as the season progresses.
1 Markus Wheaton (20.6% Owned)
If you are in a league in which Markus Wheaton went undrafted and is available on the waiver wire, stop reading this now and go put in a waiver request for him. Okay, now that you did that, it’s time to tell you why. Prior to the season, Roethlisberger stated that he expected big things out of his 2nd year wide-out, and that’s exactly what we saw in week 1. Wheaton caught 6 balls for 97 yards and though he did not find the end-zone this week, it won’t be long before he does. Wheaton has the potential to be a solid WR3/Flex starter and is well worth the roster spot.