Grading 14 Hot Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 2


Aug 15, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; General view of golden NFL shield logo in the end zone to commemorate Super Bowl 50 during the preseason NFL game between San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One week is in the books, and the fun of the season is just getting started. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning will mark the first big scramble for waiver wire pickups of the year, and it’s important to be smart about who you try to get. Make sure you don’t miss out on a league-winning player and pick up a Kevin Ogletree of 2012.

Here you’ll find my grades of 14 QBs, WRs, and RBs who are likely on waivers in your league and are going to be hot commodities. Some will be worth your FAAB budget or top waiver pick. Others are more hype than substance. In parentheses I include the percentage owned on fantasy leagues, which I chose because that is the league of mine I had up at the time I wrote this.

Next: Marcus Mariota

Sep 13, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Tennessee Titans fans hold up a sign for quarterback Marcus Mariota (not pictured) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tennessee Titans defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Mariota (19.6% owned): B

Mariota (or Moriato if you’re Roger Goodell) will be a popular waiver wire add because of his stellar performance, which appeared even better when compared to Jameis Winston’s troubled start. However, this was against the Bucs, a terrible defense.

Lucky for Mariota, the Titans play the Browns this week, a team that got dominated by Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Jets. It might be hard to find a better quarterback to stream this week, so he definitely tops my QB waiver wire pickups from that perspective. But don’t expect him to get a perfect quarterback rating every week. He’s still a rookie and will struggle at times, and I don’t see him as being a top-10 starter all year long.

Next: Alex Smith

Sep 13, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) attempts a pass during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Smith (36.4% owned): B

Mr. Game Manager is benefiting from an incredible supporting cast. Between Travis Kelce, Jeremy Maclin, and Jamaal Charles, Smith has someone to throw it to at any level of the field, and all three players can turn a short pass into a long touchdown. If you took a quarterback late or have a quarterback with a tough matchup (like Tom Brady vs. Bills), Alex Smith is a fine choice. He won’t score 25 points every week, but his supporting cast is too great to ignore.

It’s also worth noting that Smith also has a rushing ability that is in the top half of quarterbacks. He’s no Tyrod Taylor, but even managing a few first down runs, combined with his lack of stupid throws, can raise his floor significantly.

Next: Tyrod Taylor

Sep 13, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills fans show support for quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) during the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Tyrod Taylor (4.1% owned): D

Tyrod Taylor was a pleasant surprise, especially for those who took him as a cheap option in DFS. He got you 4 points for rushing, but actually made his money in the passing game with a touchdown and 195 yards, going 14/19. While this was an adequate score, I can’t see his ceiling being much higher than this. His one receiving touchdown and ¼ of his yardage was off of one play to Percy Harvin. Relying on Harvin is a way to lose in fantasy (and real life, just ask the Vikings). Sammy Watkins should get a more active role (no catches for him), but Taylor isn’t going to be much more than this. Don’t get him unless you’re in a 2QB league.

While I don’t have statistical data to back it up, I feel like the masterful scheming of the Patriots is bad for a rookie QB (I know for sure that the Steelers have a penchant for punishing rookie QBs, for the record). He isn’t worth a start this week, and that means he’s at the bottom of my waiver wire pickups list. I don’t want to watch him as my QB trying to win a game as opposed to not lose it like he did in week 1.

Next: David Johnson

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) carries the ball on a 55 yard touchdown run in the second half against the New Orleans Saints at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

David Johnson (15.9% owned): B-

Andre Ellington had quite the game. At one point he was proving all the doubters who believed he was injury prone and overrated wrong, scoring a touchdown and looking great. Then he injured his PCL in a noncontact injury and will miss the next few weeks.

Chris Johnson got the work after his injury, but only had a pedestrian 3.7 yards per carry average. David Johnson, on the other hand, showed his potential with a 55 yard touchdown catch.

He’s definitely more of a speculative add than a concrete starter because he didn’t take a handoff and his catch could have been a fluke, but I think he has serious potential. I believe he will soon overtake Chris Johnson for the starting job and potentially become the team’s lead back by year’s end. If you have space on your bench, get him.

Next: Benny Cunningham

Dec 28, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Benny Cunningham (36) fumbles into the end zone while defended by Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas (29) and cornerback Byron Maxwell (41) in the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. he Seahawks defeated the Rams 20-6 to clinch the NFC West division title. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Benny Cunningham (1.1% owned): C+

Benny Cunningham is the opposite of David Johnson; Benny has potential to be a strong fantasy option for the next few weeks, but he has very little long-term upside. With Tre Mason injured and Todd Gurley being slowly eased into practice, Cunningham made a great impression. He was the leading rusher and caught 4 balls for a total of 122 yards from scrimmage. And that was against the Seahawks.

If he can continue his passing downs role against the Redskins this week (a strong run defense but weak pass D), I see more good things from him. If you are in a deep league or desperate for a good flex option, go for Cunningham. Just know that as soon as Mason or Gurley get on the field, his value takes a hit.

Next: Dion Lewis

Sep 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) attempts to tackle New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis (33) during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Dion Lewis (.8% owned): NE

Dion Lewis was another young running back who took advantage of his opportunity to shine. He rocked the Steelers for 69 rushing yards on 15 attempts and 51 receiving yards on 4 catches. He was all over the field and looked light years better than Brandon Bolden.

Sadly, I’m forced to give him a grade of NE because he’s a running back for New England, which means he’s probably not going to have another great fantasy outing again until we give up on keeping him on the roster. LeGarrett Blount returns from suspension this week, and good luck trying to figure out who’s going to be in what role in the New England backfield.

Next: Marcel Reese

Sep 13, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece (45) scores a touchdown past Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vincent Rey (57) in the fourth quarter at Coliseum. The Bengals defeated the Raiders 33-13. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Marcel Reese (.2% owned): F

If I heard that a running back scored two touchdowns on Sunday and was owned in essentially no leagues, I’d get excited. But if I then found out that said running back was actually a fullback who scored those two touchdowns on three catches, I’d be skeptical. And if I was then told that this fullback was on the Raiders, I would be very mad for wasting my time even considering him as a potential waiver wire add. Sorry.

Next: Donte Moncrief

Sep 13, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief (10) scores a second half touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Colts 27 to 14. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Donte Moncrief (30.3% owned): A

T.Y. Hilton is out for at least 4 weeks and Moncrief looked competent on Sunday. The two other wide receivers who could gain more chances, Andre Johnson and Philip Dorsett, both didn’t look as good (Johnson looked old and Dorsett had a fumble). Moncrief ended the day with six catches on 11 targets for 46 yards and a touchdown.

His owned % is a little high so you might not be able to get him, but he’s one of the top waiver wire pickups if available. The Colts offense might seem less desirable because of their terrible game against the Bills, but don’t let that scare you off. And if you’re in a deeper league, go for Phillip Dorsett. You want a piece of this offense. Trust me.

Next: Stevie Johnson

Aug 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Steve Johnson (11) in a preseason NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Stevie Johnson (3.4% owned): A

Johnson is another guy I was a huge fan of before the season, and he proved me right in week 1, and then some. I expected Johnson’s production to come from Keenan Allen dropping off, but both players were productive and Philip Rivers threw a ton. Now, every game won’t hit a 61 point total, but I think Rivers is more than happy throwing the ball to the best targets he’s had in years.

If you want a player who has consistent near-top-10 production for depth and bye-week purposes, Johnson is your guy. He doesn’t have the upside of Odell Beckham, Jr., but he’s a strong player on a good offense who will give you production. You probably have worse receivers on your roster.

Next: Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley

Aug 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams (83) is pursued by San Diego Chargers linebacker Donald Butler (56) in a preseason NFL football game at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Terrance Williams/Cole Beasley (17.5%/3.9%): B/B

Dez Bryant sadly broke his foot, but this injury opens up targets for unproven veterans Williams and Beasley. Both are now very clear waiver wire pickups.

Terrance Williams has tempted fantasy owners for years now, and he had a pretty good performance Sunday night, catching 5 for 60 yards. I’ve seen many experts on Twitter who think that Beasley had the higher breakout potential before the year started, and he would have been on par with Williams on Sunday had it not been for the terrible fumble that the Giants took back for a touchdown.

Lance Dunbar and Jason Witten were the two stars of the receiving game, so there’s a chance neither of these two receivers become target monsters, but with so many targets freed up and the relative talent of the two players, I’d try to grab whichever one you prefer.

Next: Brandon Coleman

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman (16) celebrates a 12 yard touchdown during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Coleman (1.3% owned): B

Everyone knew that the Saints offense wasn’t going to look the same this year, especially with Jimmy Graham’s departure. But I doubt anyone predicted the leading receivers would be RB Mark Ingram (8 catches, 98 yards), rookie unknown Willie Snead (1 catch for 63 yards), and Khiry Robinson (5 catches for 51 yards). Brandin Cooks, the presumptive leader of the receiving corps, had only four catches for 49 yards.

Training camp favorite Brandon Coleman looks to have a shot at being the lead receiver sooner than anyone expected. He had a solid line (4 catches, 41 yards and a touchdown) and was only targeted one less time than Cooks. This isn’t the same unstoppable force as an offense that it once was, but it’s still one that you want a piece of, especially when you can get it in the form of waiver wire pickups.

Next: Percy Harvin

Sep 13, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Percy Harvin (18) celebrates his first half touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Percy Harvin (18.1%): F

*Disclaimer: I am a Vikings fan*

Percy Harvin will disappoint you. Don’t be fooled by this great effort. Something will happen, he’ll get cut or go on IR, and you’ll regret having picked him up. Just don’t do it. Let someone else deal with the headache.

Next: Jerricho Cotchery

Sep 13, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (82) stiff arms Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Demetrius McCray (35) during the second half at EverBank Field. The Panthers defeat the Jaguars 20-9. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jerricho Cotchery (.2%): F

Jerricho Cotchery may be the most competent wide receiver on the Panthers, but he’s way too old to be considered a consistent fantasy option. He would be at the bottom of my waiver wire pickups list when chances are you can get Coleman, Moncrief, or Williams/Beasley in front of him. I would take them all over Cotchery.

Stay tuned to Fantasy CPR for our NFL FanDuel roundtable and the results of week 1!

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