The first week of the NFL season reminded us of how volatile this league can be. We saw rookie Allen Hurns of the Jacksonville Jaguars score touchdowns on his first two receptions. Then we saw the Jaguars blow a 17-0 lead and lose 34-17 to Philadelphia. Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens went from being suspended for a few more days, to being suspended indefinitely by the league in a 48-hour span shaking things up. Injuries played a big part as well, with tight ends Jordan Cameron and Jordan Reed suffering injuries and sending rosters into flux. He can be dropped in redraft leagues but hang on to him in dynasty leagues. Thankfully, we’ll help you make sense of it all on the waiver wire this week. We’ll break it down by position and ownership on ESPN, NFL and Yahoo Leagues to help you out.
Derek Anderson of the Panthers (99,99,99) is nothing more than a one-week fancy. He did okay in the place of an injured Cam Newton (ribs) but all reports indicate Newton is playing this week so there’s no need to pick Anderson up. Keep his name in mind should Cam get hurt again.
Eli Manning would have been on this list but his performance in Detroit sucked bad enough to remind us why we didn’t draft him. Manning was picked off twice and the Giants rolled up less than 200 yards of offense in the Motor City. Most of the yards came in garbage time and that’s where Eli belongs—right back in the dumpster like he was in 2013.
That said, Carson Palmer of the Cardinals (75,78,79) looks like the quarterback to pick up this week if you need some spark. Matthew Stafford of the Lions tore through the Giants and Palmer has better weapons all around.
This position became a mess quickly. Rice is done for the year which leaves Justin Forsett (98,98,98) as the lead back in Baltimore. Forsett can be picked up as a depth addition since starting running backs don’t come along every day on the wire. The downside is that Baltimore has the short week and takes on Pittsburgh Thursday night. He had 70 yards and a score on carries in the loss to Cincinnati so the potential is there for him to get touches and make some hay.
Doug Martin of the Bucs is hurt again and we’re not talking about his afternoon with less than 20 total yards of offense. Carolina is a tough team to play against and recently-acquired Logan Mankins left the game hurt which gave Martin practically no protection. Bobby Rainey (98,99,99) is in line to pick up snaps if Martin is out but he would be a flex play at best this week. The Bucs host the Rams and they got run over by Adrian Peterson this past week. Monitor Martin’s health today and be ready to pick Rainey up if things go badly.
Ben Tate got hurt (knee-questionable) and two running backs took advantage of it. Terrence West (20,15,18) had 16 carries for 100 yards in the Browns’ close loss. Isaiah Crowell (99,99,99) is the player to focus on if you missed out on West as he racked up 32 yards and two touchdowns on five carries. Tate injured his knee and we have no update on his condition as of press time. Crowell should be picked up if you need the depth. We saw how bad the Browns offense can be in the first half against Pittsburgh and they should be running the ball quite a bit.
The Arizona running back situation played itself out late last night and here’s what we saw. Andre Ellington is fine and looks good. Johnathan Dwyer and Stepfan Taylor played backup roles with Dwyer being the more effective back. Since Ellington pulled a fast one on us, we’ll hold off on picking up another Arizona running back until Ellington is actually hurt.
There are a few others to look at which include Chris Ivory of the Jets but he’s likely off the wire in most leagues. Shonn Greene of the Titans is in the same boat and the Titans have a favorable matchup against Dallas. Carlos Hyde is worth a quick check on the wire as well. The 49ers only have Hyde and Frank Gore on their roster at that position and Gore isn’t getting any younger.
Ahmad Bradshaw (80,79,82) is worth looking at since Trent Richardson played like Trent Richardson in the Colts loss to Denver. Bradshaw did well with 15 rushing yards and 70 receiving yards on eight total touches. Bradshaw has matchups with Jacksonville and Tennessee in Weeks 3 and 4 which are both favorable.
Allen Hurns (92,93,89) should be left on the wire for someone else to pick up. The reason Hurns broke out is that Cecil Shorts III was inactive against the Eagles and that gave Hurns the start opposite Marqise Lee. You have to be concerned about how much of a role Hurns plays if Shorts is healthy. The other part of the issue is that Hurns had a great first half (110 yards and two touchdowns on four catches) but did nothing in the second half. Add to that a matchup with Washington and it’s not that great of an outlook. Washington held Houston’s passing game in check and allowed one big play to the Texans (the 76-yard bomb to DeAndre Hopkins). We don’t like Hurns prospects to have another good game this week to warrant picking him up.
If you’re looking for that boost at wide receiver, try Brandin Cooks of New Orleans (33,30,26) after his debut with 77 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. The Saints should be in high gear again this week when they take on the Browns.
There is the Josh Gordon situation (75,80,78) to take into account. The vote is supposed to happen today by the representatives of the NFLPA to possibly modify the drug policies which could impact the suspensions of Gordon and Wes Welker of Denver. This vote will be the single biggest moment in fantasy football this season. You have the potential to have Welker available now and Gordon back on the field as well.
News of these developments came out Saturday around noon ET and owners went into a frenzy to look for Gordon on the waiver wire. He’s worth a look and if he’s there, I’d pull the trigger on him. The thing to keep in mind is to dump a guy who you know you could easily get back should this go against Gordon and he remains suspended. For example, I dropped Dexter McCluster to get a share of Gordon in one of my 55 leagues. It should be easy to get McCluster back if I want him. Keep that in mind if you go for Gordon.
The injuries continue here with Jordan Cameron (shoulder) and Jordan Reed of Washington (hamstring) both leaving games hurt this week. The question is where will you find a replacement for these guys? The answer is Delanie Walker of the Titans (40,42,48) as he takes on the Cowboys in a favorable matchup. Vernon Davis destroyed Dallas last week with a pair of touchdowns and Walker is a good bet to find the end zone this week.
Keep an eye out for Zach Ertz of the Eagles (30,34,33) as Philadelphia gets a shot at the Colts on Monday night. Indy couldn’t cover Julius Thomas of the Broncos for anything and it might be Ertz’s turn to capitalize. Travis Kelce of the Chiefs (90,92,90) should also be picked up since Kansas City takes on Denver and should be throwing a lot.
Mike Nugent (93,91,92) hit five field goals in the Bengals win and should be looked at as a good add. Matt Bryant (65,68,62) was solid in the Falcons win over New Orleans. Chandler Catonzaro of Arizona (98,99,98) made a pair of field goals in the Arizona win over San Diego last night.
Washington (98,98,98) has a good matchup with Jacksonville and they did well last week in Houston. Arizona (15,16,19) is a good play against the Giants if you can find them on the wire. They shut down the ground game against the Chargers and will make life tough for Big Blue on the ground.
Final Thoughts: As much as you might want to jump at these players this week, be ready to play the second round of waivers as well. Someone will inevitably make a panic drop or an ill-informed decision and let someone really good go. This reminds me of how I picked up Peyton Manning two years ago after Week 1 on the waiver wire (yes, the season before he became God at QB). You can get a good player on Wednesday but you could get an even better one Friday.
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewNordmeier and I’ll start getting to the comments below late Tuesday.