Going from Week 1 to Week 2 is a much different than if we were going from Week 8 into Week 9. You should be much more aggressive on the waiver wire this week than you would be in the middle of the season, once trends and playing time have leveled out.
Unlike Fantasy Baseball, where the regular season is 21 weeks long, Fantasy Football has a 13-week regular season. In Fantasy Baseball, you are taught to remain patient early on, since they play every day. In Fantasy Football, you have to react pretty quickly if you hope to get to the playoffs.
There were plenty of injuries to stars this past weekend, which makes the competition on the waiver wire even stronger than usual after Week 1. Also, figure more teams will attempt to pick up multiple players, so there will be more waiver rounds than usual.
Before we go too deep, remember there were rumors that Josh Gordon might try to get his suspension reduced, so if you’re in a deep league and can afford to spend a roster spot on him, go for it. He’s owned in over 60 percent of CBS leagues, though, which is why I don’t mention him below.
Each week, we’ll share 8-12 players we think are worth a look in standard fantasy football leagues based on performance and upcoming matchups. Each of the players listed is owned in fewer than 30 percent of leagues on CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo! leagues.
Jake Locker, Tennessee (Owned in 27 percent of CBSSports leagues, 5.9 percent of ESPN leagues and 12 percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- Locker is in a contract year in Tennessee and he entered 2014 with high hopes because of new head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s history with quarterbacks. Locker didn’t disappoint against Kansas City, getting the entire offense involved in completing passes to eight different players. Locker works as a good backup QB if you own someone like Robert Griffin III or Tony Romo.
Justin Forsett, Baltimore (one percent, 1.2 percent and 10 percent) -- Every Ray Rice owner should be working to get Forsett. The Ravens cut Rice Monday, and Bernard Pierce didn’t impress against the Bengals Sunday, giving way to Forsett, who turned in a great game. Forsett will be the hot pickup in your league, but look at it like this: He’s a tiny running back who has experience in Gary Kubiak’s system already, but that doesn’t guarantee him the job for the next dozen weeks. The Ravens have declined to name a starter for Thursday’s game against a Steelers defense that gave up 183 rushing yards and two touchdowns to the Browns, though coach John Harbaugh did say that Forsett and Pierce will “both play a lot.” That could make Forsett a nice flex option for Fantasy owners. But beyond that, expect the Ravens to work in …
Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore (two percent, 0.3 percent, 1.2 percent) – The rookie out of Coastal Carolina didn’t touch the ball once Sunday, but with Rice’s suspension, Pierce’s lackluster ability and Forsett’s lack of size, this is the smart pickup on the backend of the waiver wire this week.
Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland (two percent, 1.6 percent and three percent) -- The rookie’s two-TD game was overshadowed by fellow rookie running back Terrance West. Unfortunately, West is likely owned in your league (70 percent of CBS leagues), so taking a chance on Crowell isn’t a bad idea, depending on the seriousness of Ben Tate’s knee injury. Crowell was the 2011 SEC Freshman of the Year at Georgia before he was cut from the team for off-field issues. Ben Tate’s owners should look to add Crowell, if they don’t already have West.
Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay (two percent, 1.8 percent and four percent-- – While Rainey’s fantasy value is certainly tied to the severity of Doug Martin’s knee injury, he actually did show more life behind the Bucs’ subpar offensive line. It’s important to note Tampa Bay had trouble moving the ball on the ground in general against a tough Panthers defense, and Rainey did have a costly fumble late in the fourth quarter.
Lance Dunbar, Dallas (28 percent, 5.6 percent and 10 percent) -- He didn’t do anything special, but all DeMarco Murray owners should pay attention to the waiver wire to see if Murray’s backup gets cut for one of the other flavors of the week. Murray gets hurt a lot, and Dunbar would be a good, pass-catching handcuff in his place.
Benny Cunningham, St. Louis (26 percent, 4.4 percent and 12 percent) -- Another backup running back worth picking up if you have room. While Zac Stacy is still the unquestioned starter, he’s not dazzling by any means, and this backfield seems to be trending toward a timeshare. With that said, the Rams had Cunningham last season -- and still chose to draft Tre Mason.
Allen Hurns, Jacksonville (five percent, 7.6 percent and 12 percent) – After a huge preseason, paired with Cecil Shorts’ bad hamstring, we should have expected more from the rookie out of Miami. Shorts has been dealing with groin and hamstring problems since last year, so Hurns and rookie Marqise Lee are getting all the playing time they can handle. Don’t get too cute with who you cut for him, though, as this is still a rookie receiver -- in Jacksonville. You’ll need another productive game or two from him before you consider starting him.
John Brown, Arizona (10 percent, 0.9 percent and seven percent) -- I mentioned him last week as a player to add, and he scored a touchdown against San Diego, picking up five targets from Carson Palmer. He’s obviously the third option in this offense, but we’re going to see a lot of big plays from the rookie speedster out of Pittsburg State.
Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland (29 percent, 11.7 percent and 25 percent) -- I balked at the possibility of Hawkins doing anything a few weeks ago, but the Browns have to get the ball to someone other than their tight end in the passing game. Only nine other wide receivers were targeted more than Hawkins was (10) against the Steelers.
Brian Quick, St. Louis (two percent, 0.3 percent and four percent) -- The third-year receiver out of Appalachian State caught seven passes for 99 yards on nine targets. The Rams just don’t look good offensively, with Shaun Hill (strained quad) or Austin Davis running the offense, so it’s difficult imagine a lot of scoring chances for Quick -- or any of the other Rams’ receivers at this point.
Larry Donnell, N.Y. Giants (Zero percent, 0.3 percent and one percent) – The 6-foot-6 rookie tight end was expected to be part of a TE-trio with the Giants, but he led the Giants in all of the receiving categories Monday night against Detroit. Tyler Eifert’s owners might need Donnell considering the former’s dislocated elbow. Donnell finish with five catches on eight targets for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati (19 percent, 7.6 percent and five percent) -- He had six field-goal attempts in Week 1, but the odds of that happening again are pretty slim. He hasn’t made more than 20 field goals in either of the past two seasons. If you’re going to drop a kicker, make sure you use your second or third waiver pick for Nugent, and not your first.
Dolphins defense (21 percent, 3.2 percent and eight percent) – Miami picked up four sacks against New England, as Olivier Vernon and Chris McCain shook things up for Tom Brady in the backfield. Miami travels to Buffalo this week, and they’ll face a Bills team that surprised us in Week 1 with close to 200 rushing yards and 23 points. But the Phins defense isn’t as bad as the Bears'. I would have suggested picking up the Jets defense this week after an impressive Week 1, but Rex Ryan’s DST lines up against a Packers offense that will have had 10 days to prepare.