With the first week of fantasy football now in the books, it’s time to start sifting through the dirt for some diamonds. The first thing I do on Tuesday mornings is hit the waiver wire, and you should as well if you want some of these gems.
*Availability (% owned) and statistics based on ESPN PPR leagues.
Carson Wentz, Eagles (42.4%) — Luckily, my quarterback situation is fine on my fantasy teams. All of them except one. Due to a borderline irrational run on quarterbacks in the league’s draft, I lucked into Andy Dalton as my guy. With another bad matchup ahead of him in Week 2, I’m hitting the waiver wire. One of the best options available in most leagues is Carson Wentz, who scored 22.9 fantasy points against Washington on Sunday. The second-year stud should be at least a little more consistent in 2017 now that he’s got a stocked cupboard of weapons.
Alex Smith, Chiefs (28.2%) — I’ll start by saying that the 40-point Alex Smith is not who we should expect to see on any sort of regular basis, or probably at all this year. However, if Smith continues to be aggressive downfield, then he should be able to give you something every week.
Jared Goff, Rams (4.5%) — Like Smith, I don’t think Goff is going to be putting up a 100-plus passer rating every week, but his new coaching staff clearly knows how to use him. Goff wisely looked to Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods often on Sunday (trio targeted on 55% of Goff’s 29 throws). The Colts are bad, no mistake about it, but I don’t think this was a flash in the pan for Los Angeles. I expect the Rams offense to have some rhythm here.
Tarik Cohen, Bears (7.5%) — The Bears may already have an established starting running back in Jordan Howard, but it’s about to be a partnership. On Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, rookie Tarik Cohen was involved a lot. To the point where it should irritate Howard’s owners. Howard saw 38 offensive snaps compared to Cohen’s 28, but Cohen took a handoff or was targeted in the passing game on 61% of his snaps (47% for Howard). The coaching staff clearly wants the ball in Cohen’s hands, and that looks like a permanent thing.
Marlon Mack, Colts (2.9%) — I honestly didn’t think it would be this soon, but the time is coming for Marlon Mack. On Sunday, he saw just two fewer snaps (17) than Frank Gore (19), and Mack saw three more than original assumed RB2, Robert Turbin (14). Sunday, he had both a catch and a carry go over 20 yards. Mack has been outstanding in all of his performances, starting during the preseason. His talent and playmaking ability is undeniable.
Kerwynn Williams, Cardinals (1.3%) — The terrible news out of Arizona is that David Johnson may miss up to 12 weeks, essentially putting him out for the entire fantasy regular season. Next in line is Kerwynn Williams, who is also a capable pass-catcher and will have a little value in PPR leagues.
Javorius Allen, Ravens (0.6%) — This is a somewhat curious situation, but with Danny Woodhead re-aggravating his hamstring injury, Allen stepped up so much that he wound up out-touching Terrance West, 22-20. Allen is arguably just as effective of a runner as West, so it is hard to imagine Allen’s role diminishing much while Woodhead is out.
Marqise Lee, Jaguars (20.2%) — Jacksonville’s WR1 Allen Robinson suffered a left ACL tear on Sunday and will miss the remainder of the season. Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns will be called on to pick up the slack. As much as I like Hurns as a complementary receiver, I like Lee to be the leading receiver. Last year, he shook off the injuries that plagued him in 2014 and 2015 to put together a line of 63 catches for 851 yards and 3 touchdowns. Blake Bortles looks very comfortable with Lee.
Cooper Kupp, Rams (14.9%) — Ever since the preseason, Goff and Cooper Kupp have shown obvious chemistry. Kupp trounced the Colts defense on Sunday, totaling 4 catches (6 targets) for 76 yards and 1 touchdown.
Kenny Golladay, Lions (7.8%) — I’ve been beating this drum since early in training camp, but Golladay is a baller. He was once thought to just be a red-zone threat, but he made plays all over the field against Arizona (4 catches (7 targets), 69 yards, 2 touchdowns). He’s going to be someone disappearing from waiver wires immediately if you don’t jump on him.
Nelson Agholor, Eagles (5.3%) — The talent has always been there for Nelson Agholor but everyone has just been waiting for him to put it all together. He received rave reviews out of camp and followed it up with a great showing in the season opener (6 catches (8 targets), 86 yards, 1 touchdown). This may be a sign of things to come for Agholor.
Charles Clay, Bills (6.7%) — With Watkins, Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Justin Hunter all out of the picture in Buffalo, quarterback Tyrod Taylor needs somebody around with who he is familiar. One of the primary options is tight end Charles Clay, who Taylor targeted a team-high 9 times to the tune of 4 catches for 53 yards and 1 touchdown.
Jesse James, Steelers (5.0%) — Many (myself included) assumed that new Steelers tight end Vance McDonald would have some sort of role on Sunday, but he really didn’t outside of being a decoy (18 snaps, 1 target). Instead, Jesse James was the primary tight end, hauling in 6 catches (8 targets) for 41 yards and 2 touchdowns. The acquisition of McDonald put major pressure on James, and he showed up nicely.