Did your first-round pick tear a muscle you can’t pronounce? Is your top running back doing more sucking than running? Welp, Let’s look for sleepers and waiver wire/free agent pool gold together, and be wrong together, and cry together.
The pickings they are thinning on the wire this week in just Week 2, but if you put your eyes right up next to your computer screen for long enough and then slowly pull back when the list of waiver candidates is open, you may see a receiver who had 15 catches last week, and three ideal options to soak up your Aaron Hernandez tears.
1. Matt Cassel: Love for Cassel and really any member of the Chiefs offense which imploded during a 31-17 loss to Buffalo is exceedingly low. But the Chiefs being awful is good for you, and it could be a highly profitable experience for Cassel owners since they’ll pass more. This week they face a Saints defense that’s already given up 550 passing yards at a clip of 12.5 yards per attempt.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 15%, ESPN – 32.9%
2. Christian Ponder: The Vikings quarterback was listed in this exact spot in this exact space last week, and that may continue as long as Ponder keeps improving weekly, and offering good depth value for the minimal investment you’re making. Mind you, that value will surely evaporate this week with a matchup against the 49ers. But right now that matters little to you, especially if you’re in a two QB league. In those leagues, Ponder could become the ideal roving depth chart filler once rosters begin to be stretched thin starting in Week 4.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 12%, ESPN 5%
3. Brandon Weeden: At a regularly thin position on the wire, we’re now picking among the rookies. Unless you play in a league with Grandmothers, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are quite obviously universally owned, and while Russell Wilsons’ ownership is a little scattered, he’s rostered in more leagues than Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill due to the athleticism and versatility that’s made him the favorite QB sleeper of everyone everywhere. I’ll take Weeden out of the remaining two as a depth option, because between Trent Richardson, Greg Little, and Mohamad Massaquoi, he has a little more to work with, which is why he threw for 322 yards with two touchdowns in Week 2.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 6%, ESPN – 2.1%
1. Andre Brown: A no-brainer and essential move for any Ahmad Bradshaw owner. Much as it was for Greg Jennings last week, the short week is Bradshaw’s enemy. The Giants play Carolina Thursday night, giving him just 48 more hours left to recover from his neck injury sustained, well, about 48 hours ago, and head coach Tom Coughlin is hoping “against all odds” that Bradshaw will be available. Scenarios like this one will continue to be a weekly exercise with the Thursday nighter now an every week experience. After Bradshaw left against the Bucs, Brown received the bulk of the workload over David Wilson, which resulted in 71 yards at a pace of 5.5 per carry, and a touchdown.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 14%, ESPN – 1.5%
2. Daryl Richardson: This is a mandatory handcuff/panic pick up for all Steven Jackson owners, who are abundantly aware by now that Isiah Pead is worthless after Richardson had 83 yards on 15 carries Sunday against the Redskins while adding two receptions for 20 yards. Jackson has remained relatively healthy throughout the past few seasons, so there’s no reason to slap him with the always arbitrary injury prone tag. Still, we’re talking about a 29-year-old running back who’s already dealing with a sore groin in Week 2, so caution is key.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 6%, ESPN – 1.1%
3. Jackie Battle: Another speculative and precautionary add, Battle had two touchdowns Sunday against Tennessee while showcasing the straight ahead, barreling style we saw so often last year in Kansas City while he filled in for Jamaal Charles. Optimism is peaking on the Ryan Mathews watch, a vigil that’s lasted for a month and should mercifully end this week. He’ll practice and be subjected to contact for the first time since his collarbone injury tomorrow, and he should be on pace to make a Week 3 return. But Matherws’ bones are made of cotton, so grab Battle as insurance against a practice setback.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 3%, ESPN – 0.4 %
1. Danny Amendola: I almost didn’t include Amendola due to his status as the epitome of the scattered waiver option as you’ll see below. But even on the high side, the fact that he’s out there in nearly half of Yahoo leagues makes Amendola an ideal waiver target since I’m pretty sure Sam Bradford sleeps in Danny Amendola pajamas. Forget his 15 receptions for 160 yards last week, which are both remarkable numbers, and those catches put him in a tie for sixth in all-time single-game receptions. What’s even more amazing is that Amendola was the target on seven of Bradford’s first eight pass attempts in Week 2.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 52%, ESPN – 19.2%
2. Andrew Hawkins: This has the potential to be a sneaky point-per-reception league play. Hawkins is often put in open space and given the ball on short, intermediate routes where he can function similar to a punt returner, and us a combination of speed and elusiveness to avoid tackles and break the big play. What results is a high volume of attempts at that home run, with Hawkins only a week removed from having eight receptions for 86 yards. Eventually, he makes contact too, and in Cincy’s Week 1 loss to Baltimore he had a 27-yard catch, and Sunday against Cleveland Hawkins had a 50-yard score.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 12%, ESPN – 2.4 %
3. Donnie Avery: When your short-term status as a fantasy contributor depends largely on the health of Austin Collie, that’s a pretty sweet niche you’ve carved out for yourself. Just over a week ago we thought Collie was ready to make his return from a concussion, an injury that’s always unpredictable, but is especially troubling given his history. Then he experienced a setback, allowing Avery to catch nine balls for 111 yards, which included a 41-yard grab. At a cheap price Avery could represent a solid long-term investment even when Collie returns, because with Wayne losing a step he’s built chemistry with Andrew Luck and established himself as a deep option.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 8%, ESPN – 1%
1. Kellen Winslow Jr.: Expect little this week with Winslow just arriving in New England and acclimating himself to a new offense, out that utilizes the tight end heavily. But in Week 4 and beyond this is an automatic add for Aaron Hernandez owners, or anyone who wants to receive a sandwich stuffed with dog food from the Hernandez owner in their league. Winslow will play the Hernandez role, and while ripping him is a fun sport, remember that this is a TE who still managed to finish with 763 receiving yards while playing in a poor, wayward Bucs passing offense last year.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 9%, ESPN – 0.2%
2. Kyle Rudolph: A tight end that’s paired with a young QB who’s still developing is a valuable asset due to his role as the safety value, which applies in Minnesota. If he’s available in your league, Rudolph is only narrowly behind Winslow as a Hernandez fill-in.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 35%, ESPN - 12%
3. Dennis Pitta: He’s ranked lower in the name of variety, because Pitta was featured here last week. And he’ll become a fixture if that’s what it takes to get Pitta’s ownership rates up. Is that what you want me to do? You want me to just write some gibberish about Dennis Pitta every week, and about how he’s receiving far more attention in the Ravens’ offense than Ed Dickson (Pitta has 13 receptions to Dickson’s three through two weeks)? Fine, but we’ll need to come up with a nickname for the Pitta segment that’s less cheeseball than the Pitta Pit.
Percentage owned: Yahoo – 33%, ESPN – 24.8 %,