Waiver Wire Rankings (Week 2): Julius Thomas Rises Up
With a busy weekend of games in the books, it’s time to focus our energy on the waiver wire. Last year at this time, more than a few leagues had the likes of Alfred Morris, Randall Cobb and James Jones waiting to be picked up. The year before that, Cam Newton was still available for many fantasy owners. We could go on and on but you get the point: The uncertainty of the season often provides a chance to hit it big with early waiver wire adds.
To help make sense of it all, we asked several featured experts to rank a list (provided by us) of RB/WR/TE based off of rest of season value. Their picks were then combined to determine consensus waiver wire rankings. If you’d like to see where each player below ranks for this week only, be sure to check out our updated Week 2 Standard and PPR rankings.
Waiver Wire Rankings (STD Scoring)
|Player||Position||Team||Consensus Rank||Best Rank||Worst Rank|
Week 2 Waiver Wire Advice
Each expert was asked to share advice about a target or two they like this week along with any other waiver wire suggestions they have. Here’s what the experts had to say.
It’d be so very easy to write off Julius Thomas as a Week 1 wonder bound to devastate owners with sky-high hopes. Here’s why you shouldn’t: Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen combined for 133 fantasy points in 2012, good for the fourth most points among tight ends (Thomas played every one of Denver’s offensive plays against Baltimore). Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme combined to post No. 2 overall tight end numbers in Peyton Manning’s final year in Indianapolis. There’s real precedent for Thomas as an every-week fantasy starter, and to peg him as Manning’s permanent fourth option is either unfair or inaccurate.
Highly-touted Zach Sudfeld, who seemed to have some semblance of chemistry with Tom Brady this summer, ran a grand total of 10 pass routes in Week 1. Tampa Bay’s backup tight end ran more, just for some perspective. Julian Edelman is the temporary Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez fill-in, as he ran the second most routes among all New England pass catchers against Buffalo. Edelman caught seven of his nine targets for two scores. Don’t expect that touchdown production to hold, but I’d play him with confidence, especially in PPR formats.
If I were looking to add a running back off the waiver wire, Joique Bell would be the first guy I’d target among the group of RBs owned in less than 50 percent of leagues. Even with Reggie Bush finishing with 191 yards from scrimmage (YFS), Bell was highly productive with 92 YFS and two TDs. Although he won’t always score a TD (or two), Bell should get 10-12 touches per game with some goal-line opportunities and have an opportunity to produce as a solid flex option in most weeks.
I’m sure you all will get a few other sentences about Julius Thomas in this post, so I’ll let just leave you with the fact that Thomas has Top-10 TE upside so he’s a great waiver target if you need tight end help. Other than Thomas, I really like Joique Bell this week. Like Thomas, we probably just saw his best game of the season in Week 1, but he has a lot of upside — especially in PPR leagues. Reggie Bush is the clear-cut RB1 in Detroit, but he’s never been the most durable player and Bell could end up being a weekly fantasy starter if anything happens to Bell. I also like Julian Edelman a lot this week as the Patriots rookie wide receivers struggled to get on the same page with Tom Brady yesterday (and Aaron Dobson supposedly wasn’t even going to crack the active roster if he was healthy). Edelman has the most experience (read: trust) with Brady and I think he could be a very dependable WR3 or flex option if he can stay healthy this season.
The best waiver advice I can give for fantasy owners in standard-sized leagues (14 teams or less) is to go trolling the wire for defensive pickups every week. The top defensive performances in many leagues this week came from undrafted units, many of which were forecasted ahead of time to have great matchups (the Chiefs, Dolphins and Vikings, for example). This week, I’m dumping a Bucs unit that got me double-digit points in Week 1 and looking to pick up the Panthers against the Bills or the Lions against the Cardinals. Employing this strategy week-to-week will give you a great shot to build the best overall fantasy defense in the league piece by piece on the backs of excellent matchups.
The key to early waiver wire moves is to not risk too much on players with little history of success before big games in week 1. Guys like Brian Hartline, Julian Edelman, and Dallas Clark are safe bets because they’ve performed well in the past. On the other hand, players like Jerome Simpson and Da’Rel Scott should be avoided until they prove they can play well two weeks in a row. Julius Thomas is an exception to this rule, largely because of preseason success, and he’s the consensus top addition in most formats this week.
The waiver wire is a great way to reinforce your roster, but you only have a limited amount of roster spots. As you pick up some of these rising players, you should look to make two-for-one trades; this will allow you to upgrade a starter and also free up another roster spot, which you can use to pick up the next promising player. This cycle allows you to continually improve your roster throughout the season.
QB Pickup: Terrelle Pryor vs. E.J. Manuel
We also asked each expert to tell us which young QB (Pryor or Manuel) is the better waiver wire addition AND who they would consider dropping for their choice.
Terrelle Pryor: I’m admittedly bullish on Terrelle Pryor as a Tebow-esque fantasy football phenom whose weekly fantasy floor is incredibly high. He’s a true case study in how owners separate real football from the fake kind. Pryor’s passing production is just icing on the proverbial cake; it’s the ground production that you can rely on. Pryor’s mobility neutralizes Oakland’s heinous offensive line — it doesn’t matter that they can’t protect the passer. I’d drop quite a few quarterbacks in favor of Pryor, including Ben Roethlisberger and Josh Freeman.
Terrelle Pryor: Assuming that you already have your every-week starter in a 12-team league, I’d add the guy that has more upside and that’s Pryor. While he obviously won’t rush for 100-plus yards every week, he’s the ninth-highest scoring QB through Sunday’s games despite throwing for only 217 yards and one TD. With his athleticism and the team’s likelihood to play from behind often, Pryor will flirt with low-end QB1 numbers in several weeks. I’d be comfortable dropping a lower-upside fantasy backup like Philip Rivers, Alex Smith and Matt Schaub, all of whom are owned much more than Pryor.
Terrelle Pryor: Going into Monday night, Terrelle Pryor and EJ Manuel are sitting at QB8 and QB15 for Week 1, respectively. I think Manuel has more long-term upside, but Pryor is the guy to target of the two for the 2013 fantasy football season. He doesn’t have the passing upside that the more traditional fantasy quarterbacks have, but Pryor does offer a rushing element that can be very advantageous to fantasy owners — especially when you consider the fact that he is currently the NFL’s leading rusher. It’s a guarantee that Pryor won’t rush for 112 yards every week, but he should give you a good five or six-point base each week just from his rushing yards alone. I wouldn’t go overboard dropping anyone like Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, or Sam Bradford for him (have you seen Oakland’s offensive roster? Keyword: offensive…get it?), but Pryor’s rushing ability offers a higher floor than guy’s like Brandon Weeden, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, and the like. I still don’t know if I’m buying Pryor as someone who I’d want to start as my QB1 every week (he’s got some major bust potential against good defenses), but it’s worth taking an flier on him as your QB2 if you have a roster spot.
Terrelle Pryor: I think I’d buy into Pryor having more upside in fantasy leagues than E.J. Manuel, so I’d take him if I was looking for a QB2. There aren’t many QBs capable of rushing for 100 yards in a week, even against poor defenses. I think Pryor’s upside to deliver big rushing totals in good matchups makes him worth owning over QB2s that don’t possess any fantasy upside, like Brandon Weeden, Christian Ponder and Ryan Tannehill. If I owned a rock solid QB1, I’d gamble that Pryor turns into an interesting trade chip if he can put together a few more big rushing totals, and I’d own him over interchangeable QB2s like Josh Freeman, Alex Smith and Sam Bradford.
Terrell Pryor: Pryor is my top quarterback waiver add this week because of his running ability. He may not do as much through the air as E.J. Manuel will but he looks to be one of the most effective running quarterbacks in the league. If Pryor can get double digit carries every week he may end up one of the more consistent options at the position this year. Quarterbacks I’d consider dropping for Pryor include Christian Ponder, Brandon Weeden, Mark Sanchez, Matt Flynn, and Blaine Gabbert. It’s too early to risk more than that but Pryor does appear to have QB1 upside which is something only a handful of other quarterbacks have. He’s worth gambling on as a high-end backup
Terrelle Pryor: I prefer Pryor, who is the more superior runner, over E.J. Manuel. Both quarterbacks should struggle through the air and their running ability is what will maintain any sort of week-to-week consistency. Pryor will also be asked to do more in an offense void of much surrounding talent and will likely have the benefit of playing from behind quite often. He should be viewed as an upside QB2 and I’d cut the cord with any middling QB2 such as Joe Flacco.
Thanks to this week’s Featured Pros for sharing their advice! You can check out more picks by viewing our week 2 rankings.