Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 2
The dust is still settling from the late Monday Night doubleheader, but Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season is finally in the books. While injuries are part of the game, it isn’t every year that we kick off the action with the consensus No. 1 pick facing an injury that might land him on Injured Reserve. A more cut-and-dry injury is Allen Robinson’s season-ending ACL tear, while Kevin White’s broken shoulder blade is just the latest in a sad career for the oft-injured receiver. Mix in Danny Woodhead going down with a hamstring injury and a myriad of defensive injuries, and you’ve got some spicy mayo on top of the usual waiver wire offerings. Didn’t you miss the chaos?
Let’s dive into the waiver waters and swim toward Week 2, shall we? Ownership levels discussed here are taken from Yahoo leagues.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Tarik Cohen (CHI – RB): 14% owned – 25% FAAB
Who would’ve thought that this Bears offense would produce the buzziest of waiver-wire pickups? With Cameron Meredith out, the five-foot-six Cohen looked to fill a much-needed pass-catching role for Mike Glennon by catching 8-of-12 targets for 47 yards and a touchdown. Oh, and he also rushed the rock five times for a nifty 66 more yards. One cannot count on those averages to hold up, but they do speak to his exciting skill set that echoes the likes of Danny Woodhead or Darren Sproles. Kevin White’s injury only deepens the need for a guy like Cohen in this offense, making him the top pickup heading into a Week 2 road date with the Bucs.
Kenny Golladay (DET – WR): 19% owned – 8% FAAB
Golladay has to be the premier wide receiver add this week for those of you who lost Allen Robinson (and those of you that simply want to win!). While Mr. Kenny didn’t survive on volume, he managed to turn his seven targets into four catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns. The first one was solid and probably would’ve generated enough waiver-wire buzz on its own to satiate many, but then he went and made a highlight-reel diving grab over the goal line on his second TD of the day to tattoo his name on the hearts of many. Detroit’s running game is still a mess and its defense is unlikely to win games, though it shouldn’t surprise that this offense will continue to flow through Matthew Stafford’s arm. Golladay should be a healthy piece of that pie alongside Golden Tate out of the slot, while Marvin Jones likely draws the toughest CB assignments on the outside for the foreseeable future. Week 2 against the Giants is a tough draw, but Week 3 against the Falcons could make for quite the shootout.
Nelson Agholor (PHI – WR): 14% owned – 8% FAAB
Agholor has always possessed talent, but his hands have led to enough inconsistencies to limit him to rotational duties in this Philadelphia offense. However, the Eagles’ season opener saw him looking much more confident out there, with his 86-yard day highlighted by a 58-yard TD from Carson Wentz. Agholor should get more of the No. 2 duties across from Alshon Jeffrey compared to Torrey Smith with the way this game shook out, but it’d be disingenuous to label Agholor as the unquestioned No. 2. He should get another chance to shine with Jeffrey drawing Kansas City’s Marcus Peters next week, leaving Agholor to draw plenty of targets against the lesser KC DBs in the meantime.
Cooper Kupp (LAR – WR): 27% owned – 7% FAAB
Kupp, out of Eastern Washington, showed off his talents by catching four balls on six targets for 76 yards and a score. Even though the performance came against a clearly-deflated Colts defense in a 46-9 rout, he still led the offense in receiving yards and showed that the preseason buzz between him and Jared Goff didn’t turn into a pumpkin once the games counted. While Kupp is unlikely to find pay dirt every week, he should see enough volume in more reasonable games that he’s more than startable in 12-team PPR formats.
Allen Hurns (JAX – WR): 9% owned – 5% FAAB
Allen Robinson’s injury opens the door for Hurns to establish himself as Jacksonville’s big-play wide out, though that may come with less opportunity than it would’ve in years past. The Jaguars look to have an emerging running game and defense, which should call for less garbage-time manias and pass-happy catch-up modes. Hurns is but a mere 25 years old and has speed to burn on the outside, while Marqise Lee (16% owned) is the preferable add in PPR formats and for more conservative owners seeking a floor. I’ll take the more volatile guy with the higher weekly ceiling at this point in the waiver season, but there’s no wrong answer here. Just don’t expect a WR3 out of either.
Javorius Allen (BAL – RB): 3% owned – 5% FAAB
“Buck” Allen benefitted from Andy Dalton turning the ball over enough to see Baltimore coast to a shutout, rushing it 21 times for 71 yards. Sixteen of those totes came in the second half with the defense handling things with relative ease, but Allen should become a big part of this backfield with Danny Woodhead likely to miss a few weeks or more with a hamstring injury. Allen is no pass-catcher like Woodhead but can split duties with Terrance West (who I believe should still be viewed as the “1A” in this RB stable) and be of service to those seeking a flex option in standard leagues. Plus, Baltimore gets to face the Browns defense in Week 2 and could easily find themselves in the same sort of game as Week 1.
Chris Carson (SEA – RB): 15% owned – 5% FAAB
Carson did about as much as he could behind Seattle’s swiss cheese offensive line against the Packers, racking up 39 yards on six carries with a 10-yard catch to boot. Eddie Lacy was pretty much obsolete from the get-go even with Thomas Rawls out, playing just seven snaps to Carson’s 26 while pass-catcher C.J. Prosise was in on 16. Rawls will surely be given a chance to be the starter when healthy, but Carson’s preseason hype appears to be justified. At the very least, he’s the handcuff to own in Seattle’s backfield to Rawls, with a decent chance at staking out a timeshare for those in deep leagues who need something immediate. Even though Rawls is slated to return for a cushy Week 2 matchup against the 49ers, he’s unlikely to be handed an inordinate amount of the work over Carson, making the rookie a solid add for now and for the future.
Kendall Wright (CHI – WR): 15% owned – 2% FAAB
Wright stands to gain the most in the Bears’ receiving group from Kevin White’s injury, as Wright was barely in the game before the injury occurred. He managed to catch three of his four targets for 34 yards by the final whistle and did have an understandable amount of PPR buzz thanks to being heavily targeted on key downs in the preseason, so don’t overreact to a quiet Week 1 so quickly. The yardage totals may not amount to much, but four targets are likely to be on the lower end of his weekly totals by the time we put a bow on 2017. Josh Bellamy isn’t as sure-handed as Wright and Deonte Thompson did almost nothing despite playing more snaps than either.
Alex Smith (KC – QB): 23% owned – 2% FAAB
Smith opened the 2017 season by out-Bradying Tom Brady, throwing for 368 yards and four touchdowns to become Week 1’s QB1 in a surprisingly strong victory over the Super Bowl Champions on the road. While we’re not going to suddenly forget the middling profile that has defined Alex Smith’s career thus far and we can’t overlook how porous New England’s defense was, there’s something to be said for rewarded aggression. Both Andy Reid and Smith himself saw the potential here for a high-octane offense thanks in large part to the trio of playmakers (Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce) around Smith. Week 2 against the Eagles at home figures to be a more tame contest, but streamers need to keep this potential in mind.
Sam Bradford (MIN – QB): 25% owned – 2% FAAB
Quarterbacks won’t be a staple of this column throughout the season, but the first week of the season grants us a chance to speak on notable performances and the implications moving forward. In a nutshell, Minnesota is not last season’s broken unit up front. Or at least, they have a chance to put together strong showings like this, as opposed to creating a frantic pocket for Bradford that required quick throws. Now with some more time (and a fresh Dalvin Cook setting up the run game), Bradford can let Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph develop their routes a bit more for increased potency. Yes, he played the Saints, but still. We’ll see how he looks against Pittsburgh in Week 2.
Paul Richardson (SEA – WR): 15% owned – 1% FAAB
Richardson managed to pull down 59 yards on four catches in a desolate showing for Seattle against Green Bay, tying Jimmy Graham for the team lead with seven targets. Health has limited Richardson’s opportunities thus far in his pro career, but he’s shown big-play ability and a knack for high-pointing the ball when on the field. Well, he’s on the field! In fact, his 41 snaps (out of 49) readily eclipsed Tyler Lockett’s 26 — for those who are worried about Lockett being the “true” No. 2 WR for Russell Wilson. Richardson could have a coming-out party to the fantasy world next week against the 49ers, with plus matchups against the Titans and Colts following that. Sign me up, but please let Wilson get some more time to throw!
Jared Cook (OAK – TE): 19% owned – 1% FAAB
Cook’s five catches for 56 scoreless yards isn’t going to leap out to anyone, but I’m very happy with how things shook out. He caught all of his targets and had plenty of space to work with after the catch with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree demanding respect on the perimeter. Marshawn Lynch means that linebackers and safeties can’t really stay back, and Cook’s speed allows him to burn most LBs while his size allows him to make contested catches over most DBs. Even though he didn’t score a TD here, I think it’s just a matter of time before he establishes himself as a TE1 in 12-team formats in this potent offense. Week 2 against the Jets is as good a time as any to kick that party off in earnest.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Kerwynn Williams (ARI – RB): 8% owned – 5% FAAB
The David Johnson news is not looking good, and while Williams doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, he’s the best we’ve got right now in Arizona. The Cardinals will likely lean on their deep receiving corps a lot more if Johnson is to miss extended time, but Carson Palmer shouldn’t and can’t do everything or be exposed to a lot of hits if they want to contend in 2017. While Williams isn’t going to be an every-down back, he should draw the tougher short-yardage assignments over Andre Ellington. Of course, Arizona could sign someone else and throw a wrench into this or insert Elijhaa Penny as a pure goal-line back to render all three RBs rather useless. Still, those looking to take a flier on this backfield heading into a soft matchup against the Colts in Week 2 should target Williams. I’d rather someone else waste their FAAB budgets, though.
DeShone Kizer (CLE – QB): 10% owned – 1% FAAB
While Kizer wasn’t asked to make any huge plays with his arm, he showed poise while being blitzed left and right to complete 20 of his 30 throws on the day against Pittsburgh in his NFL debut. He totaled 222 yards with a touchdown and an interception but was able to sprinkle in 17 rushing yards — including a QB sneak for an additional score at the goal line — to give him top-10 numbers at the position on the week. Those in 2QB leagues should feel comfortable banking on his potential and streamers should look forward toward dates with the Colts in Week 3 and the Jets in Week 5 for the rookie. Next week against the Ravens in Baltimore is not recommended.
Jermaine Kearse (NYJ – WR): 2% owned – 1% FAAB
“Welcome to the Salty Spitoon. How tough are ya?”
“I’m so tough, I started Jermaine Kearse in Week 1.”
“Right this way, sir!”
Now, you could substitute “stupid” for “tough” pretty readily but we can’t really argue with nine targets for Kearse. He caught seven of them for 59 yards in a dreadful Jets offense and may very well see that target share dwindle if it turns out that Josh McCown simply wants to throw to his slot guy, or if McCown likes Kearse’s size and experience. Jeremy Kerley must not have had a chance to get up to speed quick enough to be active but should push Kearse outside when he plays. Still, those looking for a guy owned in very few leagues should be looking at targets and little else. The Jets will find themselves in catch-up mode often in 2017.
Jesse James (PIT – TE): 7% owned – 1% FAAB
If you weren’t one of the savvy ones to snag Austin Hooper before the hype train took off on an 88-yard TD, then perhaps you can enjoy James’ stat lines moving forward. He’s TD-dependent and doesn’t offer much after the catch, but the Steelers are known for scoring lots of points and Vance McDonald isn’t superseding James just yet. I still like McDonald’s talent to win out eventually, but James should be useful as a dart throw in the interim for TE-needy owners.
Jacoby Brissett (IND – QB): 1% owned – 1% FAAB
So, you really need to dig deep for Week 2? Well, after the Scott Tolzien experiment ended in horrendous fashion against the Rams, the newly-acquired Brissett entered and showed off his big arm immediately with a 50-yard strike to Donte Moncrief. He may get the nod in Week 2 against the Cardinals — which is far from ideal — but beggars can’t be choosers and at least this guy can make some noise.