It’s never too early to start improving your team. Perhaps your draft didn’t go as planned and you missed out on some of the late-round players you were hoping to grab? Well, Andrew Jordan looks at five players you should be targeting on your fantasy football waiver wire.
Drafting brings only so much talent to a fantasy football roster. The fact is that working the waiver wire is a crucial part of championship seasons. Doing so requires not only reacting to performances, but also figuring out which players were used in ways that make duplicating their results feasible. Good players draft well, great players work the waiver wire, dominant players do both.
Tyrell Williams WR, San Diego Chargers
Keenan Allen suffered a torn ACL in the first half of the Chargers’ season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, which serves as a massive blow to the team’s aerial attack. Enter Tyrell Williams, who saw five targets on Sunday (four after Allen exited) and has the best chance to fill the void. On Williams’ first catch of the season, quarterback Philip Rivers was under duress and found him running a shallow drag route. Williams promptly turned upfield after making the initial three-yard reception, tacking on another 30. On his second catch, Williams found a soft spot in the zone behind a linebacker and took a 12-yard gain for an additional 26 yards. The early YAC numbers are promising from a fantasy standpoint, as is Philip Rivers’ confidence throwing to him even when he has a man draped all over him, as he did in the 3rd quarter endzone target Williams received. He’s only a speculative WR4 right now but could become a weekly flex play and possibly an occasional WR2 depending on his uptick in usage.
The second WR selected in the 2016 NFL Draft was met with a lot of skepticism from fantasy analysts this offseason. Those claims are not without merit, however we are ignoring a very key piece of information: With DeAndre Hopkins lining up across from him, Fuller will almost never see double coverage. Expecting 100+ yards and a touchdown every week is unrealistic, but the floor for Fuller’s production is higher than most believe. The most important number when it comes to looking at Fuller’s debut is his 11 targets. What makes that number even more impressive is that it was nearly a third of Brock Osweiler’s 35 pass attempts. A gifted athlete that has already gained the confidence of his QB, Fuller could develop into a weekly top 30 WR while lining up across from a star like Hopkins. At the lower end of his value, Fuller becomes the player you can roll out in weeks you may be projected down by a large number of points, in hopes that he puts up a 5 reception, 107 yard, and 1 touchdown stat line similar to Week 1.
Moving from one 11-target WR to another, Jeremy Kerley seemed to be the brightest spot in an otherwise clumsy Monday Night Football game. After reeling in 7 of those targets for 61 yards, Kerley should immediately be on the radar for PPR players. Like Osweiler, Blaine Gabbert threw 35 attempts and looked most comfortable targeting Kerley all over the field. In fact, if it weren’t for an off-target throw, Kerley probably would have added a touchdown to his line. Still, Kerley finished as a WR4 in Week 1 and his ceiling should rise a bit, as he is still learning the offense after joining the 49ers a little over two weeks ago. The 49ers offense will not be the most dominant in the league, but Chip Kelly’s fast-paced tempo mixed with Gabbert’s propensity to go to his checkdown means there will be steady involvement for the newest receiver in Levi’s Stadium.
Ameer Abdullah totaled 120 yards from scrimmage on Sunday, doing work both on the ground and through the air. What might have been lost through that performance was Riddick’s 108 yards and two scores. On his receiving alone, Riddick netted owners 12 points in standard leagues, 17 in PPR leagues. The fourth-year back showed impressive burst and field awareness just about every time he stepped on the field for the Lions. On a 12-yard run in the 4th quarter with the game tied, Riddick took the handoff from Matthew Stafford and was nearly met in the hole by a Colts defender three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Deftly sidestepping him, Riddick found a little space, shook another defender at the LOS and turned on the jets for a first down. A few plays later Riddick caught a small screen with a defender near him and scampered to paydirt. Abdullah and Riddick appear to be a formidable and unique one-two combo for the Lions, spelling each other often. Yes, the greater value in any given week might be determined by who is on the field when Detroit starts going no-huddle, but there is clearly enough for both men to eat. Fantasy players in PPR leagues who missed out on getting the underrated Charles Sims can find redemption in Theo Riddick.
IDP Bonus – Mason Foster LB, Washington
IDP players who loaded up on defensive linemen as some of the top linebacker options went off the board may have found a valuable piece of the puzzle in Mason Foster. Notching 14 total tackles, Foster was not necessarily a game changer in Week 1, but he did exactly what you want an IDP linebacker to do. He flowed to the ball and cleaned up running plays consistently. He also patiently sat back in his zone on passing plays and made solid tackles on Antonio Brown, Jesse James, and DeAngelo Williams. Proving he can play all three downs makes him valuable, and IDP players only have so many shots to grab a stat-stuffing linebacker. It remains unclear whether or not Foster has indeed figured things out in his 6th year in the league, but Monday night against the Steelers was certainly a step in the right direction. If you have any reserve cornerbacks on your bench, dropping one for Foster should be the first thing you do.