If you think you are done working on your fantasy football team after the draft, you are sorely mistaken. The best teams are the ones that feature constant adjustments, starting with Week 1.
Most players usually don’t think about the waiver wire until later in the year when injuries and breakout performances dictate a change of value. However, there are still plenty of intriguing options likely available even before the regular season begins on Thursday night.
Here is a look at some of the best players to target following the preseason, including only players available in more than 50 percent of leagues on ESPN.com.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
The key for this pickup is upside. Assuming you have a solid QB1 on your roster, it makes sense for your second quarterback to be someone who could legitimately break out with a huge season. This doesn’t qualify for veterans like Jay Cutler, Alex Smith or Andy Dalton.
Coming into the league, there were concerns about Marcus Mariota’s ability to play in a pro system compared to what he was used to in Oregon.
Those doubting him are now quieter after a strong preseason, as noted by Chris Wesseling of NFL.com:
Although he doesn’t have big-time targets around him like fellow rookie Jameis Winston does with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mariota can spread the ball around to a number of quality options and succeed with volume.
Most importantly, the Titans starter has some elite speed that could allow him to be a rushing threat each time out. This makes him a valuable commodity in fantasy considering the past success of players like Russell Wilson, Cam Newton or Michael Vick.
Quarterback is a deep position, but few alternatives on the board possess as much potential from a fantasy perspective as Mariota.
Christine Michael, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Plenty of players were shifted through waivers on Sunday, but one of the most notable transactions might have been the Dallas Cowboys acquiring running back Christine Michael in a trade for a conditional draft pick.
This generated a lot more interest than you would expect for a player who has just 254 rushing yards and zero touchdowns in his two-year career.
The intriguing part of this is the pure talent Michael possesses. ESPN’s Louis Riddick is very high on the running back’s ability:
With size (5’10”, 221 lbs), speed and shiftiness with the ball, all he has needed is an opportunity. Evan Silva of Rotoworld gave him high praise but also noted that he is partly to blame for his lack of chances:
Still, putting a skillful player behind the Cowboys’ offensive line—which is arguably the best in the league after helping DeMarco Murray win the rushing title last year—is enough to turn heads in fantasy football. At the very least, he is worth a late-round flier in drafts or a free-agency pickup to stash on the end of your bench.
The chances that Michael actually ends up being a star in Dallas this year aren’t great. ESPN’s Matt Berry reminded people that there are others in front of him on the depth chart:
With that said, Darren McFadden has played all 16 games in only one of seven seasons and Joseph Randle doesn’t have much more experience than Michael. This makes him worthy of a risk if you have room on your fantasy team.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Few players across the league did a better job of taking advantage of preseason reps than Tyler Lockett, a rookie out of Kansas State. Although it doesn’t necessarily translate to regular-season success, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com gave Lockett his own award:
The receiver has showcased a lot of big-play ability over the past month on special teams as well as within the offense.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll had high praise after an electrifying debut in the preseason opener, via ESPN’s Brady Henderson:
We all know that’s exactly what we were hoping to see. He looked very special tonight.
He looked like we hoped he would look. We drafted him with the thought that he might give us a real spark in an area we wanted to see if we could find a way to improve and be more dynamic. He did that.
The Seahawks have more established receivers in Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, while new tight end Jimmy Graham is certain to have a big role within the offense. However, Lockett provides the type of big-play ability not otherwise available on the roster.
Lockett could be the player Seattle was hoping to have in Percy Harvin, so it is worth a roster spot to see what his upside could be.
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