Green Bay wide receiver James Jones was a hot pickup heading into Week 1’s action. He paid immediate dividends for the bold fantasy football owners willing to take a chance on him, tallying four receptions for 51 yards and two touchdowns.
The question is: Who’s going to be the fantasy-stud pickup for Week 2?
Not all waiver-wire pickups will turn out to be gems, but scouring the freely available players is one of the best things you can do when managing your team. This is still true after Week 1, when impulsive fantasy owners might give up on some players too soon.
This list excludes players who are owned by more than 50 percent of teams to account for the larger 12- and 14-player leagues, although some exceptions could be made in the drop category if there’s a particularly notable drop as a result of performance, not injury. The drops list also doesn’t include players not on a team heading into Week 1.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
If you had Marcus Mariota and also started him, kudos to your fantasy football prescience and/or blinding fandom.
Mariota had an all-time great debut at quarterback, completed 13 of 16 passes for 209 yards, four touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Everyone talks about rookies getting as many reps as possible, but Mariota was so sublime, there was no need to keep him in this blowout, per ESPN:
Granted, he did this against Tampa Bay, a 2-14 team last year whose own rookie quarterback, Jameis Winston, struggled mightily.
Still, the poise Mariota showed going on the road in a much-hyped contest bodes well for his future. To his further credit, the humble Hawaiian isn’t letting it get to his head.
“It means we’re 1-0,” Mariota said, via the Tennessean‘s Jason Wolf. “It’s a good start for us, but it’s just the first game. We’ve got to continue to get better and not focus on stats.”
It’s may not be worth it to have him in your starting lineup just yet—16 passes against an out-of-sorts defense is a very, very small sample to go on—but he’s worth a look as a backup quarterback, especially in deeper leagues.
When he does hit the eventual roadblock in the passing game, Mariota’s athleticism could come into play. We’ve yet to see him rush at the professional level. Points on the ground could be coming for him in addition to his professional passing performances.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts
This is truly the no-brainer pickup of the week if you still have a chance to snag him. Here’s Yahoo Sports’ Andy Behrens to explain:
This one is so ridiculously obvious that we probably don’t need to write the blurb. TY Hilton is hurting (knee) and unlikely to play in Monday’s home matchup with the Jets, which leaves something like 10-12 targets up for grabs. Moncrief caught six passes for 46 yards and a spike at Buffalo, drawing 11 looks from Andrew Luck. He saw one more target than Andre Johnson, five more than Dwayne Allen and eight more than rookie Phillip Dorsett. He’s your priority add at receiver, along with James Jones.
T.Y. Hilton didn’t finish the Colts’ season-opening 27-14 loss to Buffalo on Sunday due to a knee injury. Colts owner Jim Irsay acknowledged he could be set for a brief spell on the sidelines.
“A really bad bruise, but it looks like we’re going to do an MRI,” Irsay said, per ESPN.com. “But the X-ray was negative. It looks like he may miss some time, but it doesn’t look like it’s anything real serious.”
Six catches on 11 targets isn’t the best rate of return for Donte Moncrief, but the Colts aren’t likely going to face many defenses as well-equipped to disrupt timing in the passing game as Buffalo.
With Andrew Luck at quarterback, there’s no chance of this team turtling up and turning to the run game, especially when Frank Gore rushed the ball just eight times for 31 yards against the Bills.
Moncrief’s solid target numbers alone in Week 1 would make him worth a glance in the really deep leagues. With Hilton out, he seems like a lock as Luck’s top option. Moncrief also had a pair of 100-yard games as a rookie in 2014, so he’s flashed big fantasy potential before.
If Hilton’s out, Moncrief has solid Week 2 value, but look out: Indy hosts the New York Jets, and they could sic cornerback Darrelle Revis on him. Even so, the number of targets he’s liable to get makes him a fine WR2/WR3 option.
When Hilton returns, Moncrief’s value takes an obvious hit. After a solid Week 1 performance, though, he might just be worth keeping around for the long haul in 12- and 14-player leagues as a WR3/Flex option.
Future is Bleak
Reggie Bush, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Two things are working against Reggie Bush after San Francisco’s 20-3 Monday night win over the Minnesota Vikings: his calf and Carlos Hyde.
According to NFL.com’s Around the NFL staff, Bush suffered a calf strain against Minnesota:
“The 49ers running back was carted off the field with a calf injury early in the first quarter of Monday’s 20-3 win over the Vikings and did not return. Coach Jim Tomsula said after the game that Bush suffered a calf strain.”
It was a tough blow for Bush in his first regular-season game with his new team, but that might not be the ultimate killer for his fantasy value.
Hyde exploded against Minnesota, carrying the ball 26 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Touted last season as the potential successor for Gore, the elusive Hyde showed moves that might not even be in the former Niners back’s repertoire, or many other running backs for that matter.
Here’s his pretty spin move on the way to a short-yardage touchdown, via the NFL’s official Twitter account:
ESPN Stats and Info also showed he put up numbers not seen by a San Francisco back in quite some time:
With moves, vision and speed like that, there’s little need for a running back by committee approach. It’s too early to say how long Bush might be out, if at all, but when he comes back it’s looking like he’ll have a fight on his hands for playing time.
If there’s one area where Hyde hasn’t yet proved himself, it’s the passing game. He caught just two passes for 14 yards on a night where Colin Kaepernick didn’t spend much time looking downfield. Hyde only caught 12 passes in 14 games last season.
Bush has been an adept pass-catching back from the moment he stepped in the league. However, if that’s where his fantasy points are going to have to come from this season, it could be tough to justify keeping him on the roster in smaller leagues.
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