The first week of NFL action is in the books and many fantasy football owners are already looking to the waiver wire. We're here to help. The players listed in Athlon Sports’ weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players worth grabbing.
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville
It’s only one week, but Gabbert looked pretty good against Minnesota, completing nearly 60 percent of his attempts for a career-high 260 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. However, it is still early and Houston’s defense figures to be a much tougher test than the Vikings’, but progress is progress, right?
Christian Ponder, Minnesota
Speaking of progress, fellow second-year signal caller Ponder completed nearly 75 percent of his pass attempts against the Jaguars. He threw for 270 yards, but had no touchdowns. Still, with Adrian Peterson back in the fold, Ponder could become a reliable spot-starter, especially if the Vikings’ offense continues to progress.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Tim Tebow did get on the field, but it was Sanchez who did all the damage under center, as he passed for 266 yards and three touchdowns in the Jets’ demolition of Buffalo. A trip to Pittsburgh is next up for the Jets, but the Steelers had trouble stopping Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ aerial attack, so Sanchez could be worth a look in Week 2, if not beyond.
Alex Smith, San Francisco
Is San Francisco changing its style? The 49ers passed nearly as many times (26) as they ran the ball (32), and when they did go to the air, Smith made it count. He missed on just six of his 26 attempts for 211 yards and two touchdowns in the huge road win over Green Bay. He connected with six different receivers on the day, including a total of eight catches by new wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. If the 49ers continue to let Smith throw the ball, he could put up some decent numbers, starting this week as Detroit and its banged up secondary comes calling.
Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers
Isaac Redman started and had more carries (11 to 9), but Dwyer did more with his touches as he had 43 yards rushing and caught two passes in the Steelers’ loss to Denver. It remains to be seen if Dwyer will supplant Redman as the starter, and also what will happen once Rashard Mendenhall returns, but the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket certainly bears watching.
Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore (112 yards rushing) did the bulk of the damage on the ground, but Hunter still got nine carries against Green Bay. Hunter finished with 41 yards (4.6 ypc) and with LaMichael James and Brandon Jacobs sidelined by injuries, he appears to be the clear-cut second option for a team that likes to run.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
Willis McGahee is the No. 1 option in Denver right now, but if Week 1 showed us anything, it’s that Moreno and not third-round pick Ronnie Hillman, is No. 2. Moreno was productive in his return from last season’s torn ACL as he had five carries for 13 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown in the second quarter of the Broncos’ win over Pittsburgh. Even though Peyton Manning is now under center, it’s not like he’s going to throw the ball every play, so opportunity is there for Moreno, especially if McGahee goes down to injury.
Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
Morris got more than four times as many carries as any other Washington running back against New Orleans, and turned those 28 totes into 96 yards and two scores. The obvious caveat with him, however, is that he plays for Mike Shanahan, who has a well-earned reputation for driving fantasy owners crazy with how he handles his backfield. You’ve been warned.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons
Although Atlanta's 40-24 domination of Kansas City may not be the best gauge, it should be pointed out that Rodgers carried the ball just four times fewer than Michael Turner, who had 11 carries. Rodgers had a better average (3.1 to 2.9 ypc) and also had two receptions. If the coaching staff is serious about cutting down Turner’s workload, Rodgers will be the primary beneficiary.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
He leads the NFL in rushing and he’s probably the Bills’ starter moving forward as Fred Jackson is dealing with a knee injury that will reportedly keep him out at least a month. Spiller was the lone Bills highlight in the lopsided loss to the Jets, as he gashed them for 169 rushing yards on just 14 carries. Even if you took out his 56-yard touchdown run, Spiller would have finished with 113 yards on 13 carries (8.7 ypc).
Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals
He didn’t do a lot with them (9 yards rushing), but Williams finished Arizona’s win over Seattle with more carries (8 to 7) than Beanie Wells. He also caught two passes for 17 yards. The workload for the two backs is what bears watching moving forward, especially if Williams establishes himself as the lead horse.
Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions
Detroit surprisingly struggled to put away St. Louis, but Matthew Stafford still finished with more than 300 yards passing and Calvin Johnson led the way with 111 yards receiving. It was Burleson, however, who got more targets (8 to 7) than Johnson and tied Megatron with six catches (69 yards). As much as the Lions throw the ball, Burleson could develop into a valuable contributor, especially if he’s able to hold off Titus Young as the No. 2 receiver.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Cobb tied Greg Jennings for most targets among Green Bay wide receivers in the loss to San Francisco with nine. More than that, however, was how the Packers lined the second-year pro up – in the backfield, on the outside, in the slot – in an attempt to get him the ball. If you have any doubts about his big-play ability, look no further than his 75-yard punt return for a touchdown that got the Packers back in the game early in the fourth quarter.
Stephen Hill, New York Jets
It was Hill and not Santonio Holmes, who was the Jets’ leading receiver against Buffalo. Hill put a disappointing preseason completely behind him with his five-catch, 89-yard effort that also included two touchdowns. Holmes was targeted more (8 to 6), but Hill is the other starting wideout for the Jets and it looks like Mark Sanchez will not be afraid to throw it his way.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
There’s no doubt that Brandon Marshall is and will be Jay Cutler’s favorite target, but there’s room for someone to emerge as his No. 2 option and Jeffery did nothing to hurt himself in that regard in Week 1. The rookie out of South Carolina was targeted five times, which was second only to Marshall’s 15 among Bears wideouts, and finished with three receptions for 80 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown strike in the fourth quarter.
Donald Jones, Buffalo Bills
Jones led the Bills in receptions with five in Week 1, and he should continue to see plenty of opportunities as David Nelson tore his ACL in the loss to the Jets. Stevie Johnson is the clear No. 1 option for Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Jones will line up opposite him as the other starter due to the loss of Nelson.
Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers
Barring injury, LaFell won’t supplant Steve Smith as Cam Newton’s favorite target anytime soon. Still, the former LSU Tiger came on late last season and continued that momentum in Week 1 as he caught three passes for 65 yards (21.7 ypc) and a score.
Randy Moss, San Francisco 49ers
Is he back? Perhaps, but one thing is for sure – Alex Smith did his part to involve him in San Francisco’s passing attack. Moss was targeted four times, which tied him for second among 49er wide receivers with Mario Manningham, but he caught all of them for 47 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, Smith looked his way multiple times in the red zone.
Kevin Ogletree, Dallas Cowboys
On the one hand there’s the eight receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns, which is certainly the type of production anyone would want to have in their lineup. There are also the team-high 11 targets he got from Tony Romo. On the other hand, there’s the fact that Ogletree will remain the Cowboys’ No. 3 receiver, barring injury, and that opposing secondaries will probably offer more resistance than the Giants’ injury-depleted one did in Week 1. All of that said, Ogletree is still worth picking up if you have room for him. Remember what Laurent Robinson did last season?
Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals
Arizona’s quarterback situation and the presence of Larry Fitzgerald notwithstanding, Roberts staked his claim to the No. 2 receiver job in Week 1. Besides leading the team in catches (five for 54 yards and a touchdown), and receiving just two fewer targets (11 to 9) than Fitzgerald, Roberts also was the Cardinals’ leading rusher. He gained 15 yards on one lone carry.
Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
Three different Giants tight ends were targeted a total of 86 times last season. Only one of them – Bear Pascoe – is on the active roster this reason. Eli Manning targeted his tight ends a total of seven times in the opener against the Cowboys. Pascoe got one, while Bennett got the other six and turned them into four catches and a touchdown.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
Fleener was targeted by his former Stanford teammate Andrew Luck 10 times against Chicago, finishing with six catches for 82 yards. Overall Luck threw the ball 45 times, a trend that figures to continue considering the chances the Colts will be playing from behind a majority of the season.
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
A breakout star in 2010, Lewis all but disappeared in 2011. After posting five catches on five targets for 52 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, Lewis may be back on the fantasy map this season, especially if Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert can perform like he did against Minnesota on a weekly basis.
Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
Pitta and not Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin or even Ray Rice was the most targeted Raven on Monday night with nine of them. He finished the evening with a team-high five receptions, 73 yards receiving, and scored a touchdown. He and Ed Dickson give quarterback Joe Flacco two dependable options at tight end, but the early returns seem to show that Pitta is first in the pecking order. Don't lose sight of the fact that even though the outcome against Cincinnati was a laugher, 44-13, the Ravens still threw the ball (32 attempts) more than they ran it (23 rushes).
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph got seven targets, just one fewer than wide receiver Percy Harvin, and caught five passes for 67 yards in the win over Jacksonville, He should continue to receive his fair share of opportunities as he and Harvin will more than likely be Christian Ponder’s primary reads in the Vikings’ passing game as the season progresses.
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.
— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 11, 2012