As the season moves along, I will be focusing on hot waiver pick-ups each week. Today’s column will serve as a final look at a few under-owned players who may emerge as the next hot waiver claims once the games start counting. Many of us have a player or two on the back half of our rosters who we view as expendable. If you have a player you feel comfortable dropping, perhaps one of these featured players would make a good addition to your squad.
Ownership percentages are current as of 9/5.
I actually do not recommend adding any of these players today, unless you play in a very deep league where QB waiver options are scarce. The reason I am highlighting these lightly owned QBs is to remind owners why rostering a back-up in standard sized leagues is not necessary. Any of the following players will make for solid bye week fill-ins when the matchups are favorable.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals – 27.6% owned in Y!, 20.8% owned in ESPN
Dalton was terrible in 2014, but he has proven in the past that he is a productive NFL QB. The Bengal offense has as many quality skill position weapons as any team in the league. Jeremy Hill and A.J. Green are among the best in the league at their positions and Marvin Jones, Tyler Eifert and Gio Bernard are all talented options in the passing game. Dalton is not likely to repeat his 2013 campaign, but he is a great bet to outproduce many of the QBs being drafted before him. Of all the players on this list, Dalton is the one to consider holding on to.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars – 12% owned in Y!, 9.5% owned in ESPN
Bortles struggled during his rookie season. He threw too many interceptions and took too many unnecessary sacks. While the Jaguars’ offense will never be confused for a juggernaut, Allen Robinson is a prime breakout candidate on the outside and Allen Hurns has shown promise also. Once Julius Thomas recovers from his finger injury, the Jags could have 3 legitimate receiving threats. Bortles has also demonstrated improved pocket presence this offseason and he makes for an excellent streamer play against defenses who struggle to generate a consistent pass rush.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins – 6% owned in Y!, 7.1% owned in ESPN
In the right matchup, Cousins has as much weekly upside as any QB in the league. He has the ability to fit throws into tight windows and he is willing to aggressively target receivers down the field. The trouble is, he also has a penchant for soul crushing interceptions that tend to come in bunches. While he can put up awesome fantasy numbers when things are going well, he is also capable of producing some massive duds, even in friendly matchups. If you feel like rolling the dice, Cousins could be your guy.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets – 6% owned in Y!, 5.0% in ESPN
Fitzpatrick is a mediocre NFL QB, but he has a couple pretty good WR options in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. He is a low ceiling, low floor replacement option in a relatively conservative Jets offense. In other words, Fitzpatrick is roughly the opposite of Kirk Cousins.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills – 7% owned in Y!, 10% in ESPN
Running QBs tend to have strong fantasy value, especially in 4 point passing TD leagues. Taylor’s passing ability is in question, but because of his explosive ability to scramble, he makes a fantastic streamer option. This is especially true in weeks where the game flow is likely to prevent Rex Ryan from calling running plays every down.
Andre Williams, New York Giants – 28% owned in Y!, 59.8% in ESPN
Y! owners, listen up! Andre Williams is not exactly an elite talent, but he looks like the Giants’ goal line back and a committee partner with Rashad Jennings in what could be pretty close to an even timeshare. There is absolutely no excuse for his ownership percentage to be this low. If you have an open roster spot, go get Williams.
Matt Jones, Washington Redskins – 17% owned in Y!, 17.2% in ESPN
I am a Redskins fan, so I had Alfred Morris on a number of my fantasy rosters as a flyer prior to his rookie year breakout. This year, I am avoiding him like the plague. I love Alf, but he is a poor fit for Gruden’s offense. Enter Matt Jones, a versatile, physical runner with ability in the passing game as well. Already penciled in as the 3rd down back and coming off a preseason where he averaged nearly 7 yards a carry, Jones has a legitimate chance to overtake free agent to be Morris on the depth chart at some point this season. Gruden likes to go no huddle from time to time, and Morris is a liability in the passing game. Any time the Redskins go up tempo, it will be Jones on the field, not Morris.
David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals – 22% owned in Y!, 34.7% owned in ESPN
There is a ton of uncertainty in the Cardinals backfield this season. While Ellington will no doubt get the majority of the touches early on, the Johnsons (David and Chris) each have a chance to emerge as the lead dog in time. I am betting on David Johnson. He is a bigger, faster version of Ellington and if he proves that he can handle pass protection, he is a serious threat to the injury prone incumbent. David Johnson has looked great in training camp and also flashed his considerable receiving skills during preseason action. He is worth stashing as we wait and see what his role may be.
Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars – 12% owned in Y!, 41% owned in ESPN
This is another Y! special. T.J. Yeldon is clearly ahead of Robinson on the Jaguars’ depth chart and appears to be their every down workhorse. The thing is, nobody is really sure if Yeldon will be able to handle the job. Scouts are divided in their opinion of the Alabama product, so it is possible that Robinson gets an opportunity to be the main guy if Yeldon falters. In Yeldon’s preseason debut, I think the number of dance moves he made while trying to find a hole was actually higher than his total yards gained. When there is doubt as to whether or not the starter can handle the job, the next in line needs to be closely monitored. In this case, it is Denard Robinson. While the Jags O-line is pretty terrible, Robinson is good enough to be a flex play if he gets the job.
Montee Ball, Free Agent – 10% owned in Y!, 41% owned in ESPN
I actually think his ownership percentage is too high in ESPN leagues, but I would be willing to stash him in leagues where any of the above players are already gone. Ball has recently been released by the Broncos, but if he lands in the right spot he could prove to be valuable in time. I was hoping Ball would get picked up by the Cowboys, but they arranged a trade for Christine Michael instead.
Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills – 1% owned in Y!, 3% owned in ESPN
When Fred Jackson was released last week, Williams vaulted up to the second spot on the Bills depth chart. The rookie out of Florida State is extremely talented, but he is a converted safety who is even less experienced than the average rookie back. He has the talent to take the job and run with it if McCoy were to get injured, but he could just as easily flame out. I have Williams rostered as a lottery ticket option in one league because I am pretty far down on McCoy this season, but he likely needs McCoy to miss time if he is to have any real fantasy value. Since shady is already dinged, there is some real possibility here.
Christine Michael, Dallas Cowboys – 7% owned in Y!, 4% Owned in ESPN
Michael’s stock is skyrocketing right now as he was just traded to Dallas. He is extremely talented physically, but was unable to ever establish a role in Seattle despite the annual preseason hype. Two things to consider, however, before you drop a potentially valuable member of your fantasy squad. First, the Cowboys are stating that they acquired Michael as “insurance and depth”. While his role does have potential to grow, he is currently 4th on their depth chart. Second, if Michael were actually able to play, wouldn’t Seattle have kept him? Right now they are relying on a pair of 30 something RBs who likely each have 2 years or less remaining in their NFL careers. If Michael were any good, Seattle would have kept him for themselves.
Breshad Perriman, Baltimore Ravens – 23% owned in Y!, 62% owned in ESPN
News just broke this morning that Perriman is likely to be sidelined into October. His ownership numbers are sure to fall as a result, especially in ESPN leagues. While I don’t think it is necessary to add him just yet, keep Perriman on your radar. Remember, a certain Giants rookie receiver lit the world on fire last year after missing the first month. Perriman is not going to approach Beckham’s numbers from last year, but when he finally does get healthy, he figures to have a featured role in the Ravens’ offense. Deep league owners may want to stash and standard league owners should reevaluate his status in a couple of weeks.
Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals – 24% owned in Y, 26% owned in ESPN
Jones missed all of 2014 with a foot injury, but he caught 10 TD passes in 2013. While his role on the offense is yet to be determined, he is a talented playmaker capable of emerging as the second or third option for Andy Dalton. He has played behind Mohamed Sanu in two wide sets during the preseason, but he is the more talented option and I expect him to emerge at some point. If Andy Dalton is able to bounce back, Marvin Jones will likely be a big part of it.
Brandon Coleman, New Orleans Saints – 20% owned in Y!, 11.8% owned in ESPN
Coleman is a talented, big bodied potential red zone monster in a Drew Brees offense. With Colson fading fast and Graham in Seattle, there is a lot of potential opportunity for the young receiver. His playing time will likely hinge on how often the Saints go with 3 wideouts. Since they have shown increased commitment to the running game this offseason, that may not be as frequently as you think. Still, Coleman’s upside is too high to ignore. He may even overtake Colston in two wide sets at some point this season.
Phillip Dorsett, Indianapolis Colts – 13% owned in Y!, 10% owned in ESPN
Dorsett is a talented rookie out of “The U” who now appears to be ahead of Donte Moncrief on the depth chart. The third WR in the NFL’s most prolific passing attack could have some serious fantasy value this season. For now, that is Dorsett. He should be owned just about everywhere since the Colts figure to go three wide an awful lot.
Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars – 13% owned in Y!, 5% owned in ESPN
The Jaguars have improved, but they still figure to trail early and often this season. Blake Bortles is likely going to throw a lot, and Hurns appears to be the second option for now. Hurns is a relatively low ceiling option, but coming off a good preseason with a secure role, he could be a nice bench option for your fake squad.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks – 12% owned in Y!, 14% owned in ESPN
Lockett has been a big play machine this preseason, with a punt and kickoff return for a TD along with a score on a long pass from Russell Wilson. While his offensive role could lead to inconsistency, especially in a share the wealth offense, his talent is too great to ignore. Lockett reminds me of a young Randall Cobb with his electric open field ability.
Ty Montgomery/Jeff Janis – Green Bay Packers
Whichever player emerges here as the 3rd receiver in Green Bay is likely to end up with some decent fantasy value. While it appears that Montgomery has the leg up at the moment, both players need to be rostered until the dust settles.
Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers – 21% owned in Y!, 7% owned in ESPN
Green has been a popular breakout pick for the last two seasons, but he has been blocked by Antonio Gates. This season may actually be Green’s best opportunity since Gates is officially suspended for the first 4 games. Green has disappointed at every turn so far, but if you are looking for a bye week filler for Gronk or Walker (week 4), this could be a nice, cheap option.
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills – 19% owned in Y!. 18% owned in ESPN
I am not sure if Tyrod Taylor will be an effective enough passer for Clay to fully utilize his talents, but Clay could be a heavily targeted check down option. He was able to secure a 67 yard TD pass in the third preseason game and has as much upside as any of the low-end TE1 players being drafted.
Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – 11% owned in Y!, 20% owned in ESPN
Rodgers has seen his ownership levels spike in the wake of Nelson’s injury. He will likely be a TD dependent, boom or bust weekly option, but he figures to be heavily involved in Green Bay’s red zone packages. Fantasy owners could do a lot worse with a late TE pick.
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