Fantasy Football 2015: Week 1 Waiver Wire Sleeper Picks
You’ll find our waiver recommendations every single Monday night and Tuesday morning throughout the season. All players who appear in the weekly waiver wire column will be available in at least 50% of fantasy leagues. In future weeks, when there’s reason to start burning FAAB dollars, every player will also have a recommended bid amount. Until then, you can still pick up players for free in most formats. Some of the most attractive players who are available in more than half of all leagues are below.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
Dalton wasn’t exactly a hot commodity in drafts, and that’s understandable. He had a dreadful 2014 campaign, throwing for 3,398 yards, 7.06 yards per attempt, 19 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Dalton is also roundly lampooned for the way the Bengals have flamed out in the playoffs in each of his four seasons. But that misses the point. First of all, not many quarterbacks can say they went to the playoffs in all of their first four years in the league. Secondly, Dalton was hamstrung from Week 1 of last season on. A.J. Green hurt his foot in the team’s first game and never returned to 100%. Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert missed the entire season with injury. The Bengals didn’t figure out the appropriate backfield balance until midseason, when Jeremy Hill moved into the starting lineup. All of those pieces are in place heading into the start of this season, and Dalton is positioned to take advantage. Remember, he was the fifth-ranked quarterback in standard-scoring leagues in 2013. He struggled with consistency that season but was still worth a start more often than not in typical 10- or 12-team leagues. Dalton will be widely owned within the first few weeks of the season. Beat the rush and consider him now.
Andre Williams, RB, Giants
Williams wasn’t exactly inspiring in his stint as the Giants’ starter last year, ending the season with just 721 yards on 217 carries, good for just 3.3 yards per tote. Having said that, he did score seven touchdowns, and he could be back in a similar role this season. Rashad Jennings will be the primary ball carrier, and Shane Vereen will play a lot on passing downs, but Williams could hog the team’s goal-line touches. He’d also likely get the first shot to take over should Jennings go down, with Vereen remaining in his slot as a catch-first, run-second running back. If you turn to Williams early in the season, you’re likely in trouble, but he’s a nice guy to have around for depth purposes heading into the start of the year. He has a lower ownership rate than Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush, Ronnie Hillman and DeAngelo Williams, but I’d rather have him than any of them.
Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars
T.J. Yeldon is atop the Jaguars’ depth chart at running back. That is an indisputable fact. What is also an indisputable fact is that Robinson completely changed the Jacksonville rushing attack when the team turned to him as the starter last season. In his first four games headlining the team’s backfield, he ran for 389 yards and four touchdowns on 72 carries. Even if Yeldon does start all season for the Jaguars, Robinson will have a role in the offense. The team isn’t going to go with just one back, and it certainly isn’t likely to give its prized rookie the ball 20 times per game. Robinson should get at least 10 or 12 touches per game, and his role could definitely develop into something larger depending on how he and Yeldon perform in the first few weeks of the season. Robinson is owned in just about 15% of leagues entering Week 1, and that is simply too small a percentage. He’s well worth a shot as the last back on your roster. Fred Jackson, Knile Davis and David Johnson are all owned in more leagues than Robinson. That is a mistake.
DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins
If it weren’t for a foot injury that cost Parker seven games of his senior season, he may have been even higher than the 14th pick in this year’s NFL draft. If it weren’t for surprise surgery on that foot during the off-season, he likely would have been on the radar of more drafters throughout the summer. That has created an opportunity for owners in leagues where Parker went unnoticed in drafts. The rookie out of Louisville looks ready to go for Week 1 and could end up being the best rookie receiver in 2015. While the Dolphins have a number of options, Jarvis Landry is the only established weapon for Ryan Tannehill. At 6’3” and 218 pounds, Parker can be a significant threat in all areas of the field. In just six games at Louisville last season, he had 43 catches for 855 yards and five touchdowns. The year before, he racked up 885 yards and 12 scores. Clearly, the Dolphins saw something in him. The team already had Landry, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and Rishard Matthews on the roster, and yet still used the 14th overall pick in the draft on a receiver coming off a foot injury. He’s likely the team’s second-favorite receiver, all things being equal. He’s not going to be this cheap for much longer. Strike while you still can.
Marvin Jones, WR, Bengals
Jones was a chic breakout pick for most of last summer, even though there was troubling information out there about foot and ankle issues he was dealing with as the season crept closer and closer. Ultimately, those issues proved his undoing. Jones missed the entire 2014 season, just one year after he hauled in 10 touchdown receptions. Now he’s back on the field and fully healthy, starting alongside A.J. Green in the Bengals’ underrated offense. To be fair, Jones’s 10-touchdown season from 2013 was a fluke. He had just 51 catches that season, and needed a four-touchdown game to get to double-digits for the year. Having said that, Jones is a real red-zone weapon, checking in a 6’2”. Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is always going to heavily feature the run, especially when he has a pair of backs like Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Still, this passing game is going to be better than people expect. Mohamed Sanu found a way to turn in a top-40 season in Cincinnati last year, and he doesn’t have near the talent Jones does. At the very worst, Jones should be able to match Sanu’s 57-catch, 790-yard, five-touchdown season from a year ago. That easily makes him a worth being a fifth receiver in a 12-team league.
Photos: Joe Robbins/Getty Images (Dalton), Stacy Revere/Getty Images (Robinson)
In The Mag This Month