We are entering the first waiver wire week of the Fantasy Football 2011 season. Every season players will find fantasy sleepers that fall onto the waiver wire. The right waiver wire pickup can turn your season around faster than you think.
This is the time of the season where you could find your season MVP. Of course there is a lot of guesswork here because it is almost impossible to tell the difference between a one week fantasy wonder or a consistent playmaker. That is why you will find more options in the early weeks than you will in the later weeks.
Once again keep in mind, there aren’t any real locks on this list. These are guys that had good to great first week stats or will benefit from early injuries. Regardless, there are very few of these guys that I would immediately plug in as a starter. So consider these pickups more of an investment of depth or trade bait later in the season.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills – Here we go again. When do we officially move on from fluke to decent fantasy option? I picked up Fitzpatrick last year and he not only won me a lot of games, but helped me in a nice trade when one of my guys went down. You can chalk it up to a bad Kansas City Chiefs team but you could have said that last year when he lit up the Jaguars and you would have missed out on some nice weeks throughout the season playing Fitzpatrick.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers – Would I start him next week? Not unless I was desperate. Look, yes he took advantage of one of the worst defenses in the NFL but there is something here. He has weapons in Steve Smith and Greg Olsen and the Panthers look like they have moved from a running team to a passing team. If you have the room I would not mind wasting a waiver wire pickup on him and seeing what happens. If he gets hot at the right time he could turn into one of those fads that help you out in a nice trade. If he doesn’t, just drop him after a few weeks or sooner if one of your starters gets hurt.
Cadillac Williams, St. Louis Rams – Steven Jackson is hurt and it is only week one. Cadillac came in and had a really nice day against a very good Philadelphia Eagles defense. He immediately became a nice part of the passing game picking up 49 yards on five receptions. Plus with Danny Amendola on the shelf, the Rams will look to incorporate the run game even more. Jackson is likely out next week and it could be longer. Of all players on the waiver wire this week, he is probably the one that will pay you immediate dividends.
Derrick Ward, Houston Texans – I have been on my island over the last 72 hours on Ward. When it appeared that Arian Foster was sitting, everyone got hot on Ben Tate. That is all well and good but Gary Kubiak listed Ward ahead of him on the depth chart and gave him the start. What happened Sunday? Ward started and got the first opportunity at the goalline and scored. He left the game with an ankle injury but had more carries than Tate and the goalline score. His ankle injury is minor and while Foster will likely be back this week, his hamstring will give him problems all season. Kubiak is a conservative coach and if he says Ward is ahead of Tate, I believe it. I’d stash him, wait for Foster to sit, and get ready to make a big trade to Foster’s owner the next week after Ward goes off for double digits ahead of Tate.
Anthony Armstrong, Washington Redskins – Once again, I really like that aerial offense in Washington this season. Santana Moss is the better bet for PPR, but Armstrong is the guy who stretches the field here. He came on strong last season and became Donovan McNabb’s deep threat. He had a nice day against the Giants in week 1 and was targeted six times. The drops are concerning and he could see time on the bench if they continue. If not, this guy has the potential to give you double digits every week.
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers – Being the number two wide receiver in an offense with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball is like being a number one elsewhere. He continued his strong Super Bowl XLV showing with a great opening night against the New Orleans Saints. The Packers may have the best offense in the NFL and guess what? Defenses can’t cover everyone. The number two receiver in this offense always has a great season and it should be no different with Nelson.
Robert Meachem, New Orleans Saints – He originally didn’t make my list but I reconsidered due to injury. With Marques Colston out at least a month and Lance Moore’s unpredictable status, Meachem could have big value in the short term due to injuries.
Early Doucet, Arizona Cardinals – Here is a situation I could easily see being a one week wonder, but who knows? Is he worth a pickup? I think so. Defenses will key in on Larry Fitzgerald and Kevin Kolb appears to be real comfortable with Doucet. I certainly wouldn’t start him next week but if you have room, I’d take him, stash him, and keep an eye out on him. He could be a sneaky play this season.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers – He finally lived up to expectations, for one week, and one team later. Olsen was always thought of as a prototypical fantasy football tight end and it appears that the Carolina Panthers feel the same way. Whether Cam Newton sustains his first week production or not, Olsen has the potential to have a pretty healthy year with the Panthers.
Fred Davis, Washington Redskins – Like some of the others on this list, Davis falls into the one week wonder or breakout player category. It is too early to tell but he certainly benefited from a Chris Cooley that was playing at less than 100%. My fear is that once Cooley does get back to 100% you will see these guys split weeks where one is invisible and the other gets all of the production. That isn’t good news for a fantasy owner. On the flip side, Cooley has become fairly brittle the last few years and the chances of him playing an entire season are very slim. That could make Davis a starter on any team and a beast for the right owner.