The first game of the 2014 fantasy football season is in the books, but it’s never too early to hit your league’s waiver wire to see if someone else’s trash can be your next treasure. For instance, many a owner dropped Cleveland Browns stud wide receiver Josh Gordon after his year-long ban was announced, but now there are whispers that a new league drug policy could potentially dramatically reduce or completely wipe away his suspension. While that’s no guarantee, you just might want to think twice about cutting Gordon loose for nothing. And if you have room on your bench with few other needs, why not snatch him up until things shake out?
Beyond Gordon, there’s still reason to roam the fantasy football waiver wire. Before week one officially comes, be sure to check for these guys if they’re still available:
QB Derek Carr – OAK
The first rookie QB to be given the green light is Carr. He earned the Week 1 starting job by badly outperforming a fading Matt Shaub. He has about as good a matchup you can hope for to start your career, as Carr will be facing a New York Jets pass defense that ranked 22nd in the NFL last season and has only gotten worse. Top corner Antonio Cromartie left in free agency and they replaced him with rookie Dexter McDougle, who promptly went on season ending IR. Sophomore corner Dee Milliner was just ruled out for Sunday’s contest and free agent signee Dmitri Patterson was cut for going AWOL before a preseason game. The Jets will be starting Darrin Walls and Antonio Allen. Yea, they play corner in the NFL. It also doesn’t hurt that the Raiders have no chance of running against the Jets’ D-line. Chances are you still won’t be starting Carr Week 1, however he could be solid moving forward and more importantly, he may be nice trade bait if he has a huge week. If he does, SELL HIGH!
RB Ahmad Bradshaw – IND
Bradshaw is owned in less than 20-percent of fantasy leagues, while Trent Richardson is owned in almost all leagues. The issue with this is the fact that Bradshaw is much better than T-Rich. Richardson’s 2.9 YPC for the Colts last year actually decreased this preseason. He is as bad a starting running back as there is in the NFL. If he can stay healthy, Bradshaw will inevitably supplant Richardson as the top RB in Indy much like Donald Brown did last season. In Bradshaw’s last game before going on IR last season, he ran for 95 yards and a TD on 5.0 YPC before leaving with a neck injury. He also caught three pass against a tough 49ers defense. Those 95 yards were more than Richardson totaled in any game last season. Bradshaw is definitely worth a stash. The Colts can only suffer through the Trent Richardson Era for so long.
RB Jonathan Dwyer – ARZ
With news that Andre Ellington may miss 4-6 weeks, Dwyer is a must add. He is expected to be the interim starter in Ellington’s absence. Even if Ellington does give it a go Monday night, he could be limited and is a major injury risk. Dwyer should be stashed on your bench, and both his production and Ellington’s health should be monitored. Once Ellington is back to full health, Dwyer is most likely not worth a roster spot.
WR Cody Latimer – DEN
With news of Wes Welker’s four game suspension, Latimer is a hot waiver wire pick up. You will have to choose between the rookie wide out and Andre Caldwell. Latimer has much more upside and potential long-term value. Peyton Manning always has a valuable WR3, even if they aren’t all that talented. He’s gifted fantasy relevancy to such players as Brandon Stokley, Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie. Somebody will have a huge increase in production while Welker is out. Don’t forget that Welker was already dealing with concussion issues and could be one hit away from calling it a career.
TE Travis Kelce – KC
Kelce is the guy that could be this year’s Jordan Cameron. The explosive TE out of Cincinnati spent all of last season on IR. He could be the weapon the Chiefs desperately need in their passing attack. He is currently behind Anthony Fasano on the depth chart, nevertheless, he’s the TE to own in Kansas City. His unique combination of size and big play ability could make him an elite NFL TE. Kelce was the Chiefs’ leading receiver this preseason. If you are only going to pick up one player on this list, it should be Kelce.
TE Dwayne Allen – IND
Last season, Allen was poised to be a breakout player of the year candidate. After getting put on IR after just one reception, everybody seems to have forgotten about him. When he and Coby Fleener both played in 2012, Allen totaled 19 more receptions, 240 more yards and one more TD. Fleener didn’t exactly light it up in Allen’s absence either. Fleener was given the starting job in 2012, and then was beat out by a superior talent. Expect Allen to be Andrew Luck’s go to safety valve and red zone target.
Long Shot of the Week
WR Allen Hurns – JAX
University of Miami undrafted rookie Allen Hurns has been the surprise of the preseason in Jacksonville. He has been the most impressive WR they have on the roster. With it becoming more and more unlikely that Cecil Shorts or Allen Robinson will take the field on Sunday, Hurns is likely to start. He like Carr is another guy who has a huge opportunity Week 1, which could result in a fantastic sell-high opportunity for his owners. This kid from The U is worth taking a shot on.