My name is Lee Thostenson, I’m the founder of SmartFantasy and will be taking over the weekly Waiver Wire column from Kent. I’ll be looking at the best adds, the owned players that are dead weight and need to be dropped, and the players that you may want to drop but should hold on to.  For Adds, I’ll only be focusing on players that are owned in less than 55% of ESPN Fantasy Leagues. If guys like Tevin Coleman, Will Fuller, or Charles Sims are still available in your league, they should be added over everyone on this list.

Week 2 is in the books, and with it went the health of seemingly half of fantasy relevant running backs. Unfortunately, there are question marks surrounding basically every backfield situation that suffered an injury to a starter. For that reason, receivers may be the best adds this week once again.

Adds

1. Jerick McKinnon – RB – MIN (ESPN Ownership: 24%)

I’ll be honest, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Nothing against the legend Adrian Peterson, but I’ve been drooling over Jerick “Jet” McKinnon’s unbelievable athleticism since the Vikes drafted the Georgia Southern option QB in the third round two years ago. No back in the history of the NFL combine has had a higher SPARQ score (SPARQ combines strength, speed, size, leaping ability and acceleration into one athleticism metric.) His closest athletic comparison is LaDainian Tomlinson (only the greatest fantasy player of all time). Just take a look at this athletic profile:

Picture of Jerick McKinnon's athletic profile

Jerick McKinnon’s athletic profile is literally unmatched.

So, Adrian Peterson is done, Jet is the next LT, and everybody should blow 100% of their FAAB on him, right? No, not quite. While I love the player (his 4.9 career YPC shows that his athleticism does translate into actual skill), the situation isn’t yet ideal. First off, Adrian may only be out a few weeks (torn meniscus), and no matter how inefficient he may be when he gets back, the Vikings have shown that they are 100% committed to running the offense through him. Second, McKinnon will be sharing the backfield with plodder Matt Asiata. Asiata may not provide the dynamic playmaking ability that McKinnon does, but he is good at what the Vikings need him to be good at: pass protection, catching the ball, and grinding out tough, positive yards (something Peterson has not been able to do this season.) Those “three yards and a cloud of dust” plays are valuable when your defense is as dominant as the Vikings’ has been. Star Tribune reporter Matt Vensel predicts a 65-35 McKinnon-led split with Asiata getting most of the goal line work. This seems about right.

Assuming a 65% workload, the next question becomes: is 65% of the Vikings running game with little goal line work even valuable? At this point, not really. Minnesota’s new-look offensive line looks dreadful so far (1.9 YPC overall), and although they may have faced two very underrated defensive fronts (GB, TEN), things don’t get much easier in the next three weeks (CAR, NYG, HOU). So why is he my #1 add this week? Because his ceiling is outer space. That 65% number is assuming that McKinnon just doesn’t take the reigns right out of the gate and run all over the Panthers like CJ Anderson did in week 1. In that case, it would be hard for the Vikings coaching staff to keep him off the field (even in the red zone.) It would be easy to look at 2014 when Peterson was suspended for the entire year to see how the Vikings handled the McKinnon/Asiata split, but I think that would be misguided. McKinnon was an extremely raw rookie who the coaching staff did not yet trust to pass block for their rookie first-round QB. It’s safe to say that they think higher of him now.

The combination of Sam Bradford looking phenomenal last night and Peterson going down could really start to change how the Vikings run their offense. I could see more shotgun sets and first down passes, which could both benefit McKinnon. The bottom line is that Jerick McKinnon has a floor of about four points per game (while Peterson is out), but he has an astronomical ceiling if the Vikings offense can get their shit together. He’s not a slam dunk, but he’s the best week 3 has to offer. I promise I won’t write this much about any other add. 😉

Verdict: Add in all 10+ team leagues.

2. Tyrell Williams – WR – SD (ESPN Ownership: 43.4%)

If you didn’t hop on the Tyrell Williams hype train last week, it appears you still have time, although you’ll have to pony up to do it. Keenan Allen’s season ending ACL tear in week 1 opened up a ton of targets to go around in the promising San Diego offense, and Williams turned his six into 61 yards and a TD. He’s not just a product of opportunity either: Williams turned one short crossing route into 45 yards, three broken tackles and a touchdown. Like McKinnon, Williams’ athletic profile is ridiculous, but unlike McKinnon, Williams’ massive opportunity will be there all season.

Verdict: Add in all 10+ team leagues.

3. Phillip Dorsett – WR – IND  (ESPN Ownership: 40.4%)

We may know more tomorrow, but as of Monday night, Colts #2 WR Donte Moncrief has an unknown shoulder injury that knocked him out of Week 2’s game against Denver. The Colts offense struggled yesterday, but every offense struggles against the Broncos. I’m guessing the Colts passing game will look more like Week 1 more often than not, in which Andrew Luck tossed four TD’s and Dorsett hauled in 4 for 94 as the third option. If Moncrief misses time, former first round pick Dorsett will have the talent and opportunity to put up some serious numbers, and if he doesn’t miss time, he should still provide some flex appeal against poor pass defenses. Dorsett is another add with a high ceiling.

Verdict: Add in all 10+ team leagues.

4. Quincy Enunwa – WR – NYJ (ESPN Ownership: 5.5%)

Enunwa is in a similar situation as Dorsett, just without the draft pedigree. Starter Brandon Marshall has a knee injury that may or may not cause him to miss time, and the Jets offense appears to be good enough to support three WRs when Marshall is healthy. The Jets tore up Buffalo through the air in week 2, with most of the first half production going to Enunwa (6 catches for 92 yards), adding to the 54 yards and a TD he scored in week 1. New York has three matchups in the next four weeks against top #1 CBs (KC, SEA, ARI), so they could be avoiding Marshall (if he plays) and throwing to the second and third WRs. Enunwa has quite a few things going his way.

Verdict: Add in all 10+ team leagues.

5. Jay Ajayi – RB – MIA (ESPN Ownership: 46.1%)

Starter Arian Foster went down with a groin injury yesterday, and knowing Foster, it could be a while. Coach Adam Gase doesn’t expect him back soon. The Dolphins now have the least experience at the RB position in the NFL and have not been able to run the ball yet, but with the depth chart wide open, Ajayi now has all the opportunity in the world and showed workhorse ability at Boise State. Third-round rookie Kenyan Drake could throw a wrench in that, but I’m willing to bet that Gase doesn’t yet trust a rookie that barely even played in college to carry the load. Journeyman Isaiah Pead is also looming. Miami gets the Cody Kessler-led Browns in week 3, which could mean some solid game scripts for Ajayi to pound the rock and impress the coaching staff.

Verdict: Don’t waste a top waiver spot or a lot of FAAB on him, but he’s worth an add whether or not you need a RB this week.

6. Alfred Morris – RB – DAL (ESPN Ownership: 29.6%)

There is not a single player on your waiver wire right now with a higher ceiling than Alfred Morris. He will likely need an injury to Ezekiel Elliot to have any kind of value, but with the large workload and violent running style that Elliot has exhibited, an injury is more likely than not. Although they haven’t lit the world on fire through two weeks, Dallas has the best offensive line in the NFL and Morris proved in the preseason that he has the skillset to succeed behind it. Elliot also fumbled twice in week 2, and was replaced by Morris who promptly punched in a short TD. I doubt Elliot ever actually loses his job, but another couple fumbles could put him in the doghouse long enough to possibly get 10-15 carries a week for Morris. He won’t help you right now, but if things break a certain way, Morris could be a league winner.

Verdict: Let him pass through waivers (he won’t be a hot commodity) and add him if you can.

7. Matt Ryan – QB – ATL (ESPN Ownership: 48.1%)

Matt Ryan has played great (five touchdowns to one pick) through two weeks and that can partially be attributed to Atlanta’s much-improved offensive line. Julio Jones is still the beast we’re used to and Mohamed Sanu gives Ryan another solid target that he didn’t have last year. He gets the dreadful Saints defense (don’t buy that Week 2 performance) in Week 3, but after that the schedule is as tough as can be (CAR, DEN, SEA.)

Verdict: Add him if you or your opponent could use a QB this week.

8. Jamison Crowder – WR – WSH (ESPN Ownership: 3.2%)

Crowder has six catches in each game and has a very clear role in this Washington offense that is unlikely to change (he played more snaps than any Redskins WR other than DeSean Jackson). He is only relevant in PPR leagues since most of his catches come so close to the line of scrimmage, but in those leagues he has a quite high week-to-week floor.

Verdict: Add him if you need a PPR contributor.

9. Dwayne Washington – RB – DET (ESPN Ownership: 0.3%)

With Ameer Abdullah suffering a foot injury and Theo Riddick slated as more of a passing downs specialist, rookie Dwayne Washington could be in for a nice opportunity as a between-the-tackles and goal line back. Washington has great size, speed, and acceleration, and could have more long term value than some other fringe adds if he can carve out his own role in this offense. Abdullah is no shoe-in to come back healthy and stay that way, either. Washington has more value in Dynasty leagues.

Verdict: Let him pass through waivers and add him if you’ve got an extra roster spot. He’s extra useful to the Abdullah owner.

Dwayne Washington is an interesting add for Week 3.

Dwayne Washington is an interesting add for Week 3.

10. Cole Beasley – WR – DAL (ESPN Ownership: 7.4%)

Beasley is in the same situation as Crowder, only he is in an offense that should have far less passing volume. Regardless, he seems to be a favorite target of QB Dak Prescott and offers a nice weekly floor in PPR formats. Terrance Williams seems to be falling out of favor with the Dallas coaching staff (Zero targets in week 2), and Beasley is soaking up the targets.

Verdict: Add him if you need a PPR contributor.

11. Fozzy Whittaker – RB – CAR (ESPN Ownership: 0.3%)

After Jonathan Stewart’s injury and Whittaker’s 100 yard week 2 game against San Francisco, Fozzy will likely be one of the top waiver wire adds this week. I’m not buying in. The Panthers face a brutal slate of run defenses in the next three weeks (MIN, ARI, TB), and we have seen this rodeo before when Stewart goes down. Whittaker, Cameron Artis-Payne, and Mike Tolbert are all likely to get work, and Cam Newton is likely to steal many of their red zone touchdowns. In Stewart’s three game absence last year, Artis-Payne got 38 touches, Tolbert got 20, and Whittaker got only 11. The upside here is limited.

Verdict: Let someone else waste their waiver spot on him unless you desperately need a RB this week.

12. Dennis Pitta – TE – BAL (ESPN Ownership: 10.5%)

The tight end landscape is particularly brutal this season. With fantasy owners scrambling to find ANY sort of production at the position, Pitta offers a decent floor on a team that looks to have a high passing volume all season. He had nine catches against Cleveland in week two, and has some nice matchups coming up (JAX, OAK, WSH.) I don’t expect huge things from the 31 year old vet with two hip surgeries under his belt, but he’s definitely a major part of this offense.

Verdict: Add him if your TE situation is shaky but don’t waste a waiver claim or too many FAAB dollars.

13. Ryan Tannehill – QB – MIA (ESPN Ownership: 20.3%)

Tannehill has put up a respectable 18.3 points per game against two very good defenses (SEA, NE), and he gets Cleveland in Week 3. Miami has shown no indication that they’ll be able to run the ball, and with Arian Foster out and DeVante Parker back and healthy, Tannehill could put up some serious points. Players like Ryan, Tannehill, Joe Flacco, and Ryan Fitzpatrick are all under 50% ownership and underscore why you can get away with waiting on QB in 1 QB leagues.

Verdict: Add him if you need a QB this week or your starter has an early bye week.

Other notable adds if you have a free roster spot: Victor Cruz/WR/NYG, Eli Rogers/WR/PIT, Devontae Booker/RB/DEN, Matt Asiata/RB/MIN, Joe Flacco/QB/BAL, Kenyan Drake/RB/MIA

Drops

1. Kamar Aiken – WR – BAL (ESPN Ownership: 24.1%)

Aiken has not gotten near the volume of targets that fantasy owners were expecting after his hot finish to 2015. After falling behind Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, and Breshad Perriman on the depth chart, Aiken put up a goose egg in week 2 and is easily droppable in all leagues.

2. Vincent Jackson – WR – TB (ESPN Ownership: 66.2%)

The chemistry between Jackson and QB Jameis Winston is nonexistent, and Jackson just looks plain bad. He has always been a boom or bust player, but in his current state we’re going to be seeing busts more often than not. Why own a player you’ll never know when to start?

3. Gary Barnidge – TE – CLE (ESPN Ownership: 93.6%)

This may seem early, but if Josh McCown is going to miss significant time with a shoulder injury, I can’t see any way rookie Cody Kessler keeps Barnidge afloat as a TE1. If McCown is only out a week or two, I would hold.

4. Kenny Stills – WR – MIA (ESPN Ownership: 18.6%)

There was speculation in the preseason that DeVante Parker was in Adam Gase’s doghouse and Stills was in line for WR1 duties in Gase’s offense, but after yesterday, that can be put to bed. Stills also had a game-losing drop in week 1 against Seattle.

5. Tavon Austin – WR – STL (ESPN Ownership: 69.6%)

The Rams do everything they can to get Austin involved in the offense, but the touches are so low-value and the offense is so bad that Austin doesn’t have any foreseeable upside. Austin should not be rostered in standard leagues, but I might give him another week or two in PPR.

Holds

1. Bilal Powell – RB – NYJ (ESPN Ownership: 55.8%)

Powell owners were probably expecting a 50/50 or 60/40 split with Matt Forte and are justifiably frustrated at Powell’s lack of work, but I wouldn’t jump ship just yet. Matt Forte has an unsustainable 59 touches in two games. At that pace, I would not be surprised if the 30-year-old back misses some games with injuries, and then Powell will be very useful as a high-end RB2.

2. Christine Michael – RB -SEA (ESPN Ownership: 58.9%)

It may be tempting to drop Michael now that starter Thomas Rawls is (kind of) back, but I would hang on to him. Rawls hasn’t proven that he is fully healthy yet, and Michael has looked decent in the opportunity he has gotten. If Rawls can’t get healthy or faulters, Michael could be very valuable.

3. Coby Fleener – TE – NO (ESPN Ownership: 93.3%)

I have no idea what to do with Fleener right now. He’s getting plenty of playing time in a great offense, but it’s just not translating into production. Fleener has never been a great (or even good) player, but the upside here is too big to let him go now. Give him another week or two.

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Comments

  1. Jake Kubert says

    Good commentary. Definitely bookmarking you. Question. I’m in a 12 man PPR and have been finding myself choosing golden Tate or Cruz as my flex. Tate had got to start scoring eventually right? Cruz should be losing looks to the emerging Shepard, right? Thoughts?

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