Another week, another waiver wire. After two weeks of action, here are the best players to give your team a boost.
Calvin Ridley, WR — Atlanta
Owned in 38.2% of leagues
Ridley scored his first NFL touchdown in Week 2 and things are only looking up for him. The speedy WR saw twice as many targets in his second game as he did in his first and turned those targets into four receptions for 64 yards. Ridley will only see more targets as the year goes on, so grab him now while you can.
Kickers are like toilets: You hardly notice them when they’re working but when they break down things get shitty in a hurry. And on Sunday kickers around the league broke down. How bad was it? Well, it was worse than the Browns’ strange decision to part ways with Josh Gordon due to a lack of “trust” after tolerating years of his off-field issues. And it was worse than Vontae Davis’s retirement which took place at halftime of a game that he was playing in. So, yeah, it was pretty bad.
Two kickers had merely unfortunate days: With the Raiders playing a division rival in Denver, Raiders kicker Mike Nugent had an extra point blocked which would have been a disappointing but relatively uninspiring outcome save that Nugent’s team went on to lose by one, on a last-minute field goal, no less. (At least someone else is taking the blame for that blocked kick.) And earlier in the day, Packer’s kicker Mason Crosby1 booted what would have been a game-winning kick through the uprights as time expired only to have been iced just before the snap. He hooked the re-kick wide left and the Pack wound up settling for a tie.
In his first career start, Buffalo Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions on 14 pass attempts. He was benched at halftime. In his second start, Peterman completed 50% of his passes1 for a total of 57 yards before leaving the game in the third quarter due to injury. On Sunday Peterman started for the third time in his NFL career. He completed five of 18 passes for 24 yards, two interceptions and a quarterback rating of zero. It was the type of horrible quarterbacking performance that keeps NFL coaches and executives up at night.
Nathan Peterman is having such a bad day that when he threw an incompletion his QB Rating went up from 1.7 to 4.9 pic.twitter.com/yCqM3lDuNM
Coming off their first playoff appearance in nearly two decades, the Bills were riding a wave of positive momentum into the off-season but how they chose to handle that momentum was, let’s say, curious. The team decided, rather bizarrely, to chase Tyrod Taylor out of town, trashing the quarterback who got them to the playoffs in favor of trading multiple picks to draft the divisive Josh Allen. Whether or not you liked the selection of Allen, the Bills’ decision to take it slow with such a raw prospect was a sound one, especially after the team signed momentary-Browns-savior A.J. McCarron to be its bridge quarterback. And here’s where the wheels come off.
After Week 1, holdouts, injuries and truly terrible terrible play have many fantasy owners in a panic. Don’t worry, we got your back. Here’s are the top targets to rejuvenate your already struggling team.
Jared Cook, TE – Oakland
Owned in 28.4% of leagues
Wow, was everyone wrong about Cook or what? Going into last week, he was owned in one out of every four leagues. But after Week 1’s 27 point effort,1 he’s leaving everyone who passed him up with a Gruden-sized furrowed brow. Cook has been known to break people’s hearts with his up and down play but he was targeted 12 times in Oakland’s first game. Even if that number falls off, he’ll be seeing a high volume of targets.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR – New Orleans
Owned in 17.7% of leagues
The Saints looked up to their old ways Sunday against the Buccaneers. In a barn burner, Drew Brees threw the ball 45 times, six of which were targeted toward Ginn. While his efficiency was damn near perfect – and certainly not sustainable — Ginn showed us he’s still got it. He’ll be a TD-dependent, boom or bust option for the bottom half of your roster.
Jonnu Smith, TE – Tennessee
Owned in 0.03% of leagues
If you’re in a pinch with Delanie Walker out, it might be worth taking a chance on Jonnu Smith. He plays a similar style to Walker—albeit less effectively than the 13-year veteran and former Pro Bowler—and has a big body for Tennessee’s quarterbacks, whoever they are, to throw at. With Rishard Matthews still not 100%, Smith might become a big part of the passing game, especially if backup QB Blaine Gabbert is forced into action.
Tyrod Taylor, QB – Cleveland
Owned in 37.9% of leagues
When he’s ready, this will be Baker Mayfield’s team. There’s no question. But until then Tyrod Taylor is going to play his ass off. Tuh-rod is the star of this team until Hue Jackson says otherwise. That’s not necessarily a good thing for Cleveland but here we are. If you’re in need of a quarterback with lots of options and who is also fast as hell, look for Taylor on the wire.
Last year was The Year of the Rookie. Players like Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Evan Engram showed they can hang with the big boys, racking up numbers that put them in elite fantasy company. But after the rise comes the fall. Or at least that’s what the talking heads want you to think. It’s such a common refrain that you might think the experts, having run out of meaningful things to talk about, are just trotting out old clichés. Don’t worry, they’re not. The sophomore slump is real but it doesn’t happen to everyone. Luckily for you, your friends at The Read Option are here to help. We took a look at some of the top rookie WRs, RBs and TEs since 2013 and analyzed their first and second year numbers to find the truth behind the myth of the sophomore slump.
The New York Jets have a storied history of making terrible decisions. From butt fumbles to foot fetishes1—and despite the very best efforts of the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions—the Jets have been the NFL’s most cringeworthy team for decades. From players that just can’t quite remember the names to all of their children to the signing of Tim Tebow, the Jets organization is particularly disenchanting, but the most frustrating thing about their endless ineptitude is that they manage to fuck everything up the exact same way, over and over. And with intended-savior-but-actually-inevitable-bust Sam Darnold in the mix, they’re primed to do it again. Here’s how:
It’s the greatest time of year. Draft time. And what better way to get prepped for your draft than auto-playing YouTube videos for hours on end? So let’s check in with fantasy football expert and that creepy guy in the back of your college economics class, Field Yates.
When I saw that the Dolphins had signed wideout Albert Wilson to a three-year contract worth $24 million I assumed that there must be some other much more successful Albert Wilson that I had somehow never heard of. Surely that contract with those terms couldn’t have been for the diminutive speedster who played his first four years in Kansas City. Let’s check the press release and—
How exactly is it that Wilson, a former undrafted free agent who is all of 5’9” and whose career-best stat-line reads 42-554-3, found himself on the receiving end of more than $14 millionguaranteed? Well, apparently middling wideouts are the new mediocre quarterbacks. This summer NFL teams were falling all over themselves to dole out huge sums of unearned cash to receivers whose performance simply doesn’t warrant it.
The value of the QB in fantasy football is declining. Highly sought-after players like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady have name recognition but players like Carson Wentz and Kirk Cousins are putting up similar numbers while going for a third of the price. Rodgers, everyone’s dream QB, is expected to put up about one more point per game than Wentz this season and that added production is definitely not worth $20 extra dollars that could instead be used to help you nab a top tier WR or RB.1 And yet, despite that level of performance parity, some people are still dropping serious cash on the quote-unquote top tier QBs. A quick look at last year’s PPGAR reveals the value of “top” QBs compared to other positions, and guess what? It’s not good, you guys. Russell Wilson was the season’s highest ranked QB and he wasn’t even a top ten player by PPGAR.
Even though you’re not going to waste draft capital on a QB, there are still fantasy players who haven’t yet discovered The Read Option2 and some of them are bound to overspend on a QB. But which QB, you ask? We’ve got you covered. These are the five most overvalued QBs heading into the season.
Seriously? He’s the second most expensive QB right now and he’s going to be 41 when the season starts. I understand that he’s an ageless wonder but even TB12 can’t overcome the wear and tear of nineteen NFL seasons. Fun fact: the Golden Boy’s played so many playoff games that it’s as if he’s played 21 total seasons. That is incredible and terrifying and exhausting and detrimental. No quarterback is worth $25 at the draft, especially not an aging one. Even if he is the GOAT.
Rodgers might be the best quarterback in the NFL and dammit if he’s not everyone’s favorite State Farm spokesperson,3 but he missed the vast majority of last year after breaking his collarbone for the second time. I’m no doctor but that sounds like two times too many. Rodgers is ready to get back under center, but taking a risk on an aging veteran like Rodgers isn’t worth the price you’ll pay if he finds himself on the IR again this year.
When he was on the field, Watson absolutely killed it last year. But he only played in seven games and, right now, he’s the fourth highest drafted QB in fantasy.4 His knee injury looks to be healing up nicely, but with no significant playing time under his belt, he remains at risk of both injury and regression. Drafting him for more than $2 or an eighth round pick is a gamble.
Patrick Mahomes II
Do I even have to put him on this list?5 Of course he’s going to be overrated. I’m not saying he won’t be good next year, it’s just that he definitely will not be good next year. I know it’s still early but he barely set foot on the field last year and somehow he’s going for $2 which ranks him above established names like Matt Stafford, Alex Smith, Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers. Please, everyone, just stop it.
Despite becoming a Brown, the first overall pick may actually have landed in a great situation. He’s got an arsenal of pass catchers that can do amazing things with the ball. He’s inheriting a team that is the embodiment of a dumpster fire, so if he can manage to win even three games he’ll be sanctified. And he’s joining what should be a pass-heavy offense.6 The only problem? Hue Jackson. It’s hard to get behind any Cleveland player with such an atrocious coach at the helm. Mayfield may very well end up being great but that’ll have to wait until Hue Jackson and his 1-31 record with the Browns are long gone.
A little after 4pm on Sunday the Cleveland Browns lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, plunging them to the NFL’s second-ever 0-16 finish. The loss would have been soul crushing if only there had been any souls left to crush in Cleveland. Bad as the Browns season finale was, though, it wasn’t the worst of the day. There’s a strong case to be made that the Browns reached a new level of misery on Sunday but the drop from 1-15 to 0-16 is a lot less dramatic than the fall from making the playoffs to missing them.
Of all the teams with a chance to claim a playoff spot on the final day of the regular season, the Baltimore Ravens entered Sunday’s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals with the best odds of making the postseason. Per ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Ravens had a 97% chance of making the playoffs on Sunday morning – almost 30% higher than the team with the next best odds – and with the game against Cincinnati winding down, the Ravens seemed to have it in the bag. After trailing all game, they had stormed back to take their first lead of the day late in the 4th quarter. With Cincinnati facing a 4th and 12 at the Baltimore 49-yard line, with 53 seconds on the clock and the Bengals out of timeouts, the Ravens needed just one stop to punch their ticket to the postseason.