If you’re waiting until Wednesday to draft, you either prefer to have the most up-to-date information available or you’re the ultimate procrastinator. Congratulations on either.
But the vast majority of the populace has already drafted, and surely many owners are feeling some buyer’s remorse. How many times have you run out of ideas during a draft and blurted out a player’s name, only to facepalm yourself later?
There’s a remedy for such lapses: the waiver wire, and it’s open in many leagues before the season starts. Here are players available in roughly half of ESPN leagues who belong on rosters now.
QB Andy Dalton, Bengals (45.6 percent availability): Through eight weeks last season, Dalton was averaging more basic-scoring points per game (22.8) than Aaron Rodgers (20.9), Matt Ryan (21.9) and Drew Brees (22.4), who finished 1-2-3 in quarterback scoring. In Week 11, wide receiver A.J. Green went down for the season, and Dalton’s numbers followed. Green is back and looking fantastic, and with more weapons at Dalton’s disposal, he could challenge for a top-10 finish.
RB Wendell Smallwood, Eagles (91.6 percent): Granted, he’s part of a three-man committee with LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles, but he could come out ahead of them at some point. Observers say he’s the only three-down threat, Blount had a rough training camp and Sproles is 34. A potential starter helped by one of the best offensive lines in the league sounds like someone you should stash.
WR Robby Anderson, Jets (95.4 percent): The Jets might be the worst team in the league, but don’t overlook them. Running back Bilal Powell is a quality RB2, and Anderson should see a ton of targets as the No. 1 receiver. The Jets figure to be in comeback mode so often they’ll have to throw, and quarterback Josh McCown is at least competent. The potential volume makes Anderson a PPR value.
TE Austin Hooper, Falcons (63.8 percent): Last season, Falcons tight ends caught 58 passes for 788 yards and 10 touchdowns. That was roughly Titans tight end Delanie Walker’s production (65 catches, 800 yards, seven touchdowns), and he finished fifth in scoring at the position. Jacob Tamme (22-210-3) is gone, so Hooper should see more action in an offense that ranked third in passing last season.
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WEEK 1 PICKS
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: The Browns allowed the most touchdown passes and tied for the second-fewest sacks last season. They addressed the defense significantly, so strike before the unit jells.
Rams RB Todd Gurley: His redemption tour figures to begin against the Colts, whose run defense will remain suspect until further notice. It finished 25th in the league the last two seasons.
Cardinals wide receivers: Sports Illustrated reported that the Lions’ 72.7 completion percentage against was the highest in the NFL’s modern era. Exploit this pass defense until further notice, too.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: In two games against the Giants last season, he completed 51 percent of his passes for a total of 392 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. And the Giants didn’t exactly get worse.
Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt: The Patriots allowed the third-fewest rushing yards to running backs last season and the fewest rushing touchdowns. They didn’t get worse, either.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen: He couldn’t have picked a worse place for his first game back. The “No Fly Zone” lost safety T.J. Ward, but the defense remains one of the best. QB Philip Rivers struggled badly against it last season.