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Week 1 – Waiver Wire Pickups

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As the draft slowdown around the world, it’s time to take a look at some of the early options for waiver wire pickups before the first week of the season. Maybe you won’t go for these players right now, but they are worth keeping in mind as we move along in the year.

Wide Receivers

Nate Burleson –

ESPN Yahoo
Percentage Owned 25% 25%

While Nate Burleson hasn’t been the player he once was in Minnesota, he clearly seems to be on the same page with quarterback Matthew Stafford. Burleson and Stafford have a solid connection, and I would recommend you go for this receiver as a top target off the waiver wire. Judging but his percentage owned on ESPN and Yahoo, Burleson is available in most leagues.

Danny Amendola –

ESPN Yahoo
Percentage Owned 34% 74%

This is a PPR league special and while Danny Amendola is gone in most leagues, you should still check your waiver wire to see if he is around. Early in the season I would expect Amendola to see a high volume of targets as the Rams young rookies need time to develop. It is also note worthy to see if Mike Sims-Walker and Brandon Gibson are available as well.

Bottom line with the Rams is that they are likely to win the West this year and Sam Bradford is for real. Never hurts to have a receiver on a team that is going to put up some offense with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels calling the plays.

Antonio Brown -

ESPN Yahoo
Percentage Owned 20% 24%

While Hines Ward will be the teams No.2 starter opposite Mike Wallace, it is Antonio Brown that you need to target as the second receiver off this team for fantasy. Brown exploded onto the scene this preseason, and he will take advantage of opposing teams No.3 corners and single coverage down the field.

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Running Backs

Deji Karim -

ESPN Yahoo
Percentage Owned 7% 1%

I’ve been talking up Deji Karim for the past week, since the news came out that Rashad Jennings (now done for the season) was on crutches with a knee injury. Maurice Jones-Drew is likely to miss time as we get deeper into the season, and Karim is the clear backup. I’m not huge on handcuffs, but if you own MJD, you need to have Karim on your bench.

Derrick Ward -

ESPN Yahoo
Percentage Owned 12% 7%

Everybody and their mama are talking up Ben Tate as the option to stash with Arian Foster nursing a hamstring injury. Don’t forget about Derrick Ward as he is likely to be the true No.2 back in the early part of the season.

When Foster went down in the third preseason game against the 49ers, it was Ward that got the goal-line touchdown. I expect that to stay the same if Foster should miss time this year.

Ben Tate –

ESPN Yahoo
Percentage Owned 12% 43%

If you’re willing to wait on Ben Tate, he could be a star in the Texans offense, if Foster should miss extended time for any reason. Ward will be in the mix but as Tate understands the offense better he has a chance to be a weekly starter in fantasy leagues.

I’m not a huge fan of Tate, but I can’t deny the offensive scheme the Texans run and his skill set should do well in that zone blocking scheme. Just remember that Tate was done after the first preseason game last year, so this is basically his rookie year. It will take him some time before the coaches fully trust him over Ward.

Kendall Hunter –

ESPN Yahoo
Percentage Owned 8% 11%

Much like Deji Karim, 49ers rookie running back Kendall Hunter will be playing behind a star running back with health concerns. Hunter struggled early in camp with his pass blocking, but made quick strides and by the end of the preseason, he had impressed Coach Jim Harbaugh.

Now Hunter is the No.2 back over Anthony Dixon and his explosion (led the NFL with a 6.6 yard per carry average in the preseason) will help him be an instant flex play option, should something happen to Gore.

Tight Ends

Aaron Hernandez -

ESPN Yahoo
Percentage Owned 38% 65%

The Patriots No.2 tight end has been getting play in recent weeks for fantasy experts and why not as Chad Ochocinco isn’t likely to do much early, and Tom Brady will rely on his tight ends more. Hernandez has great skills and will be used all around the offense. Expect a good game from Hernandez week one against the Dolphins.

Fred Davis -

ESPN Yahoo
Percentage Owned 1% 1%

With Chris Cooley nursing a bum knee, Fred Davis is a tight end you want to jump on right now, because he’s likely to break out this year. We saw what Davis could do back in 2009, as he posted a solid second half of the season with six touchdowns.

Cooley is likely to miss a lot of time this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s shut down at some point. While the Shanahan’s can drive you nuts, one thing that is for sure is that the tight end gets love in their West Coast passing scheme.

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