Each week throughout the fantasy season, we identify six players to target on waiver wires, plus a lightly owned team defense. (But for opening week, we dug a little deeper.) These fantasy assets are all available in a majority of Yahoo leagues. Add as needed.
Brock Osweiler, QB, Houston Texans, 28%
Osweiler’s first preseason with Houston was plenty impressive, as he completed 27 of 39 attempts for 297 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. He had an uneven partial season with the Broncos last year, but it’s tough to argue with his setup in 2016 — friendly division, exceptional weapons and the job security that comes with a $72 million deal. Brock has a tremendous matchup on deck, too. Houston opens at home against Chicago, and the Bears could very well be without their top three corners. Pass rush specialist Pernell McPhee (knee) won’t be in the mix for Chicago, either. It’s easy to imagine Osweiler picking apart his Week 1 opponent, and you should assume that DeAndre Hopkins is going to feast as well.
And no, we’re not finished adding Texans. Read on…
FAAB bid: $9
Will Fuller and Braxton Miller, WRs, Houston Texans, 45% and 5%
Houston snagged Fuller and Miller in the first and second rounds of the 2016 draft, and both players are ticketed for significant roles in their first pro seasons. Fuller, as most of you know, is a burner out of Notre Dame, a terrific vertical threat with crab-claw hands. His season could very well become a Ted Ginn Jr.-style carnival ride, full of field-flipping plays and appalling drops. But in the end, the numbers should be useful. He’ll never see a double-team while Nuk is on the field, and Chicago has no one in its secondary who can check this kid.
Miller was supposed to be a project coming out of Ohio State, a converted quarterback adjusting to life as an NFL receiver — probably a gadget player as a rookie. Instead, Miller appears to have claimed slot duties for the Texans. He caught pretty much everything thrown his way during exhibition play, finishing with preseason with 10 catches for 97 yards while working with Houston’s varsity offense. He has a clear shot to be an excellent PPR weapon, immediately.
FAAB bid: $11 and $4
Eli Rogers, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, 5%
Rogers signed with the Steelers last season as an UDFA, and quickly became a pet player for Ben Roethlisberger. He ultimately spent last year on I.R. with a foot issue, but he’s earned a substantial role in 2016 following a solid camp and preseason (10-84). He’ll open the year in the slot for Pittsburgh, a role that could easily yield 65-70 receptions. He isn’t likely to play much of a role in the red-zone, but he should function as a chain-moving PPR asset.
FAAB bid: $5
Terrance West, RB, Baltimore Ravens, 34%
Baltimore enters the season with a complicated three or four-headed backfield committee, so West may not have the cleanest path to a breakout fantasy season. But West has been a buzzy player throughout the summer, and he figures to have a useful role in the early weeks. Justin Forsett was released by the Ravens on Saturday but agreed to re-sign on Monday, so he’s still in the team picture. At a minimum, West should be considered this team’s best candidate to see carries inside-the-5. Baltimore opens at home, facing an already injury-ravaged Buffalo defense.
FAAB bid: $8
James White, RB, New England Patriots, 36%
OK, this add isn’t so much about White’s opening week matchup (at Arizona) as it is his full-season outlook. Dion Lewis was placed on the reserve/PUP list, which means we won’t be seeing him for a couple months at the earliest. White is basically unrivaled as New England’s primary receiving option out of the backfield. He was a sneaky-good PPR option in the same role last season, finishing the year with 40 receptions for 410 yards and crossing the goal-line six times. White did nearly all of his work in the second-half in 2015, after Lewis was sidelined.
FAAB bid: $9
Vance McDonald, TE, San Francisco 49ers, 24%
Please understand, this is not to be considered an endorsement of the Niners offense generally. But McDonald and Blaine Gabbert developed obvious rapport last season, combining for three second-half TDs and three games with 60-plus yards. When you consider the alarming lack of pass-catching talent in San Francisco, it’s not difficult to imagine McDonlad finishing as this team’s leading receiver in 2016. If for some reason you’re looking for a starter at tight end in Week 1, McDonald gives you a share of the Monday night action.
FAAB bid: $3
Jesse James, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers, 19%
Free agent acquisition Ladarius Green was supposed to be the buzzy fantasy tight end in Pittsburgh, but he’ll open the season on the reserve/PUP list with a medley of issues, including an ankle injury. In Green’s absence, James will see all the snaps he can handle. He’s a second-year player out of Penn State and an absolutely enormous human (6-foot-7, 260), built for red-zone work. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if James made a half-dozen trips to the end-zone this season, producing a Heath Miller-ish fantasy line.
FAAB bid: $2
Green Bay Packers, 49%
Green Bay’s defense isn’t an elite unit, necessarily, but it’s tough not to like an opening week trip to Jacksonville. We all know the Jaguars have no shortage of offensive play-makers, but let’s also remember that the team’s quarterback, Blake Bortles, achieved the worst sort of triple crown last year. He led the NFL in fumbles, interceptions and sacks. Essentially, Bortles is a gift to those of us who stream defenses in our fantasy leagues. So yeah, Green Bay’s D is approved for use in opening week. You might also consider keeping this D/ST on your roster for the Week 2 matchup against the Vikings and their collection of sketchy quarterbacks.
FAAB bid: $2