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Each week throughout the fantasy season, we identify six players to target on waiver wires, plus a lightly owned D/ST. All are available in a majority of Yahoo leagues and approved for use. With David Johnson expected to miss an extended period of time and Allen Robinson is done for the year with a knee injury, Week 1 was a tough one for fantasy players and the reality of NFL teams. While we can’t help the Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars with their injury woes, we can offer up some players to target on the waiver wire. Add as needed.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears, 12% owned
Whatever expectations you might have had for Cohen, he exceeded them on Sunday. It’s possible that he actually exceeded them on this one first-half run…
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 10, 2017
Ridiculous. Cohen was electric, start to finish. The Human Joystick led the Bears in both rushing and receiving in his NFL regular season debut, finishing with 113 scrimmage yards on 13 touches. He also returned three punts for 45 yards. Notably, Cohen led all Bears skill players with 12 targets. The rookie was a revelation in the preseason, but it’s rare for a running back his size to handle a substantial weekly workload. Cohen is the same height as Darren Sproles (5-foot-6) and his listed weight is just 181 pounds. But of course if defenders can’t get a hand on you, they can’t hurt you. And when Cohen needed to run through a tackler, he had power enough to do it.
It’s perfectly clear that Cohen will continue to be a significant piece of Chicago’s offense. His emergence is a legit concern for Jordan Howard owners, who had every reason to assume their guy had no rivals in the Bears backfield. Howard’s shortcomings as a receiver were made clear when he dropped the potential go-ahead score in the final moments. Howard remains a near-lock to lead his team in carries, but Cohen certainly isn’t going away. He has a shot to make a huge splash in PPR formats, and needs to be universally owned. Chicago has no wide receivers with deep-threat, big-play potential, so Cohen will see all the targets he can handle.
Schedule, next three weeks: at TB, vs. Pit, at GB
FAAB bid: $17
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams, 26%
Kupp was thoroughly hyped by the expert community, so he’s not exactly an unknown. He was an absurdly productive collegiate receiver at Eastern Washington, establishing career FCS records in everything that matters: catches (428), receiving yards (6464) and receiving TDs (73). Whenever Kupp had a shot at a Pac-12 opponent, he delivered triple-digit yardage and multiple highlights. He entered the league as a plug-and-play receiver, prepared to contribute immediately. Kupp had a promising preseason and he followed it up with a terrific opening week, hauling in four balls for 76 yards and one score on six targets. Highlights here. Kupp is a strong candidate to finish with 80-plus receptions, assuming good health.
Schedule, next three weeks: vs. Was, at SF, at Dal
FAAB bid: $11
Javorius Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens, 1%
Danny Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury on Sunday that seems likely to sideline him for multiple games. In his absence, Allen carried the ball 21 times in the Ravens’ convincing win, out-snapping starter Terrance West, 33 to 27. Allen has never been an efficient runner as a pro (3.7 career YPC), but he’s just one year removed from a 45-catch season. He’s certainly capable of delivering 90 percent of the production you’d expected from Woodhead, for however long Woody is out. As some of you may already know, a Cult of Buck Allen exists within the fantasy expert community, based largely on his collegiate numbers and pre-draft measurables. But he’s been strictly a small-play guy on limited touches in the NFL, producing just three plays of 20 or more yards on 215 chances. Still, he figures to receive plenty of work in the weeks ahead. Based on volume alone, he deserves a look from fantasy owners.
(And yes, if you’re looking for a David Johnson replacement, I would prefer either Cohen or Allen to Kerwynn Williams or any of the current Arizona options. It seems likely the Cards will soon add a running back.)
Schedule, next three weeks: vs. Cle, at Jac, vs. Pit
FAAB bid: $10
Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo Bills, 10%
A few thousand fantasy owners are (understandably) taking out their opening week frustrations on Eric Ebron, dropping him rosters after he was barely a rumor on Sunday. Clay deserves strong consideration as an Ebron replacement, after he led all Buffalo receivers in targets on Sunday afternoon (9). Injuries have been an issue for Clay in recent years, but he’s been a respectable fantasy asset when healthy. He caught a short-yardage TD pass from Tyrod Taylor to open the scoring against the Jets, then the Bills QB talked him up during postgame comments…
“He is stronger, more physical than most of the guys that he is going to face down in one on one battles. So I just got to keep giving him the ball and looking for him because he is out there creating space and making plays.”
The touchdown reception was obviously nice to see, but it’s the nine total targets that should really grab your attention. Clay was actually the fourth highest-scoring fantasy tight end over the final five weeks last season, and he has a clear opportunity to finish top-12 at his position this year.
Schedule, next three weeks: at Car, vs. Den, at Atl
FAAB bid: $8
Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee, WRs, Jacksonville Jaguars, 9% and 16%
Jacksonville entered the season with rookie Dede Westbrook (core) already on injured reserve, then lost No. 1 receiver Allen Robinson to a torn ACL in the opener. Going forward, Hurns and Lee project to be the unchallenged top targets for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. Robinson saw over 150 chances in each of the past two seasons, so we’re talking about a substantial bump in usage for Hurns and Lee. Both receivers have had success with Bortles in the past — Hurns in 2015, Lee last season. Familiarity isn’t an issue. It’s important to note that rookie running back Leonard Fournette, not Bortles, is now the offensive centerpiece in Jacksonville, so fantasy owners shouldn’t expect a high-volume passing game from the Jaguars. Bortles delivered a quiet, game-manager-ish 11-for-21 performance in Sunday’s win at Houston. But considering the current state of the receiving depth chart for the Jags, it’s easy to imagine 70-catch seasons for both Hurns and Lee.
Schedule, next three weeks: vs. Ten, vs. Bal, at NYJ
FAAB bid: $5
Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles, 1%
If you’ve been playing fantasy for a few years, there’s a very good chance you’ve already been disappointed by Agholor. He’s a former first-round pick from USC who’s had more dropped passes (8) than touchdown catches (3) over the past two years. Agholor was a high-buzz player during Philly’s offseason program, however, and the Jordan Matthews trade opened a path to a significant role in 2017. Agholor was one of three Eagles to see eight targets in Sunday’s win, and he hauled in six for 86 yards and an early score. There’s little doubt he’ll remain a high-volume receiver for this team, with a shot at WR3 status for fantasy purposes.
Schedule, next three weeks: at KC, vs. NYG, at LAC
FAAB bid: $13
Oakland Raiders, 33%
Another week, another defense that gets to face the Jets. Get used to it, guys. Buffalo just limited New York to 214 total net yards, 12 points and 11 first-downs while forcing two takeaways. Khalil Mack & Co. are coming off an impressive performance at Tennessee, preparing now to host the worst team in the NFL (and perhaps the worst collection of talent in the history of human collaboration. It’s debatable.) The Jets are a good bet to cough up multiple turnovers. Pick on ’em whenever possible.
Schedule, next three weeks: vs. NYJ, at Was, at Den
FAAB bid: $2