Welcome to PFW's Fantasy Ticker, where we isolate a handful of skill-position players who could be solid pickups. As a general rule, we will focus only upon players available in up to 50 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
While most owners are reasonably pleased with their teams entering Week One, a few preseason tweaks are not unreasonable. Perhaps the auto-draft function selected a few less-than-desirable bench players as you put the kids to bed, or maybe injuries are already a concern for your club.
Whatever the reason, you've come to the right place if you're looking for waiver-wire help. The suggestions below are a function of matchups, expected opportunities and other factors:
Rams QB Sam Bradford (owned in 24 percent of leagues) — Could put up surprising numbers at Detroit in Week One if Rams fall behind and have to abandon the run.
Titans QB Jake Locker (50 percent) — The Patriots’ secondary is suspect until proven otherwise.
Vikings QB Christian Ponder (13 percent) — I believe Ponder has real sleeper potential this season, and he has a favorable matchup in Week One vs. Jacksonville, which isn’t especially strong in the secondary.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez (17 percent) — Threw four TDs in his last matchup against Buffalo. A “Let’s Hope The Jets Were Conducting An Elaborate Game Of Preseason Possum” hunch play.
49ers QB Alex Smith (44 percent) — Has a stronger WR corps to work with, and Packers were brutal vs. the pass a season ago.
Chargers RB Ronnie Brown (24 percent) — He’s a reasonable No. 2 RB or “flex” option in most formats if Ryan Mathews (broken clavicle) is out for the season opener against the Raiders (27th vs. the run a season ago). While Mathews is signaling he wants to play in Week One, he would be returning to action just 32 days after the injury. Even if he were to play, would he get the bulk of the carries when coming back so soon? The Chargers desperately need to get off to a good start this season, but they will need Mathews to have their best shot at contending in the division over 16 games. Here's our suggestion: If you want to pick up Brown, do it sooner than later. If it becomes clear Mathews won't play — or will have a reduced workload — it may be too late to add Brown to your squad.
Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (2 percent) — He’s not someone you play in Week One, but he's won the Ravens’ top reserve RB job, and those counting on Ray Rice might want to clear a roster space for Pierce just in case.
Redskins RB Evan Royster (36 percent) and Alfred Morris (11 percent) — If you’re the daring sort, perhaps these backs appeal to you. The Saints allowed the fourth-most yards per carry in 2011. Royster is listed as the starter, with Morris the third-stringer. How the carries are divided is anyone’s guess.
Patriots RB Danny Woodhead (5 percent) — With Shane Vereen banged up, Woodhead’s Week One value increases. The Titans were 24th in rushing defense in 2011. He’s a deep, deep sleeper in huge leagues.
Dolphins WR Davone Bess (25 percent) — Bess’ 86 targets in 2011 were second on the Dolphins, and Brandon Marshall (team-high 142 targets) is now in Chicago.
Lions WR Nate Burleson (30 percent) — With so much time to prepare for Week One, would you be shocked if the Rams pulled out all of the coverage stops with an eye on trying to keep Calvin Johnson in check? Just a hunch, but I think Burleson, one of the Lions' top possession threats, is busier than expected in Week One.
Giants WR Domenik Hixon (0 percent) — If Hakeem Nicks (foot) is out or limited, Hixon figures to get more snaps. He’s probably just a one-week option, and he’s only a consideration in very big leagues, but since he's the Giants' No. 3 wideout, we’ll mention him all the same. After all, you would have to think the Cowboys will be keying on Victor Cruz.
Redskins WR Josh Morgan (1 percent)— Might be worth a flier with the Redskins potentially playing from behind and facing a Saints defense that allowed the third-most passing yards in 2011.
Texans WR Kevin Walter (3 percent) — He’s unspectacular, but he’s reliable. The Dolphins were 25th vs. the pass in 2011, and they traded CB Vontae Davis to Indianapolis.
Giants TE Martellus Bennett (21 percent) — Has underachieved at times, but he is talented, and perhaps he’s inspired facing his old teammates in Dallas.
Steelers TE Heath Miller (23 percent)— Ben Roethlisberger’s security blanket. The Broncos’ pass defense is average.
Rams WR Lance Kendricks (3 percent) — The Rams lack a clear No. 1 receiver. They could have their problems with Detroit and might have to throw, throw and throw some more. The Lions’ secondary shapes up as a weakness. Bingo.