Fantasy football: Realistic waiver wire targets

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Fantasy football: Realistic waiver wire targets
September 11, 2013, 12:45 pm
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From left to right: Ravens LB Terrell Suggs, Bears TE Martellus Bennett and Cardinals WR Andre Roberts. (USA Today Images)

If you paid any attention at all to the opening week of the NFL season, you likely knew to target players like Julian Edelman and Julius Thomas on the waiver wire. Odds are, those two were the first players claimed on Wednesday morning by the teams with the highest waiver priority in your league. If you didn’t lose big in Week 1, you were probably out of luck.

But there were some under-the-radar producers in Week 1 -- guys who may still be out there after the first round of waiver claims and could help you in Week 2 if you were rolling with Lamar Miller, Isaac Redman or David Wilson as your flex in Week 1 and lost confidence.

Let’s take a look at some of those realistic waiver-wire targets:

Andre Roberts – Cardinals WR

It took one game for the world to see how much Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians added to the Cardinals’ offense. Larry Fitzgerald finally has a competent quarterback, and as a result pulled in half of last year’s touchdown total in one game.

The production from No. 11 was highly noticeable, but if you watched closely, so was the output from No. 12, Andre Roberts. The fourth-year wideout was targeted nine times by Palmer and caught eight passes for 97 yards.

Roberts is owned in just 28 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, and that is far too low. He had 64 receptions for 759 yards and five touchdowns last season, so we’ve seen that he can produce even with sub-standard quarterback play.

Roberts is a legit flex play in Week 2 against the Lions, who allowed seven catches for 140 yards to the Vikings’ No. 2 wide receiver, Jerome Simpson, last Sunday.

Simpson is another waiver wire target, by the way.

Martellus Bennett – Bears TE

Tight end was an incredibly deep position in drafts this summer and guys like Bennett were either among the last taken or first left. He impressed in his Bears debut, catching three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. For the first time in Jay Cutler’s career, he has a big, fast, athletic tight end.

As defenses key on Brandon Marshall, Bennett could realistically become Cutler’s No. 2 target, especially in the red zone. At this point he’s a safer bet for consistent points than Kyle Rudolph, Fred Davis and Brandon Pettigrew.

Bilal Powell – Jets RB

If you’re desperate for a running back, Powell is owned in just 34 percent of leagues. He received six more touches in Week 1 than fellow running back Chris Ivory, and is much more of a factor in the passing game.

In limited duty last season, Powell averaged four yards per carry and scored four touchdowns.

He caught four passes on five targets in Week 1 and will likely continue to be rookie QB Geno Smith’s safety valve.

Ravens D/ST

After that atrocious performance vs. the Broncos in Week 1, the Ravens’ defense was likely dropped in your league. The losses of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed showed and Peyton Manning's seven pass TDs left a bad taste in the mouth of anyone who started this perennially stout unit.

If Baltimore is on the waiver wire, grab the defense immediately. There are so many reasons the Ravens could have the highest-scoring D/ST in Week 2.

For starters, Baltimore is at home and had three extra days to prepare for Cleveland’s offense. For yet another year, the Browns have a pitiful passing game. Brandon Weeden threw three interceptions in Week 1 and was hit an NFL-high 16 times by the Dolphins’ defense, which lacks the explosiveness of the Ravens’ D. Baltimore has better cover corners than Miami and an equal, if not better pass rush.

Plus, the Ravens have defensive/special teams scores of 60-plus yards in two of their last four games against the Browns.

LeGarrette Blount – Patriots RB

With Shane Vereen out until at least Week 11, the Patriots are quite thin at running back. Stevan Ridley played sparingly last Sunday after fumbling, and while he’s still the starter, Bill Belichick likes to mix up his backfield.

Ridley received more than 22 carries only once last season, and caught six passes the whole year. Blount isn’t much of a threat in the passing game, either, but at 250 pounds he’s a bigger, more physical blocker, which could earn him more snaps.

With the Patriots’ offense missing Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, there will need to be a larger emphasis on the run. Blount could be due for 10-12 carries and some goal-line touches. Not a bad idea to take a flier on the former Buc if you have the roster space.

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