I can just hear the blowhards around the water cooler today.
“Dude, I’m grabbing Cam Newton off waivers and riding Steve Smith and him to the promised land.”
“No joke, man. I’m dumping all my Colts and flipping Chris Johnson for Ray Rice.”
“I’m all over Ben Tate, ‘cause I heard Arian Foster’s hammy is really messed up.”
“Two words, baby: Kenny Britt.”
Every year, like clockwork, the first weekend’s games set off a frenzy of waiver-wire jockeying and panic-induced trading. Rather than viewing this as little more than the first glimpse of a long, rollercoaster season to come, we race to the conclusion that what we just saw is what we’ll be seeing all year. That’s a prescription for disaster.
Don’t make an ill-advised decision you’ll soon regret.
With the exception of the Packers’ and Saints’ offenses, I think it’s premature to project greatness on any of this weekend’s shining stars.
On the flip slide, it’s way too early to give up on any offense, other than perhaps the woeful Seahawks. Let’s give the Colts one more chance, against the visiting Browns, before we bury them.
The Steelers can’t be that bad, on both sides of the ball. Can they?
Remember, the best trades are often the ones you don’t make. And other than replacing an injured player, or taking a flier on a potential free-agent gem, the waiver wire is best used in moderation.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.
Catch ‘em while you can
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills. Let your opponent slobber all over Newton. You grab the guy with more experience, who was a borderline fantasy starter for much of the 2010 season. Fitzpatrick will be a more reliable QB2, and he has a softer schedule moving forward.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Rams. When Steven Jackson left early with a quadriceps injury, Cadillac came in and proved he still has plenty left in his tank. Even if the starter returns for Week 2, any Jackson owner that neglects to back him up with Williams now is playing with fire.
Ben Tate, RB, Texans. All he needed was an opportunity, and he got it Sunday. Though Arian Foster should be back this weekend, Tate will be the preferred handcuff, especially if Derrick Ward’s ankle injury lingers.
Randall Cobb, WR, Packers. We all know rookie receivers can rarely be trusted. But when his quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, and he has a two-touchdown debut, conventional wisdom goes out the window. As the Packers phase out Donald Driver, Cobb has a legitimate opportunity to vault over his competition into a starting role. He’s worth a spot on your bench until we see more.
Scott Chandler, TE, Bills. Last season, few of us believed what we were witnessing when Stevie Johnson emerged as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target. So we’d be foolish to assume that Chandler’s 63-yard, two-touchdown outing was a total fluke. Though the journeyman has amassed a grand total of one eight-yard reception in his first four seasons, Fitzgerald needs a complementary receiver to Johnson now that Lee Evans is gone. Why not the 6’7”, 270-pound Chandler?
John Kasay, K, Saints. You’ll need to go kicker shopping if you just lost Nate Kaeding for the season. Kasay is available in about half of all leagues. Other mostly unencumbered options worth considering: Chicago’s Robbie Gould, New York’s Nick Folk and Atlanta’s Matt Bryant.
Don’t be fooled
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers. After his record-setting debut, the rookie gunslinger will be the hottest free agent commodity in Fantasyland. But before you burn your waiver priority, note that Newton probably just played the softest defense he’ll see all season. It gets much tougher from here, beginning next week against the Packers. On a more positive note, Steve Smith’s owners have to feel a whole lot better.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Vikings. Is he still sitting on your bench? What are you waiting for? Dump him now, before you find yourself starting him during your real quarterback’s bye. (Some knee-jerk reactions are completely acceptable.)
Devery Henderson, WR, Saints. Now that Marques Colston is out for a month or so with a broken collarbone, the temptation will be to scoop up the leading receiver from Thursday night’s barnburner. But Henderson has a well-earned reputation as a fantasy tease, and I can assure you he doesn’t put out often.
Ted Ginn, WR, 49ers. If you believe Ginn will continue his return-game heroics, then grab San Francisco’s defense/special teams. Because he’s worthless as a receiver.
About the author
Ladd Biro was named 2010 "Football Writer of the Year" by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Ladd's nationally syndicated columns have appeared in more than 20 publications -- including the Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Sun-Times and Sporting News magazine -- since 2003. During the NFL season, he can be heard nationwide on Sporting News Radio as host of the weekly "Fantasy Files" program, dispensing his unique blend of wit and wisdom. Since 2009, all his written fantasy content can be found on the Fantasy Fools blog.