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Week 1 Waiver Sleepers: RBs & WRs to Add or Start

In this article, we look around the NFL and provide analysis on some fantasy football running back and wide receiver sleepers for Week 1 of the NFL and fantasy football season.


Fantasy Football Pickups, Stashes & Potential Starts

There has already been a lot of relevant NFL and fantasy football news, mostly stemming from injuries. We are here to help sort through some of that, and help you make some moves that can prove to be low-risk high-upside transactions to improve your fantasy football teams. Today's focus is on running backs and wide receivers, as sleepers at these positions can provide major boosts for your fantasy football teams in both Week 1 and throughout the NFL season.

It's never too early to beef up your rosters, even though Week 1 of the NFL season has barely started. If you have some room on your roster, an extra defense, or a player who's just eating up a roster spot with very little chance of making an impact, you may want to consider grabbing some potential sleepers off the waiver wire instead. If you are already rostering some of these players, but aren't quite sure who to start, you can consider inserting these players into your lineups or at least keep a close eye on how they perform in Week 1.


Editor’s Note: be sure to bookmark our awesome fantasy football waiver wire pickups list, which is a daily updated list of waiver wire adds and players to pickup for all NFL positions.


Week 1 Running Backs to Consider Adding or Starting

Jonathan Dwyer - RB, Arizona Carindals

14% owned in Fleaflicker leagues

jonathan-dwyer-nfl-fantasy-football-running-back-pickups-sleepersWith the recent news that Andre Ellington may potentially have a multi-week ankle injury, Jonathan Dwyer becomes an intriguing name to add off the waiver wire and consider stashing/starting for your teams. If Ellington does in fact end up missing Week 1, Dwyer could in theory flirt with RB3/FLEX value, which could be a decent starting lineup gamble for deeper leagues.

For shallower leagues, I'd probably hold off and see how he performs in Week 1. But I wouldn't blame anyone for inserting Dwyer into their Week 1 starting lineups if Ellington sits, as Dwyer will certainly get some volume and can always bang in a TD or two if the cards unfold nicely. If Ellington does end up playing in Week 1, Dwyer is still a worthwhile stash to see how the injury situation plays out.


Ahmad Bradshaw - RB, Indianapolis Colts

41% owned in Fleaflicker leagues

As you may have read throughout the site, many of RotoBaller's writers aren't convinced that Trent Richardson has what it takes to succeed in 2014 for both the Colts and fantasy football owners. We can sift through all of the poor stats from last season, but the bottom line is he just wasn't effective at all in the Colts' offense last year. There's a chance he can rebound and be an effective running back, but based on what we saw in the pre-season, it's not looking great.

Enter Ahmad Bradshaw, who has a chance to emerge if he can stay healthy in a powerful Colts offense. Bradshaw was effective last year in his limited time playing with the Colts, and may get more work than we think in the early going. He's an ideal sleeper candidate to pickup off the waiver wire, or even consider as a FLEX option for deeper leagues.


James White - RB, New England Patriots

18% owned in Fleaflicker leagues

Another year, another New England backfield situation without clarity. What we do know is that Shane Vereen is the man in New England. He will get his touches, including rushing attempts and passes out of the backfield. But Vereen may not have the durability to last all year, and also isn't really suited for a "big back" role where he can smash between the tackles and be used in goal-line situations. So who's going to fill that role this year?

Steven Ridley could  be that guy, but it seems that Belichick doesn't trust him with all the struggles and fumbling issues. James White has received plenty of work in the pre-season, and seems to be more trusted by Belichick. The Patriots' offense is going put up points this year, and even more so when Rob Gronkowski is healthy and playing - so there is going to be plenty of opportunity for a running back aside from Vereen to emerge and flourish in that offense, especially in short yardage situations. White can be a sleeper for your fantasy teams, and is a low-risk high-upside stash for your rosters. I wouldn't start him in Week 1, but if he has a good game fantasy owners will be running to the waiver wire next week and blowing their FAAB budgets. Get ahead of the curve.

Update 9/7: White is inactive for today's game. He remains a decent stash for fantasy owners, to see how the backfield situation unfolds over the next few weeks.


Other RBs to Consider Stashing/Starting: James Starks (GB - 15% owned), Roy Helu (WAS - 31% owned)


Week 1 Wide Receivers to Consider Adding or Starting

Marqise Lee - WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

21% owned in Fleaflicker leagues

Jacksonville's number one receiver Cecil Shorts has been banged up all pre-season, and has now been officially ruled out for Week 1. I'm not here to tell you that the Jaguars are going to have a great offense, or that they will put up a lot of points in Week 1, but they will have to throw the ball to someone - especially if they are behind in the game. Marqise Lee is going to step in as the #1 wide receiver for Week 1, and most likely until Shorts is healthy enough to play.

We saw last year that even a bad offense like the Jaguars can support product fantasy football wide receivers, especially in PPR leagues, as both Shorts and Justin Blackmon held value for fantasy owners throughout the year. Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson will also be getting targets this week, and can also be sleepers to pickup and stash off the waiver wire, but it looks like Lee has the most upside. If you are in a deeper PPR league, I wouldn't blame you for starting Lee if you're in a bind. But ideally he is a stash candidate, as we wait to see how the wide receiver situation in Jacksonville plays out.


Steve Smith - WR, Baltimore Ravens

69% owned in Fleaflicker leagues

steve-smith-nfl-fantasy-football-wide-receiver-sleepersJust when everyone was ready to forget about Smitty, he has popped up in Baltimore and doesn't seem to be ready to fade into fantasy irrelevance. Does Smith have the same skillset now that he had in his prime years? Probably not. Does he have the same toughness and experience that made him a dominant NFL wide receiver? Absolutely.

Torrey Smith is going to be drawing a lot of attention from opposing defenses, and stretching the field, which is going to open up opportunities for other Baltimore wide receivers to emerge. Smith already showed what he's capable of this year in the Baltimore offense, putting up a six-catch, 80-yard, one-touchdown pre-season game. Is he going to be a WR1 or WR2 for fantasy football owners this year? No way. But can he potentially be a WR3/WR4/FLEX option, especially in PPR leagues? I certainly hope so, with maybe even upside for more. If you are in a bind this week with your FLEX slot in a deeper PPR league, I can see Smith getting the start. But ideally you can stash him on your rosters, and see what Week 1 holds for him.


Aaron Dobson - WR, New England Patriots

44% owned in Fleaflicker leagues

Contrary to last year, it seems that the Patriots almost have too many offensive options this year. Of course this is football, and players are going to get injured, so a team can never really be too deep. But the fact is, if Rob Gronkowski is healthy, the Patriots have to distribute the ball to him, Shane Vereen, Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Steven Ridley and James White (among others).

Now none of us really know how Tom Brady will spread the ball around, especially week-to-week as the offensive game-plan is tailored towards the opponent. But Dobson is healthy, is listed as the number two wide receiver on the New England depth chart, and already has showed some big play ability last year and in the pre-season. If you are in a deeper league, and are struggling for a deep WR or FLEX spot, I could see you rolling the dice with Dobson this week. But ideally Dobson is holding down a bench spot on your teams, as we all sit back and watch how this Patriots offense unfolds in Week 1.

Update 9/7: Dobson is not active for today's game. The Patriots are most likely giving him more time to get up to speed after missing some time in the pre-season, and Dobson remains a high-upside stash for fantasy owners.


Other Wide Receivers to Consider Stashing/Starting: Mike Williams (BUF - 39% owned), Kenny Britt (STL - 22% owned)



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