Fantasy Football

Green, Wilson still available Kevin Payne
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As we enter Week 1 with much anticipation, let's lay the groundwork for this weekly column. This is a suggestion for general waiver adds taking into consideration that every year many new and different formats emerge in fantasy football. There are leagues with as little as eight teams and leagues that go up to as many as 32 teams. Keeping that in mind, at times we'll recommend players for shallow or deep leagues, PPR or standard formats, FAAB or FCFS, differentiating between them to make it clear when you should consider a player. The waiver wire is crucial to winning your league; just ask those who picked up Cam Newton early last season or those who snagged Evan Royster for the final two games.

Alfred Morris, RB, WAS - Morris is likely already gone unless your league froze the waiver wire after drafting or is holding FAAB this week. While the Washington backfield became a little less muddied after the release of Tim Hightower, it's still a mystery as to who will get the workload against the Saints. The latest depth chart lists Evan Royster as the No.1 running back, but coach Mike Shanahan carries a pencil with a giant eraser and a bottle of white-out everywhere he goes. Even if Royster starts, don't be surprised if it's two-horse race between Morris and Roy Helu for the carries. Helu went off in the Redskins' final preseason game (against a bunch of second-stringers) while Morris was held out (normally the case for Week 1 starters). Although it's unclear how the touches will play out, Morris will have a role in Week 1 and is worth taking a flier, considering the upside of playing with a running quarterback.

Russell Wilson, QB, SEA - Even those who aren't Pete Carroll fans should applaud his decision to go with Wilson over Matt Flynn as the starting quarterback. While it's easy to think the Seahawks would roll with a player to whom they just committed $10 million guaranteed, Wilson's exceptional preseason play has have him under center to start the season. Rookie quarterbacks are more prepared than ever for the NFL game (there will be five rookie starters Week 1, the most in the modern era), and Wilson's mobility will reward fantasy owners with rushing stats. He has some solid weapons in the passing game - Sidney Rice has No. 1 wide receiver potential, Doug Baldwin is a good slot receiver, Zach Miller had success with the Raiders and Golden Tate is a second-round pick entering his all-important third season. Braylon Edwards looked good in preseason too.

Brian Quick, WR, STL - Quick (pun intended) - who will lead the Rams in receiving this season? Danny Amendola is healthy once again and has value in PPR formats, but Quick might be the receiver in St. Louis with the most upside. Some might point out that his college success occurred at Appalachian State (a 1-AA school). Keep in mind, however, Jerry Rice went to Mississippi Valley State, Randy Moss hails from Marshall and Andre Reed attended Kutztown University. This isn't trying to compare him to the leagues all-time elite wide receivers, rather to dispel the notion that a talented wide receiver has to come from a big school. It could take some time for Quick to acclimate to the professional game, but he's worth a bench spot considering his upside.

Jonathan Dwyer, RB, PIT - With Rashard Mendenhall on the mend from a Week 17 ACL tear, many jumped on the Isaac Redman bandwagon, and rightfully so. However, Redman was slowed by both hip and ankle injuries this preseason, which opened the door for Dwyer. Yes, it was only preseason, but Dwyer made his coaches take notice after rushing for 147 yards on 28 carries (a 5.3 YPC mark). That stat coupled with the Redman injuries could make for an even timeshare in the Pittsburgh backfield. Given that Dwyer is healthy, a carryover of his preseason success could lead to him being the main and goal-line back for the Steelers, which equals fantasy gold.

Bills Defense - The Bills defense is owned in roughly 50 percent of fantasy leagues in 12-team formats, so there's the coin flip of a chance that it's available to you. The defense is probably matchup proof; it had a four-interception game in Buffalo last season against Tom Brady that included a pick-six. The Bills defensive unit is a huge upgrade over last season after bringing aboard defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt and signing Mario Williams to a $100 million contact. Pro-Bowler Kyle Williams is healthy, Mark Anderson and his 10 sacks from 2011 were added and Marcell Dareus has looked unstoppable in camp. Jarius Byrd and George Wilson are ball hawks in the secondary, and first-round pick Stephon Gilmore should have an immediate impact at corner. Week 1 the Bills get the Jets, who looked anything but in sync on offense this preseason. Buffalo fans will hope for the presence of Tim Tebow on the field after the Bills forced two fumbles, three interceptions and scored two touchdowns on defense last season when Denver visited Western New York.

Alex Green, RB, GB - Interestingly, the Packers signed Cedric Benson, who has had his share of off-field issues, over Ryan Grant, who knows the offense. The guess is the Packers think they have enough upside with Green, Brandon Saine and James Starks to let Grant go. Benson is really just a plodder who hasn't averaged more than four yards a carry in either of the last two seasons. Over those last two seasons Benson has 594 carries but only six carries of 20-plus yards, showing his lack of explosiveness. Enter Green, who put up some nice numbers playing in a fantasy-friendly environment in Hawaii during college. Coming off an ACL injury, Green has been used cautiously, but the white gloves may come off soon enough. There's more upside with Green, and in the later rounds of drafts or via the waiver wire, that's what you should target.

Martellus Bennett, TE, NY - If Kyle Rudolph is available in your league, then by all means grab him. This Bennett recommendation is based completely on the fact that Rudolph is snagged and Bennett is available. Playing in the shadow of Jason Witten the last four seasons, Bennett now has the opportunity to be the No. 1 tight end for the defending Super Bowl champions. Bennett should provide an improvement as far as blocking in the running game, which the Giants struggled with last season. On top of that, he provides a huge target in the red zone at 6-foot-6, 280, especially considering defenses will focus on stopping Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. This is a deeper league add and potential bye-week replacement during the season in 12-team standard scoring formats.


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Kendall Wright, WR, TEN - With Kenny Britt suspended the first game of the season, Wright should see a lot of snaps for the Titans. There's been a ton of buzz on his big-play ability during camp, and he seems to already have a good connection with quarterback Jake Locker. The New England secondary wasn't considered solid, and the duo of Nate Washington/Jared Cook should take some of the attention off Wright. The running game is always potent with Chris Johnson, and play-action should help get Wright open downfield.

Justin Medlock, PK, CAR - This is one of the more hit-or-miss type of picks considering Medlock has bounced around for a couple of weeks here and there in the NFL and is formerly of the Canadian Football League. That bsaid, he beat out Olindo Mare for the kicking job and has a strong enough leg to hit from 50-plus yards. The Panthers should have trouble putting up points given they have Cam Newton at quarterback as well as three capable runners (D'Angelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert). Luke Kuechly should help the defense but that remains the team's weakness. Divisional games should see a lot of high scoring affairs, which adds to his value.

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Tagged: Bills, Packers, Titans, Rams, Vikings, Giants, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Redskins, Panthers, Steelers, Cedric Benson, George Wilson, Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Martellus Bennett, Tim Hightower, Jonathan Dwyer, Golden Tate, Tim Tebow, Angelo Williams, Isaac Redman, Cam Newton, Kyle Rudolph, Alex Green, Evan Royster, Roy Helu Jr., Kendall Wright, Brian Quick, Russell Wilson, Alfred Morris

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