Running backs Morris, Spiller top waiver targets after Week 1
C.J. Spiller is this week's top target, but Alfred Morris is more widely available
Rookie wide receivers Stephen Hill and Alshon Jeffery are worth considering
The two best available quarterbacks are still no better than bye-week fillers
You can't possibly do this again, Mike Shanahan.
Every year, Shanahan baffles fantasy players with his running back carousel. He did it in Denver, and he's done it in Washington since arriving in 2010. That year, he used Clinton Portis, Ryan Torain, James Davis and Keiland Williams; last season, he shuffled through Tim Hightower, Torain, Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Some of the shuffling has stemmed from injuries and the lack of a feature back, but regardless, Shanahan seems to find a new starter every couple of weeks.
Case in point: Alfred Morris.
Morris, a sixth-round draft choice from Florida Atlantic University, won the starting job with 195 yards on 39 carries and one touchdown in three preseason games. In his first NFL game, Morris rushed 28 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns in the Redskins' 40-32 upset of the Saints.
Shanahan says Morris has the job for Week 2.
Morris' Week 1 stats aren't great from a per-carry standpoint, as he managed just 3.4 yards per carry. But no other Washington back sniffed Morris' workload: Royster, Helu and fullback Darrel Young got two carries each.
Even though Shanahan's history tells us a shakeup will come before long, fantasy players who need running back help almost have to take a flier on Morris, who is only owned in 15 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Yards-per-carry don't matter in fantasy football, and running backs who get the ball that often are rare. Morris won't get the ball 28 times every week, but he's starting this game. Grab him and hope Shanahan sticks with him.
Here's a position-by-position look at the other players to target after Week 1. There aren't many options at quarterback, but there are some decent pickups at every other position.
Matt Cassel, Chiefs (13 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues): No waiver wire quarterbacks had huge games Sunday. That includes Cassel, who threw for 258 yards (21-for-33) and a score and also had a touchdown on the ground, his first since joining the Chiefs. He looked decent when the game was close, and the Chiefs won't face many other offenses as good as Atlanta's. Cassel is an adequate bye-week filler.
Mark Sanchez, Jets (18 percent): Well. After going 24-for-35 with no touchdowns and two interceptions this preseason, Sanchez went off against the Bills, completing 19-of-27 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown (plus an interception on his first pass). What does this tell us, other than to avoid reading too much into preseason games? Sanchez can be a fantasy starter against weaker defenses. Unfortunately for the Jets, the opposing defenses get better the next few weeks, and Sanchez's numbers will probably suffer. Like Cassel, Sanchez is backup material.
C.J. Spiller, Bills (67 percent): Spiller is the only better option than Morris, and he's still available in a surprising number of leagues. The Bills backup was the No. 2 fantasy scorer in the opener, getting almost all of Buffalo's carries after Fred Jackson went down with an injury. Spiller finished with 14 carries for 169 yards -- a killer 12.1 yard per carry average -- and a touchdown. With Jackson out almost a month, Spiller immediately inherits the starting role. If he looks good, he could keep the job. If he's still available, grab him.
Jonathan Dwyer (18 percent): With Rashard Mendenhall inactive, Isaac Redman got the start in Pittsburgh and the majority (11) of the carries. But Dwyer, the third-year back drafted by Pittsburgh in 2010, rushed for 43 yards on nine carries and got the majority of the snaps. He's going to be the better option going forward. Next week the Steelers face a Jets defense that gave up a bunch of yards to Spiller (albeit most of them in garbage time). Dwyer's not a bad pickup.
Dexter McCluster, Chiefs (12 percent): McCluster led the Chiefs with six catches (on a wide receiver-like 10 targets) for 82 yards in the opener. He didn't get any carries, but it was an encouraging performance on the heels of a preseason in which he was on the field a lot and got a lot of looks from Cassel. McCluster is a definite flex option in PPR leagues.
Stephen Hill, Jets (nine percent): The Jets' second-round pick looks to be getting a majority of the snaps opposite Santonio Holmes, and he caught five passes (on six targets) for 89 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. He certainly won't repeat that performance, especially against tougher upcoming defenses, but Hill's a No. 2 receiver who could continue to get a lot of looks as teams key in on Holmes.
Kevin Ogletree, Cowboys (42 percent): Hey, don't forget him on the waiver wire just because his game was almost a week ago! The fourth-year wideout was targeted 11 times, catching eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Is it a fluke, or is he this year's Laurent Robinson? The Cowboys certainly looked good enough against the Giants to make having three viable fantasy starters at wide receiver feasible. Ogletree is owned in a pretty high number of leagues, but he's almost certainly available in leagues that employ a waiver system.
Brandon LaFell, Panthers (23 percent): LaFell was on the field a lot Sunday, and he caught three passes for 65 yards and a touchdown on five targets even though Cam Newton didn't look all that sharp in the Panthers' 16-10 loss to Tampa Bay. LaFell is worth a look in deep leagues, as he produced even with the Carolina offense sputtering. Carolina's running game (13 carries for 10 yards) can't possibly look as bad in coming weeks, which could open things up a bit more for the receivers.
Alshon Jeffery, Bears (34 percent): Much like Hill, Jeffery is a rookie and could be hit-or-miss this year. But he looks like he could be Jay Cutler's No. 2 target, getting five targets in his first game and catching three passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Marshall is going to get the heavy workload in Chicago, but Jeffery is a possible No. 3 wideout in fantasy.
Coby Fleener, Colts (49 percent): Young quarterbacks love the tight end, and Fleener played with Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck in college. And, what do you know: Fleener had 10 targets for eight catches and 82 yards in his first game as a pro. That's a pretty solid first game for a rookie tight end.
Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars (five percent): Lewis followed up a great 2010 with a dismal 2011, but this could be a bounce-back year. He caught all five passes thrown his way for 52 yards, and second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert went to him at the goal line for a one-yard score. Gabbert still looks too green (or, bad) to make Lewis a great fantasy option, but Gabbert could keep looking his way in the red zone.
Shayne Graham, Texans (six percent): Houston's offense has a ton of weapons, which means the kicker gets a ton of opportunities. Graham hit three of his four attempts Sunday, with his only miss coming from 52 yards. He's going to keep getting chances in that offense.
Billy Cundiff, Redskins (four percent): Cundiff made the Pro Bowl last year as a Raven, but he missed a 32-yard field goal that would have kept Baltimore's Super Bowl hopes alive. After the Ravens cut Cundiff this August, he landed with the Redskins and hit all four of his field goals and extra points Sunday. Washington won't play New Orleans every week, but the offense should be much improved this year and Cundiff could get lots of opportunities.
Broncos (17 percent): The Steelers don't have great (good?) tackles, but the Broncos' pass rush dominated on Sunday night, recording four sacks and forcing Ben Roethlisberger into quite a few bad throws. The Broncos don't play in a great division, and if their pass rush continues to look as good as it did Sunday, they could be a surprise fantasy defense this season.
Browns (two percent): The top fantasy defense in Week 1 was: Cleveland, which held Philadelphia to 17 points, picked off four passes and returned one for a score. Defensive touchdowns are pretty random, but it was still an impressive performance against what's expected to be a good Eagles offense. It could be a mirage, but the Browns looked good and won't face too many killer offenses in the first half of the season. If Denver's gone ... eh, you could do worse.
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