The vast majority of fantasy drafts have concluded. Thus, my first waiver wire offering.
We’re starting with running backs. These are the guys who are less than 50% owned in fantasy leagues. Generally speaking, you’ll want to pick them up in the order listed below:
Bryce Brown, RB Philadelphia Eagles
Not the ideal Week 1 play, but a true Lesean McCoy handcuff with explosive upside that is worth owning. Even as the No. 2 RB on the roster, Brown should get plenty of run in Chip Kelly’s offense.
Fred Jackson, RB Buffalo Bills
He’s a year older, slower and less explosive- which still makes Fred Jackson decent. Head coach Dough Marrone is going run-heavy with a rookie quarterback at the helm. Jackson is in position to get some run even though CJ Spiller is the definitive RB1 in Buffalo.
Ronnie Hillman, RB Denver Broncos
We don’t love him. He’s bulked up this season, but continues to go down way too easily on first contact. Still, the Broncos maintain their love for him. We always think it’s a good idea to buy stock in Peyton Manning. In what could be a very murky Denver backfield, Hillman has the clearest role as the “change of pace back”. We’ll call him a decent flex-play for now.
Knowshon Moreno, RB Denver Broncos
Less of a candidate for a Week 1 start than Hillman, but more of a bench stash with pretty big future upside- possibly sooner than later. Moreno was very good for fantasy owners last year after Willis McGahee went down. Moreno is good in pass protection, which is key with Peyton Manning and his Frankenstein neck steering the ship. The rest of the Denver backfield is completely unproven.
Stepfan Taylor, RB Arizona Cardinals
One of my two favorite deep roster stashes (Terrelle Pryor will be in the QB waiver report). Months ago, we were the very first outlet to suggest Taylor has some Vick Ballard / Alfred Morris to him. Arizona’s offensive line is shaky, and so are Rashard Mendenhall’s knees. This situation is volatile, but we watched Taylor live the whole week of Senior Bowl practice and know he has a chance to breakout as a rookie.
Isaac Redman, RB Pittsburgh Steelers
We’ve always hated Isaac Redman, and we still do- he sucks. Arguably, he should be higher on this list. He may very well be the best option here for a Week 1 start. Historically, though, he’s been a pitiful play. We don’t trust him long-term, but if you’re desperate for a potential starting RB- right now- give him a go.
Pierre Thomas, RB New Orleans Saints
A guy we actually love after visiting Saints training camp. Thomas is a good player on a high-scoring offense and the team obviously views him as one of their real leaders. New Orleans always pretends like they will get him involved, but it never quite works out. With Chris Ivory gone to New York, and Mark Ingram incapable of seizing the job- Thomas seems to be in a better situation this year. We’re skeptical, but he’s worth a wait-and-see if you have the roster space.
Joique Bell, RB Detroit Lions
The true handcuff to Reggie Bush, and a sneaky efficient fantasy player. Bell is a PPR monster as an RB4. He’s going to get his touches this season.
Bilal Powell, RB New York Jets
Bilal Powell has been listed as the Jets No.1 RB coming into Week 1, but we still put him pretty much in the Isaac Redman category. I wouldn’t say we hate him- he’s always had a little athleticism to him that we like- but it’s to the point where we know he’s just not a very good NFL running back. The good news? Powell’s mate in the backfield, Chris Ivory- is unproven and injury prone. Powell is a decent Week 1 option.