New England hosting the Jets was supposed to be a lame matchup and inevitable beatdown, punctuated by thin-Rex Ryan mumbling incomprehensible gibberish in a post-game press conference while stress-eating a sundae.
Stevan Ridley would run all over the Jets, Brady would connect with Amendola 10-30 times and a maybe-healthy Rob Gronkowski would spike the ball after performing improvised dance, like, a gajillion times.
And maybe Geno Smith would give us one of these:
But alas. Week one happened, and that which seemed certain seems … less certain.
New England eked past the Bills with a last second field goal Sunday, while the Jets pulled out a similar finale against the Buccaneers. Of course, Tampa Bay sorta handed New York the game in the final seconds when Tampa Bay roughed Geno Smith on a late hit and set up Nick Folk with a 48-yard field goal, giving head coach Greg Schiano this headache:
While caught up in the hoopla of Geno Smith’s arrival, it’s fairly easy to lose sight of the fact the young quarterback wasn’t quite picture-perfect. True, he didn’t run out of the back of his own endzone, but he did lose a fumble at his own five-yard line in the first quarter and took an 18-yard sack in the second.
It wasn’t all rosy for New England either. While Stevan Ridley began the game with nine carries for 46 yards, he was immediately benched after fumbling his ninth carry. Shane Vereen cleaned up with 14 carries for 101 yards and added seven catches for 58 receiving yards. Fantasy football owners who drafted Vereen in the sixth round were probably pretty happy.
But then this:
It’s early, but Ridley will likely be the guy again this week. As mentioned, he was running well and had picked up 46 yards on the Patriots first 15 snaps. Had he continued to play, he probably would have broken 100 yards himself and added a couple touchdowns. Leon Washington could take over the role of receiving back in Vereen’s absence, but he’s a deep waiver pickup. 16-man PPR leagues, go nuts.
Aside from the Patriots running back woes, the clear-cut waiver-wire star here is Julian Edelman (owned in 7.8 percent of ESPN leagues). While Danny Amendola continued being Danny Amendola Sunday, catching 10 passes for 101 yards, nagging injuries kept him from participating in more than 63 percent of New England’s plays. And while you’re looking at Patriots wide receivers, don’t count out Kenbrell Thompkins (owned in 66.8 percent of ESPN leagues). Jittery owners will ignore he was targeted as much as Danny Amendola against Buffalo, and he could be had for a pittance.
Aside from Edelman and Thompkins, the following 16 players, sorted by position, offer great waiver value.
1. If Terrelle Pryor (9.9%) runs for 50+ yards per game (well short of the 112 he posted Sunday), he’ll score double digits every week of the season and earn the equivalent of an “extra” passing touchdown.
2. Carson Palmer (25.1%) has his best wide receiver in years and a coach bent on throwing the ball downfield — smart, since Rashard Mendenhall and Alfonso Smith averaged 3.3 yards per attempt week one.
3. Ryan Tannehill (8%) has a strong core of receivers and can afford to spread the ball around. Like Arizona, however, Miami can’t afford to run the ball often — Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller combined 18 carries to move the ball 17 yards.
4. Alex Smith (15.9%) won’t be counted on to pass the ball often — unless Kansas City’s defense struggles against teams mightier than the Jaguars.
1. Da’Rel Scott (0.7%) might end up with loads of carries while David Wilson is in Tom Coughlin’s doghouse — but keep a pulse on the news in case the Giants sign someone like Willis McGahee. Update: New York signed Brandon Jacobs (most-likely) for pass-protection. Expect a high-volume passing offense with much more limited upside for Scott.
2. Bilal Powell (32.9%) might be in a committee, but if he’s doing the majority of receiving (Chris Ivory saw just two targets week one), he has PPR value.
3. Pierre Thomas (15.7%) thoroughly outplayed Mark Ingram in the Saints opener and caught four passes for 16 yards — beware Saints running backs, but Thomas isn’t as dependent on touchdowns as Ingram.
1. Brian Hartline (34.6%) is still Ryan Tannehill’s go-to receiver, and if he frequently sees 15 targets like Sunday (he was targeted 128 times last season), he’ll put up consistent numbers.
2. If Christian Ponder completes 18 passes for 236 yards and Jerome Simpson (3.9%) can still catch seven for 140 yards, then Minnesota’s quarterback woes seem less relevant to his value. And how cool is it to have a guy on your team who did this?
3. Leonard Hankerson (0.7%) caught two touchdowns and was a favorite target of RGIII, who also spread the ball to Santana Moss (20.5%). Hankerson is the more appealing option and in his mythical third-season.
4. Andre Roberts (35.8%) will catch a lot of passes in Arizona’s pass-heavy offense while Larry Fitzgerald takes the heat off — but most of his value will be found in PPR leagues.
5. Baltimore’s wide receivers looked rough around the edges last Thursday, but one bright spot was saucer-eyed Marlon Brown (2.1%), who caught 4-of-6 targets for 65 yards and a touchdown.
1. Jordan Cameron (32.5%) can catch passes thrown by Brandon Weeden — he and one-catch tight end Gary Barnidge were the only Cleveland receivers to catch more than half their targets.
2. Kellen Winslow (2.7%) has four seasons with at least 75 catches, and there’s no reason to think he can’t eclipse those numbers as the target Geno Smith loves.
3. Wait another week to see how the offense approaches San Diego, but Brent Celek (10.8%), who caught two-of-three targets and scored in a limited passing offense Monday Night, will see a lot of time on the field.
1. Oakland (0.6%) held Indianapolis to 14 points until 5:21 was left on the clock — and they face Jacksonville this week.