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Waiver Wire Watch: Players to Pick Up Week 1

Mario Puig

Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Jim Harbaugh, James Harrison and David Bowie.

ACC

Romar Morris, RB, North Carolina

There's no stopping Giovani Bernard, but the new North Carolina offense should log enough snaps to leave a significant workload for both Bernard and Morris in 2012. New head coach Larry Fedora runs a fast-paced offense with a snap total that ranked in the top-six nationwide three of the last four years at Southern Miss. Since Bernard and Morris are the team's only two legitimate runners, they both should see plenty of work, with Morris serving as an elusive, big-play change-of-pace option while Bernard takes the workhorse role. Morris should be owned in all ACC-only leagues, and he's a player to watch closely in other formats, because he might only need 10-to-12 touches per game to make an impact with the right matchup.

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College

Rolandan Finch looked like the best bet to serve as Boston College's top runner heading into fall, but he's absent from the team's depth chart as the first week approaches, presumably due to a foot injury he suffered in practice in mid-August. Williams is the best Boston College back besides Finch, so the team's run-heavy offense figures to translate to a significant workload for Williams, who has been quite productive when given this opportunity. Foot injuries can linger for running backs, so Williams is valuable in ACC-only leagues at least for now.

Big 12

Darrin Moore, WR, Texas Tech

Texas Tech never made an official announcement, but it appears that Moore's "indefinite suspension" is because he's listed as the team's starting "z" receiver heading into Week 1. If he's on the field, Moore could be one of the nation's most productive receivers. He had eight touchdowns in nine games last year and would have had more if not for troublesome knee and ankle injuries. Although durability is a problem with Moore, his upside is huge, and he should be owned in almost all formats.

Tony Pierson, RB, Kansas

James Sims (three-game suspension) might make Pierson a bit obsolete in a few weeks, but until then the elusive Pierson should make a solid short-term option as the best runner in what should be a significantly improved Kansas offense. That's particularly true for the first two weeks, when Kansas faces the pushover defenses of South Dakota State and Rice. With 396 yards and three touchdowns (5.6 yards per carry) last year, Pierson should post good numbers in those matchups.

Big East

Isaac Bennett, RB, Pittsburgh

Ray Graham (knee) is a pessimistic game-time decision heading into Week 1's matchup with Youngstown State, and Pittsburgh probably won't risk the health of its star player in a game it should win easily. Bennett is Graham's top backup and likely will put up nice numbers against what should be an overmatched Youngstown State squad. Former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is calling plays in Pittsburgh, so the over/under on touchdowns for Bennett probably should be 2.5 this week.

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Brandon Coleman is rightly considered the primary big-play threat at receiver in the Big East, but Parker is a good bet to make some waves himself in 2012. There are more targets available in the Louisville offense now that Michaelee Harris is out with a torn ACL, and Parker showed a lot of big-play potential last year as he caught six touchdowns on just 18 receptions. Between his own improvement, the absence of Harris and the progress of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the pieces are in place for Parker to be at least a solid matchup play in 2012.

Big Ten

Tre Roberson, QB, Indiana

Roberson has a long way to go as a passer, but he's a skilled runner who was generally promising as a true freshman last year, running for 419 yards and two scores in the final seven weeks of 2011. Roberson should put up nice numbers in Week 1 as Indiana faces an Indiana State squad that allowed 28.6 points per game in the FCS the last two years. Indiana should make it to the 40-point mark in Week 1, and Roberson should pile up some nice rushing totals in the process. His matchups with Massachusetts and Ball State in the following weeks could be fruitful, too.

James White, RB, Wisconsin

Montee Ball is obviously the main attraction in Madison, but coming off an assault-induced concussion in early August, Ball figures to see a limited workload against Northern Iowa in Week 1. Between Ball's concussion and a fast-developing blowout, there's reason to believe White should get 15 or more carries in Week 1, a workload he'll likely turn into at least 90 yards and a touchdown, but probably more.

Conference-USA

Rio Johnson, QB, East Carolina

Johnson was named East Carolina's starting quarterback, meaning he's heir to an offense that's a near lock to throw at least 42 times a game. Even if he averages a pitiful 6.0 yards per pass, that's more than 250 yards passing per game. Johnson has at least two good receivers to target in Justin Hardy and Reese Wiggins, so it's not as if he has no help in this endeavor. Particularly when he's facing a manageable defense - Week 1's Appalachian State included - Johnson should make a solid fantasy start in most formats.

Jacob Karam, QB, Memphis

Karam is primarily a deep-league consideration, but he's a player who shouldn't be written off, particularly in Week 1. Memphis is taking on the University of Tennessee-Martin, an FCS squad that's 11-11 the last two years. Karam's a Texas Tech transfer with a dual-threat skill set and a pass-happy offense, meaning there is a chance for fantasy utility, even if it looks a bit ugly on the real football field.

Independents

Theo Riddick, RB, Notre Dame

Cierre Wood is suspended the first two games of the season, leaving Riddick as Notre Dame's likely starter at running back. A skilled receiver, Riddick should rarely leave the field, making him a potentially valuable running back the first two weeks. Notre Dame is breaking in a rookie starter at quarterback in Everett Golson, so the team figures to run the ball quite a bit, resulting in big numbers from Riddick against Navy and Purdue.

MAC

Trayion Durham, RB, Kent State

Durham is a huge runner who failed to impress in 2011 but should make a decent fantasy option against weak defenses this year because he figures to get a lot of carries in a Kent State backfield that lacks talent. Durham totaled 185 carries the final 10 games last year, so he should get at least 20 against Towson in Week 1 this year. It would disappoint if Durham doesn't produce at least 90 yards and a touchdown to start the year.

Cody Wilson, WR, Central Michigan

Titus Davis and Courtney Williams look like the Central Michigan wideouts to target in an ideal world, but Wilson has plenty of skill himself and should make his presence felt in 2012. That's particularly true in a Week 1 matchup against Southeast Missouri State, a game in which Central Michigan quarterback Ryan Radcliff should surpass 300 yards passing with ease.

Mountain West

Will Gregory, RB, Hawaii

Gregory isn't a fantasy option against USC in Week 1, but he's a pickup in deeper formats who could turn into nice RB depth in a few weeks. The shifty Gregory is a solid recruit by Hawaii standards and enters the season as Hawaii's co-starter with Joey Iosefa at running back. Iosefa figures to handle short-yardage and thus goal-line carries for the most part, but Gregory could turn into the team's primary runner since he's likely a more talented all-around runner than Iosefa.

Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State

With Jalen Saunders gone to Oklahoma, Harper could find himself as Fresno State's top wideout in 2012. He finished last year with 32 catches for 475 yards and four touchdowns in 11 games, showing much more big-play ability than his returning teammates. With Fresno State implementing a new spread offense this year, look for the Bulldogs to be aggressive against Weber State in Week 1, hoping to get the offense in rhythm before the real schedule starts. Harper should be one of the main targets.

Pac-12

Tony Jones, RB, Colorado

Jones isn't an impressive long-term fantasy option after averaging just 3.8 yards per carry in 2011, but he should be a good PPR-league option thanks to his high reception totals. Despite serving as a backup last year, Jones finished the season with 27 catches in 12 games, and that's with starting runner Rodney Stewart catching 45 passes of his own. Jones has a good chance to exceed 50 receptions this year, and he should be at least a solid start in Week 1 against Colorado State.

Storm Woods, RB, Oregon State


Malcolm Agnew is probably too good to not push for 10 carries per game, but Woods is the technical winner of Oregon State's starting running back spot, a role that historically is very profitable for fantasy owners. That means he should be owned in all formats. The whole Oregon State offense looks like it could be good this year, actually, with quarterback Sean Mannion and receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks good values at their respective draft slots.

SEC

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Manziel was surprisingly named A&M's starting quarterback over the favored Jamiell Showers, so the dual-threat athlete takes over what could be one of the nation's most aggressive passing attacks. The eventual SEC competition is a concern for Manziel, but he should get enough pass and rush attempts to be a pretty good fantasy option when the matchup is manageable. Louisiana Tech's defense was surprisingly tough in 2011, so Manziel's owners might want to take a wait-and-see approach after Week 1 before putting Manziel in the lineup, but he's in a position to provide a big payoff if he proves up to the task.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

As one of the nation's most hyped recruits entering 2012, the only thing standing in Patterson's way was the crowded wideout rotation at Tennessee, a team that already featured two stars in Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers. Rogers, however, is gone from after repeatedly breaking team rules, leaving Patterson as the starter opposite Hunter. Tennessee will throw often and do a good job at it, and Patterson should see favorable coverage due to Hunter's presence. He should be owned in nearly all formats.

Sun Belt

Benny Cunningham, RB, Middle Tennessee

William Pratcher had better rushing numbers than Cunningham in 2011, but that was largely due to filling in for the injured Cunningham when Middle Tennessee happened to play weak defenses (Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic). It was Cunningham who saw most of the work when healthy, and that should be the same in 2012. With D.D. Kyles gone from the team, though, both Cunningham and Pratcher should see more work, as Kyles' exit leaves a void of 67 carries in the offense.

Logan Kilgore, QB, Middle Tennessee

Kilgore's passing efficiency was weak last season, averaging just 6.2 yards per attempt and scoring only 18 touchdowns. But he should be a nice fantasy option the first three weeks this season. Middle Tennessee opens the year with McNeese State, Florida Atlantic and Memphis, and the Middle Tennessee offense attempted 42.3 passes per game last year. It won't shock if Kilgore opens the year with 900 yards in his first three games.

WAC

Dominique Blackman, QB, Idaho

Blackman is only worth a roster stash in deep leagues, but he's a player worth monitoring outside of deep leagues due to his pedigree as a former Washington recruit. The big pocket passer could impress in a WAC setting if he's the talent Washington thought he was, and he plays in an offense that's fairly active in the passing game. His offensive line is a significant concern, though, so, if possible, keep Blackman out of your lineup until he shows a grasp of the Idaho system.

Andrew Manley, QB, New Mexico State

Manley should be a nice sneaky Week 1 start, even if he's a relative unknown. He suffered a torn ACL in the third game last year, but up to that point he totaled 892 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions as a passer. His Week 1 performance against a tough Ohio defense was particularly promising, as he totaled 362 yards (8.8 YPA), two touchdowns and an interception. He faces a Sacramento State FCS squad in Week 1, so he should pick up where he left off in 2011.