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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

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College

Injuries and a weak Boston College passing game prevented Williams from fully gaining traction in the Eagles offense the last three years, but when healthy he has shown the ability to put up big fantasy numbers, especially against weak defenses. He posted 185 yards on the ground against Syracuse in 2010, 114 yards against Northwestern in 2011 and 191 yards against Army a year ago. With Villanova set to take on Boston College this week, Williams is well worth gambling on in all formats.

Anthony Boone, QB, Duke

Boone is a first-year starter who averaged only 5.6 yards per pass a year ago while backing up Sean Renfree, but he should have a productive fantasy season this year in Duke's pass-happy offense. His 5.6 YPA is largely forgivable, moreover, since 36 of his 94 passes last year were against the tough defenses of Stanford and Florida State, both on the road. With a dual-threat skill set in an offense that threw 42.4 times per game a year ago, Boone should get off to a fast start with North Carolina Central on the Week 1 schedule.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC

Senorise Perry, RB, Louisville

The presences of Michael Dyer and Dominique Brown might limit Perry's fantasy upside, but he should have a high floor as the returning primary goal-line runner in Louisville's productive offense. Perry had a productive 2012 season before a mid-November ACL tear, running for 11 touchdowns despite splitting carries with Jeremy Wright, and he's already made a full recovery from the injury. Perry was named starter for Louisville's opener against Ohio, and Perry's over/under on touchdowns should probably be at 1.5 in any week, including this one.

Eli Rogers, WR, Louisville

DeVante Parker is the top wideout and, outside of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the primary playmaker in Louisville's explosive offense. Rogers, however, should quietly establish himself as the team's best possession receiver in 2013. Rogers caught passes from Bridgewater at Miami Northwestern High School before the duo signed up to play for Louisville, so they have a long history together. Rogers should take the next step in his development after catching 35 passes in the final seven games of his 2012 sophomore season.

BIG 12

Trevor Knight, QB, Oklahoma

Knight probably isn't available in most competitive leagues, but if he is somehow sitting on the waiver wire in your league, make room for him on your roster now. Knight surprisingly won the Oklahoma starting quarterback job over heavy favorite Blake Bell, and in an offense that is annually one of the most productive in the nation, that makes him a strong bet to post top fantasy numbers. That's particularly true because Knight has earned rave reviews for his dual-threat skills, meaning he should be productive both as a passer and runner. Even if the Belldozer formation steals rushing touchdowns from Knight, he should be a clear top-tier value in most leagues.

Jake Waters, QB, Kansas State

Waters wasn't the heavy underdog for the Kansas State quarterback role that Knight was for the Oklahoma one, but their situations are still similar. Waters was named starter Monday over Daniel Sams, who dominated as an off-the-bench runner behind Collin Klein a year ago, and with Waters' victory comes a great deal of fantasy value in a Kansas State offense that figures to score often in 2013. Unfortunately, Waters also parallels Knight in that he might lose some rushing production to his skilled backup, as Sams definitely offers explosiveness as a runner that Waters can't. Waters' superiority as a passer won him the starting role, though, and he should be a valuable fantasy asset even if Sams vultures a rushing touchdown or two most weeks.

BIG TEN

Riley Bullough, RB, Michigan State

Jeremy Langford is still competing with Bullough for the distinction of serving as the team's starting running back, but Bullough is generally believed to be the favorite after heading into fall atop the depth chart, just several months after moving to running back from linebacker. Michigan State is always one of the nation's most run-heavy offenses, and as a big, bruising athlete Bullough fits the blueprint. He should get off to a fast start against an overmatched Western Michigan squad Friday.

Jordan Hall, RB, Ohio State

Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith are both suspended, leaving Hall as the clear-cut top running back for Ohio State as the Buckeyes kick off their season against Buffalo on Saturday. Although there's certainly blowout potential in this game, Hall should still see a nice workload since the Buffalo offense probably has just enough skill to make Ohio State take it seriously for all four quarters, as running back Branden Oliver and wideout Alex Neutz could probably start for at least a few Big Ten teams.

CONFERENCE USA

Brelan Chancellor, WR, North Texas

A broken collarbone ended Chancellor's 2012 season in October, but he was quite productive before that. With health on his side heading into 2013, Chancellor is one of the nation's more intriguing under-the-radar receivers. He ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns (9.7 YPC) and caught 25 passes for 450 yards (18.0 YPC) and five touchdowns in eight games last year, giving him 605 yards and seven touchdowns from scrimmage. He did that despite playing two road games against the tough defenses of LSU and Kansas State, totaling nine catches for 147 yards and three touchdowns in those two games, adding 24 yards and a fourth touchdown on the ground.

Danny Webster, WR, East Carolina

Justin Hardy is the clear-cut top wideout for East Carolina, but there's a big opportunity for targets behind him in the Pirates wideout rotation. Andrew Bodenheimer and Derrick Harris graduated after combining for 58 catches last year, and the duo of Jabril Solomon and Justin Jones was declared ineligible for 2013 after combining for 42 catches a year ago. Webster is a smart bet to pick up a nice chunk of that production in 2013, as he caught 34 passes for 332 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore last year. He could push for five or more catches per game this season.

INDEPENDENTS

Najee Lovett, WR, Idaho

The pickings are slim among the Independents for Week 1, but Lovett looks like one of the best bets to play above his general expectations. His Idaho squad faces North Texas to start the year and, while the Mean Green defense was acceptable in 2012 and brings back a lot of experience, Idaho should be in catch-up mode from start to finish, and Lovett looks likely to serve as Idaho's top offensive player in 2013. Top 2012 Idaho wideout Mike Scott graduated in the offseason after catching 60 passes a year ago, and Lovett should seize a significant number of Scott's targets after catching 50 passes for 543 yards and six scores last year.

MID-AMERICAN

Travis Greene, RB, Bowling Green

Greene was surprisingly named Bowling Green's starting runner over veteran Jordan Hopgood. It's a role that made a productive fantasy asset out of Anthon Samuel, who transferred to Florida International after scoring 12 touchdowns in 2012. Greene is mostly a blank slate heading into this year, because he had just one carry for 10 yards in 2012, but it reflects well on him that he was able to lay claim to the starting role over the more experienced duo of Hopgood and Andre Givens.

Jamill Smith, WR, Ball State

Smith is a small wideout who purely functions as a possession receiver for Ball State, but he has surprising fantasy upside despite his limitations. He caught 69 passes in 11 games last year, scoring six touchdowns. Ball State needs a fast start this year as it pursues a MAC championship, and that means putting the pedal to the floor starting Week 1. It would be disappointing if Smith can't breeze into double-digit fantasy points against Illinois State.

MOUNTAIN WEST

Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State

De'Leon Eskridge is gone, leaving the starting San Jose State running back role up for grabs, with Ervin as its likely heir. Ervin lacks a feature back build at about 180 pounds and therefore isn't likely to average more than 15 carries per game this year, but he has shown a lot of explosive big-play ability on special teams the last two years, scoring three times on kick returns over that span. With David Fales back at quarterback, Ervin should be a leading role player in an offense that scores often.

Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State

Harper is a talented player who hasn't quite had all the pieces fit together for a true breakout opportunity yet, but 2013 could be his time. He only participated in five games last year due to a hamstring injury and then a season-ending sports hernia, but in those games he totaled 24 catches for 333 yards and four touchdowns. His opportunities will increase in 2013 because the Fresno State offense lost a lot of pass-catching production over the offseason. Running back Robbie Rouse (63 catches) and Rashad Evans (34 catches) graduated, and Victor Dean (30 catches) was dismissed from the team.

PAC-12

Thomas Tyner, RB, Oregon

De'Anthony Thomas is safely ahead of Tyner on the Oregon depth chart, and Byron Marshall is probably a fair distance ahead of Tyner for the time being, as well. But Tyner, one of the elite recruits of 2013, looks too good for Oregon to keep on the bench all year, especially with Marshall heading into 2013 as an unproven player himself. Tyner is an especially viable deep-league option for Week 1, as Oregon is taking on a Nicholls FCS squad that has no chance of keeping pace with the Ducks. We might not get even 10 minutes into this game before it's a blowout, and backups like Tyner figure to get extended auditions as a result.

Dominique Williams, WR, Washington State

The Washington State offense doesn't figure to thrive on the road against Auburn in Week 1 in terms of efficiency, but there should be fantasy opportunity for Williams, a breakout candidate at receiver. The Tigers will trot out a rejuvenated offense in 2013 with Nick Marshall at quarterback and coach Gus Malzahn leading the way, and Washington State figures to give up a lot of big plays, forcing the Cougars into catch-up mode early. In an offense that mostly features chain-moving targets like Gabe Marks (11.4 YPC), Brett Bartolone (8.2 YPC) and Isiah Myers (10.2 YPC) at wideout, Williams really stands out for his ability to stretch the field, which he certainly did last year as he averaged 16 yards per catch as a freshman. Williams got hot in the second half of 2012, catching 31 passes for 498 yards and three scores in the final six weeks. That included six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown on the road against a Stanford defense far tougher than the Auburn one he'll face Saturday.

SEC

Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn

Marshall is a former Georgia recruit who arrives at Auburn as a hyped junior-college recruit. He decisively earned the starting Auburn quarterback role despite formidable competition for the job, with his athleticism and playmaking ability consistently earning him high reviews. Coach Gus Malzahn likes to utilize the dual-threat skills of his quarterbacks, and Marshall is a good bet to pile up big rushing stats.

Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee

The Tennessee offense is rebuilding and might not be particularly effective most weeks, but the Volunteers should find the conditions favorable as they take on Austin Peay in Week 1. That makes Neal, the top running back for Tennessee, a good bet to post solid fantasy numbers this week. He scored nine touchdowns in 10 games a year ago five rushing and four receiving and it'd be a surprise if he didn't post at least 100 yards and one touchdown from scrimmage against an FCS squad.

SUN BELT

Adam Kennedy, QB, Arkansas State

You might remember Kennedy from his 2011 season at Utah State when he replaced an injured Chuckie Keeton and led the Aggies to a bowl appearance in his first year at the FBS level. While Kennedy isn't the star that Keeton turned out to be, he's still likely to put up nice numbers in the Sun Belt this year. Kennedy completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 972 yards (8.8 YPA), 11 touchdowns and four interceptions while replacing Keeton in 2011, showing dual-threat ability with 239 yards (4.4 YPC) on the ground, as well.

Albert Wilson, WR, Georgia State

Wilson is an unknown commodity to most college football fans, as Georgia State is making its FBS debut this year. Fans of the Tennessee Vounteers might remember Wilson from a year ago, though, as he caught eight passes for 74 yards despite playing for a totally overmatched team. Wilson finished his 2012 season with 48 catches for 947 yards and seven touchdowns in 11 games, returning a kickoff for a touchdown. He's an intriguing Week 1 play against Samford.