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NFL Waiver Wire: Packer and Panther Panic

Erik Siegrist

Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.

This column is geared toward "standard" 12-team leagues and based upon a $100 free-agent budget. Please, please adjust for your league based upon both the number of teams (I'm in a 24-team league, for example) and budget. During the season, this column will run every Tuesday to, hopefully, accommodate the various waiver schedules. I'll update it in the comments section during the week; please keep in mind a lot can change from Tuesday to Sunday.

With Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin both going down in rapid succession, the focus is on wide receivers this week as opportunity and open spots on fantasy rosters combine to create the closest thing you're going to get to a preseason feeding frenzy.

QUARTERBACK

Hail Mary

Kirk Cousins, WAS -
RGIII's concussion scare Thursday not only served as a reminder of his own injury-prone history, it also highlighted issues on Washington's offensive line (including a shockingly weak performance from fifth overall pick Brandon Scherff) that just exacerbate the chances of Griffin missing games this season. If he goes back down, though, someone will have to step up, and so far Cousins is probably a little ahead of Colt McCoy in the battle for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. If you're already invested in Griffin and have room on your bench, you might want to grab his handcuff now, just in case. FAAB: FCFS or $1

RUNNING BACK

Secondary Targets

Javorius Allen, BAL -
RotoWire colleague Kevin Payne, your regularly-scheduled host of "Working the Wire," mentioned Allen in last week's column, but since then the rookie's fantasy prospects have improved tremendously thanks to Lorenzo Taliaferro's knee injury. Allen now has a clear field to establish himself as Justin Forsett's primary relief, and given the heavy use new Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman subjected Matt Forte to last year in Chicago, Forsett could need a lot of relief. At the very least, Baltimore's No. 2 RB could vulture some goal-line carries, but Allen's three-down skill set gives him the potential for more than that if he can earn the coaching staff's trust. FAAB: $1-2

Jeremy Langford, CHI -
Langford opened some eyes against the Colts on Saturday, ripping off 80 yards and a score in just nine carries, and he seems to have a firm hold on the No. 2 spot on the Bears' depth chart. That role might have more fantasy value than you'd expect this season as Matt Forte is at the stage of his career, both in terms of age and career workload, when a decline or a breakdown starts to become a real concern. If Langford's number does get called, he could make a real impact. FAAB: $1-2

Hail Mary

Michael Dyer, OAK -
Dyer, a UDFA out of Louisville, is competing with Trent Richardson for the third spot on the Raiders' depth chart and, to what should be no one's surprise, is outperforming the veteran. Richardson's complete and utter lack of vision has just about achieved meme status at this point, so if Dyer shows anything at all he should probably win the job. That still leaves him behind Latavius Murray and Roy Helu for touches, of course, but neither are exactly established workhorses. If Dyer ends up with a spot on the 53-man roster, he has a chance to contribute. FAAB: FCFS or $1

WIDE RECEIVER

Secondary Targets

Leonard Hankerson, ATL -
Harry Douglas' departure for the Titans opened up one of the most valuable WR3 jobs in the league, and Hankerson has emerged as the leader to claim it thanks to an impressive, consistent camp. He's had big preseasons before in Washington without them resulting in meaningful fantasy value, but the difference in offenses between Washington and Atlanta is night and day. Roddy White's elbow surgery just reinforces how useful Hankerson (or whoever wins the job) could be, even with White expected back for Week 1. FAAB: $1-3

Ty Montgomery, GB -
Jordy Nelson's torn ACL opens a huge opportunity in one of the NFL's most prolific offenses. Davante Adams' ADP already had him being drafted in 12-team leagues even before Nelson's injury (although if he is available, $50-plus seems like a reasonable bid) but looking further down the depth chart, Montgomery could be in the best position to also capitalize. The third-round pick was already locked in as the Packers' top kick returner, but his versatility will now give him first crack at the No. 3 receiver spot, as well. Adams managed just 446 yards and three TDs on 66 targets as a rookie last year in that role, but with Nelson's 151 targets out of the picture, this season's No. 3 could get a little more attention. FAAB: $2-4, or a couple bucks more if your league scores return yards

Reggie Wayne, NE -
The Patriots' injury issues at wide receiver caused them to turn to the former Colt and give him a $500,000 guarantee on his contract, so Wayne seems a safe bet to make the final roster. While he isn't anything close to the clockwork 1,000-yard threat he was in his prime, and he could find it difficult to get the volume of targets he received even last year with Indy, the Patriots likely will be able to pull some value out of him. FAAB: $1-$2

Hail Mary

Jerricho Cotchery, CAR -
Rookie Devin Funchess and second-year receiver Philly Brown are getting the initial looks as the starting wideouts in Carolina following the Kelvin Benjamin injury, but the former was already being drafted and the latter seems like a risky play given his skillset and limited production last season. Cotchery is fourth on the depth chart, but has a few things going in his favor, including experience in the system and the fact that he's just two years removed from a 602-yard, 10-TD campaign with the Steelers. He is 33 and the Panthers aren't a great place to look for WR value, but if you need to plug a roster hole Cotchery seems the better bet to outperform expectations. FAAB: FCFS or $1

Jeff Janis, GB -
While Montgomery has the depth chart spot, draft pedigree and near-elite measurables to make some noise, Janis is the one receiver on Green Bay's roster who can actually match or even exceed Montgomery's raw physical attributes. A seventh-round pick last year out of Division II, Janis played in just three games as a rookie but has the size and speed to be a true threat on the outside once his skills catch up to his athleticism. He's probably still a year or so away from having real fantasy value, but as a lottery ticket who could find a pile of targets falling into his lap with Nelson gone, his upside is tremendous. FAAB: FCFS or $1

TIGHT END

Secondary Target

Richard Rodgers, GB -
There's no guarantee Nelson's workload will be entirely distributed among the other wide receivers, though. Rodgers didn't live up to his sleeper status as a rookie last season, but since then he's decisively passed Andrew Quarless on the depth chart and drawn nothing but praise from Aaron Rodgers in camp. Nelson was third in the league last season among WRs with 28 red-zone targets, and if the Rodgers-to-Rodgers connection becomes a real thing, Rodgers the tight end could well carve out a large chunk of those red-zone looks while contributing more between the 20s as well. FAAB: $1-3