Welcome back to another season of the "NFL Waiver Wire." While it might seem a tad early to think about waivers, fact is, many leagues have drafted and will run waivers at least once before Week 1. This can also be used as a tool for late picks to target in drafts as some of the players' outlooks have already improved since the start of training camp. Another waiver column will come out a week before Week 1 to update new waiver candidates after final cuts are made and position battles are won.
This column is geared toward "standard" 12-team leagues and based upon a $100 free-agent budget. Please, please adjust for your league based on both the number of teams (I'm in a 24-team league, for example) and budget. This column will run Tuesdays during the season, to 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.
Robert Griffin III, CLE - As expected, Griffin will be under center Week 1 for the Browns. There are a few factors working in his favor this season apart from him being a scrambling quarterback (815 rushing yards, seven rushing TDs his rookie season). He has some weapons at his disposal as the Browns will call Duke Johnson's number out of the backfield and he will get a top-5 wide receiver back in Josh Gordon in Week 5. Corey Coleman has looked good in training camp, and everyone seems to forget what a great season Gary Barnidge had last year. Lastly, the Browns should be playing from behind a lot, forcing Griffin to air it out and have the opportunity to put up fantasy points in garbage time. FAAB: $4-$6
Alfred Morris, DAL - If the season started tomorrow it would likely be Morris who would start and get the bulk of carries for the Cowboys. He doesn't have a ton of mileage on him and it's worth noting this is better run-blocking offensive line than he had in any of his four years in Washington. Darren McFadden is hurt (shocking, I know) and coveted rookie Ezekiel Elliott is missing valuable practice time with a hamstring injury. At the very least it looks like Morris has the backup spot to Elliott to start the season, but he has the potential to get most of the work if Elliott's hamstring issue lingers. FAAB: $3-$6
Bilal Powell, NYJ - Powell is getting a chance to shine in Jets camp with both Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson on the mend. Powell has shown the ability to be a productive running back, averaging 4.4 YPC for his career, and owners in PPR leagues should note that he caught 47 balls last season. Forte has more than 2,000 carries under his belt, and it's never good to be dealing a leg injury so early in camp. Khiry Robinson is slowly working his way back from a broken tibia and in the meantime Powell is taking the majority of reps with the first team. Powell is poised to have at least a backup role (think 8-10 touches per game) to start the season, which is probably his floor if Forte's injury lingers. FAAB: $3-$6
Josh Ferguson, IND - Colts' starter Frank Gore has little upside at this point in his career and already the team has said it plans on limiting his workload this season. Ferguson will compete with Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman for touches but has a different skillset than both. Ferguson is the best receiever of the trio and has looked good in camp, according to beat writers and coach Chuck Pagano. He's a lottery ticket but should be able to carve out a role, especially if there's an injury or two to his backfield teammates.
FAAB: $1 or FCFS
Dontrelle Inman, Tyrell Williams, SD - Now that Stevie Johnson has been ruled out for the season, the Chargers will look to Inman and Williams to fill his void as the No. 3 wide receiver. Inman has the advantage with his familiarity with Philip River and the offense, but Williams has reportedly looked fantastic in camp making highlight-reel plays. This is a battle worth watching in leagues deeper than 12 teams as both should receive extremely soft coverage with Travis Benjamin stretching the field and Keenan Allen attracting the opposition's top cornerback. FAAB: $1 or FCFS
Jesse James, PIT - The news on newly acquired Ladarius Green isn't good, as headaches have kept him off the practice. Green is coming back from offseason foot surgery, as well, and James is expected to fill the TE1 role while Green is out. James is entering his second season with the Steelers and is the best receiving tight end on the roster. Teammate David Johnson would assume a great role as a blocker, leaving James to run patterns should Green miss games. There is limited upside to James, however, and any absence of Green could mean a small uptick for the Steelers' receivers, especially in the red zone. FAAB: $1 or FCFS
AND DON'T FORGET ...
Some added notes, this being the first waiver-wire column of the season. There is a chance both Arian Foster and Josh Gordon are available in your league (roughly one of every five leagues, according to Yahoo). If they are available consider them to be "Primary Targets" and be willing to spend $25-$33 depending on how strong or weak you are at wide receiver or running back. With Foster, it's likely he's the workhorse until he inevitably gets injured and is done for an extended time. With Gordon, assess whether you can afford the bench spot for the first four weeks of the season while he's suspended, the only silver lining being there are no bye weeks yet. As always with this column, please leave comments below and keep in mind there'll be another one the week before games actually start.