by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Are you playing in an extremely deep league where it looks like the waiver wire is barren of potential talent? Here are five names owned in 3% of ESPN leagues or less who could provide potential value:
Ladarius Green – San Diego Chargers – Tight End
An athletic tight end similar to the Broncos’ Julius Thomas, Green has earned far less acclaim since he won’t be starting in San Diego. However, even if Antonio Gates were to stay healthy (and that’s a long-shot), the Chargers’ seemingly lack of talent on the outside and in the back field could lead to ample opportunities for Green.
He led the Broncos in receiving this preseason, converting 13 of 16 targets into 210 yards and 2 TD, including 5 catches of at least 20 yards. The yards placed him fifth in the NFL (the leader had 236). He was only targeted twice in the all important third preseason game, but outside of Antonio Gates (6), no one had more than three for the Chargers.
If you have a potential hole at tight end, now may be the time to stash him away before the rest of the league catches on.
Cierre Wood – Houston Texans – Running Back
An undrafted free agent, Wood won the third running back job this spring and immediately needs to go on fantasy radars. We all know that Arian Foster is banged up, though he appears ready to start the season, and Ben Tate has never been the pillar of health himself (he missed five games last season). The Texans offense has proven that the understudy could be a viable FLEX option, so all it will take is one of the two backs ahead of him missing time.
After averaging 5.5 yards/carry this preseason, could Wood be this year’s unheralded breakout back? Finding a sleeper running back is nearly impossible, so stashing him now in deeper formats makes tremendous sense.
Ryan Spadola – New York Jets – Wide Receiver
I have repeatedly said that I don’t trust any Jets offensive players, and that remains true. Still, they have to throw the ball to someone. It’s so bleak in New York that an unheralded player like Ryan Spadola, who was undrafted out of Lehigh, could quickly emerge as the go to option.
Then again. Jets fans all remember Wayne Chrebet, don’t they?
Spadola is a tremendous gamble, and the better bet is likely someone like Stephen Hill (also hardly owned) emerging in New York. However, in deeper formats you may want to go for the home run strike. Spadola could offer that, considering he isn’t on many radars at this point and is buried on the depth chart.
Ted Ginn – Carolina Panthers – Wide Receiver – Carolina Panthers
Thought of as more of a return specialist, Ginn had a stellar preseason with 9 catches for 218 yards and 2 TD (though he was targeted 18 times).
Steve Smith is the obvious top receiver and Brandon LaFell is behind him, but with Domenik Hixon and Armanti Edwards battling injuries, Ginn could open the year as the third receiver. He’s not going to be a PPR dynamo, but he clearly offers big pay potential for Cam Newton. He’s going to be one of those players who could have a monster week followed by zeroes, so he’s definitely just a deep league flier unless he starts to show some consistency.
Ace Sanders – Jacksonville Jaguars – Wide Receiver
Justin Blackmon will miss the first four weeks of the season, and that is going to give Sanders an opportunity to establish himself. Of course it would be nice if they had a top QB, but with Maurice Jones-Drew and Cecil Shorts taking the attention, there should be some openings for Sanders.
He’s worth the gamble if you are desperate, but Blaine Gebbert/Chad Henne are going to cap any receivers potential this season.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 rankings: