I usually recommend not drafting defenses or kickers in early drafts because you can grab a couple of guys who may make names for themselves during the preseason and then you can decide who you want to keep and then discard the worst two players for a defense and kicker. This strategy also has me looking at offensive players who are available in my leagues before the season starts. I like to draft early because I just like playing fantasy football, so I'll often be in leagues where time allows for interesting options to become available on waivers or free agency before the season starts. I'm going to take a look at some of those here today.
Below are players I'll be targeting on the waiver wire this week. As usual I'm using the 50 perecent (ish) ownership threshold at Yahoo to determine who is allowed on the list.
Players are listed in the order I would assign waiver priority. A need at one position could trump that priority.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (44 percent)
Prescott is most likely not going to put up the numbers he has in preseason, but he does have plenty of ability as a runner, and when you add in Ezekiel Elliott to that mix, Prescott could see a lot of open space when he has the ball.
Tony Romo could be back by Week 8, so Prescott isn't likely to be a season-long answer, but he should be a fine streaming option to start the season, and you also could catch lightning in a bottle.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota (22 percent)
I see McKinnon as one of the, if not the, best backup running back in the league. He'll be used more than he was last year, which will be in the passing game while Adrian Peterson is around, but now that Teddy Bridgewater is out, we could see McKinnon used even more to help Shaun Hill, or whomever, as a good pass blocker and receiver.
Terrance West, RB, Baltimore (9 percent)
West has put on a show this offseason, and it looks like that will be held over into the regular season. He will go into Week 1 as the No. 2 back to Justin Forsett and most likely the goal-line back. West'll need to show up quickly, as Kenneth Dixon won't be out too long, but West's going to get his shot and he's free for the taking at the moment.
Chris Thompson, RB, Washington (4 percent)
Thompson is Washington's third-down back, and with nobody showing well between the tackles this preseason, I think we could see Thompson really take on some work this year. If you are in a PPR league, I would think long and hard about picking Thompson up.
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia (40 percent)
The Eagles have very little at wide receiver, which should make Sproles a nice PPR commodity to start the year. He'll play on all third downs and offensive coordinator Frank Reich is high on him, hoping to feature him in the passing game.
Jesse James, TE, Pittsburgh (4 percent)
The notorious train robber has somehow diverted Ladarius Green into the PUP canyons and now will be the Steelers starting tight end. James' upside isn't all that high, but he should be a good endzone target, and if he stays healthy, there's no reason he couldn't hit 6-8 touchdowns this year.
Alfred Morris, RB, Dallas (26 percent)
Morris is the no-doubt backup to Ezekiel Elliott and one of the few backups who would get a large percentage of work if the starter went down. Dallas is going to be running the ball heavily with Dak Prescott under center, and Morris could get a head of steam going behind that Dallas offensive line. I'd rather have him than many backups you may be rostering.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Buccaneers (14 percent)
Seferian-Jenkins appears to have finally passed Cameron Brate on the depth chart and has slowly eased himself back into the coach's good graces. Seferian-Jenkins has the ability to be a starting fantasy tight end, so now is the time to grab him.
Terrelle Pryor, WR, Cleveland (13 percent)
Pryor's upside is high due to his ability, but the Browns are going to have plenty of growing pains. The good news is that Josh Gordon will be out the first four games, which could be the time for Pryor to shine. The odds that you hold onto Pryor all year are slim, but I think he can help early in the season, and there's a chance he breaks out.
Tyrell Williams, WR, San Diego (1 percent)
The Chargers let James Jones go, which means Williams is firmly set in the rotation. He's still a speculative grab, but he sure looks the part of a top receiver and has big-game ability. And, the Chargers wide receivers are cursed.