No position was hit harder by injuries in Week 1 than the wide receiver position, and fantasy owners will have to use the waiver wire as they scramble for backup plans.
Keenan Allen’s season ended almost as soon as it began when he tore his ACL. It’s a devastating loss for the Chargers, whose offense looked completely out ideas when Allen went down. It’s also a big loss to fantasy owners who drafted him in the second or third round. Travis Benjamin will try to pick up the slack, but he’s not a real No. 1 talent. San Diego will suffer without Allen.
The Buffalo Bills have an injury problem of their own. Sammy Watkins’ surgically repaired foot is causing him problems once again, and it’s uncertain if he’ll even play this week (the Bills drew the short straw and have to play on Thursday night).
So those injuries will hurt fantasy owners, but fortunately there are no shortage of appealing options on the waiver wire this week. Let’s look at the top five receivers available in 50 percent or less of Yahoo! standard leagues.
Will Fuller, Houston Texans (50 percent)
The first-round rookie wasted no time making his presence felt in the NFL, catching five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. Fuller showed off impressive open-field speed and agility, making Chicago Bears defenders look silly on the screen pass he took to the end zone. Fuller also had an awful drop that would’ve been an easy touchdown, but fantasy owners will have to take the bad with the good here, and the good is really good. Showing solid chemistry with Brock Osweiler, Fuller is an immediate WR3 in 12-team leagues.
Tajae Sharpe, Tennessee Titans (46 percent)
Sharpe followed up his preseason hype by being the Titans’ top dog in Week 1, leading the team in targets (11), catches (seven) and receiving yards (76). He already has the trust of Marcus Mariota and should continue playing a big role in Tennessee’s passing offense. Firmly entrenched as a starter, Sharpe gets the Detroit Lions’ beatable defense in Week 2.
Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens (35 percent)
After years of wandering in the wilderness, Wallace may have finally found a quarterback with the big arm to match his deep-threat skill set. He torched the Buffalo Bills for a 66-yard touchdown pass and finished the day with 91 yards on three catches. The Ravens have been struggling to find a real field stretcher since losing Torrey Smith to free agency, and Wallace might be their guy. He’s still a boom-or-bust player and probably won’t get enough catches to be a reliable WR3 in PPR, but Wallace has a great matchup with the Cleveland Browns in Week 2.
Chris Hogan, New England Patriots (31 percent)
Hogan made the most of Rob Gronkowski’s Week 1 absence, turning four targets into three catches, 60 yards and a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals. The Patriots’ pass-catching core can be unpredictable outside of Gronk and Julian Edelman, but Hogan has certainly shown enough to continue getting regular targets. He’ll be on the WR3 map against the Miami Dolphins and is a good bet to set career highs in catches and yards this year.
Victor Cruz, New York Giants (19 percent)
Welcome back, salsa dancer. After spending nearly two years rehabbing from a torn patellar tendon, Cruz finally returned to the field and mostly looked like his old self, catching all four targets for 34 yards and a touchdown. More encouragingly, he played 50 of 56 offensive snaps, running as the slot man in between Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Finally healthy and in an offense that loves slinging the ball, Cruz should stay on the WR3/4 radar. He has a tasty matchup with the New Orleans Saints this week.