Week 1: Pickups of the Week
The season starts Wednesday and the waiver wire has been picked clean. There may not be any diamonds left in this rough, but you can still find players who will shine in the right circumstances. Have a glance at this cast of misfits and see if you can't round out your bench or patch-up some of those roster spots that have been vacated by injured players.MyFantasyLeague availability: 94%
Among the 2011 rookie QB class, Gabbert drew the short straw. Sentenced to start in talent-starved Jacksonville, he had no one to throw to and few opportunities to throw last year thanks to his team's iron-clad commitment to the run game. This season he might be given a little more leeway. He has better receivers (Laurent Robinson, Justin Blackmon) and questions about Maurice Jones-Drew's availability/readiness could dampen the team's willingness to go as run-heavy. If you ever consider starting Gabbert, this is the week to do it. He faces a Vikings squad that gave up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season.
Matt Hasselbeck is squarely in the rearview mirror and Locker has been handed the keys to a shiny new 2012 Titans offense. Is he ready? His preseason performance didn't wow us and accuracy remains a concern, but he seems to get the job done when it matters and his scrambling ability adds an extra dimension to his fantasy worthiness. He'll be given a soft introduction to life as a starter when he opens the season against New England's sieve-like secondary.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
Ryan Mathews is still recovering from a broken collar bone, leaving Ronnie Brown to handle a feature role -- possibly for the next few weeks. Though Brown's injury history is well-documented, it's not yet time to write him off. After logging a full season with Miami in 2010 when he was splitting time with Reggie Bush, he caught on with the Eagles in 2011 and survived another 16 consecutive healthy games as a change-of-pace behind LeSean McCoy. His on-field abilities have never been in question and he's shown, despite the health concerns, that he can still be very effective with a conservative workload. In Norv Turner's offense he'll have a chance to thrive -- not as a workhorse, but as the short term primary back with a supporting committee consisting of some combination of Curtis Brinkley, Jackie Battle and LeRon McClain.MyFantasyLeague availability: 90%
With Rashard Mendenhall likely out of the picture for the first four or five weeks, Jonathan Dwyer has stepped up to challenge Isaac Redman for first chair RB duties. Redman looks to have the early edge, but Pittsburgh figures to go with a committee approach until one of the two backs distinguishes himself. With minimal playing time, Dwyer averaged a whopping 7.7 yards per carry last season. He was solid this preseason, amassing 147 yard on 28 carries, and could push Redman to the bench if his hot hand continues when the games start to count. Worth at least stashing on your bench until we see how the carries get split in Week 1.
For now, Evan Royster tops the Redskins depth chart at running back. Of course, he'd be owned in far more than the current 50 per cent of fantasy leagues if he didn't have Mike Shanahan as a coach. Shanahan is known for his ability to get the most out of his running backs. He's also known for shuffling them off to the bench on a whim. Last year, owners suffered through a debacle pitting Tim Hightower against Roy Helu with doses of Royster and Ryan Torain thrown in for good measure. Week-to-week it was nearly impossible to guess who would draw the start and who would get the most carries. Unfortnuately, there's little clarity again this season. Chosing any Washington back is a gamble, but Royster has the most favorable odds.Injury Status: Injured Reserve