Welcome back to another season of our 4 Star Free Agent column. Keeping in format from years past, I'm gong to discuss the 10 best pickups for this week: 2 QBs; 3 each RBs and WRs, a TE and a Team Defense. Beginning with the “official” bye weeks in Week 5 (given the week 1 pair of Miami/Tampa wasn't planned) the picks are going to be of the “pick up and play” variety. Until then, these are picks of the “grab and stash” variety, although if you have injuries or a hole in your roster playing them is certainly an option. So here goes...
Alex Smith, KC: So in keeping with the tradition of years past I am making him my first selection. It's probably safe to say he won't match his numbers again from Week 1, but his success is an indicator that he should have a few 300+ yard/2 TD games in him this season. Also, he typically doesn't throw interceptions which helps him keep his numbers once earned. After Defenses settle down, he should be a more than viable streaming option, with the possibility of pushing QB1 numbers down the stretch.
Tyrod Taylor, BUF: on a per game basis Taylor has been a top 10 QB the last two seasons. What he lacks in points earned via passing yardage he more than makes up for in rushing. 500 yards rushing this season is keeping in line with the past two seasons. Buffalo appears to be the team people are avoiding this year (along with SF) but this past weekend showed he has decent (not great) weapons to utilize, and his scrambling ability keeps defenses off balance. At this point, he's probably the best rushing QB in the league.
Tarik Cohen, CHI: a bit of an out of nowhere guy, but some early reports had him in line for the workload he received this past weekend. The question is: at his size does he have the staying power of Darren Sproles? Or is he Garret Wolfe 2.0? He is an absolute no brainer in PPR, especially with the injury to Kevin White. Da Bears aren't as starved for play makers as one might think, but they don't have much depth now behind their starters. He is the du jour pick of the week given his success. Grab him and see what unfolds.
Chris Carson, SEA – I REALLY like this guy. Despite being the 4th RB on Seattle, you have to think the failure of Lacy to gain any traction this week doesn't bode well for him. CJ Prosise doesn't look to be expanding his role past what it was last year. That leaves Rawls as the biggest obstacle for Carson, but he has a history of not being able to stay healthy for the season. I think Carson's fresh legs and production will make him a mainstay in the offense this year. You might need a bit of patience with him, but it'll be sure to pay off down the line. He's my #1 target this week, even over Cohen.
Kerwynn Williams, ARI: he's sort of a default pick, given he wasn't widely drafted and looks to be in line for a large amount of touches, in what might be an entirely lost season for David Johnson. The problem is, I think the Cardinals are the weakest team we've discussed thus far, so even if he gets DJ's touches, the simple fact is he might not be able to do much with them.
Kenny Golladay, DET: bear with me here, but the last rookie I recall that had serious hype in the preseason and then came out and LIT IT UP in week 1 was Anquan Boldin. Now, I'm not saying he's gong to have Boldin's career, or rookie season, but you have to like what he did with his 4 catches. He's clearly going to be a mainstay for the Lions, as he allows them to line Tate up in the slot where he is better suited. This kid has talent.
Kendall Wright, CHI – a definite stash guy right now, but someone has to line up in Kevin White's place. Consider that Dowell Loggains was the Tennessee coordinator in Tenneesee where Wright caught 94 passes in 2013, and is now the OC in Chicago. You should let this one play out a week or two, but this could be fantasy gold via the waiver wire, given how little he was drafted.
Jermaine Kearse, NYJ: this one is simple – he led the Jets in targets and catches and no one else is close. YES, if there's one team people are dismissing more than Buffalo or San Francisco fantasy wise, it is the Jets but production is production and he is a pick that simply chases the targets he'll get.
Austin Hooper, ATL: yes his huge TD catch was a result of blown coverage and that won't happen weekly, but Ryan clearly had no problem targeting him and he has the skills to compete for sure. This is a certain “stash” guy, as I think we need to see some consistency before you'd move him into your starting lineup.
Baltimore Ravens: now they might have benefitted a bit from playing what looks to be a helpless and hapless Bengals team, but the Ravens are a GREAT example of institutional memory. Their defense is good and has been for a very long time. They know how to game plan and execute as well as anyone, and their personnel didn't disappoint this past week. They're an easy streaming option right now, and could easily become a weekly start if their production stays at 75-80% f what they just did. If you picked a D that now worries you, back them up wth Baltimore.