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To me, one of the most (if not the most) exciting parts of a fantasy football season is the draft. Watching the draft order unfold, doing all the research, anticipating who will come off the board first and which players will fall to me gets my heart racing. While this may be the most exciting time of the year for you too, don't let your season end once the draft completes. Fantasy football seasons are often won on the waiver wire in late September or early October. Owners who plan ahead and pick up players that provide depth to their team will find themselves in a better position to win it all. Of course finding those 'diamonds in the rough' is no easy task and that's where we come in. We're going to take a look at some players who may be drafted in larger leagues (14+ teams), but will likely remain waiver wire fodder for at least the first 4-6 weeks of the season.
QB Carson Palmer, ARI - Quality Backup
Those in 12-14 team leagues might not get a crack at a waiver wire version of Palmer. Those that only think of the former stud passer in terms of his disastrous 2012 in Oakland might wonder why not. Fair enough, except he's now changed locales. In this new one, he has Larry Fitzgerald and the rising Michael Floyd on his side. That's some sweet action. For Palmer to succeed this season, two things need to happen. First, the former Bengals star needs to get rid of the ball in a timelier manner while making intelligent football decisions. This is not always easy for a quarterback on a new team with new receivers. However, if Palmer manages to succeed, his stock will rise. This success will surely help with the other component that needs fixing: protecting Palmer. The Cardinals have an inexperienced offensive line, which could result in Palmer landing on his backside more often than we'd like. If the line can pull it together and provide adequate protection for Palmer, he could have a great season.
RB Roy Helu, OAK - Fantasy Handcuff
Let's start by looking at Helu's upside. In the final few weeks of his rookie season he teased us a little when he rushed for 100 yards in 3 of the Redskins' final 5 games. With these performances, fantasy owners were expecting great things from him in the future. Unfortunately for Helu (and many fantasy owners), his sophomore season was shortened by Achilles and turf toe injuries, opening the door for Alfred Morris. Ideally, the former University of Nebraska product is a change-of-pace option, but one who has shown the ability to step into a lead back role. Staying healthy would be a good starting point. In order for Helu to become an every down back, he'll need to first overtake Evan Royster and then realistically, have Morris suffer an injury. Helu is at least looking like Morris' handcuff. If he becomes more than that, it might be too late to grab him. Having some potential depth on your bench is always a good thing.
RB Marcel Reece, OAK - Fantasy Handcuff
We all know Darren McFadden isn't going to play 16 games this season. In McFadden's 5 year career, he has played in 13, 12, 13, 7 and 12 games. If you've been 'lucky' enough to have DMac on your team, you know at some point during the season a backup will be required. That's where Reece comes in. Actually, all McFadden owner should grab Reece on draft day. Others would be wise to do the same. Last year Reece was the third most targeted running back, which only adds to his value in PPR leagues. In addition to his receiving skills, the rugged back has a 4.8 yard per carry career average, making him a threat to post good numbers when given the chance. You know McFadden is going down, so don't let Reece slip too far into the season before adding him to your roster.
WR Aaron Dobson, NE - Sleeper (undervalued)
Keen fantasy players already know about the 6-foot-3 target, though acknowledge his role with the Patriots remains unclear. Consider this your reminder that no matter how the preseason unfolds, he should stay on your radar. We're not always fond of rookie receivers, but in the case of Dobson, we'll make an exception. The rookie out of Marshall has good size, speed, hands and a future Hall Of Fame quarterback throwing him the ball. With only Danny Amendola's job as the No. 1 receiver locked in, Dobson has a chance to be a starting receiver Week 1. This will be a long road as he learns a tough Patriots playbook and battles a handful of receivers for the starting gig, but it is something he could do. If he doesn't win a starting job, fantasy owners need to keep an eye on him as the season plays out (same goes for camp breakout star Kenbrell Thompkins). A good game here and there could turn his (and your) fortune around.
WR Rueben Randle, PHI - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Third receivers on good teams should always be on your radar. In the case of Randle, we believe he should be higher on your list than a few others and here is why. For starters, the former LSU product is now the Giants' third receiver with Hixon and Barden out of the picture. There's no doubt Randle will see more action this season than in his rookie campaign (and let's not forget Hakeem Nicks' constant injury concerns). While there's always the possibility of a starting receiver missing time, it seems Nicks' chances of missing time are higher than some. A third reason we like Randle is that Victor Cruz just signed a new deal worth a fraction of what fellow receivers Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe received (even though Cruz outperformed these guys the past two seasons). The noted salsa dancer already expressed some unease over the deal, so perhaps this translates into lackluster performances on the field. It is possible Randle will go undrafted in shallow leagues, so keep an eye on what's happening with the Giants' receiving corp and watch for when the first hint of problems arise, like Nicks grabbing his hamstring.