Greetings, fantasy football enthusiasts, to the first installment of this year's fantasy football waiver-wire report.
Another summer has come and gone, and the mayhem that is preparing for the fantasy football draft is now complete. Hopefully, you drafted smartly and stuck to a strategy to give yourself the best shot at winning in Week 1.
Because waiver-wire transactions are limited during the first week of the NFL season, this week I will focus on some players who have the potential to be breakout stars during the 2013 season.
First up is St. Louis Rams wide receiver Chris Givens. Givens enters his second season in the NFL without much buzz as the Rams added rookie receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey in the draft. Givens is being selected in drafts somewhere between 110 and 120 overall in most leagues, but the 6-foot wide receiver will likely exit the 2013-14 season as the Rams' leading receiver.
As a rookie, Givens had 42 catches and just under 700 yards with three touchdowns. While that might not seem like much, Givens scored double-digit fantasy points six times and had five catches of more than 50 yards. In his second season with the same quarterback and offensive coordinator, Givens is primed to shine. While opposing defenses will do their best to stop the speedy Austin on the opposite side of the field, Givens should see plenty of one-on-one matchups down the field, especially with safeties defending new Rams tight end Jared Cook over the middle of the field. That was proven in the preseason as Givens went for 156 yards on just five catches, giving him an average of 30.2 yards per reception. At the end of the year, Givens will be the better fantasy play than Austin, though Austin may make more explosive, highlight reel plays.
Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey also has all the tools for a breakout year. Brandon Marshall is still the horse for Chicago, and there is no denying Jay Cutler will do everything he can to get the ball to Marshall as much as possible. However, Jeffrey has put on size in the offseason and has established himself as a solid No. 2 receiver for the Bears. Following a preseason game in which Cutler didn't throw a ball to anyone but Marshall, Cutler sang the praises of Jeffrey.
"Alshon, I think has probably had the best camp out of everybody on offense. He's done a great job this offseason of getting better, getting physically stronger and gaining my trust. I love throwing it to him," Cutler said in late August.
Marshall is recovering from offseason hip surgery but is back to full strength going into Week 1. However, if Marshall is to get hurt, Jeffrey would emerge as Cutler's go-to weapon. Expect Chicago to throw the ball quite a bit this year with new head coach Marc Trestman, and look for Jeffrey to come on strong as the season rolls on and teams eventually figure out they need to triple team Marshall.
Cleveland Brown Jordan Cameron has the potential to be this year's breakout tight end. Entering his third season in the NFL, Cameron is a top-12 fantasy tight end this year, despite little production a year ago. While battling nagging injuries during the preseason, Cameron caught six passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. He will be Brandon Weeden's go-to guy in the red zone, and his height and speed remind many of other basketball players turned tight ends, such as Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.
Rob Gronkowski won't be out too long for the New England Patriots, but, as long as he is, Zach Sudfeld is a must-start at tight end in all fantasy leagues. Sudfeld may even earn owners some value once Gronk returns as the Patriots love the two tight end set.
With Andre Brown out for the 2013 season, Giants running back David Wilson will see the bulk of the work for the New York Giants. Wilson is a No. 3 running back on most fantasy depth charts, but he is no worse than a flex play, especially this week against the Dallas Cowboys defense that ranked 24th against the run in 2012.
That is all for the fantasy breakout players to watch in 2013. Each week this season, we will leave you with a team to select in your survivor pools. There are a lot of great matchups to watch in Week 1 and few clear favorites. Thankfully, all 32 teams are still available to pick from, and Indianapolis looks like the biggest favorite as the Colts host the Oakland Raiders. If you are hoping to hang onto the Colts for a few weeks, consider the New England Patriots against Buffalo and the St. Louis Rams against the Arizona Cardinals.John Livingston covers sports for The Daily Times and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.