1. Baltimore Ravens – Combine TMZ releasing footage of Ray Rice hitting his wife with Roger Goodell desperately trying to reconstruct the NFL’s suspension policy for domestic violence cases and I would say it’s a good bet Ray Rice’s case could be re-opened and he could be facing a longer suspension. On the heels of Bernard Pierce’s vastly underwhelming performance and Justin Forsett’s impressive one (11 rushes for 70 yards and a TD), this has all the makings for Forsett to be handed the reins in his former Head Coach’s offense. Forsett thrived in Gary Kubiak’s one-cut running scheme and could potentially vulture the lead back job, especially if Rice’s suspension is extended.
2. Cleveland Browns – The fragile Ben Tate didn’t take long to live up to his name as he left with a knee injury in Week 1. Both of the rookies were highly effective in relief of Tate, with Terrance West reaching the 100 yard mark and Isaiah Crowell adding 2 TDs. I would expect West to be the more sustainable option if Tate can’t go Week 2. If West continues to be effective with Tate banged up, he could force himself into the Browns’ plans either way.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Doug Martin ain’t exactly Dougie Fresh, as he followed-up a disappointing and injury-riddled 2013 by leaving Week 1 in 2014 with a lower leg injury. Bobby Rainey scored a TD in relief of Martin and will be the guy to grab in the Bucs’ backfield if the muscle hampster can’t get back on the wheel in Week 2.
The Bottomline (cuz Stone Cold said so): When considering who to pick up, you must ask yourself what you are looking for out of the waiver wire: a short term plug-and-play based on the matchups, OR, are you trying to hope your lottery-ticket pays dividends for the whole season. All 3 of these teams have solid matchups next week: Ravens vs. Steelers / Browns vs. Saints / Bucs vs. Rams. Keep an eye out for updated news on Rice’s situation as well as Tate’s / Martin’s injuries. Whoever figures to miss the most time will indicate which backup is the safest pickup to pluck from the wire.