Welcome back FANation! We ring in another new year for fantasy football and one thing we’re very excited about this year is that there will be TWO fantasy football waiver wire columns each week. There will be your traditional Tuesday article (like this) that’ll highlight the players you should be prioritizing on waivers and then a second article will come out on Thursdays for players that may have been overlooked, or some guys that may have been dropped as a reactionary move for some owners, and we’ll also touch on some guys you should target to beat the next week’s waiver wire. But the long grind of the offseason, training camp, and draft prep is over. This was definitely one of the more eventful weeks if you consider the Lamar Miller injury, Andrew Luck retiring, LeSean McCoy and Carlos Hyde being cut and shuffled around, the Texans with a pair of trades, Melvin Gordon possibly not playing at all this year, and Ezekiel Elliott ’s ongoing contract negotiations. Check out some options to look at for your team on the waiver wire this week!
One quick note: In my experience doing NFL and MLB Waiver Wire over the past year or so I’ve noticed that players are more widely available on ESPN than on other formats like Yahoo, CBS Sports, or NFL.com. So I’ll try to touch on players that are available on all platforms, but if there are some standouts on some sites, I’ll try to make a note of it.
Jameis Winston TB; FAAB Bid: 6% - This is a primary example of a quarterback that is widely available on ESPN. At the time of this writing, Winston is owned in just over 50% of ESPN leagues. And there are some concerns with Winston if we’re being honest. He’s never thrown 30 touchdowns in a season, he hasn’t topped 4,000 passing yards since 2016, which is due in part to injuries and being in a time share last season with Ryan Fitzpatrick . But with a new head coach in Bruce Arians, who loves to air it out, there is opportunity for Winston to be a top ten fantasy quarterback. Another concern is the offensive line. In Tampa’s “dress rehearsal” game, Winston was sacked five times. Even in a full 60-minute game, that’s an awful mark. But the defense is still suspect, and the Bucs should be falling behind and trailing enough where they’ll have to abandon an already sub-par run game and Winston should be fantasy relevant.
Matthew Stafford DET; FAAB Bid: 3% - A lot of fantasy football players were off Stafford this year because of Detroit’s effort to run the ball more, as evidenced by Kerryon Johnson being taken in the second round of some fantasy drafts. Last year his touchdown percentage dropped to 3.8%, down from 5.1% in 2017, and he failed to reach 4,000 passing yards for the first time since 2010 when he only played three games. But Stafford also played through broken ribs last year and the Lions went out and drafted T.J. Hockenson out of Tight End Univeristy (aka the University of Iowa) with their first-round pick. Rookie tight ends don’t have a great track record, but he’s a very big target for Stafford and first rounders are expected to contribute in their rookie season. Stafford may have lost Golden Tate , but with Golladay, Jones, Amendola, and Hockenson the Lions should still toss it around quite a bit. It does suck that they play the Bears and Vikings twice, but you have to take the good with the bad.
Nick Foles JAC; FAAB Bid: 2% - Foles is available in a ton of leagues. It’s almost like people forgot that he won a Super Bowl and that he’s a somewhat competent quarterback. The offensive line in Jacksonville should keep him upright and while the receivers aren’t household names, they just might become relevant for fantasy, especially Dede Westbrook . The Jaguars face off against Kansas City in week one and if the Chiefs’ offense keeps the momentum rolling from last season then their offense should put up points and Jacksonville will have to play catch up against a pretty weak secondary.
Darwin Thompson KC; FAAB Bid: 8-12% - It seems a little odd to be listing Thompson at the top of the list since his stock arguably took the biggest hit of all fantasy running backs this weekend. The Chiefs cut Carlos Hyde , which was great news for Thompson at the time. But with the Chiefs bringing in LeSean McCoy all was doomed for Thompson. But keep in mind, the rookie still had a pretty good camp and preseason so they should still gradually work him in, and Damien Williams should be perfectly fine as well. Mike Clay of ESPN offered up a pretty re-assuring tweet last night regarding Darwin Thompson:
Chiefs RB Damien Williams ranked 51st out of 72 RBs in @PFF Elusive Rating last season (incl. playoffs)— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 1, 2019
LeSean McCoy ranked 61st.
Rookie Darwin Thompson had the best elusiveness profile in the 2019 rookie class.#FileItAway
McCoy is also 31 years old and didn’t possess the greatest numbers last season in Buffalo (3.2 yards per carry and he was dreadful after contact). Yes, he’s reunited with Andy Reid whom he played for from 2009-2012, but even Andy Reid has expressed interest in going with a running back by committee. I can understand the trepidation with Damien Williams , who had just a few good games for the Chiefs last season, but the hype around McCoy seems a little reactionary at this point. In time it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Chiefs get Thompson more work as the season progresses.
Devin Singletary BUF; FAAB Bid: 7-8% - With the news of LeSean McCoy being released by the Bills this clearly creates an opportunity for rookie Devin Singletary . He looked great in camp and preseason and for those who aren’t aware, he had three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons at Florida Atlantic and 67 total touchdowns in just three seasons. Frank Gore is still in Buffalo and he should see a healthy amount of carries at first, but it’s clear the Bills want to eventually get Singletary more involved. Don’t forget the Bills offensive line is improved from last season to give Josh Allen and Co. more protection and they need to improve on the run game so Allen isn’t doing it all himself.
Matt Breida SF; FAAB Bid: 6-7% - Breida may only be available in the most shallow of fantasy football leagues, but if you’re a Tevin Coleman owner you are going to want to grab his handcuff. On Sunday, the 49ers announced that Jerick McKinnon would miss the 2019 season after missing all of 2018 with a torn ACL. Luckily for the 49ers they invested in Coleman in the offseason and they still have Breida as a backup. Breida was a fairly serviceable running back last season for the 49ers as he averaged 5.3 yards per carry on 153 rushing attempts, and he contributed 27 catches for 261 yards. 1,000 all-purpose yards isn’t terrible for a player that was getting drafted in the later rounds. Breida likely doesn’t receive enough of a workload to even be considered as a Flex option to start the season, but he may see eight-to-ten touches per game and an injury to Coleman would spike his value.
Tony Pollard DAL; FAAB Bid: 5% - This is a pretty important handcuff to own especially if you drafted Ezekiel Elliott . Reports started floating around on Sunday that Zeke and the Cowboys were pretty close to reaching a deal on a contract extension. And for what it’s worth, Zeke should get paid. This gives him a chance to get a big contract with guarantees now, and possibly leaves the door open for another contract in four or five years. Now in terms of fantasy, the contract discussion hitting another stall is a small monkey wrench. It’s clear Zeke wants to play this year and he likely will. Even if he signs on Monday it’s unclear how much of a workload he’ll get in week one. Sure, he’s been staying in shape in Mexico, but he hasn’t taken any hits since the end of last season so in-game rust is a factor. Tony Pollard should be owned if Zeke is inactive for week one and to serve as the handcuff for safety net purposes. Pollard looked solid in the preseason and he might still be available in ten-team leagues.
Justice Hill BAL; FAAB Bid: 4-5% - Hill is a pretty serviceable rookie running back in Baltimore who is only behind Mark Ingram in terms of running back carries. Don’t try to be fooled by Gus Edwards , he had some nice games last year, but if they felt so confident in him going forward they wouldn’t have bothered signing Mark Ingram in the offseason and drafting Justice Hill. The Ravens love to run the ball and love to own time of possession. Ingram will get a bulk of the workload for now , but Hill is just an injury away from a bigger workload.
Nyheim Hines IND; FAAB Bid: 3-4% - This is one of the rare instances where a player is more available on Yahoo than ESPN. If you try to project the potential game flow for most Colts games they might be playing from behind quite a bit without Andrew Luck . However, the offensive line is still good and Marlon Mack isn’t a great pass-catching running back. Hines caught 63 balls on 81 targets, so he has some appeal in PPR formats. If the Colts find themselves in position to abandon the run game, then game script benefits Hines.
Donte Moncrief PIT; FAAB Bid: 5% - Moncrief appears to be the clear cut second option in the wide receiving corps. James Washington entered the preseason with a lot of hype, but he hasn’t hauled in a single catch from Ben Roethlisberger in the preseason. Moncrief has received a majority of the first-team reps and Big Ben seems to trust him. With JuJu Smith-Schuster getting most of the attention by opposing secondaries, there’s a decent chance for Moncrief to be a WR3 or WR4 on your fantasy team. He’s likely only available in deeper leagues, but you should flag Moncrief and monitor his availability in the event someone mistakenly drops him.
Anthony Miller CHI; FAAB Bid: 3-4% - The fact that Miller is available in over 50% of leagues on ESPN and Yahoo is pretty mind blowing. It’s as if people forgot that he had seven touchdown catches on just 54 targets in his rookie year. Now, the rebuttal to that is obvious touchdown regression for Miller especially if he’s lining up more in the slot. However, only Allen Robinson is likely in line for more targets, and perhaps Taylor Gabriel , but Miller was a second-round pick in 2018. The Bears should expand on his workload. So while the touchdowns may either go down or top out at seven, the targets and receptions should go up and he can serve as a flex option or, at worst, depth at wide receiver for your team.
DK Metcalf SEA; FAAB Bid: 2-3% - No need to touch on Metcalf’s size since we’ve all fainted at seeing his physique already. But he is a big target for Russell Wilson , despite reports of his route running being less than stellar. Metcalf had a minor procedure on his knee so he may miss a game or two, but he could be worth stashing. He’s a big target that the Seahawks will get use out of. The downside is Seattle’s emphasis on getting back to the run game so that obviously benefits Chris Carson mostly. But Metcalf is a decent stash in deeper leagues. If you want a player that could pay off sooner rather than later, take a look at Malik Turner who could also be a very sneaky and under owned player in DFS on Sunday. Turner was a bit of a surprise to make the Seahawks final roster, but he is familiar with the offense after spending last season on the practice squad. With Metcalf and Moore unlikely to play in week one this presents some opportunity for Turner.
Albert Wilson MIA; FAAB Bid: 2% - Despite Brian Flores’ comments that the Dolphins aren’t tanking, when you trade Laremy Tunsil , Kiko Alonso , and Kenny Stills while amassing numerous first and second-round picks, it looks like you’re tanking. So there are concerns with who will be the quarterback between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen , but as bad as the Dolphins will be there’s an opportunity for Albert Wilson to put up moderate numbers. DeVante Parker has never really put it all together and Wilson has shown in the past he can be an intriguing deep threat. You don’t need to go crazy and this is mostly a deep league recommendation, Wilson is available virtually everywhere and if the Fins are playing from behind a lot (which they should), then Wilson should be involved. If you need a little more persuasion check out this tweet from Pro Football Focus’ Scott Barrett:
Do me a favor? If you still haven't drafted yet, please don't leave your league without Albert Wilson.— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) September 2, 2019
ADP: Round 15 (WR69) pic.twitter.com/nTDCsa0iFO
T.J. Hockenson DET; FAAB Bid: 2-3% - At this point you probably have a tight end you’re pretty comfortable with. But if you missed out on the studs and find yourself streaming the position give Hockenson some consideration. As mentioned up above, rookie tight ends don’t have the greatest track record, but there was once a time where rookie quarterbacks and wide receivers didn’t have a great track record either and as time goes on things change. In the Lions dress rehearsal game, Hockenson looked pretty solid with three catches on four targets for 52 yards. Tight end is a difficult position to commit to all season long and you really can’t expect too much from the position outside of the studs that go early on. Most weeks if you’re streaming you’re hoping for a touchdown. Hockenson’s a big target that Stafford could look to in the red zone.
Darren Waller OAK; FAAB Bid: 1-2% Waller was the fantasy darling coming out of training camp and a bit of a star on HBO’s Hard Knocks. Waller’s resume is fairly minimal for a guy who has been in the league for three years. Even last year with Oakland he only had six catches for 75 yards. But Jared Cook is gone vacating a ton of targets and while the Raiders brought in Antonio Brown , Tyrell Williams , and Hunter Renfrow (who nobody should be worried about), Waller should still get his due. You can make the argument that Waller could see the third-most targets on the Raiders, but that does require quite a few things to go his way. 75-80 targets are reasonable and maybe he gets some looks in the red zone. Oakland should be trailing quite a bit so the Raiders could put Waller’s 6’6” frame to good use.
Tyler Eifert /C.J. Uzomah CIN; FAAB Bid: 1-2% - The funny thing is Rob Gronkowski is owned in more leagues than these two on Yahoo! If choosing between the two, you might want to put more emphasis on acquiring Uzomah. When Tyler Eifert ’s healthy he’s easily a top ten tight end, possibly top five. The issue with Eifert is that he’s played in nine or more games just once in the last five years and that was when he caught 13 touchdowns in 2015. Uzomah is atop the tight end depth chart almost by default at this point, but with A.J. Green sidelined for the first few games of the season there will be an opportunity for targets. After all Andy Dalton currently has just Tyler Boyd and John Ross to mostly throw to. Cincy should look to get their tight end involved a bit more with Green’s absence.
Seattle Seahawks – Hopefully you aren’t ponying up money for a D/ST, but if you’re a savvy fantasy football player you know you can get by streaming defenses to a championship. And the Seahawks have a great matchup in week one at home against the Bengals. Seattle just traded for Jadeveon Clowney and the Bengals offensive line is still terrible with their 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams missing all of his rookie year. Don’t forget Seattle used three of their first four draft picks in April’s draft to improve the defense. Cincy will also be without A.J. Green so this is a matchup you can target and feel good about receiving seven or eight points for your team in week one.
Buffalo Bills – The Bills are heavily owned on ESPN, but they’re available in about half of ESPN leagues as of right now (Monday night). The Bills have the Jets, Giants, and Bengals in their first three games so it’s possible you can get use out of them for more than just week one. Neither of those offensive lines project to be very good so the Bills could collect some points based on sacks alone. Remember, Buffalo ranked second in defensive DVOA according to Football Outsiders and they improved the linebackers, addEd Oliver , and they’ve been meeting with recently-released Josh Jones . They’ll be a great defensive option early on.
Kansas City Chiefs – While it was mentioned earlier (see Nick Foles ) the Chiefs defense is still pretty terrible, but they did attempt to make some improvements. They acquired Frank Clark from Seattle to help with the pass rush and they drafted Juan Thornhill , Khalen Saunders, and Rashad Fenton to aid the defense that desperately needed improvements in the offseason. Don’t’ forget they also added Alex Okafor who could get six or seven sacks as well. There are still reasons to be skeptic regarding the Jaguars offense, but in deeper leagues the Chiefs could get some sacks and force a turnover or two. If the Chiefs offense gets out to a big enough lead, that’ll mean the Jaguars have to abandon the run. More quarterback drop backs means more sack opportunities, and potential turnovers.