With a vast majority of fantasy football drafts in the books it’s never too early to look to the waiver wire. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to make a move. Consider this a “waiver wire watch list” similar to Howard’s NFL DFS Watch List that gets released early every week. These are players that maybe should be owned in more leagues but it is up to your discretion if you want to make the move and I’m not suggesting a FAAB bid for any player at the moment. I want to wait and see how Week 1 shakes out.
I’ll also note that I know last year I had a separate email for people to email roster/waiver wire questions. I simply cannot do that this year. I don’t have the time to check it throughout the day given my work with Fantasy Alarm as well as my full-time job. So each week I’ll try to dive into the waiver wire and provide as many answers as I can so you have fewer questions. I’ll make notes in future waiver wire articles if I will be in the NFL Seasonal discord on Tuesday nights to help with questions, but there will be some weeks early in the season where I’ll be unavailable. You can try to DM me in Discord, but I can’t promise that I’ll answer every question. My DM’s have been flooded over the past month so I apologize if I haven’t gotten to yours.
Justin Fields (CHI) – Fields is about 45-50% available in Yahoo and ESPN leagues. He’s not the starter at this moment but that is simply because Matt Nagy promised Andy Dalton he’d be the starter for Week 1. If s*** hits the fan early in the season then Fields will step in. And he looked good in the preseason. I was more impressed with the work he did with his legs, I’m still skeptical of how he’ll look against an actual pass rush. Personally I don’t see the point in stashing a backup quarterback in a 10-or-12-team league. They waste a bench spot. But if you aren’t overly confident in your quarterback situation and you want to get in early, then Fields could pay dividends as the season progresses. For similar reasons you can also consider Trey Lance, but after not playing at all in 2020, Lance showcased some accuracy issues in the preseason.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (WFT) – Fields is actually rostered in more leagues than Fitz which is a little surprising considering Fitzmagic actually has a starting job. You could almost start the season with Fitz and then pivot to Fields once he is named the starter. Just a thought, no need to get too experimental this early in the season. Given a full 17-game season with the Football Team, there is room for Fitz to flirt with 30 touchdowns. Given that he has a 4.4% touchdown rate and 3.3% interception rate across his career that could also mean he throws 15-18 interceptions as well. But he has great weapons at his disposal and Washington’s offensive line last season certainly exceeded expectations so Fitz might be on the verge of surprising people.
Others To Consider: The quarterback is so deep and while I don’t believe in rostering backup QB’s in shallower leagues, certain players like Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Tua Tagovailoa, and Jameis Winston could be on your radar.
Phillip Lindsay (HOU) – David Johnson was drafted over Lindsay as the latter is available in about half of all leagues on ESPN and Yahoo. I know the Texans gave up a lot to acquire Johnson but he just cannot string together a completely healthy season, but he did total 1,000 total yards last year and eight touchdowns despite missing four games. Ultimately, nobody wanted to touch this team during drafts but there are still valuable touches to be had in this backfield and Lindsay was a solid late-round target but slipped through the cracks in plenty of leagues.
J.D. McKissic (WFT) – The problem with McKissic is that I can tout all the PPR numbers (80 catches on 110 targets last season for 589 yards to go with 365 rushing yards but just three total touchdowns), but you need to actually lock him into your build to get the production. From Week 6 to the end of last season, McKissic had six games with at least 11 PPR points but he also had five games with less than double-digit fantasy points in PPR formats, including a few duds. He’s a nice change-of-back running back and he is a little game script dependent. I wouldn’t be surprised if he remained a Flex candidate as the season progressed.
Ty’Son Williams (BAL) – Williams became a popular name to add in dynasty leagues and deeper formats once J.K. Dobbins tore his ACL. And more recently, Justice Hill tore his achilles so the Ravens have an immediate need for running back depth. Currently Williams is slated to be their RB2 behind Gus Edwards but Lamar Jackson can get plenty done with his legs with the loss of two running backs. It’s also worth noting that late on Monday, news broke that the Ravens were working out Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman. It’s a fluid situation so check back for updates.
Rhamondre Stevenson and James White (NE) – With the announcement of Mac Jones being named the starting quarterback for the Patriots, every running back on this team basically gets an upgrade. White is probably the PPR target while Stevenson is more of a standard/deep league target. Stevenson didn’t go against the stiffest competition in the preseason, but he did score five touchdowns and could turn out to be a vulture in 2021.
Duke Johnson (JAX) – By no means is this an invitation to add Johnson. But keep him on your radar, especially for deeper PPR leagues. It looks like Jacksonville is signing the pass catching specialist to their practice squad and if he’s brought up to the active roster at any point in the season, he could have some appeal. As long as he’s off the active roster, you don’t need to consider him.
Jakobi Meyers (NE) – If you missed it there was a spirited debate among the #FAmily regarding Meyers’ value after Mac Jones was named the starting QB. I’ll link the original tweet, but definitely give the whole thread a read because it doesn’t hurt to get a different perspective.
I see both sides of the argument. I don’t anticipate a super heavy target share for Meyers because the Patriots did shell out money for Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, and even Nelson Agholor. But the Patriots know what Meyers can do in this offense and I’d be surprised if they essentially just went away from him this season.
Darnell Mooney (CHI) – Everyone raved about Darnell Mooney throughout training camp. There was a lot of hype around him as a sleeper and he’s still available in about 45% of leagues. Last year he had 98 targets with 61 catches and four touchdowns. With better quarterback play this season you have to imagine he gets at the very least 100 targets and he’s locked in as the WR2 behind Allen Robinson in this offense.
Elijah Moore (NYJ) – Prior to a mild injury suffered in camp, Moore was getting rave reviews. And I understand folks on the ole Twittersphere have been saying, “don’t assume these are the same old Jets.” However, it’s a new head coach, a rookie quarterback, and a rookie wide receiver getting high praise. I think it’s fair to assume this offense could struggle at times, but Moore was getting a ton of praise in camp and he’s available in over half of all leagues between ESPN and Yahoo. Moore could have a Darnell Mooney-esque season from a year ago with about 60 catches for 700-ish yards and a handful of touchdowns. In this offense, 100 targets aren’t out of the question and we know Zach Wilson can air it out.
Terrace Marshall (CAR) – Marshall has been a late-round wide receiver I’ve been trying to leave every draft with. After I spent about 70% of my auction budget on Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook (oopsy) I made sure to walk away with Marshall for a dollar. Marshall caught 9-of-12 targets in the preseason for 181 yards and a touchdown. He showcased his ability to be a great deep threat. His projections are slightly lower than Mooney and Moore’s, but this rookie is a sleeper worth taking a chance on if we consider how often the Panthers could be playing from behind.
Rondale Moore (ARI) – Personally, I’m not a huge Rondale Moore guy in 2021. I’d rather roll the dice on any of the receivers listed above. I think this receiving group in Arizona could be a little crowded but there’s certainly a path for Moore to carve out a significant role in this offense. Moore was an absolute highlight reel in college and will look to translate that excitement to the NFL.
Evan Engram (NYG) – This is a special acknowledgment I would like to dedicate to Andrew Cooper. The Evan Engram truthers will fully support Engram as the talent is there. But with the added weapons in the passing attack and the questionable play from Daniel Jones, we don’t quite know what to expect. But this tweet from Coop stood out to me over the summer…
We talk about all the time that when you stream a tight end, you’re truly just hoping they score. I personally believe Engram can get 100+ targets this year. And if that’s the case then he may very well be a top ten option at his position, and if he doesn’t score more than one touchdown then he’s truly cursed. There is certainly risk here and that is evidenced by the fact he was only drafted in about 50% of leagues.
Juwan Johnson (NO) – Another Andrew Cooper special here. Here’s the good news with Johnson, we could get answers on his role in Week 1. And if he pays off, lines up a lot at receiver and gets targets, then we’re sitting pretty at a position without a ton of depth. And if he sucks, lines up in-line and doesn’t get much usage then you throw him back to waivers and no harm is done. The Saints are fairly depleted in terms of pass catchers and Johnson emerged as an option Jameis Winston looked to a good amount. He’s a low-risk option on waivers that could be a diamond in the rough.
Cole Kmet (CHI) – I could’ve gone a few different ways here. I contemplated Zach Ertz, Jared Cook, and Gerald Everett but Kmet stands out to me for some reason. He was arguably the best tight end prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft and he didn’t quite contribute in his rookie year. However, he did average 5.7 targets per game over the Bears’ final six games in 2020 and the quarterback play this season should be much better whether it’s Andy Dalton or Justin Fields leading the team. We want to see more usage and more targets in the red zone, but there’s no reason he can’t emerge as the third option in this passing game.
I’m going to keep this section brief because you can go through the season and stream D/ST’s, but I do like the Carolina Panthers as a streaming option in Week 1. They get the Jets at home and don’t forget the Panthers used every pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on the defense and they used the eighth overall pick this year to take Jaycee Horn. I wouldn’t trust Carolina on a weekly basis but as a streamer, they’re among my favorites this week. The Queen City Kitties are favored by a field goal and Vegas is not expecting a ton of scoring in this matchup. Plus, they get to introduce Zach Wilson to the NFL.
Here’s a quick preview into this week’s D/ST Coach but the Atlanta Falcons will be my favorite punt as the cheapest team on DraftKings’ main slate. The over/under, while early in the week, is sitting at 47.0 and the Falcons are favored by four points. I truly think Dean Pees can turn this defense in the right direction. Do I expect a complete 180? No, but I think strides can be made defensively this year as he’s an experienced defensive coordinator who quickly earns the respect of his players. Not to mention, there are questions surrounding the Eagles offense. Jalen Hurts’ accuracy issues were well documented last year and turnovers/defensive touchdowns can break a slate.