The week prior to the start of the season is always an interesting one for waiver adds. On the one hand, there are always some interesting names available who went under drafted in the preseason or who benefitted from a preseason injury. On the other hand, you just drafted a team you presumably like, and unless your team suffered an injury, it probably doesn’t make much sense to make a major move before you see any of your players in games that count.
That being said, there are some names worth considering this week, especially in deeper leagues. If you were planning on streaming quarterbacks or defenses, there are some strong options heading into Week 1. In deeper leagues, there are several intriguing upside plays who were affected by news over the weekend.
Carson Palmer, QB, ARI (63% owned) – If you are streaming quarterbacks or you need someone to start until Andrew Luck returns, Carson Palmer is your guy. Arizona begins the season at Detroit, at Indianapolis and then home to Dallas and San Francisco. Two games in a dome and two at home would be good enough, but it isn’t an exaggeration to say the Lions will probably have one of the worst defenses in the NFL again in 2017. At the very least, Palmer does not have any bad matchups in the first quarter of the season, and there is a chance all four of those defenses are pretty bad.
C.J. Prosise, RB, SEA (33%) – There is at least a chance Prosise is the best running back in Seattle. Nobody else available in so many leagues can match his ceiling, except for many Rex Burkhead. Prosise probably has a clearer path to getting the starting job all to himself.
Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST (38%) – If you own the Seahawks, Vikings or Chiefs, I would strongly recommend you drop your fifth running back and start Jacksonville Week 1. I think Jacksonville is ridiculously talented on defense, and should probably be owned in all leagues anyway. We haven’t seen that talent translate into a good NFL defense, but I suspect it will. Facing Tom Savage in Week 1 is just a bonus, and they get Baltimore and the Jets Weeks 3 and 4.
12 Team Leagues
Giovani Bernard, RB, CIN (19%) – I understand why everyone is so excited about Joe Mixon’s fantasy potential, but maybe we should actually see him take an NFL snap before we toss aside Giovani Bernard. Bernard had 673 yards and three touchdowns on 130 touches through 10 games last season before suffering a season-ending torn ACL. I think he matches those numbers at the very least if he plays 16 games, and there is a chance his role doesn’t change at all and Mixon just gets the work that went to Jeremy Hill last season.
Charcandrick West, KC (12%) – At the very least, he is probably one of the clearer handcuffs in the league. He doesn’t have much competition behind Kareem Hunt and we have seen him be successful in this league, which is more than we can say for guys like James Conner, Marlon Mack and D’Onta Foreman. Like just about every NFL backfield, this will probably be a timeshare, and West could be useful during bye weeks even if Hunt remains healthy.
Kendall Wright, WR, CHI (11%)– In 2013, Kendall Wright caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards on a team devoid of wide receiving talent. I’m not saying he repeats that production in 2017, but I think it is on the table, at least until Markus Wheaton returns. If Zach Miller and Kevin White succumb to injuries again, Wright could be the last man standing. All of the people who drafted Pierre Garcon, Quincy Enunwa and Robbie Anderson based on the “they have to throw to someone” theory should think long and hard about Kendall Wright.
Mike Williams, WR, LAC (7%) – If you are going to make an early-season add in a 12-team league, it may as well be someone with a high ceiling. Williams was activated from the PUP list Saturday, and the sky is the limit for the number seven overall pick. I would rather wait for Williams to get healthy than waste a bench spot on someone with a lower ceiling like Kenny Stills or Danny Amendola.
Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA (44%) – Maybe we were all a year early on Tyler Lockett. Lockett got better as the season went along, and it is not unreasonable to think he could break out in 2017 if he can stay healthy. It certainly helps that Jermaine Kearse was traded and Kasen Williams was released.
Austin Hooper, TE, ATL (50%) and Julius Thomas, TE, MIA (53%) – Over the weekend I had a few people reach out to me on social media and ask me to grade the team they drafted. In many cases, I recommended they replace their boring, low-upside tight end like Jason Witten or Cameron Brate with a higher upside play like Hooper or Thomas. I prefer Hooper slightly, though Thomas probably has a higher ceiling if he can actually stay healthy.
Buffalo Bills D/ST (35%) – Their Week 1 matchup against the Jets may be the ugliest game of the entire season, especially if Tyrod Taylor is out. This is simply a play against Josh McCown and the Jets, but Buffalo hasn’t managed to trade away all of their defensive talent.
14+ Team Leagues
DeShone Kizer, QB, CLE (10%) – There is a pretty excellent chance Kizer is the new Tyrod Taylor. Even if he isn’t particularly accurate, he can still be a useful fantasy quarterback if he gets you seven points per game with his legs.
Matt Breida, RB, SF (3%) – After Tim Hightower was released and Joe Williams was placed on injured reserve, Breida should be the clear backup to Carlos Hyde. Breida could have some deep PPR appeal as the passing down back, but at the very least he looks like Hyde’s handcuff.
Matt Jones, IND (3%) – Jones almost certainly has the most upside in Indy’s backfield if something were to happen to Frank Gore. That doesn’t mean he would get the first shot at the job, or that he could keep his fumbling issues in check, but I would rather take a shot at Jones than Robert Turbin or Marlon Mack.
Paul Richardson, WR, SEA (3%) – Richardson was a second round pick in 2014, and he was solid in the last two games of 2016 and in two playoff games. Like Lockett, he benefits from a thinner WR depth chart, and he would be an instant add in most leagues if Lockett were to suffer another injury.
Zach Miller, TE, CHI (6%) – Miller made my list of preseason tight end movers, and he absolutely should be owned in deep leagues. He was a starting fantasy tight end as recently as Week 11 of last season, and the Bears need someone to throw to with Cameron Meredith and Markus Wheaton out. I would much rather bank on Miller repeating his production from 2015 or 2016 than take a chance on someone like Jared Cook, Jesse James, Tyler Higbee or any of the rookie tight ends