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Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds


Welcome to the 2019 NFL season and our first edition of the Waiver Wire weekly series for fantasy football! It might seem early to be talking waivers since the season hasn't officially started yet. I'm here to tell you it's never too early to find ways to improve your team! If you're like me and burned a late-round pick on a promising young RB like Bruce Anderson, Damarea Crockett, or Devine Ozigbo only to see them cut loose, you have some space to fill on your fantasy team.

In this space, we will provide advice on which players to consider adding through free agency or waivers that are owned in approximately 30% or fewer of Yahoo leagues, so that you can make an educated decision about how to improve your squad.

Let’s look around the league at the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends who are worth targeting as Week 1 approaches. Be sure to also check out our weekly rankings and analysis columns, with in-depth analysis for all options heading into Week 1.

Editor's Note: Get any rest-of-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS Tools, Lineup Optimizer and Premium DFS Research through the Super Bowl. Sign Up Now!

 

Quarterbacks - Waiver Wire Options

Sam Darnold, New York Jets - 28% owned

Some people remember head coach Adam Gase for his work as the offensive coordinator in Denver. Some remember his recent work in Miami, leading an inept offense that ranked 30th in passing yards per game and was among the slowest-paced teams in the league. Whether you see Darnold as a sleeper and potential second-year breakout or a desperation play, the fact is he is among the top choices on the wire in most leagues. He made strides toward the end of last year, averaging 253 yards per game with a 5/0 TD/INT rate in his last three outings. His first opponent is a divisional one in Buffalo, with an underrated defense. It's not ideal but he likely has the most upside.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions - 27% owned

He hasn't been a popular draft pick this year, probably because he finished with 3,777 yards - a career-low over any full season in which he was the starter. An increasingly conservative offense doesn't do him any favors. He does get Marvin Jones back and the presence of rookie T.J. Hockenson should help eventually.

As for Week 1, this is the ideal time to pick him as a streamer based on opponent. He faces an Arizona defense that was fourth-worst in allowing a 67.5% completion percentage to opposing passers. The most important thing to know is that All-Pro CB Patrick Peterson will be suspended for the first six games, so the chance of Stafford getting picked off is minimal. He's a safe, if unexciting pick at QB.

Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars - 18% owned

A guy wins a Super Bowl and gets no respect? OK, that was two years ago and this is a different situation. The Jags will still try to win with their defense and run the offense through Leonard Fournette, so Foles' upside is limited. QB streamers aren't plentiful, so if you're hard up for a Week 1 starter or want to test the idea that this could be a shootout against Kansas City, you could try Foles. Then again, Week 5 against Jacksonville was the only game last year in which Patrick Mahomes didn't throw a touchdown and the Jags only scored 14 against an inferior Chiefs Defense.

Joe Flacco, Denver Broncos - 7% owned

Here we find another former Super Bowl MVP who has been left in the trash heap by fantasy owners. He wasn't terrible last year, contrary to popular opinion. Before he ceded the starting job to Lamar Jackson, Flacco averaged 273.9 yards per game with twice as many touchdowns (12) as interceptions (six). It might take a little time for him to get acclimated to his new receivers but a road contest in Oakland is a fair way to start in Week 1. Just don't hold onto him for Week 2, as he gets the Chicago Bears.

 

Running Backs - Waiver Wire Options

Carlos Hyde, Houston Texans - 33% owned

We have to fudge the numbers once in a while to make sure you are aware of some of the top options on the wire. Carlos Hyde in Kansas City seemed like a best-case scenario for someone whose star has fallen over the last year or two, even if it was as a backup. Now, he gets a chance to be the early-down back in a recreation of last year's early-season Cleveland Browns backfield, as he shares time with Duke Johnson.

The good news is that there is no talented rookie like Nick Chubb ready to steal his job. The Texans left only Taiwan Jones and Buddy Howell in the backfield behind those two, both for special teams purposes. You can question the Texans' front office and Bill O'Brien's judgment all you want (as you should) but the fact is Hyde could be in store for something close to the 19 carries per game he averaged early in 2018.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers - 29% owned

The season opener is almost here and Melvin Gordon still hasn't reported. The fact that Chargers GM Tom Telesco has allowed Gordon to seek a trade and then stated no further contract negotiations would take place during the season means that there is zero chance Gordon suits up Week 1 unless he completely caves in on his demands in the next few days. That means all this preseason drama would have netted him nothing and set a bad precedent for running backs. Ain't gonna happen.

Enter the Jackson/Ekeler timeshare. In the three games Gordon missed from Weeks 13-15 last season, Ekeler saw 13 and 15 carries before sitting out the third game. Jackson took eight, seven, then 16 carries in those three games. He was fairly effective, averaging 4.29 Y/A but he wasn't much of a factor in the passing game, with just six catches on seven targets. Jackson figures to be flex-worthy in standard leagues and 14-team PPR leagues initially, with the chance to prove he deserves more carries.

Justice Hill, Baltimore Ravens - 27% owned

It will be interesting to see how many snaps Mark Ingram takes and just what kind of role Hill plays in this backfield. At the very least, it's assumed he will be in on the occasional passing down, as Gus Edwards has stone hands that make Jordan Howard look like a glove model. Hill is a speedster out of Oklahoma State who ran a 4.40 40 time and has good receiving skills. He won't usurp Ingram any time soon but his all-around skills make him an intriguing stash, even if he isn't worth playing right away.

Mike Davis, Chicago Bears - 23% owned

Davis could play third fiddle in Chicago just as he did in Seattle last year but he will get touches. This will be a three-headed monster, at least initially. Davis may get the nod on early downs before Montgomery, given his experience in the league. If there is a time to take a chance on Davis, it's in the early portion of the season.

Frank Gore, Buffalo Bills - 15% owned

Yes, he's called the Inconvenient Truth for a reason. Gore will keep appearing on this list long after you and I have expired, for he is the Highlander of the NFL.

Seriously though, Gore is pretty much the starter again now that LeSean McCoy has been released. Devin Singletary is getting the hype but there is little chance he becomes a feature back immediately. Watch Gore take 12-15 carries this game and churn out another 50-something yards with the chance for a touchdown. The Jets allowed 4.6 yards per carry to opponents last year and didn't do much to improve their front seven other than signing C.J. Mosley, who basically just replaces injured Avery Williamson. Gore isn't sexy but he'll outscore many of these other waiver wire RBs.

Jalen Richard, Oakland Raiders - 14% owned

Richard caught 68 passes last year, seventh-most among all running backs. He has reliable hands, evidenced by his 84% catch rate that was seventh-best among all qualified NFL players. Even if Jon Gruden tries to make Josh Jacobs into a workhorse back, he will get spelled and cede way to Richard on obvious passing downs. Richard is a decent floor play in full PPR leagues but his appeal is lost in standard leagues.

Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins - 11% owned

We forgot about Thompson, who just two years ago was averaging 80 scrimmage yards and four receptions per game before getting injured in Week 11. The downside is the fact he's missed 12 games over the last two seasons and he's seen his rushing average drop for four straight seasons. The prime-age Thompson we once saw is gone but he could still see work in certain situations. A Week 1 contest against the Eagles could represent such an opportunity, as the Skins are likely to be in catch-up mode and lean toward the passing game, which favors Thompson's usage in the backfield.

Dare Ogunbowale, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 5% owned

You can't count me among those who think that this is the sleeper RB to own in Tampa. Ogunbowale has done nothing his first two years in the league and wasn't even a stud in college, ranking in the 24th percentile in College Dominator rating. He isn't a physical specimen waiting for the right opportunity either, as his SPARQ score ranked in the 15th percentile. It's wishful thinking that he can be a hidden gem at no cost but if you add him, you should be praying he gets some goal-line touches and rumbles into the end zone.

 

Wide Receivers - Waiver Wire Options

Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers - 26% owned

The Niners have a stud tight end, a pair of rookie receivers, brand new running back, and they've got their franchise QB back from injury. Lost in all this is Marquise Goodwin, who returns for this third campaign with the team. If you know anything about Goodwin, it's that he's fast and really good at running a 40-yard dash. That helps on the football field, where he averages 16.7 yards per reception for his career and a 13.3 aDoT last season. Goodwin gets a tasty matchup against the Tampa Bay Bucs, who were an excellent defense to stream against the first half of last year for QB/WR combos.

Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints - 18% owned

Tre'Quan the Chef is one of my favorite sleepers this season. He had a lot to learn before Drew Brees would put trust in him but it sounds like he may be there. Smith can take the top off any defense with his speed and he has the wingspan to reach over defenders as well. The issue is all about target share and whether he'll see a major uptick this year. If there's one game this opening weekend that promises to be a shootout, it's Houston-New Orleans. Smith is a risk/reward pick for owners looking to roll the dice.

Randall Cobb, Dallas Cowboys - 11% owned

Cobb has been slowly declining the last few years in Green Bay but now he gets to start over in Dallas at age 29. He's far from done and could see more work than expected if Zeke is still not in the house by the time Sunday rolls around. It helps that the Cowboys have a marshmallow-soft schedule to start the year against the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins. Cobb could present a decent floor in PPR leagues.

Albert Wilson, Miami Dolphins - 5% owned

A bothersome hip has held him out of action for a while, but Wilson is set to play the first game for the Miami Tanks Dolphins. He was a dynamic playmaker in limited time last year, averaging 15 yards per catch. He now owns the slot in Miami with Kenny Stills out of the picture. Consider too that the Dolphins are very likely to be losing to the Ravens (and every game thereafter), so Ryan Fitzpatrick will be in full chuck mode as he was in Tampa last year. The results may not be quite the same but this is the receiver you probably want to own on this team.

Rashard Higgins, Cleveland Browns - 4% owned

With Antonio Callaway out for four weeks due to a recurrent case of stupidity, Higgins occupies the WR3 role in Cleveland. If this offense is nearly as good as we think it will be, Higgins could be productive even behind Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. The Titans don't present a great initial matchup as the third-stingiest defense in terms of points allowed last year. Week 2 is better, as the Browns travel to face the Jets. Higgins is more of a home run play, as his target volume won't be too high. If he hits on a big play though, he could pay off in your flex spot.

Damion Willis, Cincinnati Bengals - 1% owned

If you're in a ridiculously deep league then Willis is the best of the options at this range. He could be starting in Cincy while A.J. Green heals. This UDFA out of Troy is a 6'3" target that might draw red-zone targets, assuming the Bengals can get there in the first place.

 

Tight Ends - Waiver Wire Options

Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders - 20% owned

A receiver playing tight end - that's how Waller has been described this preseason. The Raiders have enough other targets now that they won't have to rely on the tight end as much as they did with Jared Cook last year. Still, there isn't much depth and Waller has been impressive enough that they could involve him in the passing game more than expected. There's a reason we identified him as one of our draft sleepers.

Noah Fant, Denver Broncos - 14% owned

It's unlikely the team fully unleashes Fant in the regular-season opener, but crazier things have happened. He warrants mentioning here just because the Raiders on the other side of the ball allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends in 2018.

Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals - 8% owned

We know A.J. Green is gone and Damion Willis is the WR2 in Cincy. This could mean a lot of targets for the TE, as often happens when receiver depth is lacking. Eifert looks to be fully healthy and is a strong red zone threat when on the field. He is the safest of these choices in reality.

Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks - 3% owned

If Eifert is the safest, Dissly is the most exciting. He started his rookie campaign with a bang, bringing in 105 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 followed by 42 yards and another score in Week 2. A patella tendon injury robbed him of the rest of his season but he's back and there are two good reasons to be excited.

1) The 'Hawks are hurting at receiver. Doug Baldwin is retired, David Moore is out for the forseeable future, Jaron Brown was released and D.K. Metcalf is questionable. That means a lot of running but also a good chance the tight ends are more involved

2) The Bengals, Seattle's Week 1 opponent, were the very worst at defending tight ends last year. They allowed 10.9 fantasy points to the position each game. That's a figure you'll take any day if you didn't spend an early pick to grab one of the top three TEs.

Geoff Swaim, Jacksonville Jaguars - 0% owned

Have the Jaguars ever had a fantasy-relevant tight end? (No, Marcedes Lewis doesn't count and don't talk to me about Kyle Brady, that guy let me down in 2001.) Swaim was uneventfully brought over from Dallas to take over the starting TE job and could be a player to watch for those who stream.

His 81.3% catch rate was best among all tight ends last year and good for 14th overall. We know Nick Foles got accustomed to throwing to the tight end in Philly, so he may look Swaim's way often enough to provide value for fantasy leagues. He could be listed as questionable based on a preseason foot injury but recent reports indicate he should be ready to play. It might be best to take a wait-and-see approach first with Swaim; keep him on your radar for now.

More Weekly Lineup Prep


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