Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to help your team from week to week while you strive
to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs and win the
elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While
I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster,
the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes
to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll
highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can
help your squad and may still be available in your league.
Matthew Stafford, DET – Stafford had a terrible 2018 and
slipped or went undrafted in many leagues (15-20 percent owned).
In Week 1, he answered a lot of his critics with an OT-aided performance
against an admittedly weak Cardinals pass defense. The veteran
signal caller wasn’t accurate (completed 27-of-45 passes)
but ended up being quite productive with for 385-3-0 in the bizarre
Week 1 tie with Arizona.
Gardner Minshew, JAX – Minshew (0.1 percent owned) took
the reins after Nick Foles suffered a broken collarbone, completing
22-of-25 passes for 275-2-1 in the Jaguars’ Week 1 loss
to the Chiefs. He’ll be the QB for the 6-8-week timetable
that Foles will need to recover, and is a risky add with some
upside considering his impressive performance on Sunday. Minshew
was the 178th overall selection by the Jags in the 2019 after
he quarterbacked Mike Leach’s Air Raid spread at Washington
State for one season, going 11-2 over 13 starts and finishing
fifth in Heisman voting by completing 71 percent of his throws
(.2 yards per attempt) with a 38:9 TD-to-INT ratio and four additional
rushing scores. This could get interesting!
Marcus Mariota, TEN – I’ve had a complicated history
with Mariota (5-10 percent owned), who completed 14-of-24 passes
for 248 yards and three TDs (24 rushing yards on three carries)
Sunday in the Week 1 victory over the Browns. I’ve been
burned by him before, so I’ll try not to get too excited
by this one outing. Still, he looked in sync with perennial safety
valve Delanie Walker and should be in for another decent performance
against the division-rival Colts in Week 2.
Mitchell Trubisky, CHI – Trubisky had a horrific game in
the season opener, throwing for just 228-0-1 in the 10-3 loss
to Green Bay. For a home game against a division rival, this wasn’t
Kirk Cousins, MIN – Cousins was efficient on Sunday, throwing
for 98 yards a TD and 0 INTs on 8-for-10 passing in a game that
was pretty much decided by halftime. The Vikings will rely on
their running game and defense – not asking too much of
Cousins in games when they can easily grind out wins.
Carr, OAK –UPDATE:
Carr was solid in the late MNF game, completing 22-of-26 passes
for 259 yards and a TD in the Raiders’ Week 1 win over the
Broncos. This was a huge win for the Raiders against a tough divisional
foe, and Carr showed excellent rapport with his receivers, including
WR Tyrell Williams, TE Darren Waller and rookie RB Josh Jacobs,
who had a big 28-yard reception to help seal the victory.
Brown, LAR – Brown (just 5-10 percent owned) vultured
two TDs from Todd
Gurley in what looks to be more of a timeshare among the Rams
backs than an uneven split. Gurley seemed fine with sharing the
workload with Brown, who immediately becomes a standalone value
at RB3/4 and needs to be added all formats.
Giovani Bernard, CIN – Benefitting from an injury to Joe
Mixon (ankle) Bernard rushed seven times for 21 yards and caught
2-of-3 targets for 42 yards in the Bengals’ Week 1 loss
to the Seahawks. At this point Mixon’s status is unknown,
but Bernard (30-35 percent owned) would be shouldering a big workload
and be in the RB2 conversation if Mixon misses any time.
Rex Burkhead, NE – Burkhead (2-5 percent owned) was a popular
target for Tom Brady Sunday night, finishing with eight carries
for 44 yards and 5-41-0 on eight targets in the win over the Steelers.
While likely just a change-of-pace back behind Sony Michel and
James White on the depth/usage chart, he’s got plenty of
upside and should be rostered in all PPR formats.
Justin Jackson, LAC – Jackson is about 40 percent owned
and should remain part of the offense with Melvin Gordon not expected
to report until between weeks 6 and 8. Austin Ekeler stole the
show in Week 1, but Jackson rushed six times for 57 yards and
caught 1-of-3 targets for 4 yards. He’s a good short-yardage
runner who could get some goal lien carries and work between the
20s on traditional rushing downs.
Wayne Gallman, NYG – Speaking of vultures, Gallman –
a personal favorite of mine in this column – rushed twice
for 17 yards and a TD in a game that was out of hand by the end
of the third quarter. He’s nearly universally available
and is the better handcuff for Saquon Barkley with Paul Perkins
inactive in Week 1 and Rod Smith on IR.
Breida, SF –Tevin
Coleman is injured again (surprise, surprise) and Breida will
take over most of the workload after a relatively quiet Week 1
performance (15 carries for 37 yards).
UPDATE: Coleman has a high ankle
sprain and will likely miss multiple games as this injury typically
comes with a 2-6 week recovery. Breida will be getting lots of
work the next few weeks.
Devin Singletary, BUF – Singletary had a promising debut
for the Bills and looked way better than old war dog Frank Gore,
rushing four times for 70 yards and 5-28-0 on six targets in the
Bills’ 17-16 win over the Jets in Week 1. He’s a solid
RB3 and has plenty of upside in PPR leagues.
LeSean McCoy, KC – McCoy had a solid first game with the
Chiefs rushing for 81 yards on just 10 carries and adding a 12-yard
reception on his lone target. This is going to be a committee,
albeit on a very potent offense, so temper your expectations and
stay tuned for any developments on hot hand/roles going forward.
Nyheim Hines, IND – Hines finished Sunday’s loss
to the Chargers with four rushes for 13 yards and 4-4-0 on four
targets. He’s a good change-of-pace and passing option for
Marlon Mack, who really exceled in the workhorse role in Week
Tony Pollard, DAL –Ezekiel Elliott’s signing essentially
ruins most of Pollard’s value, and the rookie RB couldn’t
get much going with his 13 carries Sunday, rushing for just 24
yards (1.8 YPC). He’ll likely get more passing game work
as the season moves forward but he’s mostly a Zeke handcuff
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Marquise Brown, BAL – Ravens rookie WR “Hollywood”
Brown is currently owned in 25-30 percent of leagues and had a
monster Week 1 (4-147-2), hauling in a pair of long TD passes
from Lamar Jackson. He’s fast and he’s looking like
the Ravens made an excellent late-round first pick. Anybody with
this much speed an upside on a burgeoning offense needs to be
owned in all formats, even if this production came at the expense
of the pathetic Dolphins.
D.K. Metcalf, SEA – Metcalf (60-65 percent owned) caught
4-of-6 targets for 89 yards in the Seahawks’ Week 1 win
over the Bengals, an impressive debut for the large-target WR.
While the Seahawks run the ball a lot and Metcalf’s week-to-week
value will vary considerably, he’s got plenty of upside
and should be owned in all formats moving forward.
D.J. Chark, JAX – A former LSU wideout who caught just
14-174-0 in 32 targets in the 2018 season for the Jags, Chark
(10-15 percent owned) got off to an excellent start in 2019, catching
4-146-1 in the loss to the Chiefs. With Foles on the shelf for
the next couple of months, he’ll be working with Minshew
and may not have the same upside he had going into Week 1. He’s
still a must-add ion 12-team leagues.
John Brown, BUF – What a Bills debut! The speedy WR caught
7-of-10 targets for 123 yards and the game-winning TD in Buffalo’s
17-16 victory over the Jets and looks like he’ll be a frequent
target for Josh Allen this season. The Bills offense has a slew
of young playmakers and Brown makes for a productive veteran presence
John Ross, CIN – Ross (just 5 percent owned) saw 12 targets
Sunday and finished with 7-158-2 in the Bengals’ Week 1
loss to the Seahawks. We’ve been waiting for a Ross breakout
for a couple years now, but this was the first time he’s
really broken out, shattering his single-game career highs in
catches, yards and TDs up to this point. With A.J. Green out for
an extended period, Ross makes for a worthy WR3/4 next week against
San Francisco and should be owned in all 12-team leagues.
Terry McLaurin, WAS – McLaurin (7-10 percent owned) caught
5-125-1 on seven targets from Keenum and looks like a steal in
both the real draft (3rd round pick for Washington) and fantasy
Amendola, DET – Amendola, a newcomer who’s poised
to assume the “security blanket” role in this offense, went for
7-104-1 on 13 targets – a solid first game with the Lions. He’s
an upside-laden WR4 and could have some big weeks.
TE Darren Waller,
OAK –UPDATE: Playing the
Jared Cook role in the Raiders’ offense, Waller caught 7-of-8
targets for 70 yards on MNF, leading the team in targets and appearing
to be ready to assume a big role this year. He’s about 25-30
percent owned and should be rostered in 12-team leagues that allow
TEs at the flex position.
Michael Gallup, DAL – The Cowboys showed off a new and
exciting passing attack under the direction of offensive coordinator
Kellen Moore, unveiling more downfield throws and a commitment
to getting Gallup the ball. The talented WR caught all seven of
his targets for 7-158-0, including completions of 62, 36 and 23
yards. It’s possible that Gallup (still available in 20-25
percent of leagues) matures into a WR2 right before our eyes this
James Washington, PIT – Washington caught 2-of-5 passes
for 51 yards in a 33-3 Week 1 loss to the Patriots. He did have
a 45-yard reception that saved his fantasy day, but the Steelers
don’t look like the offensive juggernaut of years past.
Jamison Crowder, NYJ – PPR leaguers rejoice! Crowder caught
14-of-17 targets for 99 yards in the Jets’ 17-16 collapse
to the Bills in Week 1, though his massive 41.4 percent target
share was likely due to a less-than-100-percent Robby Anderson
facing the shutdown skills of Bills CB Tre’Davious White.
Still, we had some excellent recommendations in our Week 1 column
and Crowder’s 14 receptions was one of the highlights.
Williams, OAK –UPDATE:
Antonio who? Williams hauled in 6-of-7 targets for 105 yards and
a TD in the Raiders’ Week 1 win over the Broncos, showing
he can be a go-to No. 1 for Carr and a viable fantasy option this
season. With Brown out the door, Williams has massive upside in
an offense that could be playing some games from behind. He makes
for a sneaky high-upside WR3 for Week 2 against Chiefs in both
season-long and DFS.
Adam Humphries, TEN – Humphries was an unmitigated bust
in Week 1, catching just one pass on his lone target for 5 yards.
He’s off my radar in favor of rookie WR A.J. Brown (3-100-0
on four targets). Corey Davis ended up with a goose-egg on three
TE Mark Andrews, BAL – Wow. Andrews caught all eight of
his targets for 8-108-1 and basically tripled his output projections
for Week 1. He’s a bona fide TE1 until we see anything different
in terms of how he’ll be used.
TE T.J. Hockenson,
DET – Hockensen made quite the debut for the Lions with 6-131-1
in the Week 1 tie (!) against the Cards. There’s plenty to like
about his skillset and upside, and one play in the fourth quarter
summed up what he brings to the table, when Stafford scrambled
out of the pocket and found him at the back of the end zone on
a long throw. He’s projecting as a possible weekly TE1 play.