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Antonio D'Arcangelis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Through The Wire - Week 1

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.

Feedback is always welcome, appreciated and encouraged. I’ll get to as many e-mails as I can.


Mitchell Trubisky, CHI – Trubisky is a tough nut to crack heading into his third NFL season. He finished the 2018 campaign completing 66.6 percent of his passes for 3,223-24-11, adding an additional threat with his legs by posting 421 rushing yards and three TDs. FFToday’s preseason rankings have him 16th among QBs between Philip Rivers and Kirk Cousins, and he’s in an offense that could vault him into the Top 12. He’s owned in just 60-70 percent of leagues and really should be owned in all 12-team leagues based on his upside.

Kirk Cousins, MIN – Cousins was drafted like a Top 10 QB last season, and the sheer depth of talent at the position has him dropping down that list in 2019. About 40-60 percent owned in fantasy leagues post-draft, there will be a close eye on him the first couple games of the season to se if he’s worth an ad. A complete meltdown by some of the younger QBs could mean a Week 2 pickup, so if you’re dealing with some uncertainty at the position it might be worth it to make some extra room for a proven performer.

Derek Carr, OAK – Entering his sixth NFL season without a top-10 fantasy campaign to his credit, Carr has much to prove in 2019. But since the Raiders offense should be a much-improved unit, Carr’s current ownership of 25-30 percent doesn’t account for the massive upside he represents. Antonio Brown may be past his physical prime, but he's still an elite piece who promises to be “the best pass catcher Carr has ever had the pleasure of throwing the ball to,” in the words of Mike Krueger. The addition of Tyrell Williams and rookie RB Josh Jacobs should help him crack the 4,000-yard passing mark for a second consecutive season and add another 5-10 TDs to his paltry 2018 total.

Other QBs to consider: Jameis Winston (50% owned), Jimmy Garoppolo (25-30% owned), Nick Foles (10% owned)

Devin Singletary

Running Backs

Matt Breida, SF – I led off my RB list with Breida last season and I’ll do it again this year. With Jerick McKinnon out for the second consecutive year due to injury and Tevin Coleman’s history struggling under lead-back duties, Breida offers plenty of upside as an all-purpose weapon out of Kyle Shanahan's backfield. The overachieving undrafted back from Georgia Southern averaged 5.3 YPC in 2018 and could end up leading the 49ers backfield for the second-consecutive year. He’s owned in just 70-75 percent of leagues and is being drafted as a mid-range RB4 – but he should be owned in all formats at this early stage, including 10-team leagues.

Devin Singletary, BUF – Singletary’s ownership percentage was just 30-35 percent heading into this weekend, but the release of LeSean McCoy has vaulted him into RB3/4 consideration, especially in PPR leagues. He’s undersized (5-7, 203) lacks breakaway speed (4.66 40-yard dash) and will be sharing touches with Frank Gore, but he’s got all the attributes necessary to shine for the Bills, including toughness, elusiveness and solid pass-blocking skills. He was drafted as a late-round flier and is one a path to do a lot more in 2019 and beyond.

LeSean McCoy, KC – McCoy may not be the workhorse back under Andy Reid that he was a few years ago, but he’s going to get a chance to show he can still get the job done in an offense that features more RB targets in the passing game and smart utilization of his backs. While this could be more of a committee to start the season, Reid’s offenses have always been potent units that end up highlighting one back: the veteran coach has produced a Top-16 running back in 16-of-his-20 seasons as a head coach. McCoy is about 80 percent owned in ESPN leagues, but there will definitely be some formats where he was dropped following his release form Buffalo and now gets waiver designation heading into Week 1.

Nyheim Hines, IND – Hines had a good rookie season despite being limited to 85 carries. He ranked in the top-10 among backs in pass routes (294), targets (81), receptions (63) and average depth of target (2.3), finishing 27th in fantasy points The retirement of Andrew Luck may put a damper on his TD upside, but his role as a PPR flex option remains defined and relevant to our conversation here. Like Breida, he’s being underestimated as a worthy offensive cog on a team that needs to utilize its backs to move the football in the passing game.

Tony Pollard, DAL – A few folks may have dropped Pollard to pick up LeSean McCoy, buying into the news that a deal between Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys was imminent. I’m writing this as of Monday morning, and well, that might not be the case. The latest news has the Cowboys retreating a bit in frustration, and possibly setting up a Week 1 without Zeke in Dallas. Pollard (50-60 percent owned) fits into the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none category if he’s asked to shoulder a large workload, and the sheer volume of touches may be enough to make him a must-own commodity. He’s received praise for his one-cut ability in the Cowboys zone-blocking scheme, and he’s a capable pass receiver.

Other RBs to consider: Kalen Ballage (40% owned), Ronald Jones (50% owned), Dion Lewis (45% owned, PPR target), Justin Jackson (20-25% owned)

Wide Receivers / Tight Ends

Michael Gallup, DAL – I probably don’t need to say much about Gallup since he’s about 75 percent owned, but I’ll emphasize that he’s got massive upside in the Cowboys offense and offers the requisite breakaway speed and ability to consistently get open. Gallup played 77 percent of the Cowboys’ snaps from Week 6 forward and ranked near the top of the league in several important categories, including a 14.1 average depth of target (aDOT – 13th highest in the NFL), 5.1 RAC (22nd), and 15.4 YPR (12th). Even more telling was that 31 percent of the passes thrown his way were considered off target, and that number should improve in 2019 as he and Dak Prescott develop even more rapport.

James Washington, PIT – The 2018 second-round pick didn’t really move the needle as a rookie, but he was an explosive downfield playmaker at Oklahoma State and is looking at an increased role with Antonio Brown gone. He’s looked good in the preseason games and is still building chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger, but there’s plenty of upside considering the perennial issues with Donte Moncrief, his main competition for targets. Washington is a possible big-play breakout spot this season if he can carve out an every-down role in this offense. Washington is still available in 25-30 percent of leagues and is exactly the kind of high-risk/high-reward player worth adding before he’s scooped up in all formats.

Jamison Crowder, NYJ – Crowder (60-65 percent owned) has an impressive fantasy résumé and looks to slot in between Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa (a personal favorite of mine) in this burgeoning Jets offense. New head coach Adam Gase has made good use of his receivers, which adds to Crowder's upside. If he can stay healthy, Crowder could be a sneaky add in PPR leagues (he saw 103 targets in 2017) and a versatile on-field WR.

Tyrell Williams, OAK – I mentioned him earlier while discussing Carr and he’s worth a few more words. Just 50-55 percent owned and coming off a disappointing season with the Chargers, Williams might be a better under-the-radar DFS play than a season-long performer – but he’s a guy that needs to be in your purview if you’re looking for matchup-dependent sleepers. Cornerbacks will have trouble defending this large, talented target (6-4, 205) in 2019, especially with Brown drawing most of the coverage.

Adam Humphries, TEN – Humphries is an excellent fit in Tennessee, as Marcus Mariota is starved for consistent receiving options outside his main squeeze (Corey Davis) and TE Delanie Walker. The fourth-year WR enjoyed a breakout 2018 which included career-high marks in targets (105), receptions (76), receiving yards (816) and TDs (five). Just 35 percent owned heading into Week 1, he’s not a huge red zone/goal line threat but will see plenty of snaps in 2019 and offers a solid and safe value in PPR leagues.

TE Mark Andrews, BAL – Andrews was the second tight end drafted by Baltimore last season, but the Oklahoma product had a solid 34-552-3 season – and one of the best seasons by a rookie tight end over the past decade. His receiving yardage total ranks sixth among rookie TEs since 2007, and his 16.2 YPR, 10.0 YPT and 10.4 aDOT all rank second in that same pool. He’s likely looking at an increase in snaps (35 percent in 2018) and more usage in the red zone as QB Lamar Jackson gets more comfortable in this offense.

TE T.J. Hockenson, DET – Detroit picked this Iowa product 8th overall in the April draft, and it wasn’t because they just wanted a decent blocker. Hockenson fits the mold of an every-down TE and excels in both pass-catching blocking – drawing comparisons to studs like Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski and even former Hawkeye George Kittle. A monster athletics specimen (6-5, 221) with great hands and elite toughness, he’s a solid late-round flier in 12-team leagues and an interesting speculative add heading into Week 1.

Other WRs/TEs to consider: DaeSean Hamilton (20-25% owned), Albert Wilson (20-25% owned), Cole Beasley (15-20% owned), Tre’Quan Smith (10% owned), TE Tyler Eifert (10-15% owned)