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. I’ll
also provide a brief update on the players I covered the previous
For Week 1, I’ll provide you with some options for leagues
that offer a pre-Week 1 waiver wire or open the free agent pool
post-draft, and try to identify some of the players who could have
an immediate impact.
MIA – He’s a year older and wiser, and has the reins to
start off 2021. Owned in about 50% of ESPN leagues heading into
Week 1, he’s still got massive upside because of his accuracy, legs
and improved supporting cast. If you’re not sold, I get it – but
he should be on your radar as we get rolling this year; he’s poised
for a 2021 breakout and could end up a Top 15 QB when it’s all said
Cousins, MIN – Last year I pointed
out that the year before I had listed Cousins in this exact spot,
and that he went on to post the best RTG of his career (107.4)
and 3603-26-6 in 2019. Well, he surpassed expectation once again
in 2020, ranking 11th among fantasy QBs. Last season he was owned
in about 22.5% of ESPN leagues, and that number has come up to
24% – but it’s still not high enough given his track record.
Fitzpatrick, WAS – Cousins and Fitzpatrick
(20-25% owned) may have five years between them (they’re 33 and
38, respectively), but they are nearly deadlocked in terms of
ownership, overall production, and relatively low fantasy expectations.
Fitz might still have some magic left in those old bones, and
the Football Team added a nice blend of veteran talent and upside
to compliment WR1 Terry McLaurin and TE Logan Thomas.
Lindsay, HOU – The days of folks gambling
early on David Johnson are long gone, and now we’ve got a productive
back (when-healthy) like Lindsay waiting in the wings to assume
the workload. The truth is that Lindsay may already be the better
all-around player – and that could be reflected soon after Week
1. Stay ahead of the field and scoop him up before guys like Jamaal
Williams (who probably needs a significant D’Andre Swift injury
to get impact touches) and perennial question mark Sony Michel,
especially in PPR leagues.
WAS – McKissic is about 50% owned in ESPN leagues, and
I’m assuming the ones where he’s not are non-PPR. We love Antonio
Gibson’s floor and upside in 2021, but McKissic should get work
and may end up an important safety valve for Fitz and his magic
dumpoffs. The dude had 80 receptions last season, and I’ve seen
single drives where he gains 15-20 yards through the air and scores
7 or 8 fantasy points. A must-own in PPR formats.
Pollard, DAL – If you’re drafting
Ezekiel Elliott, you’d better be considering Pollard (40-50% owned).
Sure – an absolute monster year from Zeke would essentially diminish
Pollard’s opportunities and production, but the consensus top
ten pick carries with him a lot of baggage that can sometimes
turn into bad mojo and half-hearted efforts. This Cowboys season
is one Dak Prescott injury away from another complete disaster,
and a Zeke injury or snafu away from Pollard time.
Coleman, NYJ – He’s on my radar
because he’s coming out of a crowded backfield in San Francisco,
and we really don’t know what to expect from fourth round UNC
product Michael Carter. The rookie lacks the size and speed to
be an every-down back and possibly the chops to make a true impact
in year one. If Carter fails to catch on, Coleman (20% owned)
could be in line for heavy work right off the bat in 2021.
Gainwell, PHI – Gainwell is owned
in only 3-5% of fantasy leagues heading into Week 1, and it’s
been a while since he’s played regular tackle football, as he
opted out of his 2020 college season. But the Eagles nabbed him
in the fifth round of the April draft and teams don’t generally
do that without plans to incorporate his unique receiving skill
set into the offense. Sure, we’ve seen his main competition for
touches (Boston Scott) fill that role (not that wonderfully) before,
but Scott doesn’t excite me nearly as much as Gainwell for very
deep PPR leagues – where his impact could be immediate.
Pittman Jr., IND – Don’t “@” me because
I’m listing him here at 65-70 percent ownership in ESPN leagues.
I’m just here to tell you that this guy should be owned in about
85-90 percent of leagues, even the non-PPR ones. He’s got an immeasurable
ceiling, but even with the uncertainty of the QB situation, I can’t
imagine his superior pass-catching skills and athleticism won’t
help the Colts QB, whomever ends up taking the most snaps this season.
Mooney, CHI – Another talented WR
with looming question marks plaguing his team’s signal callers
and their 2021 projections, Mooney (55-60% owned) is a high-upside
guy who makes for a sneaky risk-reward WR4 on your roster. I’m
doing my best to get him in most of my leagues as my fourth or
fifth WR, and while his floor is a little low to consider him
a must-add, I like his chances of outproducing his Big Board ADP
(#135) this season.
Gage, ATL – Gage entered last season
as a super-sneaky deep sleeper, and he ended up paying off for
those who took the gamble, ranking 22nd (tied with Tyler Boyd)
among WR in targets and finishing 37th in fantasy points (between
Jarvis Landry and Michael Gallup) even with just four TDs. With
Julio Jones off to Tennessee, Gage (30-35%) makes sense as a steady
if not spectacular WR4 in PPR leagues, even in a new offense under
a new Atlanta head coach.
Firkser, TEN – Firkser (10-15% owned) stole a lot
of production from Jonnu Smith during his time as a situational
player and with Smith gone, he is poised for a breakout campaign
after posting career-best marks in targets (52), receptions (39)
and yardage (387) in 2020. He’s a solid backup fantasy TE and
could warrant starting in 12 or 14-team leagues if he can step
his game up this season.
Humphries, WAS – The veteran slot receiver should
have the No.3 role to start off 2021, even if he has some competition
for targets from younger playmakers like deep-threat Dyami Brown.
But every old QB seems to have an old WR he likes, and Humphries
(0-1%), while three years removed from his last 100-target season
in 2018, could still have an impact in deeper PPR leagues if he
and Fitzpatrick can gel.