Week 1 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Malcolm Brown, Nyheim Hines, And More
Week 1 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Malcolm Brown, Nyheim Hines, And More
Most of the NFL’s first week is now in the books (we will update this space if there are more waiver targets that emerge from the Monday Night Football games) and with nine of the fourteen overs hitting to this point, it has been a high-scoring week of fantasy football. Of course, we have our usual cadre of Week One injuries, some backfield splits that are now fairly defined, and our WRs who popped way beyond their median projections.
Each week, we will take a look at three tiers of players: the “must adds” or players that we expect will be picked up in every league and in every format, the “borderline” tier, and the deep-league darts. The focus will be on 12-team PPR leagues as our frame of reference and as always, if you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me on Twitter @DavisMattek or in the Daily Roto NFL Slack channel.
All players referenced in the Fantasy Football Waiver Wire column are under 50% owned in Yahoo! Fantasy Football Leagues. It is possible these players might be owned in your league.
Absolutely Should Be Owned In Every League But You Will See There Name In Other Fantasy Football Waiver Pieces: CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Goedert, Sammy Watkins, Preston Williams, N’Keal Harry, Jerick McKinnon
Safe Fantasy Football Drops: Chris Thompson, Jordan Howard, Rex Burkhead, Justin Jefferson, Carlos Hyde, Damien Harris, Duke Johnson, AJ Dillon, LeSean McCoy, Kyle Rudolph, Justin Jackson, Tyler Eifert
Potential Difference Makers (These are players worth > 25% of your FAAB, or the #1 overall waiver claim) From The Fantasy Football Waiver Wire
UPDATE: Benny Snell
James Conner left Monday Night’s game against the New York Giants and Benny Snell didn’t miss a beat, running for over 100 yards. Snell was a very popular “Zero RB” sleeper this offseason and for the foreseeable future, is going to be the starting running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Outside of Nyheim Hines (who is going to have a full-season role now), Snell is the top waiver wire add of the week and we can comfortably go up to 35% of our FAAB budget for him.
With Marlon Mack out of the year due to a torn Achilles, Hines now gets to inherit the role that made Austin Ekeler a rich man last season. Hines scored twice in the Colts’ game against Jacksonville but more importantly was the recipient of eight targets. The running backs combined for 14 *actual* targets but there were two other RB targets that were wiped out by penalty as well. With Mack out of the picture and Rivers’ penchant for targeting running backs (Taylor and Mack combined for 14 official targets), Hines is going to be an every-week starter in PPR leagues. The fact that Phillip Rivers appears to be continuing his downhill physical skill erosion is actually a positive for Hines multi-week outlook because he will be at his best in competitive/negative game scripts for the Colts. While we think Jonathan Taylor is the largest winner of Week One in all of fantasy football, Hines is the #1 waiver claim this week and your bids should reflect that.
If Campbell is on your wire, make him your highest priority add of the week (even over the running backs). Campbell is a 4.31-40 yard dash running mega-athlete who was a high second-round pick last season but was unfortunately not able to get it going due to injury as a rookie. He lead the Colts WRs in snaps in this game against Jacksonville and shared the team target lead with T.Y Hilton. He looks like our best 2020 D.J Chark candidate after one week. If you would start Campbell in Week Two, you can go up to 40% of FAAB.
The undrafted free agent from Illinois State, who tallied over 4,000 yards and 44 touchdowns while in college, was the ONLY running back in the NFL to handle all of his teams running back rushes. In fact, Robinson had the best debut of any UDFA RB ever! He played on 68% of Jacksonville’s snaps and was also targeted once in the passing game. This was a surprising Jacksonville win and Chris Thompson’s 30% snap share is likely going to remain so I think our odds of a top-twenty PPR season from Robinson are pretty low. You can safely bid between 20-35% on Robinson but I would keep in mind that there are going to be some weeks where the Jacksonville offense completely craters.
Brown, just like Robinson, was in our Week Zero fantasy football waiver wire article, so we hope that you picked up before he was the Rams leading rusher on Sunday. He played 60% of the Rams offensive snaps and Nathan Jahnke from PFF noted “Brown played 16 third-down snaps compared to one each by Akers and Henderson. He also saw both carries inside the 5-yard line and punched both in for scores. In all other situations, Brown played in slightly over half of the snaps. It’s hard to start a back like Akers when he’s not seeing third-down or goal-line situations. The rookie could end up carving our more first- and second-down snaps, but the situation will be more complicated once Henderson is fully healthy.”
Our fantasy take on Brown is that he can probably be relied up on as an RB2 for Zero-RB style teams in the short-term but with Henderson recovering from his hamstring injury and second-round rookie Cam Akers likely getting more comfortable week over week, the odds of Brown being a true league winner are low. Sean McVay has essentially iterated that the plan is for Akers to shoulder more of the load as the season goes on.
Outside of Hines, Kelley is actually my favorite add. In any “high stakes” format like the FFPC or NFC, there is a 0% chance that Kelley is out there but in a huge amount of 12-team PPR leagues, you should be able to get Kelley. Kelley actually did not play that much, recording only 18 snaps but rushed the ball 12 times on those snaps including three cracks near the goalline with one touchdown. Given Austin Ekeler’s smaller stature and how complimentary the coaching staff was of Kelley after the game, I think there is a real path to Kelley seeing 35-40% of the Chargers carries over the course of the season and retaining that all-important goalline work. I’m comfortable going up to 35% of your FAAB budget on Kelley.
This may seem like a joke, but Thomas is probably the biggest priority pickup of the week. As Adam Levitan noted on Twitter, Thomas basically answered every question we had about his role in Week One. He played 52-of-70 snaps on offense, lead Washington in target share, nabbed an endzone target and played in the slot in 24 of his snaps. While McLaurin will even that gap as the season goes on, without a real #2 wide receiver, we can expect Logan Thomas to be the second option in the Washington passing game. In any format where you can 1) start multiple TEs or 2) rewards tight end premium, you can basically go nuts with Thomas because we expect him to be a starting TE in those formats.
Borderline Starters (These players likely are coming off a good game but do not project as multi-week starters, worth less than 25% of your FAAB) From The Fantasy Football Waiver Wire
Look, add him if you want. He has a real role in this Washington offense and completely took over the backfield from Antonio Gibson in the second half after Washington got a lead. Barber and McKissic both played 30 snaps but it was Barber who cashed in for two short touchdowns. However, Barber did what he does: flounders. He rushed for under two yards per carry and let us be honest, you’re never going to want to start him. He is this generation’s Matt Asiata. Without two touchdowns, he’ll never be a good start. I would max out a Barber bid at 10%.
Scotty Miller/O.J Howard
We heard this offseason that it was Scotty Miller who had really impressed Tom Brady and that he had earned a larger role in the offense. He opened up in game one against New Orleans playing 61% of the teams’ snaps and was targeted six times. If Brady wants his Julian Edelman clone, it seems like he found it in Miller. With Mike Evans playing banged up in this one, it wouldn’t surprise me that much if this ended up being one of the better games Miller has in 2020. However, knowing that this role is so valuable with Brady, I do not want to leave him sitting on the wire.
Additionally, OJ Howard played 53% of the snaps to Rob Gronkowski’s 77% but scored the redzone touchdown and was targeted six times to Gronk’s three. While Gronk played more, he ran only two more passing routes than Howard. Essentially, OJ Howard is the real third WR for the Tompa Bay Bucs.
Boston Scott left the Eagles’ Week One game that Miles Sanders also didn’t play. There were a few reports that the Eagles were just being cautious with the Penn State alum but if somehow Sanders AND Scott were not able to plaly in Week Two, the Eagles would be down to Clement and Jason Huntley. Clement has familiarity with the team and coaching staff. Given the unlikelihood of Scott and Sanders both missing, I wouldn’t go higher than 5% on Clement but I would be remiss to dismiss the potential.
There was a much more egalitarian approach to the Carolina Panthers passing tree in their opener against the Raiders. DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel and Anderson all played between 50 and 60 snaps while Anderson was targeted only one fewer time than DJ Moore with eight total targets including a beautiful deep ball than Anderson turned into a TD. It is possible that the Joe Brady offense will be much more of a spread than it was under the old Panthers coaching staff. Given how bad the Panthers defense is, we should also expect them to be one of the more pass-heavy passing offenses in football which should open up some extra targets for Anderson and Curtis Samuel.
It was Myles Gaskin, the University of Washington product, who lead the Dolphins in snaps at running back and also in carries. While Matt Brieda, Jordan Howard and Patrick Laird all still lurk (and the Dolphins offense is not looking likely to score buckets of points) but leaving a “starting RB” on the waiver wire is probably bad. What is interesting about Gaskin is that he was a legit workhorse in college and other than Brieda, profiles the best as a rusher + receiver at the NFL level.
What if I told you that Aaron Rodgers looked like prime Aaron Rodgers against and he had a 6’3, 220 pound wide receiver who ran a 4.4 40 and just finished Week One while hogging over 31% of the Packers Air Yards? Would you be interested in that player? If so, you should be adding the uber-talented Marquez Valdes-Scantling who we can reasonably expect to beat out Allan Lazard for both snaps and targets as the season extends.
Laviska Shenault Jr.
Look, if you do not already have Laviska Shenault, what are you even doing here? The Colorado Buffs All-Star scored a touchdown in Week One, played 56% of the Jaguars snaps and was targeted four times on 20 passing attempts from Gardner Minshew while also taking a Wildcat QB carry. His ceiling is a top-24 WR this season; make sure he is on your roster
Phillip Lindsay left Monday night’s Broncos/Titans game with a foot and/or toe injury, leaving Royce Freeman as the primary backup to Melvin Gordon. MG3 fumbled in his first game as a Bronco and generally looked pretty average. We also know Gordon has struggled with health in the past and Freeman is a solid passing down back. A 5% bid should get it done on Freeman this week in the event that Lindsay’s injury is more serious.
Other 10-15% FAAB bids: DeSean Jackson, Russell Gage, Chase Edmonds (should be rostered already in competitive leagues), Jerick McKinnon,
Deep League Targets And Bench Stashes From The Fantasy Football Waiver Wire
As expected, Joe Burrow looked exceedingly better than Andy Dalton ever did. Uzomah played 72% of the Bengals offensive snaps which was third-most of any skill position player and was effectively the third WR for Cincinnati. With five targets on 36 throws, we are seeing the potential for Uzomah to turn into a deeper-league starter at TE.
Frank Gore/La’Mical Perine/Trent Cannon/Josh Adams
This doesn’t make me any happier than it makes you, but Le’Veon Bell is expected to miss several weeks with a hamstring strain. Our projection would be that Frank Gore gets a chance to be “the guy” while Bell is out but Perine was inactive due to a small injury against the Bills so we don’t have a great picture of what the split will look like between them. The best athlete at RB on the Jets roster is Trent Cannon and I would love to get a look at him in extended playing time. The most likely outcome here is that each and every one of these players ends up being useless for fantasy.
Love was a straight-up healthy scratch for the Washington Football team, so he is nothing but a handcuff in a gross backfield at this moment in time. He is the sort of guy who you feel great about drafting at a “value” but then end up having to drop for various reasons in-season. If you have the sort of comfortable roster where you aren’t needing rotate guys through the bench, Love is a high-upside stash but don’t plan on being able to start him for the next month.
With Blake Jarwin out for the year, Schultz is now going to be the starting tight end for the Dallas Cowboys. For whatever it is worth, there are people around the team who think that Schultz has a chance to make an impact as a receiver (and thought that before Jarwin was hurt). In tight end premium formats like the Scott Fish Bowl or the FFPC Main Event, Schultz is worth a small, cursory bid.
Look Ahead Defense Bids (5% of FAAB or less): Cleveland Browns (They play the Washington Football Team after resting for 10 days in Week Three), Jacksonville Jaguars (Play the Miami Dolphins Week Three at home on Thursday Night Football in Week Three)