Week Zero Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Strategy
Week Zero Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: First-Run Speculative Options
We have truly done it; our drafts are over and it is now time to re-visit some of those teams we drafted back in June and July, trim the fat and add high upside options to our fantasy football teams. In “high stakes” formats like the FFPC Main Event and the NFFC Primetime, there is a big waiver run before the start of the season and some home leagues have already opened “first come, first serve” waivers.
You may laugh at this being an important waiver run but some of the names on my Week Zero waiver list last year were Carlos Hyde, Mecole Hardman, DJ Chark and Randall Cobb. Especially for those of you who are committed to Zero RB-ish teams, this first waiver run has a long list of guys who are intriguing.
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.
Premium RB Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups
If your league happened to draft earlier than usual or is maybe a 15-round draft with shorter benches, Darrel is an absolute slam dunk waiver add. In fact, I would imagine that he is worth more of your FAAB budget than whatever running back we are talking about adding next week, regardless of who it is. “The Mentor” is the clear #2 running back in Kansas City, which is valuable in and of itself, but with speculation that the Chiefs are not going to overload Clyde Edwards-Helaire with carries in the first half of the season, Williams’ should actually have some standalone value. You can feel comfortable spending up to 25% of your budget on THE MENTOR.
Love is a favorite of the dynasty fantasy football grinder community and with the release of Adrian Peterson, there is likely going to be a role for him this year on Washington. Beat writers have reported that he will likely start the season as a game-day inactive behind Peyton Barber, Antonio Gibson, and J.D McKissic. I’m less enthusiastic about Love than some prominent fantasy football folks like Shawn Siegele from Rotoviz and preferred him at his “absolute last round” price but think he is worth up to 15% of a waiver budget in Week Zero. Additionally, the scenarios in which Love truly breaks out are probably monster 15+ fantasy points per game seasons whereas some of the other plays on this list don’t really have that in their range of outcomes. Per the Washington Post, “Love has been described by Rivera as a possible every-down back, giving offensive coordinator Scott Turner a number of options in how he wants to use his options.”
ROBINSON HIVE STANDUP! Over the last week, after Leonard Fournette was cut from the Jaguars, I have found myself getting more and more excited about Robinson. Ryquell Armstead is now on IR for the Jaguars, leaving the backfield to be split between Robinson, Devine Ozigbo and Chris Thompson. Ozigbo himself is a fine Week Zero add (though I expect he will cost more than Robinson) but is basically a non-athlete with limited experience catching passes. Robinson stood out at the Shrine Bowl (likely why he got signed) and has so impressed Jags coaches that he reportedly factored into the decision to cut Fournette in the first place. Of course, Shawn Siegele was ahead of all of this by discovering Robinson in April, writing “It’s impossible to ignore a 40-inch vertical jump and good agility at 219 pounds. Those results give him impressive comps in the NFL Combine Explorer. Ryan Williams, Alfred Morris, and Mike Davis are the three most similar athletes with names like Alexander Mattison, Kenneth Dixon, and Rex Burkhead also appearing on the list.”
Benjamin was a very impressive player at Arizona State and it appears the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff agrees with this assessment. The Cardinals are keeping only three running backs on the roster (a great spot for us to invest in as ZeroRB drafters) even though it was reported that Kenyan Drake spent part of training camp in a walking boot for “precautionary” reasons. Benjamin probably won’t have a Week One role but we do expect him to get on the field for Arizona this season. In fact, former Cardinals’ favorite DJ Foster didn’t make the team, likely because of Eno’s presence.
From all reports, it seems that Malcolm Brown is going to be the Rams starting RB in week one. Rams Digest, a division of SportsIllustrated, reported this week “coaches value running backs that can pass protect in critical situations so the quarterback does not get killed, have a nose for the end zone and take care of the football. Expect Brown to be on the field on third down and in the red zone. Brown had a career-high five touchdowns last season on 15 red zone touches. Brown has one lost fumble on 197 carries.”
Not only that, this is what the Los Angeles Rams RB coach had to say about Brown: “I call him Mr. Reliable. He’s a very reliable guy, and he does a very good job of every single day kind of setting a tone for our group. He’s obviously a veteran player that understands the ins and outs of our league. And he kind of sets the tone from a work ethic standpoint and how to be successful at this level. Malcolm is a one-cut, downhill guy. He’s not a huge in-space, wiggle guy. But he does a great job playing behind his pads. He can be very effective in the pass game. He has a great understanding and knowledge when it comes to third-down ball, and when it comes to pass protection and understanding what we do. It kind of gets complicated for us on third down when it comes to our 2-Jet and 3-Jet protection package.”
To me, it sounds like Brown is going to get the first crack while Cam Akers figures out the game at the NFL level and Darrell Henderson, well, we might not see him at all.
Speculative Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Adds Before Week One
The above-listed running backs are the meat of the waiver bids that I am personally making in a vast majority of my (far too many) fantasy football leagues but of course, there are wide receivers and tight ends out there that need to be added.
A quick word on quarterbacks, who aren’t in this space: just carry one. I promise you that it is proper game theory to take QB week by week. Every single NFL week that passes on your roster where you have QBs, you are wasting a chance to catch an RB who improves massively in value week over week. For example, let’s say you have Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Tannehill and then in Week One, Le’Veon Bell sprains his ankle. You could have had Lamical Perine (or even Frank Gore!) on your roster, a player who is so undesirable, he doesn’t even get drafted in 14 team leagues. Now, in your hand, imagine any scenario where your backup QB improves that much in value week over week. You can’t do it! One QB, as many RBs as you can handle, that is the rule.
I have been trying to harp on Miles Boykin as much as possible on Twitter and on podcasts but it bears repeating that he and Andy Isabella are really the highest upside WRs that are freely available on waiver wires across the world. The Ravens lost a huge chunk of their offensive snaps when Hayden Hurst and did not replace him with a new TE on the roster. The Ravens offense, from a volume perspective, probably has more to gain from more competitive game scripts than any other team in football. We have Lamar Jackson projected for 511 passes in 2020, more than 100 more than his 404 pass attempts in 2019. Boykin’s increase in snaps combined with this offense throwing more snaps could result in a fantasy bonanza. The team seems to feel comfortable with Boykin’s improvements and so does Boykin himself.
Of all non-RBs, Logan Thomas is the guy I am most excited to add off waivers before the season starts. The Washington Post did a deep in the former Virgina Tech stud QBs’ transition to starting TE for Washington, noting “Coordinator Scott Turner’s system — a version of the Air Coryell offense that his father, Norv, ran — relies heavily on the position and on multiple-tight-end sets. Turner is one of many coaches Rivera brought with him from Carolina, where they had Olsen, a three-time Pro Bowl tight end and offensive staple. A player like Olsen can’t be easily replicated, but Thomas is hoping to be that guy in Turner’s offense.”
Thomas is already drafted in many TE-premium formats but in many leagues, he should still be on the wire. I am so intrigued by Thomas’ upside on an offense that really has no one to throw to other than Terry McLaurin that I would even hold him as a 3rd TE before Week One just to see what his role is. If Thomas ends up being a 100-target TE somehow, you’ll feel amazing about spending a few waiver bucks on him here.
With Lamar Miller cut and Damien Harris forced to undergo surgery for a broken pinky finger, the Patriots should have only three RBs active in Week One against Miami (Rex, Sony Michel and James White). As a long term Burkhead truther, I would be remiss to not suggest SportsGrid readers in need of RB help not think about Burkhead in the short term. My guess would be Michel and White are the best fits with Cam Newton but if BB truly wants to help the Patriots disguise their playcalling a little better, playing Rex over Sony is the easiest way to do that.
Cards on the table, I would prefer Boykin, Andy Isabella, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling to Josh Gordon but with the news that Gordon is re-signing with the Seahawks, many fantasy owners remember the heights and not the lows. The truth is that Gordon has been barely relevant for fantasy football for quite some time but we are all Charlie with the football. Do not cut anyone of consequence for Gordon though of course playing with Russell Wilson does give him an absurd 99.99th percentile outcome if he is able to get on the field, stay healthy and stay mentally strong.
Another player with disappointing play in 2019 but absurd upside. How many 6’4, 220 pound wide receivers who ran 4.4 40 yard dash get a chance to play with Aaron Rodgers? To be frank, MVS is better than Allen Lazard and if Rodgers’ didn’t play petty favorites, we could chalk MVS up for 100 targets in 2020 after Devin Funchess opted out. For their part, the coaching staff does seem complementary about how MVS has played this offseason.
“I think Marquez, especially, he improved in the areas we were looking for,” LaFleur said Friday. LaFleur believes Valdes-Scantling has shown “strong, aggressive, confident hands” and an “ability to get off press coverage,” while also continuing to expand the ways he can “use his speed,” arguably his greatest asset. We really like his progress,” LaFleur said.
If any of that praise proves to be true, Valdes-Scantling will be one of the biggest breakouts of the 2020 season after racking up 129 targets in 20 starts for Green Bay (and never missing time for injury) in his short career.