This is when your fantasy football season truly starts. The drafts are fun, but you don’t win a league on draft day. Leagues are won on the waiver wire, and you want to make sure you have the right waiver claims out there come Tuesday night so you can be set up for success in Week 2. Along with this article, we have a weekly podcast going over the waiver wire, hosted by Frank Costanzo and Ryan Heath, that you should be sure to check out as well.
Generally speaking, I’m pretty conservative on FAAB to begin the year. We’re all a little trigger-happy to start the season as we are just so excited to have football back and usually end up overreacting to stuff that ends up being meaningless by the end of it all. Last year some of the big targets after week 1 were Malcolm Brown and John Ross III, and two years ago it was T.J. Yeldon, none of whom ended up being significant in any way. Keep that in mind when placing your claims, you will probably need to be a little more aggressive than I am to get a few of these players.
Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers (16% rostership on Yahoo/15% on ESPN)
Snell should absolutely be your #1 target this week, and given James Conner‘s injury history, I’m slightly surprised Snell wasn’t rostered in more leagues to begin with. All this talk about having handcuffs, and yet one of the likelier handcuffs to see a starting role is hardly rostered anywhere. Snell got his opportunity early in Week 1 and grabbed it by the horns, running for 113 yards on 19 carries. Mike Tomlin and the Steelers have a history of relying on one running back at a time, and Snell is the next man up. We should know more about Conner’s ankle injury later today, and this FAAB number below is based on Conner missing some time, but I have a hard time believing that Snell won’t be a significant factor in this offense moving forward. This should be his spot to lose.
FAAB Budget: 25%
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (20%/34%)
Before Monday Night Football got underway, Hines was set to be the top target for waiver claims this week. Not only did starting running back Marlon Mack go down for the season, but Philip Rivers confirmed all of our suspicions and relied heavily on checking down to his running backs, Hines’ specialty. Hines was targeted 8 times in the passing game and it’s safe to expect that he will assume the Austin Ekeler role for the Colts. While I don’t think Hines is as talented as Ekeler, opportunity is king in fantasy football, and Hines is going to get plenty of opportunities now.
FAAB Budget: 25%
Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams (26%/8%)
To be completely honest, I’m pretty hesitant to put Brown on this list. I know he had a big game and was clearly the feature back for Los Angeles, but we literally had this exact same conversation last year. No one expected Brown to get a ton of work right away, he had a big week 1, and then was pretty much a non-factor the rest of the season. The Rams don’t have Todd Gurley anymore, but Cam Akers still figures to be a part of this offense, and the Rams still managed to get Darrell Henderson on the field a few times despite being questionable coming into the game. I’m just not convinced that Brown will be the bell-cow, and if he’s not, I’m not convinced he’s good enough to be worth playing with limited volume. However, he earned another shot at being the top back in LA, so he’s got to be on your radar.
FAAB Budget: 10%
James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (56%/29%)
We finally have an answer to the question the Jaguars posed when they cut Leonard Fournette, and it’s James Robinson. Robinson looked solid in his debut and should continue to get plenty of touches moving forward. However, the Jaguars could very well still bring in a veteran RB to compete for some carries, so this is a situation to monitor closely before placing your waiver claim. I think Robinson will remain a part of the offense no matter what and is worth at least a speculative add, but I’m not breaking the bank for him.
FAAB Budget: 10%
Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (13%/11%)
This Chargers offense looked radically different from what we’ve seen the past few years, which is to be expected as going from Rivers to Tyrod Taylor was certainly going to cause changes in both the playcalling and chemistry. That change did not look great for Austin Ekeler‘s potential as a lead running back, as the Chargers ran 67% of their rushing plays between the tackles, not the area I would want to see Ekeler running in. If that is the direction they want to go with the running game, then I think we’ll see Kelley start to take over the Melvin Gordon role from the past few years. I still think Ekeler will be a key focus of this offense, he’s too talented to not be, but Kelley will serve a valuable role in the running game and that’s worth taking a shot on for me.
FAAB Budget: 5-8%
Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions (46%/21%)
Peterson just keeps finding himself in starting roles year after year, despite no one really seeing it coming ahead of time. Kerryon Johnson was a complete nonfactor for the Lions, and Peterson immediately picked up the role that we expected Johnson to have. I don’t think AP has immense upside, but if you need someone with a decent floor to fill in, Peterson is a good option to snag.
FAAB Budget: 2-4%
Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins (1%/0.1%)
The Miami Dolphins backfield is a stay-away from me, as I’m not sure that Gaskin has a stranglehold on the lead back role. I can’t see the Dolphins just completely going away from Matt Breida or Jordan Howard right away, and Gaskin didn’t exactly run away with the role this week. Feel free to speculate on him as he is certainly the front-runner in Miami, but sometimes NFL teams just don’t have any legitimate fantasy options in the running game, and I think this might be one of those teams.
FAAB Budget: 2-4%
Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers (31% rostership on Yahoo/68% on ESPN)
I really like what I saw from Anderson in his new surroundings. Anderson has always been one of the elite athletes at the position, and now he’s playing with someone who can get him the ball in Teddy Bridgewater, and in an offense where opposing teams actually have to decide who they want to focus on (Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore are light-years better than anyone Anderson was playing with in New York). Anderson was on the field for 82% of the offensive snaps, and his average depth of target (ADOT) dropped from around 15 yards in New York to 10 yards in Carolina. I know it’s a small sample size, but it looks like Anderson will be used more creatively than just being told to fly down the field and hope Sam Darnold can find you deep. I like the idea of getting Anderson the ball in space (65 of his yards came after the catch), and I think he’s got the potential to be more than just the boom/bust player we figured he would be.
FAAB Budget: 15%
Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans (5%, 4%)
Are we really doing this again? Every time I think I can quit you, Corey Davis, you just reel me right back in. Davis looked fantastic on Monday, including the current stiff-arm of the year, against a touch Denver secondary, and it was great to see Ryan Tannehill continue to look his way. 43 attempts for Ryan Tannehill should be a season-high (he never eclipsed 40 attempts last year), but Davis tied for the team lead in targets with AJ Brown and was on the field for the same number of snaps as Brown. Davis was a top-5 pick in 2017 for a reason, and maybe we’re finally about to find out why.
FAAB Budget: 8-10%
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers (7%/2%)
Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers (42%/25%)
If Aaron Rodgers is going to continue to sling the ball, both of these guys should be rostered. Rodgers was always the master of the deep ball, and MVS definitely showed he can be the deep-threat with that 45-yard TD catch to end the first half. MVS played 54% of the offensive snaps, while Lazard played 87%, suggesting to me that MVS is going to be a touchdown/big-play dependent receiver, whereas Lazard may find himself with more opportunities throughout the game. Lazard also played more with Rodgers last year and clearly developed decent chemistry with him, which is why he was rostered in more leagues coming into the week. I don’t think we’ll see Rodgers throw the ball 44 more times again this season, but he didn’t need to against Minnesota as they had a pretty comfortable lead all game long, and he was throwing it anyway. I’m not sure which of these receivers will emerge as the second-best receiver in Green Bay, but one of them will certainly be fantasy-relevant with Rodgers throwing the ball the way he did against Minnesota.
FAAB Budget: 5% each
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers (45%/48%)
Williams is kind of in an interesting position here, as before the injury news had really set in with him, Williams was being drafted in that 8-10th round range, and really only finds himself as readily available as he is because he was expected to miss a few weeks with his shoulder injury. However, he surprised us all by being ready for week 1 and immediately led the Chargers in targets while also being on the field for 78% of the offensive snaps. His ADOT didn’t change much from the past few years, and I fully expect Williams to continue to have the same role in the passing game. Tyrod Taylor generally has thrown the ball further down the field than Philip Rivers has per intended air yards on pro-football-reference, so I think we’re going to see Williams get more opportunity than he has in the past. He’s definitely touchdown and big-play dependent, but if Taylor will keep looking his way, those may come more frequently this year.
FAAB Budget: 6-8%
Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts (22%/30%)
I think we were all a little hesitant to buy-in on any Colts pass-catchers besides Hilton, as with Old Man Rivers in town, and no pre-season, there was no way to know what to expect. Week 1 was definitely the best foot forward for Campbell, as Rivers looked for him early and often, and he tied for the team lead with 9 targets and was on the field for 82% of the offensive snaps. Campbell figures to be a key member of this Colts offense moving forward and should be rostered everywhere.
FAAB Budget: 6-8%
Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons (2%/4%)
Atlanta’s season is pretty much going to look like how it did in week 1, a lot of scoring, and very little defense. That type of game is very good for Gage, who found himself on the field for 69% of the offensive snaps. While I do think the Falcons will be throwing the ball a ton this year, I do not expect this same level of volume for Gage every week, as he’s very clearly behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, and will never move above them in the depth chart no matter what. But this Atlanta offense should be able to support 3+ receiving threats every week, and Gage should be a factor in that moving forward. He doesn’t have the most upside, but he’s a solid flex option.
FAAB Budget: 2-4%
Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears (56%/38%)
Miller is absolutely the second-best pass-catcher on this team and in most cases, that is someone worth making sure you have on your roster. I’m just not sure that either Trubisky or Foles will be able to support multiple receivers, and that Miller will find himself having a streaky season mostly depending on if the defense focuses in too much on Allen Robinson or not. He’s a good flex option and if anything were to happen to Robinson he would immediately become a very valuable wide receiver to have, but I would just rather not have to rely on Trubisky to support my receiver.
FAAB Budget: 2-4%
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles (55% rostership on Yahoo/27% on ESPN)
I can’t believe we’re talking about a team’s TE2, but the Eagles absolutely can support two fantasy-relevant tight ends. They run a ton of 12 personnel, with Goedert being on the field for 79% of the offensive snaps (which is more than some team’s TE1s get on the field), and Wentz was looking both his and Ertz’s way all game long. Goedert led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, and caught his touchdown pass on a deep route that usually isn’t reserved for tight ends. Regardless of what tight end you currently have on your roster, I would be looking to pick up Goedert (maybe if you have Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews you can ignore this), because Goedert has top TE potential for sure.
FAAB Budget: 10%
Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team (2%/0.5%)
Thomas led a Washington team devoid of offensive weapons in targets with 8, and I honestly expect to see that pretty much every week moving forward. He’s an upside play for sure, and I could easily see Thomas being one of the top 10 TEs by season’s end, mainly due to the sheer volume of offense he’s going to soak up. You probably don’t need to break the bank for Thomas as I don’t think most people are in on him yet.
FAAB Budget: 3-5%
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17%/5%)
All the attention this offseason was on Rob Gronkowski, but it was Howard who looked like he had been playing with Tom Brady his whole career on Sunday. Howard had 6 targets and managed to turn that into 4 catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. He is going to be a touchdown-dependent tight end, especially when Mike Evans is fully healthy, but I do like Howard’s potential as a sneaky good play this year.
FAAB Budget: 1-2%
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