The first waiver-wire column of the Fantasy football season is always one of my favorites to write as we flip the page from the offseason to Week 1. That’s because I get to marry the final Average Draft Position data and the first look at the waiver wire together. This is helpful for those of you still drafting this week, as well as if you’ve already had your Fantasy drafts and are ready to tinker with your roster.
Before we get into the players we’re targeting, let me explain how we approach the waiver wire in season. Every Tuesday morning, I’ll give you the players you need to add in your leagues, as well as those to drop. We’ll give you a priority order and recommend the amount of FAB (Free Agent Budget) to spend. We focus on players rostered in 55 percent of leagues or less on CBS Sports to help as many formats as possible, and we give you all the information you need to make the process easy.
This will likely be the most valuable column you read during the week all season. While your Fantasy draft is important, playing the waiver wire is the key to winning your leagues. The team you draft prior to the season usually looks dramatically different by the end of the year, and finding the right free agents is vital to making the playoffs and ultimately winning a championship.
So let’s get started. Some of my favorite players listed here, who should be rostered in all leagues and are available based on their roster percentage, include Joshua Kelley, Darrel Williams, Damien Harris, Bryce Love, James Robinson, Darrynton Evans, Anthony Miller, Allen Lazard, N’Keal Harry, Brandon Aiyuk, Laviska Shenault, Bryan Edwards, Steven Sims, Parris Campbell, Van Jefferson, Blake Jarwin and Chris Herndon.
Many of them are already on several of my Fantasy teams, and they should be on yours based on their upside. Find a way to add these players if you want an edge in your leagues.
The players listed below are being drafted in Round 10 or later based on the CBS Sports ADP. Players are listed in order of priority to add if available. Do not spend more than 5 percent of your FAB on any of these guys at this time unless noted.
Week 1 Waivers
- Roethlisberger’s ADP puts him in this range, but you can see his roster percentage is higher than what we typically talk about. That said, for Fantasy managers who can find Roethlisberger available and have the ability to carry two quarterbacks, he’s worth it. Now that he’s healthy after playing just two games last season with an injured elbow, he has the chance to be a weekly starter again. He also has the chance to go off against the Giants in Week 1.
- Minshew and Taylor are two of my favorite No. 2 quarterbacks who could be streamers during the season. Both have the ability to run, which helps their Fantasy production. And the Jaguars are going to be chasing points most weeks, so Minshew could get plenty of garbage-time production. Taylor has a fantastic Week 1 matchup against the Bengals.
- Rivers is worth a look in deeper leagues for his Week 1 matchup against the Jaguars, and the same goes for Carr in Week 1 at Carolina. And Trubisky is worth a look in two-quarterback and Superflex leagues if he wasn’t drafted now that he’s been named the starter for the Bears. He also opens the season with Detroit in Week 1 and the Giants in Week 2, which are great matchups.
Priority List: Boston Scott (60%); Chase Edmonds (61%); Joshua Kelley (31%); Sony Michel (77%); Darrel Williams (37%); Alexander Mattison (68%); Tony Pollard (64%); Damien Harris (48%); Darrell Henderson (49%); Chris Thompson (47%); Bryce Love (28%); Nyheim Hines (39%); James Robinson -(8%); Malcolm Brown (14%); Benny Snell (24%); A.J. Dillon (52%); Darrynton Evans (21%); Cordarrelle Patterson (16%); Jerick McKinnon (47%; Devine Ozigbo (21%).
- Scott and Edmonds are two lottery-ticket running backs who should have stand-alone value as well. I expect Scott to play in tandem with Miles Sanders, and Edmonds should also get playing time behind Kenyan Drake. And keep in mind Sanders and Drake battled injuries in training camp, meaning Scott and Edmonds could be valuable early in the season. In leagues where either is available, I would spend at least 10 percent of your FAB budget.
- I’ve been talking about Kelley since the NFL Draft, and it appears like he’s locked up the No. 2 job for the Chargers behind Austin Ekeler, especially with Justin Jackson (foot) hurt. There are more than 200 touches vacated in this backfield from last year with Melvin Gordon gone, and Kelley should get the chance for a decent workload. I love the upside for Kelley as a rookie, and he’s worth between 5-10 percent of your FAB where available.
- Michel’s ADP puts him in this range, but Harris is likely the one still available on the waiver wire in shallow leagues. Harris could miss the start of the season with a finger injury, but he could be better than Michel by the end of the year. On the off chance Michel didn’t get drafted in your league, add him immediately for up to 10 percent of your FAB. He could be looking at a heavy workload in Week 1 against Miami. Just remember both running backs will be hurt this season by Cam Newton’s rushing prowess in the red zone, as well as what James White does in the passing game.
- The lottery ticket running backs to stash/add are Williams, Mattison, Pollard, Snell, Dillon and Evans, in that order. The reason I list Williams first is he could play more than expected in tandem with Clyde Edwards-Helaire early in the season, so he has some standalone value similar to Scott and Edmonds. The rest are likely waiting for an injury to/ occur, but all have the chance for league-winning upside should they land in a prominent role.
- The only Rams running back I really want to roster is Cam Akers, but both Henderson and Brown are interesting. Long-term, I’m still hopeful Henderson has the chance to contribute, but his hamstring injury could keep him sidelined early in the year. That should allow Brown to have a bigger role, and he’s the likely starter in Week 1 against the Cowboys. Hopefully, Akers is dominating touches all season, but this backfield has the chance to get messy when everyone is healthy.
- Speaking of messy backfields, the one in Jacksonville could be ugly after the Jaguars moved on from Leonard Fournette. For now, they’re going with Thompson, Robinson, Ozigbo and Ryquell Armstead (47 percent), who is opening the season on the Covid 19/reserve list. It sounds like Robinson and Ozigbo will split work on rushing downs, and Thompson will play on passing downs, giving him the most upside of this group. But I keep hearing good things about Robinson, and he’s an interesting end of bench stash to open the year.
- Another crowded backfield is in Washington, even with the release of Adrian Peterson. Antonio Gibson is easily the running back to target here, but Love, Peyton Barber (8 percent) and J.D. McKissic (5 percent) are also worth keeping an eye on. I have Love listed first based on upside, but don’t be surprised if Barber and McKissic make things uncomfortable for Gibson and Love. Barber and McKissic are only worth rostering in deeper leagues, and Love is a stash if you have an open roster spot. Adam Aizer and Dave Richard talked about what to expect from crowded backfields in Washington and Tampa on Monday’s episode of Fantasy Football Today in 5 — make sure you subscribe at Spotify, Apple or anywhere else you get podcasts to get the latest news and analysis in five minutes every morning:
- Two pass-catching running backs you might want to stash in PPR are Hines and McKinnon. For Hines, he’s part of a crowded backfield with Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack, but the addition of Rivers could help Hines approach 70 receptions this year. He’s averaged 54 receptions over his first two years in the NFL. And McKinnon is also in a crowded backfield with Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, but he’s a better receiver than those two. Just the fact that McKinnon is healthy after missing the past two years is awesome, and hopefully he can contribute this season.
- The Bears could be looking at Patterson as a short-term option at running back with David Montgomery (groin) hurt, especially in Week 1 against Detroit. While Tarik Cohen is the only Bears running back to start against the Lions, Patterson could be an option in deeper leagues.
- Some other backup running backs you might want to handcuff in deeper leagues include Carlos Hyde (31 percent), Giovani Benard (20 percent), Frank Gore (14 percent) and Mike Davis (12 percent). These guys could see an increased workload if the starter in front of them got hurt, but they aren’t a priority to roster at this time in shallow formats.
Priority List: Anthony Miller (55%); Steven Sims (18%); Allen Lazard (53%); DeSean Jackson (60%); Laviska Shenault (23%); Golden Tate (63%); Bryan Edwards (20%); Parris Campbell (15%); Mecole Hardman (61%); Brandon Aiyuk (33%); Jalen Reagor (46%); N’Keal Harry (38%); Sammy Watkins (74%); Hunter Renfrow (53%); Robby Anderson (44%); James Washington (14%); Curtis Samuel (31%); Van Jefferson (8%); Michael Pittman (35%); Mike Williams (44%); Chase Claypool (14%); Randall Cobb (18%); Alshon Jeffery (26%); Marquez Valdes-Scantling (7%)
- Miller has the chance for a quality role this season as the No. 2 receiver for the Bears opposite Allen Robinson. The same goes for Sims as the No. 2 receiver in Washington opposite Terry McLaurin. Both are two players I target late in every league, and I expect them to build off strong end of season performances from 2019.
- The No. 2 receiver spot in Green Bay has been a storyline we’ve followed all offseason, and Lazard seems poised to win that job. Valdes-Scantling had a strong training camp, and he’s worth a late-round flier in deeper leagues. But Lazard is worth stashing on your bench where available since he should be second on the Packers in targets behind Davante Adams.
- The Eagles receiving corps is in flux right now with Reagor (shoulder) and Jeffery (foot) hurt coming into the season. Jackson has sleeper appeal for Week 1 against Washington and as long as he’s healthy, so target him first. But don’t be afraid to stash Reagor or Jeffery if you have the roster space. At some point this year, one or both could be useful in all leagues.
- Shenault has been one of my favorite rookie receivers to target this year, and he’s gotten rave reviews in training camp, drawing comparisons to Andre Johnson and Anquan Boldin. He should emerge as the No. 2 receiver for the Jaguars behind D.J. Chark, and I’m excited for his outlook in 2020 and beyond. He needs to stay healthy, but there’s a lot of upside for Shenault this year.
- Tate is being overlooked for the Giants because of all the talent on the roster with Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, but Tate still has the chance to make plenty of plays. He scored at least 12 PPR points in five of his final six games in 2019, and he could be a No. 3 PPR receiver in all leagues this year.
- The Raiders lost Tyrell Williams (shoulder) to injured reserve, which should allow Edwards and Renfrow to have prominent roles this year, along with Henry Ruggs. While Ruggs has the highest ceiling, don’t overlook Edwards and Renfrow in deeper leagues, with Renfrow better in PPR.
- The Colts will hopefully get more out of Campbell this season after he had a disappointing rookie campaign, which was marred due to injury. And the Colts are excited about Pittman since he’s a big target as a rookie. Both are behind T.Y. Hilton, but I like the outlook for Campbell in all formats, with Pittman better suited for deeper leagues.
- In looking at the Kansas City receivers behind Tyreek Hill, Hardman is the one to target as the lottery ticket, with Watkins having the safer floor. Watkins should play more than Hardman when healthy, but Hardman could be a star if given a bigger role. In keeper leagues, take a flier on Hardman with a late-round pick since he will likely be the starter opposite Hill in 2021.
- I’m curious to see how the Panthers are going to use Anderson and Samuel as the secondary receivers for the Panthers behind D.J. Moore. Anderson could be great if he gets consistent targets, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. And Samuel should improve with better quarterback play than he had in 2019, but he’s still just a stash candidate at best. You might want to see what happens in Week 1 against the Raiders before adding either off the waiver wire.
- The Steelers receivers all benefit with Roethlisberger back, but the top two options in the passing game should be JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson. That said, I’m still willing to take a flier on Washington or Claypool, in that order, since this should be a high-volume passing attack. Washington is likely going to have several boom or bust weeks, and Claypool could be an option in the red zone.
- Jefferson was someone I’ve been watching since the NFL Draft, and he has emerged as the No. 3 receiver for the Rams behind Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. His targets could be limited when you factor in Tyler Higbee, but Jefferson’s had a strong training camp and is worth a flier in deeper leagues.
- Williams will hopefully be healthy by October after suffering a shoulder injury in training camp, and the Chargers need him as the No. 2 receiver opposite Keenan Allen. Despite being hurt, I’d stash Williams in deeper leagues, and he reportedly built a good rapport with Taylor before getting hurt.
- Cobb is expected to be the No. 3 receiver for the Texans, but he’s someone to keep an eye on given the injury history of Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks. Cobb isn’t going to help you win your Fantasy league, but he could emerge as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in deeper formats if Fuller or Cooks were to miss any time.
Priority List: Mike Gesicki (68%); Blake Jarwin (54%); Chris Herndon (52%); Jonnu Smith (67%); T.J. Hockenson (62%); Jack Doyle (58%); Dallas Goedert (49%); Eric Ebron (35%); Irv Smith (15%); Ian Thomas (27%)
- Gesicki, Jarwin, Herndon and Smith are four of my favorite tight ends to target late, and all four have top-10 upside. All of these tight ends have the chance to see 80-100 targets this season, which is what you need to have a chance at being a weekly starter. In 2019, 11 of the top 13 tight ends in PPR had at least 80 targets. Gesicki should be the No. 3 option in Miami’s passing game behind DeVante Parker and Preston Williams. Jarwin will replace Jason Witten in Dallas, and he has been a star in training camp. Herndon should be the No. 2 option for the Jets behind Jamison Crowder. And Smith, who I listed as a breakout candidate in February, should be the No. 2 option for the Titans behind A.J. Brown. All four of these guys are worth at least 5 percent of your FAB if you want to carry a second tight end.
- I’m hopeful Hockenson is a sophomore star, and I love drafting him as a second tight end. He could easily emerge as a weekly starter in all leagues as the No. 3 option for Detroit behind Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones.
- Doyle and Ebron will likely be streaming options during the season, and I like both for Week 1. Doyle gets the Jaguars, and Ebron will face the Giants. You can see what happens after that depending on the No. 1 tight end on your Fantasy team.
- Goedert likely won’t be as good as he was in 2019 with the Eagles getting reinforcements at receiver, but don’t be surprised if he’s successful early in the year, especially while Reagor and Jeffery are banged up. And in deeper leagues, I have no problem speculating on Smith and Thomas since both could play prominent roles on their teams this season.