FINDING LEAGUE WINNERS: WAIVER WIRE WEEK ONE
Fantasy football is about adapting to change and creating the best possible team through trading, waiver wire pickups, and starting the right guys at the right time. I am a massive proponent of using the waiver wire in a way that gives your team the ability to improve without sacrificing your best players in a big trade. Through the year, after every single week I will be telling you, by position, the players I feel deserve to be picked up on your rosters. The way I judge a player to be on “waivers” is based on the percentage in which they are available across every ESPN league. In order to be considered on the waiver wire, the player must have a 50% or less ownership percentage according to ESPN data. I will be striving to find the most unique values that will offer you an advantage over your opponents who may not even know that player exists. So strap in and get ready for your team to get better.
Rex Burkhead (17% ownership):
I get that he was bad. 2.9 yards per carry is horrific. I also understand that he does not have a great NFL track record. However, 19 touches is something that cannot be overlooked. For new guys, it will be rare to find a running back getting workhorse touches on the waiver wire at any point during the season. While Dameon Pierce may take over eventually, he struggled mightily as well in week 1 with only 3.0 yards per carry. Get Burkhead as a solid flex option who can catch passes out of the backfield. Five catches for 30 yards is good catching ability.
Jeff Wilson Jr. (4% ownership):
With Elijah Mitchell going down with an injury for the next few weeks, Wilson Jr. will be the replacement back. This is evident by the fact that he had nine carries in the game after Mitchell got hurt. He was not productive at all with his 11 touches for 30 yards but volume is king in fantasy and Wilson Jr. has been a touchdown machine in years past when filling in for injury. Worth a pickup simply for the upside he has in a run-heavy offense.
Isiah Pacheco (18% owned):
The rookie late round pick balled out in his first ever NFL game and proved that the preseason hype was real. He had 12 rushes for 62 yards to go along with a touchdown and one reception for 11 yards. Although CEH had his role too, Pacheco got more touches and it seems like the Chiefs are really trying to give Pacheco a chance to have a big role on the team this season. Great stash pick up for the long-term and a good short-term pick up as well.
Khalil Herbert (25% ownership):
Herbert was really good on a day that David Montgomery was absolutely horrific. Monty really just had 17 rushes for 26 yards and Herbert had 45 yards on just nine carries to go along with a touchdown. I think this offense will lean on the run more with the complete lack of talent at wide receiver and if Monty continues to struggle, Herbert could easily start getting a lot more touches. I think he is good value as a stash with upside later on in the season.
DJ Chark (50% ownership):
Chark has the size (6’3) and speed (4.33 forty yard dash time) to be an elite NFL wide receiver. He simply has not been able to stay healthy these last couple seasons. However, he is healthy and just put up 52 yards and a touchdown on eight targets(!). A 21.6% target share is amazing for a wide receiver and I do think that Chark can have a season long impact on a team that will be throwing the ball quite a bit due to how bad they are. Grab Chark while you still can.
Donovan Peoples-Jones (2% ownership):
DPJ seems to have become Jacoby Brissett’s favorite target for the Browns. Six receptions for 60 yards is nothing too special but 11 targets is really impressive. That equates to a 32.4% target rate which would place DPJ in an elite territory. Perhaps he will not be getting this many targets every game but the fact that he had almost double the amount of targets of the next best wide receiver is telling to me. I expect DPJ to have a big role in this offense and have weekly flex value.
Zay Jones (1% ownership):
The Jaguars spent $24 million on a new wide receiver for this offense and he decided to show out in week one. Six receptions for 65 yards is something to be excited about. That is great week to week flex value and the nine targets he received are promising due to the fact that it seems that quarterback Trevor Lawrence does in fact trust him. He has the contract and the target share to make me interested and I truly do think he will have a good impact this year.
Curtis Samuel (9% owned):
After being injured for what seems like the last five years, Samuel burst onto the scene with 12 touches for 72 yards and a touchdown. The four rush attempts make him a very unique player to go along with the eight total receptions on 11 targets. I think that Samuel could be a Deebo Samuel Lite this year with him being a safety valve for Wentz while getting some rush attempts too. I think his potential is high and the fact he is barely owned anywhere is awesome.
Julio Jones (43% owned):
Jones looks healthy once again and had a pretty remarkable catch on Sunday night against the Cowboys. In a Brady run offense that consistently leads the league in passing attempts and yards, I think Julio has the ability to have a weekly impact as a flex option for your fantasy squads. He is just below the threshold of being considered a "waiver wire" player so grab him while you can.
Hayden Hurst (20% owned):
Tight ends streamers can be hard to find and I think Hurst has the ability to be a good PPR tight end who can rack up around 4-5 receptions every game. He had 5 receptions for 46 yards in a game where Burrow hardly was able to pass the ball at all. Uzomah had 500+ yards and 5+ touchdowns last year and with Hurst’s athleticism (79th percentile speed) he should be effective in his role.
Albert Okweugbunam (22% owned):
Albert O has had his offseason hype skyrocket as the offseason progressed and in week one he showed that he was a great checkdown option in the Broncos offense. Five receptions for 33 yards on six targets is really good for a guy who hasn’t played a ton of snaps in the NFL. Look for him to improve as the season progresses and for him to be a good waiver tight end streamer this season.
Overall, I think it is important to understand that the waiver wire is a tool that can be used to your advantage and if you don't use it someone else will. It takes time and effort but that time and effort will help you win your leagues.