Well, here we are. It’s the Tuesday after NFL Week 1, and reality has come knocking. In a tradition like any other, you once again didn’t draft the perfect team. You probably didn’t even come close… “and here’s why that’s ok”: We’ve all been there. Most of us are right there with you this morning. Drafting a perfect team is a fantasy football unicorn.
If you don’t have a single guy you’d consider swapping out after these first 16 games, go ahead and give yourself a Fat Pat on the back… but don’t get too comfortable. We’ll undoubtably see you soon, because nobody makes it through a successful season without making a score of roster moves.
For everyone else, this is why we’re here: the Week 2 waiver wire. Likely the most glorious and exciting waiver week of the year, with the longest list of potential pickups you should see all year (which means this will also be the longest article). We’ve finally seen everybody in action and playing 4 quarters of real deal football, dozens of undrafted guys have popped up and demanded that we pay attention.
Good thing we’ve got it all figured out now: Kellen Moore is the greatest OC in the history of football, the Cowboys and Patriots will meet undefeated in the Super Bowl, Lamar Jackson is the MVP, the Dolphins won’t win a game and the Browns are still the Browns. We can safely project that every player that was good this week, will be good forever, and every player that was bad is a bust… Right. If only it were that easy. If you’ve watched the NFL for any period of time, there’s one thing that you know: that just when you think you know, you have no idea.
Fuck it tho, we’re gonna try to figure it out anyway. It’d be impossible to know the actual numbers, but I’d be willing to bet that more season winning additions are made this week than any other throughout the season. This is big. So without further ado, here’s who you should be looking to scoop up overnight…
The Running Backs:
Adrian Peterson, Redskins – With the promising young Darius Guice going down to injury once again, the old, but legendary AP is back on the menu in Washington. Peterson was a healthy scratch in Week 1, but with Guice down, he’ll take over as the lead back just like he did last year.
Most people scoffed at him last year simply due to age and the team he plays for, missing out on 1,250 total yards and 8 TDs on a very respectable 4.2 YPC… and many will do it again. Don’t be that guy. While I wouldn’t expect quite that type of production again, Guice has shown he has trouble staying on the field. Until he proves different, Peterson should be owned in all leagues.
Chris Thompson, Redskins – The other half of the equation in Washington’s backfield, and the reason you can’t expect quite as much from Peterson even if Guice misses significant time, because Thompson missed 6 games himself last year. If you play in a standard scoring league, Thompson would go towards the bottom of this list, but if you play in a PPR league, he should be owned.
He’s averaged 4 catches, and just under 40 receiving yards per game over the last 2 seasons. Add in another 20 yards on the ground, and you’ve got a double digit baseline. He’s not a big TD scorer, but with that kind of baseline, TDs are a bonus, and there’s definitely teams in every PPR league that could do worse at their FLEX spot, especially once bye weeks start hitting.
Malcolm Brown, Rams – It seems like every fantasy football expert in the world spent months ahead of the season touting Darrell Henderson as the guy to own when hedging against Todd Gurley’s arthritic knees. While Henderson is an exciting and explosive player, who I’m not writing off, Malcolm Brown showed he is the guy to own for now.
He basically split carries with TG3, and for this week, came out with the better fantasy day to the time of 11 carries for 53yds and 2TDs. It won’t be that way every week, but if he’s gonna get 10-15 touches and see goalline work on the Rams offense, I want him. Even without the potential for Gurley’s injury to resurface and cause him to miss sometime, I want him. Just imagine what you get if that happens. Brown averaged 4.9 YPC on limited touches last year, and 4.8 yesterday. The Texas boy can play.
Gio Bernard, Bengals – Joe Mixon is down again and expected to miss some time. When Mixon missed time last year, in the 2 games Bernard served as the lead back, he averaged 22.6 PPG in PPR settings (18.1 standard), scoring 3 TDs over those 2 games. In the final 5 games of 2017, when he served in the same role, he averaged over 17 PPG.
Cincinnati just gave him a huge extension for a backup RB. In fact, only 6 RBs in the entire league, on the 2nd contract, are making more than him now. So, the Bengals believe in him, and have no issues leaning heavily on him whenever Mixon is out. If this lingers, Bernard could be a huge addition to any team. He’s an RB2 with upside as long as Mixon is out.
Carlos Hyde, Texans – Recently acquired, Hyde came out and bullied his way to 85 yards on just 10 carries for a Texans offense that has some serious potential. Watson is an incredible player, and if the addition of Tunsil at LG can keep him on his feet more often, and his WRs can stay on the field, this team can GO. Yes, Duke Johnson is there, and Duke balled as well, but Duke has never carried a full load, and I don’t expect that to start now.
I think they’re a great compliment to each other, and as long as Hyde looks like he did last night, he should get plenty of early down work. Similar to what I sad about Malcom Brown, if Hyde is getting 10-15 touches and goalline work (he will) in a good offense, that’s a player to own. I wouldn’t be as excited in PPR leagues, but he shouldn’t be a free agent in standard scoring leagues.
Justin Jackson, Chargers – Jackson may have been drafted, but there’s a lot of leagues where he wasn’t. Austin Ekeler was stellar against the Colts, but for my money Jackson is the better early down back. He flashed that in Week 1 with 57 yards on just 6 carries.
It sounds like Melvin Gordon reports in time to have this year count on his contract (by week 8), so that keeps me from being super high on Jackso, because it feels like just about the time he’s pushing for his rightful load of carries, Melly Gordon will swoop in and squash all of his value. But keep an eye on that situation, if something happens to where it becomes clear Gordon won’t be back in that backfield this season, Jackson needs to be owned.
Others: Ronald Jones, Bucs – Barber is still “the starter”, but Jones lead the team in carries and had decent showing (13 for 75). Make no misstake, this is a passing team, and probably not a good team, but with all the hype that was dumped on Jones last preseason, he’s got my attention here. I’m not adding him yet, but I’m watching.
Justice Hill, Ravens – Hill should have been drafted, but if he wasn’t in your league, he’s another guy to watch. He only saw 7 touches in his first game, but I expect his role to increase as the season goes on. The Ravens offense looks as explosive as it gets, and they’re built to run, despite Lamar looking like Prime Michael Vick on Sunday. Hill is a baller, playing above Chris Carson during his time at Oklahoma State shows his pedigree.
This is the high side, but he has the talent and the team to turn into something, not quite, but close to what Alvin Kamara was in his rookie year if things go right. He’s even got Mark Ingram as a running mate.
Rex Burkhead, Patriots – Burkheadmania was at its peak last year before the season. He was going as high as the 4th or 5th round in some drafts. Then the reality of the Patriots set in, and everyone remembered you can’t predict how Bill will use his backfield. Sony Michel is still there, James White is still there, and Damien Harris is waiting in the wings… but there as Burkhead in Week 1, 8 carries, 8 targets, 13.1 PPR points without getting in the endzone.
We know he’s a capable pass catcher, he’s capable at the goalline, he even hit the R1 button on ol boy at the point of attack on Sunday night like he was straight out of Madden. James White isn’t going anywhere, but Sony has shaky knees. If he were to miss time, nothing says Harris won’t step in, but if Bill decided to go with Burkhead, you’d never forgive yourself for not having him (especially if you drafted him in the 5th round last year). Pats are going to roll a lot of teams up very early in games this season, and the run game will eat. Burkheadmania could have its day once again, and this time it could be for real.
The Wide Receivers:
John Brown, Bills – The shiny new addition to the Bill offense put on a show in his first game. We’ve know he’s an elite deep threat, but Brown showed levels to his game on Sunday, running and succeeding on all kinds of routes. 7 catches, 123 yards and a TD will play in any lineup, any week. The Bills have a good defense, but I don’t expect them to be controlling the lead in too many games, so the passing game should be active, and Brown is the WR1 there no doubt about it.
Josh Allen looks to take the next step in his sophomore season and has one of the biggest cannon arms in the world, which is perfect for Brown’s take the top off ability. I wouldn’t surprised to see them connect on a half dozen deep TDs this year. 75/1000/8 isn’t out of the question. I see Brown as a WR2 in fantasy, and I wish I has a lot more ownership in him than I do.
Josh Ross III, Bengals – The 9th overall pick in 2017, Ross had racked up just 21 catches in his first 2 seasons and earned himself a bust label. His world class track speed (think TyFreak Hill) is what got him drafted so high, but he hadn’t been able to put the rest of it together… until Sunday. Ross went off for 7/158/2, absolutely torching the Seattle secondary.
With AJ Green out, Ross was on the field almost the entire game. Green has been breaking down often this last few years, and even though he’s scheduled to come back soon, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up missing more time this season. Even so, Ross may earn his looks before he ever gets back, and Green + Boyd could make things even easier for Ross if he’s really figured it out, regardless of a drop in targets. It’s one game, but where he was drafted shows his upside. I’m buying in.
Hollywood Brown, Ravens – Even Hollywood couldn’t write a better start to a career than Hollywood himself had on Sunday. He took his first NFL reception to the house, and finished with 147 yards and 2 TDs on 4 catches. His QB looks light years ahead of where he was last year, and all of a sudden the “we’re gonna throw it 25-30 times per game” quote doesn’t seem like misdirection anymore. So with all that, he’s gotta be the #1 pick up of the week, right? Not so fast, my friends.
While Hollywood has the pedigree (he’s Antonio Brown’s cousins, and was Kyler Murray’s go-to target at OU), and he and Jackson (and the Ravens in general) were spectacular, let’s look a little deeper. First off, they played the Dolphins. Next, Brown only ran 12 routes on the day. That’s not a lot, at all. He was targeted 5 times on those 12, and that’s a good % tho.
You can expect his snaps to increase after a performance like that, but I still don’t see him leading the team in targets. Mark Andrews will do that (8 catches on 8 targets). Miles Boykin’s targets will also increase as the year goes on. So, while I love Brown, and he’s a must add in all leagues, he’s not the guy I’m taking if I’ve got 1st spot on waivers (we’ll get to who is later).
Terry McLaurin, Redskins – Of all the WR’s on this list, McLaurin impressed me the most. He put up a 5/125/1 line, and should have had more. Case Keenam overthrew him on a play where he was wide open and would have walked in for another 70+ yard TD. He flashed elite speed, running by the Philly secondary multiple times, and an ability to make tough, contested catches with strong hands. He looked good with Keenam, and gained a rep for his connection with Haskins in the preseason, so there’s no concern once they make the switch.
He looks to me like the eventual WR1 there sooner rather than later, and I expect them to be playing from behind often as they’re not a great team. McLaurin has the attainable upside of a fantasy difference maker. Get him.
AJ Brown, Titans – Another rookie WR named Brown, AJ also had a nice NFL debut. Make no mistake, the Titans want to win with Derrick Henry and defense, but Mariota looked better than he has in a while (he’s healthy it seems). He’ll have to compete with Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, and Delanie Walker for targets, but more and more should slide Brown’s way as the season progresses.
He didn’t see a lot of targets this week, but he did a lot with the ones he had, hitting the century mark on 3 grabs. He’s a big body with good hands, who runs good routes and is quicker than he looks. I’m not saying he’s Michael Thomas, he’s not, but he’s in that mold. I think he’s just the type of WR Mariota needs, and so does your bench.
Mecole Hardman, Chiefs – Drafted out of Georgia with the expectation of being a Ty Hill replacement had he been suspended, Hardman went without a catch on only 1 target in Week 1. But, with Hill going down for an unknown amount of time, I expect his role to increase. Hardman looked great in the preseason and has gained a lot of praise from Andy Reid about how well he’s picked up the system. A system that’s headed by one Patrick Mahomes II.
Not a bad system to be in. Despite the 1 target, he did see 51 snaps, no small number. It’ll have to be proven now, but with the kind of upside that offense would provide him, it might pay to be proactive in scooping him up this week, rather than waiting to see it play out.
Others: DJ Chark/Chris Conley, Jags – Both Jacksonville WRs had really nice fantasy days, even though Nick Foles went down early with injury and was replaced by undrafted Gardner Minshew II. 4/148/1 for Chark and 6/98/1 for Conley are lines you’ll take all day. But which one do you want? I really don’t know the answer. I’m not really ready to buy in on either of these guys yet, but that may be all my draft stake in Dede Westbrook talking.
If I had to pick, I’d probably take the upside of Chark. With Foles, I’d be a lot more excited about these guys, but I need to see more from everybody involved here before I pull the trigger. If you need a WR tho, and you miss out on the guys above, you can grab one of these guys.
Devonte Parker/Preston Williams, Dolphins – The situation here is much like the one above. Do I trust these guys? Absolutely not. Do they look like they could see 6-7-8 targets per game on a team that’s gonna be behind in every game? Yep. Parker has had flashes of success in his career, but give me Williams, who showed great hands and feet on his TD grab in the back of the endzone.
The Tight Ends:
T.J. Hockenson, Lions – So, you spent all preseason listening to the experts tell you how rookie TEs RARELY produce fantasy relevant seasons, and you ignored the 8th pick in the draft. Even I fell victim to this, because they’re not wrong. Most rookie TEs don’t produce fantasy relevant seasons… But here’s the thing we all got wrong. Hockenson isn’t most rookie TEs. You’ve been wondering who my top guy is? Well, if he’s still out there, here’s your guy:
My #1 waiver wire pick up of the week. 9 targets, 6 catches, 131 yards and a score. You’ll hear it other places, and yes, it’s true. He was Gronkowski-like. This is a one game sample, but it’s worth taking the flyer, because guys that can put up lines like that at that position are not growing on trees. The only way I’m not using my top waiver pick on him, is if I have one of the top 6 TEs (Kelce, Kittle, Ertz, Howard, Engram, Henry), and am in desperate need of a RB or WR. Or, if for some ridiculous reason, Lamar Jackson went undrafted in your league.
Even if you have one of those 6, and aren’t in desperate need anywhere else, you still take him. If you can play a TE in the FLEX that gives you a great option there, and it also gives you great trade bait to be stacked at a weak position.
Darren Waller, Raiders – Plucked off the practice squad by Jon Gruden himself, Waller has elite measurable and the eye of his head coach. 7/70 on Monday night against the Broncos proved Waller isn’t just hype, he has a real role, and high upside. With AB gone, and the Raiders looking as sharp as they did, I’ve got Waller inside my top10 overall TEs, making him a must own in every league, even 8-10 team leagues (gross).
Also worthy of mentioning is Mark Andrews. He should have been drafted in your league, but if he wasn’t. I rate him just as high as Hockenson. 8 catches, 100+, and a TD shows that Harbaugh wasn’t just talking when he said he was THE most impressive guy in camp (think about what Lamar Jackson just did, and then realize why you need Andrews).
Team D/ST: I’m more of an IDP guy, so I won’t touch on defenses often, but if you didn’t grab an elite defense in your draft, I suggest streaming, as you’ve probably heard before. If you can still get them in your league, this week is a no-brainer: Patriots. They play Miami. Nothing more need be said. If you can’t grab them, I like the Titans and Panthers this week.
Kicker: I won’t touch on this much either throughout the season, but it’s early, and I think there’s on guy (who’s off everybody’s radar) that’s worth mentioning: Joey Slye, Panthers. He missed his first FG Sunday, but it was a 53 yarder for the first of his career.
He immediately bounced back and made his next 2, including a 50+ yard bomb. The Panthers offense is good. They will put up points. Slye hit from the midfield logo in preseason and has been seen hitting from 70 in practice. The guys got a rocket leg and looks accurate and poised to me. A top 5 Kicker season for him is not that bold imo.
That’s it. I’m not getting into QBs, because honestly, there’s 20 worth having and they should all be on teams. Like I said earlier, if people were crazy enough to leave Lamar Jackson!!!, Dak, or Kyler as free agents, you know what to do. Get them, immediately. But if not, the best guy on waivers is likely Josh Allen. If you hate your QBs, go ahead and grab him, because he’s the last guy out there that I think you can play, and still win a championship. At least for now.
Good look getting your guys, and in Week 2.
-Michael Hogan, PSR/SouthtownUnscripted