Although you’ve just drafted your teams, it’s never too early to check out the fantasy football waiver wire. Prior to Week 1, the waiver wire can still be used to get ahead of potential hot pickups. Here are some players that might be popular waiver wire targets following Week 1 that you may want to grab now.
Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups: QB
Let’s look at the signal-callers.
Justin Fields, Chicago Bears (67% rostered in Fleaflicker)
The Bears will start the season with Andy Dalton at quarterback. Unfortunately for Dalton, he’s running into a fierce Rams defense. A truly disastrous performance is well within the range of outcomes and could propel head coach Matt Nagy to insert rookie Justin Fields as early as Week 2.
The moment Fields takes over, he will have fantasy value. Available in roughly 50% of Yahoo leagues, Fields would be one of the hottest waiver wire targets if he ends up starting Week 2, and he could have a Jalen Hurts-like immediate impact in fantasy football. If you have the roster spot, get out ahead of it and grab him now.
Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups: RB
RB committees are constantly in flux — who should you target on the waiver wire?
Ty’Son Williams, Baltimore Ravens (27% rostered in Fleaflicker)
With J.K. Dobbins out for the season, the Ravens elevated Gus Edwards to their lead-back role. That creates an opening behind Edwards. Justice Hill has just 83 career touches in his first 28 career games. The door is very much open for 27% rostered Ty’Son Williams to carve out the role Edwards was initially slated for when Dobbins was healthy.
The Raiders allowed the ninth-most rushing yards in 2020, and the Ravens run the ball more than any other team. If Williams ends up with 8-10 carries in Week 1, he’s going to be worth a waiver wire pickup.
Ty Johnson, New York Jets (24% rostered in Fleaflicker)
Truthfully, none of us know how the Jets’ three-man backfield will ultimately play out. All summer, we expected Tevin Coleman to lead the charge initially. Instead, the Jets threw us a curveball and listed Ty Johnson atop their RB depth chart following the preseason.
So does it mean anything? Probably not. But before any actual game action, we want to jump on any advantage we can get. Grab Johnson off the waiver wire if you can afford to do so and see what the backfield usage looks like in Week 1. You might just find yourself sitting on a lead running back.
Carlos Hyde, Jacksonville Jaguars (32% rostered in Fleaflicker)
At nearly 31 years old, Carlos Hyde is nowhere near the player he once was. However, he has shown time and time again that he’s capable of working for an NFL team in a pinch. He’s a plug-and-play veteran kind of runner.
With Travis Etienne’s rookie season over before it began, Hyde is now the clear backup to James Robinson. If preseason usage is any indication, Robinson is not going to see 90% of the team’s snaps again. Hyde is worth a Week 1 waiver wire stash — he may have RB4 standalone value with RB2 upside if Robinson gets hurt.
Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups: WR
What pass catchers should you look at early?
Tyrell Williams, Detroit Lions (29% rostered in Fleaflicker)
I can already see your eyes rolling as you scoff at the notion of willingly putting a Detroit Lion not named D’Andre Swift or T.J. Hockenson on your team. I get it. Hear me out on this one.
Tyrell Williams is a proven commodity. He’s not flashy, but he’s safe. He has a 1,000-yard season on his résumé. When the Lions signed him as a free agent, it was presumed he was just roster depth. Since then, all they’ve done to bolster their WR corps is sign Breshad Perriman and use a fourth-round pick on Amon-Ra St. Brown. And last week, they cut Perriman.
Williams is poised to lead all Detroit wide receivers in targets — that’s something. The Lions are likely the worst team in the NFC, which means they will be trailing and throwing a lot. It won’t be pretty, but Williams could volume his way to being a fantasy WR3. He’s rostered in just 31% of Yahoo leagues, but he’s a far better target as a Week 1 waiver wire lottery ticket than he gets credit for.
Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups: TE
What tight ends could be a savvy early-season pickup?
Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints (8% rostered in Fleaflicker)
To be perfectly honest, this one is just a shot in the dark. If you’re in a deep league and you punted tight end, it would not surprise me to see you scrambling to add Juwan Johnson following Week 1.
Johnson flashed a bit in the preseason and operated as the Saints’ primary pass-catching tight end following Adam Trautman’s injury. This is probably nothing, but Johnson is 6’4″, 240 pounds with a ton of athleticism. The Saints are bereft of pass catchers with Michael Thomas out for at least the first six weeks. Johnson could end up being a sneaky Week 1 waiver wire pickup.
Kickers are people, too.
Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers (38% rostered in Fleaflicker)
Like an old, reliable SUV, Mason Crosby just keeps chugging along in the NFL. When it comes to kickers, we want a player on a team that is favored, preferably at home, and playing in good weather.
The Packers are 4-point favorites over the Saints and this game will be played in Jacksonville, with the Saints displaced from the Superdome due to the impact of Hurricane Ida. Crosby checks two of three boxes we look for, and the neutral site is good enough. If you didn’t draft a kicker to stash an extra lottery ticket but now need one, Crosby is your guy.
You may very well be streaming defenses all year. Who could you target early on?
Carolina Panthers (12% rostered in Fleaflicker)
The Carolina Panthers seem to be getting very little buzz as a fantasy start in Week 1. I don’t get it. They’re one of the most improved defensive units in the NFL. They drafted CB Jaycee Horn in the first round and signed CB A.J. Bouye. They improved their pass rush with Haason Reddick.
In Week 1, the Panthers are installed as 5-point home favorites against the Jets, who have Zach Wilson making his first career start. I like Wilson. I think he’s going to have a nice rookie season. However, he is making his first career start on the road against what I think will be a good defense. At just 28% rostered, the Panthers are the top streaming defense to target from your Week 1 fantasy football waiver wire.