Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to help your team from week to week while you strive
to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs, and win the
elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While
I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster,
the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes
to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll
highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can
help your squad and may still be available in your league. I’ll
also provide a brief update on the players I covered the previous
For Week 1, I’ll provide you with some options for leagues
that offer waiver wire or open the free agent pool post-draft. With
some last-minute shakeups (and signings) to mitigate, there’s
a clearer picture emerging in for some tweaks to your roster.
Roethlisberger, PIT – It seems like forever since we’ve
seen Big Ben under center, but we shouldn’t rule him out as a significant
fantasy QB just yet. While we’ve seen more mobile QBs elevate the
position into rarified air the past couple of seasons, a healthy
Roethlisberger (who operates as well as anyone in a muddy pocket)
still provides massive upside considering his resume and bevy of
explosive WRs and RBs. At just 61% owned in ESPN leagues and currently
sitting in the free agent pool in one of mine, he’s even worth considering
in a tasty Week 1 matchup.
Cousins, MIN – We featured Cousins
in this exact spot last season, and he went on to post the best
RTG of his career (107.4) along with 3603-26-6 – efficient if
not otherworldly numbers. You could do a lot wore than Cousins
as your fantasy backup, but the loss of speed-burning WR Stefon
Diggs removes an important downfield weapon. Still, I have a hard
time understanding how he’s owned in just 22.5% of ESPN leagues.
CIN – Now may not be the time to add Burrow (about 50
percent owned in ESPN leagues), but if he succeeds in posting
Top 10 QB numbers in his NFL debut, he won’t be available next
week. There’s a reason he was the No.1 selection in the draft,
and I’m expecting big things from this rookie gunslinger.
Mattison, MIN – Most of the owners
in the 60-65% percent of leagues that drafted Mattison probably
did so as a handcuff to Dalvin Cook – a wise move that could pay
off if the Vikings bell cow misses any time in 2020. But Mattison
is a proven runner who could see more touches in 2020 as he did
carry the ball a bit more down the stretch last season. He had seven
games where he totaled at least 45 rushing yards and finished with
100 carries for 462 yards in the season. He’s a must-own in 12-team
HOU – The “other” Johnson in the Texans backfield (starter
David Johnson should get the volume of carries and overall touches),
Duke isn’t they most exciting fantasy option. But he has significance
in PPR leagues and ability to step into a bigger role should anything
befall the former Cardinals standout. Darrell Williams,
KC - If your leagued drafted in mid-August there's a chance
that Williams (15-20 % owned) went overlooked as the conventional
wisdom assumed DeAndre Washington (practice squad) would be the
direct backup to rookie Clyde-Edwards Helaire. Williams could see
significant snaps to start the season as Andy Reid eases his his
first round running back.
Thompson, JAC – Robinson (5-10% owned) gets the nod
as the Week 1 starter, with Thompson (40-45% owned) likely handling
the passing game work. Game script might favor the latter in some
less favorable matchups, but it should be interesting to see how
the RB duties shake out in the backfield that ousted Leonard Fournette.
Scott, PHI – All indications are
that Miles Sanders will see a much heavier workload in 2020, but
with Jordan Howard gone, we’ll likely see quite a bit of Scott
(35-40% owned) as well. We can also expect Scott to assume the
Darren Sproles role in the Philly offense, and Sanders hasn’t
proven his body can stand up to the punishment we see lead backs
Edmonds, ARI – Edmonds (30-35% owned)
is not much more than a handcuff to Kenyan Drake right now, but
we’ve seen him explode for monster games when given an opportunity.
He’s a necessary handcuff and should be owned in all 12-team leagues.
Slayton, NYG – Last season I had Michael
Gallup in this spot, and now he’s one of the Top 30 WRs drafted.
Slayton (65-70% owned) will have a harder time getting targets this
season with both Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard healthy, but he’s
an explosive young player with a nose for the ball and the end zone.
Although undersized and unheralded (he was a fifth-round draft pick
in 2019) Slayton started to see heavy snaps in Week 6 and finished
with 348-740-8 in his rookie campaign.
Anderson, CAR – We’ll have to see
how the addition of Anderson (and QB Teddy Bridgewater) changes
the Carolina offense, but Anderson (65-70% owned) has always been
a big-play receiver who can takeover a game. He’s on the other
side of the field from D.J. Moore, so he will consistently draw
weaker coverage. He’s also healthy.
Harry, NE – Perhaps the changing
of the guard in New England could lead to more targets in 2020
for Harry (45-50% owned), who fizzled a bit as a rookie last season
after an early injury stymied his integration into the Pats’ offense.
This year, he could take some big steps forward, facing a tough
test in Week 1 against a pair of decent Miami CBs.
Miller, CHI – I can’t begin to imagine
how valuable Miller (35-40% owned) would be with a passable QB
throwing him the rock, but his 85 targets in 2019 (up from 54
the previous season) point to increased involvement in the Bears’
offense and in the red zone. His talent should overcome some of
the negatives that come with receiving passes from Mitchell Trubisky.
Campbell, IND – We’re not the only
ones expecting big things from Campbell (30-35% owned), who’s
finally healthy and ready to rock in 2020. This talented Ohio
State product should improve with Philip Rivers bringing his skill
set to Indy, where the Colts open up against a decidedly soft
Gesicki, MIA – Last season I pegged Mark Andrews
as my breakout TE, and this year Gesicki is similarly underappreciated
at just 60-65% ownership. I’m a believer in the big guy and he’s
got some big-play potential as a seam-busting behemoth for the
Herndon, NYJ – The Jets defense could be terrible
in 2020, which makes Herndon (40-45% owned) an interesting candidate
for heavy targets. Sam Darnold doesn’t have a great line, and
the check-downs will be plentiful, leading to some huge games
for the talented pass catcher, who’s been plagued by injuries
and suspensions thus far in his career.
Smith, TEN – With Delanie Walker finally retired,
Smith (20-25% owned) could see a huge breakout in 2020. If they’re
smart, the Titans will be designing screens and drawing up more
redzone looks for the playmaking Smith, who seems more than capable
of filling Walker’s ample shoes.