Fantasy football isn’t won on draft day; it’s won throughout the season. That’s never more important than on the waiver wire after week one. Grabbing the next James Robinson or Elijah Mitchell can completely alter the trajectory of your season. Here are the top options that are likely available in your leagues. (Players are ordered by percent rostered in ESPN leagues and not ranked)
“Just in case”: Check if these players are available (rostered in under 60% of ESPN leagues). They would become must-adds.
- Jahan Dotson, WR, Washington Commanders (56% on ESPN)
- DJ Chark, WR, Detroit Lions (49% on ESPN)
- Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams (46% on ESPN)
- Julio Jones, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (43% on ESPN)
– Carson Wentz (17% rostered on ESPN)
– Marcus Mariota (4% rostered on ESPN)
Wentz massively outperformed expectations in his debut for Washington. His 27.7 fantasy points were the third most of any quarterback. While those numbers shouldn’t be expected every week, they are promising for a player that entered the season on a hot seat. Wentz demonstrated strong rapport with Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel.
Mariota is a fringe-starting talent on a weak offense, but his rushing floor makes him a viable fantasy option. He finished as a top 10 quarterback with only one touchdown while committing a turnover. Think of Mariota as a discount Jalen Hurts. Both of these former number two overall NFL Draft selections are worth a pickup if you are in need of a quarterback.
– Khalil Herbert (25% rostered on ESPN)
– Isaiah Pacheco (18% rostered on ESPN)
– Jeff Wilson Jr. (4% rostered on ESPN)
– Dontrell Hilliard (4% rostered on ESPN)
– Jaylen Warren (1% rostered on ESPN)
Fantasy leagues are won on the waiver wire with early-week running backs. There is no singular must-have option, but these five young backs present a blend of week-to-week value and handcuff upside. Khalil Herbert is behind David Montgomery on the depth chart but was the more efficient back. He will have a weekly role and becomes a bell-cow in the event of injury. Isaiah Pacheco quietly led the Kansas City backfield in touches. Let your league-mates hype up Clyde Edwards-Helaire after a two-touchdown game and instead grab the rookie.
Jeff Wilson Jr. is the annual 49er on this list after Elijah Mitchell’s injury. It’s never a safe bet to trust a Kyle Shanahan running back, but Wilson is the next man up on a run-heavy offense. Dontrell Hilliard appears to be Tennessee’s James White and had two receiving touchdowns. If Derrick Henry ever misses time, he becomes a must-start player. Jaylen Warren is the clear handcuff to an already banged-up Najee Harris. That is enough to make him worth an end-of-bench slot.
– Curtis Samuel (8% rostered on ESPN)
– Corey Davis (3% rostered on ESPN)
– Devin Duvernay (2% rostered on ESPN)
– Donovan Peoples-Jones (2% rostered on ESPN)
– Zay Jones (1% rostered on ESPN)
We saw in 2020 that a healthy Curtis Samuel is a real weapon, and Carson Wentz targeted him 11 times on Sunday. Corey Davis flew under the radar due to younger, flashier receivers getting hype on the Jets’ offense, but he was their most consistent option. Davis provides a safe weekly floor. Devin Duvernay showed off his big-play ability in week one. He was one of my favorite sleeper picks to breakout this season and is settled in as the WR2 in Baltimore.
Donovan Peoples-Jones has the highest potential to breakout as a must-start player on this list. He might already be the Browns’ best receiving option. The Zay Jones hype of the Jaguars camp was real. Trevor Lawerence targeted him early and often. He is an ideal deep-league pickup.
– Hayden Hurst (20% rostered on ESPN
– Gerald Everett (14% rostered on ESPN)
– OJ Howard (<1% rostered on ESPN)
Hayden Hurst stepped right into the CJ Uzomah role and showed that he can be even more productive. Joe Burrow will always look for his big three receivers first, but Hurst adds a new wrinkle for the offense to exploit. If any starting receivers miss time, he becomes a high-ceiling starting option. Gerald Everett and Justin Herbert established a solid connection. The Chargers have a very deep and talented receiving corps, but Everett’s upside is too high to ignore. He passed the eye test on Sunday and is a fun new weapon for Herbert.
OJ Howard might be the one-week wonder of the season, but I can’t ignore his two-touchdown performance. Howard arrived in Houston just one week ago and already made an impact. Houston lacks weapons outside of Brandin Cooks, so the upside is there. Howard is a deep sleeper but worth monitoring as a boom or bust streamer. Honorable mention to Taysom Hill if he is tight-end eligible in your league. He will be incredibly volatile, but there will be weeks where he booms as a top-five tight en