We know, we know — the fantasy football season is just getting started. You just had your fantasy draft and now you officially have your team for the 2020 season. You spent a ton of time researching sleepers, busts, and poring over the rankings to identify the best players to take. So, why should you care about the Week 1 waiver wire at this point? Because you know — we all know — there are free agents sitting there right now who will have big opening weeks and be “must-have waiver pickups” ahead of Week 2. Why not try to beat your leaguemates to the punch?
Though you may not be ready to move on from any players on your squad, you also don’t want to be caught flat-footed while someone else in your league snatches up Week 1’s biggest breakout. Sure, you can only do so much to try to predict who that will be — and you only have so many roster spots with which to work — but there are plenty of guys you can take educated guesses on depending on the size of your league.
WEEK 1 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
This year, in particular, the waiver wire is important. With no preseason, there has been no way to see how carry splits might work and what the pecking order behind top players might be. Because of this, there is more value than is usually available.
Some of the notable names on the list this week include popular sleepers (Ryquell Armstead) and veterans that should be owned in much more leagues than they currently are (DeSean Jackson, Jack Doyle). That said, there are also plenty of deeper sleepers at every position, as well as defense streamers that could be matchup-based plays in Week 2. Even if you’re not going to pick anyone up, at least be sure to familiarize yourself with these names. Odds are that one of them will be the top pickup once the first week of the fantasy season comes to a close.
WEEK 1 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Watch List
Reminder: This list was put together in the lead-in to Week 1, looking forward to the players that could be waiver-wire targets to scoop before the season starts to use in future weeks. If you have a roster spot to play with, these are options you could pick up early to beat the waiver buzz.
All these players are below 50-percent ownership on Yahoo unless otherwise specified.
Week 1 Waiver Wire Watch List: Quarterback
Drew Lock, Broncos (26 percent ownership)
Lock looked pretty good in limited action last year and now has more weapons to throw to in Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, and Albert Okwuegbunam. Couple that with the growth of Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant, and Lock could end up being a solid fantasy QB. If he throws well against the Titans, he may become a hot commodity, so scoop him early if you want a backup QB.
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars (25)
Last year, Minshew turned out to be a surprisingly good QB for the Jaguars. For fantasy purposes, he’s more of a backup, but he avoids turnovers and is a decent scrambler. He could be viewed as a top backup with a good game against the Colts and a decent matchup with Tennessee on tap for Week 2.
Tyrod Taylor, Chargers (8)
Look, Taylor’s not the most exciting passer on the face of the planet, but he has a high floor in fantasy formats because of his legs. If he can run on the Bengals and demonstrate good accuracy, he’ll be worth a pickup. In a 2-QB or Superflex league, he may be worth scooping up now if he’s still available because of that rushing ability.
Week 1 Waiver Wire Watch List: RB
Ryquell Armstead, Jaguars (41) | Devine Ozigbo, Jaguars (8) | James Robinson, Jaguars (1)
With Leonard Fournette gone, the lead role in Jacksonville’s backfield is there for the taking. Armstead was favored to be the starter, but after being placed on the COVID-19 reserve list, he won’t get a chance to show his stuff in Week 1 (though he still has potential value upon his return). Ozigbo and Robinson will likely split carries in the opener, and whichever one performs better will surely be one of the top pickups heading into Week 2.
Boston Scott, Eagles (45)
Scott had four carries inside the five-yard line last year. All went for TDs. Comparatively, Miles Sanders turned his six carries in that area into just two scores. Scott could end up emerging with a bigger role in not only the receiving game but also other areas of the field (especially with Sanders banged up). That makes him a top handcuff in standard and PPR leagues.
Devonta Freeman, Free Agent (19)
Freeman isn’t on a team yet, but that could change. He wants to get into a camp ASAP, and if an RB-needy team decides to upgrade the position or suffers a key injury, he may be the most talented player left on the market. If he signs anywhere, he’ll be the top waiver pickup. Try to scoop him while you still can if you need RB help.
Bryce Love, Washington (11)
Antonio Gibson will likely lead the Washington backfield in touches with Adrian Peterson gone, but who is the handcuff to own? Love is more exciting than Peyton Barber and makes for a good stash. Love may still be getting up to game speed in his return from a torn ACL, but the former Heisman runner-up could become a big-time fantasy threat if he looks anything like he did at Stanford back in ’17.
Darrynton Evans, Titans (5)
Derrick Henry handled over 400 touches last year including the playoffs. The team may want to get him a bit more of a respite at times this year. Evans was a third-round pick who could emerge as a PPR threat since Henry doesn’t catch many passes. Evans could spell Henry on passing downs like Dion Lewis was supposed to last season, and he’s big enough to be a capable ballcarrier, too.
Week 1 Waiver Wire Watch List: WR
Allen Lazard, Packers (44)
Aaron Rodgers needs somebody besides Davante Adams to throw to. Over his last five games, Lazard had 16 catches for 250 yards and two scores. Extrapolated to a 16-game season, that would be 51 catches for 800 yards and six scores. If he keeps building chemistry with Rodgers, he has WR3 potential.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles (44)
In last year’s season opener against Washington, Jackson racked up eight catches for 154 yards and two TDs. He’s playing Washington again to start the ’20 season and is the best receiver on Philadelphia’s injury-riddled roster. He should be owned in a lot more than 44 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Preston Williams, Dolphins (38)
Yeah, Williams plays for the Dolphins, but he had 32 catches for 428 yards and three TDs last year as an undrafted rookie before tearing his ACL. He looked great on the field, and if everything goes well, he should be a viable matchup-based play. You just have to get through a couple of tough matchups (Patriots, Bills) to start the season, but if Williams balls out in Week 1, he’ll be a hot commodity.
Breshad Perriman, Jets (24)
The Jets don’t have a true No. 1 receiver. Some will argue that Jamison Crowd qualifies — and he is a PPR monster — but Perriman may end up being Sam Darnold’s favorite target. Perriman caught fire at the end of last year with the Bucs, posting three consecutive 100-yard games. He had 25 catches for 506 yards and five scores during a five-game span which puts him on pace for 1,619 yards and 16 scores over a full season. He probably won’t reach those heights, but this is a reminder that his ceiling is high.
Parris Campbell, Colts (19)
Campbell didn’t see the field much as a rookie due to injury issues, but the former second-round pick is quick and versatile. Given Philip Rivers’ penchant for throwing to guys out of the backfield, Campbell could become a popular man if he’s put in motion in that area frequently.
Bryan Edwards, Raiders (15)
With Tyrell Williams out for the season, Edwards has a direct path to the starting job alongside fellow rookie Henry Ruggs. Edwards has been getting some buzz in camp, so the big-bodied rookie could be a sneaky pickup at this point in the season.
Van Jefferson, Rams (4)
With Brandin Cooks gone, Josh Reynolds is expected to take over for him, but Jefferson, a highly touted second-round pick, could step into the role, as well. It may take him some time to crack the lineup, but if it happens earlier than expected, he should get a bunch of targets since Jared Goff likes to spread the ball around.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Bears (3)
Patterson is technically listed as a receiver, but he might be the second RB on the Bears’ depth chart. If David Montgomery (groin) can’t get healthy in time for the opener, Patterson will be the backup RB behind Tarik Cohen barring a roster move. He’s worth a speculative add, as being able to play RBs at the WR position is always a win.
Trent Taylor, 49ers (1)
I mean, somebody has to emerge as receiver for San Francisco as long as Deebo Samuel (foot) and Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring) are banged up. Taylor is a good slot man who has racked up 645 yards and three TDs in very limited playing time during his career. Even when Samuel and Aiyuk are healthy, Taylor still will be worth rostering, especially in PPR.
Olabisi Johnson, Vikings (1)
Johnson emerged as a solid pass-catcher for the Vikings last year and will fit well as a tertiary receiver complementing Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. His upside isn’t the highest, but he should see action in three-WR sets.
Greg Ward, Eagles (1) | John Hightower, Eagles (1) | J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Eagles (2)
With Alshon Jeffery (foot) out, the Eagles need somebody to step up as a starter across from DeSean Jackson. Any of these three players could do just that. Ward is a good slot man, Hightower is a talented rookie, and Arcega-Whiteside was a second-round pick last year who has impressed in camp. One will emerge but all three could be worth speculative adds because of potential volume.
Week 1 Waiver Wire Watch List: TE
Jack Doyle, Colts (33)
Doyle is the Colts’ top TE in an offense where the position is heavily utilized. Philip Rivers also likes throwing to his tight ends, and the Colts face one of the weakest schedules in the NFL. Yeah, we’re not really sure why he’s so widely available either, especially with Trey Burton (calf) out.
Irv Smith Jr., Vikings (16)
Smith was a second-round pick ’19 but served mostly as a backup to Kyle Rudolph last year. He racked up 311 yards and two TDs on 36 catches. Could Smith be ready to overtake Rudolph and emerge as a quality target in the Minnesota offense? It’s definitely possible.
Ian Thomas, Panthers (13)
With Greg Olsen gone, Thomas now has the starting job in Carolina all to himself. Teddy Bridgewater should like throwing to him over the middle of the field, so Thomas could become a solid TE2.
Logan Thomas, Washington (1)
Here’s a deeper sleeper. Thomas is Washington’s top tight end, and it doesn’t have many receiving weapons outside of Terry McLaurin. Thomas has been establishing a rapport with starting QB Dwayne Haskins in camp, so maybe he can live up to his red-zone potential.
Dawson Knox, Bills (5)
Knox is a rare deep-threat tight end who averaged 13.9 yards per catch last season. He may not get a ton of targets because of Buffalo’s trio of solid receivers, but he will make the most of the opportunities he has because of his athletic ability.
Jace Sternberger, Packers (8)
See Lazard, Allen. Rodgers needs someone to throw to. Sternberger is the top tight end on the roster and a former third-round pick. If he can build chemistry with Rodgers, the sky is the limit for him.
Tyler Eifert, Jaguars (13)
When healthy, Eifert has been a solid starting TE with TD upside. In Jacksonville, he will get some opportunities to catch passes from a team that may be behind frequently. That gives him a chance to be productive in a weaker division.
Week 1 defense streamers and sleepers
Tennessee Titans (32) | Week 2 opponent: vs. Jaguars
Cleveland Browns (17) | Week 2 opponent: vs. Bengals
Arizona Cardinals (3) | Week 2 opponent: vs. Washington
These three teams all have favorable matchups against teams that have weaknesses on the offensive line. The Titans could generate a lot of pressure on Gardner Minshew and force some turnovers. The Browns get a rookie quarterback, albeit a good one, on a short week at home. And the Cardinals will have a chance to get pressure on Dwayne Haskins with Chandler Jones and Co. All three of these streaming options are solid and can be trusted barring a Week 1 surprise from any team involved here.
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