Waiver Wire Watch: Week 1 Fantasy Football Targets
Editor's Note: We're happy to have Brandon Niles back on the Waiver Wire Watch this year. He'll work in conjunction with Senior Editor John Paulsen to compile the weekly list of pickups and generate recommended prices for FAAB leagues.
Here is a look at the top waiver wire pickups for Week 1. To be eligible for discussion, the player must be owned in 50% or fewer Yahoo leagues, though we’ll stretch the rules a bit for the RB position, which is usually very thin. We’ll also include suggested bid prices (with a $100 budget) for those leagues that use Free Agent Acquisition Budgets (FAAB). Of course, player value depends on league characteristics and team needs. Players are listed by position in order of importance. For extremely shallow or extremely deep leagues, be sure to review our Rest-of-Season Rankings (updated every Tuesday) to get an idea of how to value players not on this list.
For this first week of the season, there shouldn’t be a lot of action on waivers since we should all be fairly happy with the teams we drafted. However, there are a few names worth looking at as we get ready for the start of the new football year.
In the nine games after Pat Shurmur took over as offensive coordinator, the Vikings’ offense opened up, and Bradford was a primary beneficiary. He completed 74.5% of his passes for an average of 271 yards and 1.33 touchdowns per game. That equates to 16.0 fantasy points per game, or a bit more than what Jameis Winston scored as the No. 16 QB last year. Owners looking for a Week 1 streaming option should consider Bradford, who opens with the Saints at home this week. In fact, his opening schedule continues with the Steelers, Buccaneers, Lions, Bears and Packers, so there aren't any seriously daunting matchups in the first six weeks, though the Steelers and Bucs could pose a problem.
Bortles, the king of garbage time fantasy stats, was nearly benched after a horrible pre-season, but with veteran Chad Henne the only other option for the Jaguars, it’s hard to imagine the team not rolling with the young Bortles for at least one more season. Bortles will be armed with a new weapon in the running game in rookie Leonard Fournette, and he still has a bevy of solid targets to throw to. At this point, if you have the roster space to carry a backup QB, you could do worse than gamble on a guy for a team that will continue to be behind a lot.
Cutler has an emerging line in front of him, a talented running back to keep the pressure off, and a promising group of targets to throw to. He looked in sync with DeVante Parker in the preseason and he already knows Adam Gase’s offense. On top of that, Cutler faces a Bucs team that was very below average against the pass last year, including giving up 7.7 yards per pass attempt – only Oakland, New Orleans, and Green Bay gave up more. If you’re looking at cheap streaming options for Week 1, Cutler might not be a bad option.
Kizer looked a lot more poised than most rookies do in limited preseason action, making him an interesting upside option in larger leagues. He has the potential to do some damage on the ground too, as he ran for 18 touchdowns over his two years starting at Notre Dame. He’s not someone you want to count on, but with early season games against the Colts and the Jets, he has upside.
At this point, Goff can’t be worse than the performance he turned in last season, and he has upgraded weapons in Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. Goff should benefit from a full offseason of preparation as the starter under new coach Sean McVay, and he looked like the game is slowing down for him in the preseason. He’s not worth investing a lot in, but he’ll face the Colts in Week 1 and the 49ers in Week 3, making him an interesting streaming option.
I’m not buying: There’s not a lot of upside for Alex Smith, or Joe Flacco right now, so I’m not giving them any consideration until prime streaming season starts. I don’t have a lot of faith that Josh McCown, Trevor Siemian, and Brian Hoyer keep their jobs.
Deep Stash Options: Mitch Trubisky should end up starting sooner rather than later and has some talent to work with in Chicago. Deshaun Watson likewise has a good team around him in Houston and should eventually start over Tom Savage. Colin Kaepernick quietly accounted for 18 total touchdowns in 12 games last season for a horrible team. If someone gets hurt and he lands on a team with some talent around him, he could quickly become a steady QB option.
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