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Waiver Wired
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Waiver Wire: Week 1

by John Daigle
Updated On: September 9, 2020, 6:12 pm ET

Welcome to the Week 1 edition of Waiver Wired for the 2020 season. This is admittedly an odd primer since the shortened offseason and, as you may have heard, virus pushed all of the league’s activities and most fantasy drafts closer to kick-off than ever before. While that leaves roster percentages slightly skewed, I’ll diligently sift through every option to ensure fantasy players are covered across the board for every format ranging from 16-round re-drafts to 20-round startups ahead of opening weekend.

As a refresher, The Drop List consists of players who are rostered in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and are no longer must-have assets, recommended additions are available in over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the Watch List contains in-depth notes on fringe waiver adds, and Deep Cuts includes player notes on those rostered in five percent or fewer of Yahoo leagues.

 

The Drop List

The drop list will return with suggested releases at every position following Week 1. If your league runs waivers prior to kick-off on Thursday, now is the time to shed those unsuccessful Hail Marys for the best available starting kicker and D/ST options to open the year (assuming those fliers were occupying those spots to begin with). It should go without saying, but prioritize cutting all players who will miss the season, then drop your secondary quarterback (outside of 2-QB leagues), tight ends, defenses, and kickers in standard leagues. Those rosters slots are much better occupied by an upside running back or receiver, especially early on. 

 

Overall Top 5

1. DeSean Jackson
2. Chase Edmonds
3. Darrel Williams
4. Curtis Samuel
5. Boston Scott

For those looking to roster the best available player(s) regardless of position, the rankings above take into account every factor from the positional lists minus players’ actual positions. These are listed in the precise order I would prioritize waiver claims in Week 1. Adjust accordingly for what you need on your roster — touches, high-upside bench stashes, targets, one-week spot-starters, etc.

 

Quarterbacks

1. Teddy Bridgewater
2. Gardner Minshew
3. Mitchell Trubisky

Running Backs

1. Chase Edmonds
2. Darrel Williams
3. Boston Scott
4. Joshua Kelley
5. Jerick McKinnon
6. Chris Thompson
7. Bryce Love
8. Benny Snell
9. Devine Ozigbo
10. James Robinson

Wide Receivers

1. DeSean Jackson
2. Curtis Samuel
3. Parris Campbell
4. Laviska Shenault
5. Sammy Watkins
6. Preston Williams
7. Steven Sims
8. N’Keal Harry
9. Bryan Edwards

Tight Ends

1. Eric Ebron
2. Jack Doyle
3. Logan Thomas

Defense/Special Teams

1. Tennessee Titans
2. Dallas Cowboys

3. Washington

Kickers

1. Younghoe Koo
2. Ka’imi Fairbairn
3. Rodrigo Blankenship

 

QUARTERBACKS

1. Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers — Rostered in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 5% FAAB Bid)

Bridgewater may not be viable as a fantasy starter long-term, but his matchup against Las Vegas’ crippled secondary (flying cross country, nonetheless) pits Joe Brady’s high-octane offense in a bout guaranteed minimal stops and maximum fireworks. Carolina’s undermanned and inexperienced corners room — Donte Jackson, fourth-round rookie Troy Pride, Eagles castoff Rasul Douglas, Corn Elder (63 career snaps) — is gas to Bridgewater’s intent (and need to) fire through the air. Reminder that Brady mentioned maximizing five-man protections (rather than overloading the line of scrimmage) to get the ball out quicker against competent pass rushes — an approach the Panthers will likely lean on if LG Dennis Daley (ankle) can’t go.

2. Gardner Minshew, Jaguars — Rostered in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues (2-5%)

It’s admittedly a nightmarish matchup against Indianapolis’ new look front-seven, but Minshew presumably offers bonus rushing juice after he averaged 5.1 carries per game before being benched for Nick Foles last year. The concern here is Jacksonville’s play volume on a ticking clock after the Colts and Frank Reich intently ran it down the Jaguars’ throats for 36 and 27 carries in two divisional contests last season.

3. Mitchell Trubisky, Bears — Rostered in 3 percent of Yahoo Leagues (2-5%)

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but Trubisky did average 21.8 fantasy points in six contests against bottom-half DVOA defenses last year, plugging the Lions in particular for 19.7 and 27.9. The 5.5 scrambles he averaged over his last six starts also gives him ‘outs’ since, unlike “bad carries” for decrepit running backs, there is no such thing as a bad number of rushes from under center (see Josh Allen). Get this right and you’ll be rewarded Trubisky against the Giants’ sieve of a defense in Week 2.

Watch List: Derek Carr is the logical beneficiary of Carolina's lackluster defense, but the Raiders should have no issues planting the ball in Josh Jacobs' belly and watching him run wild. Las Vegas ran the ball at the league's sixth-highest rate in neutral game script last year...It has been three long years since Tyrod Taylor was reunited with Anthony Lynn in the regular season, but the veteran signal-caller did average 6.3 carries per game under Lynn in 2016. He projects to keep the ball in his hands since all signs point to the Bengals sneakily upsetting Los Angeles in Cincinnati's home opener on Sunday. For streaming purposes, I rank them Bridgewater > Minshew > Taylor (the floor play) > Trubisky (the ceiling play) > Carr...Much like Minshew's questionable play volume, Philip Rivers' involvement is concerning since the Colts should have no issues pounding the rock all afternoon. If desperate for a high-floor QB2 for SuperFlex leagues, however, three touchdowns on multiple red zone trips is possible...Dwayne Haskins would benefit in a potential shootout under OC Scott Turner if the Eagles' new additions on defense fail to transition to the scheme overnight.

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RUNNING BACKS

1. Chase Edmonds, Cardinals — Rostered in 45 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 50% FAAB Bid)

For what it’s worth, Kenyan Drake only donned his “precautionary” boot in camp for 48 hours. (His absence was reportedly extended for an illness that has since subsided.) Cardinals backups merely averaged 2.3 carries and a single target in eight games behind Drake last year, but it’s more important to stash Edmonds’ upside as an elite handcuff over a player guaranteed a handful of touches in a worse offense. You wouldn’t opt for $1 now if guaranteed $20 in three weeks. Why force your bench to settle? Any surplus of touches for Edmonds out the gates would be icing on the cake.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

2. Darrel Williams, Chiefs – Rostered in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues (25%)

Prioritize ‘The Mentor’ over Edmonds if your roster needs touches immediately. Not only should we expect to see “Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Williams split most of the Chiefs’ rushing attempts” on Thursday, there is a chance Williams sticks around as an 8-12 touch commodity in this offense throughout the year. He’s already proven he can deliver in that lesser role, scoring 15.9, 19.6, and 12.3 fantasy points on 14, 11, and 13 touches in place of Damien Williams last year. If debating how to weigh Darrel strictly for Week 1, note that the Texans permitted the second-most catches (104) to running backs (via Evan Silva's Matchups Column).

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

3. Boston Scott, Eagles – Rostered in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues (20%)

Miles Sanders’ hamstring injury is a thing of the past after the team dwindled its backfield depth to Corey Clement and Scott before adding fifth-rounder Jason Huntley (5’9/194) off waivers. But that role for Scott entails the same opportunity that allotted him six targets and nine touches in all three of his games overlapping with Sanders (Weeks 14-16) to close the year. Scott’s standalone value is questionable, but his weekly target floor at the very least pins him atop those listed below.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

4. Joshua Kelley, Chargers – Rostered in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues (20%)

It’s true that Kelley opened camp with the third-string offense behind Justin Jackson, but the fourth-round rookie reportedly shined while the latter was sidelined over the final week with a hamstring injury. Coach Anthony Lynn said Jackson should be “fine” for Week 1, but jumping at the opportunity to roster Kelley wherever possible now has the potential to save hundreds of FAAB down the road. Worst-case scenario is Kelley splits reps with Jackson behind Austin Ekeler. The more probable one is that Kelley earned that role behind Ekeler all to himself.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

5. Jerick McKinnon, 49ers – Rostered in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues (15%)

McKinnon will likely out-produce both Scott and Kelley in the short-term but will have his weekly touches capped by Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman throughout the year. Still, targets are worth three times more fantasy points than carries, and McKinnon need only siphon Coleman’s role to offer FLEX value against what Warren Sharp projects as the second-softest passing schedule through the first six games.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

6. Chris Thompson, Jaguars – Rostered in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues (10-12%)

James Robinson or Devine Ozigbo (see below) will lead the team in carries, but those touches will be inferior to Thompson's role as Jacksonville's satellite back while healthy. The 29-year-old reunites with OC Jay Gruden, who previously leaned on Thompson for 39/510/4 receiving and an overall RB28 finish with the Washington Football Team in 2017.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

7. Benny Snell, Steelers – Rostered in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues (10-12%)

Coach Mike Tomlin has emphasized throughout the offseason that James Conner is a three-down back and Snell is the heir apparent. His most recent comments reiterated that:

"Our bell cow is James Conner." - Mike Tomlin

Although that doesn’t leave any touches for Snell while Conner is healthy, the second-year pro should be rostered as a 20-touch handcuff in the event Conner exits early in any contest. For those who have yet to draft, note that I recently nudged Conner up to RB13 in our Draft Kit rankings.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues

8. Bryce Love, Washington – Rostered in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues (10-12%)

Love has the pedigree — 263/2,118/19 and 8.1 YPA with Stanford in 2017 — and Day 2 draft capital working in his favor but will likely be inactive for Peyton Barber until he’s up to speed following a second surgery he underwent last October to repair his torn ACL. He won’t return any value immediately.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues

9. Devine Ozigbo, Jaguars – Rostered in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues (5%)

10. James Robinson, Jaguars – Rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues (5%)

James Robinson is listed atop Jacksonville’s unofficial depth chart but I’m not buying it, nor do I think either Ozigbo or Robinson offer relief in Week 1 and upside on benches. Leonard Fournette was an awful third (and fourth and fifth) round selection over the summer because the Jaguars’ offense figures to be game scripted away from running the ball early. Vegas ultimately projects this team as underdogs by more than a field goal in 14-of-16 games this year, which makes our initial prognostication the same. The outlook doesn’t change just because the names handling the ball did.

Recommendation: Either can be rostered in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Coach Sean McVay reportedly wants to use a "three-headed backfield" against Dallas, but that entails Darrell Henderson (hamstring, questionable) being available. If Henderson is ruled out, odds are Malcolm Brown mixes in behind Cam Akers in a similar role that allowed the former to rush for 11/53/2 on 28% of Los Angeles' snaps behind Todd Gurley in the season opener last year...Tony Pollard remains a premier handcuff, but I have my doubts about his standalone value since coach Mike McCarthy has allowed Kellen Moore to conduct the same offensive game plan he leaned on Ezekiel Elliott for last year...Damien Harris (hand, IR) will only be absent for three games. New England’s beat suggests Sony Michelfigures to ease into the mix” in Week 1, leaving ample opportunity for Harris to return as a starter when healthy. I would hold the latter if afforded a 10-man bench...There's no reason to believe Chris Carson (hip) won't be 100% on Sunday, but if that is the case, Carlos Hyde's workload includes 20-plus touches in an up-tempo affair against Atlanta...Again, Justin Jackson will reportedly be “fine” for Sunday. Whether he returns to the same role he walked into at the start of camp is another question entirely.

Deep Cuts: Brian Hill (6'1/219) worked ahead of Ito Smith throughout camp and is the favorite to handle any goal line work over Smith (5’9/200) if Gurley were injured...The Raiders failed at experimenting with Lynn Bowden the moment they designated him out of position as a running back on draft night. As competition in the slot for Miami, he suddenly goes from Las Vegas' trash to the Dolphins' (and dynasty leagues') treasure...Mike Davis outright won handcuff duties over Reggie Bonnafon, who was released during Saturday's final cuts. Davis is the player to stash on deep benches...Coach Pete Carroll has raved about DeeJay Dallas' route running in camp. The idea in past years for Seattle was to involve C.J. Prosise on third down, but that likely makes Dallas too thin of a re-draft option since Russell Wilson targeted his backfield at the league's 25th-highest rate in his first season with D.K. Metcalf available...Rex Burkhead quietly has 8-10 touches in his range of outcomes if Michel truly is eased in against the Dolphins. James White still projects to lead this backfield in targets and touches, but Burkhead could receive fruitful goal line work over Michel...For what it’s worth, I don’t believe Darwin Thompson has any role on offense or value on fantasy benches. But he is one of only three backs available on Kansas City's active roster.