We’ve made it. The NFL season is officially here, which means fantasy draft season is in the rearview. But no matter what your roster looks like today, the quest for improvement never stops. Heck, the first game of the year hasn’t even begun and many have already emptied their FAAB. Just ask those who drafted Jerick McKinnon or Le’Veon Bell. Hopefully, you aren’t one of them. With that in mind, I want to take a look at 8 deep league waiver adds who could make an impact in your leagues this year. We’re talking 14, 16, even 18+ team leagues. While some of these names might have you asking “who?”, any one of them could be next week’s hot free agent add.
Let’s get to it!
Sam Bradford—Arizona Cardinals
What a ride it’s been for the former Ram, Eagle, and Viking. After injuring his knee in a week 1 thrashing of the Saints last season, Sam Bradford never got healthy, and now finds himself back in the NFC West. But Bradford could be in for a solid Sunday against a middling Redskins defense. After all, he’ll be throwing to the ever-reliable Larry Fitzgerald, and he’ll also have David Johnson at his disposal. It’s worth noting Johnson has set his personal receiving bar at 1,000 yards for the season. That could equate to plenty of dump-offs from Bradford, which could mean a ton of gimme fantasy points. If you’re in a 2-QB or deep league, Bradford is worth the risk. The Cardinals play 3 of their first 4 games at home to start the year, which could translate to a fast start for Arizona’s offense.
Ryan Fitzpatrick—Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We all know Fitzpatrick is essentially a 4-week rental, but he could be a profitable one in the absence of Jameis Winston. The Bucs open their season in the Mercedes Dome on Sunday, which has a well-documented history of producing high-scoring affairs. And although the Saints are favored by 9 points, the total is currently one of the week’s highest at 49.5. Don’t be surprised to see Fitzpatrick slinging the rock deep into garbage time, which could start early in this one. With weapons like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson to throw to, there’s a less-than-zero chance that Fitzpatrick finds himself as a QB1 at the end of Sunday’s slate.
Jermaine Kearse—New York Jets
Though questionable to play in Monday’s opener at Detroit, Jermaine Kearse is a guy whose ownership percentage is preposterously low for someone who set career-highs across the board last season. Though currently battling an abdominal injury, the former Seahawk hasn’t missed a game since 2014, and now finds himself starting opposite Robbie Anderson in a Sam Darnold-led offense. For a guy who could potentially flirt with 1,000 yards this season, Kearse is worth a look as a bench stash ahead of Monday night’s matchup with the Lions.
Brandon Marshall—Seattle Seahawks
Speaking of WRs on the Jets, it was only 3 short years ago that Brandon Marshall had a career year for Gang Green. But after becoming a free agency flop with the Giants, he’s now battling for snaps on the Seahawks. Ironically, this could be his best shot for targets in quite some time. Jimmy Graham is a Packer. Doug Baldwin has already admitted that he’ll be battling through a knee injury all season. Tyler Lockett just signed a multi-year extension, but he’s mostly underwhelmed throughout his time in Seattle. Meanwhile, the Seahawks defense could be shaping up as a bottom 10 unit. The Legion of Boom is no more. That could lead to lots of pass attempts from MVP candidate Russell Wilson, who’s going to need guys to throw to. Take a chance on Marshall, who could be a sneaky “revenge game” candidate in Denver this weekend.
Jalen Richard—Oakland Raiders
Jalen Richard is a speedster who, at the very minimum, could provide serious value to the Raiders’ pass game this season. Most NFL analysts will tell you that the Raiders are not projected to be very good. After all, Jon Gruden just shipped their best defender to Chicago, and every AFC West offense is shaping up to be above average. Point being, there should be ample opportunity for Richard to find playing time. He’s currently behind Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin, who are a combined 61 years old. Then, you consider Richard’s history of production. Over his first two seasons, he’s accumulated 1,216 YFS on just 195 touches. He’s clearly the most explosive back on this team. Even Jon Gruden will have to recognize that fact eventually. Right now, Richard costs nothing. In a few weeks’ time, I could see a scenario where he’s worth a lot.
Trent Cannon—New York Jets
When you think of running backs you’re excited to own in fantasy, do the names Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell pique your interest? No? Good. Because they don’t do it for me, either. Enter Trent Cannon. Cannon currently sits behind Crowell and Powell as the third back on NYJ’s depth chart. But the Virginia State product reportedly shined throughout the preseason, and his performance earned him a spot on the Jets’ 53-man roster. Admittedly, it might take an injury or two for him to get a legitimate shot. But, the pathway to opportunity isn’t all that hard to see. Considering his circumstances, he’s a recommended stash-and-see option in deep leagues.
Mike Gesicki—Miami Dolphins
Earlier today, the Dolphins placed MarQueis Gray on IR, ending his season. The only other noteworthy TEs on Miami’s roster is now rookie Mike Gesicki, and former Bronco AJ Derby. Make no mistake, Gesicki is the guy to own here. And if I had to guess which obscure TE had the best chance to become a TE1 this season, it would probably be him. Gesiciki is a metric maven’s dream whose game most closely compares to Vernon Davis, according to PlayerProfiler. For a position that gets rather murky after the first 6-8 players, there’s nothing that suggests Gesicki can’t make an immediate impact as Ryan Tannehill’s security blanket in 2018. And, in most places, all you have to do is click “add”.
Nick Vannett—Seattle Seahawks
We already discussed the receiving situation in Seattle. The targets are there for the taking. But what we didn’t mention were the 20 RZ targets that Jimmy Graham left behind from last season. Enter Nick Vannett. The former OSU Buckeye figures to be the go-to TE for Russell Wilson after the news of Ed Dickson’s placement on the non-football injury list. He’s free basically everywhere, and he gets an above average matchup in Week 1 against a Broncos unit that struggled to defend the TE in 2017.