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Week 1 NFL Waiver Wire Rankings

early 2019 ADP

In less than 48 hours, 2018 NFL games are finally going to matter and the long journey to win our redraft league titles will begin. Championships are not only won through our drafts but the important decisions that lie ahead in picking the right players in our free agent or waiver pool. Let’s dig right into some Week 1 waiver wire adds!

P.S. I am lucky enough to be taking over this column after the great work done by our own Kevin Steele and Jen Smith the past few years. I know I have big shoes to fill in their footsteps so please feel free to message or leave any suggestions you may have at my Twitter page ! Thanks for reading!


Andy Dalton

The Red Rifle is never a flashy play but Dalton has a great Week 1 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. With an improved supporting cast including the offensive line, the Bengals offense is a prime candidate for positive regression after ranking dead last overall in offensive plays and yards gained per drive last year.

The Colts-Bengals projected game total is at 48.5, ranking as one of the highest scoring games of the week. With a close three-point spread, this game has the potential for a back and forth shootout and tons of fantasy goodness. Grab a piece of this action through Dalton and reap the rewards on Sunday!

Case Keenum 

The Denver Broncos have an underrated matchup in week 1 at home against the Seattle Seahawks. Long known for their reputation as one of the league’s best, the 2018 Seattle defense is a hollow shell of its’ former self after losing Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson, and Cliff Avril this offseason.

Keenum is coming off a solid season in 2017 finishing in the top ten in passer rating and the fourteenth ranked fantasy quarterback. With a supporting cast consisting of three capable wide receivers, the Broncos signal-caller is a streamer that should provide production in the early part of the season with the Raiders defense traveling to Denver in Week 2.

Alex Smith

The new Redskins quarterback has all the tools we should look for in fantasy football. Aided by his mobility, Smith provides a higher floor than most by averaging about three fantasy points per game just through rushing.

With a fantasy-friendly coach in Jay Gruden (Kirk Cousins finished as a QB1 three straight years), fantasy owners should consider using the former 2005 first overall pick with three straight favorable matchups against the Cardinals, Colts, and Packers.

Honorable Mentions:

Joe Flacco: Angry Joe looked rejuvenated this preseason and will enter the season with a much improved receiving core of Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead. Favorited by seven points, the Ravens have a good matchup at home against the Buffalo Bills and Flacco should be able to put some points on the board.

Ryan Tannehill: Tannehill offers sneaky upside with his legs averaging 213.0 rushing yards per season and 13.83 rushing yards per start. In a projected game spread of only one against the Titans at home, the Miami quarterback could be a key piece of a potential shootout.

Running Back

Alfred Morris

Morris has been the hot recent pickup in most leagues with Jerrod McKinnon going down with a torn ACL. Under Kyle Shanahan, Morris had his best overall season rushing for 1613 yards and 13 touchdowns as a Redskin in 2013. With his experience in Shanahan’s zone blocking schemes, the newly signed 49ers running back should step into an immediate role and receive ample opportunity.

James Connor

With each day that passes with Le’Von Bell’s current holdout, the possibility of James Connor starting in Week 1 grows rapidly. In a backfield that ranked in the top half in rushing attempts in the past three of four seasons, Connor should see plenty of touches if Bell is out.

Even when Bell decides to report, it is a good idea to hold onto Connor as a handcuff.  Our own Dwight Peebles wrote a great article on the historical pace Bell’s workload is headed and the effects it could have on his health. Stay prepared and pick up this young running back!

Mike Gillislee

With Mark Ingram suspended the first four games and the recent release of Boston Scott, the New Orleans backfield is a spot that should provide some value for the first month of the season. Recently signed this past week, Mike Gillislee could be in line for a goal-line role with one of the league’s best offenses or at the very least see some touches as the primary backup to Alvin Kamara.

With Sean Payton’s lack of patience with players returning from suspensions (think Willie Snead), you never know if Ingram will reclaim his old role. This is another pickup that could have help your team in the long run.

Jordan Wilkins

The Colts backfield is another spot for potential fantasy value with Marlon Mack likely not to play in the season opener. Wilkins is the projected starter for Week 1 but if Mack continues to struggle with inconsistency and injuries, this rookie running back could remain the starter. Grab him in all formats!

Honorable Mentions

Austin Ekeler / Darren Sproles: Both of these running backs have steady roles as a change of pace or passing down backs on teams with above average offenses. They may not have a featured role but with their receiving abilities, both are worth a stash in deep Point Per Reception leagues.

Chase Edmunds: Arizona’s 2018 fourth round pick impressed this preseason and even earned reps with the first team offense during training camp. With David Johnson’s injury history, this handcuff has a lot of upside and is worth a bench stash.

Wide Receiver

Donte Moncrief / Dede Westbrook / Keenan Cole

The Jacksonville Jaguars will be entering the new season with this group of wide receivers occupying the top three spots on the depth chart. Each receiver has their own unique talents so it is important to understand what each individual can offer.

Moncrief flashed potential in his four-year stint with the Colts scoring a touchdown on almost 12% of his receptions but only managed to play 21 games the past two seasons. Signed to a one year prove it type deal, the fifth year receiver could have an important role as a red zone threat and is most ideal for deep standard leagues with his knack for the end zone.

DeDe Westbrook looks to be the new slot receiver in this offense as he ran 70% of his preseason routes inside after only playing in the slot in 10% of his routes his rookie season. This second-year receiver is an ideal fit for deep PPR leagues as the slot position often provides receivers with higher completion targets and more volume.

Cole is the most popular wide receiver in this group among the public and it is easy to see why. After producing 748 yards and 3 touchdowns in his rookie year, Cole should see the most opportunity among Jaguars’ receivers and is a must add if he is still available in all formats.

Terrelle Pryor / Quincy Enunwa

A recent injury to Jermaine Kearse opens up snaps for both Pryor and Enunwa as Pryor is expected to fill a perimeter role while Enunwa will likely play in the slot. With both receivers coming off injuries, it is easy to forget Pryor was once considered a player with WR1 potential while Enunwa had a very productive 2016 season with totals of  857 yards and four touchdowns on 58 receptions. With the fourth softest schedule according to Warren Sharp, both wide receivers contain sneaky value for the entire season and not just when Kearse is out.

James Washington 

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to find young stud receivers like picking apples from a tree. During this preseason Washington established his skills as a legitimate deep threat, no surprise considering he led all NCAA Football Division I receivers with 815 receiving yards on 20+ yard targets.

With 135 targets vacated with Bell and Martavis Bryant not currently present, Washington will be counted on to pick up the slack and needs to be picked up in all formats.

John Brown

“Smokey” Brown is a nice fit for the Baltimore offense with his 4.34 speed and Flacco’s big arm. Hampered by injuries including a sickle-cell issue the past two seasons, Brown looks to be healthy and not limited this year. With only a 19% and 24% ownership in Yahoo and ESPN leagues respectively, “Smokey” is certainly worth a gamble.

John Ross

After a wasted rookie year, Ross looks to rebound in his second year in the NFL. With Brandon LaFell’s release in the offseason, the former 2017 first round pick is expected to hold down a starting role across from stud A.j. Green. Likely to be matched up against Colts Nate Harrison, Ross has the immediate matchup in Week 1 to take advantage of considering Harrison was rated as Pro Football Focus’s 107th ranked cornerback.

Phillip Dorsett / Cordarrelle Patterson

With only four active wide receivers on the roster with Julian Edelman’s suspension, the Patriots are going to rely heavily on Dorsett and Patterson as the second and third options behind Chris Hogan. Both young receivers have shown flashes during their careers but playing with Tom Brady bolsters their value immediately.

Look for Dorsett to be deployed in a traditional perimeter role while Patterson should be used on short passes, screens, and even running plays to take advantage of his rare explosiveness. With the league’s SOFTEST (how is this possible schedule makers?) schedule, both of these guys are worth a dart throw in deep leagues until at least Edelman returns.

Mike Wallace

Wallace will be filling Torrey Smith’s old role in this offense and will be counted on to replace Alshon Jeffrey’s absence until Jeffrey returns from his rotator cuff injury. Using Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model, Wallace looks to be a great fit for the Eagles offense as he rated very favorably on Philly’s most common run routes: Slants, Curls, Go routes, and Digs.

With only 23% and 9% ownership in ESPN and Yahoo leagues respectively, Wallace seems to have slipped under the radar with most of the public counting on Nelson Agholor to receive the biggest boost in opportunity. Invest in this speedster!

Ryan Grant

The Colts #2 wide receiver is barely owned in leagues as he is only on 4% of Yahoo fantasy rosters and 10% of ESPN teams. Grant had an underrated 2017 as he showed he was reliable possession receiver ranking 18th in catch rate and 22nd in yards after the catch. With T.Y. Hilton often receiving most of the defenses’ attention, Grant could have a big year with Luck back under center.

Tight End

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Seferian-Jenkins will be counted on to help fill the void created by Marquis Lee’s season-ending injury. His first matchup of the season against the New York Giants is a premier one as they allowed the second most fantasy points to tight ends last season and continued to allow production to this position this preseason. Don’t overthink this one and fire up ASJ in all formats.

Vance McDonald / Jesse James 

If you were to make a flowchart for tight end production, the Cleveland Browns would be the next team after the Giants to pick on. McDonald showed flashes of exciting potential at the end of last season leading the team in targets and catches in their playoff game against the Jaguars. Keep in mind he has been battling a foot injury this entire preseason so be ready to use Jesse James as a possible backup plan if McDonald cannot go.

Ricky Seal-Jones

Under new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, Seal-Jones has an enormous ceiling when looking at McCoy’s usage of the tight end position. In four seasons under McCoy, Chargers starting tight ends saw at least 85 targets per season which would give Seal-Jones volume that is comparable to most elite tight ends.

The Cardinals will be batting the Washington Redskins to open the season, giving this athletic beast a sneaky matchup as the Redskins allowed the seventh most points to this position. Rated as Pro Football Focus’s most efficient tight end on a per-route basis, all the ingredients are there for a successful beginning of the season.

Antonio Gates

I am convinced Antonio Gates may never retire. The reliable veteran continues to be trusted by Philip Rivers especially near the end zone as he saw ten targets and caught three touchdowns inside the ten-yard line in 2017. You may not see high yardage games from Gates but at a volatile position like tight end, a player with a high probability to see passes in the end zone are hidden gems on the waiver wire.

Ryan Griffin

Griffin is the unquestioned starter at tight end after Stephen Anderson was cut in the preseason. During his time with Deshaun Watson last year, the Texans tight end received sneaky volume averaging five targets per game. With the second easiest schedule according to Warren Sharp, a lot of factors are aligned for Griffin to produce especially with Watson healthy for the beginning of the season.

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