Hey, we’re back!
Fantasy Football season is upon us, which means, of course, that the waiver wire is here as well. The draft is the focus of our offseason attention, as we spend countless hours shuffling our rankings and following along with any and all developments that might carry a modicum of fantasy relevance and adjust our outlook.
But those who have played fantasy football for any period of time know the importance of the waiver wire, and I can guarantee that there are players who were hardly drafted at all but will become staples of many championship rosters in December.
So here’s how it works: Each week, I’ll spotlight the most important waiver wire adds of the week, with one specific qualifier that the player must be available in more than 50% of leagues on ESPN.com. Be it due to injury, unexpected performances, bye weeks or a number of other factors, suffice it to say we’ll need to address a long list of players throughout the season.
We’re off and running with the ESPN Fantasy Week 2 waiver-wire adds.
Just add ’em
Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins (27.7%)
With news that Derrius Guice is set to miss some time due to a knee injury, Peterson — a healthy scratch in Week 1 — is back to being the projected starter in Washington. He had 90-plus rushing yards in seven games last season, a sign that he still has gas left in the tank. He’s not much of a factor in the passing game, but with the expected 15 or more carries he’ll get per game, Peterson should be rostered in all leagues.
John Ross III, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (4.5%)
Perhaps the light has gone on for Ross in Year 3 or perhaps the new system — led by head coach Zac Taylor — ignited his outstanding Week 1, as Ross torched the Seahawks for a pair of touchdowns on seven catches and 158 yards. Ross legitimately has world-class speed but has been inconsistent through two seasons. He played 81% of the Bengals’ snaps, and the offensive outfit looked much tidier under Taylor. I’m in on Ross’ upside.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (32.3%)
After an injury to Joe Mixon, Bernard stepped into the prominent back role for the Bengals in a narrow defeat to the Seahawks. The ankle injury prevented Mixon from returning to the game, so we’ll see if he’s ready to return as soon as Week 2. If he’s not, Bernard — recently inked to a new extension — will be the workhorse for the aforementioned much-improved Bengals offense.
Malcolm Brown, RB, Los Angeles Rams (6.5%)
We thought that if the Rams were going to have a backfield that featured two players, it would be Darrell Henderson riding shotgun to Todd Gurley II. Nope. Malcolm Brown, who scored two touchdowns on 11 carries in Week 1, was a finisher for the Rams. Yes, Gurley is still the starter (he had a team-high 14 carries for 97 yards on Sunday), but Brown is an amazing insurance policy and could be a weekly factor too.
John Brown, WR, Buffalo Bills (35.3%)
I wish I’d pushed harder on my affinity for Brown during the preseason, as the Bills felt he had the goods to be their go-to perimeter receiver. Those Buffalo instincts were on the money in Week 1, with Brown posting a 7-123-1 line on 10 targets, showing nifty downfield ability to stretch a defense, long a hallmark of his game. It was an ugly first half for the Bills’ offense, but Josh Allen turned things around in the second half, and Brown benefited, showing he is the preferred Bills wideout for fantasy purposes.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions (30.0%)
It’s hard to find tight ends in fantasy football, but we might have a star on our hands. The pre-draft reviews on Hockenson were simple: He’s an absolute athlete. He had a standout camp. Then he began his career in historic fashion with 131 receiving yards, the most by any tight end in NFL history in his first career game. I’m buying this: He’s a young star who will remain a factor. Rookie tight ends rarely break out — but this might prove to be an exception.
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (40.6%)
There were some alarming signs from Jones during his rookie season of 2018, as he never found his way after preseason hope. But the second-round pick looked improved in Week 1, leading the Bucs in carries (13) and rushing yards (75). Yes, Peyton Barber is still the starter, and perhaps the light never fully turns on for Jones in the way that we hoped when he landed in Tampa Bay, but let’s put our faith in coach Bruce Arians and Jones on this one. YOLO.
Chris Thompson, RB, Washington Redskins (18.9%)
Thompson figures into the Redskins’ backfield plans even more after the Guice news, and it’s possible that he’s more valuable over the course of the season than Adrian Peterson. In Week 1, Thompson picked up seven catches, the area he has long excelled in. So while Peterson has the better shot at a large weekly workload, I like Thompson’s season-long outlook better, as he’ll still be a factor even if Guice returns soon.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Houston Texans (39.4%)
Acquired over Labor Day Weekend in a trade, Hyde was a quick study, evidently, as he handled 10 carries in his Houston debut for 83 yards, showing more burst than he displayed in Jacksonville last season. The well-traveled Hyde has a chance for a consistent role with the Texans, and the early returns suggest he’ll make good on the role.
Darren Waller, TE, Oakland Raiders (26.8%)
Waller, a converted college wide receiver, has never lacked promise or ability, which was on display in Week 1. He hauled in seven passes for 70 yards and played a prominent role for a team that needs playmakers. Kudos to my buddy Matthew Berry for starting the Waller bandwagon – he’s been an advocate of Waller’s all offseason.
Young wideouts who shined
There was plenty of excitement surrounding McLaurin this preseason after he developed an early rapport with future starter Dwayne Haskins. He made good on that promise sans Haskins in Week 1, hauling in five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. There will be some weekly reservations regarding the efficiency of this passing game, but McLaurin’s deep speed and NFL readiness are already apparent enough to add him as a bench stash. He played 93% of the snaps.
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens (28.2%)
It was a perfect debut for “Hollywood,” who scored a pair of long touchdowns on his first two career catches. The box score tells a story of dominance — four catches, 147 yards and the two scores — but it’s worth noting that Brown played a grand total of just 14 snaps on Sunday. That’s a red flag, but given his electric speed, he’s too good to ignore. Yes, he should be added in all leagues.
D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (11.8%)
A star during Jacksonville’s training camp, the 2018 second-round pick had a monster Week 1, catching all four of his targets for 148 yards and a touchdown. Nick Foles is out now with a broken clavicle, but rookie Gardner Minshew looked capable in relief duty. Chark was one of three Jaguars wide receivers to play a healthy percentage of the snaps, and Jacksonville wants to run its offense through Leonard Fournette, but Chark is another end-of-bench stash.
A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans (5.2%)
The Titans took it to the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, and A.J. Brown looked the part in his NFL debut, securing three catches for 100 yards. Brown played less than 40% of the Titans’ offensive snaps, and Marcus Mariota has been an inconsistent thrower during his career, but Brown’s strong start makes him worth a spot on the back end of your bench.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (17.4%)
Although he failed to generate a catch — or even a target for that matter — Hardman did play a significant amount of time for the Chiefs in Week 1, logging 77% of the offensive snaps. Moreover, his speed is undeniable and should play a role until Tyreek Hill (collarbone) returns. Good things happen in fantasy football to those who catch passes from Patrick Mahomes.
Grab bag of others
While game flow helped, Amendola was targeted 13 times, as many as Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. had combined. Amendola was a star for Detroit in training camp and was recently named a team captain — which I mention because that could mean the team expects him to have a notable role. It started that way in Week 1, and he’s an add in deeper leagues.
Chris Conley, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (8.8%)
Another Jaguars wide receiver who drew preseason praise, Conley caught six of his seven targets for 97 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against Kansas City. It’s an either/or situation with Conley and Chark; if you’re targeting one, bypass the other. I prefer the upside of Chark.
While Austin Ekeler stole the day for the Chargers in Week 1, Jackson is going to be a factor in this backfield, logging 50 total yards on seven rushes and four targets on Sunday.
Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers (0.1%)
With Tevin Coleman now dealing with an ankle issue, Mostert could be in line to split duties with Matt Breida until Coleman returns (Jeff Wilson Jr. could also be in the mix). Mostert always runs hard and is a deep-league consideration.
Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins (0.6%)
While it seems possible that Jordan Reed (concussion) could return in Week 2, the ageless Davis is a worthwhile fill-in if Reed continues to sit. He scored a touchdown in Week 1 and remains a fantastic athlete. What a solid career he has had.