The opening week of the NFL season is always a firm reminder that we know nothing. Per a tweet Sunday night from Adam Schefter, eight underdogs won outright, with five of them coming on the road. We saw some underwhelming performances such as Brandon Aiyuk putting up as many fantasy football points as my wiener dog and a couple surprise inactives with Trey Sermon and Zack Moss. This came after neither player showed up on Friday’s injury reports. But we have a few players to key in on for Week 2’s top waiver wire pickups. By no means should we blow a ton of FAAB on adds this week, but assess your team’s needs and see what you should bid. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t overdo it for free agents now and cost your team later on.
As we’ll do every week this season, let’s break down the top pickups and project how much of your FAAB budget you should bid on them.
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Week 2 Fantasy Football FAAB Advice: Waiver wire QB pickups
Jameis Winston (NO). Winston shocked everyone on Sunday against the Packers. The volume wasn’t there for him, but he proved to be a fairly efficient passer, and most important, he didn’t turn the ball over. The same can’t quite be said for Aaron Rodgers, who had one of the worst games of his career. Can we completely trust Winston yet? No, but a year serving as the backup to Drew Brees is one hell of an internship, and if he’s improved as a player and decision maker, then he could improve an abundance of fantasy teams. Projected FAAB Bid: 7-8%
Justin Fields (CHI). Spending FAAB on a quarterback is always so hard to gauge. For starters it depends on the format, and you have to assess the likelihood that you would start said quarterback over your every-week starter. In two-QB/superflex formats, Fields needs to be owned. It’s not a question of “if,” but “when” Fields takes over. It likely should happen within the next few weeks, especially if Andy Dalton continues to struggle and the Bears aren’t winning games. Matt Nagy’s job isn’t exactly synonymous with the word “secure,” so get Fields if you have a lack of confidence in your current quarterback situation. Trey Lance is in a similar situation and should also be picked up in all two-QB/superflex leagues and deep single-QB leagues. Proj. FAAB Bid: 5-7%
Teddy Bridgewater (DEN). No Jerry Jeudy? No problem. His high ankle sprain will keep him out for several week, but the Broncos have plenty of options on offense. Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Tim Patrick, K.J. Hamler, Melvin Gordon, and Javonte Williams are viable weapons in this offense, so the Broncos shouldn’t miss a beat. Bridgewater was accurate and efficient last week, throwing for 264 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Broncos draw the Jaguars next week, and they just allowed Tyrod Taylor to throw for 290-plus yards and a pair of touchdowns and rush for 40 yards. Proj. FAAB Bid: 5-7%
Week 2 Fantasy Football FAAB Advice: Waiver wire RB pickups
Elijah Mitchell (SF). This 49ers-Lions game just had weird storylines throughout. From Trey Sermon being a surprise inactive to Brandon Aiyuk either having a hamstring injury or being punished by the team, to the overall distribution of targets, we should have seen this coming. One thing that was the right call was starting Raheem Mostert. It was a great spot. Unfortunately, Mostert is now set to miss the remainder of the season because of a knee injury. That’s just crappy luck. That opened the door for Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty. Both scored, but it was Mitchell who got 19 carries and over 100 rushing yards. To go all-in this early would be bold. We also don’t know the issue surrounding Sermon’s demotion, but Mitchell’s going to see a dramatic spike in ownership as a worthy stash. Try to approach the waiver wire with an objective mindset. If your draft strategy left you lacking running back depth, you may need to pay up here. I’ve seen some folks mention going as heavy as 40 percent, but I don’t quite know if I’d want to pay such a premium. In deeper leagues, you can obviously look at Hasty as well, but this is still a backfield that could boil down to whoever has the hot hand that week. Proj. FAAB Bid: 20-25%
Mark Ingram (HOU). While most people went into the weekend hoping the Texans would trade Ingram back to Baltimore, is anyone disappointed by what they saw? For what it’s worth, the snap distribution was pretty even. Ingram saw 35 snaps, David Johnson had 22, and Phillip Lindsay saw 20. However, the overall workload fell on Ingram, as he had 26 carries compared to just 11 between Johnson and Lindsay combined. Ingram wasn’t efficient, averaging just 3.3 yards/carry, but he found the end zone. As of right now, he looks like RB1 in Houston. Proj. FAAB Bid: 10-15%
Tony Jones Jr. (NO). Jones saw a dozen touches on Sunday and accumulated 50 rushing yards. He looked good in relief of Alvin Kamara, but it will be hard to start him any given week unless we get an injury to AK41. Like most running backs you’ll see on the waiver report every week, Jones is a great stash, but he needs an injury to see his value spike. Proj. FAAB Bid: 10-12%
Kenneth Gainwell (PHI). I really liked what I saw from Gainwell. He appeared on just 25-of-71 snaps but saw 11 touches. Miles Sanders got most of the carries between the 20s for Philadelphia. However, when they needed to get him some rest, they brought in Gainwell, who found the end zone on the ground while also having a receiving touchdown called back due to a penalty. As of right now, he’s more of a stash and not as much of a priority as Mitchell, but this was an impressive debut. I don’t believe Boston Scott saw a single snap on Sunday. It’s pretty evident Gainwell is the backup in Philly. Proj. FAAB Bid: 7-8%
Week 2 Fantasy Football FAAB Advice: Waiver wire WR pickups
Sterling Shepard (NYG). We don’t typically prioritize wide receiver transactions as much as we do running backs. The depth at this position is readily available on the waiver wire, but Shepard stands out as the top pass-catcher this week on waivers. The G-Men didn’t have many highlights from Sunday’s game, but Shepard’s catch-and-run certainly stands out. Shepard finished with seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. He led all pass-catchers in almost every major statistical category for wide receivers in New York. The Giants might be trailing on a consistent basis this season, which means plenty of pass attempts to go around. Proj. FAAB Bid: 12-15%
Christian Kirk (ARI). I want to keep expectations in check for Kirk because while this offense looked phenomenal in Week 1, it was against the Titans who have had an awful defense. I’m mildly concerned that Kirk was only on the field for about half the team’s offensive snaps while A.J. Green saw 17 more snaps, plus Green ran more routes (32) on Kyler Murray’s dropbacks than Kirk did (23). Alas, Kirk went on to catch all five of his targets and score a pair of touchdowns. There will be games where he frustrates you, but he’s a trendy add heading into Week 2. As an honorable mention, you could spend a similar bid on Cole Beasley if he’s floating out there on waivers. The only reason he’s not written up in depth is because he isn’t as available, but he did see 13 targets on Sunday against the Steelers. That number won’t always be that high, but he could be worth a modest bid. Proj. FAAB Bid: 7-8%
K.J. Hamler and Tim Patrick (DEN). With the news that Jerry Jeudy (ankle) is about to miss a handful of games, there are options in the Denver passing attack that could see an increased role. It boils down to Patrick and Hamler. Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant are the easiest options to see more work, but their ownership numbers are already so high. Patrick and Hamler are great acquisitions this week. Hamler has deep threat potential, and Patrick is a big target for Teddy Bridgewater when they get into the end zone. Pick your poison. Proj. FAAB Bid: 5-7%
Nelson Agholor (NE). Agholor’s a bit of a walking joke in fantasy circles for his history of dropping passes, but the Patriots gave him a respectable contract in the offseason and they got their money’s worth on Sunday. Agholor saw 64 snaps and caught five-of-seven targets for 72 yards and a TD. He’ll likely never be a lock in your lineup, but he has flex appeal going forward. Proj. FAAB Bid: 5-7%
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (GB). I won’t commit a significant amount of FAAB to MVS because, while he does have a nice ceiling, there’s just too much variance in his game as a fantasy asset. But the fact he was fourth among all players in terms of air yards does catch my attention. He finished with just three receptions for 17 yards, but he did have seven targets. He was looked at deep down the field, and there were reports during training camp that MVS had improved his ability as a pass-catcher. That’s good to hear since he has been considered a deep threat with a tendency to drop passes. Proj. FAAB Bid: 3-4%
Russell Gage (ATL). Truthfully, I think anyone who was rostering Gage likely drops him following the dud he posted on Sunday. Because of that, I don’t see anybody also flocking to stash him. He had zero catches on two targets, but he was on the field for 48 of the team’s 71 offensive snaps. Olamide Zaccheaus saw the third-most snaps at wideout with just 18. Gage won’t be a top-two target for Atlanta, but we have to imagine the Falcons offense can only go up from here following an abysmal showing on Sunday. If Gage is on the field, there’s value here and you could probably get him for absolutely nothing. Proj. FAAB Bid: 1-2%
Week 2 Fantasy Football FAAB Advice: Waiver wire TE pickups
Jared Cook (LAC). FAAB Bid: 6-7%) Remember when everyone was falling over themselves giving Donald Parham and his 6-8 frame all the praise in training camp? Well Ol’ Reliable, Jared Cook, came through with a nice workload on Sunday. Cook saw 47 of the team’s 81 offensive snaps and caught five of his eight targets for 56 yards. The Bolts play Dallas in Week 2, and the Cowboys allowed Rob Gronkowski to catch all eight of his targets last week, including a pair of touchdowns. Proj. FAAB Bid: 6-7%
Cole Kmet (CHI). Kmet saw 59 snaps compared to Jimmy Graham, who had just 19, and Kmet finished with five catches on seven targets for 42 yards. Once the Bears make the switch at quarterback, most positional players in this offense will see an upgrade in their fantasy value. Kmet could take off. Proj. FAAB Bid: 6-7%
Juwan Johnson (NO). The two touchdowns are nice, but we have to look deeper and not expect this every week. Game flow dictated most of the game plan for the Saints. They attempted just 21 passes, and only one pass-catcher had more than five targets, and it was the other tight end for the Saints, Adam Trautman. However, red-zone targets are valuable, and Johnson did catch a pair of touchdowns on Sunday. He was only on the field for 12-of-62 snaps, so while the box score is in his favor, keep expectations in check. Proj. FAAB Bid: 2-3%
Week 2 Fantasy Football FAAB Advice: Waiver wire D/ST pickups
Generally speaking, you don’t want to spend FAAB money on D/STs, but if you’re looking for a Week 2 streamers, your best bets are the Saints (@ Panthers), Cardinals (vs. Vikings), Giants (@ Washington), and Panthers (vs. Saints). You can also try your luck with the Bengals (@ Bears) and Packers (vs. Lions).