Thanks to Twitter follower John Salinas, (@peaceninja3233) for this idea. More and more leagues are running waiver wires before the season when they draft early, and some of these potential pickups will be overshadowed, so this can also be a reminder of who to target after the obvious Week 2 pickups
1. Chris Hogan, WR, NE - The obvious #1. A clear gain in snaps as the team’s #2 receiver now (with some experience in the slot). He had already been creating momentum in camp and the preseason before Edelman’s injury. Worth a 7th-9th round pick as a high ceiling WR3/Flex carrying WR2 upside and Top 5-10 upside in any given week.
2. Rex Burkhead, RB, NE - Mike Gillislee has missed most of his time with the Patriots because of hamstring issues. Burkhead is the direct beneficiary of any time Gillislee misses and he might create standalone value anyway being the only true two-way back on the roster.
3. Chris Carson, RB, SEA - Carson has looked at home with the starters and all three of the backs he will be looking up at on the depth chart have had durability problems. Sometimes you can just feel the trajectory of a player. Carson’s arrow has pointed up at every turn.
4. Dion Lewis, RB, NE - Lewis regained his pre-injury burst and he’s a proven fantasy performer in one of the best offenses in the league. It wouldn’t be shocking if the Patriots traded him, but hopefully it would be to a team that wanted to use him.
5. Jamaal Williams, RB, GB - Williams emerged from the three-headed running back rookie draft class for the Packers as the #2 behind Ty Montgomery, who still hasn’t proven he can hold up under a steady starting NFL back workload.
6. Robby Anderson, WR, NYJ - Anderson’s stock took a hit when Bryce Petty, got hurt, as the two of them riffed last year, but he still gained a lot of value after Quincy Enunwa went down (feels like forever ago, right?). The Bills revamped secondary could help him get off to a hot start Week 1.
7. Javorius Allen, RB, BAL - Danny Woodhead’s hamstring might be okay for Week 1, but if it’s not, Allen can be an early-season king of cheap double-digit PPR running back weeks. He has been improved and is next in line for the receiving back role on a team that will be throwing to running backs a lot.
8. Kendall Wright, WR, CHI - Wright had his best season with Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains when they were together in 2013 in Tennessee. He has the best chance to be a #1 for this beleaguered pass offense, but what is that worth? If he is playing in the slot, he won’t be close to a full-time player in this run-first offense.
9. Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR - The chemistry between Kupp and Jared Goff was notable in the preseason. While the Rams pass offense doesn’t scream “breakout”, if Goff is comfortable throwing to Kupp and Sean McVay is drawing up plays for Kupp that he makes work consistently, 70-80 catches and PPR consistency are both within reach.
10. Evan Engram, TE, NYG - Engram is going to be a rare full-time rookie tight end from day one. The Giants also have a few banged up starting receivers right now. Only Football God Mike Ditka really made a big fantasy impact as a rookie tight end, but Engram has the skillset and offensive scheme around him to defy expectations.
11. Kenny Golladay, WR, DET - Getting a foothold in three-wide sets is only one step of the way for Golladay to have true fantasy relevance, but it’s start. Golladay could also be a red zone favorite and Eric Ebron’s balky hamstring might be a red carpet to more opportunity for Golladay. More of a stash at this point.
12. DeShone Kizer, QB, CLE - It could get ugly, but QB rating isn’t a fantasy statistic. Kizer will be aggressive as a thrower and runner, and should be playing from behind in the second half a lot. He has a lot of fantasy-friendly qualities and recent years have shown us rookie quarterbacks can make a difference.
13. Jay Cutler, QB, MIA - Cutler won’t put your team over the top and there are probably better Week 1 streamer starts on the waiver wire, but he can provide spot starts in the soft middle of his schedule. In a typical 12-team league, he’s still a lower-end backup, so adjust up or down depending on quarterback scarcity in your league.
14. Alfred Morris, RB, DAL - Morris has outplayed Darren McFadden in the preseason, but McFadden will be the starter when Ezekiel Elliott is out. If McFadden gets hurt or underperforms, Morris is waiting...
15. Wendell Smallwood, RB, PHI - LeGarrette Blount has looked like a player with a dim NFL future. Smallwood has responded to the challenge in training camp, and it’s not difficult to picture him leading the team in carries. This backfield could flip quickly.
16. Paul Richardson Jr, WR, SEA - Richardson is in line to start Week 1 while Tyler Lockett is still rounding into form. It’s possible that Lockett has a setback or isn’t himself for a while, but it’s just as likely that Lockett and Richardson share this role all year and keep it from having consistent value. Lockett is the higher ceiling player, but Richardson has been making plays and is no slouch himself - but he has also been injury-prone during his career.
17. Danny Amendola, WR, NE - Amendola will take over a large share of slot snaps and excels on the kinds of routes that Julian Edelman turned into easy gains. Chances are he won’t be consistent enough to be worth a roster spot, but he is an accomplished player with a great quarterback in a great offense who is excellent at the things his role calls for. Cole Beasley’s 2016 is within reach.
18. Josh Gordon, WR, CLE - Depending on the depth of your benches, Gordon could be much higher or not even on this list for you. He is in rehab and hopes to get reinstated in late September. Nothing could come of it, and Gordon is your most expendable player in every waiver wire run. We could hear something more positive and then Gordon will be the subject of a stampede to the waiver wire. This is your chance to get out ahead of it.
19. Malcolm Mitchell, WR, NE - Mitchell’s health has been spotty this preseason and he might not be a big part of the Patriots pass offense right away even without Julian Edelman. In deeper leagues, he is still an imperative pickup as a talented wide receiver in a great offense that just saw one obstacle to value removed.
20. Jaron Brown, WR, ARI - Brown would have been higher on this list a week ago, but John Brown caught two scores in vintage Smokey ways in the third preseason game. We might well see a WR2BC with Brown, and Brown and JJ Nelson, which can be good for Carson Palmer, but bad for anyone looking for consistent scoring from a Cardinals wide receiver not named Fitzgerald. Brown is more of a speculative hold on the possibility that John Brown’s injury problems resurface and Jaron becomes the full-time #2.
21. Marquise Goodwin, WR, SF - Goodwin is looking Taylor Gabriel-esque in his low volume high value target role. In leagues with big play bonuses and even in nonPPR leagues, he should be on your radar.
22. Chris Godwin, WR, TB - Godwin will require an injury to have value, but reviews have been outstanding across the board and he would be generating a lot more buzz if he had a clear path to starting.
23. Trevor Siemian, QB, DEN - Siemian’s Week 1 matchup with the Chargers isn’t great, but after that, he gets the Cowboys, Bills, and Raiders. Deep league streaming value, here we come!
24. Zay Jones, WR, BUF - Jones might lead this team in targets, but they will be some of the lowest value targets in the league.
26. Tarik Cohen, RB, CHI - Cohen will have some value in fantasy leagues if Jordan Howard goes down, but with a healthy Howard, he’s just a speculative hold. He has looked ready for prime time, but a limited role in a limited offense caps his immediate value.
27. Charcandrick West, RB, KC - West has underwhelmed in multiple opportunities over the last two years. While the Spencer Ware injury puts him on our radar, he still needs Kareem Hunt to go down to have value and even in that case, I’m not sure he’s the best Chiefs running back left standing.
28. C.J. Spiller, RB, KC - Heeee’s back! Spiller has quietly been impressing the Chiefs this summer and the Ware injury just about cemented his roster spot. Yes, we’ve been down this road before, but if Hunt goes down, who’s to say that it won’t be the Spiller revival show?
29. Marlon Mack, RB, IND - Mack has turned heads with his preseason performance, but there’s the matter of Frank Gore, Robert Turbin, and a Colts offense that will start slow out of the gate without Andrew Luck. In a different situation, we’d be all over him, for now Mack is just a deep bench stash.
30. De’Angelo Henderson, RB, DEN - Henderson’s short term value was looking up when Jamaal Charles roster spot was not safe. Now it is, so Henderson has two obstacle to value and once Devontae Booker is back in a few weeks, three. Things change fast and Henderson has looked good, so if any more dominoes fall in this backfield, we’ll revisit him.
31. Josh McCown, QB, NYJ - The Jets quarterback battle was not so much won by McCown as he just didn’t crater or get hurt in the preseason. He does get the Bills revamped secondary in Week 1 and you could do worse for a Week 1 start if you had Luck and now have to start someone off of a thin waiver wire.
32. Scott Tolzien, QB, IND - Here is the worse than McCown that you could do with a Week 1 Luck fill-in. The Colts are also going to be without their center, although they could get a break if Aaron Donald’s holdout extends into the season.