The week we’ve all been waiting for has come and gone. If you were lucky, you won your fantasy matchup(s) and avoided the injury bug. However, not everyone was so lucky. Whether you lost every matchup from a handful of leagues, or lost David Johnson or Allen Robinson for the rest of the year, things certainly aren’t looking good right now. However, we’re here to help.
In what was a porous offensive week, as is the case more often than not during week one, there were still some standouts who aren’t heavily owned in fantasy leagues right now. Whether it’s an injury bumping them up, or a stellar showing to start the season, I compiled the top waiver wire claims you should target this week.
*Owned percentages based on ESPN leagues
QB, Sam Bradford, Minnesota Vikings (11% owned)
If you need a QB, Sam Bradford is probably the guy you’re going after this week. Bradford lit it up on Monday Night Football and torched the Saints defense for 346 passing yards and 3 TDs with no interceptions. Bradford ranked 2nd in both yards and TDs this week as he finished as QB3.
The Vikings held the lead throughout the entire game and Bradford looked in command with some tremendous throws. He spread the ball around and maximized the weapons at his disposal. Bradford was in top form and hopefully that’s a sign of things to come for the former #1 overall pick.
QB, Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles (45.6% owned)
Carson Wentz was a guy I targeted late in my fantasy drafts as a backup QB with upside. The 2nd year man out of North Dakota State continued to build off a solid rookie campaign in week 1 of the 2017 season. Against the Redskins, Wentz surpassed 300 passing yards and tossed for a couple scores with one interception on his way to finishing as QB5 this past week.
There was certainly more good than bad from Wentz in week one. He looked to enjoy his new supporting cast and made some big throws. While he was inconsistent as a rookie, Wentz should tighten the screws in his 2nd season with a much better offense around him. Available in more than half of ESPN leagues, add Wentz if you want an upgrade at backup QB, and someone with the upside to possibly start later in the season.
Kerwynn Williams, Tarik Cohen, Chris Carson and Javorius Allen proving ZeroRB was a good strategy this year. Early signs pointing 📈📈📈
— DynastyGuruFF (@DynastyGuruFF) September 11, 2017
RB, Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens (0.8% owned)
Lost in Baltimore’s crowded backfield throughout the offseason was Javorius Allen. Kenneth Dixon was supposed to be the guy, Danny Woodhead was signed from the Chargers and Terrance West remained as their bruising back. Since, Dixon has been lost for the year and Woodhead suffered an injury in the opening week. 3rd year RB Javorius Allen came on and led the team with 21 carries.
Going back to his rookie season, Allen was productive. He posted 867 total yards with 45 catches. Now it’s just him and West in that backfield, for now, so you know Allen will continue to get a hefty workload, especially in passing downs. One of the more under the radar waiver wire claims this week, Allen holds weekly FLEX potential until Woodhead returns.
RB, Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks (3.6% owned)
While the rookie Chris Carson carried the ball only six times in Seattle’s lost to Green Bay, the takeaway stat from that game is he led the Seahawks backfield in snaps with 27 – 20 more than Eddie Lacy.
Throughout the past couple months we spent time debating between C.J. Prosise and Eddie Lacy, when all along the guy we should’ve been targeting out of that backfield was 7th round pick Chris Carson. Carson is certainly worth stashing in hopes that he continues to hog the snap share.
RB, Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears (23.7% owned)
A Chicago Bears running back finished as RB2 this past week: Jordan Howard, right? Except it wasn’t Howard, but instead rookie Tarik Cohen. Let me start by saying that I was one of Cohen’s biggest fans from the 2017 NFL Draft, but even I couldn’t project him starting his career in the way that he did.
Cohen was instrumental in Chicago’s near upset over the defending NFC champions. He led the Bears in both rushing and receiving, and scored a TD. Cohen is a dynamic playmaker in the open field. In an offense that was already missing Cameron Meredith, they also lost Kevin White. Cohen is sure to be a big component in this offense for the rest of the season due to his versatility. Expect him to carve out Darren Sproles-esque production this season.
Two backups impression today? Chris Carson & Marlon Mack will continue to get more and more work as the season goes on.
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) September 10, 2017
RB, Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts (1.4% owned)
Another rookie running back? Marlon Mack was extremely impressive in his debut. While the stat sheet looks a bit underwhelming at 10 carries for 24 yards, he did have a 21-yard reception and scored two TDs, although only one counted.
It’s no secret that Frank Gore is on his last legs. Mack should see a steadily increased workload, and perhaps can take over as the starting running back in Indianapolis by season’s end. Stash Mack and hope you found yourself an early season gem.
RB, Kerwynn Williams, Arizona Cardinals (5.5% owned)
In case you haven’t heard, reigning fantasy MVP David Johnson will be out for most of the season. Who’s next in the pecking order? That would be Kerwynn Williams. The 5th year RB out of Utah State came on in relief of Johnson and carried the ball five times for just 10 yards, although he did score a TD.
This is a classic case of injury, not talent, boosting the fantasy stock of a player. If you’re a David Johnson owner, I would look towards other RBs such as Cohen or Carson on the waiver wire, but Williams will have a steady workload as the lead man out of Arizona’s backfield. He could fill your FLEX spot some weeks.
WR, Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles (16.4% owned)
After an abysmal sophomore campaign, Nelson Agholor started 2017 with a bang. On the team’s first drive, he scored a long 58 yard TD. Agholor finished with six catches on eight targets for 86 yards.
Carson Wentz and Agholor looked to be in sync which is a huge positive after Agholor’s mediocre 2016. The former 1st round pick out of USC could be in for a career rebirth this season in Philadelphia’s improved offense.
Bennie Fowler saw a career high in snaps 👀 pic.twitter.com/3WNdITqjTX
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 12, 2017
WR, Bennie Fowler, Denver Broncos (0.4% owned)
If you stayed up late to watch the entirety of the Chargers-Broncos Monday Night Football matchup, you saw Bennie Fowler come away with a pair of TD grabs – matching his career total.
The former undrafted free agent out of Michigan State, Fowler outscored both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. While he’s unlikely to keep up the TD production, he’s a player certainly worth monitoring moving forward. Add him to your watch list and put in a claim next week if he continues to produce.
Kenny Golladay with his 2nd touchdown of the day! This rookie can ball out! pic.twitter.com/CvsfrLCkcy
— Detroit Videos 🎥 (@DetroitVideos) September 10, 2017
WR, Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (21.3% owned)
Perhaps the latest and biggest hype train to develop was Kenny Golladay’s. Well, it didn’t take him long to deliver. After a stellar preseason, Golladay opened his career with a pair of TDs on four catches for 69 yards as he finished as WR5. He’s looking like the next great Detroit receiver.
Golladay is surely to be a priority waiver wire add this week, and for good reason. He has weekly WR2/FLEX upside. While he may not see the same amount of snaps as Golden Tate or Marvin Jones, he should see a consistent 4-5 targets per week, and will only go up from there.
WR, Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars (2.3% owned)
Another beneficiary from an injury, Allen Robinson’s season-ending ACL injury makes Allen Hurns fantasy relevant this season. Hurns finished Jacksonville’s week 1 win as the team leader in catches (3) and receiving yards (42), while tying for the lead with four targets.
Hurns suffered a down year last season, but back in 2015 he surpassed 1,000 yards and scored 10 TDs. That year he was a huge waiver pickup for me, hopefully he can bring that magic back this season.
WR, Jermaine Kearse, New York Jets (2.7% owned)
Traded to the New York Jets about a week ago, it didn’t take long for Jermaine Kearse to assert himself as a leader on the Jets offense. In his first game as a Jet, Kearse led the team in every receiving statistic with nine targets, seven receptions and 59 receiving yards for 12.9 fantasy points.
Perhaps this is a sign of things to come for Kearse in the Jets’ offense. Josh McCown can be a productive QB, and it didn’t take long for chemistry with Kearse to come. Kearse is a guy who can be a consistent producer in your FLEX spot.
When Cooper Kupp was drafted by @RamsNFL he lived at Jared Goff's house for a while. Chemistry paying off so far 3 catches, 48 yds & a TD.
— Dan Hellie (@DanHellie) September 10, 2017
WR, Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams (20.8% owned)
It was a sensational debut for Cooper Kupp as he went for 76 yards and a score on four catches and six targets. Kupp finished the week as WR10 and looked to be Jared Goff’s favorite target this past Sunday. Kupp has a refined skillset and can play inside or out.
Jared Goff and the Rams passing attack looked like a rejuvenated unit in week 1, although they went against a porous Colts defense. Still, there is a lot to be optimistic about and perhaps this is a sign of things to come. If Goff is going to have an improved sophomore campaign, Kupp will be a huge component.
Marqise Lee about to be a top 25 WR btw
— Ben Gretch (@YardsPerGretch) September 11, 2017
WR, Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars (22.3% owned)
Marqise Lee didn’t log a single reception in week 1, but the injury to Allen Robinson boosts his fantasy value. While Lee dropped a donut this past week, he was the Jaguars’ 2nd leading receiver in 2016 with 851 yards on 100+ targets. Now with Robinson out, he could finish #1 this season.
Lee broke out last season after two underwhelming years to start his career. With Robinson out, he should see scattered production throughout the year and could be the Jaguars leading receiver. A solid FLEX play some weeks.
WR, J.J. Nelson, Arizona Cardinals (6.7% owned)
One of my sleepers this offseason, I predicted J.J. Nelson to finish as a top 30 WR this season in my 2017 Fantasy Football Bold Predictions article. Nelson got off to a great start as he hauled in five catches on six targets for 43 yards and a score. His garbage time TD marked the fifth time in the past six times that Nelson found the endzone.
Known more for his game breaking 4.28 speed and playmaking ability, Nelson played outside that role on Sunday as he didn’t have a catch greater than 14 yards. If he proves to be more of a well-rounded player this season, Nelson could be a waiver wire gem. With David Johnson’s injury, the Cardinals have a lot of passing game production to account for.
<————Leader of the Paul Richardson hive. Dude is no fluke. pic.twitter.com/nFEoGFRCJq
— Jonathan Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) September 12, 2017
WR, Paul Richardson, Seattle Seahawks (3.4% owned)
Like Nelson, Paul Richardson was another one of my sleepers this past offseason, and it didn’t take him long to make a splash this season. Richardson hauled in four catches for 59 yards on seven targets. His 41 snaps were marginally higher than Tyler Lockett’s 26.
Richardson flashed late last season and during Seattle’s playoff run which made Jermaine Kearse expendable. Richardson is likely in for a career year and is certainly worth an add if you need WR depth.
WR, Kendall Wright, Chicago Bears (7% owned)
The Chicago Bears WRs are dropping like flies. First it was Cameron Meredith, now Kevin White could possibly miss the rest of the year. Mike Glennon needs to throw to someone, and Kendall Wright now emerges as the team’s #1 WR.
Going back to 2013, Wright was a 1,000 yard receiver and was fairly productive throughout his stint in Tennessee. Now with the Bears, Wright looks to revive his career, and he will certainly have the opportunity to do so.
Week 1 Leaders in Target Market Share
1. Nuk Hopkins (43%)
2. Amari Cooper (39%)
3. Charles Clay (38%)
4. TY Hilton (37%)
5. AJ Green (32%)
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) September 11, 2017
TE, Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (12.2% owned)
In general, the depth at TE this year in fantasy football initially looks much deeper than last year. While Charles Clay was one of the more underrated TEs heading into the season, I’m not too surprised he’s criminally under owned right now, but that will change.
After a four catch, 53 yard performance against Atlanta, where he scored a TD and was targeted nine times, Clay will be a hot waiver wire add for owners who need a TE. With Sammy Watkins now out of the picture, expect Tyrod Taylor to continue to heavily target Clay throughout the season. Clay has top 10 TE potential in 2017.
TE, Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers (14.1% owned)
When the Pittsburgh Steelers traded for Vance McDonald, we were so quick to write off Jesse James as we expected McDonald to assume the #1 TE spot. As it played out, James blew up for six catches, 41 yards and two 2 TDs as he finished the week as TE1.
While he’s unlikely to keep this production going, if James can keep his snap count up, he’s surely to produce in Pittsburgh’s offense. His eight targets from week one are promising.