There is just a week until the start of the NFL season. There has been a load of question marks as to whether this season would even get under way, let alone on time. Yet here we are. Despite no pre-season, a huge amount of testing and players isolating, we look set to kick off next week with games. Which means, its Waiver Wire time.
Many people found this draft season a real struggle. Mostly due to the uncertainty of the season. However, most have also been sure as to how to play this from a strategy perspective.
Whilst this article is coming out before one of the biggest draft weekends in the calendar, there are almost 95% of all drafts that are now in the books. And, if you have had your drafts, we wanted to get you those early Waiver Wire picks so you can jump the curve.
If you are new to our content this year, then let me briefly explain. I only look at players who are 30% owned or under according to ESPN ownership statistics. I want you to have a Waiver Wire article that actually means you have a chance of owning some of the players in it, as opposed to targeting players 50-70% owned. If you are in sharp leagues, you have no chance, as these players will probably be 100% owned.
So without further ado, here are my top Waiver Wire picks for Week 1.
Phillip Rivers- Colts 14.8% Owned @JAX Week 1
Phillip Rivers has a new team. I know he is a flawed Quarterback. However, the matchup suits him in a big way. If I was on a new team, looking to hit the ground running, then playing the Jaguars Week One is the perfect tonic for this. Rivers has one of the best Offensive Lines blocking for him, has a multitude of weapons at his disposal, and has the luxury of playing a team who have traded away or cut all their talent and are a shell of the team that went to the AFC Championship game less than 3 seasons ago. This secondary is arguably the worst in the league, despite the addition of C.J Henderson in the draft. Expect an experienced QB like Rivers to carve the Jaguars open up time and time again and put up a huge Week One total.
Gardnew Minshew II- Jaguars 14.6% Owned vs IND Week 1
Whilst all of the above is true, it does not stop the man with the tash being an intriguing addition for Week One. Whilst I believe the Jaguars will get beaten quite easily, they will be behind for most of the game. Being behind means go into ball out mode. With the recent release of Leonard Fournette, I would not expect too much out of the ground game in Week One. That means Minshew could be in line for 35 plus attempts. Not to mention, with a poor Offensive Line in front of him, he could be scrambling for a few yards on the ground also. Whilst I’d rather own Rivers, Minshew would not be a bad option to get you through Week One, and maybe beyond.
Chris Thompson- Jaguars 19.9% Owned vs IND Week 1
I’ll start this one off by saying that if Ryquell Armstead is there, then I would be picking him up instead. Armstead will get all the receiving down work, almost exclusively. He also has demonstrated in flashes that he could be the power runner that Jay Gruden, the Offensive Coordinator is going to rely on this season. However, Thompson is due almost all the receiving work in this offense. On top of that, Gruden signed him off the street as he knows what he can do. He has coached him before in Washington. That means Thompson will be trusted very early. Not to mention, with the Jaguars more than likely heading to their first defeat of the season on opening day, Thompson will get a lot of chances to make his impact with receptions and runs for 1st downs.
Jerrick McKinnon- 49ers 17.9% Owned vs ARI Week 1
McKinnon has had a tough time in San Francisco. He got injured before pre-season in 2018 and was also injured in the summer of 2019. As a result, despite being on the 49ers roster for 2 and a half years, he has yet to take a snap for them. However, the 49ers could have got away from McKinnon’s contract prior to April 1st, where $2.6 million of his contract became guaranteed. The fact Kyle Shannahan and the coaching staff have decided to keep McKinnon on the roster shows they have a plan for him.
The Arizona defense last year could not stop the run and were also susceptible to backs who caught balls out of the backfield. I expect McKinnon to perhaps have an impact. If you are struggling with a David Montgomery injury and cannot get one of the Jaguars backs, then McKinnon is a better bet than Artavis Pierce.
Anthony Miller- Bears 30% Owned @DET Week 1
Anthony Miller has had shoulder problems since coming into the NFL. However, he has flashed. This is the first time he is coming into a season fully healthy. As the number 2, even on a low volume offense, he has been highly effective. If you are struggling with injuries or uncertainty in the first couple of weeks, Miller provides a very attractive option. Firstly, he faces the Lion, Giants and Falcons in the first three weeks. None of these defenses are scary or anything to worry about. Then, as mentioned above, David Montgomery is likely to miss Week One and potentially Week Two. This will mean less work on the ground and more work out of the slot and to short distance/high probability targets. Miller fits this bill. As a result, Miller is an absolute steal and should be owned in all leagues, unless extremely shallow.
Parris Campbell- Colts 28.9% Owned @Jax Week 1
There is a really attractive Week One stack in Rivers and Campbell in my opinion, that is completely free. I have already talked about how I think the game will pan out. However, I would expect T.Y Hilton to draw double coverage a significant amount of the time. This will leave Campbell and his blistering 4.23 speed to take advantage. Campbell is currently in the concussion protocol, but the fact he is still attending practices and on the sideline suggests he is not too far away from exiting the protocol and heading back to practice. Campbell could have a really nice low end WR2 season if he builds instant rapport with Rivers. He should be owned more.
Dallas Goedert- Eagles 25.3% Owned @WAS Week 1
This one really surprised me. To see Goedert only 25% owned really made me check twice. However, this is where we are. A top 12 Tight End twelve months ago has a plumb matching vs. the Washington Football Team. To make it even more attractive of an addition, Jalon Reagor, much touted Wide Receiver Rookie, is a doubt for Week One. Also long shots are another Rookie, Quez Watkins, and Alshon Jeffrey. This means, with very few Wide Receivers ready to go, expect the team that leads the league in targets to Tight Ends to throw even more to them. Both Ertz and Goedert will be relevant Week One. So pile on, have a nice safety play and hope for a Touchdown to cement a great roster addition.
Jonnu Smith- Titans 21.7% Owned @DEN Week 1
I am not one for low volume passing offense Tight Ends. However, I would say that Smith, alongside Ian Thomas, are my two exceptions to this rule. With Derrick Henry not being targeted too often and very few options at receiver outside of A.J Brown and often marginalised Corey Davis, there is room for Smith to earn himself a fair share of targets. Against Denver, he will need to get a Touchdown to return a top 10 performance. However, I expect A.J Brown to get the treatment of the secondary. Denver’s run defense is also very strong and could look to hold out Henry at the goaline. Therefore, expect Smith to get a few red zone looks. Smith is an outside shout to break into the TE1 conversation if he starts strongly. Therefore, an investment in Smith could be a shrewd move.
Younghoe Koo- Falcons 27.2% Owned Vs.SEA Week 1
Koo was signed after being the most accurate kicker in the AAF in 2019 following a struggle with the Chargers as their Kicker in 2018. SInce landing in Atlanta, Koo made 23 from 26 Field Goals and 15 out of 16 Extra Points. In weeks 9-17 last season, Koo was the number one overall Kicker in Fantasy Football. In a high scoring offense, having Koo is a good enough option to set and forget. If you are like me and you didn’t draft a Kicker, Koo is the perfect reason why you don’t need to draft one.
Cincinnati Bengals- 4.4% Owned vs. LAC Week 1
This will look like I’ve gone mad. However, the Bengals have invested heavily in their defense. The Bengals went wild with D.J. Reader, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Von Bell and Josh Bynes all signed during free agency. The Bengals have been a bottom 10 Defense in many categories in the last couple of years. However, this year, they are a category to push for a top 12 D/ST. Week One they face the Chargers with Tyrod Taylor under centre. With Taylor not really factoring in the last 28 rounds of fixtures in the NFL, there will be some ring rust. Expect the Bengals to jump on the sacks and potentially pick off Taylor. The Bengals have a lot to prove and I expect them to step up Week One and set the tone.
And that is the Week One Waiver Wire list. Get a jump on the field and get these picks signed up as quickly as possible. Don’t wait until next week (unless you have to).
I will also be running a weekly Waiver Wire Podcast that we will drop on Monday’s. The first one will drop on Monday coming where I will expand on this column in a bit more detail.
However, until a little over a week’s time, when I bring you another Waiver Wire article Rush Nation, Keep Rushing.
– Murf (@Murf_NFL)