After months of waiting, the NFL season has finally arrived. No more obsessing over preseason highlights, quotes from coaches, or beat-writer speculation. The real thing is about to be right in front of us: live National League Football action this Thursday night.
If you’ve drafted over the past few weeks and are looking to make a few additions/drops on your fantasy team before Week 1 starts, I have you covered. I’ve sifted through the most relevant NFL news, in addition to rostership percentages on the most common platforms, to help you find the 10 best waiver wire targets.
Throughout the season, the purpose of this weekly series is to help ETR subscribers dominate the waiver wire by identifying the highest potential scorers readily available in your leagues. The article will be broken up into two sections:
- Home-League Waiver Targets: This section focuses on the typical “home league” with friends, family members, and co-workers. These leagues typically include starting lineups of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2-3 WRs, 1 TE, 1-2 FLEX, 1 K, 1 D/ST, and 5-7 BENCH spots. I will use ESPN & Yahoo rostership percentages to gauge which players are available in a typical league. To qualify as a waiver target, the player must be rostered in <60% of leagues on either Yahoo or ESPN.
- Deeper-League Targets: This section will be focused on deeper leagues, which typically have additional starting lineup slots and deeper benches compared to the typical home league. Drafters who play in tournament contests on FFPC or NFFC should find this section helpful. To qualify as a deeper-league target, the player must be rostered in <60% of leagues on FFPC.
For each list, I will rank the players in order based on how I would prioritize adding them to your teams. I will also include a “drop list” of commonly rostered players that I would be comfortable parting ways with in order to add these targets to your team
Home-League Waiver Targets
Rank Order List
- Rashod Bateman, BAL WR
- Kadarius Toney, KC WR
- De’Von Achane, MIA RB
- Jaylen Warren, PIT RB
- Tank Bigsby, JAX RB
- Kenneth Gainwell, PHI RB
- Marvin Mims, DEN WR
- Jonathan Mingo, CAR WR
- Roschon Johnson, CHI RB
- Van Jefferson, LAR WR
Rostership: 17% ESPN, 69% Yahoo
Rashod Bateman, who Lamar Jackson called the WR1 in May, has a decent case to be the top target-earning WR for the Baltimore Ravens. That could prove to be an extremely valuable role with new OC Todd Monken planning to play a faster-paced, more pass-happy brand of football than his predecessor Greg Roman. While I’m a fan of taking stabs on the other Ravens WRs, Zay Flowers and Odell Beckham, Bateman is my favorite of the three at his ADP. I’m shocked he’s readily available in 83% of ESPN leagues on waivers. He’s my clear No. 1 priority for teams searching for a potential breakout star off the wire.
Rostership: 54% ESPN, 59% Yahoo
After undergoing surgery for a partially torn meniscus in July, Kadarius Toney is on track to play in Week 1, according to head coach Andy Reid. Though I remain skeptical about Toney’s true upside as a player who played a purely rotational role in 2022, he is undeniably a special athlete with the ball in his hands who could make some noise in a wide-open Chiefs WR room. He is certainly worth stashing on your bench for a few weeks to see if a larger-than-expected role materializes amongst the WR uncertainty in Kansas City.
Rostership: 24% ESPN, 48% Yahoo
With Jeff Wilson landing on IR for at least four weeks, Myles Gaskin being released, and the long-speculated Jonathan Taylor trade never happening, the Miami Dolphins now enter Week 1 with a RB room of Raheem Mostert, De’Von Achane, Salvon Ahmed, and UDFA Chris Brooks. In Week 1, I expect Mostert to be the starter, with the now-practicing Achane and Ahmed competing for touches behind the veteran speedster. Don’t expect to insert Achane into your starting lineup any time soon, but he is well worth the stash as a running back the Dolphins invested relatively high draft capital in (Round 3, Pick 84). Furthermore, Achane graded as an elite athlete (4.32 40-time) and had very solid collegiate production with over 100 scrimmage yards per game during his junior season at Texas A&M.
Jaylen Warren & Tank Bigsby
Rostership (Warren): 46% ESPN, 47% Yahoo
Rostership (Bigsby): 27% ESPN, 47% Yahoo
Jaylen Warren and Tank Bigsby should both be rostered in most leagues as the clear No. 2 options in their respective backfields, with paths to massive upside if either of the starters ahead of them were to suffer an injury. Fantasy players who are looking for more standalone FLEX value should prioritize Warren, who I expect to have more of a role on a weekly basis as a passing-down specialist in Pittsburgh. Drafters who need a contingent upside bench stash should prioritize Bigsby, who plays in the superior offense tied to Trevor Lawrence.
Rostership: 23% ESPN, 52% Yahoo
The Eagles’ backfield remains one of the most challenging to predict in the entire NFL, with offseason acquisitions D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny joining incumbent veterans Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott. Adding Gainwell to your roster before Week 1 allows you to benefit if his role is larger than expected, which is entirely possible. After all, he did lead Philly’s backfield in playing time during the Super Bowl with 51% of the snaps.
Marvin Mims, Jonathan Mingo, & Roschon Johnson
Rostership (Mims): 11% ESPN, 35% Yahoo
Rostership (Mingo): 20% ESPN, 16% Yahoo
Rostership (Johnson): 23% ESPN, 15% Yahoo
Drafters in slightly deeper home leagues could benefit from stashing three under-the-radar rookies who look to have immediate roles in Week 1: Marvin Mims (WR, Broncos), Jonathan Mingo (WR, Panthers), and Roschon Johnson (RB, Bears). Some quick notes on each player:
- Mims: The Round 2 rookie WR should have a chance to contribute immediately due to injuries to Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick in Denver. Assuming Jeudy remains out, I would project Mims to start in 2-WR sets alongside Courtland Sutton.
- Mingo: Mingo was selected early in Round 2 by the Panthers and should immediately play the Z role alongside D.J. Chark (X) and Adam Thielen (slot). If Chark remains injured, Mingo could earn a surprisingly high target share early in the season.
- Johnson: Reporting suggests Johnson has already earned the RB2 role in Chicago behind Khalil Herbert, surpassing veteran free-agent addition D’Onta Foreman. Johnson, Bijan Robinson’s backup at Texas, was an extremely efficient rusher in college with clear strengths as a pass protector.
Rostership: 15% ESPN, 17% Yahoo
As of this writing, Cooper Kupp’s hamstring injury remains quite uncertain, with some speculation the Rams’ stud WR may miss a few weeks. Hamstring setbacks, particularly for a WR on the wrong side of 30, are always scary. As a result, WR-needy teams may want to stash Van Jefferson as we await further news on Kupp. Jefferson topped 800 yards receiving in 2021 as the Rams’ WR3 and would be the primary beneficiary were Kupp to miss time due to injury. Jefferson does not profile as a potential breakout star at WR but could emerge as a weekly FLEX starter as L.A.’s primary option in the passing game.
Before getting to the drop list, I first want to say that you should prioritize cutting the following types of players before cutting any RB/WR from your roster. Again, this is assuming a standard 1-QB league.
- Any backup Kicker or D/ST you are rostering
- Lower-upside TE2s (e.g., Tyler Higbee, Cole Kmet, Dalton Schultz, Zach Ertz, Gerald Everett, etc.). This assumes you have a better starter on your roster.
- Lower-upside QB2s (e.g., Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr, etc.). This assumes you have a better starter on your roster.
Finally, just because a player is on the “Drop List” doesn’t mean you have to drop them from your roster. There is always nuance involved. This list just serves as a guide of players that are commonly rostered that you could consider dropping in order to add the targets above.
RB/WR Drop List
- Adam Thielen
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Rondale Moore
- D.J. Chark
- Devin Singletary
- K.J. Osborn
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling
- Parris Campbell
- Gus Edwards
- Deuce Vaughn
Rank Order List
- Sean Tucker, TB RB
- Chris Evans, CIN RB
- Rico Dowdle, DAL RB
- Kyren Williams, LAR RB
- Evan Hull, IND RB
- Deon Jackson, IND RB
- Zack Moss, IND RB
- Deonte Harty, BUF WR
- Puka Nacua, LAR WR
- Tutu Atwell, LAR WR
Before continuing, I’d note that the FAAB recommendations in this section are intended for FFPC tournament leagues (namely, the Main Event and FantasyPros tournaments). These are leagues with deep rosters, allowing you to keep 20 players at a time. It is extremely difficult to give FAAB advice without knowing the specifics of your league format. However, if your league is similarly deep (~19-20 roster spots), these recommendations should still be applicable.
Rostership: 54% FFPC
FAAB Recommendation: 3-5%
Sean Tucker, who, in May, fell from a potential Round 3-4 pick to undrafted due to medical concerns, is now fully healthy and earned a roster spot in Tampa Bay. I have talent concerns about Rachaad White, who underperformed compared to backfield mate Leonard Fournette in most receiving statistics during his rookie season and was one of the league’s least-efficient runners of the football. While White will be the starter early on, I expect that he will struggle and Tucker will eventually have a chance to emerge if he can perform on the field. That said, we are still talking about an undrafted free agent who wasn’t even the clear RB2 based on preseason usage, so I don’t recommend managers burn a high percentage of their FAAB budget on Tucker. My recommendation is 3-5% of FAAB based on team need, and would almost certainly not go higher than 10%.
Rostership: 18% FFPC
FAAB Recommendation: 2-4%
The Bengals’ RB2 role was extremely valuable last year, with Samaje Perine earning a larger-than-expected standalone role. Can Evans replicate that? While this situation is still highly uncertain, most Bengals beat writers suggest that Evans earned the third-down role behind Joe Mixon in Cincinnati. While I’m not certain Evans will hold off Trayveon Williams, who is back healthy after missing time with an ankle sprain, this Bengals offense is a situation worth betting on. A relatively low bid of 2-4% on Evans may be enough to sneak him onto your roster. It’s a price worth paying to see if you landed Cincy’s RB2.
Rostership: 18% FFPC
FAAB Recommendation: 2-4%
Based on preseason usage and Cowboys beat reporters, Rico Dowdle has emerged out of nowhere to earn the RB2 role in Dallas. Dowdle is a bit of a black box talent-wise, but the Cowboys’ offense is one where the RB2 is 100% worth drafting. Try to sneak Dowdle through with a 2-4% bid and see if he is the Cowboys’ RB2 in Week 1. You may have landed yourself a sneaky standalone role with contingent upside if the Cowboys want to continue to limit Pollard’s touches to keep him fresh and healthy throughout the season.
Rostership: 18% FFPC
FAAB Recommendation: 1-3%
Different from Dowdle and Evans, I’m more certain that Kyren has earned his team’s RB2 role. So why am I suggesting you prioritize them over Kyren if they’re more uncertain? Upside, upside, upside. The Dallas and Cincinnati backfields are likely to create far more fantasy points for their RBs than the Rams, even if Stafford and Co. are better than expected. That said, I still really like Kyren as a cheap addition for 1-3% of your FAAB budget. He has been rested throughout the preseason with the Rams’ starters, indicating he should have a sizable role in Week 1 alongside Cam Akers.
Evan Hull, Deon Jackson, & Zack Moss
Rostership & FAAB Recommendation (Hull): 53% FFPC, 1-3%
Rostership & FAAB Recommendation (Jackson): 34% FFPC, <1%
Rostership & FAAB Recommendation (Moss): 30% FFPC, <1%
For fantasy managers looking to find Indianapolis’ starting RB while Jonathan Taylor remains “injured”, rookie Evan Hull would be my pick. However, the Colts are highly likely to employ a running-back-by-committee approach without Taylor, with veterans Zack Moss and Deon Jackson also mixing in. Assuming you don’t need to start one of these Colts RBs in Week 1, Hull is my preferred talent profile to bet on as the back who could consolidate touches in Indianapolis later in the season. I do expect the Colts to lean on the veterans (Moss and Jackson) more in the early stage of the season. Ultimately, this situation is highly fluid and likely depends on the on-field performance of the three RBs. Though I personally prefer Hull, I don’t fault fantasy managers who want to take stabs on Jackson or Moss as their Colts RB bet. My approach would be to submit low bids for all of these players and let my league dictate who falls to me.
Rostership: 6% FFPC
FAAB Recommendation: <1%
Fantasy managers are mostly ignoring the Bills’ WR3, justifiably so to some degree. My base expectation is that the Bills will play a lot of “11.5” personnel, with both Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox on the field. That said, Harty is worth an end-of-the-bench stash for WR-needy drafters. Harty received nearly $5M guaranteed from the Bills this offseason, and has emerged as the clear WR3 based on preseason usage. Furthermore, Harty stands to benefit from injuries to any of the Bills’ top four pass catchers (Diggs, Davis, Kincaid, and Knox). That makes him worth a <1% FAAB bid tied to the high-flying Josh Allen-led offense.
Puka Nacua & Tutu Atwell
Rostership & FAAB Recommendation (Nacua): 39% FFPC, <1%
Rostership & FAAB Recommendation (Atwell): 6% FFPC, <1%
If Kupp’s injury is more serious than expected, both Day 3 rookie Puka Nacua and 2021 second-rounder Tutu Atwell would see increased playing time. I slightly prefer Nacua, as his frame gives him slightly more theoretical upside than Atwell, who has been nothing more than a rotational player through his first two years in the NFL. That said, it’s hard to imagine either player emerging as a fantasy starter. As a result, I can only recommend a very low bid for these players to stash on the end of your bench.