The fantasy football season kicked off in grand fashion this weekend with a full slate of high-powered offenses and scoring. But as we see on any given Sunday, there was a slew of misfortunes, injuries, and surprises. Whether you have needs at running back, wide receiver, or tight end, there are several options with upside.
Remember that the season just started so there’s no need to drop a drafted player for one of the following pickups unless they will be shelved for several weeks. Also, (1) don’t panic or overreact after a couple of weeks and (2) be prudent with the way you spend your free agent budget.
Here are the players you should be considering during your weekly waiver wire run in fantasy football based on at least 60% availability. I also include adds for those in deeper league formats. If you have any questions or need any fantasy football waiver wire advice, feel free to hit me on Twitter @101chalk.
Mark Ingram – Houston Texans
89% availability on ESPN
80% availability on Yahoo
Yes, Mark Ingram is old and most have written him off as washed. But so far it seems like the Texans don’t see it that way. Giving the journeyman veteran 26 carries to led the Houston backfield by a wide margin. The Texans also caught the league by surprise with a win over division-rival Jacksonville, in which Ingram, David Johnson, and Phillip Lindsay all scored touchdowns.
The Texans will likely continue employing an RBBC, but Ingram is worth a stash for RB needy teams. DJ and Lindsay haven’t been beacons of availability in their careers. You won’t be starting Ingram on a weekly basis, but if one of the other two backs suffers an injury, Ingram’s stock rises significantly.
Elijah Mitchell – San Francisco 49ers
93% availability on ESPN
89% availability on Yahoo
Death, taxes, Raheem Mostert not finishing games due to injury, and 49ers RBs coming out of nowhere. After Trey Sermon was a last minute healthy inactive (???), San Francisco starting runningback Raheem Mostert didn’t finish the first half with an apparent knee injury. That opened up an opportunity for rookie Elijah Mitchell who I have touted as a fantasy football stash.
Mitchell stepped in and posted over 100 yards with a TD (on 19 carries). With Mostert now likely headed to IR, Mitchell has a chance to carve out a role in this new rotation (headache or not). Don’t spend all of your budget chasing Mitchell, however. He’s getting a ton of hype (deservedly, so) but Wayne Gallman also looms. Gallman is possibly worth a free add after waivers clear in deeper leagues.
Kenny Gainwell – Philadelphia Eagles
96% availability on ESPN
92% availability on Yahoo
Although it was mainly third-down passing work, Gainwell saw 11 touches and netted 43 yards and a score. The 11 touches may not be a lot, but he could become carve out value in PPR formats with his receiving upside. The rookie is shifty and it looks as if he’s passed Boston Scott on the depth chart. As a Miles Sanders truther, this pains me but Kenny Gainwell may be a problem for Sanders’ upside. And if anything he’s a solid handcuff whether you roster Sanders or not.
Latavius Murray – Baltimore Ravens
60% availability on ESPN
47% availability on Yahoo
The injury bug could not have hit the Baltimore Ravens any harder, especially the team’s RB room. After already losing breakout favorite JK Dobbins to a season-ending ACL tear, the Ravens have lost his backfield mates Gus Edwards (ACL) and Justice Hill (Achilles) to injuries. Although Ty’Son Williams has moved to the top of the depth chart, he is unproven. We don’t know how the Ravens backfield will shake out, but it is likely Harbaugh employs an RBBC and rides the hot hand. Regardless, if you’re running back needy in fantasy football, then either Murray may be worth a spot at the end of your bench until things settle in Baltimore.
Sterling Shepard – New York Giants
75% availability on ESPN
61% availability on Yahoo
If Sterling Shepard is on your waiver wire, make sure to see if you can squeeze him onto your bench. He is essentially a must-add this week where he’s available. Shepard holds the designation of Daniel Jones’ preferred target until further notice. While Kenny Golladay nurses an offseason hamstring injury and his chemistry with Jones, Shepard is already in midseason form. An opening line of 9 targets, 7 receptions, 113 targets, and a TD is likely a preview of another strong campaign from the veteran WR.
Christian Kirk – Arizona Cardinals
96% availability on ESPN
87% availability on Yahoo
Christian Kirk fits the bill of a post-hype fantasy football sleeper and he delivered a big opening performance to kick off the season. Going 5 for 5 on passes thrown his way, Kirk posted 70 yards and two touchdowns even with teammate Deandre Hopkins going nuclear.
The flip side to Kirk’s allure is his history of posting these types of games too far between. Kirk will need to show improvements with his consistency. AJ Green and Rondale Moore have long injury histories so Kirk may have the opportunity to finally post top 20 numbers at the position. I’ve always been a fan of Kirk and been holding the line so it’s nice to see him have a breakout game like this. Kirk can be a flex play once those injuries and bye weeks start coming.
Nelson Agholor – New England Patriots
70% availability on ESPN
67% availability on Yahoo
The outlooks for Patriots wide receivers like Nelson Agholor shot upward when Mac Jones was named the starter ahead of Week 1. Agholor is best deployed as a best ball play, but he should be rostered in most seasonal formats until there is further clarity with the target distribution in New England.
Although Agholor was not the most targeted receiver, the new Patriot caught 5 passes on 7 targets for 74 yards and a score. Agholor is a deep threat who is known to stretch the field and make the occasional splash play. Look for Agholor to build off his recent performance in a matchup with the Jets.
Tim Patrick – Denver Broncos
100% availability on ESPN
98% availability on Yahoo
Once again, Tim Patrick finds himself in fantasy football relevancy after Jerry Jeudy suffered a high ankle sprain. We’re pulling for Jeudy’s quick recovery but Patrick now moves up the depth chart for at least the next month. Patrick has performed admirably as one of the Broncos’ few (available and capable) pass catchers in the past couple of years and is one of this week’s top adds after already catching a touchdown to start the year.
Rondale Moore – Arizona Cardinals
80% availability on ESPN
73% availability on Yahoo
Any wide receiver on a Kyler Murray offense essentially has unlimited upside and Moore is at worst third in the team’s pecking order. Although Kirk is the priority Arizona WR add this week, Moore is worth a look as well given his explosive playmaking ability. Moore caught 4 of 5 targets for 68 yards and showed clear chemistry with Kyler Murray off the bat. As Moore gets more assimilated to the NFL game, he will continue to improve and that’s a scary proposition for opposing defenses.
Zach Pascal – Indianapolis Colts
97% availability on ESPN
99% availability on Yahoo
In deeper leagues, Zach Pascal could be worth a look after he caught four passes for 43 yards and two touchdowns this past week. New Colts quarterback Carson Wentz is still getting to know his teammates and developing rapport. Wentz missed several weeks due to a foot injury and his “WR1” is yet to be determined. Pascal is another wide receiver who isn’t new to waiver wire columns after a breakout performance.
Cedrick Wilson – Dallas Cowboys
100% availability on ESPN and Yahoo
The Cowboys’ No. 3 wide receiver, Michael Gallup, suffered a calf injury in the Thursday night kickoff match against the Bucs. Gallup is on IR and likely to miss 3-5 weeks. Once Gallup was sidelined in Week 1, Dallas turned to the speedy Cedrick Wilson.
The former sixth-rounder caught all three of his targets for 24 yards in relief, but it was apparent that the offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy likes Wilson’s versatility and speed. Even if Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb remain healthy, Wilson should see some opportunity making him worth a look in deeper fantasy football leagues. In the event that either Cooper or Lamb suffers an injury, Wilson would vault up rankings.
Jared Cook – Los Angeles Chargers
77% availability on ESPN
74% availability on Yahoo
After an exciting win against one of the league’s best defenses, the Chargers offense is primed for another productive year. Justin Herbert spread the ball around and with the departure of Hunter Henry, there’s an opening at tight end for targets. Cook caught 5 of 8 targets for 56 yards while the team’s other options at TE caught 1 pass for 1 yard combined. The Chargers will score points this season and Cook is sure to have targets in the red zone.
Juwan Johnson – New Orleans Saints
99% availability on ESPN
91% availability on Yahoo
Juwan Johnson was a deep fantasy football sleeper for me this season but one of my favorites. Johnson converted from WR to TE and that change has made him an instant mismatch with opposing linebackers and cornerbacks. He’s big, fast, and shifty with strong hands. Even with Adam Trautman playing, Johnson shined bright as Winston appeared to favor him in the red zone. If Winston’s days in Tampa Bay are any indication, the Saints QB will lock onto his TE1 and feed red zone targets (see Cameron Brate).
💤 [Fantasy Football Sleeper] Juwan Johnson
✅ Dynasty – Stash
✅ Redraft – Stream
✅ Best Ball – Smash
📌 Winston named #Saints starting QB
📌 MT & Trautman are injured
📌 WR + TE eligibility @SleeperHQ
📌 57% availability on Sleeper
📌 @UnderdogFantasy ADP – 214
— chalk (@101chalk) August 27, 2021
Dalton Schultz – Dallas Cowboys
99% availability on ESPN and Yahoo
When Blake Jarwin went down last season, Dalton Schultz took the opportunity and broke out with a career year. Then he comes into Week 1 and doubles Jarwin’s numbers with 6 receptions for 45 yards (Jarwin went 3-20). This may be more of a stash play since Jarwin looks to be recovered from his ACL tear.
Regardless, Schultz may continue to earn more looks as the season progresses and could take the TE1 role on the team. As we saw on Thursday, any offense led by Dak Prescott is a potent passing juggernaut so any Dallas exposure in PPR leagues is warranted.
For more fantasy football waiver wire advice, make sure to check out The Undroppables.