After the first week of the fantasy football season, your lineup will likely need to add some depth. Given the injuries to several key players, the best plan of action will be to add waiver transfer pickup.
If the first week provides any insight into what the entire season will look like, squad depth will be key. You may also need to replace a few bench pieces that haven’t performed well, but be careful not to walk away from players too early.
As always, the list below includes players who are on less than 50 percent of all ESPN rosters, so the chances of them being drafted are quite high. With some injuries already occurring in week one, there’s no better time than now to update your lineup.
10. Justice Hill, Baltimore Ravens – RB
0.3% in composition
With JK Dobbins lost for the rest of the 2023 NFL season, the Baltimore Ravens must once again turn their attention to another player in the battle for their running backs. With Gus Edwards (more on him later) being the most important addition to this team, don’t forget about Justice Hill.
Although Hill only had eight carries in Week 1, he converted two of them into third-quarter touchdown runs, both from two yards out. Hill should be viewed as a backup to Edwards until further notice, but you can never have enough RB bench depth, especially on a team that is good at running the ball.
9. Hayden Hurst, Carolina Panthers – TE
4.8% in composition
In Bryce Young’s first NFL start, it was Hayden Hurst who led the Panthers in targets (7), receptions (6) and yards (41). Hurst also scored Carolina’s only TD on the day, pulling in a flat route from Young for a short score.
A starting quarterback’s best friend is often a tight end, and while Hurst is also new to Carolina, it looks like he could be a busy safety valve this year.
8. Zay Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars – WR
30.1% in composition
With Calvin Ridley as Jacksonville’s newly anointed WR1, Christian Kirk began running more routes from the slot. However, this does not mean that Zay Jones is no longer important to your fantasy football lineup.
Scoring the second most targets (7) on the day shows that Jones is still a trusted target for Trevor Lawrence. His acrobatic TD catch cemented his five receptions for 55 yards, and while he may have a few weeks out as a third/fourth target, Jones is going to make it happen by providing a solid bench presence.
7. Rashid Shaheed, New Orleans Saints – WR
2.0% in composition
Derek Carr may have Chris Olave as his main target and old veteran Michael Thomas as anything else, but Rashid Shaheed is a player Carr will be able to give his all to. And if Sunday is any indication of what’s to come, Shaheed could have some value this year.
Although he recorded the third-most targets on the day (6), Shaheed had more receiving yards than Thomas (89 vs. 61) and a higher average yard per catch than Olave (17.8 vs. 14.0). It looks like the top three WR options are pretty well positioned for the Saints at this point, and Shaheed figures he’ll be part of that equation, creating solid value for your waiver wire pickups this week.
6. Sam Howell, Washington Commanders – QB
11.1% in composition
Yes, the Washington Commanders’ Week 1 win over the lowly Arizona Cardinals wasn’t as big a deal as it should have been. However, in his first start of the season, Sam Howell looked quite good leading the offense.
Howell did intercept the ball, but spread the ball well on offense, peppering four players with at least four targets, led by Logan Thomas (8). The Commanders will have a lot of issues to deal with this season, but Howell believes he’s the right person for the job and a good QB2 option for your fantasy football lineup.
5. Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons – PO
Bijan Robinson supporters can still take solace in Robinson being in the end zone on Sunday, but it was Tyler Allgeier who played a bigger role than probably expected.
For our discussion on the best run and sleeper candidates in fantasy football, listen below:
Gaining five more carries than the Texas rookie, Allgeier scored two TDs and averaged five yards per carry against the Panthers. Expecting Robinson to take on more snaps as the season progresses is fair, but Allgeier has value right now, especially in a first-round offense that is more focused on getting the ball down the opponent’s throat.
4. Kyren Williams (RB) and Puka Nacua (WR), Los Angeles Rams
10.3% and 2.3% in composition
The epitome of early season waiver wire pickup is what the Los Angeles Rams have for your fantasy football lineup this week. Both Kyren Williams and Puka Nacua should be at the top of your lists, mainly because they both showed an impressive workload right away.
For some reason, the Rams and Sean McVay still hate Cam Akers, and Williams was the beneficiary of that dislike (15 carries, 52 yards, 1 TD) even though Akers earned more carries (but was the clear second option).
In Nacua’s case, he became Matthew Stafford’s favorite target without Cooper Kupp in the squad. As many as 15!!! BYU’s rookie goals resulted in 10 catches and 119 yards, showing how important Nacua is to this offense.
3. Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens – RB
As mentioned when talking about Justice Hill, Gus Edwards is the main addition at this point as the Ravens try to replace JK Dobbins. While both Edwards and Hill tied for eight carries in Sunday’s game, Edwards has been trusted by the Ravens in the past and likely will continue to be.
If putting Edwards in the starting lineup worries you right away, just add him and see how the defense plays in Week 2 before moving him out. Keep in mind that this new Ravens offense is not the same offensive attack as years ago, so be careful with your fantasy football lineup and its depth.
2. Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers – PO
11.3% in composition
New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore comes from the Dallas Cowboys, and it was obvious how much he preferred to use two running backs intensively. While Austin Ekeler is the clear starter, Joshua Kelley saw quite a bit of work against the Dolphins.
Thanks to the ankle injury Ekeler suffered on Sunday, Kelley tied Ekeler on 16 carries, rushing for 91 yards and a TD. Stay tuned to this week’s injury reports to see how Ekeler’s ankle responds in practice, and even if he suits up, Kelley is still a strong RB3/4 option to add to your fantasy football bench.
1. Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles – PO
Confusion continues for the Philadelphia Eagles, even though Kenneth Gainwell has clearly looked like a starter. With Rashaad Penny being the healthy starting point and D’Andre Swift only earning money on passing plays, it was Gainwell’s performance against the Patriots.
An ongoing rib injury has Gainwell’s status somewhat in flux heading into Philly’s game against the Vikings on Thursday, but as long as the injury doesn’t keep him on the bench, Gainwell could be hired as the RB2 in Week 2. Taking your starting RB off the waiver wire doesn’t come up often for your fantasy football lineups, so make sure you take advantage of it.
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