FANTASY PLAYS: Waiver wire pickups key to roster building

We have done it; our drafts are over and it is now time to re-visit some of those teams we drafted back in June and July, trim the fat and add high-upside options to our fantasy football teams.

In “high-stakes” formats such as the FFPC (Fantasy Football Players Championship) Main Event and the NFFC (National Fantasy Football Championship) Primetime, there is a big waiver run before the start of the season and some home leagues have already opened “first-come, first-serve” waivers.

You may be surprised at this being an important waiver run but some of the names on my Week Zero waiver list last year were Carlos Hyde, Mecole Hardman, DJ Chark and Randall Cobb.

Especially for those of you who are committed to Zero RB-ish teams, this first waiver run has a long list of guys who are intriguing.

All players referenced in the Fantasy Football Waiver Wire column are under 50% owned in Yahoo! Fantasy Football Leagues. It is possible these players might be owned in your league.

Premium RB fantasy waiver wire pickups:

DARREL WILLIAMS (Chiefs)

If your league happened to draft earlier than usual or is maybe a 15-round draft with shorter benches, Williams is an absolute slam dunk waiver add. In fact, I would imagine that he is worth more of your FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) than whatever running back we are talking about adding next week, regardless of who it is. He is the clear No. 2 running back in Kansas City, which is valuable in and of itself, but with the possibility that the Chiefs are not going to overload Clyde Edwards-Helaire with carries in the first half of the season, Williams should actually have some standalone value. You can feel comfortable spending up to 25% of your budget on Williams.

BRYCE LOVE (Washington)

I preferred Love at his “absolute last round” price but think he is worth up to 15% of a waiver budget in Week Zero.

Additionally, the scenarios in which Love truly breaks out are probably huge 15-plus points fantasy points per game seasons whereas some of the other plays on this list don’t really have that in their range of outcomes.

JAMES ROBINSON (Jaguars)

Over the past week, after Leonard Fournette was cut from the Jaguars, I have found myself getting more and more excited about Robinson. Ryquell Armstead is now on IR for the Jaguars, leaving the backfield to be split between Robinson, Devine Ozigbo and Chris Thompson. Ozigbo himself is a fine Week Zero add (though I expect he will cost more than Robinson) but he has limited experience catching passes.

ENO BENJAMIN (Cardinals)

Benjamin was an impressive player at Arizona State and it appears the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff agrees with this assessment. The Cardinals are keeping only three running backs on the roster (a great spot for us to invest in as ZeroRB drafters) even though it was reported that Kenyan Drake spent part of training camp in a walking boot for precautionary reasons. Benjamin probably won’t have a Week 1 role, but we do expect him to get on the field for Arizona this season. In fact, former Cardinals’ favorite DJ Foster didn’t make the team, likely because of Eno’s presence.

MALCOLM BROWN (Rams)

Malcolm Brown could be the Rams starting RB in Week 1. It’s possible Brown is going to get the first chance while Cam Akers figures out the game at the NFL level.

Speculative waiver wire adds before Week 1:

The above-listed running backs are the top of the waiver bids that I am personally making in a vast majority of my (far too many) fantasy football leagues but of course, there are wide receivers and tight ends out there that need to be added.

A quick word on quarterbacks, who aren’t in this space: just carry one. I promise you that it is proper game theory to take QB week by week. Every single NFL week that passes on your roster where you have QBs, you are wasting a chance to catch an RB who improves massively in value week over week.

MILES BOYKIN (Ravens)

I have been trying to harp on Miles Boykin as much as possible, but it bears repeating that he and Andy Isabella are really the highest upside WRs that are freely available on many waiver wires.

The Ravens lost a huge chunk of their offensive snaps when they traded tight end Hayden Hurst. The Ravens offense, from a volume perspective, probably has more to gain from more competitive game scripts than any other team in football.

We have Lamar Jackson projected for 511 passes in 2020, more than 100 more than his 404 pass attempts in 2019. Boykin’s increase in snaps combined with this offense throwing more snaps could result in a fantasy bonanza.

LOGAN THOMAS (Washington)

Of all non-RBs, Logan Thomas is the guy I am most excited to add off waivers before the season starts.

Thomas is already drafted in many TE-premium formats but in many leagues, he should still be on the wire. I am so intrigued by Thomas’ upside on an offense that may lack many options other than Terry McLaurin that I would even hold him as a third TE before Week 1 just to see what his role is. If Thomas ends up being a 100-target TE somehow, you’ll feel amazing about spending a few waiver bucks on him here.

REX BURKHEAD (Patriots)

With Lamar Miller cut and Damien Harris out after surgery, the Patriots should have only three RBs active in Week 1 against Miami (Burkhead, Sony Michel and James White).

As a long-term Burkhead fan, I would be remiss not to suggest to anyone in need of RB help not think about Burkhead in the short term.

JOSH GORDON (Seahawks)

I would prefer Boykin, Andy Isabella, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling to Josh Gordon but with Gordon back with the Seahawks, many fantasy owners remember the heights and not the lows.

The truth is that Gordon has been barely relevant for fantasy football for quite some time. Do not cut anyone of consequence for Gordon though of course playing with Russell Wilson does give him an absurd 99.99th percentile outcome if he is able to get on the field and stay healthy.

MARQUEZ VALDES-SCANTLING (Packers)

Another player with disappointing play in 2019 but significant upside. How many 6-foot-4, 220 pound wide receivers who ran 4.4 40 yard dash get a chance to play with Aaron Rodgers?

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This column was provided to The Associated Press by SportsGrid Inc., www.sportsgrid.com

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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