With most fantasy football drafts in the books, we turn our attention to Week 1. After taking a look at the current state of the waiver wire, there are a handful of players still widely available in 10- and 12-team leagues who are very much worth grabbing. A lot of these players just slipped through the cracks or may be available in shallower leagues, but every name on this list is worth keeping a sharp eye out for. Don’t spend too much of your FAAB budget if any players are on waivers, as there’s no need to kill your budget before the season starts, but you should definitely consider picking up one or two of these players if you can get them at free agents.
As we'll do every week this season, we'll break down the top pickups and project how much of your FAAB budget you should bid on them.
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Week 1 Fantasy Football FAAB targets: Quarterback
Ryan Tannehill (Tennessee Titans). Tannehill’s 35-percent owned in ESPN leagues, and I was more than happy to take him as my third quarterback in a two-quarterback league. Last year the Titans actually had designed plays for him to run. That likely won’t happen in 2020, but I do expect him to throw a little more. In six of his last seven starts, he attempted 30-plus pass attempts just once. I don’t believe we’ll see that lack of volume this year for him. Tennessee is still a run-first offense, but the Titans gave him a four-year deal worth over $100 Million with $62 Million guaranteed. In all but one of Tannehill's starts he had multiple touchdowns, and he threw just six interceptions. It seems he’s found a good system in Tennessee, so I’m a little surprised he wasn’t drafted in more leagues. FAAB BID:
Gardner Minshew (Jacksonville Jaguars). I’m not completely buying into Minshew yet. I know he presents upside because the Jags could be down a lot this year and he’ll have to throw a lot so garbage time will present itself. Accuracy is a slight concern, as Minshew completed barely over 60 percent of his passes a year ago, and in four of his last five starts he topped 200 yards passing just twice. Even if he isn’t the most efficient quarterback, he could provide fantasy value on volume alone, and he’ll likely get you some rushing yards each week, as he had at least 25 rushing yards in eight games a year ago. He could be a great asset for a guy who is available in about 80 percent of leagues. FAAB BID:
Week 1 Fantasy Football FAAB targets: RB
Boston Scott (Philadelphia Eagles). The Eagles are optimistic that Miles Sanders (lower body) will be good to go for Sunday’s game against Washington. However, he’s been held out of practice as a precaution the last couple weeks, and if he does miss Sunday’s game, then Scott becomes an immediate flex play. Even if Sanders does play, Scott is still a great stash for fantasy. We saw Scott close out the last four games last year with 23 receptions, 350 all-purpose yards, and four touchdowns. He was a great late-round draft pick, but now he’s a great stash off waivers. FAAB BID: 2-4%
Chris Thompson (Jacksonville Jaguars). It doesn’t look like Devonta Freeman will be signing with the Jaguars as of Labor Day, as the two sides couldn’t reach a deal. That bodes well for both Thompson, Ryquell Armstead (who likely won’t be available for the first few weeks after being placed on the COVID-19 reserve list), Devine Ozigbo, and James Robinson. There are a couple knocks on Thompson: He struggles to stay healthy, and he doesn’t register carries. But in PPR formats he might be worth a stash, as he’ll be used on pass-catching downs. He’s also reunited with Jay Gruden, his former head coach in Washington, who is now the offensive coordinator in Jacksonville. This is a guy that you can keep off your radar in standard formats, but in PPR leagues keep an eye on him especially in an offense that will throw more. FAAB BID: 3%
Chase Edmonds (Arizona Cardinals). If anything were to happen to Kenyan Drake, Edmonds could be a league winner. I’m not saying that I’m cheering for an injury to Drake, but it’s football, and nobody’s safe. If you’re a yards-per-carry truther, you’ll love the fact that from Weeks 4-7 last year, Edmonds averaged 5.8 yards per carry on 46 carries, and he had that huge three-touchdown game last season against the Giants. If the Drake trade didn’t happen, we could’ve seen bigger things from Edmonds. If Drake underwhelms or gets hurt, Edmonds could win you your league. FAAB BID: 5%
Joshua Kelley (Los Angeles Chargers). Kelley entered training camp in a position battle with Justin Jackson as the team’s second running back behind Austin Ekeler. By all accounts, things haven’t changed as they’re still in a tight battle. Jackson has looked good in brief stints in the NFL, but Kelley could be a nice complimentary “change-of-pace” back for when Ekeler needs relief. He’s a big downhill runner that is a physical specimen who performed well at the combine. He’s more of a stash in deeper leagues, but definitely a player worth flagging. FAAB BID: 3%
Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys). Pollard is a great stash especially if you believe in handcuffing and can afford the roster spot for Pollard. He only carried the ball 86 times last year, but was efficient and turned it into 455 yards and a touchdown. He also led all running backs with 2.7 yards after contact. He’s bigger in size and tough to bring down. It stands to reason that he’s still Zeke’s backup, although Mike McCarthy has been mum on the usage of the two. There’s no reason to believe Pollard will even get 30 percent of the carries, but he’s a great stash if something were to happen to Elliott. FAAB BID:
Week 1 Fantasy Football FAAB targets: WR
Preston Williams (Miami Dolphins). He’s likely only available in more shallow leagues but this is a guy who needs to be on your radar if he is still out there. Williams was leading the Dolphins in targets prior to tearing his ACL last year, with at least five in every game he played. He had some issues with drops, but the fact that he was that reliable in the offense as an undrafted rookie says a lot. He is 10 months removed from the ACL tear, so it’s possible that his workload is limited to start the season, but by all accounts, the knee looks fine. Even after DeVante Parker broke out after Williams’ injury, expect the second-year wideout to be involved once they take the leash off his snaps and routes run cap. FAAB BID: 3-5%
Laviska Shenault Jr. (Jacksonville Jaguars). So far in this article, each section has included at least one member of the Jaguars. I’ve taken Shenault as a late-round flyer in every single draft I’ve done in the last week. I’ve already touched on how this team is going to have to throw a ton, and by all accounts, Shenault has really impressed in training camp. Dede Westbrook is still dealing with a shoulder injury, and this can only help Shenault, who could see a gradual increase in targets out of the slot. With much of the attention on DJ Chark, Shenault will be a nice target for Minshew, especially when they’re playing from behind. He’s barely over five-percent owned in ESPN leagues and 0.4 percent of NFL.com leagues. I understand there was great value at wide receiver in the middle rounds, but Shenault went unnoticed and needs to be watched if this team is going to be playing from behind. FAAB BID: 2-4%
Michael Pittman Jr. (Indianapolis Colts). I list Pittman after Shenault only because I don’t think the Colts will need to throw as much as the Jaguars. It’s clear the Colts have a backfield and offensive line that will run the ball down their opponents’ throats, but Pittman has some upside. He’s made some contested catches in camp, while also having some drops. And he’s a big target for Philip Rivers, as he stands at 6-4. It also says something about how much the Colts like him considering they selected him a few spots ahead of Jonathan Taylor in this year’s draft. Both Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell are currently dealing with injuries, so their status for Week 1 is up in the air. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say at least one of them definitely suits up, but how involved with they be? Pittman could see heavy usage early on. FAAB BID:
Chase Claypool (Pittsburgh Steelers). I’m not incredibly excited about Claypool, but he’s a big, fast target for Ben Roethlisberger. The downside is there are already plenty of mouths to feed in the Steel City. Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington are all ahead of him on the depth chart. The team also signed Eric Ebron to play tight end, and James Conner looks to be pretty healthy right now. Claypool’s pretty far down the depth chart, and he’s a player that may come on as the season progresses. You still have to love his size and speed as a deep-league option. FAAB BID:
Week 1 Fantasy Football FAAB targets: Tight End
Jonnu Smith (Tennessee Titans) (56% owned Yahoo). Smith is surprisingly available in a fair amount of leagues, but with Delanie Walker out of the way, he’s finally the go-to guy at his position. Smith was incredibly efficient last year and stands to improve upon his 35 catches and 439 yards, and he’s a nice red zone target for Ryan Tannehill. Now it is worth mentioning, the Titans could easily run the ball if they get that close, but Smith will get his looks as he enters his fourth year. FAAB BID: 1%
Eric Ebron (Pittsburgh Steelers). If there was ever a time to play Ebron, it would be Monday night against the Giants. He’s been weak as a run blocker throughout his career, but the Steelers have made an effort to develop him as a better blocker. This helps him get on the field a little more, and he’ll be used as a nice pass-catching option. The Giants allowed eight touchdowns to opposing tight ends last season, and if Ebron does happen to find the end zone Monday night then he’ll be well worth streaming. FAAB BID:
Week 1 Fantasy Football FAAB targets: D/ST
Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have a very good offense. I’m of the mindset the defense is actually better than their offense. The thing going against Tampa Bay is their schedule. The NFC South presents matchups against tough competition, and they play the AFC West this year, as well. But there is still plenty of talent here. Shaquil Barrett had 19.5 sacks in a breakout season last year, and he’s still looking for a long-term contract since he’ll be playing under the franchise tag. The Bucs are returning 11 of their top 12 players in terms of snaps from a year ago, so this is a fairly cohesive unit, and they drafted Antoine Winfield Jr. to play safety and bolster the secondary. They were top 10 in forced fumbles and sacks last season, and what killed them was the fact they had to come back on the field to clean up against Jameis Winston’s mistakes last year. Tom Brady won’t give the ball away so often, so the Bucs won’t bleed as many points. FAAB BID:
Los Angeles Chargers. Obviously the loss of Derwin James (knee) hurts pretty bad, but they still have a very good secondary in Chris Harris Jr. and Casey Hayward. The pass rush is still stout with Linval Joseph, Melvin Ingram, and they locked up Joey Bosa. They also stole Kenneth Murray in the first round of the draft in April. So, while the loss of James sucks, there is still plenty of talent here and they have a phenomenal matchup Week 1 in Cincinnati against a rookie quarterback making his first career start behind an improved offensive line, but remember this will also be Jonah Williams’ NFL debut and he’ll have his hands full with Bosa this week. FAAB BID:
Philadelphia Eagles (64% owned Yahoo). If you missed out on drafting the Colts to stream in Week 1, the Eagles have possibly an even better matchup and are available in most leagues. The Eagles play the Washington Football Team in Week 1, and a lot has been made of the Washington backfield in fantasy circles prior to the season, but the Eagles touted one of the better run defenses last year. They also acquired Darius Slay in the offseason, so he might make things difficult for Terry McLaurin in Week 1. The Eagles are favored by six points with the Over/Under hovering around 43.0, so there isn’t a great amount of scoring expected in this matchup. The offensive line for Washington is pretty weak, and I expect the Eagles to get plenty of pressure on Dwayne Haskins. FAAB BID: