NFL Fantasy Football: Dave Loughran takes a look at the top NFL Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups from Week 1, including John Ross and Darren Waller (FREE).
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John Ross (WR – CIN)
Ross broke out in a huge way last week, hauling in seven of his team-leading 12 targets for 158 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks. Ross has compiled 210 scoreless yards across 16 games prior to Sunday, so it’s appropriate to say we didn’t envision an offensive explosion happening when looking into our fantasy crystal balls this week. The third-year speedster played 82 percent of Cincinnati’s offensive snaps in week 1, and should continue to get considerable usage until A.J. Green returns. Even when Green does re-enter the lineup, Damion Willis – who led the team in snaps at 90% last week – should suffer the most while Ross continues to see opportunities. Ross’ speed could also keep him in play even if he sees less usage at times, as he’ll only need one or two plays to make a fantasy impact.
NOTE: If John Brown (WR – BUF) is available in your league he should be prioritized at wide receiver. Josh Allen throws the deep ball with high frequency and showed on Sunday that he’s capable of hooking up with Brown in a less than perfect matchup. Jamison Crowder (WR – NYJ) saw a league-leading 17 targets on Sunday and should also be towards the top of your list.
D.K. Metcalf (WR – SEA)
Metcalf looked like a man amongst boys on Sunday, overpowering defensive backs and making an impressive acrobatic catch that was integral to setting up Tyler Lockett’s game-winning 44-yard score. That’s about all we saw of Lockett, though, as the touchdown accounted for his reception on a measly two total targets. However, Metcalf led the Seahawks in targets with six (4/89/0), and was one of only two wide receivers to draw a target on the day.
It’s not unreasonable to think Metcalf’s size, strength and ability to come down with contested passes could make him the top targeted pass catcher in Seattle this season. The Seahawks obviously want to continue running the ball at an absurdly high clip, but Metcalf could provide some relief for those of us who drafted players like Tyreek Hill, A.J. Green, or are just weak at the flex position.
Darren Waller (TE – OAK)
Waller is a player I tried to draft in the late rounds of almost every league I’m competing in this season. His athleticism at the tight end position made him one of the highest ceiling players at his ADP, and a very strong performance in Monday’s win over Denver only solidified that notion. Waller hauled in seven of his eight targets for 70 yards and played every single offensive snap for the Raiders. He had a whopping 30 percent market share of targets and absolutely needs to be on fantasy lineups going forward if you didn’t already draft him.
If you are weak at tight end, don’t be afraid to overspend on Waller just to guarantee you’ll land him. Potentially premiere tight ends simply don’t pop up enough throughout the season to pass on this opportunity. Derek Carr and John Gruden have already proven with Jared Cook that they are more than willing to lean on a quality pass-catching tight end each week.
T.J. Hockenson (TE – DET)
Hockenson also warrants some attention after a massive NFL debut. The bar was set high for Hockenson, who was drafted eighth overall in the 2019 draft, and he did not disappoint, amassing 131 yards and a score on six receptions and nine targets against the Cardinals. He’s surely going to post some big games throughout the year, but I have him prioritized behind Waller based solely on the complete dearth of pass-catching options in Oakland. Again, however, I’d be willing to overspend a little bit to make sure you land a potentially high-upside tight end before they all disappear.
Chris Thompson (RB – WAS)
Thompson played a position-leading 64 percent of snaps for the Redskins last week, and was unexpectedly heavily involved as a pass-catcher in the 32-27 loss to Philadelphia. It seemed during the summer many people forgot Thompson even existed, and were valuing Derrius Guice very high with the anticipation that he’d be handling a ton of work. Even if that was the case on the ground, Thompson is still the top receiver in this backfield and it isn’t close. Guice will likely miss a couple weeks with a knee injury, and the Redskins will almost certainly be playing from behind each week. This will once again place Thompson in a position to make an impact in PPR leagues. His seven receptions on targets in week 1 could become a common theme throughout the year.
Adrian Peterson (RB – WAS) should also be considered as a streaming option while Guice is out, but could go back to being inactive when he returns. This wouldn’t be a season-long acquisition, and isn’t necessary unless you’re desperate for depth now.
Also Consider: Mike Davis (RB – CHI), Raheem Mostert (RB – SF), Carlos Hyde (RB – HOU), D.J. Chark (WR – JAX)
Marquise Brown (WR – BAL)
Brown played a mere 14 percent of Baltimore’s offensive snaps on Sunday, good for fewest among all Ravens skill players. His two long touchdowns made for a heroic NFL debut, but there’s simply no way Brown can sustain production even remotely close to what we saw last week if he isn’t on the field more. There are several significant better free agent pickups at the wide receiver position this week.