It’s never too early to improve a team, people. Winning your fantasy league is going to require a fair amount of roster turnover. Each week throughout the regular season, we offer a group of priority pickups in advance of waiver deadlines. Every player listed here is available in a majority of Yahoo leagues. Let’s add…
Running backs to target on waiver wire
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (20% rostered)
Entering the year, Hines had already established himself as one of the league’s most reliable backfield receiving options. He delivered 107 receptions on 139 targets over his first two pro seasons. On Sunday, he added another eight catches to that career total. Hines finished with 45 receiving yards and one score against the Jaguars, adding seven carries for 28 yards and another spike. He was clearly a big part of the red-zone plan for the Colts…
Marlon Mack went down with a torn Achilles injury in the loss at Jacksonville, a brutal break for a quality player. In his absence, Hines split snaps evenly with thoroughly hyped rookie Jonathan Taylor, who managed to gain 89 scrimmage yards himself. These two complement each other extremely well, so don’t expect Hines to be completely overtaken by Taylor. Philip Rivers has never failed to feed targets to his running backs. Don’t be surprised if Hines manages to catch 70-plus passes in the year ahead. If he’s getting 5-8 carries each week behind the mastodons on the Colts’ O-line, that’s a nice bonus.
Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams (26%)
You can’t say we didn’t tell you Brown had a shot at a huge opening week workload. He was a featured name in last week’s pickups piece and he exceeded expectations. Brown carried 18 times for 79 yards and two spikes on Sunday night, plus he caught three passes for another 31 yards. The Rams have always liked him as a goal-line runner — he handled eight carries inside the 5-yard line last season — and he made the most of his opportunities against the Cowboys. Cam Akers saw 15 touches in the win against Dallas, which is promising, though he gained only 43 total yards.
For now, Brown is the clear head of the Rams’ backfield committee. If you were a ZeroRB drafter, you gotta jump on Brown while he’s still widely available. This will serve as last call.
Benny Snell, Pittsburgh Steelers (14%)
Snell was the subject of various best-shape-of-his-life stories this offseason, and, based on Monday night’s results, the summer hype seems legit. He was terrific in a friendly matchup against the Giants, rushing for better than 100 yards while James Conner watched from the sideline, dinged again. Snell was decently productive as a rookie, but he appeared to be a different dude against New York. Ball security was a small issue, but he otherwise passed the eye test. Even if Conner’s ankle issue isn’t significant, Snell may have forced his way into a healthy role. He’s definitely worth a speculative pickup.
Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (13%)
Austin Ekeler is the unrivaled featured back for the Chargers, just to be clear. Ekeler handled 20 touches on Sunday against Cincinnati, in a game that neither team deserved to win (but one accidentally did).
Kelley, however, appeared to settle the question of which back occupies the second spot on the depth chart. The rookie handled 12 carries, gaining 60 yards and scoring on a nifty goal-to-go plunge. Justin Jackson only ran the ball twice, exiting with a quad injury. After Sunday’s impressive debut, Kelley could very well be looking at double-digit weekly touches. He’s a powerful runner coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at UCLA, built to win in short-yardage. Definitely flex-worthy.
Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions (46% rostered)
Well, damn. AP can still hit a rushing lane and embarrass would-be tacklers, even at 35 years old. He just arrived in Detroit a few days ago, but he’s already claimed the top spot in the Lions’ rushing hierarchy. Peterson produced 114 total yards on 17 touches on Sunday, averaging a healthy 6.6 yards per carry. Rookie D’Andre Swift managed to deliver a 1-yard first-half touchdown, but he also had a crushing drop on a potential late game-winning score. Peterson was plenty effective for Washington last season, gaining 1,040 scrimmage yards on 228 touches in a mostly miserable offense. He’s certainly worth a flier in Detroit.
Additional RBs to add: Jerick McKinnon (great to see him back in the game, with a rotational role in a great rushing offense), Alexander Mattison (gained 80 total yards on 10 touches against the Pack), Peyton Barber (brutally inefficient against Philly, carrying 17 times for just 29 yards, but he stumbled into the end-zone twice), Myles Gaskin (out-snapped Howard and Breida by a lot on Sunday), Chase Edmonds (he saw five targets and six carries, plus he made a house call in Arizona’s surprise win at Levi’s Stadium).
Wide receivers and tight ends to target on the wire
Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers (31%)
So much for that talking point about Teddy Bridgewater refusing to take deep shots…
Carolina put up 30 points in a loss to the Raiders on Sunday, and Bridgewater wasn’t exactly hyper-conservative. It’s only one game (against a sketchy defense), but we can still feel a whole lot better about the Teddy-Robby connection. Anderson finished with 115 receiving yards and a touchdown on six catches, plus he hauled in a 2-point conversion. He remains one of the league’s most dangerous deep threats and game-flow will favor him more often than not. His roster-percentage is curiously low, considering his history of fantasy usefulness.
Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars (12%)
Shenault entered the NFL as a versatile, high-ceiling prospect coming off an up-and-down collegiate career at Colorado. He was terrific as a sophomore, scoring six touchdowns as a receiver and five as a runner, hauling in 86 balls for 1,011 yards. He took a backward step last season, but there’s no denying his upside. We heard the Jaguars were getting creative with Shenault in camp, then he made plenty of noise in the team’s opener…
Gardner Minshew’s 19 completions went to 10 different receivers on Sunday, so no member of the receiving corps had a massive day. Shenault certainly backed up his preseason hype, however, and he rarely came off the field. The rookie demands attention.
Logan Thomas, Washington F.T. (2%)
Thomas entered the regular season with sleeper appeal following a buzzy camp and he certainly didn’t disappoint in the opener. He caught four passes on eight targets in Sunday’s win over the Eagles, with a 6-yard touchdown included. Not too shabby for a former college QB who’s made the switch to tight end. Plenty of targets are up for grabs this season in Washington, as the team doesn’t really have an established No. 2 receiver behind Terry McLaurin. It’s hardly outrageous to imagine Thomas finishing a healthy season among the top-10 at his position in total chances. He’s a priority for fantasy managers who just lost Blake Jarwin to injury.
Other notable WR/TE options: Russell Gage (he saw a dozen targets in the opener, one of the highest totals in the league), Parris Campbell (another player we’ve thoroughly hyped who saw a healthy opening week workload), Corey Davis (strong Monday night showing put him on the fantasy radar, with authority), Jalen Reagor (returned from injury and made his presence felt early), Allen Lazard (hauled in all four of his targets in the win at Minnesota, with a TD included),Eric Ebron (buzz keeps growing about his potential red-zone role), James Washington (found the end-zone in impressive fashion on Monday night), Preston Williams (he had a quiet opener, but he saw seven targets. Also, the team will desperately need him if DeVante Parker’s hamstring injury is significant).
Quarterbacks to add
Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars (25%)
We knew the setup was going to be friendly for Minshew in 2020, but I’m not sure anyone could have forecast his opening week stat line: 19-for-20, 173 yards, 3 TDs. He somehow connected with 10 different receivers on only 20 attempts. If you’d rostered the Indianapolis defense, attempting to stream against the Jaguars, um … whoops. Gotta take the L on that one. When a quarterback has more touchdown passes than incompletions, fantasy managers should probably take an interest. Minshew may have a gunslinger aesthetic, but he hasn’t been particularly reckless since taking over in Jacksonville; he only threw six interceptions last season in 470 attempts. His schedule is a gift in the weeks ahead: at Ten, Mia, at Cin, at Hou, Det. There’s a very good chance Minshew will deliver a series of quality fantasy performances.
Also addable at QB: Teddy Bridgewater (because it feels as if every week is gonna be a high-scoring affair for Carolina), Mitchell Trubisky (somehow, in a game in which he was often hilariously bad, he finished with 242 yards and three TDs. His upcoming schedule is a dream for fantasy purposes, for whatever it’s worth: NYG, at Atl, Ind).
Defense to consider via the wire
Football Team is heading to Arizona in Week 2 for a matchup of undefeated football teams. <— That was a fun sentence to write. Both defenses should be on your radar for streaming purposes. Washington’s D/ST happens to be coming off a huge fantasy week, having sacked Carson Wentz eight times and forcing three takeaways. Chase Young, predictably, was a problem, a destroyer of game-plans. Washington sure seems like a team that’s going to specialize in the very things that feed fantasy scoring.