2021 Season: Diving Into Week 1 Waivers

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Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Editor

Football is back. This is not a drill.

Our normal waiver wire column will be alive and well next week, but this week, I think we could kick things off with a look at the top player commonly available on waivers right now. Most of you will not need this, but it is never too early to start thinking about how to plug the holes in your roster. Normally we go diving deep into a wide pond with a bunch of tiny fish for waiver adds, but this early in the season it is about getting the last big fish in a small pond of relevant players.

Diving Into Week 1 Waivers

Quarterback

The big fish: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Washington Football Team)

Currently rostered in only 48% of Yahoo leagues and 23.4% of ESPN leagues, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the best quarterback widely available on waivers at the moment. At least for Week 1. Fitzpatrick was actually a top fantasy football quarterback to start 2020. He was QB8 through six weeks last year, and in Washington, he will have plenty of weapons. Plus, while the expectation is that the Los Angeles Chargers will have an improved defense in 2021, they were a solid matchup for opposing quarterbacks in 2020.

Running Back (PPR)

The big fish: Phillip Lindsay (Houston Texans)

Phillip Lindsay is technically rostered in just over 50% of ESPN leagues, but given that he is only rostered in 49% of Yahoo leagues, he made the cut. He also made the cut in Houston in a big way, potentially vaulting over fellow Texans running back David Johnson. All indications are that Johnson has been relegated to passing-down work and that the Houston Texans are shopping everyone. With two 1,000+ rushing yard seasons already under his belt, Lindsay has the tools to rise to the top in Houston's crowded backfield over a potentially washed-up Mark Ingram and trade bait David Johnson. Lindsay also gets the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1, who gave up the third-most fantasy football points to running backs last season.

Wide Receiver (PPR)

The big fish: Elijah Moore (New York Jets)

Terrace Marshall Jr. was heavily considered here, but ultimately the WR2 on the New York Jets is a better play than the WR3 from the Carolina Panthers. Corey Davis seems to be the WR1 in New York, but there is some ambiguity to the Jets wide receiver corps. The Carolina Panthers have no such ambiguity unless wide receiver Robby Anderson takes a serious step back. Elijah Moore was a highly touted draft prospect this year, who was taken with the second pick of the second round compares favorably to Tyler Lockett per PlayerProfiler. Yes, that Tyler Lockett. WR8 in PPR last year Tyler Lockett. If Moore can live up to either the draft capital or the hype, he would be an absolute steal off of waivers.

Tight End (PPR)

The big fish: Cole Kmet (Chicago Bears)

It is fantasy football analyst malpractice to recommend Evan Engram, so I will not. That leaves Cole Kmet as the logical choice if you need a tight end that could be on your roster all season long. The Chicago Bears threw to the tight end 22.7% of all passing-downs last year, and as the season went on more of that work went to Kmet. In Weeks 13, 14 and 17 last season, Kmet finished in the top-10 in tight end targets per FantasyPros. From Week 13 on, he saw six targets or more in four out of five weeks. Target share is vital for a tight end, and Kmet is trending in the right direction. The continued of Jimmy Graham is frustrating, but if you are desperate, Kmet could be a bet that pays off big this season.

Defense/Special Teams

The big fish: Miami Dolphins DST

Miami finished DST4 in 2020. They also feature top cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, and the defense should be improved from last season, not worse. Yet they are rostered in just 37% of ESPN leagues and even less in Yahoo leagues. New England seems to be scaring everyone, but there is a universe where the elite cornerbacks on this Miami Dolphins feast on rookie mistakes by New England Patriots starting quarterback Mac Jones. If you need a defense that could be more than a streamer, definitely go get the Miami Dolphins.

Kicker

The big fish: Rodrigo Blakenship (Indianapolis Colts)

Rodrigo Blankenship. The sexiest man alive in RecSpecs. Winner of an (unexpected) training camp battle. K6 last year as a rookie. Kicks half his games in a dome, including this week against the Seattle Seahawks at home. With the Indianapolis Colts' injury (and COVID-19) problems turning them into a potentially anemic offense, the opportunity for Blankenship to get some field goals is ripe. What is not to love?

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