2021 Season: It's A Match! Heading Into Week 1

Zach Crutcher (@ZackyNFL)
The Lateral Contributor

Whether it is bye week troubles, a late injury, or waiting on a rookie stash to finally get an opportunity, sometimes a warm body in the FLEX spot is all you need. Enter: It's A Match! These waiver recommendations are strictly to be considered plays for this week only. If they work out longer term than that, great. But that is not the expectation.

Also, all players are rostered in 50% or less of ESPN leagues. If there are better players still available in your leagues, go get them instead.

It's A Match! Three Matchups to Exploit in Week 1

Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8:30 pm Thursday)

Who to add: Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20% ESPN)

The Lateral already recommended Giovani Bernard as a waiver add to make right now for Week 2. However, there is an argument for playing him in Week 1 as well. Tom Brady won three Super Bowls with James White as the pass-catching back in New England. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought in Bernard to fill that exact role. But what about the matchup? Well, Dallas Cowboys allowed 28.6 points per game last season, good for 28th in the league. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay threw the sixth-most targets to running backs in 2020 despite Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette's struggles in the receiving game. Bernard could not only absorb that work, but his skill in the passing game could lead to increased volume over last year, making him a threat in PPR leagues. Plus, Chris Godwin just popped up on the injury report so if he is out, look for Bernard to be more involved.

New York Jets at Carolina Panthers (1 pm Sunday)

Who to add: Elijah Moore, New York Jets (40% ESPN)

With Jamison Crowder having tested positive for COVID-19, the door is open for Elijah Moore. Moore was an excellent college prospect, going second in the second round of the 2021 NFL draft. Only Heisman winner DeVonta Smith had more receiving yards in all of the FBS in 2020. This matchup against the Carolina Panthers could turn into a shootout as well, with Sam Darnold unleashing the Panthers' offensive weapons in a revenge game against the Jets' weak secondary. If it does, the Jets will need to throw to keep up, which is good news for a team that targeted their wide receivers 70.5% of the time in 2020. Moore could even find himself out wide in week one matched up against fellow rookie, Carolina Panthers cornerback Jaycee Horn. The last time Moore and Horn matched up, Moore put up a massive 13 receptions, 270 total yards, and two touchdowns.

Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts (1 pm Sunday)

Who to add: Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts (38% ESPN)

The Seattle Seahawks allowed the third-most passing yards per game in 2020, and the Indianapolis Colts are now missing one of their top wide receivers with T.Y. Hilton going to injured reserved for neck surgery. The scoring for Seattle's visit to Indianapolis has dropped to 48.5, but the opportunity for Parris Campbell against the Seahawk's porous secondary on Sunday afternoon has not changed. New Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz loves targeting his slot receivers, which is where Campbell will look to do some damage with his 4.31-speed. Campbell played in the slot on 94.9% of his snaps in 2020 and is only three months older than second-year wideout Michael Pittman. The opportunity is there.

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