Week 1 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Advice: Players to Target, Stash & Drop (2022)

Hello, dear waiver wire fisherman. Welcome to our pond.

This is the first installment of FantasyPros’ new weekly waiver wire guide. Our aim is to give you all the information you need to navigate waivers throughout the season. That includes…

Player reports. We’ll take a closer look at players who are rostered in less than half of Yahoo leagues and might be able to help fantasy teams.

Custom-fit FAAB bid recommendations. Most waiver articles include a suggested FAAB bid for each player, but there’s no context to that amount. The manager who’s been shredded by injuries is going to bid more aggressively than the manager who’s trying to upgrade his last bench spot inexpensively. We’re going to have three recommended bids for each player based on a $100 season-long budget: a true-value bid (what we think each player is worth in a vacuum), a desperate-need bid (if you absolutely must have this guy), and a budget-minded bid (for when FAAB dollars are tight or you simply want to price-enforce).

Stash candidates. Which players currently have no stand-alone value but have significant potential value? We’ll offer a weekly list.

Drop recommendations. We’ll sort drop candidates into three categories: Droppable, droppable with a chance of regret, and don’t drop yet.

Kickers. Fantasy analysts tend to be snobbish about kickers, but most home leagues include them. We’ve got you covered.

A grade for each week’s waiver crop. How thick or thin is the available waiver talent in a particular week? Is it the sort of week where people are going to spend boatloads of FAAB money, or is it tumbleweeds on the waiver wire? We’ll assess the waiver crop with a letter grade at the top of each article.

And that’s where we’ll start this week: with a letter grade. Drafts are done. The “choose your fighter” phase is over, and only the (mostly) unchosen remain. There are a few intriguing assets out there, particularly at the WR position, but things will only get better from here.

Grade: C-

(Written by Derek Brown, Bo McBrayer and Pat Fitzmaurice)

Week 1 Waiver Wire Rankings

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Quarterbacks

Jameis Winston (NO): 46% rostered

  • Next Opponents: @ATL, TB, @CAR
  • True value: $4
  • Desperate Need: $6
  • Budget-minded: $3

Analysis: Some of you wackos are streaming QB from the get-go, and Jameis might be the best one to start with. Atlanta has one of the weakest defensive rosters in the NFL, and AJ Terrell can’t cover everyone. The Bucs figure to be a pass funnel again this season, which plays right into the Saints’ hands. Carolina is an opportunistic defense, but the old Tampa Bay Jameis got LASIK and hasn’t been serving up as many picks since he hit Bourbon Street. He went for 14 touchdowns vs. only three picks before his injury in 2021, when his best WR was Marquez Callaway.


Matt Ryan (IND): 45% rostered

  • Next Opponents: @HOU, @JAX, KC
  • True Value: $3
  • Desperate Need: $5
  • Budget-Minded: $1

Analysis: Not many fantasy managers are gutsy enough to get through their draft without a viable starting QB, but there are still a couple of guys who are under-rostered and begin 2022 with Charmin-soft schedules. Matty Ice has been the talk of camp in Indy due to the stark difference between him and Carson Wentz. The Colts are built to make a run this season and start their schedule with two road cupcake games vs. the basement of the division. Even Kansas City is seemingly susceptible on the back end this season. He might not throw as often as Winston, but Ryan makes me feel more warm and fuzzy with confidence that he won’t burn me.


Stash Candidates: Mac Jones, Baker Mayfield, Davis Mills, Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota, Geno Smith

Analysis: Most, if not all, fantasy managers will draft a QB and start him until bye weeks or injuries get involved. I don’t even advocate for drafting a second QB in most cases because of the lack of differentiation in the bottom of the position. Mac Jones is facing an uphill battle with a bunch of underwhelming receivers and no offensive-minded coaches, but he’s still an efficient option for 2QB and superflex formats. … Baker Mayfield has been ostracized after playing through a shoulder injury in Cleveland, but he finds himself in a much more favorable spot in Carolina. … Davis Mills was the second-most efficient rookie QB (behind Jones) last season. He will be passing plenty as the response to a horrible Texans defense. … Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota, and Geno Smith are bad QBs with great weapons to throw to. Don’t spend FAAB on them, but they could be useful in deeper leagues.

Running Backs

Khalil Herbert (CHI): 41% rostered

  • Next Opponents: SF, @GB, HOU
  • True Value: $3
  • Desperate Need: $7
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: There really isn’t anything flashy about this Bears backfield, but starter David Montgomery‘s fit with Matt Eberflus’ offensive scheme has already been put under a microscope. The same reports did not include their second-year back out of Virginia Tech, who was the only player to rush for over 100 yards vs the Buccaneers last season. Even if Monty stays healthy, Herbert stands to seize a bigger piece of the pie if he remains the hot hand and in higher favor with the coaching staff.


Rachaad White (TB): 35% rostered

  • Next Opponents: @DAL, @NO, GB
  • True Value: $4
  • Desperate Need: $8
  • Budget-minded: $2

Analysis: There are a few RBs who are considerably under-rostered in fantasy. The rookie from Arizona State is among the most prominent ones. He is a perfect fit to be Tom Brady‘s security blanket on third downs and in two-minute drills immediately. White is a gifted receiver and dynamic open-field ball carrier. He is also solid in pass protection — something that will be very important with the health of the Bucs’ offensive line. Should Leonard Fournette miss time, White has the ideal size to shoulder a heavier workload without consequence.


Isaiah Spiller (LAC): 18% rostered

  • Next Opponents: LV, @KC, JAX
  • True Value: $2
  • Desperate Need: $6
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Many fantasy managers have already forgotten about the rookie Spiller. The Texas A&M standout was slated to be the No. 2 option behind Austin Ekeler, then sprained his ankle in the second preseason game and sat out the third. He has already returned to practice, and it won’t be long before he boots Joshua Kelley back down the depth chart. The Chargers want to have a two-headed backfield and finally have another back beside their star who can actually make big plays and keep defenses honest when Ekeler leaves the field. An Ekeler injury would create a waiver feeding frenzy. It would be wise to stash him on the bench in deeper leagues and at least possess a high-leverage piece for a midseason trade. The Chargers also have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL despite playing in the strongest division.


D’Onta Foreman (CAR): 10% rostered

  • Next Opponents: CLE, @NYG, NO
  • True Value: $2
  • Desperate Need: $5
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Many are overlooking the importance of the Panthers signing Foreman, who filled in admirably for the injured Derrick Henry last season in Tennessee. At the very least, the former Texas Longhorn is slated to spell Christian McCaffrey every third series and in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Chuba Hubbard really struggled as a rookie last season, prompting the team to give Foreman a contract. He averaged 4.9 yards per touch for the Titans last season in a solid comeback from an Achilles injury. Fantasy managers who draft McCaffrey should have Foreman on their bench as a vital handcuff in case the injury bug afflicts CMC once again. In that case, one can only imagine how much it would cost to acquire the powerful Foreman on waivers.


Zamir White (LV): 15% rostered

  • Next Opponents: @LAC, ARI, @TEN
  • True Value: $3
  • Desperate Need: $6
  • Budget-Minded: $1

Analysis: Most of the fanfare from this year’s rookie class from the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs has been about the defense and Dalvin Cook‘s little brother. In reality, the fantasy asset with the most future upside to merge talent and situation is Zamir “Zeus” White. The rookie was the first offensive draft pick of the McDaniels era in Las Vegas, coinciding nicely with the Raiders declining Josh Jacobs‘ fifth-year option. White has prototypical size for a lead RB and is an athletic marvel. The five-star track athlete is two years removed from his second ACL injury and has shown no ill effects since his freshman year in Athens. It is plausible to expect an evenly balanced committee approach for this Raiders backfield, with White outshining an inefficient Jacobs and earning more snaps and touches as the season progresses.


Stash Candidates: Jeff Wilson, Jaylen Warren, Chris Evans, Ty Chandler, Hassan Haskins, Brian Robinson

Analysis: As the season approaches, there is a ton of value at the RB position that will inevitably implode as injury attrition sets in. This is why I advocate for rostering as many reserve RBs as possible. These stash candidates don’t hold much value at all right now in that they are backups to RBs who see heavy workloads, or their roles are slightly ambiguous (Evans). Since a great number of RBs are typically already on rosters, only the deepest leagues would warrant stashing guys who need an injury to occur to see meaningful and fantasy-relevant work. In the case of Brian Robinson, his meteoric rise in ADP when appearing to run ahead of Antonio Gibson in camp has completely disintegrated following his unfortunate shooting incident. He is someone I am interested in stashing on the IR in hopes that he returns after Week 4 to a meaningful role with the Commanders.

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Wide Receivers

Isaiah McKenzie (BUF): 50% rostered

  • Next Opponents: @LAR, TEN, @MIA
  • True value: $5
  • Desperate Need: $11
  • Budget-minded: $3

Analysis: Isaiah McKenzie might already be rostered in your league, but with him sneaking in at 50% rostered, I have to mention him here because this number should be way higher. McKenzie is the starting slot receiver for one of the best offenses in the NFL, with two juicy matchups to start the year. Last year, the Rams and Titans ranked 12th and first in fantasy points per game allowed to slot receivers.


Rondale Moore (ARI): 30% rostered

  • Next Opponents: KC, @LV, LAR
  • True value: $5
  • Desperate Need: $8
  • Budget-minded: $3

Analysis: If you’re looking for a steady flex play with a sexy upside in the next three weeks, Moore is your guy. With three matchups that project to be shootouts and against three trash-can slot corners, Moore can explode in the early going. He’ll run from the slot against L’Jarius Sneed, Amik Robertson, and Troy Hill in this stretch. Each of those corners allowed at least a 75% catch rate and 100.5 passer rating in coverage last year, per PFF.


Jarvis Landry (NO): 39% rostered

  • Next Opponents: @ATL, TB, @CAR
  • True value: $3
  • Desperate Need: $6
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Michael Thomas and Chris Olave will have to contend with Falcons CBs A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward on the outside in Week 1. This could lead Jameis Winston to zero in on Landry running from the slot. In Week 2, Landry matches up against ever-burnable Buccaneers CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, who allowed a 67.2% catch rate and 110.4 passer rating in coverage last season, per PFF. Landry could post back-to-back top-36 WR weeks to begin 2022.


Joshua Palmer (LAC): 21% rostered

  • Next Opponents: LV, @KC, JAX
  • True value: $3
  • Desperate Need: $6
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Back-to-back high total games, Justin Herbert‘s praise making headlines in training camp — what else do we need to convince you to take a flier on Joshua Palmer? Oh, and he’ll get to run routes against Nate Hobbs and Rock Ya-Sin to open the year. Each of those CBs gave up at least a 93.4 passer rating last season, per PFF. If Herbert stacks consecutive moonshot games to start this season, Palmer could come along for the ride.


Jahan Dotson (WAS): 21% rostered

  • Next Opponents: JAX, DET, PHI
  • True value: $3
  • Desperate Need: $6
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Jahan Dotson steps in immediately as a full-time starter for Washington with some interesting matchups on deck. Carson Wentz might be frightening as a quarterback overall, but the one thing he does well is throw the deep ball. Last year he was fourth in deep ball accuracy (per Playerprofiler.com). Why does this matter? Last year DET and PHI ranked 30th and 28th in DVOA against deep passing (per Football Outsiders).


Stash Candidates: Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Skyy Moore, Parris Campbell

Analysis: We’re waiting for preseason and combine hype to translate to fantasy points. If we’re looking for breakout candidates early, one of the two rookie WRs tied to Aaron Rodgers — Christian Watson or Romeo Doubs — could fit the bill. … The same can be said for Skyy Moore. As soon as Moore has a game where he balls out, the FAAB price will go through the roof. Get ahead of the curve and roster him now. … Mark my words: Someone from this Colts’ passing attack behind Michael Pittman will be a significant value in fantasy football. In Weeks 2-3, Parris Campbell faces a pair of secondaries that ranked 13th and 10th in fantasy points per game allowed to slot receivers last year. He could emerge as that guy early.

Tight Ends

Gerald Everett (LAC): 23% rostered

  • Next Opponents: LV, @KC, JAX
  • True value: $3
  • Desperate Need: $5
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Similar reasoning as with Josh Palmer above — Everett will be heavily involved in two possible barn burners to start this year. Last season, the Raiders, Chiefs, and Jaguars ranked 25th, 20th, and 17th in DVOA against tight ends, per Football Outsiders.


Mo-Alie Cox (IND): 9% rostered

  • Next Opponents: @HOU, @JAX, KC
  • True value: $2
  • Desperate Need: $4
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Mountainous red zone target Mo Alie-Cox begins the 2022 season with two of his first three games against defenses tied for sixth and 13th in receiving touchdowns allowed to tight ends. Houston was 32nd in DVOA against tight ends, per Football Outsiders.


Tyler Conklin (NYJ): 2% rostered

  • Next Opponents: BAL, @CLE, CIN
  • True value: $1
  • Desperate Need: $2
  • Budget-minded: $1 ($0 if possible)

Analysis: You’re worth a possible pickup when you open the season against two teams that ranked in the top four in receptions allowed to tight ends (BAL, CIN) last year. Conklin was the full-time starter at tight end for the Jets in the preseason, running ahead of C.J. Uzomah.


Stash candidates: Hayden Hurst, Austin Hooper, Isaiah Likely, Trey McBride

Analysis: Hayden Hurst has garnered positive camp buzz all off-season. After Week 1, Hurst has cushy matchups against the Cowboys and Jets. Those pass defenses were 13th and fourth in receiving yards surrendered to tight ends last year. … Austin Hooper doesn’t have to be a sexy name to score you fantasy points. On a depth chart littered with questions about the pass catchers, Hooper should be the full-time tight end for Tennessee, facing off against weak secondaries in Weeks 1 and 3. In 2021, the Giants and Raiders were 12th and ninth in receptions given up to tight ends. … Isaiah Likely impressed in the preseason. He could become fantasy-viable in a Ravens offense short on credible targets beyond Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman. Rondale Moore has returned to practice this week, but Zach Ertz is still out, leading to Trey McBride‘s inclusion on this stash list. Air dropped into an every-down role in a high total game in Week 1. Yes, if Ertz is out, McBride becomes a high-priority streaming candidate.

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Defenses

Cleveland Browns: 20% rostered

  • Next opponents: @CAR, NYJ, PIT
  • True value: $2
  • Desperate need: NA
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Led by fearsome pass rusher Myles Garrett, the Browns tied for ninth in sacks last year. They also have a terrific young group of cornerbacks with Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams and Greg Newsome. The Browns visit the Panthers in Week 1 and host the Jets and Steelers in Weeks 2-3. This defense has the potential to rack up fantasy points in matchups against QBs Baker Mayfield, Zach Wilson/Joe Flacco and Mitch Trubisky.


Philadelphia Eagles: 39% rostered

  • Next opponents: @DET, MIN, @WSH
  • True value: $1
  • Desperate need: NA
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: The Eagles had a middling fantasy defense in 2021 but offer promise for 2022. Philly boasts an imposing front seven and a good group of cornerbacks. The Eagles also have a favorable early-season schedule, drawing Jared Goff and the Lions in Week 1, a Vikings offense getting acclimated to a new system in Week 2, and Carson Wentz and the Commanders in Week 3.


Tennessee Titans: 37% rostered

  • Next opponents: NYG, @BUF, LV
  • True value: $1
  • Desperate need: NA
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: The Titans’ defensive personnel is just so-so, and you won’t want to use Tennessee for a Week 2 road game in Buffalo. But any defense-facing turnover machine Daniel Jones is worth streaming consideration, and the Titans draw Jones and the Giants in Week 1.


Cincinnati Bengals: 37% rostered

  • Next opponents: PIT, @DAL, @NYJ
  • True value: $1
  • Desperate need: NA
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: The defending AFC champs open against the Steelers, who have one of the worst offensive lines in the league and a shaky quarterback in Mitch Trubisky.


Carolina Panthers: 3% rostered

  • Next opponents: CLE, @NYG, NO
  • True value: $1
  • Desperate need: NA
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Carolina faces Jacoby Brissett in Week 1 and Daniel Jones in Week 2. If you like to target mediocre opposing QBs when you stream defenses, you might find the Panthers appealing.


Stash candidates: Kansas City Chiefs

Here’s how the Chiefs have ranked in defensive fantasy scoring every year since Andy Reid became their head coach in 2013: 3rd, 24th, 1st, 2nd, 12th, T7th, 5th, T11th, 8th. Kansas City’s defense has an unappealing early-season schedule: at Cardinals, vs. Chargers, at Colts, vs. Buccaneers, vs. Raiders, at Bills. But the advantage the Chiefs’ defense has is that Reid’s offense pressures opponents to throw in order to keep up with the KC offense, and more throwing means more sack and interception opportunities for the KC defense.

Kickers

Dustin Hopkins (LAC): 38% rostered

  • Next opponents: LV, @KC, JAX
  • True value: $1
  • Desperate need: NA
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Hopkins finished 10th in kicker scoring last season, is tied to an explosive Chargers offense and will rarely have to deal with inclement weather. Raiders-Chargers shapes up as a Week 1 shootout, and the Raiders gave up the 12th most fantasy points to opposing kickers last year.


Brandon McManus (DEN): 43% rostered

  • Next opponents: @SEA, HOU, SF
  • True value: $1
  • Desperate need: NA
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: QB Russell Wilson adds teeth to an offense that averaged fewer than 20 points per game last season and ranked 19th in FG attempts, making McManus a more appealing kicker option. It doesn’t hurt that the Broncos open against the Seahawks and Texans, two of the weakest teams in the league.


Rodrigo Blankenship (IND): 22% rostered

  • Next opponents: @HOU, @JAX, KC
  • True value: $1
  • Desperate need: NA
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Blankenship was tied for ninth in kicker scoring through the first four weeks of the 2021 season but sustained a hip injury in warmups before a Week 5 game against the Ravens and missed the rest of the season. He doesn’t have a big leg, but Blankenship is 32-of-37 on FG attempts of under 50 yards for his career, and he’s tied to an above-average offense. His matchups against the Texans and Jaguars in Weeks 1-2 are juicy.


Jake Elliott (PHI): 22% rostered

  • Next opponents: @DET, MIN, @WSH
  • True value: $1
  • Desperate need: NA
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Elliott finished ninth in kicker scoring last year and opens with an indoor matchup against the Lions, who yielded more kicker points in 2021 than any other team except the Jets.


Will Lutz (NO): 8% rostered

  • Next opponents: @ATL, TB, @CAR
  • True value: $1
  • Desperate need: NA
  • Budget-minded: $1

Analysis: Lutz is a decent Week 1 streaming option in an indoor matchup against the feeble Falcons.

Stash candidates: none

Drop Recommendations

Droppable

Gus Edwards will open the season on IR, and late-August roster addition Kenyan Drake could make Edwards expendable. … Will Fuller remains unsigned; don’t hold your breath waiting for his NFL return. … Robbie Anderson probably wasn’t worth rostering even before the Panthers acquired Laviska Shenault. It’s possible Shenault drains whatever fantasy value Anderson had left. … Speculation that Greg Dulcich might overtake Albert Okwuegbunam as Denver’s top TE pushed him up draft boards this summer, but Dulcich will open the season on IR with a hamstring injury, and rookie TEs not named Kyle Pitts rarely work out anyway.

Droppable with a chance of regret

The hype around seventh-round draft pick Isiah Pacheco built to a crescendo a few weeks ago when he played ahead of Ronald Jones in the preseason, prompting speculation that Jones could be released. The Chiefs kept Jones on the roster, and they have Clyde Edwards-Helaire as their primary early-down back and Jerick McKinnon as their primary passing-down back, so it’s hard to see Pacheco becoming fantasy-viable. … Mark Ingram was a popular late-round pick in drafts earlier this summer when it was assumed that Saints RB Alvin Kamara would be suspended after being arrested for an assault in Las Vegas on Pro Bowl weekend. But with legal experts now speculating that Kamara is unlikely to be suspended before the end of the season, the 32-year-old Ingram loses much of his appeal.

Don’t drop yet

Rookie Ken Walker seems destined to miss multiple weeks after undergoing a hernia procedure. Once he returns, he’ll have to earn snaps and carries as the backup to Rashaad Penny. Still, an RB prospect as good as Walker is worth keeping around unless you’re in a league with tiny benches. … Kenny Golladay is coming off a nightmarish 2021 season, and Giants beat writers haven’t been excited by what they’ve seen from Golladay so far in 2022. Give Golladay at least a game or two in new head coach Brian Daboll’s offense before you cut bait.

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