I hope you all had a nice offseason reading your sleeper lists and day dreaming about finally going #ZeroRB this year. The preseason has come to a close and now we are out in the elements, far from the safety of your Buffalo Wild Wings draft. This is when it gets tough, this is where titles are forged. Championship treks are filled with dead ends and pitfalls, but also heroic decisions and steadfast perseverance. My pledge is to be your Waiver Sherpa this season. I have seen the mountaintop and it is glorious, friends. Tonight we will plan and rest, as the long climb awaits.
Since we are still in preseason, we’ll first discuss some principles that will guide decisions along the way.
Maximize Your Bench
In 10 or 12 team leagues I generally will not roster 2 quarterbacks. According to the Razzball projection machine, QB3 and QB20 are separated by a total of 35 points for the season. That’s a weekly difference of 2.18 fantasy points per game between Jared Goff (3) and Marcus Mariota (20). There is no reason to hold onto a second QB because that roster spot is better used on a player who can become a difference maker through injury or a playing time increase. The only caveat to this rule is 2QB, superflex or very deep leagues where you don’t think a top 20ish QB can be found on waivers.
The value of rostering an extra RB, or to a lesser extent a WR, is so much greater than holding a QB. Breakout RBs or WRs also hold tremendous trade value whereas QBs usually do not. Because of the lack of point discrepancy, most managers in your league will feel like their guy is fine and will not think trading for a QB is a major upgrade.
Tight end is a little different than QB. I can endorse holding 2 cheap TEs early to see how the targets shake out, but be prepared to pick one and move forward within the first few weeks of the season.
I shouldn’t have to say this but please please please do not roster multiple defenses or kickers.
Managing Your FAAB
Whether you’re playing in the #RazzBowl with $10 or FFPC with $1000, one thing that is important to know is whether your league has free pickups after the waiver run. If it does, you can generally be more aggressive when bidding because worst case you can still add someone for $0 if you get desperate. If your league doesn’t have free pickups then I would be more miserly with your FAAB. Plan on having at least $1 a week towards the end of the year.
Generally, early season wire pickups are the most helpful. Don’t be afraid to spend a significant chunk because a guy who can help you for 14 weeks is more valuable than a guy who can help you for 1.
The Chosen One
I recommend always having a designated swing spot on your roster. This should be a player you are most comfortable dropping for fresh face off the wire. Whether it’s a handcuff stash or a rookie you believe in, recognize that a new addition who can help you now is more valuable.
In leagues with free moves, consider dropping a kicker during the week when there are murky injury reports or other uncertainties.
It may sound insignificant, but removing the mental barrier to dropping a guy will help you churn the bottom of your roster when the waivers hit.
Now that we’ve established some ground rules, let’s get to the pickups! For week 1 will recommend players who are owned in less than 30% of ESPN leagues who may be worth rostering before the first kickoff. Once the season gets underway, I will present pickups as injury or breakout related but for now these are all just speculative additions.
Generally, I will give a percentage of FAAB I would spend but you have to know your league. Use the number as a relative percentage compared to other options available in a given week. A “PPR+” designation means a player offers more utility in that format.
Jimmy Garoppolo, SF (0-5% FAAB) – I decided to add my favorite week 1 QB sleeper in case you drafted Andrew Luck. Jimmy GQ had a pretty rocky summer but ended with a bang going 14-20 for 188 yards and 1 TD in the third preseason game. Full disclosure: I am not certain Garoppolo is #good but I am certain Tampa Bay pairs a bottom 5 defense with a quality offense. Anyone facing the Bucs should be on your streaming radar and JG is no exception. As additional incentive, San Francisco goes to Cincinnati and comes home to face Pittsburgh, both of which are favorable matchups.
Devin Singletary, BUF (15-20%) – The 3rd round rookie is currently barely over the bar for ownership, but a dramatic situation change happened last Saturday. The Bills released LeSean McCoy, a move I prepared for in July, and have praised Singletary for his ability catching passes and protecting the quarterback. The latter is a massive boost to his projected utilization in the offense. He’s an upside RB3/FLEX play at the moment with room for growth. Go get him if you need a back.
Malcolm Brown, LAR (0-5%) – We simply do not know what the Rams have planned at the running back position. Brown was given the “starter” treatment during the preseason, registering zero carries through 4 weeks. If he comes out and gets 10-15 touches, you’ll want to already have him rather than slap down that FAAB with all the other animals out there.
Dare Ogunbowale, TB (0-5%, PPR+) – This one is really out of left field. A third year journeyman, Ogunbowale does not display any exciting skills other than some pass catching chops. He hauled in 60 balls in 2 years at Wisconsin but since bounced around 3 practice squads in 3 years. However, it seems he’s carved out a real role in the running back starved Tampa Bay offense. The Bucs are going to have one of the league’s worst defenses and will constantly be playing catch up so there is a path to relevancy in PPR leagues. You’d be wise to already own him before week 1.
John Brown, BUF (0-5%) – If you find yourself thin at WR, see what Brown can do for you. A match made in heaven for Josh Allen, he is a deep bomb specialist for the most YOLO QB in the league (apologies to Ryan Fitzpatrick). Brown was 8th in air yards in 2018, and had the highest average depth of target (min 75 targets). This could be a fun one, get it cheap before the highlight tweets go viral.
Albert Wilson (PPR+), DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, MIA (all 0-5%) – The Dolphins are going to be awful, their defense is going to be worse, and there is a chance this is an 0-16 team. However, they will at least attempt to score points and probably be garbage time kings. Ryan Fitzpatrick has no problem slinging it, albeit often to the other team, but I digress. Following the trade of Kenny Stills, this WR depth chart is wide open to start the year. I think someone will be valuable from this passing game but I’d be lying if I said I knew who right now.
Miles Boykin, BAL (0-5%) – I find myself intrigued with Boykin at the end of drafts. Sure he was the second receiver selected by his own team, and it should be a run heavy attack, but I’m interested to see what role he is given. First round pick Marquise Brown has been hampered by injuries all preseason and the only other relevant wideout is Willie Snead. On athletic testing alone, Boykin is a Calvin Johnson-esque freak and Raven’s beat writer Jeff Zrebiec projects him to be a week 1 starter. The offense Baltimore unveils could be very exciting and I’m willing to hold Boykin through the weekend. A tantalizing 4-81-1 line would make him a hot commodity.
T. J. Hockenson, DET (0-5%) – Rookie TEs have a notoriously slow learning curve in the NFL, but the 8th overall pick should see plenty of work right away. Given the likely volume, a low end TE1 season does not feel out of the question. If you are nervous about your drafted TE, keep an eye on Hock.
Darren Waller, OAK (0-5%) – The buzzy converted wide receiver is still there for the taking in 85% of fantasy leagues. After Oakland released Luke Willson, only 4th round rookie Foster Moreau stands behind Waller. While Antonio Brown will command the lion’s share of targets, Waller should inherit some of Jared Cook’s 2018 role which led to a TE5 finish. While a top 5 finish doesn’t seem likely, Waller is one of my personal favorite dart throws after the top 6 TEs.
Dallas Cowboys (0-5%) – America’s Team opens up at home against the Giants, which should be smooth sailing. Of course Saquon Barkley is incredible, but that shouldn’t stop you from rostering the ‘Boys. Sean Lee is healthy (to start the season at least) and he really makes this defense go. As a bonus, Dallas is a potential 3 week pickup since they travel to Washington before coming home to face Miami.
Seattle Seahawks (0-5%) – The Seahawks may not be an elite unit anymore, but opening up at home against an AJ Green-less Bengals with a bottom half offensive line is pretty tasty. If Jadeveon Clowney is able to join the team and be active, that’s a major boost to their sack potential.
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