Fantasy football free agent pickups: Who to grab from the waiver wire ahead of Week 2 action

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An exciting Week 1 of the NFL season culminates with Monday night’s game, right here on ESPN with our broadcast team consisting of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Lisa Salters. Not only am I excited to watch that game, but I am ecstatic that fantasy football is back. In fact, my excitement about writing this season’s waiver wire column is even greater.

It’s a simple premise. In each week’s column, I will highlight players available in over 50% of ESPN leagues who deserve roster spots, particularly in 10-team leagues. Likewise, if a player belongs on a deeper league roster, but not a 10-teamer, I’ll point it out. I’m always happy to help those participating in larger leagues.

Working Week 2’s waiver wire is quite often the most challenging decision a fantasy manager has to make all season. Yes, having actual game performance to base our opinions on allows for a more accurate gauge of how players look and how they’ll fit into their roles this season. On the downside, we have a sample of only one game for each team, so while some Week 1 standouts have sustained some success, we’ve also seen a ton of fool’s gold.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the recommended ESPN Fantasy waiver wire adds for Week 2.

Quarterbacks

Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts (24% rostered in ESPN leagues): There were both pros and cons in Ryan’s first regular-season game under center for the Colts. Based on the veteran quarterback’s statistical resume, this game might be an outlier. Since 2016, Ryan has averaged 18.3 fantasy points per game. Surrounded by an abundance of offensive playmakers, the veteran quarterback has an excellent matchup against the Jaguars’ secondary in Week 2. Ryan is a good QB2 option for fantasy managers playing in superflex or 2-QB formats.

Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders (16.6%): Wentz racked up 27.7 fantasy points against the Jaguars in Week 1, demonstrating great rapport with Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel. Against a questionable Lions secondary, he could repeat this performance in Week 2. Wentz is a great streaming option, if you need one — and given the way injuries are already impacting the 2022 season, you well might.

Running backs

Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angeles Rams (46.1%): The Rams chose to roll with Henderson at running back, a surprising move since most fantasy managers expected Cam Akers to be the starter. In the Rams’ season opener against the Bills, he had 18 touches, compared to just three for Akers. Henderson played on 54 snaps to Akers’ 12. Henderson can be viewed as a flex option with RB2 upside against the Falcons in Week 2.

Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears (25.2%): All offseason, Herbert was hailed as a better fit for the Bears’ running scheme under the new coaching staff. Fantasy managers saw a glimpse of that on Sunday against the 49ers. Despite having half of the attempts as David Montgomery, it was Herbert who led the team in rushing yards. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to eventually emerge as the leader of the Bears’ committee. Remember that last season, Herbert played on 83% of Chicago’s offensive snaps in three starts while Montgomery was out — averaging 23.3 opportunities (rushing attempts-plus-targets) and 15.4 fantasy points. Even with Montgomery staying healthy, Herbert should get more playing time as the season goes on.

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Eric Moody details why Khalil Herbert is a great fit in the Bears’ offense and mentions he’s a player to watch on the waiver wire this week.

Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions (36.0%): Both Williams and D’Andre Swift saw double-digit rushing attempts in the season opener, but they weren’t heavily utilized as receivers. Sadly, this is a trend that appears to have carried over from last season. Nevertheless, Williams averaged 14 touches in 13 active games last season. Williams is definitely on the flex radar and, if Swift were to ever miss significant time, his ceiling would be even higher.

Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers (3.5%): Elijah Mitchell left Sunday’s game due to a knee injury and did not return. The second-year running back is now likely to miss time. There’s a lot of uncertainty after Wilson on the 49ers’ RB depth chart, making him the safest option right now. Each of Wilson’s four starts in 2021 saw at least 13 rushing attempts. Mitchell averaged 18.8 touches per game last season. Now, Wilson won’t likely be tasked with taking on the entire workload as there is no doubt Deebo Samuel will be given some rushing attempts. Still, at least for now, Wilson can be considered a flex option.

Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers (1.3%): If starter Najee Harris misses the Steelers’ Week 2 game against the Patriots because of a knee injury, Warren could be considered a volume-based RB2. The undrafted rookie impressed the Pittsburgh coaching staff during both training camp and the preseason. While Harris missed most of the lead-up to the season due to a Lisfranc sprain, he was expected to dive right in and pick up his average of 22.4 touches per game from last season. That’s no longer necessarily the case, and Warren should now be given a high percentage of those touches, with Benny Snell Jr. filling in as a change-of-pace option.

Wide receivers

Curtis Samuel, Washington Commanders (8.4%): Samuel finished Week 1 against the Jaguars with an astounding 11 targets — and two rushing attempts, too. He finished the game with 72 total yards and a touchdown. It was Samuel’s seventh game in which he saw double-digit targets. He’s definitely on the flex radar in Week 2 against a Lions secondary that allowed 155 receiving yards to A.J. Brown in Week 1.

Robbie Anderson, Carolina Panthers (37.5%): Anderson led the Panthers in targets, receptions and receiving yards in Week 1 against the Browns. Carolina had only 27 passing attempts for the game, so we’re optimistic that Baker Mayfield‘s touchdown pass to Anderson traveled 46 air yards. Panthers quarterbacks were horrendous throwing deep last season, so having Mayfield under center is a huge upgrade in this area. Fantasy managers in deeper formats should absolutely add Anderson, who played on 100% of the snaps in Week 1.

Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns (1.7%): Considering the amount of guaranteed money in Amari Cooper‘s contract, it was surprising to see Peoples-Jones leading the Browns in routes run, targets (11) and receiving yards (60) in Week 1. He was one of the only bright spots in Cleveland’s passing game. Jake Trotter of ESPN reported in late July that the Browns were looking for Peoples-Jones to “fill a big role” opposite Cooper — and it looks as though they weren’t lying. For those in deeper formats, Peoples-Jones is a good flex option.

Zay Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars (1.1%): Jones was in a great position heading into the season to become Trevor Lawrence‘s second-favorite receiver because, outside of Christian Kirk, there was little competition. He was targeted nine times and finished with 65 receiving yards in Week 1 against the Commanders. Consider him to be a waiver target in deep leagues.

Corey Davis, New York Jets (3.0%): Davis caught 6 of 9 targets for 77 yards and led the Jets in both receptions and receiving yards in Week 1. Davis will continue to be a key component of New York’s passing game, despite the attention paid to Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson this offseason. Davis is firmly on the flex radar.

Julio Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (43.4%): Writing about Jones in a waiver wire column feels weird, but here we are. On film, he looked great in his first regular-season game with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Jones reached the seventh-fastest top speed (20.62) of anyone in Week 1. He also led Tampa Bay in air yards Sunday night. Jones suddenly finds himself on the flex radar — with upside, now that Chris Godwin will be sidelined with a hamstring injury.

DJ Chark, Detroit Lions (49.5%): Amon-Ra St. Brown led the Lions in targets with 12 against the Eagles, but Chark was right behind him with eight. During his time with the Jaguars, Chark averaged only 6.1 targets per game. It is likely that the Lions will have to play from behind a lot this season. (What else is new?) As such, Chark should see a steady dose of targets in 2022 and remains an upside flex option for fantasy managers.

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Field Yates evaluates Greg Dortch’s role on the Cardinals and says he may continue to be productive while DeAndre Hopkins is out of the lineup.

Tight ends

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams (49.8%): Higbee was targeted nine times against the Bills in Week 1. This currently ties him for the league lead at this position. Higbee amassed 61 receptions and 560 receiving yards last season and for a Rams team without much wide receiver depth and he could well play a huge role in the Rams passing game going forward.

Hayden Hurst, Cincinnati Bengals (19.5%): Hurst ran routes on a high number of pass plays on Sunday against the Steelers, leading to seven targets. The Bengals’ passing game revolves around its superb trio of wide receivers, but Hurst is well-positioned to prosper underneath and take advantage of favorable matchups. It is wise to pick him up if you have any uncertainty at the always malleable TE position.



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https://www.espn.com/fantasy/football/story/_/id/34577863/nfl-fantasy-football-free-agent-pickups-waiver-wire-2022

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