Fantasy football waiver wire targets for Week 1


Every Monday during the NFL season, I am going to be presenting you with my top three waiver wire claims to prioritize for your fantasy football teams. I will also include a shortlist of other options. These are players worth consideration if your team is in a bind, but not ones that take priority over the top three. I will also make a point to focus on players that are rostered in under 50% of ESPN leagues.

But the NFL season hasn’t started yet, how can there be priorities on the waiver wire? Sure, that’s accurate, but there are still a plethora of players who have been far too underowned in the interim period between drafts and Week 1 kick-off on Thursday.

These are my top waiver-wire claims for Week 1 of the fantasy football season.



Trey Lance is an elite bench stash | Fantasy football waiver wire targets

(32.8% rostered in ESPN leagues)

It’s a matter of “when,” not “if,” regarding Trey Lance being named the starting quarterback for the 49ers. Because of the uncertainty (and unlikeliness) that he’s the Week 1 starter, the majority of fantasy football managers have been bearish to roster him. That is a mistake.

Lance is one of the few quarterbacks in the NFL with elite Konami Code upside, rushing for 1,100 yards in his last full season at North Dakota State (on only 169 attempts). He also flashed big-play ability through the air in the preseason, as he continued to push the ball downfield. This is not something Jimmy Garoppolo is known for.

Rarely can you find a quarterback with top-six positional upside sitting on the waiver wire. In the situation you do, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. That’s exactly the case with Lance.

James White has elite PPR upside | Fantasy football waiver wire targets

(44.7% rostered in ESPN leagues)

2020 was a disappointing season for James White, as it was his first with under 50 receptions since 2017, while he failed to top 70 targets for the first time since 2015. Much of this can be attributed to the run-first nature of the Patriots’ offense with Cam Newton at the helm. With Mac Jones named the starter, things could change. It also helps that starting running back Damien Harris was subject to only seven total targets in 10 games in 2020, indicating that White’s third-down role is secure. 

It wasn’t all bad for White’s prospects in 2020, however, as he also ranked top-12 in the NFL among running backs in targets (62, 4.4 per game), despite the down season, as well as second in first-read target share (12.7%) among running backs.

With an offense catered more toward the passing attack, we should see White’s numbers surge back to what we’ve come to expect, thrusting him into the PPR flex conversation on a weekly basis this season as he operates as a safety net for Mac Jones.

Cole Kmet has TE1 upside | Fantasy football waiver wire targets

(21.1% rostered in ESPN leagues)

Cole Kmet was a late bloomer in 2020, as most young tight ends are, but he primed himself for a potential breakout in 2021. As shown below using FTN’s volume report, he quickly became the favored tight end in Chicago following the team’s Week 11 bye:

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In those six games following the bye, Kmet never saw less than 78% of the offensive snaps, while Jimmy Graham topped 50% of the snaps only once over that span. While Graham is still on the roster, it’s Kmet who stands atop the depth chart as the team’s TE1 in single-tight-end sets. At such a wasteland of a position, it feels wise to get ahead of the curve here, especially given the fact that Justin Fields could take over at quarterback sooner rather than later.

Others to consider

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