Week 1 waiver claims to make after your fantasy football draft


Once your 2021 fantasy football draft is in the books, it’s already time to start making moves to make your roster better.

The waiver wire is about to heat up, but you can get a jump on the action by making some waiver claims before the season even starts. Of course, not ever speculative waiver move is going to work out, but it’s better to be early than late. (There’s no such thing as being late to waiver claims, you just miss entirely.)

Here are seven players to make a waiver claim for before Week 1 even starts.

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Rhamondre Stevenson could be a hot waiver claim in a hurry

The window to buy Rhamondre Stevenson may close firmly shut after Week 1. In trading away Sony Michel and releasing Cam Newton, New England has opened up the opportunity in its backfield like few saw just a couple of weeks ago.

Damien Harris is in the No. 1 role still, but he’s not a lock to hold that spot. And Stevenson’s electric preseason — he led the NFL in rush yards of expectation, per Next Gen Stats — likely earned him some regular season snaps.

Qadree Ollison could shine in a shallow backfield

Welp, this advice went south fast. The Falcons surprisingly cut Ollison and signed Wayne Gallman. Gallman is now the early waiver claim you want to make in Atlanta.

Qadree Ollison has been described as firmly in the No. 2 position in Atlanta’s backfield behind career plodder Mike Davis. Ollison — a fifth-round pick in 2019 with just 24 career touches — admittedly doesn’t have much going for himself either, but if you’re like me and think Davis’ hold on the starting job is not long for the world, then you’ll want some Ollison exposure.

Ollison did display a nose for the end zone in his limited playing time, scoring 4 short-yardage TDs back in 2019, and Atlanta just released D’Onta Foreman, who some viewed as the biggest thread to Ollison for the backup job in Atlanta. The only other RB on the roster is gadget man Cordarrelle Patterson.

Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell could get No. 2 work right away

Your guess is as good as mine as to which of these two Philly RBs is going to be the No. 2 to Miles Sanders, though Boston Scott did hold the edge in training camp. Importantly, Scott was only out-touched by Sanders 35-to-29 with the first-team offense in camp, indicating that a 1A/1B situation may be in store. 

Meanwhile, Kenneth Gainwell may force Philadelphia’s hand with impressive play. NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank says Gainwell “is really carving out a significant role for himself” and that “he’s going to play a lot this year. A lot.”

This sounds like a backfield up for grabs. Sanders is expensive, but Gainwell and Scott are free. An RBBC is the worst-case scenario, and it may be what we end up with at first, but Scott and Gainwell are quintessential zero-RB targets. 

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Jakobi Meyers might be the No. 1 in New England

(FTN’s Eliot Crist explains why Meyers is one of his favorite sleepers this season.)

Perhaps no player saw their fantasy stock rise more from Cam Newton’s release than Jakobi Meyers. Meyers, who has always passed the eye test, has been described as New England’s “most consistent receiver in training camp” (per The Athletic). New England beat writers love Meyers.

The target tree in New England is up for debate in 2021, with Meyers contending with Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith and Kendrick Bourne for touches outside, as well as James White and J.J. Taylor out of the backfield. But Meyers looks to be in a good spot to earn the No. 1 role.

And he has played the part before: He had two 100-yard games last season and averaged over 7 targets per game over the final 11 weeks — and that was with Cam Newton leading an anemic passing attack. Not bad for someone you can scoop off the waiver wire.

Bryan Edwards could have a Year 2 fantasy breakout

Bryan Edwards, an August legend, has been described as some blend of Terrell Owens and Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson. The ridiculous comparisons aside, it’s clear that Edwards is an impressive athlete with big upside. And that could be tapped in 2021 with Las Vegas releasing John Brown, paving the way for Edwards to run full-time with the starting offense on Sundays.

Darren Waller is going to soak up nearly 30% team target share, and former first-round pick Henry Ruggs is expected to make a Year 2 leap, but QB Derek Carr loves Edwards, having once compared him to ex-college teammate Davante Adams

Edwards may simply go down in history as the player with the most laughable comparisons ever, but when your QB loves you and the team cuts your biggest competition for targets, it’s hard not to be optimistic. 

Eric Ebron is still a name to watch in Pittsburgh

The eyes are on rookie TE Pat Freiermuth, who outplayed Eric Ebron in the preseason and even notched a 2-TD game. But Ebron is still the presumed starter and should give Ben Roethlisberger a big target in the red zone. Pittsburgh is loaded with options — Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, and Najee Harris — so Ebron’s best bet for fantasy relevancy is in the paint. The good news is that he’s proven capable of that before, recently catching 13 TDs (in 2018) with Indianapolis. 

(Take advantage of the FTNFantasy Platinum package for the 2021 season!)

And here’s a name that won’t perform in Week 1, because he’s on the shelf for at least the first few weeks, but he could make for an interesting stash as people overlook him:

Rashod Bateman could pop once he’s healthy

Rashod Bateman, Baltimore’s first-round pick this year, is riding into his rookie year way under the radar because of an injury that kept him out of training camp and the entire preseason. The injury has him on short-term IR, meaning he’ll miss at least the first three weeks. If you have an IR spot or two, scoop Bateman up and stash him. He has a great shot to be Baltimore’s No. 1 WR as soon as he touches the field.

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