Week 1 of your fantasy season could have gone in a variety of ways, but if you’re reading this, you still have hope. The year is young, and there’s plenty of time to turn your team around or improve it for the long run. One of the best ways to do so is the low-risk maneuver of hunting through the waiver wire for a surprise contributor or two. Here are your best bets for a valuable addition that no one else has right now. (Stats via standard ESPN PPR leagues)
John Ross III, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (Available in 95% of ESPN leagues)
Ross has become somewhat of a forgotten man after shocking the world by beating Chris Johnson’s legendary 4.24 40-yard-dash. Everyone was reminded what he could do this week after he caught seven passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns, good for 34.8 fantasy football points. The best part? There’s a very slim chance anyone in your league has him, and without A.J. Green, he’s Andy Dalton’s No. 1 target.
Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins (Available in 99% of ESPN leagues)
Davis may be emerging as a reliable option at a traditionally weak fantasy position. He had 59 yards and a touchdown for 15.9 FFP in Week 1, and his ridiculous hurdle clearly showed he hasn’t lost too much of a step. Case Keenum will rely on his vets, and Davis is the top guy Keenum can rely on within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. A low-risk, high-reward play if your tight end flopped in Week 1.
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens (Available in 70% of ESPN leagues)
Nobody really knew how “Hollywood” Brown would look after missing all of preseason with injury. Quite good, it turns out! Brown put up four catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns in his NFL debut, adding up to a total of 30.7 FFP. It would be safe to assume that everything doesn’t go right again for the Ravens, but Brown is the only deep threat on the team and already has a connection with Lamar Jackson. He’ll hit a rookie wall at some point, but he’ll be good for at least one or two deep bombs per game.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Redskins (Available in 93% of ESPN leagues)
Keenum will rely on Davis, but McLaurin seems to be the guy he’ll target down the field. The speed demon from Ohio State had a solid opening week with 23.5 FFP and will only get more targets as the central member of a completely unknown Washington receiving core. Like Brown, he’ll come with some rookie flops, but the lack of other options more than anything drives his value high.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions (Available in 70% of ESPN leagues)
Everyone was understandably wary about Hockenson after he went 10th in this year’s draft to the Lions and evoked unpleasant memories of Eric Ebron and his drops. But he showed up in Week 1, proving along the way that Darrell Bevell has grand plans for him in this offense. Hockenson had six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown on nine targets, giving him a total of 25.1 FFP. It doesn’t appear Jesse James will be receiving the majority of the targets at tight end, and Hockenson has shown good hands with some YAC ability. At a thin position, he has the talent to justify taking a chance on at this early juncture.