Week 1 Waiver Wire: Derek Carr, Travis Kelce Highlight Pickups to Know

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Week 1 Waiver Wire: Derek Carr, Travis Kelce Highlight Pickups to Know
Ben Margot/Associated Press

Fantasy football season is approaching fast and owners are already trying to decipher which players on the Week 1 waiver wire will be worthy of a pickup this early.

With underrated players like Oakland’s Derek Carr, Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and San Diego’s Malcom Floyd highlighting a stacked list of free agents available before Week 1, fantasy owners must be on top of the waiver wire.

Here is a list of the top free agents to target and a focus on the players you can’t miss.

Top Week 1 Waiver-Wire Targets
Rank Player Position Team Yahoo Own % ESPN Own %
1 Derek Carr QB Oakland 3 2.4
2 Travis Kelce TE Kansas City 15 6.9
3 Malcom Floyd WR San Diego 6 5.7
4 Jonathan Grimes RB Houston 8 3.2
5 Mohamed Sanu WR Cincinnati 5 1.5
6 Allen Hurns WR Jacksonville 6 1.5
7 Andrew Quarless TE Green Bay 2 2.6
8 Shaun Hill QB St. Louis 3 2.6
9 Blake Bortles QB Jacksonville 6 6
10 Benny Cunningham RB St. Louis 5 3.5

Donald Wood's Rankings.

Week 1 Pickups You Can’t Afford to Miss

Dominating the fantasy waiver wire is one of the most important parts of winning, and the focus on pickups starts before the very first game on Thursday and doesn’t end until the championship is over.

After the preseason officially ended and NFL teams made their cuts, the depth charts are almost finalized. The picture should be much clearer surrounding the rookies and veterans on the cusp of being starters.

The biggest potential waiver-wire pickup should be Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

While Oakland brought veteran Matt Schaub in as a free agent, he has been dealing with an elbow injury. Carr took the opportunity to show his ability and dominated the team’s fourth preseason game, completing 11 of his 13 passes for 143 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

According to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, via ProFootballTalk’s Twitter account, Carr has a “100 percent” chance of entering Week 1 of the regular season as the starting quarterback:

There is a definite risk associated with picking up a rookie quarterback, but in deeper leagues, Carr could be a valuable asset. Schaub has not shown much during the preseason and could remain on the bench as long as Carr performs well. The Raiders defense will be a weakness this season, and that will likely mean plenty of passes when the team plays from behind often.

Another pickup worthy of adding to the watch list is Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.


Kansas City will likely start the season with Anthony Fasano as the top TE on the depth chart, but Kelce proved himself to be a serious threat in the passing game. During the preseason, the rookie racked up 10 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns.

According to Adam Teicher of ESPN.com (subscription required), Kelce will be a major target throughout the season and has fantasy value:

The Chiefs intend to keep looking for tight end Travis Kelce, who caught two long touchdown passes in their first three preseason games, as a downfield threat. I've been told the big-play ability of Kelce is one reason the Chiefs weren't more aggressive in pursuing a veteran wide receiver in free agency this year. He offers a lot of upside based on where he's being drafted right now.

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith loves short and intermediate passes, and it’s just a matter of time before Kelce is one of the team’s top offensive weapons. There are better options right now (including adding Fasano initially), but few have the upside Kelce has shown during his preseason opportunities.

Which waiver-wire pickup should fantasy owners add first?

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One of the deeper sleepers not getting enough love is San Diego Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd. There is no questioning the skepticism surrounding his neck injury and the fact that he is almost 33 years old, but he is the unquestioned No. 2 WR on the depth chart.

Second-year player Keenan Allen will draw the most coverage as the team’s top receiver, but Floyd still has the elite size that made him a good bye-week fill in or injury replacement for the last several seasons. According to Tom Krasovic of the Union-Tribune San Diego, Floyd was the MVP of San Diego's training camp.

There is plenty of upside for all three of these players, but do not limit yourself to just a few targets. Most fantasy websites offer a watch list option and fantasy owners must utilize it by updating it each week with dozens of players.

Finding the hidden gem on the waiver wire could be the difference between winning a championship and missing the playoffs.

*Stats via NFL.com.

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