Week 1 Waiver-Wire Pickups: Advice for Preseason Sleepers Who May Be Available

Joe TanseySeptember 7, 2022

Week 1 Waiver-Wire Pickups: Advice for Preseason Sleepers Who May Be Available

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    AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    The Denver Broncos offense should be exponentially better than it was in 2021.

    That is what is expected to happen when you replace the Teddy Bridgewater-Drew Lock pairing with Russell Wilson.

    Even with the Wilson era ready to begin on Monday, against his former team no less, there are a few pieces of the Denver offense that are readily available on the fantasy football waiver wire.

    Denver's depth in the passing game behind Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy will be tested in Week 1 with Tim Patrick out for the season.

    KJ Hamler is coming off a season-long injury layoff of his own and Albert Okwuegbunam does not have a large enough sample size to trust right away.

    Denver is just one of a few playoff contenders with some production questions that need to be answered in Week 1 for their sake and for the inquiring minds in the fantasy football sphere.

    Philadelphia has to determine if Miles Sanders is the right running back, or if it will split up the red-zone touches on the ground again and Kansas City has to build up its wide receiver depth following the departures of Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson.

KJ Hamler, WR, Denver

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    KJ Hamler is one of the fantasy football unknowns that we hope to find about in the early part of the 2022 season.

    Hamler has a path to snaps as Denver's No. 3 wide receiver with Tim Patrick lost for the season and Russell Wilson now installed at quarterback.

    Hamler was active for 16 games in his first two seasons and missed most of the 2021 campaign, so we are not sure just how explosive he will be in Week 1.

    Denver will ideally use Hamler as its deep-play threat and someone who can take a bit of the burden off Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy in some series.

    Hamler had 30 receptions for 381 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season, but that was two years ago in a different offensive system, so it is clear why he has not made it onto a majority of fantasy football rosters yet.

    That could change in one week if Hamler breaks out against a Seattle Seahawks team that we expect to be the worst in the NFC West and one of the toughest sides to watch in 2022 due to the roster turnover that was spawned by the Wilson trade.

    Denver plays the Houston Texans in Week 2, so we could have the full-steam hype train rolling on the waiver wire for Hamler and others inside the Denver offense in two weeks time.

    It may be wise to store Hamler on the back end of your roster now to prevent yourself from losing out on a waiver claim after Weeks 1 or 2 in case he puts up some stellar numbers against weaker teams.

Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Denver

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    Albert Okwuegbunam may be the most fascinating player that we do not know much about inside the Denver offense.

    The third-year tight end will be the starter at the position following Noah Fant's departure to Seattle in the Wilson trade.

    Okwuegbunam showed signs of potential in 2021, as he caught 33 of his 40 targets for 330 yards and two touchdowns.

    With Wilson at quarterback, Okwuegbunam could turn into the breakout star of the season at tight end.

    Wilson struggled a bit with tight ends over his last two seasons in Seattle. A combination of Will Dissly, Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister was used in 2020. He connected with Gerald Everett a bit in 2021, but Everett only had 478 receiving yards and four scores.

    Okwuegbunam has the potential to turn into one of Wilson's favorite red-zone targets, and like Hamler, his stock will go up if he produces a strong Week 1 outing in front of a national audience.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Kansas City

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    Kansas City's retooled wide receiver room makes its debut on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

    We know Patrick Mahomes is going to throw the ball a lot, but what we do not know is which player will get the majority of targets from the wide receiver spot.

    Marquez Valdes-Scantling should have a chance to show off his potential in the Kansas City offense alongside JuJu Smith-Schuster.

    MVS' spot in Kansas City could cause excitement among some fantasy football players and it may still scare some that picked him up off the waiver wire in previous seasons while he was with Green Bay.

    He has not had more than 700 receiving yards in a single season and his production dropped from 2020 to 2021.

    The receiving numbers should go back up near the 690-yard, six-touchdown 2020 campaign because of Mahomes' presence in the pocket and the role Valdes-Scantling is expected to play.

    There is no Davante Adams standing in his way for a large amount of targets per game and he may end up as the No. 1 wide receiver target by the end of the season.

    MVS still has to battle with Travis Kelce and the stable of running backs for targets, but he may be worth an addition ahead of Week 1 in case he breaks out over Smith-Schuster in Arizona.

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Philadelphia

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    One of the few unknowns about the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022 is how they split up their running back production.

    Miles Sanders is the starter when healthy, but he did not find the end zone on the ground in 2021.

    The Eagles received 10 rushing touchdowns out of Jalen Hurts and 15 from the trio of Boston Scott, Kenneth Gainwell and Jordan Howard.

    Gainwell could receive more snaps in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions as Sanders works back from a hamstring injury that cost him time in training camp.

    Gainwell is an intriguing backup running back to target on the waiver wire because of his potential red-zone looks and his receiving ability.

    He caught 33 of his 50 targets in 2021 and he may be used more out of the backfield as Hurts looks to spread the ball out to more players than just A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.

    Gainwell may not be a must-add player ahead of Week 1, but he could be someone that you pick up now that adds more value to his fantasy stock as the season goes on, especially if Sanders fails to score again this season.

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