Waiver Wire Week 1: Highlighting Top Pickups from 2018 Preseason

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2018

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 24: Running back Adrian Peterson #26 of the Washington Redskins rushes against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter during a preseason game at FedExField on August 24, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Week 1 fantasy football waiver wire isn't dissimilar from trying to find sleepers in fantasy drafts. 

The difference is there is typically a four-week sample of work put in by the players in time for the waiver wire. Fantasy owners will have access to the same highlight reels and information, so the trick is finding a way to utilize all the data available to carve out some long-term success. 

It sounds dramatic, but the first waiver wire can make or break a season. Unearthing a running back in Week 1 who goes on to get year-round usage means finding a guy who probably should have been drafted in the first round of most leagues, so it's a critical process the best owners will attempt to exploit. 

         

Week 1 Waiver-Wire Targets

Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (4 percent owned)

Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants (9 percent owned)

Devontae Booker, RB, Denver Broncos (6 percent owned)

Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins (36 percent owned)

Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks (10 percent owned)

Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5 percent owned)

Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears (6 percent owned)

Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins (4 percent owned)

Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins (4 percent owned)

            

Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants (9 percent owned)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 24: Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants in action against the New York Jets during their preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 24, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
Al Pereira/Getty Images

Don't throw in the towel on Eli Manning just yet. 

Owners are clearly down on the 37-year-old passer despite the recognizable name, though they shouldn't buy too much into his benching at one point last year. He was bad, but the Giants were worse. 

Manning still completed 61.6 percent of his passes over 15 games and tossed 19 scores, so if he can dial down the turnovers and get better protection in large part via a balanced offense thanks to the arrival of rookie running back Saquon Barkley, he could be looking at something more in line with his 26-16 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio from 2016. 

With quarterbacks, owners have plenty of options as it's the most streamable week-to-week position. But finding a Week 1 stash who can start at any point of the season sure doesn't hurt, especially for those owners who ignored the position while stockpiling talent elsewhere. Manning has that sort of upside going into 2018.  

       

Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins (36 percent owned)

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 24: Running back Adrian Peterson #26 of the Washington Redskins rushes past linebacker Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos in the first quarter during a preseason game at FedExField on August 24, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo b
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Get him while he's hot because Adrian Peterson isn't lasting long. 

Peterson needed only a few days with the Washington Redskins before putting on a show in the team's third preseason game, rushing for 56 yards in 11 totes. Give him some time to digest the playbook and adjust to new surroundings, and owners might have a weekly starter at a hard-to-fill position. 

While Peterson is 33 years old, he's going to get the quantity on early downs originally meant for rookie Derrius Guice. And owners shouldn't discredit him too much for last year—he flamed out in New Orleans quickly because nobody was going to break through that Mark Ingram-Alvin Kamara combo and then struggled in Arizona because, well, it was a little dry in the desert, to put it nicely. 

Now in a balanced offense behind some monstrous linemen like Trent Williams, Peterson has major upside coming out of a debut when he showed some of that classic leg churning and quick decision-making. He's not going to steal passing-down work from Chris Thompson, but he won't need to for fantasy owners if he can keep running like he did in the third week of the preseason. 

      

Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5 percent owned)

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 19: Chris Godwin #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on November 19, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Mark Brown/Getty Images

While DeSean Jackson might be the bigger-name add for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers right now, it's a good idea to make Chris Godwin a stash target. 

The 2017 third-round pick didn't make a ton of noise over 16 games last year, catching 34 passes for 525 yards and one score. But for those counting, that's 15.4 yards per catch and a hint of major upside if the Penn State product is going to get proper attention within the offense. 

Which he will. 

Here's head coach Dirk Koetter to the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud: "Chris is playing really well right now. We look at it as if we have four starting receivers. All four of those guys, the only guy that really hasn't been a starter (in the NFL) is Chris. The other three have been, and we believe Chris is every bit in that same category."

If the Buccaneers consider Godwin a starter alongside the likes of Mike Evans, it's wise for owners to pay attention. Evans should soak up most of a defense's interest, so Godwin could be the main player to flourish in what amounts to a breakout year. He did just this in the third week of the preseason, catching a touchdown. 

         

Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins (4 percent owned)

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 25: Mike Gesicki #86 of the Miami Dolphins in action during a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium on August 25, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Mark Brown/Getty Images

As always, tight end is a bit of a guessing game outside of a guy named Gronk. 

This makes Miami Dolphins second-round rookie Mike Gesicki a fun gamble worth taking. One of the best NFL combine testers in history is a 6'6" target for quarterback Ryan Tannehill and doesn't appear to have anyone in his way when it comes to a starting gig. 

Fantasy is a hobby, though, and success in it requires an ability to successfully roll the dice on a player like Gesicki. 

Miami's offense isn't too exciting overall, but there's a 160-target gap in the offense with Jarvis Landry gone and somebody has to make up the difference. A checkdown option with huge upside after the catch, Gesicki is worth stashing on the chance he can shore up a shaky fantasy position.

           

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues. 

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