Waiver Wire Weekly: Rookie receivers and runners will pay dividends down the road


Mike Mulholland | TNS

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass during their NFL preseason game against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field in Detroit, on Friday, Aug. 23.

By Adin Link, Staff Writer

After a long offseason, the NFL returned this week and with it the enigma that is fantasy football. Regardless of your record, the waiver wire during Week 1 is critically important. Getting an early start on claiming players after Week 1 will allow you to establish roster flexibility and gain some valuable depth on your bench.

*The %OWN statistic is based on ESPN standard leagues on Sept. 10.


Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts, *%OWN: 13%

Who would have thought that Brissett would be a hot commodity following Week 1?

After former Colts starter Andrew Luck retired, sending shockwaves throughout the league, Brissett quietly went about his business and turned into the starting quarterback many thought he would become after his brief stint in New England. Brissett stepped in and posted a 190-yard two-touchdown performance that forced the Super Bowl-contending San Diego Chargers into overtime.

Brissett, although not quite at the same level as Andrew Luck, is still playing behind arguably the best offensive line in football. He has weapons galore in veteran pass catchers T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron, plus rookie playmaker Parris Campbell.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions, %OWN: 16.3%

Stafford had a huge Week 1 in a losing effort to the Arizona Cardinals. While the Cardinals do not present the most formidable challenge Stafford will face this season, his performance on Sunday was still impressive.

Stafford threw for 385 yards and three touchdowns, proving that the Lions are more than willing to stick with a pass-happy offense. Stafford has the weapons and the skill to repeat this performance, but fantasy owners have to hope Stafford can find the consistency that has eluded him in years past.

Running Backs

Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, %OWN: 40.6%

After a disappointing rookie campaign, Jones opened 2019 looking like the back Tampa Bay had hoped it was getting when he was drafted in 2018.

Jones got more touches than any other Buccaneer back and proved that he is the best option to carry the load this season. Although he did not find the endzone, Jones’ 75 yards on 13 carries puts him in position to become the bell cow back in Tampa from here on out.

Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams, %OWN: 6.5%

Given the Rams’ secrecy concerning star running back Todd Gurley’s health, fantasy owners are forced to strictly follow their eyes. If your eyes followed the Rams on Sunday, there is no doubt the man to have in LA is Malcolm Brown.

Although technically splitting carries with Gurley, Brown capitalized on his position at the receiving end of most of the red zone touches, scoring both Los Angeles rushing scores. There is no doubt that Gurley is the more explosive player when healthy, but the Rams’ lack of commitment to Gurley in Week 1 leaves questions about how healthy he is, opening the door for Brown to collect more touches.

Wide Receivers

John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals, %OWN: 4.8%

Many were quick to write off Ross as a first-round bust. These people must have forgotten that he ran a 4.22 40-yard dash and plays in a league where small, fast wide receivers are gaining value by the week. These people must have also forgotten that the Bengals now have a brand new offensive system that will bring their playmakers to the forefront — Ross included.

Ross had a career day in Week 1 against the Seahawks, hauling in seven passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns, and this is only the beginning. Ross is the prototype receiver that modern NFL teams want, and first-year Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is ready to let him run.

Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins, %OWN: 7.3%

The Redskins’ third round pick from this year’s draft erupted in his first NFL game against the Philadelphia Eagles this week. McLaurin caught five passes for 125 yards, including a long 69-yard touchdown.

McLaurin’s blazing speed was on full display on Sunday and his diverse skill set figures to be a part of Washington’s game plan moving forward. The departure of receiver Josh Doctson also leaves quarterback Case Keenum needing a favorite target on his new squad.

Tight Ends

T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions, %OWN: 30%

The 2019 first round pick out of Iowa quickly made Lions fans gush over his potential. Hockenson looked like what the Lions had expected when they selected Eric Ebron in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Hauling in six passes for a whopping 131 yards and a touchdown, Hockenson cemented himself as one of the top receiving options in Detroit. Keeping in mind that the Lions boast veterans Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Kerryon Johnson on the same offense, Stafford’s reliance on Hockenson is all the more impressive and bodes well for his future targets.

Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders, %OWN: 26.8%

A fan favorite on this season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” Waller has already developed a great on field trust with quarterback Derek Carr. Waller led the Raiders in targets on Monday night and collected seven catches for 70 yards in a coming-out party for the inexperienced tight end.

Although he did not find the endzone in Week 1, Waller’s 6-foot-6 frame and freakish athleticism will surely make red zone targets and goal line fades commonplace for Waller.