By Chris Dell / Ben Martinez
Welcome to our Betting Predators Waiver Wire column, which will be more of a catch-all space and a serve as a supplement to our weekly waiver wire rankings on the website. Please note, all players listed below are owned in less than 33.3% of ESPN leagues. Thank you for reading, as always, and don't hesitate to reach out with your fantasy questions - @MaddJournalist on Twitter. BOL on your FAB bids/ waiver claims!
Tyrod Taylor 4.0% - More than 290 passing yards, 40 rushing yards and two touchdowns through the air despite the his team facing a hugely positive game script in their Week 1 whitewashing of the divisional rival Jaguars. This is the type of stat line you were hoping for when you drafted Justin Fields and Trey Lance in the middle to late rounds. Despite the fact the Texans will be in more negative game scripts than not, that actually bodes well for "Tygod" here and shows his top 11 QB fantasy performance wasn't a fluke, it was his floor. A road trip to Cleveland in Week 2 should keep the Texans needing points to keep pace, and week at home against the Panthers is another matchup to take advantage of. Remember, Tyrod was a top seven QB in fantasy points per game in back to back years (2015-2016) with the Bills and now sits at QB10 after putting up 23.6 points. He offers a rushing floor that only a handful of signal-callers still do in the NFL and is likely to remain underrated for this week with most owners going after guys like Winston.
Mac Jones 22.1% - A 102.1 passer rating and 281 passing yards in his rookie debut against a good Dolphins defense is nothing to scoff at. Mac Jones found his top weapons consistently in Agholor, Meyers, White and Jonnu, and he gets a cake matchup against a division rival Jets defense that just was torched by Sam Darnold. Weeks 3-4 aren't ideal against the Saints/Bucs, but after that he gets a beauty of a schedule run with consecutive games against the Texans, Cowboys, Jets, Chargers, and Panthers. After that he faces the Browns, Falcons and Titans. Jones and this offense only get better from here and the upside is enough to where we can stream him with confidence in plus matchups. TD regression will work in his favor, too.
Jameis Winston 26.1% - Our guess is that fantasy owners will clamoring to add the man who threw five TD's on Sunday, but we'd rather not bet on a very unlikely scenario to continue to play out. Jameis is a fine pickup, sure, but the Saints are looking to win games with their defense and through Kamara. Not to mention Jameis' TD rate is also threatened by the looming Taysom Hill goal line package. Week 2's matchup against the Panthers is another favorable one, but a rough stretch begins in Week 3 with consecutive contests against the Patriots, Giants (meh), WFT, Seahawks and Bucs. Add him with confidence as a plug-and-play streamer, but don't expect 5 TD's on 20 attempts ever again.
Honorable Mention: Kirk Cousins 24.0% (@ Arizona/Streamer), Trey Lance 30.4% (@ Philly/Stash)
Elijah Mitchell 1.9% - Simply put, Elijah Mitchell should be the #1 pickup in all of fantasy this week after putting up 104 rushing yards on 19 carries and a score, but also forcing six missed tackles and collecting 70% of his yards after contact is were Mitchell shined. Mostert is set to miss 6-8 weeks and Kyle Shanahan making Trey Sermon a healthy scratch shows he has a lot of Confidence in Elijah long term. The sixth round pick out of Louisiana flashed during the preseason and apparently was running ahead of Sermon over the last few weeks of the preseason. Whoever is getting the work/opportunity in this backfield is extremely valuable, and there's a good chance that guy could be Mitchell for a long time.
Kenneth Gainwell 3.5% - Gainwell ran ahead of Boston Scott in Week 1 as the rookie RB 9-37-1 on the greound and three targets/two catches through the air. His opponent in Week 2? A 49'ers team that just allowed a DET backfield to have two fantasy starters, one of whom is named Jamaal Williams. We want to buy/invest in talent, and the fact remains this coaching staff went out of their way to draft Gainwell and believe in his abilities. In an efficient run scheme with Hurts under center we wouldn't be surprised to see Gainwell eventually force Sanders into a true two-way committee, and maybe even take over this job.
Mark Ingram 11.0% - We've gotta give credit where credit is due, and quite frankly it's rare to find an RB off waivers who just received 25 carries in game. Well that's exactly what Ingram just did, turning back the clocks in his Week 1 dominance of the aforementioned Jaguars. With the beatable schedule of defenses we mentioned above in Tyrod Taylor's writeup, well Ingram benefits from that too. It's the most un-sexy 25 carry game and name tag you can find in fantasy, but we're buying the workload here with confidence.
Honorable Mention - Carlos Hyde 14.5%, Cordarrelle Patterson 3.1%, Tony Jones Jr. 14.7%, Chubba Hubbard 13.8%, Larry Roundtree 0.8%
Nelson Agholor 29.8% - We talked up Mac Jones in the quarterback section above, and we believe in the rookie's ability to support multiple pass catchers in this offense. Agholor held a bad wrap before his quasi-breakout year in Las Vegas last year, and he appears to be continuing that trend in 2021. An 18% target share and tied for the team lead with 42 wide receiver routes run with Meyers, Agholor could be the type of name people don't truly buy until he puts together a few more weeks like this. Buy low accordingly.
Sterling Shepard 25.3% - A team-high nine targets and 24.3% target share are extremely bullish numbers for a player like Shepard so low owned across all ESPN leagues, but his shallow aDOT/slot receiver role give him a solid floor and staying power in an offense that seemingly will struggle deep to its more athletic wideouts in Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton. Shepard's TNF matchup is daunting on paper, but his slot role should secure him a solid floor regardless against a WFT team that allowed big numbers in Week 1 to fellow slot wideout Keenan Allen. Shepard led all Giants WR's in snap count (58), routes run (42) and targets (9) and when healthy he's shown he can be a consistent WR3/flex option. I'm buying in here.
Sammy Watkins 12.9% - Watkins led all Baltimore offensive players with 56 snaps and finished with 8 targets, 4 receptions and 96 yards in Week 1. Watkins now gets a juicy "revenge game" spot against his former team in the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2, putting him on our WR 3/FLEX radar in fantasy.
Honorable Mention: Rondale Moore 19.3%, Van Jefferson 1.6%, Christian Kirk 3.6%, Emmanuel Sanders 14.8%, Bryan Edwards 15.2%, Hunter Renfrow 2.0%, Deonte Harris 1.1%, Tim Patrick 0.6%, K.J. Osborn 0.1%
Jared Cook 22.6% - Cook ran 30 routes, was targeted 8 times and caught 5 for 56 yards. The Cowboys defense just let Gronkowski destroy them in the middle. Cook is already offering a great return on your investment in season-long leagues as a starting TE over players like Gesicki, Jonnu Smith, and Goedert.
Cole Kmet 21.8% - Kmet was the lone bright spot in the passing game for the Bears offense on Sunday Night Football vs the Rams, finishing with 7 targets and 5 receptions for 42 yards. A great stash for superflex leagues and dynasty too. Worth a pick up down the road when bye weeks come into play.
Honorable Mention: Gerald Everett 10.5%, Adam Trautman/Juwan Johnson 5.4%/1.3%, Dawson Knox 2.9%
Saints 26.7% (at CAR)
Packers 24.9% (vs DET)
Cardinals 5.2% (vs MIN)
Seahawks 8.7% (vs TEN)
Chiefs 10.1% (at BAL)