Having a good fantasy draft sets a team up really well, but most of the time to win a fantasy football league, acquisitions need to be made during the season. Each week there are several players worth exploring on the waiver wire. Here are fantasy football players to add week 1.
(Note: These are best used for standard scoring leagues. All players are owned in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues)
1. Tyrell Williams, WR, Detroit Lions
The Lions are the thinnest team at wide receiver in the league. They just cut Breshard Perriman, which makes them even thinner. Tyrell Williams figures to be the player that steps up for the Lions, although rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown also figures to have a solid role, along with tight end T.J. Hockenson. Williams is the only receiver who has years of production under his belt.
Detroit has Jared Goff at quarterback. While he hasn’t lived up to his contract, he is a decent player. Williams figures to be the number one receiver in Detroit, so he has upside if the offense can move the ball, even if it is just at a decent level. Williams is questionable for week 1 with a groin injury, but is still worth the pickup to stash for the rest of the season. He is available in 66 percent of ESPN leagues.
2. Russell Gage, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Last season, Gage was the 40th-ranked fantasy receiver in scoring. He benefitted from Julio Jones only being able to play nine games. Gage finished the year with 72 catches for 786 yards and four touchdowns and figures to be the number two receiver for the Falcons again in 2021 now that Jones has been traded to the Tennessee Titans.
Gage will have to fight with Calvin Ridley and tight end Kyle Pitts for targets, but there should be enough to go around for all three. This is especially true because the Falcons are not projected to be a good team and will likely be playing from behind a lot. Gage is only rostered in 32.8 percent of ESPN leagues.
3. Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, Carolina Panthers
Marshall was the second-round pick for the Panthers out of LSU. He played well on the 2019 LSU national Championship team and struggled in 2020. In a stacked wide receiver class, Marshall had to wait until the second round to be picked despite having talent. After impressing in the preseason, he is a name to look out for in fantasy football.
The Panthers lost Curtis Samuel in free agency. While they still have Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore at wide receiver, Marshall has shown in the preseason that he can work his way into the fold. Week 1 fliers are always about finding players who can be productive for the long term and that could be Marshall, especially if Sam Darnold improves his play in a new situation. Marshall is available in over 80 percent of ESPN leagues.
4. Ty’Son Williams, RB, Baltimore Ravens
*As a result of Gus Edwards’ injury, Williams will be the first player on this list.
With J.K. Dobbins going down with an injury, the Ravens’ backfield has opened up a bit. Gus Edwards figured to get the majority of the work out of the backfield, but he just went down with a knee injury. Justice Hill tore his Achilles in practice, so Ty’Son Williams is likely going to get the majority of the work now.
Williams doesn’t have a regular-season NFL carry, but the 25-year-old did impress in the preseason. In time at North Carolina, South Carolina and BYU he amassed over 1,200 rushing yards, which is not the most impressive. That also means he doesn’t have a ton of wear and tear on his body. Picking up Williams is more about opportunity and projection, but the workload could be there for him. The Ravens signed Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman, but Williams has been there longer and will likely get the first crack at being the top running back. He is available in over 80 percent of ESPN leagues.
5. Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots
The Patriots always use multiple running backs. That won’t change this season, but Damien Harris does project to be the lead back. Behind him, there is some opportunity for production in the Patriots backfield. This is especially true after Sony Michel was traded to the Los Angeles Rams.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Patriots selected running back Rhamondre Stevenson in the fourth round. He impressed in the preseason and figures to get carries in the regular season. While James White will still get some work out of the backfield too, there is a path for Stevenson to be productive. He is currently available in over 82 percent of ESPN leagues.
Make sure to check out our fantasy football page for more articles like 2021 Fantasy Football Defenses to Stream Week 1.