Fantasy Football drafts are ending, and Week 1 of the NFL regular season is right around the corner. You probably had some panic picks that you want to get rid of or maybe some sleepers you weren’t quite ready to draft and now regret passing on.
One of the keys to success is getting ahead of the crowd. If you can get a player as a free agent before he blows up on the waiver wire, you’ll be way ahead of your league. Here are some players that are still available and may impact waivers in the first couple weeks of the season – two likely players and one deeper stash.
Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers
Sam Darnold is QB1 for the Carolina Panthers. I am eager to see what he can do in Carolina’s offense with talent surrounding him, such as Christian McCaffrey, Robby Anderson (who has played with Darnold on the Jets), and DJ Moore. Most of his passing options have good hands and YAC abilities. Darnold is more than likely available as a free agent and could be worth an add if your starting fantasy QB is not who you had hoped for, or you’re looking for a sleeper with potential.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Washington Football Team
Ryan Fitzpatrick is now playing for his ninth NFL team. Coming off a year where he had his highest completion percentage (68.5) of his career, Fitzpatrick is in for a solid fantasy year with the help of wide receiver Terry McLaurin at his disposal. It certainly doesn’t hurt that “Fitzmagic” is always a deep ball threat. Fitzpatrick is a solid fantasy backup with experience and upside.
Taysom Hill – New Orleans Saints
I know I know, Jameis Winston has been named the starting QB for the Saints. But what if Jameis struggles early without Michael Thomas and/or has trouble with turnovers like in recent years. Insert Taysom Hill. Taysom has his rushing abilities and proved to be a reliable fantasy QB when he starts. Taysom Hill is a deep stash option for your bench that could be the hail-mary your team needs later on in the season.
Rhamondre Stevenson – New England Patriots
The Patriots selected Rhamondre Stevenson in the fourth round of last April’s NFL Draft. The Rookie running back had a great preseason running for over 200 rushing yards with five touchdowns. With Sony Michel traded to the Los Angeles Rams, Stevenson appears to have become Damien Harris’ backup on early-down situations. Most have Stevenson ranked outside the top 50 running backs going into the season but could play a major role in the Patriots backfield if Harris was to miss any time.
Ty’Son Williams – Baltimore Ravens
By now we all know J.K. Dobbins is injured and out for the season. Obviously, if Gus Edwards is somehow still available, you shouldn’t think twice about adding him. With reports that Williams has surpassed Justice Hill as the Ravens RB2 (update: and now Hill out for the season), Williams could have a lot of value as the Ravens RB1 and RB2 last season each had over 130 carries.
Darrel Williams – Kansas City Chiefs
Darrel Williams is currently the backup running back behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the high scoring Chiefs offense. Clyde didn’t live up to his rookie expectations last season and Darrel Williams took advantage of CEH’s absence late in the year. If CEH underperforms heavily or is to miss any time this season, William’s could be that insurance option with enormous upside.
Bryan Edwards – Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr is a reliable Quarterback with around 4,000 passing yards and about 20 passing TDs per season. We all know Darren Waller will be Carr’s top receiving option, but he can’t do it all himself. I could see Edwards becoming Carr’s top wide receiver this year. Edwards will most likely be the opposite of Henry Ruggs III. Carr has compared Edwards to DavAnte Adams and has been targeting him more and more in the endzone this offseason. Edwards ceiling is exceptionally high, and a breakout year would not surprise me.
Marquez Callaway – New Orleans Saints
Callaway is currently Jameis Winston’s number one receiver, with Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith both hurt. I can see early-season potential for him even with Smith expected to play Week 1. And he has helped his stock rise this preseason with notable touchdown catches.
Nico Collins – Houston Texans
The Texans third round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft was Nico Collins, a 6-foot-4 WR out of Michigan. Brandin Cooks is the clear top receiver for Houston, and Anthony Miller seems to have the slot position locked up when healthy. I see Nico Williams beating out Chris Conley to emerge as the #2 perimeter WR. Collins should have opportunities early in the season to show what he can do and prove he can have fantasy value. Nico Williams is a deep sleeper that might prove to be worth stashing. It’s not comforting picking any Houston player, but they’ll behind and throwing. A lot. Volume makes up for a lot of things.
Anthony Firkser – Tennessee Titans
After Jonnu Smith’s departure, I believe Anthony Firkser will be first in the Titans TE depth chart. Tannehill has to throw the ball to people not just named AJ Brown and Julio Jones, right? Firkser could sneak up on everyone and have a surprising year with his expanded role and high target per snap percentage.
Dawson Knox – Buffalo Bills
Knox is the TE1 of the Josh Allen-led Bills. I expect an offensive explosion from the Bills this year, and Knox could definitely benefit from that. Expectations are not very high for Knox, which makes exceeding them very likely. Keep your eye on him as he could rise in the rankings.
OJ Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OJ Howard seems very under the radar this season. OJ’s season ended in Week 4 last season after tearing his Achilles. Howard outproduced Rob Gronkowski in those first 4 weeks and seemed to connect well with Tom Brady. If Howard can stay healthy, he should be implemented often in the Buc’s offense. I would not be surprised to see OJ high on the waiver wire sooner than later.