We're back, baby! This is the biggest waiver-wire week of the season -- or at least until the fantasy playoffs roll around. All the speculation about usage, talent, youngsters and old vets, all the ADPs we've agonized over for months -- all the rubber hit the road this weekend.
Now we've got moves to make.
As always, these are the most intriguing players who are rostered in less than 60 percent of NFL.com leagues. And yes, I have incorporated mustache wordplay. (If you got it, flaunt it!)
If you have questions, my DMs are open: @MattOkada on Twitter ... or X ... or whatever it is.
After writing what was undoubtedly one of the wildest storylines of the 2022 season, Mr. Irrelevant was surrounded by question marks coming into 2023: the elbow injury, a crowded quarterback room, doubts about whether his talents were factual or fluky. Well, one game into Purdy's second pro campaign, I’ve seen enough. The man is, at worst, a serviceable NFL starter. And in the San Fran offense, with arguably the best pass-catching arsenal in football, that’s all you need to earn a legitimate look in fantasy. Admittedly, Purdy is more of a two-QB league add or a streaming candidate. But he’s a solid option for both those cases.
Drew who? Just kidding, y’all -- it’s a joke ... mostly. Carr doesn’t have the upside to be the QB1, and he’s not even a lock to consistently be a QB1. But he did throw for 305 yards in Sunday's 16-15 win over the Titans. And he does have second-year stud Chris Olave, a resurgent Michael Thomas and the explosive Rashid Shaheed running routes. SEE: The last couple sentences of the Purdy blurb above. Carr is more or less the exact same thing. Take your pick.
GUYS TO 'STACHE: Matthew Stafford didn't throw a touchdown pass (RBs Kyren Williams and Cam Akers provided all three TDs in Sunday's 30-13 blowout of Seattle), but he did throw for 334 yards ... without Cooper Kupp. He was absolutely zinging the ball, removing any concerns that his 2022 injury had ended his fantasy career. Stafford was the QB6 in 2021 with a healthy Kupp. He has that upside in 2023 once Kupp returns. Going WAY out on a limb here: Ryan Tannehill looked so awful on Sunday, I'd be willing to take a sideways glance at Malik Willis in two-QB leagues. Hey, I said I was venturing way out on a limb.
Allgeier’s 24.4 fantasy points should have been an absolute tilter for Bijan Robinson managers ... except that Robinson also topped 20 points himself. The takeaway? This Atlanta offense is a threat to lead the NFL in rushing, and these two guys are both likely to be involved all year. Allgeier averaged 5.2 yards per touch on 18 total touches (including an encouraging three receptions) and scored from the 3-yard line ... twice. He’s a weekly flex consideration until further notice -- and a potential RB1 if anything happens to Robinson. In a week of appealing waiver targets, Allgeier should be No. 1 on your list.
In an absolutely baffling display of usage, Williams out-snapped Cam Akers 52-26 on Sunday (that’s exactly double, for the math-averse), but Akers out-carried Williams 22-15. That’s right, Akers had a carry on 22 of his 26 snaps. I doubt Sean McVay will make that a consistent trend, given how predictable it would make the offense. And it certainly doesn’t help that Akers averaged an abysmal 1.3 yards per carry on his 22 attempts (29 yards total). Oh, and apparently this is the waiver wire of two-TD running backs, because Kyren had one from the literal goal line and one from 7 yards out against the Seahawks. We’ll need another couple weeks to get a true sense of LA’s plans (or maybe we’ll just never figure them out), but Williams must be rostered in the meantime.
In what has to be one of the saddest stories of the year already, J.K. Dobbins suffered another season-ending injury on Sunday (a torn Achilles this time, after he tore his ACL in the 2021 preseason). The next man up? Tough to say. Hill and Edwards split the workload pretty evenly in Dobbins’ absence during Baltimore's 25-9 win over Houston. While Edwards was more efficient (4.0 yards per carry), Hill scored twice from the goal line (the trend continues!). Moreover, it won't surprise me at all if Baltimore goes out and signs another veteran back -- specifically, Leonard Fournette (SEE: Guys to ‘Stache), but Kareem Hunt is also still available. Monitor the news -- whoever earns the starting role will have value.
(EDITOR’S UPDATE: Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Monday that they will look in-house to replace Dobbins' production. Melvin Gordon, currently on the team’s practice squad, could be called up to the active roster to join Justice Hill and Gus Edwards.)
Austin Ekeler briefly got some medical attention in the second half, but then returned to action. Perhaps that helps explain why Kelley out-snapped Ekeler 44-41 overall, and especially why the fourth-year pro outsnapped the back-to-back reigning touchdown king 15-5 in the fourth quarter and 5-0 on the final drive of the game. We’ll keep our ears open on Ekeler's health status, but either way, Kelley is a must-add. He racked up 91 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries in the 36-34 loss to the Dolphins -- and looked good doing it. If Ekeler is banged up, Kelley might be one of the top handcuffs in the league. If Ekeler's fine, it means Kelley has this kind of upside even in games where the starter is getting 20-plus touches.
(EDITOR’S UPDATE: Chargers head coach Brandon Staley told reporters Monday that Austin Ekeler is dealing with an ankle injury and his status for Wednesday’s practice is to be determined.)
The final fantasy box score for Gainwell wasn’t all that exciting -- 11.4 points -- but that’s why we evaluate the data. With Rashaad Penny a surprise healthy scratch, Gainwell led the Philly backfield in snap share (62 percent), carries (14) and targets (four). The touchdown upside may not be there (Jalen Hurts is the goal-line back) and Gainwell isn’t likely to be a 20-touch back on the regular. But he’s the early front-runner for primary duties in the Eagles' offense. That means he’s worth a pickup.
(EDITOR'S UPDATE: Kenneth Gainwell has been ruled out for Thursday's matchup with the Vikings, the team announced Wednesday.)
GUYS TO 'STACHE: The Bears were a mess in Week 1, but rookie freight train Roschon Johnson showed some potential. The 6-foot, 225-pound back led Chicago RBs in yards per carry (4.0), was the only guy to score a rushing touchdown (albeit a meaningless one late in the game) and, most importantly, led the team with six catches (on seven targets). He may be the best bet on the Bears to earn a three-down role. Rookie running back Tyjae Spears -- drafted in the third round by the Titans as a potential heir to Derrick Henry -- had some nice (if limited) highlights on Sunday, finishing with 9.0 yards per carry (on just three carries) and was notably targeted four times in the passing game. He's just a handcuff at this point ... but maybe a valuable one. We'll see how quickly the Ravens add a free agent (assuming they do), but I'm willing to 'stache Leonard Fournette in deeper leagues on the off chance he's the guy.
With Cooper Kupp (hamstring) sidelined for at least the first four weeks of the season, there was a lot of hype for Tyler Higbee and Van Jefferson. And there might have been a wee bit of hype for the Rams' fourth fifth-round pick of this past April's draft. Apparently not enough. Nacua converted a monstrous 15 targets into 10 catches for 119 yards. Can you say “44.1 percent target share?” Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay sure can. And for what it’s worth, the unheralded BYU product can slide into the old Robert Woods role when Kupp returns, meaning he’s not just a short-term add.
Meyers could be in the concussion protocol this week after taking a scary, penalty-inducing hit late in Sunday's 17-16 win in Denver. Here’s hoping he is safe and well soon. Before that hit, Meyers was one of the biggest surprises of the week. He out-targeted Davante Adams 10-9, out-caught Adams 9-6, out-gained Adams 81-66 -- and had two touchdowns (the only TDs Vegas scored all game). Obviously, we should expect the scales to shift toward Adams over the course of the full season, but it’s clear now why the Raiders gave Meyers a three-year, $33 million contract this offseason. A must-add in the nearly 50 percent of leagues where he’s not rostered.
New England's wide receiver corps was one of the murkiest in the league entering Week 1, with a treasure trove of WR3s vying for the top spot. Through 60 minutes of action, it seems the big winner might be Bourne. The seventh-year pro and third-year Patriot led the team with 11 targets, which he converted into six catches, 64 yards and, most importantly, a pair of scores. Those scores came on two of his seven red-zone routes. If Bourne and Mac Jones can do this against the Eagles, they can do it against anyone.
Speaking of multi-TD wideouts shining on murky depth charts with questionable quarterbacks ... Romeo Doubs, anyone? Yes, Christian Watson was out. Yes, Doubs did nearly all his 18.6 points of damage on those two red-zone touchdowns. But don’t forget, it was Doubs who broke out first as a rookie last season (albeit with Aaron Rodgers at the helm). We’ll see if the usage trends upwards after this performance. If it does, sign me up.
All in all, the 25-9 loss on Sunday was not a great showing for the Texans or rookie QB C.J. Stroud. And yet ... Stroud did throw the ball 44 times (the kind of passing frequency he'll presumably replicate often this year). The big beneficiaries of that volume: third-year breakout candidate Nico Collins and veteran addition Robert Woods. The duo almost perfectly split a combined 21 targets, 12 catches and 137 yards. And someone is eventually going to have to score touchdowns in Houston. I prefer Collins, given the youth and athleticism, but Woods has been a reliable fantasy asset before.
GUYS TO 'STACHE: On a rainy day in Cleveland, Browns WR Elijah Moore managed 62 total yards on nine touches -- including two rush attempts. Kevin Stefanski and Co. are clearly intent on using Moore as he should be used -- creatively and in space -- and it should only get better when Deshaun Watson can actually grip the ball. Terry McLaurin battling a toe injury may have opened the door for Curtis Samuel to earn five targets for the Commanders on Sunday. But importantly, Samuel caught all five of those looks for a team-high 54 yards. In what figures to be a high-volume passing game, I like 'stacheing Samuel on deeper rosters. Puka Nacua made the big-boy list above because I think he's more likely to maintain his role upon Cooper Kupp's return, but former second-round pick Tutu Atwell also had 119 yards on six catches for the Rams in Week 1. It's been so long since Thursday, I'd almost forgotten the disaster that was the Chiefs' wide receivers. I think we need at least a few weeks to figure out whether there's any real value to be had in KC (outside of Travis Kelce's 100 targets per game), but my early bet is on rookie Rashee Rice, who actually looked good when used. Saints wideout Rashid Shaheed is the second coming of Ted Ginn Jr. -- he is guaranteed to pop off for a big fantasy day when no one is starting him, and then disappear for weeks at a time. That said, I'm willing to 'stache him in case something happens to Chris Olave or Michael Thomas (or in case he posts 19 fantasy points on a regular enough basis to be worth starting).
The second-round rookie had just 8.9 fantasy points in Detroit's season-opening win at Arrowhead Stadium. That doesn’t sound all that exciting, does it? Well, hate to break it to you (and myself), but that was a top-10 TE performance in Week 1. And more importantly, LaPorta's five catches were the most by a tight end in a rookie debut since some guy named T.J. Hockenson in 2019. In the 2023 tight end landscape -- which looks something like the world of The Walking Dead -- LaPorta might be a legitimate weekly starter.
Two Patriots pass catchers in the Week 2 waiver article? I must be mad! Yeah, or I’m looking at the Week 1 scoring leaders at tight end, where Henry is -- *adjusts glasses, checks again* -- yep, he’s the No. 1 tight end on the season. Henry was the only tight end on Sunday to log both 50 receiving yards and a touchdown. We’ve seen Henry have some valuable fantasy seasons on the back of touchdown production before -- and he’s probably the best red-zone threat on New England. You could do worse.
Tyreek Hill led the Dolphins with 15 targets on Sunday. Second on the team? That would be Smythe, with seven. Obviously, we can expect him to fall behind Jaylen Waddle most weeks, but even the third option in this passing attack -- potentially the most dangerous in the league -- has value. Especially since seven targets is enough to put you in the top five at the TE position these days.
If the Saints' D/ST is the No. 1 most-added “player” in fantasy this week, I will not bat an eye. The unit scored 10 fantasy points against the Titans on Sunday in what could legitimately be considered its “toughest” matchup of the first six weeks. Over the next five, they have the Panthers (rookie QB), Packers (basically rookie QB), Buccaneers (#BakerMayfield), Patriots (gave up 13 fantasy points to Philly's D) and Texans (yielded five sacks to the Ravens). Honestly, New Orleans' schedule for the entire season is delectable. This D should be rostered in every league.
It will be discussed for centuries ... Who was more responsible for Joe Burrow’s 82-yard clunker in Week 1: the rain or the Browns' defense? I’m willing to say it was a little of both. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith coming off the edges. Oh, and Cleveland's next two matchups? The Steelers and the Titans. Turnovers, sacks, fantasy points. Yes, please.
All the kickers ...
None of the top 12 kickers on the week were drafted as such. Spoiler alert: This is why you don't draft kickers until the last round. It's a fickle world. In all seriousness, though, there are several heavily available kickers I'm willing to snag if I don't have one of the elite few at the position: in particular, Jake Elliott (Eagles), Nick Folk (Titans), Brett Maher (Rams), Cameron Dicker (Chargers), Jake Moody (49ers) and Jason Sanders (Dolphins).