NFL Waiver Wire: Preseason Pickups

NFL Waiver Wire: Preseason Pickups

This article is part of our NFL Waiver Wire series.

Welcome back to another season of the NFL Waiver Wire. My best guess on how long I've been doing this is about 10 years. Th preseason version of this column will serve two purposes: one is for fantasy managers who have already drafted and need waiver ideas; the other purpose is for those who haven't drafted yet and are looking for late-round flyers. Let's see who might be available and can help your team this season.

This column is geared toward "standard" 12-team leagues and based upon a $100 free-agent budget. Please adjust for your league based on both the number of teams (I'm in a 24-team league, for example) and remaining budget.

QUARTERBACKS

SECONDARY TARGETS

Matt Ryan, IND - It's going to take some time for most of us to get used to seeing Ryan in a Colts uniform, and it's tough to tell how much gas is left in Ryan's tank. The early season schedule looks pretty good — all division teams plus the Chiefs mixed in for the first four games. Ryan's numbers took a hit when he lost Calvin Ridley last season, and he should benefit this season from having arguably the best running back in the league. Michael Pittman seems to be on everyone's sleeper list and offers Ryan a legitimate No.1 target while both Taylor and Nyheim Hines can be penciled in for about 700 receiving yards out of the backfield. FAAB: $2-$4

HAIL MARY

Mac Jones, NE - Jones seems to

Welcome back to another season of the NFL Waiver Wire. My best guess on how long I've been doing this is about 10 years. Th preseason version of this column will serve two purposes: one is for fantasy managers who have already drafted and need waiver ideas; the other purpose is for those who haven't drafted yet and are looking for late-round flyers. Let's see who might be available and can help your team this season.

This column is geared toward "standard" 12-team leagues and based upon a $100 free-agent budget. Please adjust for your league based on both the number of teams (I'm in a 24-team league, for example) and remaining budget.

QUARTERBACKS

SECONDARY TARGETS

Matt Ryan, IND - It's going to take some time for most of us to get used to seeing Ryan in a Colts uniform, and it's tough to tell how much gas is left in Ryan's tank. The early season schedule looks pretty good — all division teams plus the Chiefs mixed in for the first four games. Ryan's numbers took a hit when he lost Calvin Ridley last season, and he should benefit this season from having arguably the best running back in the league. Michael Pittman seems to be on everyone's sleeper list and offers Ryan a legitimate No.1 target while both Taylor and Nyheim Hines can be penciled in for about 700 receiving yards out of the backfield. FAAB: $2-$4

HAIL MARY

Mac Jones, NE - Jones seems to be one of the more polarizing players at the position given fantasy owners are either high on his upside or think it's a matter of time before New England goes in a different direction at quarterback. He's available in the most Yahoo leagues, and I'd rather gamble on him over Ryan in leagues that start only one quarterback. The division and weather tied to it does him no favors, but there's definitely the opportunity for him to take a big step forward in his second year as the Patriots' signal caller. FAAB: $1-$2

RUNNING BACKS

SECONDARY TARGETS

Alexander Mattison, MIN; James Robinson, JAC; Ronald Jones, KC; Darrell Henderson, LAR; Marlon Mack, HOU - Usually I stick to players available in at least 50 percent of leagues, but I'm making an exception. These players will be hit-or-miss as they're probably available in about a third of Yahoo leagues. None should be as readily available as each is a teammate injury away from getting the bulk of the workload in their respective backfields. Robinson has 18 touchdowns  the last two seasons while averaging more than 4.5 yards per carry. Mattison had three games of at least 21.4 fantasy points (PPR) last season, and Marlon Mack has seasons of 908 and 1,091 rushing yards under his belt. Ronald Jones is only 25 and will be in one of the better offenses in the league as Darrell Henderson has only Cam Akers (Achilles') standing in his way. While it's easy to say for any player "stash this guy," these particular players have a lot of upside should one or two things breaks their way. FAAB: $2-$4

WIDE RECEIVER

PRIMARY TARGETS

Julio Jones, TB - Jones should get plenty of opportunities to show he can still produce at a high level with Tom Brady. When Jones is on the field, he can still be an adequate fantasy producer (more than 1,200 receiving yards in 19 games the last two seasons). I'm not sure how consistent Jones will be playing with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, but even the third wide receiver in this offense will have occasional big fantasy outings. FAAB: $4-$8

SECONDARY TARGETS

Treylon Burks, TEN - With the departure of A.J. Brown, the top receiving spot for the Titans is up for grabs, and Burks arguably has the most upside of any players vying for that spot. Robert Woods is coming off an a significant knee injury and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine profiles as more of a third wide receiver than a starter. If you're looking for this season's Ja'Marr Chase, Burks has just as good a chance as any rookie to be that guy. FAAB: $2-$4

Jalen Tolbert, DAL - The injury to James Washington along with Michael Gallup being banged up appears to have opened the door for Tolbert to be the starting wide receiver opposite CeeDee Lamb for the Cowboys. Tolbert should benefit from seeing softer coverage opposite Lamb, and the Cowboys will still run the ball, opening the passing attack. FAAB: $2-$4

HAIL MARY

Amari Rodgers, Romeo Doubs GB - Amari Rodgers has the opportunity to take a big step forward this season with Davante Adams no longer wearing the green and yellow. While both appear to be buried on the depth chart, Christian Watson is already banged up, Randall Cobb will be 32 to start the season and do we really trust Sammy Watkins to play 17 games? Rodgers and Doubs are both lottery tickets but either could pay off nicely given the quarterbacK. I slightly prefer Rodgers over Doubs because he's been in the offense already and has had more time to work with Aaron Rodgers. FAAB: FCFS or $1

TIGHT END

PRIMARY TARGETS

Irv Smith, MIN - Remember the hype that followed Smith entering last season before a torn meniscus cost him the year? While he's now recovering from thumb surgery, the Vikings expect him to be ready for Week 1 and conditioning shouldn't be an issue considering the injury. Smith should have plenty of room over the middle playing with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, and the Minnesota offense is expected to be more pass-happy under new coach Kevin O'Connell (great name, by the way). 

HAIL MARY

Greg Dulcich, DEN - Typically, it's hard for rookie tight ends to make an immediate impact given they have to not only learn pass routes but also blocking schemes. Dulcich profiles as more of a receiver than a blocker given his size (only 245) and while he might not initially challenge Albert Okwuegbunam for snaps, that could change at some point this season. Russell Wilson has made use of fantasy players like Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Dulcich have fantasy value in standard 12-team leagues. FAAB: FCFS or $1

DEFENSE

SECONDARY TARGETS

Cincinnati Bengals D/ST - If you're playing the streaming game, go with the Bengals for Week 1 given their home matchup against the Steelers. My concern with the Steelers is quarterback; I'm not convinced Mitch Trubisky is the answer and all reports point to Kenny Pickett being a bust. Mason Rudolph could be the answer, but at this point he's never shown any more potential than being a backup in the league. FAAB: $2-$4

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Payne
Kevin has worked for RotoWire over a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. You can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.
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