It’s Labor Day weekend, 2021. You’re looking at your final draft pick. All of your positions are covered, and this final selection seems like a mess. So you decide to handcuff your RB1 or another QB, or TY Hilton because you recognize his name. After all, what else are you supposed to do?
I humbly submit that there is a better way.
This season, I’m excited to be back on the weekly series of waiver threads and breaking down each week’s action and giving you, dear reader, the best options among the players available in your league. I am also here to tell you that you can start fishing in the free agent pond ahead of week 1. I know, I know. Maybe you haven’t even drafted yet. Maybe you just finished your draft. But you can maximize your seats on the bench to add players ahead of time. There is never more uncertainty than before week 1; hence, there are never more opportunities to capitalize on hidden gems. So go after your last draft pick the same way you would approach waivers.
The Waiver Yarn has an element of luck, after all. Bench hideouts don’t always work, but you can’t hit the jackpot if you don’t play. It’s about the process. The goal of these additions before Week 1 is to look for players with a good mix of opportunity and uncertainty in their roles. If they aren’t involved in week 1, drop them. But if a player surprises with a high snap percentage or an unexpected amount of touches, then congratulations! You caught a player before they are the new hotness.
The standard roster size in Sleeper (which is the platform I will be referring to this season) is QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, FLX, FLX, K, DEF, and 5 BN. I don’t hide the K or DEF position (for religious reasons), so they won’t be part of this list. 13 pick rounds in a 12-team league represent 156 players. This list must therefore be composed of players with an ADP greater than choice 156.
Second, I select players who are less than 50% registered on fantasy platforms. This is the threshold we’ll be using for waiver thread selections this season, so we’ll keep it consistent here.
Note: Your platform is important and the percentage of listing can vary wildly from site to site. Listing percentages are from Sleeper and Yahoo.
Third, I ignore tight ends and quarterbacks. I have no interest in filling my bench with streaming options. Yes, someone is bound to have a heavy 1 week (cough, David Njokucough cough, Gerald Everett), but it’s unlikely to be someone you’ll hang on to and start on a regular basis. And no, your other managers are not going to break down your door to Tua Tagovailoa if he has a good first game.
Fourth, I seek to maximize the flexibility of my list. If you are in a league with one or more places on the IR list, take advantage of your free BINGO space and add an extra player to your bench.
Finally, no handcuffs. I get it, an injury to a top running back has a huge impact on fantasy, but it’s ultimately a guessing game. How many weeks has it been Samaje Perine sit on a bench while managers wait Joe Mixon to come down? Has been Chuba Hubbard your league winner instead of Christian McCaffrey? Not exactly. Ultimately, these players are more likely to clutter your roster than clear the way to victory, and there are very few automatic plug-and-play saves.
5 players to add
Rondale Moore is on a high-powered Cardinals offense that has started strong each of the last two seasons, so I like him first before a game is played. That being said, his range of results is all over the place. Moore is undersized, inconsistent and part of a team with a ton of skill-set turnover. Plus, he’s in a race against time to play Week 1. That’s a lot of uncertainty, but there’s still more to love. Moore was targeted on 24% of his routes run as a rookie, and his speed and versatility could make him a favorite early target for Kyler Murray. DeAndre Hopkins (suspended) is out for the first six games. Chase Edmonds and Christian Kirk are in Florida, releasing 27% of last season’s targets. I’m waiting for a new signature Marquise Brown to absorb some of that, but Moore should see plenty of targets as the team’s primary receiver. Moore’s expected gimmicky use in the backfield is just icing on the cake. If he can be cleared for Week 1, we could get a glimpse of how Moore is going to be deployed on offense.
Joshua Palmer finished his rookie campaign with 28 targets and three touchdowns over the final five games of the season. He reportedly took the WR3 job after sharing the role with Jalen Guyton in 2021. Plus, he’s on the Chargers. Justin Herbert could throw 50 touchdowns this season, and no one would be surprised. As a third receiver, it may be harder to trust him, but if mike williams Where Keenan Allen were to miss at any time, Palmer would immediately be a WR2 on my board. Palmer showed plenty of flashes as a rookie, and he’s on his way to breaking ground in his sophomore season. The only question is its timeliness. Hide it for the first week and see if you get any gold.
jameson williams made this list because of the roster benefits it can give your team. Jameson Williams has a breakthrough ability but is unlikely to start the season on the Lions’ active roster. If you have any IR spots, take Williams and put him in an IR spot while we wait for updates on the explosive rookie.
I will admit, Brian Robinson is a bit of a cheater, as his draft position and ownership percentage are constantly changing. After having apparently exceeded Antonio Gibson on the depth chart, Robinson’s incredible rise in pre-season came to a tragic and abrupt halt. More importantly, Robinson appears to be on the road to a full recovery. He’ll miss at least the first four weeks of the season, giving Antonio Gibson his chance to redeem himself, but I like to keep Robinson in mind at the end of your draft. There was a reason Ron Rivera seemed to prefer him. Plus, he’s IR eligible, so it doesn’t hurt your team’s depth to field Robinson while he recovers.
You can probably say I prefer investing spots in the young talent roster, but I’m going old school for my final pick. Once again, AJ Green is left for dead in the drafts, but he resumes his role as a big red zone target and safety cover for Kyler Murray in Arizona. Zach Ertz (calf) is not a lock to play in Week 1, DeAndre Hopkins is suspended and Marquise Brown should get a lot of attention. I’m not starting Green, but I’m curious enough to stick him on my roster and see if he has a role in the Cardinals attack.
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)