2021 NFL Fantasy Football Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups

NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football waiver wire, injury, and fantasy playoff help is here!

RUNNING BACKS (RB): Elijah Mitchell,Mark Ingram, Latavius Murray, Matt Breida

WIDE RECEIVERS (WR): Christian Kirk, Nelson Agholor, Emmanuel Sanders, Zach Pascal, Tim Patrick

TIGHT ENDS (TE): Jared Cook, Dalton Schultz

QUARTERBACKS (QB): Sam Darnold, Taylor Heinicke, Teddy Bridgewater

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS (D/ST): Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints

RUNNING BACKS (RB):

Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers (currently owned in 0.7% of all ESPN leagues): 
The curse of the 49ers running back injuries struck early this season.  Trey Sermon was a healthy scratch and Raheem Mostert will miss the rest of the season due to an injury.  That meant rookie Elijah Mitchell had to carry the load.  He took full advantage of the situation by taking 19 totes for 104 carries and a touchdown.  He didn’t record a catch, but he’s worth rostering as long as Mostert and Sermon remain sidelined since he runs in one of the most run-friendly offenses in the league.  For more on Mitchell and other rookie running backs, check out our rookies and receivers section here

Mark Ingram, RB, Houston Texans (currently owned in 11% of all ESPN leagues): 
Ingram looks like he’s taken over as the bellcow in Houston’s backfield.  He got 26 carries to David Johnson’s 3.  While Ingram plays behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league and he logged 85 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries against a below-average Jaguars defense, touches mean opportunities and opportunities are tough to come by in the NFL.  This also means Imgram should be rostered as long as he’s healthy since he can be started against weaker opponents. 

Latavius Murray, RB, Baltimore Ravens (currently owned in 43.4% of all ESPN leagues): 
The Ravens have scrambled to find a starting running back since Ingram moved to Houston and JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards both tore their ACL’s.  They’ve acquired Lev Bell, Devonta Freeman, and Latavius Murray.  Murray was one of the more productive backs when Kamara was hurt and he’s the only one who got meaningful game action.  Murray would be one of the most productive starting backs in the league if he emerges as the top back in Baltimore.  He’d also work behind one of the best offensive line units in the league in one of the most run-friendly offenses in the league.  Grab him now. 

Matt Breida, RB, Buffalo Bills (currently owned in 0.3% of all ESPN leagues): 
In a surprising turn of events, Zack Miss was a healthy scratch and Matt Breida took his place as Devin Singletary’s backup for the season opener.  While the Bills’ backfield is a full on timeshare of Josh Allen, Devin Singletary, and Moss or Breida, Breida still has value in deeper leagues as Singletary’s backup.  He’s a deep league dart throw.  

WIDE RECEIVERS (WR):

Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals (currently owned in 3.6% of all ESPN leagues):
Switching to the slot paid dividends for Kirk in week 1.  He brought in all 5 of his targets for 70 yards and a pair of scores.  It might be a bit early to determine if this type of production will continue for Kirk, but the fact that he has chemistry with Kyler and knows the system means he might be able to keep the momentum moving.  A pair of friendly matchups are on deck against the Vikings and Jaguars the next 2 weeks.  

Nelson Agholor, WR, New England Patriots (currently owned in 30% of all ESPN leagues): 
Agholor struggled early in his career with the Eagles, but a change of scenery with helped him to a career year with the Raiders.  He could keep things rolling since the Patriots don’t have a legitimate receiving threat.  Sure, their offensive systems can be run heavy and feature tight ends, but somebody has to catch the ball and that could be Agholor.  His smart young quarterback Mac Jones works behind one of the better offensive lines and Agholor led the team in receiving yards week 1 against a good Dolphins defense.  Agholor is worth rostering in most leagues.  

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Buffalo Bills (currently owned in 14.9% of all ESPN leagues): 
Sanders was behind only Stefon Diggs on targets.  He caught 4 of his 8 targets for just 52 yards in the Bills’ season opener, but he could garner a larger role as be continues to develop chemistry with Josh Allen.  Allen’s big arm is a great pairing with Sanders’ speed.  However, Sanders’ concerning injury history is a bit of  a red flag, and he has struggled in the last couple of years.  However, prospective owners should remember that Sanders’ production was capped by game manager Jimmy G as a 49er and Brees checked the ball down a lot since he was on his way out.  His career could have a renaissance as a burner for the Bills since he’s a role player who fits the system. 

Van Jefferson, WR, Los Angeles Rams (currently owned in % of all ESPN leagues):

Zach Pascal, WR, Indianapolis Colts (currently owned in 2.4% of all ESPN leagues): 
Pascal became the go-to for Carson Wentz inside the 20 yard line.  He brought in a meager 4 of 5 targets, but 2 of those targets were for touchdowns.  T.Y. Hilton might be on injured reserve which means Pascal might not be targeted as much when Hilton’s back.  However, he could be worth picking up as a touchdown-dependent boom or bust dart throw in deeper leagues. He’ll have some tough matchups against the Rams, Dolphins, Ravens, and 49ers in the next 6 weeks though so start Pascal with caution.

Tim Patrick, WR, Denver Broncos (currently owned in 0.6% of all ESPN leagues):
Patrick helped fill the void after second year receiver Jerry Jeudy was carted off the field with a high ankle sprain.  He brought in all 4 of his targets for 39 yards and a touchdown.  KJ Hamler is more of an undersized gadget player and the Broncos don’t have any other receiving threats other than Noah Fant and Courtland Sutton.  Patrick is a deep league add that could pay dividends for managers willing to take a flier.  The Broncos have the Jaguars, Jets, and Raiders with the Steelers and Ravens in between. 

TIGHT ENDS (TE):

Jared Cook, TE, Los Angeles Chargers (currently owned in 22.6% of all ESPN leagues):
Cook got 8 of Herbert’s 47 targets, which is roughly 17%.  He pulled in 5 of those targets for 56 yards.  While this isn’t significant at the moment, Cook is building chemistry with Herbert which could be a factor given the injury history of the Chargers’ receiving corps.  Cook should be added in most leagues given the lack of depth at the position.  The Chargers posted 20 points on a good Washington defense and they have a couple of nice matchups coming up against the Cowboys and division rival Raiders.  However, this offense could be underrated given the offense they were able to generate in week 1. 

Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys (currently owned in 1.1% of all ESPN leagues):
Schultz might have been the beneficiary of the Cowboys trying to give Dak some shorter passes, but he still ate.  Dallas’ defense still needs to get it together and get a stop, but Dak will need to sling it in a number of shootouts that could be on the schedule. There’s plenty of volume and Schultz should get his share.  He brought in all 6 of his targets for 45 yards and he has some pretty nice matchups coming up against the Eagles, Panthers, and Giants.  He could get additional targets with Gallup injured, and he’s be part of an effort to dump the ball off early and against the Chargers this week as well. 

QUARTERBACKS (QB):

Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers (currently owned in 6.3% of all ESPN leagues): 
The Darnold era in Carolina got off to a winning start. Darnold threw for 279 yards and a deep 57 yard touchdown to Robby Anderson, but he did lose a fumble.  He made up for that fumble by adding a score on the ground.  He looked revived in Matt Rhule’s offense and he has a great schedule that includes the Texans, Cowboys, Vikings, Giants and Falcons.  He’ll look to use his chemistry with Anderson and Moore to keep Caroline’s momentum going.  

Taylor Heinicke, QB, Washington Football Team (currently owned in 0.2% of all ESPN leagues): 
Heinicke was called on again to be Washington’s signal caller again after Fitzmagic went down due to a hip injury.  He took care of the ball and threw for 122 yards and a touchdown.  If prospective owners need a reminder of what Heinicke is capable of, they just need to put on Heinicke’s playoff tape against the Buccaneers to see what he can do.  It’s not clear how much time Ryan Fitzpatrick will miss, but Heinicke is worth adding in 2QB leagues at the very least.  He’s also a streaming option this week against a soft Giants defense. 

STREAMING OPTION:

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Denver Broncos (currently owned in 5.5% of all ESPN leagues):
Teddy B had a good matchup last week against the Giants when he completed 26 of his 38 attempts for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He has an even better matchup this week against the Jaguars who just gave up 37 points to the lowly Texans.  He’s a solid streaming option this week. 

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS (D/ST):

Arizona Cardinals (currently owned in 5.1% of all ESPN leagues): 
The Cardinals defense stifled a normally high flying Titans offense to just 13 points and forced 3 turnovers.  They also contained last year’s rushing leader, Derrick Henry.  Chandler Jones had a career day posting five, yes FIVE sacks.  They have the Vikings and the Jaguars next on the docket and should have at least a couple more good weeks. 

New Orleans Saints (currently owned in 30% of all ESPN leagues): 
Believe it or not, the Saints defense is owned in less than 1/3 of all ESPN leagues, but they’re a solid defensive unit that held the Packers to just 3 points last week.  Granted, Aaron Rodgers might be checked out and Green Bay’s offense looked anemic, but credit must be given where it’s due.  They face four young QB’s in the coming weeks in Sam Darnold, Mac Jones, Daniel Jones, and Taylor Heinicke in the coming weeks, making them a solid unit until their week 6 bye. 

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