Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Targets: Add Jameis Winston, Jeff Wilson Before Week 1
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images). Pictured: Jameis Winston
Welcome to Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season. Now, it’s time to gaze into the crystal ball and see which players we should target on the waiver wire now for a big payoff later.
Week 1 Early Waiver Wire Targets
Jameis Winston, QB, Saints (46% rostered)
Winston was one of my favorite sleeper targets and he could easily end up top 12 at the position this year.
The 28-year-old former No. 1 overall pick had been notorious for his gunslinging, high-volume and high-turnover style of play. Winston finished as the QB4 for fantasy in his final year with the Buccaneers (2019) and enters the season as the Saints’ starter. Although New Orleans deployed a watered-down, conservative version of Winston last season, he was still effective for fantasy before suffering a torn ACL. He started seven games and was QB14 on a per-game basis.
Winston should have significantly upgraded weapons this season. Michael Thomas — who we haven’t really seen since 2019 — is on track to make his return. Thomas will join Chris Olave, the Saints’ 2022 first-round pick from Ohio State, and running back Alvin Kamara on the pass-catching depth chart.
Winston could easily have a three-plus touchdown, 300-yard game in his season debut against the Falcons, whose defense ranked 29th in pass DVOA and gave up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last year. He could be a valuable early add for managers who drafted Matthew Stafford, for example, and may be looking for starting QB help after a horrendous TNF outing.
Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson, WR, Packers (33% and 11%)
With Allen Lazard’s availability up in the air after getting stepped on during practice, there is a chance a different Packers receiver emerges.
Now, I will start this by saying I would not be shocked in the slightest to see Sammy Watkins pop off in Week 1. I also would not be shocked to see him then fall off the face of the Earth, so even if he were to have a huge game, I am not buying into the ephemeral fool’s gold.
The pair of rookies, on the other hand, could actually offer long-term value. Doubs was a preseason standout who garnered significant hype heading into drafts while quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been raving about Watson of late.
I don’t have a strong lean for one or the other without first seeing this new Green Bay offense, but I think either one of them would be worth adding in case they break out in Week 1. They are catching passes from a four-time MVP, after all.
Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake, RB, Ravens (29% and 8%)
It hurts me to even bring up Davis’ name after he crashed and burned in 2021, but he and Drake are both on the fantasy radar due to health concerns surrounding J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.
It’s a possibility both Dobbins and Edwards miss the season opener, which could open up opportunities for other members of the Ravens’ backfield. Davis, 29, had his best season in 2020 with the Panthers while subbing in for an injured Christian McCaffrey. He finished as RB12 in half PPR. Drake, 28, was recently released from the Raiders. He had a three-year string of good fantasy seasons from 2018 to 2020, finishing as the RB18, RB18 and RB14.
Of the two, I predict Davis would have more of immediate-term value having already spent all of training camp and preseason with the Ravens. If it looks like Dobbins or Edwards may miss extensive periods of time (or that their roles have been decreased significantly), Drake could be the better long-term add in PPR formats.
D’Onta Foreman, RB, Panthers (10%)
The Christian McCaffrey nightmare probably isn’t starting again. But just in case, rostering his backup wouldn’t be the worst idea.
McCaffrey is on the injury report before Carolina’s season has even begun with a cut on his shin from a cleat. It appears the injury isn’t serious and he should be available come Sunday. That said, McCaffrey managers have been through a rollercoaster of injuries over the last three seasons, including ankle, shoulder, thigh and hamstring issues.
Foreman, 26, was a solid backup with Derrick Henry sidelined last year. He was the RB20 from Week 10 and the RB8 from Week 14 in half PPR and could be a worthwhile early stash should McCaffrey miss any time. For what it’s worth, I prefer Foreman over Chuba Hubbard, who was a non-factor for the most part last year when McCaffrey was sidelined for multiple games.
Jeff Wilson Jr. , RB, 49ers (14%)
I want to believe that head coach Kyle Shanahan can fully commit to a running back — especially in light of Elijah Mitchells’s fantastic rookie campaign. However, previous experiences have made me wary of placing full trust in Shanahan-wielded backs.
Wilson, 26, is set to serve as the main backup to Mitchell, who was frequently banged up last season and is already dealing with a hamstring issue. Mitchell was removed from the injury report heading into Week 1, but his injury history — combined with Shanahan’s mercurial nature — makes him a worthwhile add.
Hayden Hurst, TE, Bengals (9%)
Hurst, a first-round pick of the Ravens in 2018 from South Carolina, was a solid sleeper in deep leagues and could be a sneaky early-season add.
The 29-year-old never fully blossomed into the prospect many hoped he would be as he was outshined in Baltimore by Mark Andrews, who was selected in the third round of the same draft. Hurst’s best season came with the Falcons in 2020, when he finished as the TE14 in half PPR. Atlanta — who drafted Kyle Pitts last year — declined his fifth-year option and he joined the Bengals this offseason by way of a one-year deal.
It’s easy to overlook Hurst after a largely unremarkable NFL career thus far. However, he has the build, athleticism and opportunity on a powerhouse offense to be a valuable fantasy asset.