Puka Nacua, Gus Edwards, Kyren Williams Headline Week 2 Waiver Wire Pickups
Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Puka Nacua.
With the first week of the 2023 NFL season in the books, it’s time to scour the fantasy football waiver wire for pickups.
Whether you’re replacing a high draft pick who sustained an unfortunate injury – like the Ravens’ J.K. Dobbins – or eyeing under-the-radar players who popped out of nowhere (hello, Puka Nacua), Action Network’s Sean Koerner has you covered. He breaks down all the hottest names and whether they are worth your FAAB budget.
RBs Justice Hill / Gus Edwards
Given the severity of Dobbins’ injury, both Hill and Edwards are priority adds.
Edwards will require most of your FAAB considering he's been Dobbins’ direct backup for a few seasons. Edwards should handle most of the early down rushing work; Hill will mix in on early downs and handle most of the receiving work. It’s worth noting that the early down role is the more valuable one in the Ravens offense.
Hill scored two 2-yard rushing TDs on Sunday, which may cause some people to spend more on him, but I’m not sure he will dominate goal-line work over Edwards, who profiles better in that role.
As of now, I view Edwards as an every-week RB3/Flex option who could offer RB2 value in games in which the Ravens are big favorites. Hill will be more of an RB4 who could offer RB3/Flex value in games the Ravens are expected to play in a trailing or close game script.
Both backs offer a high floor in the short term, but be aware that the Ravens will likely promote Melvin Gordon from the practice squad.
Baltimore also has Keaton Mitchell, a rookie who made noise in camp – he will be eligible to come off the injured reserve after Week 4. There is a chance he could command touches.
Since the Ravens are Super Bowl contenders and Dobbins’ injury occurred so early in the season, they could also be in the market for a free agent like Kareem Hunt or Leonard Fournette. Those backs would be sneaky cheap stashes if available.
Edwards had a C+ grade in my RB Upside Ratings because his potential would always be fairly limited, even in this scenario in which Dobbins suffered an injury. Ideally, we are stashing multiple backup RBs as opposed to unloading FAAB bankroll in Week 1.
Don’t go overboard and make sure that no other backups with a C+ grade or better are currently available.
WR Puka Nacua
Nacua, a rookie fifth-round pick, made a splash in his NFL debut, going for 10 receptions and 119 yards. He essentially played the role of Cooper Kupp and ran a route on 90% of Matthew Stafford’s dropbacks. He saw a target on 40% of his routes run.
The BYU product is a must add, and he should provide WR3 value for the next few weeks while Kupp is sidelined. However, Kupp could be close to 100% by Week 5 – if that’s the case, it would lower my projections for Nacua.
That being said, the Rams offense has been able to support non-Kupp WRs in fantasy in the past, so there’s a chance Nacua can see enough volume to offer WR3 value.
There are reasons to not go overboard in FAAB bids for Nacua. First, Tyler Higbee will likely be more involved in future games – against Seattle, the tight end only had a 10% target rate.
Nacua also won't play the Seahawks every week. Their defense looks like it will be one of the worst in the league and one we should attack in fantasy. Nacua gets a tougher test against the 49ers in Week 2, but he should still offer low-end WR3 value (with upside).
Realize Nacua might just be a short-term play who offers the most value during Weeks 1-4.
RB Kyren Williams
Williams operated as the lead back in more of a 50-50 committee with Cam Akers, but it was the former who saw most of the valuable snaps (passing downs and goal line).
However, if you recall from last season, I was high on Williams when the Rams were benching Akers and looking for a trade partner. Somehow, that all resulted in Akers becoming a true bell-cow back who offered top-five value over the final six games of the season.
Sean McVay is one of the more unpredictable head coaches in the NFL when it comes to his RB rotation, so I wouldn’t insert Williams in lineups quite yet. Going from facing the Seahawks to the 49ers is a huge leap in difficulty, and I’m not expecting the Rams offense to be as efficient, which makes Williams more of a dicey RB4.
Williams is worth an add simply because he has a path to the Rams’ lead-back role without needing Akers to miss time – a path very few “backups” have, which is why Williams has a B grade in my RB upside chart.
Tyler Allgeier and Jaylen Warren are available in quite a few leagues – they have an A grade or better. Obviously, those are the types of backs I’d rather roster. Tank Bigsby also has a B grade and can probably be had cheaper than Williams.
I’m a fan of stashing backups who provide upside rather than unloading FAAB on players who just had a good week and require a large bid based solely off a recent performance.