Waiver Wire Pickups: Running Backs We Love for Week 1, Top Streaming Options

Waiver Wire Pickups: Running Backs We Love for Week 1, Top Streaming Options article feature image
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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Justin Jackson

  • Our fantasy football experts identify the top waiver wire pickups and streaming options for Week 1.

Week 1 is here! Are you ready?

So many fantasy football leagues are won in-season. Luckily, our experts are here to guide you through the most important management decisions each week.

Sean Koerner, Matthew Freedman Chris Raybon and Mike Randle outline their favorite waiver wire pickups for Week 1, featuring two running backs with league-winning potential. Koerner also highlights the top streaming options at quarterback, tight end, kicker and defense.

Let’s get to it!

Note: Our experts have limited their recommendations to players owned in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues. All data as of Monday night.


Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups

Justin Jackson, RB, Chargers

Ownership: 32%

With Melvin Gordon holding out, Jackson is slated to open the season as the Chargers’ 1b running back behind Austin Ekeler. There’s a chance Jackson’s play earns him a 50-50 split of the work, and an outside shot he’s a league-winner if Gordon’s holdout drags on longer than expected.

The Chargers open the season with matchups against the Colts, Lions, Texans and Dolphins, so Jackson is a worthwhile early-season add who you might be able to flip in a trade as soon as after Week 1 if he exceeds expectations against Indianapolis. Chris Raybon

Alexander Mattison, RB, Vikings

Ownership: 23%

Starting running back Dalvin Cook enters the season with a lot of hype, but he’s played only 15 games over the past two seasons, and the Vikings invested a third-round pick in Mattison, who is young (21), big (5-foot-11, 221 pounds) and was productive in college with 2,958 yards and 30 touchdowns from scrimmage in 27 games as a lead back.

Although Cook should see an increase in usage, Mattison has a real chance to establish himself in the “Latavius Murray role,” and it’s worth noting that over the past two seasons, Murray out-carried Cook 16 to four inside the five-yard line.

Alexander Mattison
Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Alexander Mattison

As a touchdown-capable No. 2 option behind an injury-plagued lead back, Mattison should be rostered in every league. Matthew Freedman

Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers

Ownership: 28%

With so much uncertainty regarding the San Francisco offense, fantasy owners have taken a wait-and-see approach to the wide receivers. Goodwin has a chance to be a season-long WR3 and is still available in more than 70% of Yahoo leagues.

With 4.27 40-yard-dash speed, Goodwin overcame an early-season quad strain to average 17.2 yards per reception last season. He’s only one year removed from producing seven games of 78 receiving yards or more. With Trent Taylor recovering from foot surgery, Goodwin is one of the most reliable options in an undistinguished receiving core.

Look for the 28-year-old speedster to have a DeSean Jackson-esque effect on Kyle Shanahan’s offense.Mike Randle

Jamison Crowder, WR, Jets

Ownership: 46%

Crowder isn’t all that attractive in standard leagues, but in PPR scoring, he’s someone to consider. Wide receiver Robby Anderson (calf) is dealing with a lingering injury, and Crowder has reportedly developed a strong rapport with quarterback Sam Darnold in the offseason.

Head coach Adam Gase has historically funneled targets to his slot receivers — 131 and 161 targets to Jarvis Landry in 2016-17, and 111 targets to Wes Welker in 2013 — and Crowder is a reliable (if unspectacular) middle-of-the-field presence, averaging 11.1 PPR points per game over the past three years.

With tight end Chris Herndon suspended for the first four games, Crowder should get a larger share of the team’s between-the-numbers targets and could have more value than expected. — Freedman

Best Streaming Options

Sean Koerner runs through the best streaming options by position.

QB: Matthew Stafford, Lions

Matchup: at Cardinals
Ownership: 27%

There are a handful of QBs who are owned in less than 70% of Yahoo leagues but could be available in yours: Mitch Trubisky, Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo. I’d recommend streaming one of them if so.

However, of the QBs who are on less than 50% of Yahoo teams, Stafford is the ideal streamer at QB this week. He has a dream matchup at Arizona, where we will finally get to see the Air Raid in all its glory.

The Lions play at a bit of a slower pace, but the Cardinals will try to play at a lightning fast pace in Week 1, which should give Stafford a few more attempts. Shutdown cornerback Patrick Peterson is suspended the first six games and Robert Alford, who was slated to be their No. 1 corner while PP is out, has been placed on IR. The Cardinals defense is going to be pretty easy to pick apart for Stafford, who has one of the best supporting casts we’ve seen in a long time.

Matthew Stafford-Kenny Golladay
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay

Don’t let Stafford’s poor 2018 season or the narrative that new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is going to refuse to pass the ball cloud your judgement: Stafford makes an ideal stream for Week 1. — Koerner

TE: Jimmy Graham, Packers

Matchup: at Bears
Ownership: 47%

Congrats on missing out on the top-three tight ends … then the middle few TEs … and then not snagging Vance McDonald or Austin Hooper. You’re starting the 2019 season needing to stream TE!

Although these waters can be scary at times, it’s not as bad as you think. It’s Week 1, so you can most likely stream Graham. While he might seem like a touchdown-or-bust play, that’s most TEs who we’ll be streaming every week — that’s why they are available on the waiver wire. And Graham has one of the higher TD odds of TEs who should be available, which is why I’m targeting him.

Keep an eye out for Jordan Reed’s status. If he ends up missing Week 1, Vernon Davis could be another sneaky streaming option in deeper leagues. — Koerner 

Kicker: Matt Prater, Lions

Matchup: at Cardinals
Ownership: 43%

Prater is my seventh-ranked kicker this week, and this is the perfect matchup to target him as the Lions’ team total currently sits at 25 points. They’ll also likely be leading or playing in a close game, which increases the chances of a normal to higher rate of field goal attempts in the second half.

Not to mention, Prater is one of the more accurate kickers in my models with the ability to kick 50-plus yarders with ease. Weather shouldn’t be an issue, either, as they’re playing at Arizona in a stadium with a retractable roof. — Koerner

Defense: Jets

Matchup: vs. Bills
Ownership: 14%

The Jets are my sixth-ranked DEF this week. They get to open the season with a home matchup against the Bills, who have the fourth-lowest team total this week and are likely to play from behind in this contest as a 3-point underdog (see live odds here).

This should allow for increased chances of turnovers and even sacks for the Jets.

The Jets have improved quite a bit over the offseason. We’ll get to see their first-round pick DT Quinnen Williams debut along with free-agent signing LB C.J. Mosley. They’re a high-floor/ceiling play this week and then will need to be dropped next week as they face the Browns, making the Jets just a one-week rental. — Koerner