The most important part of in-season roster management is working the waiver wire. Here are my thoughts regarding Week 1, 2017.
The parameters and assumptions of this weekly waiver wire advice column can be found in the preseason introduction. I also made a few pre-Week 1 suggestions in that column, which we’ll revisit here briefly, along with some new advice.
Week 1 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Advice
Percent of ESPN leagues where the player is available is in parentheses. Players are listed in the order I prefer them, but that may not apply to your league settings. Hit me up in the comments or on the Message Boards for more specific advice.
Charles Sims (86.1%)
I wrote him up last week, and although his ownership has gone up a bit, he’s still massively under-owned in casual leagues. Snap him up if you can. Now that Jeremy McNichols is gone, Sims seems almost assured of a season-long role, with upside in Doug Martin’s absence.
Sterling Shepard (47%)
Shepard had a promising rookie season, he should see the field a lot (the Giants run a lot of three wide receiver sets) and is attached to a good offense. He could be a season-long asset, especially if Brandon Marshall struggles.
Austin Hooper (64%)
Neil Dutton will be running the Streaming TE feature this season, so I won’t say much here. Just know that the Falcons have an implied total of 28.5 points this week, making Hooper a bold but reasonable Week 1 option. Should he produce, he may earn some value as a trade chip down the line.
Jamaal Charles (54.1%)
This is a move I think you have to make if he’s available. But don’t be afraid to jettison him down the line if things aren’t working out. Charles survived the preseason, looked good in limited action, and has an incredible track record. Of course, the odds are against him regaining his Hall of Fame form. But even if he only returns to 70 percent of that form, you’ll kick yourself for passing.
Shane Vereen (69%)
A season lost to injury has him well off the radar. The Giants didn’t improve their poor offensive line, and they project to be a close-to-average team. The poor line hurts Paul Perkins more than Vereen. The fact that the Giants will likely be competitive but not dominant means there probably won’t be many times when the team is running a lot to put a game away. It does, however, mean there will be lots of times when they’re passing to stay in a game. Vereen’s a 10-points-per-game PPR guy, which makes him a potential season-long asset. Get him now before he’s gone.
Kendall Wright (93%)
See last week’s write up for the rationale. Another player who may have a low ceiling but a solid floor that’s useful all season long.
Cole Beasley (74%)
Not exciting, but a borderline WR3 last season who could have a similar role this season. Potential year-long utility means you may not have to make as many trips to the waiver wire if you lose a WR.
De’Angelo Henderson (99%)
I’m all over him in dynasty, and I think he’s worth an add in redraft as well if you have bench space. I prefer Charles not only because he has a known, higher ceiling, but because Charles will have more trade value if he shows anything early in the season. Henderson, however, could also easily emerge in Denver’s backfield.
General Waiver Strategy
The challenge all owners face is figuring out how much of their budget to spend on waiver acquisitions. A simple way to think about this is to visualize a diagram, where “clarity of role” is on the x-axis, and “roster need” is on the y-axis, and the amount you should spend is represented by the trend line.
In other words, the more clear the player’s role is, the more you should spend. And the greater your roster need, the more you should spend. As an example, when Keenan Allen tore his ACL last year, Tyrell Williams had a very clear role going forward. If your team also had a need at WR, it made sense to pay a lot to acquire him.
On the other hand, if the player’s role isn’t very clear (will Kevin White or Kendall Wright be the WR to own in Chicago?), then you should pay less, even if you have a need.
Like I said, there’s more to it than this (an extremely clear role isn’t very helpful if it doesn’t project to score many points), but this is a helpful starting point. Hopefully, at this point of the season, you don’t have many glaring needs, so your bids should be relatively modest.