The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 2 2022

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano

Greetings and best wishes to everyone on the start of a brand-new Fantasy Football season! I'm excited to bring back the "Waiver Wizard" column for its fifth season - hopefully this column has steered you to victory in past years!

For new Diehards fans who are unfamiliar with this column, the main objective is simple - identify the top targets for players to target during the upcoming week, give detailed analysis on why they are important additions, specify how long they could positively impact your team, and provide a general idea of which league sizes should consider each option. I'll give a personal opinion on how much FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) I'd recommend dropping on each player, with the caveat that every league varies in terms of how aggressive bidding is - the exact same player can go for different amounts, depending on variables and circumstances. All of my FAAB recommendations stem from a budget with a base of $100, as reference.

Prior to the start of each article, I also touch on a particular topic of note, or "theme" that may have developed over the course of the week. Injuries to star players, rookies who have burst onto the scene or musings from around the league.

For Week 1 of this season, it is pretty obvious - a lot of teams looked quite rusty! Fantasy players could definitely tell which teams opted to rest their starters for the entire preseason (notably, Denver) versus others who favored getting both veterans and incoming youth valuable reps. It was notable that the vast majority of quarterbacks who didn't play during the preseason actually lost this past week, and one has to infer that adjustments to actual "game speed" opposed to what they experience in practice on a daily basis came with a learning curve.

NFL coaches and executive personnel were faced with a dilemma, between providing draft picks and UDFAs the chance to compete with each other for roster spots as they whittled down to the final 53-man roster, or allowing their starters time on the field to develop new concepts. There is no right or wrong answer per se - teams who will field a less-competitive roster than others (say, Carolina or the New York Giants) would do well to see if they can uncover the next Victor Cruz - a player that can have a dramatic impact that may go unnoticed otherwise. Super Bowl favorites like Buffalo or Cincinnati obviously preferred having a healthy roster for Week 1, and didn't take the unnecessary risk of putting their starters out against unproven competition in games that truly don't count for anything.

My sense is that in future seasons where the schedule continues to be 17 games, coaching staffs will treat preseason games one and three as essentially their scrimmages, with week two being the more standard "start your main players for the first half and allow them to get comfortable before bringing in the backups". Needless to say, it is a fine line that needs to be walked to allow both talent and opportunity to surface, while minimizing risk whenever possible.

With draft season now firmly in the rear-view mirror and week one finished, it is now time to examine which players need to be added off of the waiver wire. Whenever possible, I'll attempt to recommend players who are rostered in less than 35 percent of standard-size ESPN leagues - Diehards subscribers and followers generally play in extremely competitive formats, so my focus will primarily be on players who are widely available.

Let's begin.


Matt Ryan (24 percent owned) - Dak Prescott owners who are scrambling for a pivot option should consider Ryan, who is available in almost three-quarters of standard-size leagues. Though news surrounding Ryan in the preseason was generally quiet, information did leak out that he instantly became a team leader in the locker room, and demanded accountability from his pass-catching options. Ryan is unafraid of checking the ball down to either Jonathan Taylor or Nyheim Hines, and has plus options with Michael Pittman and rookie Alec Pierce when operating down the field. The Colts have a very favorable upcoming schedule, and Ryan will be in the low-end QB1 discussion next week against Jacksonville. His statistics in Week 1 were mediocre at best, but I anticipate this to be an outlier, rather than the new norm.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues or larger as a streaming option or pivot play. Dak Prescott managers looking for help over the next several weeks should strongly consider him as a replacement. Should be added for $5-$10 if necessary.

Jared Goff (6 percent owned) - Some of this might be from the "Hard Knocks" effect, but I am fully behind Goff as a backup option this season. Detroit boasts one of the best array of offensive weapons in the league, and will only grow stronger with the return of their first-round selection Jameson Williams after Week 5. Game script and a leaky defense will have this team needing to throw early and often, and I feel that Goff's season will parallel those of Blake Bortles from seasons-past - games that you don't want to watch, but a final point total that is decent enough to not torpedo a week.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in deeper 14-team leagues as a backup option prior to bye-weeks, or as a desperation pivot play for Dak Prescott managers. Can be added for $0-$5.


Running Backs

Jeff Wilson (4 percent owned) - The running back carousel continues for 2022 in San Francisco, due to Elijah Mitchell suffering a brutal MCL sprain against the Chicago Bears last week. Conditions were horrendous on the field during the game due to new turf being applied shortly before a monsoon rolled across the Midwest - one has to wonder if that played a part, or if it is simply a matter of bad luck for a team that has struggled with injuries for multiple seasons. In Mitchell's absence I expect Wilson to be the primary beneficiary, as he was penciled in as the No.2 option on the team's depth chart and he also took over the bulk of touches after Mitchell went down. I've had discussions with other Fantasy analysts regarding the threat of Tyrion Davis-Price or Jordan Mason, but I'll stick with my endorsement of Wilson for a number of reasons. First and foremost, when Wilson has been healthy over the last few seasons (though that never lasts particularly long), Shanahan trusts him to be the volume-based back for the team. Second, I don't anticipate this being a situation similar to last season where a relatively unheard-of Mason vaults over Wilson to vulture touches. Third, Wilson knows the system better than either of the younger two options, and finally, San Francisco usually operates as a one-back system, with Deebo Samuel sprinkled in when necessary. Since Wilson is likely to be the top waiver claim this week, Fantasy players who are looking to stash alternatives should prioritize Davis-Price over Mason, given the draft investment. Mason did play well in the preseason, but his success came against inferior competition.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in all formats and added as a priority claim. In 10-team formats I'd be willing to spend $10 in FAAB, and in deeper formats up between $25-30.

Rachaad White (15 percent owned) -Tampa Bay absolutely dominated Dallas in the Sunday Night game this past week, with Leonard Fournette seeing 21 of the 33 attempts out of the backfield. During his final carry of the fourth quarter, Fournette appeared to be shaken up, prompting White to take over. Few details have emerged regarding the severity of the injury (though it can be inferred to be minor, all things considered). Fournette's running style of promoting contact does lead to him becoming banged up, and beat reporters have suggested that Buccaneers brass is incredibly high on White, their third-round selection from Arizona State. White's solid 6'0, 215 lb. frame can withstand contact inside the tackles, and he is also an adept receiver. He was already one of the top handcuffs worth rostering in the league, and has the upside of a top-15 option should Fournette miss any time.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues or larger as an insurance policy and top-handcuff. A $5 initial bid is warranted if Fournette is healthy, per practice reports. A prime "stash" candidate.

Jaylen Warren (2 percent owned) - Similar to White above, Warren's short-term upside is currently capped by the incumbent starter (in this case, Najee Harris) playing at less than 100 percent health. Early reports from Pittsburgh's beat writers state that Harris is expected to play Week 2 after aggravating an existing foot injury, and that he would take the week off from practice before the upcoming contest against New England. Even if Harris were to start in Week 2, Warren is an upside-stash worth sitting on, given how much the Steelers feed players in the backfield. Foot injuries tend to linger and take an eternity to heal, so one bad tackle or twist could lead to a multi-week absence. Warren was the only other back to record a touch in Week 1, and had a very impressive preseason.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues or larger as an insurance policy and top-handcuff. A $5 initial bid is warranted if Fournette is healthy, per practice reports. A prime "stash" candidate.

Dontrell Hilliard (4 percent owned) - Hilliard's name making this list isn't on account of his two-touchdown performance against the New York Giants, but rather his spot on the pecking order in Tennessee over Hassan Haskins. Hilliard is an adept receiver and plays for a team in desperate need of weapons. As long as Derick Henry remains healthy he will see 90 percent of all rushing attempts for the Titans, but Hilliard is a back-end FLEX candidate already in deeper PPR formats, and worth adding as a wait-and-see "watch list" option. Henry's insane workload is sure to create bumps and bruises this season - it remains to be seen if he can play through them in 2022.
Recommendation: Mark Hilliard as a "watch list" candidate in 10-team leagues, add him as a low-end FLEX option in PPR formats for 14-team leagues for a minimum bid.





Wide Receivers

Joshua Palmer (35 percent owned) - Palmer is the easy name to recommend at wideout for Week 2, due to Keenan Allen suffering a hamstring injury and unlikely to play on Thursday night against Kansas City. Palmer ran the second-most routes at the position for Las Angeles in Week 1, and has been routinely pinned as a sleeper candidate, should he see the field for more snaps. Boasting an impressive combination of size, speed and versatility, Palmer is an excellent route-runner, and is sure to catch the eye of Justin Herbert while on the field. The Chargers are content with spreading the ball around more evenly in 2022 (rather than funneling everything to Allen and Austin Ekeler), so Palmer will need to make the most of his increased opportunities. From early reports, it doesn't sound like Allen will miss an extended period of time, but this is Palmer's chance to shine in the national spotlight.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in all formats for Week 2 while Allen remains out. In shallower leagues I'd be willing to drop $5-10 as a short-term investment, and in deeper formats I'd be fine spending upwards of $20 as an upside long-term play.

Robbie Anderson (35 percent owned) - Color me surprised that Anderson was rostered in that many leagues, given rumors of his retirement swirling in the offseason. Anderson's inclusion in this list isn't due to the fluke 75-yard touchdown pass that he caught, but rather his overall target share in the offense with Baker Mayfield under center. It is obvious that Mayfield prefers throwing to Anderson more so than checking the ball down to Christian McCaffrey (4 targets) or D.J. Moore (6), and he still hasn't lost the ability to stretch the field. I fully anticipate Carolina playing from behind plenty in 2022, and an uptick in pass attempts gives Anderson a nice floor on a weekly basis. Since he isn't a "move the chains" third-down option and is more of a contested catch downfield player, I'd be more apt to adding him in standard-format leagues rather than PPR.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team or larger standard size leagues, or 14-team or larger PPR leagues. Given the negative reports on him over the offseason, he should come at a discount between $5 to $10 total.

Corey Davis (3 percent owned) - The forgotten man on the New York Jets this offseason, Davis led the team in receptions (6) and receiving yards (77) during the Jets failed comeback attempt against Baltimore in Week 1. It is obvious that Joe Flacco has a connection with Davis, and is comfortable looking his way repeatedly. To his advantage, Davis plays in two-wideout sets for the team, and his constant presence on the field will lead to plenty of opportunities for a below-average team that will rack up points during "garbage time" in the fourth quarter. Next week's contest against the Cleveland Browns should be more even, but I'm confident that he will still see a substantial share of passes his way.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues or larger, and I'd be willing to bid between $5-$10 to acquire his services, no matter the format.




Tight Ends

Gerald Everett (14 percent owned) - As mentioned before when I discussed Joshua Palmer, the Chargers are going to make sure to spread the ball around plenty in 2022, much to the chagrin of Fantasy players. The poster-child for a "post-hype sleeper" at the position, Everett has failed to meet expectations in prior seasons with Seattle and Los Angeles, as neither team was willing to take advantage of his physical strengths. The Chargers have made both Hunter Henry and Jared Cook relevant in prior seasons, so it stands to reason that Everett will be in the low-end TE1 discussion as a touchdown reliant option for most of the season. With Los Angeles being one of the most aggressive and pass-happy teams across the league, Fantasy players would do well to grab Everett as a streaming option or backup where possible.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues or deeper as a streaming candidate with upside. He can likely be acquired for a price between $0-$5 FAAB.

Taysom Hill (4 percent owned) - Hill has long been a polarizing player in Fantasy circles, since the New Orleans Saints have been horribly unclear about their intended use for him. A gadget jack-of-all-trades option capable of playing anywhere on the field, Hill will be utilized at both running back and receiver on a weekly basis, and his physicality will garner plenty of upside. Should anything happen to Jameis Winston at quarterback he is also capable of playing that position as well, or on trick plays. His production will be all over the place depending upon game script, so it is difficult to fully endorse him as a weekly starting option, but in deeper leagues one could do worse.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues or larger as an upside streaming play. Hill can be acquired for a price between $0-$5 FAAB in most leagues.