We’re back! For those who are loyal readers of the ESPN Fantasy Football waiver-wire column, you may recall that yours truly has had the pleasure of writing this column for several years and looks forward to doing so again this season.
Here’s the drill: Every week we’ll review the players who are available in more than 50% of leagues who merit consideration as pickups for your roster. Keep this in mind: If you play in a 10-team league, the number of players who should be added is smaller than the number of players who should be added in a deeper league.
We’ll do our best to highlight these names each week to help you improve your roster right away.
So here they are, the Week 2 ESPN Fantasy waiver-wire pickups:
Malcolm Brown, RB, Los Angeles Rams (7.9%): While the Rams entered the season with enthusiasm about second-round rookie Cam Akers, it was Brown who shined in Week 1, as he carried 18 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns, adding a trio of catches for 31 yards for a standout night. Brown is a player the Rams have long valued — they matched an offer sheet he had signed with Detroit to retain him two years ago — and he earned a prominent role on Sunday as a result. He finished with one more carry than Akers and 2019 third-rounder Darrell Henderson Jr. combined and — importantly — was their best goal-line option.
Benny Snell, Jr., RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (14.6%): With James Conner leaving early due to a hamstring issue, Snell took over in Week 1 and starred for the Steelers with 19 carries for 113 yards. He was physical, ran hard and showed excellent footwork to chew up yards after contact. While it’s unclear if Conner will miss Week 2 or beyond, Snell is a must-add insurance runner. It’s unlikely Snell would have this job to himself if/when Conner gets back on the field, but until that time comes, there’s serious value.
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (34.4%): Coming into the season we knew Hines was bound for a role within the Indy offense given Philip Rivers’ propensity for targeting backs in the passing game. But Hines exceeded expectations early with a pair of touchdowns and now Marlon Mack could be out for the season. It’ll be the Jonathan Taylor show in Indy, but Hines’ role should remain quite steady.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (27.2%): The Eagles believe they have a star in the making in Goedert, who sailed past 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 1. With the Eagles already dealing with wide receiver injuries, Goedert is bound to see his fair share of targets and has weekly top-10 tight end upside.
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (29.1%): Robinson generated some steam late in the preseason after the Jaguars released Leonard Fournette and with Ryquell Armstead on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He debuted impressively by handling all 16 running back rushing attempts for the Jaguars in Week 1, posting 62 yards and adding one catch for 28 yards. The reservations on Robinson stem from whether Jacksonville will consistently be in tight games and whether Chris Thompson will interrupt his passing-game usage, but basically every starting running back is a worthwhile addition at this time of the year.
Parris Campbell, WR, Indianapolis Colts (29.8%): Just prior to Week 1 of the 2019 season, colleague Mike Clay suggested DJ Chark Jr. as a second-year wideout ready to shine that season. Campbell was Mike’s pick this year and the early returns make Clay look what extremely smart. Campbell posted nine targets in Week 1, tied for the team lead, hauling in six catches for 79 yards and 9 rushing yards as well. He’s an intriguing chess piece for Indy’s offense and a player who has his best football ahead of him.
Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears (38.2%): The Bears have long been bullish on Miller as a player and he showed well in Week 1, leading the team with 76 receiving yards to go along with a touchdown. This is a talent play, as there’s a lot to like about Miller’s skill set and potential. While he doesn’t play in a major passing attack, we’re in lockstep with the Bears’ view of his talent and believe he deserves roster consideration.
Joshua Kelley, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (11.3%): Credit to Matthew Berry for all of his preseason love for Kelley, as he was one of the most common players on TMR’s roster in his 16 teams that he manages. Kelley got involved right away in his NFL debut to the tune of 12 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown. While some will question whether there is room each week for a second Chargers back in fantasy lineups if Austin Ekeler is going to post 19 carries (like he did in Week 1), I’d bypass that debate for now and instead focus on the quality talent of Kelley and stash him as a depth-level back.
Scotty Miller, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3.4%): Miller generated some preseason steam after positive comments from quarterback Tom Brady and had five catches for 73 yards in Week 1. While the Buccaneers have so many players on offense who could contribute in a given week, I think Miller piques my interest most among those eligible for the column … for now. The matchup in Week 2 against Carolina bodes well for a fun Sunday.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Detroit Lions (21.3%): I went back and forth on whether to include Peterson on this list, as while he had 14 carries for 93 yards and added three catches in his Detroit debut, the Lions have two backs I believe will be decidedly more involved in future weeks in D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson. Peterson is a volume-dependent scorer, as he’s not a consistently dynamic pass-catcher (despite his contributions Sunday) with substantial upside in that aspect of the game. But if Detroit sticks with him as its lead toter, there’s going to be some value, particularly in non-PPR leagues.
Frank Gore, RB, New York Jets (2.6%): With the news that Le’Veon Bell is going to miss a “couple of weeks” due to a hamstring injury, the Jets will be looking for a new starter. Enter the legendary Frank Gore, one of my favorite players of all time. With that in mind, as we saw in Week 1, yards won’t be easy to come by and Gore is a volume-dependent player at this juncture of his career. In a deeper league, he’s a reasonable add, but I’d keep my eyes out for rookie La’Mical Perine as a stash on your bench. He’s currently hurt, but if he were to ever take over this starting job, he’d be on the flex radar.
Gardner Minshew II, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (14.9%): There weren’t many quarterback performances that had me immediately reconsider the surefire starters coming into the season, but it’s always worth monitoring what’s available. Minshew completed 19 of 20 passes and threw for three touchdowns in an upset over the Colts. He’s such a fun player to watch and a useful one as well. Though Jacksonville won in Week 1 with Minshew throwing just 20 passes, we still expect a ton of volume and good rushing ability from the mustachioed quarterback to boot.
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (47.8%): I’m including Burrow on this list now because I sense he might soon be available in too few leagues to be on it going forward. His debut was fun and had some impressive moments, most notably a designed, 23-yard quarterback draw for a touchdown. Beautiful. Burrow’s passing day wasn’t one to write home about, per se, but he has a favorable matchup Thursday night against the Browns that could lead to a breakout fantasy day. If you have any questions about your starter and are already pressing for quarterback insurance, I’d snag Joey B. now.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers (16.1%): It was just great to see McKinnon back on the field in Week 1 after two seasons lost to injury. Moreover, he scored a touchdown! McKinnon was clearly entrenched behind Raheem Mostert — who was terrific — and there are a lot of options in the San Francisco backfield, but he’s a name to keep in mind as a stash because of his special pass-catching skills. A deeper-league consideration.
Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team (0.4%): I’m filing this Week 1 performance away: Thomas had eight targets, four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. TMR has been convinced all preseason that Washington would get creative with Thomas (a former college quarterback) and Week 1 confirmed as such. If you’re potentially researching tight ends to roster, here’s a name we won’t discourage you from considering.