It is finally time for NFL Fantasy Football to return. With fantasy drafts likely already over, and week 1 approaching quickly, I figured now would be a great time to discuss some players that likely didn’t get drafted that you should consider acquiring on the waiver wire for week one.
Injuries Shouldn’t Necessarily Scare You Away
If you are passing on players consistently due to injuries that are not season-ending this could put you at a disadvantage heading into the 2022 season. With names like Michael Gallup, DeShaun Watson, or Zach Wilson injured or suspended there are a lot of quality names out there falling completely off draft boards due to the time they are expected to miss.
The thing is, there is a good chance if some starters stay healthy to start the season these names will be riding the bench until they get healthy or return from suspension. For leagues with injured reserve spots on their roster, these spots should be utilized right away if possible. Even if it means drafting a player that might miss time to ensure you get the premier talent, and then have to fill the holes after the draft.
Players To Watch
As mentioned before one player that dropped out of the draft in my fantasy football league was:
WR Michael Gallup
Gallup has been the number two receiver in Dallas. Gallup as of late has dealt with some injury issues, including an ACL tear that happened late last season and hasn’t allowed him to recover completely. He will miss week 1, and no official timetable for his return has been set as of yet.
This is nothing short of panic-inducing if this is a player you had planned to count on as a starter for your roster. The thing is you must have been living under a rock or auto drafting if that’s the case. The thing is sometimes you have to read between the lines with players like this. Especially given the changes to the injured reserve rules over the past couple of seasons.
With players now allowed to be designated for return from the injured reserve list after as little as four games, or the PUP list which requires you to make a decision before week 6. With Gallup not landing on either list, there is at least hope within the building that he will be ready to go before week 4. Which is why Gallup makes a ton of sense to sign now, and stash on your roster while he gets healthy.
Gallup provides consistency when on the field, and is a monster in PPR (point per reception) leagues. Through 4 seasons Gallup has played in 55 games, starting 43 of them. He has 193 receptions for 2,902 yards and 15 touchdowns. This breaks down to 3.5 receptions, 53 yards each game scoring a touchdown on average every four games. These are solid numbers for a number two receiver especially when we are talking on a roster like Dallas that has Ceedee Lamb, and Kavontae Turpin to attract some attention.
WR Robbie Anderson
Robbie Anderson is a guy who seemingly gets discounted every season despite being one of the more consistent wide receivers in fantasy football each season. If there is one reason why you want to target Anderson his target share would be it. Robbie Anderson averages 6.6 targets per game over his career. If you remove his rookie season, the only year he didn’t receive at least 94 targets, his average rises to nearly 7 targets per game.
Due in large part because of his rookie season, and a down year in 2021 in terms of catch rate, and yards per reception, he averages only about 49 yards per game played. However, for any veteran Fantasy football player, they know that for Anderson it’s all about the opponent. Some weeks he might not catch a pass over 5 yards. Other weeks, he is the deep threat for Carolina’s offense. It can be maddening depending on your roster, and level of commitment to starting Anderson.
I am not advocating that Anderson be your starter, in fact, I am saying he is a solid backup wide receiver option this season once he gets healthy. Another facet of his game that must be considered is the fact that Carolina loves to get their wideouts involved in the run game. Anderson has taken at least 3 carries in four of six seasons, only adding to his potential output.
The thing with Anderson preventing him from being drafted is their uncertainty at quarterback. Anderson seemingly had very little rapport with Sam Darnold whom he played with in New York as well. I believe that’s a big reason why Baker Mayfield was named the starter given Anderson’s undisputed status as the top receiver for the Panthers.
QB Sam Darnold
Currently, he is seen as the backup quarterback in Carolina but things can change extremely quickly for the Panthers given the short leash that Rhule is now coaching on. Having started Darnold most of last season, it could be said the Panthers know what they’re getting in Darnold regardless if it wasn’t pretty in 2021. If things turn ugly quickly with Mayfield, we likely see his backup get reinserted as the starter when he returns from injury.
If the team even waits that long. With Veteran Pj Walker on the roster, if the Mayfield experiment looks like a failure early on, Rhule will not hesitate to pull the plug and turn to Walker if it gets really bad. He will have no choice but to be hasty in his decision-making for the 2022 season. He is coaching for his job this season.
Darnold was not terrible in 2021 despite how the stats seem to look. Having attempted 406 passes last season, Darnold’s completion rate was affected by three factors, deflected passes, throwaways, and drops. In 2021, his receivers dropped passes at a higher rate than ever before during his short NFL career. With 6 deflected passes, 22 throw-aways, and 27 drops, Darnold had 55 passes fall to the turf, with little he could do to correct some of these issues.
Those 55 passes were the difference between Sam Darnold posting a 59% completion rate, and a 73% completion rate. Now obviously it can’t be expected that any quarterback eliminates deflected passes entirely, avoids throwing any passes away, etc. So let’s just assume that they can cut the drops in half, and do the same with the throwaways.
IF Darnold can make slight improvements, and cut down half of his throwaways, and his receivers cut their drops about in half we are talking about a quarterback that completes nearly 66% of his passes. On top of the fact that his receivers dropped passes at a higher rate than ever before, he also was pressured at the highest rate of his career. With a 7% drop rate, a 29.1% pressure rate, and 29 sacks all career highs, Darnold wasn’t receiving much in the way of assistance from his skill positions, or his offensive line. Add on the fact that the run game was predictable, and produced firmly in the mediocre category without Christian McCaffery you start to see a picture of how Darnold could find success in Carolina.
With DeShaun Watson suspended for the first six weeks of the season, the bold few bet on Jacoby Brissett and his ability to lead the team. Shockingly enough might not be a bad idea. Let me propose an odd tactic to you. I want you to consider a handcuff on your quarterbacks if you sign a Browns QB. Bring in, Watson? Sign Brissett or vice versa if possible.
In a 17-week season, having a guy like Watson who would return in week 7 still gives you eleven weeks of high-level QB play assuming Watson returns to prehiatus form. Watson was on a trend in which each year he would improve his completion percentage, throw more yards, and more touchdowns, and also managed to cut down on interceptions along the way.
This culminated in an impressive 2020 season before his career was derailed by his disgusting off-field actions (if true). His 2020 season saw him post career highs in Completions, Attempts, Completion Rate, Passing Yards, Passing Touchdowns, and Yards per Attempt. His 2020 season was unbelievable.
Averaging 8.9 yards per attempt, while providing the highest touchdown to interception ratio of his entire career to this point, it seemed Watson was at the cusp of becoming elite. Now he will be 23 games removed from his last start. With questions about his ability to perform at a high level after this long away, many people avoided selecting Watson altogether. However, I think this is a move that simply can’t pan out.
It’s not often quarterbacks reach these heights, showing year-over-year improvement on their way there then just fall off a cliff. Then again it’s not often we see a starting quarterback miss 23 games mid-career without a serious injury and questions about his ability to return involved. Now we have a perfectly healthy quarterback, looking to make his return to the field after nearly a season and a half away from the NFL. This is a unique situation I have never seen play out at the quarterback position. I for one believe that Watson will pick up right where he left off as if playing quarterback is like riding a bike, you never quite forget how.
H-Back/QB Taysom Hill
Much has been made of the move from quarterback to “tight end” for Taysom Hill. The 6’2 220 pound jack of all trades up to this point had been listed as a quarterback first and foremost before being moved to tight end by new head coach Dennis Allen. We can sit here and debate whether or not this was a smart move all day. However, that’s not the topic at hand.
You see, the Saints might say Hill isn’t a factor at quarterback. When you look at how they assembled their roster, and in particular their quarterback room, clues say otherwise. Currently, the Saints are only carrying Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton at quarterback on the active roster. Their only other pure quarterback Jake Luton was signed in the final cuts from Jacksonville.
Meanwhile, Hill is on the active roster, which in turn makes him available in-game should an injury occur at quarterback. So despite being listed as a tight end, Hill still has the outside chance of seeing snaps as a quarterback which truly becomes a huge asset in fantasy football. Similar to how Cordarelle Patterson was listed as a WR getting RB-level touches in 2021, Hill could see elite-level usage as a tight end. Do not discount the former quarterback, and his ability to be a huge factor in this offense.
Whether it’s as a passer, receiver, or runner, Hill is a premier talent in the NFL that is getting used this way for a reason. The thing is his body type, skill set, and abilities to affect the game in many ways will only help his touch totals. If you’re looking for a solid back-up level tight end, who in some leagues is also considered a quarterback as well, Hill is a solid option that could prove to be a more consistent threat to score big fantasy numbers, than a lot of the tight ends that fall outside the top ten.
I expect Hill to see some time as a passer, runner, and receiver this season. Although one thing that did rather surprise me is the fact that the Saints did decide to carry four running backs, four tight ends, and a fullback. This could limit the number of touches he receives given the fact that Sean Payton is no longer calling the shots.
Final Words on the Fantasy Five
There you have it. Five players to consider adding on this week’s Waiver Wire Watch List. Stay tuned for weekly fantasy football-related content on ShadySportsNetwork.com. I will be releasing an article later this week discussing some of the sleeper picks to consider.