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Five fantasy football waiver wire pickups before Week 1

Aug 21, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (88) with the ball as Baltimore Ravens safety DeShon Elliott (32) defends in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Drafting is the most fun part of fantasy football, but the best players in the world will tell you that proactively working the waiver wire is critical. Proactive moves are about minimizing the costs while acquiring players with upside who could see a price or demand surge in the coming weeks.

This article identifies five players and a few bonus options you should proactively scoop up before the season begins.


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Criteria:

  • Currently has a role (no handcuffs for this exercise)
  • Has an opportunity to grow the role (upside)

The last requirement for the list is an average PPR ADP greater than 170 based on FantasyPros data.

  • 8-team leagues: Players going undrafted
  • 10-team leagues: Players going after Round 17 (likely undrafted unless deep benches)
  • 12-team leagues: Players going after Round 14 (maybe undrafted)

I have also outlined droppable options based on players with similar ADPs. Of course, you know your roster construction and league format best, so use your discretion.

WR Terrace Marshall Jr.Carolina Panthers | ADP: 172

Thanks to big performances, Marshall's ADP warmed through the preseason, but he is still going undrafted in some leagues.

Marshall won't see the field often in heavy personnel groupings (less than three wide receivers). As a result, the rookie will be hard-pressed to eclipse 75% routes per passing play but could still come through with elite efficiency.

Panthers starting receiver snaps in preseason Week 3:
Player Snaps Routes Targets Air Yards LDD Snaps 11 Personnel 12 Personnel
D.J. Moore 93% 96% 24% 14% 100% 95% 80%
Robby Anderson 93% 96% 21% 43% 100% 100% 100%
Terrace Marshall Jr. 56% 67% 17% 32% 100% 100% 20%

Last season, Chase Claypool demanded a target on 24% of his routes while only seeing the field for 65% of passing plays. Ben Roethlisberger was an average quarterback in 2020 with a ton of passing volume.

This season, Darnold will see a ton of passing volume (I have the Panthers projected for 63% pass), so the former Jet just needs to be meh for Marshall to pop. If one of the starting Panther receivers goes down, we could be looking at a top-24 WR.

Players currently going ahead of or close to Marshall I am willing to drop: Phillip Lindsay, Latavius Murray, Jalen Reagor, Sterling Shepard, Emmanuel Sanders, A.J. Green.

TE Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears | ADP: 191

Kmet played more than 70% of snaps over the last seven games of 2020, taking over as the lead tight end. In those games, his targets per route started to pop:

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