Week 1 of the fantasy football season is always fun. There are players who surprise, and there are players who disappoint. Both play a role in the top 10 waiver wire pickups for Week 2.
One of the worst mistakes you can make in fantasy is to drop nearly half your team after the first week in favor of the biggest fantasy producers from a one-game sample size.
Don’t do that.
Instead, ponder your overall roster construction before making any rash moves for any of the top available players on the market (except for maybe the top three on this week’s list).
Here are the 10 best waiver wire pickups for Week 2.
Note: These players are all under 50.0 percent owned in ESPN fantasy leagues.
Bonus Pickup: Tennessee Titans (DST)
ESPN ownership: 40.1 percent
Consider this: The Titans scored 22 fantasy points against what most figured to be among the best offenses in the NFL this season.
Again, while we should try not to overreact to a single week’s worth of data, it was too impressive of a performance to simply ignore it.
Another reason they may be worth picking up? Their next two games. They host the Colts in Week 2 and visit the Jaguars in Week 3. Both of those teams have new quarterbacks under center, so there’s opportunity for Mike Vrabel’s defense to capitalize after forcing Baker Mayfield into a lot of mistakes.
If your regular defense is facing tough matchups the next few weeks, the Titans are a solid addition.
10. Darren Waller (TE, Oakland Raiders)
Everyone was talking about Waller in the preseason due to his role on Hard Knocks, and now they should be talking about him due to his role on the field.
As expected, Derek Carr made Waller a focal point in the passing game in the Raiders’ 24-16 win over the Denver Broncos on Monday night. Waller caught seven of his eight targets for 70 yards, and while there wasn’t a touchdown to go along with, he’s clearly going to get his share of targets with Antonio Brown off to New England.
Waller ranked eighth among tight ends in targets in Week 1, so he could potentially be a regular fantasy starter moving forward.
9. Terry McLaurin (WR, Washington Redskins)
ESPN ownership: 7.3 percent
The Redskins joined the Bengals as two teams that were nowhere near as bad as people expected in their respective Week 1 matchups. McLaurin, a third-round pick in this year’s draft, played a key role in Washington getting off to a hot start against the Philadelphia Eagles.
He had five receptions on seven targets and hauled in a 69-yard TD (nice) in the second quarter. McLaurin finished with 127 receiving yards for the game.
Once again, players who can score a long touchdown at any time are fantasy assets, even if McLaurin’s consistency may be frustrating in a bad offense.
But with the Redskins likely playing from behind a lot, Case Keenum will have to air it out quite a bit to players like McLaurin.
8. Danny Amendola (WR, Detroit Lions)
ESPN ownership: 3.4 percent
It’s never easy to predict the Lions’ offense, and that does warrant some hesitation about jumping on some of Matthew Stafford’s targets after just one game.
But I’ll make an exception here, and the reason is that Amendola had 13 targets. 13! He caught seven of them for 104 yards, and he’s one of several intriguing options that Stafford has to work with (more on that in a second).
Of course, having a lot of options can limit each player’s fantasy ceiling, but Amendola’s target share is too good to avoid.
He’s one of the best receivers available this week.
7. TJ Hockenson (TE, Detroit Lions)
ESPN ownership: 30.0 percent
We’re going back-to-back Lions here since jumping on impressive rookies early in the season is an important part of fantasy strategy.
Hockenson was a beast in catching six of his nine targets for 131 yards and a touchdown in the Week 1 tie against the Arizona Cardinals, firmly proving that he’s ready to make an immediate impact in the NFL.
He was the league’s top-scoring tight end in standard leagues through Sunday games, so this is a no-brainer if you have needs at that position.
6. John Brown (WR, Buffalo Bills)
ESPN ownership: 35.3 percent
The Bills aren’t going to be the highest-scoring team in the NFL this season, but Brown has already proven his potential in the offense.
He reeled in seven of his 10 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown in the comeback win against the New York Jets, showing that he’s built a nice rapport with Josh Allen right off the bat.
Fantasy owners may be hesitant to roster Brown because of some underwhelming performances in recent years.
But he’s off to a great start in Buffalo, and that makes him an intriguing waiver wire option this week.
5. Chris Thompson (RB, Washington Redskins)
ESPN ownership: 18.9 percent
Derrius Guice is expected to miss some time with an injury, so Thompson’s value goes up even more after a solid start to the fantasy season.
He had only three carries for 10 yards, but his value will be his pass-catching out of the backfield, where he reeled in seven of 10 targets for 68 yards.
Obviously, he’s a much more appealing add in PPR leagues due to his receiving potential.
And just like we said with McLaurin, the Redskins may be passing a lot with three of their next four games coming against the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, and New England Patriots.
4. Giovani Bernard (RB, Cincinnati Bengals)
Bernard wasn’t originally on my list since all indications are that Joe Mixon’s ankle injury wasn’t all that serious.
But Mixon is officially questionable for the Bengals’ Week 2 game against the San Francisco 49ers, so Bernard becomes a priority target since he’d be in line to get the start in what is an appealing matchup.
Bernard only had seven rushes for 21 yards against the Seattle Seahawks, but he showed his value in the passing game by grabbing two receptions for 42 yards.
He’s a fine addition as a potential starter in what looks to be a more creative offense.
3. John Ross III (WR, Cincinnati Bengals)
ESPN ownership: 4.8 percent
Everyone expected the Bengals to struggle on the road at Seattle. However, they nearly grabbed the win as a double-digit underdog thanks to Ross’s efforts.
He earned 34 points in PPR by notching seven receptions for 158 yards and two scores, which gave the less than five percent of fantasy players that owned him some confidence moving forward (even if just 0.5 percent started him in Week 1).
Ross has disappointed fantasy owners in the past, but he’s off to a good start this season and should have value with AJ Green still out due to injury.
Also, let’s remember that Zac Taylor was with Sean McVay in Los Angeles, so the new Bengals’ coach knows how to get receivers open in space on a consistent basis.
2. Marquise Brown (WR, Baltimore Ravens)
ESPN ownership: 28.2 percent
The rookie from Oklahoma showed why ‘Hollywood’ is his nickname. That’s because he put on an absolute show.
Brown shredded the Miami Dolphins for 147 yards and two touchdowns on just four receptions, which may become a common theme for receivers that play against the Dolphins this season.
The Ravens won’t score 59 points every week (and Lamar Jackson won’t have five passing TD’s and a perfect passer rating), but Brown’s breakaway speed should result in a lot more touchdowns this season.
Him playing only 12 snaps in a blowout win can be someone else’s concern, because I’m grabbing Brown off the waiver wire as quickly as possible.
1. Malcolm Brown (RB, Los Angeles Rams)
ESPN ownership: 6.5 percent
Todd Gurley played 70 percent of the snaps and had 14 carries for 97 yards in the Rams’ Week 1 win against the Carolina Panthers. Brown played 26 percent of the snaps and had 11 carries for 53 yards and two touchdowns. That’s the split and efficiency that the small percentage of people who rostered Brown were hoping for.
Gurley got off to a slow start before looking like his usual self in the second half, but he’s not going to be carrying the ball 30 times per game this season. He’s just not.
Brown is a player, and he’s clearly going to play a valuable role for one of the best offenses in the league. And while some fear that rookie Darrell Henderson will eventually factor into the backfield workload, he’s not there yet after getting just one carry against the Panthers.
That makes Brown the most must-add player of the week.
More Week 2 Fantasy Advice
- Podcast: Week 1 Recap and Week 2 Waiver Wire
- Week 2 Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em: Quarterbacks
- Week 2 Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em: Running Backs
- Week 2 Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em: Wide Receivers
- Week 2 Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em: Tight Ends