I had my biggest draft of the season over the weekend and I'm happy to report, my team is perfect. Thanks to a series of shrewd, forward-looking trades last season, I enter the season with either Will Fuller or Noah Fant as the worst player on my bench. I'm bragging -- please clap -- but I'm also looking forward to the new and exciting ways I will find to continue my annual tradition of not winning this league.
So, that's one league where I won't have to make any waiver-wire claims ahead of Week 1, at least. That's a rarity, especially for leagues that have already drafted; whether you lost J.K. Dobbins or Travis Etienne or bet on Michael Carter or Zack Moss as a starter, there's no shortage of ways your best-laid plans from Draft Day could have been destroyed already.
Next week, Jamey Eisenberg will have his comprehensive first look at the waiver wire ahead of Week 1, but for those of you with waivers set to run before then, I'm going to give you some of my top targets to go after this week at each position. Plus, I've got five players I keep drafting and five I'm avoiding if at all possible in my remaining drafts, along with the latest news and notes from around the NFL.
We'll have a lot more news to cover tomorrow after all cuts are finalized and teams finally have to start showing their hands for Week 1, and you'll also have sleepers, breakouts, and busts from Jamey, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings, and myself to look forward for the rest of the week. But what you should really be looking forward to is the Fantasy Football Today Draft-A-Thon. Here are the details, if you don't know by now:
- Live at 6 p.m. ET on CBS Sports HQ and the FFT YouTube page until midnight.
- We're raising money for our friends at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital with a ton of cool giveaways and special experiences and items to bid on.
- We'll have a ton of guests joining from the Fantasy industry and elsewhere to help us out
- We're answering your questions live all night long to help you get ready for the biggest draft weekend of the year.
It's going to be a ton of fun and it's all for a great cause, so make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don't miss it.
If you're drafting before then, make sure you bookmark our Draft Day Cheat Sheet, where we've got everything you need to know in one place, and download the Fantasy Football Today Draft Guide, which is like printing Dave, Jamey, Heath and I out so we can be right there next to you while you draft. And if you've got any burning questions, hit me up at Chris.Towers@CBSi.com with the subject line "#AskFFT" for some advice, and you can find my full rankings here, too.
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Now, here's who you should be looking to add ahead of Week 1.
Early Waiver-Wire Targets
- Justin Fields 55% -- Add him in ... All leagues. If you're going to roster two quarterbacks, make sure one of them is a high-upside, dual-threat like Fields. He'll get that job sooner rather than later.
- Mac Jones 16% -- Add him in ... Two-QB leagues. Jones is starting for the Patriots, and while he should already be rostered in two-QB leagues, this cinches it. I don't know about anything more than that for re-draft, but he should be rostered in all Dynasty leagues as well.
- Sam Darnold 20% -- Add him in ... Deep leagues where you need a streamer. Darnold opens up with a revenge game against the lowly Jets and then gets another cakewalk in Week 3 against the Texans.
- Tyrod Taylor 5% -- Add him in ... Even deeper leagues. If Taylor is out there in a two-QB or superflex league, especially, make sure you add him. He could be a top-20 QB with his rushing ability.
- Kenneth Gainwell 21% -- Add him in ... All PPR leagues. I had hoped Miles Sanders might be able to earn back the passing game role he had as a rookie, but by all accounts, his struggles there continued. Gainwell could see a solid passing role, with the upside for more if Sanders is underwhelming early.
- Tevin Coleman 32% -- Add him in ... Leagues where you need a starter. Coleman looks like he's going to be the lead back for the Jets, and while neither part of that equation is particularly exciting, he could be usable in his role if you went zero-RB or lost Dobbins.
- Tony Jones 11% -- Add him in ... All leagues if you've got the roster space. Jones sounds like he may have done enough to push Latavius Murray out of the picture in New Orleans, which means he could find himself filling the role that has seen Murray average 852 total yards and 5.5 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
- Ty'Son Williams 8% -- Add him in ... Non-PPR leagues. Williams figures to step into the Gus Edwards role with Edwards stepping up into the lead role, which should mean 10 or so carries per game in an efficient, high-scoring offense.
- Rhamondre Stevenson 35% -- Add him in ... Non-PPR leagues. He's not a must-add, but Stevenson looked excellent in the preseason, and his quick emergence helped precipitate the trade of Sony Michel to L.A. Stevenson probably needs an injury to Damien Harris to be worth using, but those have been pretty frequent occurrences in his career so far.
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- Marquez Callaway 54% -- Add him in ... All leagues. No, we can't guarantee Callaway will be even a starting-caliber Fantasy option. However, the connection he showed with Jameis Winston and the positive reports out of camp make him someone who needs to be rostered in all leagues. In one Dynasty league, I'm bidding 55% of my budget on him. Not that you should do that, especially in re-draft leagues, but he should be a high priority. Maybe the high priority among all players listed here.
- Jakobi Meyers 48% -- Add him in ... All leagues. Meyers seems like the obvious No. 1 WR for the Patriots, and we saw him put up an 84-catch, 1,050-yard pace over the final 11 games in that role in 2020.
- Elijah Moore 33% -- Add him in ... All leagues. A quad injury sort of derailed Moore's preseason hype train, which is fine by me, because it kept his price from climbing too high. By all appearances, he's been the star of Jets camp, and while Corey Davis is the solid veteran at the top of the depth chart, if anyone is going to be a difference maker in this offense, Moore is the best choice.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling 24% -- Add him in ... Non-PPR leagues. Valdes-Scantling took a step forward last season, and it sounds like he took another one this offseason. He's earned a lot of praise for his play in camp and could emerge as a boom-or-bust starting option if he creeps more into the 80-target territory after earning 63 last season.
- Bryan Edwards 11% -- Add him in ... Deeper leagues. Edwards didn't play at all in the preseason, which is a pretty sure sign he's locked into a starting role. That was true last season too, but he struggled to make an impact before suffering an injury. It's possible he emerges as the No. 2 option in this offense, however, and is worth taking a flier on for that potential.
- Gerald Everett 33% -- Add him in … All leagues. Everett isn't a must-add player, mind you, but with Irv Smith Jr. out to start the season and Dallas Goedert's role in question, you might be scrambling. Everett very well could be the No. 3 option for Russell Wilson, and that's enough to put him in the streaming discussion for now.
- Blake Jarwin 16% -- Add him in ... All leagues. Remember how excited we were for Jarwin this time last year? Dalton Schultz's emergence after Jarwin's injury seemed to justify that excitement, and if you're looking for an upside play here, Jarwin's as good as any.
- Dan Arnold 3% -- Add him in ... Deeper TE-premium leagues. Arnold isn't gonna put his hand in the dirt and move people around in the trenches, because he's essentially a large wide receiver. He averages 9.2 yards per target in his career and could play plenty in 11 personnel for the Panthers. Take a chance on an overlooked playmaker.
Players I keep drafting
On Tuesday's episode of FFT, Adam, Dave, and Heath talked about the players they keep drafting and the players they won't touch, and since I didn't get invited to that episode -- it's fine, guy! -- you guys get to read about them here, first with the guys I keep drafting. These aren't necessarily my five favorite players, but they are definitely the five guys I like more than nearly anyone I'm drafting with, it seems.
- Travis Kelce -- If I have a top-three pick, I'm going with Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, or Dalvin Cook. If I have any other pick, there's a very good chance I'm going with Kelce. In PPR, he's my No. 4 ranked player and the biggest edge you can get on the competition outside of those three running backs. He's outscored the No. 12 TE by 7.9 points per game on average over the last four seasons, and locking that in early is a key to a lot of my draft strategies.
- Joe Mixon -- If I'm picking late in the first round and Kelce (and Davante Adams) are gone, there's a pretty good chance I'm taking Mixon. I know there's this perception that Fantasy analysts just have a tendency to overrate Mixon, but lest you think that is true of me, I'll just highlight this: I've been lower on Mixon than the consensus basically every year of his career. So much of the hype around Mixon was tied to this idea that he was a special talent who was just waiting to explode, but I've always faded him because I never liked his situation. It's been a mediocre-to-bad offense he's always had to share with Giovani Bernard. Well, Gio is gone and the offense should be ready for a step forward, which means all of a sudden, this situation looks much, much better for Mixon. I'm pretty talent-agnostic when it comes to running back, so my view of Mixon has never really shifted. He just finally, truly has the opportunity to be an elite Fantasy option.
- Robert Woods -- I'm extremely high on Woods and Cooper Kupp with Matthew Stafford at QB, but Woods is my favorite. He's WR8 in my rankings, compared to WR12 in ADP, which means I can wait until the fourth round to grab a second WR and still feel like I got two No. 1 guys. Kelce, Mixon, [insert elite WR here], and Woods is pretty close to my ideal start to a draft, and I've pulled it off more than a few times.
- Will Fuller -- In 11 games in 2020, Fuller averaged 17.2 PPR points per game, 0.2 behind A.J. Brown. If you take out Week 2, where he was dealing with a hamstring injury and didn't have a catch, he averaged 18.9, just ahead of Calvin Ridley. No, I don't expect Fuller to be a top-10 WR for Fantasy again, but he doesn't have to be an incredible value -- he's WR41 in ADP right now. He's going to miss Week 1 due to a suspension -- and has been limited in camp with a nagging minor leg injury -- but you could have a top-24 WR from Week 2 on.
- Justin Fields -- If I'm not taking one of the elite quarterbacks early, I'm taking Fields and pairing him up with Cam Newton, Baker Mayfield, or Jameis Winston. Fields fits in perfectly with the modern QB archetype we're all chasing for Fantasy, and while he won't start Week 1, it shouldn't take long before we see him on the field.
Players I won't touch
To be clear, this is (almost entirely) about price. I would love to have Derrick Henry on my team, I'm just not willing to pay what it costs to end up with him. The rest of these guys … well, I'd love to have some of them on my team, at least.
- Derrick Henry -- Henry is awesome. An obvious elite Fantasy option who can put up a big Fantasy game with one long rumble, and he's good for that long rumble more often than should be reasonable to expect. He's one of one, a peerless force who upends a lot of what we understand about how offenses are supposed to run in 2021. There, now nobody can accuse me of not liking Henry! He's got an incredibly high floor, but his ceiling isn't as high as his pass-catching peers, which is what it comes down to. As I said in Monday's newsletter, it's a math problem, ultimately.
- Odell Beckham -- It hasn't exactly broken through to the mainstream, but it really sounds like Beckham is going to be quite limited early on. "It's hard to imagine Beckham getting more than 20 snaps a game in September," The Athletic's Zack Jackson said recently. The Browns are apparently very happy with how Donovan Peoples-Jones has come along this offseason, and his emergence may give them the luxury of playing it slow with Beckham. He hasn't shown elite upside since getting to the Browns, so if the upside is more like a top-20 receiver than a top-five one and you'll have to wait for the chance to even get that, I just can't justify taking him in the seventh round.
- Justin Herbert -- Arif Hasan wrote an excellent piece for The Athletic a few weeks ago looking at the evidence for and against regression for Herbert, and I highly recommend you go check that out. Herbert is coming off a historic rookie season and still has plenty of good weapons around him, but I think he's being drafted as if 2020 was his floor and he's only going to get better from there. He very well could, but I think it's more likely Herbert's numbers take a step back, even if he doesn't necessarily play worse. I'd rather take the chance that Jalen Hurts' Lamar Jackson impersonation can continue.
- Damien Harris -- Harris should be a fine Fantasy running back, especially in Non-PPR, and there's no question his value has taken a big step forward between the trade of Sony Michel to the Rams and the release of Cam Newton. The problem for me is, I'm not sure he's ever likely to be much more than fine. The problem, as is the case with so many players, comes down to the lack of a passing game role for Harris. Even with an expected boost in rushing volume, I can't get Harris much higher than RB30 in my projections, and he's going to end up higher than that in drafts when it's all said and done. He's one of the fastest risers in ADP on CBS Fantasy over the last week, and I just don't see much to get excited about in his profile even as a lead back. He's probably not going to catch passes (five in 10 games last season), which means you're going to need to rely on him to consistently get big carry totals and goal-line touches. You're making that bet on a Bill Belichick-coached team and with a back who missed time in his first preseason with a hand injury, missed time with a hamstring injury during that same season, was a healthy scratch otherwise, and then suffered a fractured pinky and a and a Grade 3 ankle sprain to bookend his sophomore campaign. He's a two-down back with a low floor due to injuries and a low ceiling. He's fine, but I'd rather bet on the upside of Chase Edmonds, or Myles Gaskin in that same range, or just wait for Ronald Jones, A.J. Dillon, or Jamaal Williams.
- Zack Moss -- I joked the other day on Twitter that the non-pass-catching running backs are like a Russian Nesting Doll, with Henry on the outside, Nick Chubb slightly smaller, Josh Jacobs below that, and all the way down through Gus Edwards and Harris. And in the middle, barely visible, is Moss. He's a third-rounder battling for playing time with another third-rounder, on the team that has produced the fewest Fantasy points for running backs over the past three seasons. Devin Singletary has the passing game role and Josh Allen is the best goal-line rusher, so Moss is left picking up the least-valuable scraps in the offense. As a fourth or fifth running back, Moss is fine for your bench, but I'd rather chase any number of late-round options like Gainwell or Darrynton Evans who have a potential path to must-start territory than chase Moss' largely nonexistent upside.
Look, I said I'd love to have most of these guys on my team at the right price.
Injuries News and Notes
- The Texans are willing to have Deshaun Watson inactive every week -- Well, they may not have much of a choice. Watson is eligible to play as investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct against him continue, but the Texans seem to be happy to keep staring right through his trade request. Watson seems like a long shot to play a down this year, in my eyes.
- Trey Lance will miss about a week with a finger injury -- Lance hit the finger on someone's helmet and has a chip fracture that will keep him out of action for a week or so. Which means he could be ready to go in time for the Week 1 opener against the Lions on Sept. 12, but I think it was always much more likely Jimmy Garoppolo was going to start anyway, and losing a week of practice probably clinches it. Lance remains a high-upside bench stash in all formats regardless of this injury.
- Irv Smith will have knee surgery this week -- We won't have a timetable for Smith's return to action until they do the procedure, so we're in a holding pattern right now. The timeline for recovery from meniscus surgery can range from days to weeks to months, and while I'd bet on the middle option at this point, it's enough to push Smith out of draftable territory for me. I just can't justify using two roster spots on tight ends in a typical league.
- Javonte Williams was not held out of the last preseason game because of injury -- There was some speculation to that end, but it turns out the team just didn't need to see anything else from him, while Melvin Gordon needed some first-team reps after sitting out with a groin injury. You've gotta like the confidence the team seemingly already has in Williams, though I still expect him to be the 1b to Gordon's 1a to start the season. However, I'll take Williams first and hope he can push Gordon to No. 2 territory before long. View Williams as a low-end starter with top-15 potential down the road and exercise appropriate patience.
- Carson Wentz was placed on the COVID-19 list -- Along with wide receiver Zach Pascal and center Ryan Kelly; they were high-risk close contacts with someone who tested positive recently. The Colts have barely had their first-team offense in place for more than a few days at a time in camp, and the lack of reps can't help as Wentz tries to turn his career around following a terrible 2020. Hopefully Wentz will be cleared to return after five days and a couple of negative tests, but you simply can't feel great about where this offense is heading into Week 1.
- Evan Engram is dealing with a calf injury -- Engram left Sunday's preseason game with the injury, though we're still waiting for more information on how severe it is. Engram could have been in line for a big role to start the season with Kenny Golladay's status in the air, but that won't be the case if he can't get on the field. Sterling Shepard is looking better and better as a late-round target.
- The Lions released Breshad Perriman -- This clears things up a bit for the Lions receiving corps, as they should head into Week 1 with Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond, and Amon-Ra St. Brown as their top options in three-wide sets. The question is whether St. Brown will just be a slot guy early on -- that's how they used him in the preseason -- or whether he'll see some time on the outside in two-WR sets. St. Brown is the most intriguing option in this offense, but questions about his role make it tough for me to target him, because he profiles best as a PPR compiler.
So which sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Josh Allen's huge season, and find out.