Fantasy football can be an extremely fun game to play. It can also be highly frustrating at times. Nothing is more annoying than needing to make a last-minute waiver wire move because someone in your starting lineup is out for the week.
Sadly, there isn’t much you can do about it. However, I’m going to try and help.
Every week, I will have six players you can grab off the waiver wire at the last minute and throw into your lineup. Some will succeed, while others will fail. Unfortunately, that’s how the game of fantasy football is played.
All the players in this article are rostered in under 35% of ESPN leagues.
Last-Minute Waiver Wire Pickups & Injury Replacements
Baker Mayfield (QB – TB) vs. Chicago Bears (9.8% Rostered)
While some fans have already turned their attention to the 2024 NFL Draft, Mayfield led the Buccaneers to a 20-17 win in Week 1. The veteran had 173 passing yards, two touchdowns, and 16.02 fantasy points against the Minnesota Vikings. He scored more fantasy points than several big-name quarterbacks, including Jalen Hurts and Justin Fields. Furthermore, the former Oklahoma star scored only 0.04 fewer fantasy points than Lamar Jackson (6.56), Dak Prescott (6.32), and Joe Burrow (3.18) combined in Week 1 (16.06). More importantly, Mayfield has an appealing matchup on Sunday.
The Bears had massive preseason hype around them, only to fall flat on their faces against the Green Bay Packers. Jordan Love was making only his second career start. Yet, he had 245 passing yards, three touchdowns, and 23 fantasy points, finishing as the third-highest-scoring quarterback in Week 1. Unfortunately, seeing Love rip apart their defense isn’t new for the Bears. Last year, they surrendered 19.1 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, the sixth-most in the NFL. Mayfield should have no trouble against Chicago.
Roschon Johnson (RB – CHI) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28.4% Rostered)
Johnson was a popular sleeper candidate this offseason and a common waiver wire stash after last week’s performance. However, fantasy players should consider starting the rookie running back in Week 2. The former Longhorn had five rushing attempts for 20 yards against the Packers. More importantly, he had six receptions for 35 receiving yards, scoring 14.5 half-point PPR fantasy points in his NFL debut. While Johnson won’t replace Khalil Herbert as the starting running back this week, his performance in Week 1 will earn him more snaps against the Buccaneers.
Last week, Tampa Bay held Alexander Mattison to only 11 rushing attempts for 34 yards and three receptions for 10 receiving yards. Thankfully, a goal-line receiving touchdown saved the former Boise State star’s Week 1 fantasy performance. While Mattison struggled against the Buccaneers, their run defense isn’t as talented as many believe. Tampa Bay surrendered 95 rushing yards per game to running backs in 2022, near the league average. Johnson should get snaps ahead of D’Onta Foreman this week. Furthermore, the rookie could be the leading Bears rusher on Sunday if Herbert struggles again.
Zack Moss (RB – IND) vs. Houston Texans (22.8% Rostered)
The Colts backfield has been a fantasy nightmare for the past few weeks. Jonathan Taylor is on the Physically Unable to Perform list and can’t play until Week 5 at the soonest. Meanwhile, Deon Jackson averaged 1.1 yards per rushing attempt last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Evan Hull was a sleeper candidate but only had two touches before a knee injury landed him on injured reserve. Thankfully, Moss is off the injury report and will play Sunday against the AFC South division rivals.
While he is far from a fantasy superstar, the veteran running back was a solid producer late last season. The former Utah star averaged 17.3 rushing attempts for 83.5 yards and 10.7 half-point PPR fantasy points per game over the final month. Meanwhile, the Texans surrendered 28.8 fantasy points and three rushing touchdowns to the Baltimore Ravens backfield in Week 1. Last year, Houston gave up 28.7 fantasy points per game to running backs, the most in the NFL. Moss is an excellent plug-and-play option off the wavier wire.
Rashid Shaheed (WR – NO) vs. Carolina Panthers (22.1% Rostered)
New Orleans had a struggling passing attack last season. Thankfully, that has changed with the arrival of Derek Carr. Last week, the veteran quarterback had over 300 passing yards. Shaheed had 89 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 1, finishing second on the team in receiving yards only behind Chris Olave. More importantly, the former undrafted free agent wide receiver was the WR11 last week, scoring 16.5 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. The second-year receiver finished fourth on the team in routes run but had the second-highest target per route run rate (24%).
Meanwhile, the Panthers only surrendered 4.6 fantasy points to wide receivers in Week 1. However, the Atlanta Falcons only had 18 pass attempts, with five going to the wide receiver position. That won’t be the case this week with Carr and the Saints. Last year, Carolina surrendered 31.7 fantasy points per game to wide receivers, the fourth-most in the NFL. Furthermore, star cornerback Jaycee Horn won’t play Monday night because of a hamstring injury. While Olave and Michael Thomas get most of the hype, Shaheed is prime for another top-36 finish in Week 2.
Allen Robinson II (WR – PIT) vs. Cleveland Browns (8.9% Rostered)
When the Steelers traded for Robinson this offseason, no one believed he would have any fantasy value this year. However, that has changed after Diontae Johnson suffered a hamstring injury in Week 1. The former Penn State star was the team’s top fantasy wide receiver against the San Francisco 49ers, totaling five receptions on eight targets for 64 receiving yards and 8.9 half-point PPR fantasy points. More importantly, Robinson led the team in routes run, targets, and receiving yards after Johnson left the Week 1 matchup with a hamstring injury.
Many are excited to see George Pickens take over as the No. 1 wide receiver with Johnson on the sidelines. However, this week’s matchup is awful for the second-year receiver. He will face off against Denzel Ward. Furthermore, the Browns got pressure on Joe Burrow on 36.4% of his dropbacks last week, totaling two sacks. Meanwhile, Kenny Pickett was sacked five times and pressured on 46.2% of his dropbacks in Week 1. Fantasy players who need a safe floor WR3 or flex option this week should add Robinson off the waiver wire.
Luke Musgrave (TE – GB) vs. Atlanta Falcons (15.8% Rostered)
Everyone was excited about this year’s rookie tight-end draft class. However, we didn’t give enough attention to Musgrave. The former Oregon State star was the TE10 in Week 1, scoring 6.5 half-point PPR fantasy points. However, he was a few plays away from potentially the overall TE1 finish. The rookie finished first among tight ends with four or more targets in yards per route run (2.08). Despite having only three receptions, Musgrave also finished second among all tight ends in receiving yards (50).
Last week, the Falcons struggled to slow down Hayden Hurst in a revenge game for the veteran tight end. The former first-round pick had five receptions for 41 receiving yards and a touchdown. He was the TE2 in Week 1, scoring 12.6 fantasy points. More importantly, Atlanta allowed Hurst to average 1.52 yards per route run and 2.52 fantasy points per reception. Meanwhile, Musgrave played the most snaps of any Packers pass-catcher or running back in Week 1 and had a 16.7% target per route run rate. Expect Jordan Love to connect with the rookie tight end on a touchdown or two on Sunday.