San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell
San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell runs the ball against the Detroit Lions in the second half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Lon Horwedel)


The fantasy football waiver wire is always a madhouse after week one of the NFL season. The first week of games reveals things that were difficult to see during preseason action. Players who were being protected from potential injuries have been let out of their cages. Situational questions like ‘who will be in the game on a third and goal’ have started to reveal themselves after Head Coaches spent the month of August being cagey about personnel decisions, keeping their cards close to their vest in hopes of surprising opposing teams.

Well, the cards are on the table now and it’s time to make the necessary adjustments. There is no debate – aggressiveness on the waiver wire after Week One is a huge part of winning your fantasy football pool.  Fortune favors the bold, especially in a sport that only plays 17 games. With that said, let’s look at five players who are likely available on your league’s waiver wire and could make all the difference between triumph and crushing defeat for you this season.

He is less than 10% owned on several leading fantasy platforms, and he may have just won himself a starting job on the NFL’s most innovative run offense. When starter Raheem Mostert was injured (again) in the first quarter of the first game and fellow rookie Trey Sermon a curious healthy scratch yesterday, Mitchell averaged over 5 yards per carry for over 100 yards and scored a touchdown. His running style is similar to Mostert’s, and he should have plenty of opportunity to thrive playing with a high scoring, run-focused offensive team.

Owned by less than 15% of owners on major platforms, the sophomore quickly proved that his fantasy performance will continue to improve in 2021. By catching all 5 of his targets vs. Tennessee, including two touchdown grabs from Kyler Murray, proved he can be a reliable target going forward. With stud wideout DeAndre Hopkins likely to continue drawing double teams and veteran A.J. Brown looking like he might be finished, Kirk seems a good bet to receive a lot of action going forward, even with rookie Rondale Moore getting some nice opportunities, too.

If Ryan Fitzpatrick was your QB2 going into Week 1, then you may want to consider picking up Heinicke to replace him. (If Fitzpatrick was your QB1, then you may want to consider never playing fantasy football ever again.) Heinicke played a scrappy game in last year’s playoffs, throwing for over 300 yards vs. eventual champions Tampa Bay and he was Washington’s better quarterback yesterday, entering the game after Fitzpatrick suffered a hip injury.  At age 28, Heinicke won’t play like a wide-eyed rookie and Washington has some games vs. bad defenses coming up, so he could be a sneaky play as a Super Flex or if your league requires you to start two quarterbacks each week.

Yes, he dropped what should have been a 50-yard touchdown pass from the Broncos’ new starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.  However, he did still outperform teammate and fellow wideout Courtland Sutton, who is owned by approximately 45 times more fantasy players. With Denver’s other starting wideout Jerry Jeudy out for at least a month with a high ankle sprain, Hamlin should be able to grab an even bigger piece of the offensive pie in the near future. The second year former Penn State star was a second round pick last year, and now appears perfectly positioned to eclipse his relatively meager 2020 statistics (30 receptions, 381 receiving yards) going forward.

Tread carefully here – not every opposing defense will be as generous as the Jaguars were to the Texans in Week 1. That said, Ingram clearly was the main man in Houston’s offensive game plan, with 26 carries and 85 rushing yards. Fellow Houston RBs Philip Lindsay and David Johnson also each scored TDs vs. the Jags on Sunday, so potential owners could justifiably worry about Ingram not getting the chance to score very often, but if your fantasy team is looking for an RB3 or RB4 to stash on your roster for when bye weeks start playing havoc with your lineup, it would appear Ingram is the favorite for the most touches out of the backfield in Houston. Someone has to be the bell cow in Houston and Ingram is owned in less than 25% on most major fantasy platforms. If you’re lacking RB depth, you could do worse.

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