The first in-season fantasy football waiver wire of 2023 is a doozy. There are plenty of players fantasy football managers should be looking to add to their rosters ahead of Week 2. After lackluster performances and a handful of key injuries, there are also players on current rosters that managers will be looking to cut, as well. It’s important to remember Week 1 is just one week. The fantasy football season is a marathon, not a sprint.
When adding players from the waiver wire, keep in mind the number of variables that affect decision-making. First, the availability of a certain player will differ across leagues of different sizes, formats, and skill levels. Second, everyone in your league may be heading to the waiver wire for a variety of reasons. Some players are meant to be quick, one-week fill-ins while others can serve as season-long assets, perhaps even be a league-winner.
You may be dealing with injuries, bye weeks, or just need to cycle out players from your bench. Whatever the case may be, the waiver wire is there to help. There’s not always a need to put in a claim for players each week, but if you do, make it count. Below, we’ll look at players at each position, who are on 50% or less of most fantasy football rosters, that could be considered on the Week 2 waiver wire.
Week 2 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire By Position
Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers
We are monitoring Austin Ekeler’s status after hearing his practice availability is unknown ahead of Week 2 due to an ankle injury. It doesn’t matter if Ekeler is on your fantasy roster or not. Joshua Kelley is the top running back to add from the Week 2 fantasy football waiver wire given this news. Ekeler’s injury may not even force him to miss time, but Kelley’s value remains high. Kelley logged the same amount of carries as Ekeler (16) on just two fewer snaps played. Both backs found the end zone in a competitive, two-point loss to the Miami Dolphins. That said, Kelley could present weekly flex value. However, he enters the RB1 conversation if Ekeler were to miss time at any point this season.
Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles
Some call him Kenneth, others call him Kenny. I’m calling him the Eagles’ RB1. Gainwell played 62% of the Eagles’ offensive snaps and 21 total snaps more than D’Andre Swift, the next closest back in playing time. More importantly, Gainwell dominated the backfield touches. His 14 carries and 4 receptions account for 81.8% of all running back touches for Philly running backs in Week 1. Now, Gainwell didn’t practice on Monday due to a rib injury. However, with their Week 2 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings taking place on Thursday, it could just be precautionary. He’s worth adding on the Week 2 waiver wire wherever he’s available for the rest of the season. Swift is likely to see more touches as the season progresses, but this looks to be Gainwell’s backfield until further notice.
Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams
The RB9 in Week 1 Points Per Reception formats is an obvious Week 2 waiver wire add. Kyren Williams’ performance doesn’t look like a fluke either. The Los Angeles Rams are high on him, and for good reason. While Williams finished second in running back touches, behind Cam Akers, he was more efficient, even punching in two scores on the ground. Cam Akers’ 22 carries yielded just 29 rushing yards, though he found the end zone, as well. Williams also presents far more receiving upside, though the box score doesn’t show it. He ran 29 routes to Akers’ four in Week 1.
Other Running Backs to Consider
If Atlanta Falcons’ Tyler Allgeier is available, HE SHOULD BE THE TOP WAIVER WIRE CLAIM. After logging 1,000+ yards as a rookie, Allgeier rushed for 75 and two touchdowns on 15 carries to start this season. Yes, that’s while sharing a backfield with eighth-overall pick Bijan Robinson.
The Baltimore Ravens will be without J.K. Dobbins for the remainder of the season due to a torn Achilles. That leaves Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, and Melvin Gordon to choose from. The Ravens may also look to add another name into the mix, such as Leonard Fournette or Kareem Hunt. Once again, Lamar Jackson should lead the team in rushing. If I had to pick one of these names for the Week 2 waiver wire, it’s Justice Hill with Gus Edwards close behind. Both are touchdown dependent RB2 plays.
Tyjae Spears is a rookie, but played more snaps for the Tennessee Titans than Derrick Henry. With just three carries, he rushed for 27 yards. He’s worth the stash if Henry misses time or plays elsewhere in 2023.
Roschon Johnson is another rookie running back to target on the Week 2 waiver wire. He’s part of a committee backfield in Chicago that also battles quarterback Justin Fields for carries. However, he played the most snaps, tied for a team-high seven targets, and scored the Bears’ only rushing touchdown in Week 1.
Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams
If you didn’t know his name before, you certainly do now. Nacua’s 21.9 points in Week 1 surprised even his biggest fans, but perhaps we should’ve seen it coming given Cooper Kupp’s absence on this offense. His 40.5% target share is godlike. That volume is hard to come by, especially for a rookie, in his first game nonetheless. Nacua caught 10 of his 15 targets for 119 yards. He’s one of just 16 players in the league with double-digit targets in Week 1. Puka Nacua should be everyone’s top waiver wire claim regardless of positional need.
Zay Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars
Even after adding Calvin Ridley into the mix, it appears Zay Jones remains one of Trevor Lawrence’s favorite targets. Jones led all Jags receivers in offensive snaps played in Week 1. He and Ridley also found the end zone, both drawing a 20% or higher target share. Most notably, Zay Jones (7) saw four more targets than Christian Kirk (3) and scored 14.6 more PPR points than him. Jones is a high-end flex play with upside as the season progresses.
Jakobi Meyers, Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders’ leading target, receiver, and standout offensive player wasn’t Davante Adams in Week 1, it was Jakobi Meyers. The key free agent addition caught nine of 10 targets for 81 yards and two scores. Meyers is in the concussion protocol but still remains one of the top Week 2 waiver wire wide receiver additions. He should be on a roster in PPR leagues after getting ignored in drafts.
Romeo Doubs and Jayden Reed, Green Bay Packers
Romeo Doubs’ Week 1 stat line stands out after hauling in two touchdowns for the Green Bay Packers. He and rookie Jayden Reed tied for the team lead in targets (5), but of the eight players to earn at least one target on Sunday, half of them saw four or five. So, Doubs’ usage doesn’t stand out too much other than finding the end zone. Meanwhile, Reed caught two for 48 yards and even logged a rushing attempt. It’s all very encouraging in the absence of Christian Watson. However, guessing which Packers pass catcher will emerge as a favorite for Jordan Love is to be determined, if at all. They’re both worth stashing for now.
Kendrick Bourne, New England Patriots
This is probably the most lackluster name on the Week 2 waiver wire column, but Bourne deserves our attention. Following reports in late-August that Bourne was unavailable in trade scenarios, we now know why. Against a solid Philadelphia Eagles defense, Bourne caught six passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns. That’s on a team-high 11 targets. Quarterback Mac Jones threw the ball 54 times in Week 1, trusting Bourne with most of his looks. If this trend continues, Bourne could develop into a weekly WR3 in some leagues.
Other Wide Receivers to Consider
Rashid Shaheed is a speculative waiver wire add after scoring 19.0 points in Week 1. He’s an obvious playmaker for the New Orleans Saints offense. He’s still hard to trust behind Chris Olave and Michael Thomas, but it wouldn’t shock me if Shaheed is more of a priority on the Week 3 or 4 waiver wire column. Adding him now may be getting an advantageous jump on others.
Robert Woods is also one of 16 players to draw 10 or more targets in Week 1. His 10 targets finished second on the team to Nico Collins’ 11 in rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud’s regular season debut. Woods provides a high floor in PPR formats, but nothing more. You’re likely to see around 10.0 points per game and will be thrilled if he finds the end zone. He will be a popular add/drop player when bye weeks start rearing their ugly heads.
Joshua Reynolds is someone fantasy managers may overlook after playing on Thursday night in Week 1. We still have things to learn about this Detroit Lions team, but Reynolds looks like he may be their number two pass catcher. I expect rookie tight end Sam LaPorta and rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs to get more involved as the season progresses. Jameson Williams is also one week closer to returning from his six-game gambling suspension. For now, though, Reynolds could provide a high, volume-based floor for wide receiver needy fantasy rosters.
Hunter Henry, New England Patriots
After running the 28th-most plays per game in 2022, the Patriots find themselves leading the league in said stat after Week 1 in 2023 with 78 offensive plays. Even better, quarterback Mac Jones threw 54 pass attempts. The play calling and production were vastly improved. There was a lot of off-season discussion about new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien utilizing the Pats’ tight ends. Hunter Henry stood out with five receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown on six targets. He had two such games with five or more receptions in 2022; the final two. He’s one of the more reliable tight ends to invest in on the Week 2 waiver wire.
Hayden Hurst, Carolina Panthers
I’m cautiously optimistic about Hayden Hurst’s season-long value. He is the best tight end the Panthers have had on their roster since Greg Olsen who last played in Carolina in 2019. So, when Hurst leads the team in targets (7) in Week 1 and finishes as the overall TE2 with 15.1 points, it’s hard to contain the excitement. Hurst may very well be rookie quarterback Bryce Young’s most dependable target. Week 2 will be a better indicator of what to expect. Hurst takes on the New Orleans Saints defense who allowed the least amount of fantasy to tight ends in 2022. They also held Tennessee Titans’ tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo to an empty stat line drawing just two targets in Week 1.
Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals
For all of the attention someone like New York Jets running back Breece Hall is receiving after returning from last year’s season-ending knee injury, Zach Ertz deserves it all the same. His 10 targets by far led all other Cardinals’ pass catchers. Notably, Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, and tight end Trey McBride all combined for 10 targets. Ertz still only converted his 33% target share into 8.1 fantasy points with just six catches for 21 scoreless yards. Volume is key, though, especially for a tight end in fantasy football. Ertz may just be quarterback Joshua Dobb’s favorite target this season.
Rookie Tight Ends
Dalton Kincaid, Sam LaPorta, and Luke Musgrave all played 75% or more of their team’s offensive snaps in Week 1. They all drew 4 or 5 targets, neither eclipsing 50 yards receiver. However, the tight end position as a whole left a lot to be desired in Week 1. These three rookies look to have clearly defined roles on their respective teams, though. I’m looking to add at least one of them if I want to stash some upside at tight end. I prefer them in the position they are listed, though Musgrave was close to scoring two touchdowns for the Packers, so it’s closer than you may think. The upside of these three is worth targeting more than the presumed safety of more familiar veteran names on the waiver wire.
Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers
It’s all systems go with Brock Purdy. He looks more than fine after returning from a torn ligament in his elbow ending his season in the late-January NFC Championship game. Purdy still has one of the best groups of offensive weapons at his disposal. He’s thrown 18 touchdowns to three interceptions in his last nine starts that weren’t impacted by injury, including the playoffs. I was rooting for the Purdy return, but he’s already back.
Other Quarterbacks to Consider
Jordan Love‘s first start as the affirmed season-long starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers went extremely well. His QB3 finish in Week 1 hopefully earned those bold enough, or those in Superflex leagues, enough praise to get him into Week 2 lineups. Love threw to eight different pass catchers and yielded three total touchdowns.
Jared Goff finished just behind Matthew Stafford in Week 1 points, but Stafford didn’t even throw any passing touchdowns. The Rams’ running backs took care of that for him. Stafford, did, however, throw for 334 yards, the third-most in the league. Jared Goff should take the same approach to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. In the Lions’ home opener, I like Goff to target his top weapons, specifically Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jahyyr Gibbs, with another good chance at a top-10 finish.