A lot can change between your fantasy draft and the start of the season.
Managers looking for extra help in their first matchup or compensating for poor performances in Thursday’s opener can still make moves to start the season right.
Here are five waiver-wire picks set up to deliver big fantasy totals in Week 1.
Antonio Callaway, WR, Browns
Browns rookie receiver Antonio Callaway will get the Week 1 start against the Steelers as Josh Gordon’s expected usage remains up in the air.
The fourth-round pick starred in the Browns’ preseason opener, catching three passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. His best work in that game came with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, but he’ll now be given a shot with veteran starter Tyrod Taylor.
Only two teams allowed more passing plays of 40 or more yards in 2017 than the Steelers’ 13, meaning Callaway will likely have opportunities to display the big-play ability he exhibited at Florida and in the preseason.
Mike Gillislee, RB, Saints
Gillislee was released by the Patriots over the weekend, but he was quickly scooped up by the Saints and is listed as one of just two active running backs on the depth chart following the releases of Jonathan Williams and Boston Scott.
The Saints have said they don’t intend to increase Alvin Kamara’s workload during Mark Ingram’s suspension, and even if they do, there will be plenty of work for Gillislee.
The Saints are 9.5-point favorites at home against the Buccaneers, according to Covers.com. Gillislee was added to gain hard yards, but he could be used more often late in the game to help kill the clock.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Patriots
Julian Edelman’s suspension and the releases of Jordan Matthews, Eric Decker, and Malcolm Mitchell have left the Patriots’ wide receiver group pretty thin. Chris Hogan is the star of the group and tight end Rob Gronkowski will play his typically gargantuan role in the offense, but one of Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett will be asked to step up for at least the first four weeks.
Patterson played in the Patriots’ first three preseason games, totaling 11 receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown. Dorsett caught five balls for 40 yards in those same games.
Both are recent first-round picks, but that doesn’t mean the Patriots owe them anything. Dorsett caught just 12 passes in his first season with New England in 2017, so it could be Patterson who’s given the first opportunity to show what he can do.
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, Saints
The 91st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Tre’Quan Smith built up his hype in the preseason, catching 15 passes for 189 yards. He scored his first touchdown in the third game.
He’s behind veterans Michael Thomas – whom he won’t surpass – and Ted Ginn – whom he very well could – on the Saints’ depth chart.
New Orleans ranked 20th in the league with a pass-play percentage of 56.37 last season, according to TeamRankings.com, but that split should more heavily favor the pass during Ingram’s suspension. Smith showed in the preseason that he, like Ginn, doesn’t need an abundance of targets to provide valuable fantasy returns while working with Drew Brees.
Chad Williams, WR, Cardinals
Chad Williams saw limited usage as a rookie in 2017. The 98th pick of last year’s draft played in six games and caught only three of seven targets for 31 yards and no scores. He also rushed twice for 33 yards.
Williams heads into his sophomore campaign as the Cardinals’ No. 2 receiver opposite Larry Fitzgerald. The future Hall of Famer will remain a target hog in the passing attack, but Williams can be productive with secondary work as long as Sam Bradford (71.8 percent completion rate over his last 595 pass attempts) stays healthy.
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