Fantasy football waiver wire: 49ers rookie Elijah Mitchell will get more carries after Week 1 breakout
Week 1 in the NFL is always a minefield of uncertainty and, unfortunately, injuries. There was a heavy dose of both as the new season kicked off – with the season-ending knee injury to San Francisco 49ers starting running back Raheem Mostert the most impactful news of the week.
As a result, there's a clear No. 1 priority for fantasy football managers on this week's waiver wire. And remember, the players you add early in the season have the greatest impact, so don't be afraid to spend big.
Recommended bids based on a free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) of $100 for the season.
RB Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers ($47): There's gold in that backfield! Raheem Mostert and rookie Trey Sermon were expected to share the workload entering the season, but Mostert only carried the ball twice before his injury ... and Sermon was inactive.
However, another rookie -- drafted three rounds after Sermon -- stepped forward in Week 1. Mitchell earned the No. 2 role after outplaying Sermon in the preseason and he showed why, rushing for 104 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. He will take over as the starter, with Sermon and JaMycal Hasty also in the mix for now. But make no mistake, Mitchell could have the job long-term on one of the better rushing teams in the NFL.
RB Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions ($32, if available): Williams was a surprise starter ahead of D’Andre Swift in the opener, though both ended up getting an almost equal share of the workload. The former Green Bay Packer ran nine times for 54 yards and a touchdown, plus he caught eight of nine targets for 56 more yards. The passing game usage cements his value.
RB Mark Ingram, Houston Texans ($20): The Texans entered the season with three capable running backs and no defined roles. It only took one week to discover Ingram will be their main ball-carrier. He had 26 carries for 85 yards and a TD against Jacksonville, while Phillip Lindsay and David Johnson had just 11 rushes combined (though both also scored touchdowns against the brutal Jags defense). Ingram was likely the most overlooked Texans back in drafts, but now figures to receive the most consistent touches.
WR Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers ($19): A fantasy lottery ticket in previous years because of his incredible physical abilities, Williams caught eight passes for 82 yards and a touchdown at Washington. This just might be the start of his long-awaited breakout season.
WR Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos ($11): Another significant injury has altered a team's depth chart. Losing second-year receiver Jerry Jeudy for 6-8 weeks will elevate the importance of Patrick and KJ Hamler (and an already-rostered Courtland Sutton). Patrick caught all four of his targets for 39 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.
RB Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles ($10): Miles Sanders is the clear starter in Philly, but the fifth-round pick has earned the spot as Sanders' backup over Boston Scott. Gainwell carried the ball nine times for 37 yards and scored on an 8-yard run.
WR Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals ($10): Who wouldn't want a part of an offense with Kyler Murray running the show? Kirk outplayed A.J. Green and Rondale Moore -- catching all five of his targets for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He looks like a capable No. 2 receiver behind DeAndre Hopkins.
WR Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts ($9): New quarterback Carson Wentz targeted running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines the most on Sunday, but when he looked out wide Pascal was his preferred option. Two of his four receptions on the day went for touchdowns. That relationship should continue even after T.Y. Hilton returns.
WR Sterling Shepard, New York Giants ($8): Kenny Golladay was a high-profile offseason addition, but Shepard was the Giants' leading receiver with seven catches for 113 yards and a score. It's difficult to predict who QB Daniel Jones will favor on a weekly basis so don't put too much stock in one week's results.
QB Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints ($5): Famous Jameis wasn’t among the top 20 quarterbacks in average draft position, but he threw for five TDs against Green Bay in his first start for the Saints. Winston probably has a higher ceiling than your current backup quarterback.
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RB Carlos Hyde, Jacksonville Jaguars: The veteran was more effective than starter James Robinson, but not by much. Under new coach Urban Meyer and rookie QB Trevor Lawrence, the Jags have a ways to go before gaining respectability. But Hyde should have some fantasy value by getting consistent touches.
TE Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears: Whether it's Andy Dalton or Justin Fields under center, the Bears offense seems geared toward the short passes. Kmet was targeted seven times in the opener, catching five for 42 yards.
TE Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints: Johnson may be the fluke of the week with two touchdowns on three receptions, but keep an eye on this converted wide receiver, especially while Michael Thomas is out.