James Conner carries the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field.

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Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Adds For Week 1

Matt Citak
September 06, 2018 - 9:40 am

The wait is over. After an excruciating seven months with no football, the NFL is back. And with that comes the return of fantasy football.

While the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons don't kick off the season until Thursday night, it is never too early to start tinkering with your fantasy team's roster. Even with the season yet to begin, there are already several underrated players out there who deserve to be added through waivers.

As we see all the time in football, things can change very quickly. Whether it is because of an injury, a holdout or whatever other reason, the following players could see big early-season roles with their respective teams.

Jump on the waiver wire and snag these guys before your opponent beats you to it.

James Connor, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

This is an easy add for anyone with Le'Veon Bell on their team. But even if you don't have Pittsburgh's star running back on your roster, it might be wise to go ahead and grab his backup. With the Steelers' season opener just a few days away, Bell has yet to report to the team. While rumors have been swirling around Pittsburgh that the back could report any day now, the simple fact is he is not there right now, thus making Connor the team's starting running back for at least the season opener.

Connor looked fantastic during the preseason, averaging 5.3 yards per carry on 19 attempts (100 yards) with a touchdown. While his rushing stats were impressive enough, the second-year back managed to reel in all seven of his targets for 61 yards. He may not be on the same level as Bell, but Connor has shown throughout the preseason that he is more than capable of leading the Steelers' backfield. With Bell's future (both short- and long-term) still very much up in the air, be the proactive owner in your league and grab Connor while you still can.

Alfred Morris, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Before Saturday, Morris was barely owned in any leagues across any of the big fantasy football sites. But as mentioned in the introduction, things can change very quickly in football. All it took was one misstep by 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon to catapult Morris back into fantasy relevancy. 

With McKinnon lost for the season, San Francisco's backfield is a little more muddled than it was at this time last week. However, with the current roster as it is, Morris seems like the most likely candidate to take over as the team's featured back. Morris and coach Kyle Shanahan spent two seasons together in Washington. In those two years, Morris finished as a fantasy RB1 in both campaigns. Of course, a few years have passed since then, but Morris showed in the preseason that he is still capable of handling a full workload. (He took 17 carries for 84 yards (4.8 ypc) in San Francisco's third preseason game against the Colts.) He may not have the same upside that McKinnon did, especially as a pass catcher, but Morris has the potential of receiving 15-plus carries a game in what should be a potent 49ers offense. If that doesn't warrant a speculative add before the season starts, I don't know what does.

Matt Breida, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Morris may be the favorite to get the bulk of the carries in San Francisco, but that doesn't mean Breida won't hold some fantasy value as well. The second-year back looked good in limited action last season as Carlos Hyde's backup, totaling 465 yards on 105 carries (4.4 ypc) while adding 21 receptions for 180 yards. A shoulder injury forced the youngster to miss most preseason action, but the 23-year-old is now healthy and ready to contribute in Week 1.

Morris' history with Shanahan and NFL experience make him a better featured back, but Breida certainly has the advantage over Morris in the passing game. After recording five dropped passes during his rookie season, Breida made it a priority during the offseason to work on his pass-catching abilities. McKinnon was set to play a significant role in the passing game, and with him now forced to the sidelines for the entire season, Breida is the guy most likely to replace him as Jimmy Garoppolo's target out of the backfield. It's a toss-up which San Francisco back will be the one to own this season, so do yourself a favor and try to grab both if they're still available.

Jordan Wilkins, RB, Indianapolis Colts

The Colts struggled mightily in 2017 without Andrew Luck under center, and until he can prove he's 100 percent healthy in a regular season game, it will be difficult to trust any offensive player on the Indianapolis roster (except for T.Y. Hilton). However, we all know the potential a Luck-led offense has, which makes Wilkins a great speculative add heading into Week 1.

With Marlon Mack still recovering from a hamstring strain suffered a few weeks ago, Wilkins appears to be in line to lead the Colts' backfield in touches come Sunday. Wilkins shined throughout the preseason, outperforming fellow rookie Nyheim Hines by a significant margin. After averaging 6.5 ypc at Ole Miss last season, which included matchups against several tough SEC defenses. who knows what the rookie back can do with Luck handing him the ball? Week 1 may serve as a tryout of sorts for Wilkins, but if the rookie can play well against the Bengals, he could show the coaches enough for them to hand him the reigns as the starting back for the foreseeable future.

Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Godwin generated some buzz leading up to last year's NFL draft as the former Penn State wide receiver had one of the top vertical jumps and 40-yard-dash times among receivers at the NFL combine. While he only saw limited action during his rookie season in Tampa Bay, the 6-foot-1 receiver was still able to pull down 34 of 56 targets for 525 yards and a touchdown, almost all of which came off the bench. While he spent most of his rookie season backing up DeSean Jackson, it appears as if Godwin has finally cracked his way into the starting lineup.

 The 22-year-old has been the shining star of the Buccaneers' camp. He split time with Jackson with the first team for all of training camp, and Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter announced this week that the two would be listed as co-starters across from Mike Evans on the Week 1 depth chart. Godwin caught seven of eight targets for 55 yards and two touchdowns this preseason, easily outperforming Jackson along the way. With Evans attracting a lot of attention from opposing defenses, Godwin has a chance to have a breakout campaign this season. 

Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears

Miller has been the darling of Bears training camp. A second-round pick out of Memphis, he shined in his final two college seasons, totaling 191 catches for 2,896 yards and 32 touchdowns. The Bears were clearly high on the young receiver during the draft, as Chicago surrendered two picks (including a 2019 second-rounder) in order to move up and select Miller with the 51st overall selection. 

Chicago has a completely overhauled receiving corps this season, with Miller, Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton all newcomers to the team. While Robinson may have the most talent among the bunch, it's Miller who appears to have become the favorite target of second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Working out of the slot, Miller could lead the Bears in targets this season, which should result in big fantasy numbers. Don't hesitate to pull the trigger on Miller, as a big Week 1 performance could make him one of the most popular guys on next week's waiver wire.

John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Ross wowed during last year's NFL combine, breaking Chris Johnson's 40-yard-dash record with a time of 4.22. His speed was part of the reason that Cincinnati invested the ninth overall pick of the 2017 draft on him, but another factor was the young receiver's stellar 2016 campaign at the University of Washington. In 13 games that year, Ross caught 76 receptions for 1,122 yards with 17 touchdowns. But his college success did not transfer over to the NFL last season, as he failed to record a single catch during his rookie year. 

Now fully recovered from all of the injuries that ailed him throughout 2017, Ross looks ready to become the explosive playmaker the Bengals imagined he would be when they drafted him. His speed was put on display during the preseason when the second-year receiver caught a 50-plus-yard pass from Andy Dalton for a touchdown. Brandon LaFell and his 88 targets from last year are now gone, and Ross is the most likely candidate to absorb those looks. With A.J. Green garnering the attention of opposing defenses' top corners, Ross could have a big year playing second fiddle in Cincy's passing game.

Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers

Not many teams have three wide receivers worth rostering in fantasy football, but the Packers are one of the only exceptions. As we have witnessed in past seasons, Aaron Rodgers has been able to produce three productive fantasy receivers at the same time (Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb). While Adams should lead Green Bay's receivers this season, it wouldn't be that surprising to see Allison overtake Cobb as the team's No. 2 receiver.  

Allison played well throughout the preseason, catching five of eight targets for 83 yards and a touchdown. Still only 24 years old, Allison managed to catch 23 passes for 253 yards in what was a lost season for the Packers last year. With Rodgers healthy and ready to go, it's fair to expect Green Bay's offense to return to its elite status. Any wideout who's primed to see a good amount of playing time on an offense led by Rodgers is worth a speculative add.

John Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

While most of the guys on this list are young players poised to see their first extended action in the NFL, Brown has been around the league for a few years now. His last productive campaign came in 2015, when he caught 65 passes for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns for the Arizona Cardinals. Since then, Brown has seen his career derailed by injuries, missing seven games over the last two seasons while playing hurt in several others.

Finally healthy, Brown is looking to get his career back on track with the Ravens this season. And so far, so good for the 28-year-old. Brown was one of the biggest surprises in the league this summer, making highlight-reel catches during practice and performing well in Baltimore's preseason games. The fifth-year receiver has set himself up to play a large role in the Ravens' offense this year. While the team also added Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead during the offseason, Brown appears to have the best chance at becoming Joe Flacco's deep threat. Say what you want about Flacco, but the one thing he can do well is throw the ball deep. Playing on a one-year "prove it" deal, Brown is poised to make a lot of noise in the fantasy football world this season.

Matt Citak is a Web Producer for WFAN Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewCitak.