Just about any lead running back on an NFL team has fantasy value. The San Francisco 49ers lost lead back Elijah Mitchell to a knee injury in the first half of their loss to the Bears. How much of a priority is Jeff Wilson for fantasy football managers to add off the waiver wire ahead of Week 2?
Jeff Wilson is the top Week 2 waiver wire pickup
Every lead running back should be on fantasy rosters. Lead running backs on the 49ers’ run-heavy scheme are even more valuable. The 49ers ran the ball 37 times in Week 1. Trey Lance attempted just 28 passes. They want to run the ball and for the foreseeable future, it will be Wilson doing the running.
Elijah Mitchell took a hard hit to his knee in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Bears. His knee bent in a way that looks like an MCL sprain. That’s an injury that typically comes with a 4-6 week recovery timeline.
If Mitchell is going to be out for at least a month, the next man up must be rostered. That’s Jeff Wilson.
Jeff Wilson has historically been a three-down back when replacing the starter
In Week 1, no 49ers running backs other than Mitchell or Wilson played any snaps. After Mitchell went down, Wilson played every snap at running back.
We saw this story play out in 2021 as well. In Weeks 15 and 16, with Mitchell out, Wilson played 90% and 74% of the offensive snaps. He scored 19.9 and 14.7 PPR fantasy points in those two games.
By no means is Wilson some league-winner. What he can be is a weekly RB2 for fantasy managers who either lost Mitchell or are still in search of their RB2 after going with a Hero RB or Zero RB draft strategy.
The 49ers’ upcoming schedule is more good than bad
We can assume Wilson will start the next 4-5 games. The 49ers get the Seahawks at home, the Broncos on the road, the Rams at home, the Panthers on the road, and then the Falcons on the road.
At least three of those matchups favor the 49ers. They should be able to control the clock and execute their run-first offense. Even in the below-average matchups, Wilson should still see enough volume to be startable.
How aggressively should fantasy managers target Jeff Wilson on the Week 2 waiver wire?
Unless you are absolutely stacked at running back, Wilson is worth a sizable amount of FAAB. Waiver pickups are most valuable early in the season when you can get the most amount of mileage out of them.
If you would be starting Wilson for the foreseeable future, he’s worth a 25-30% FAAB bid. If you don’t need Wilson but might have use for him, I’d be a bit more conservative and bid in the 20-25% range.
In the event you don’t need Wilson at all, he’s still worth a 10-15% FAAB bid because starting running backs have value. You never know when something could happen to your running backs. There’s also the potential of trading him to someone who has a pressing short-term need at the position.