Originally posted: September 12, 2017
TOP WEEK 2 PICKUPS
This list is presented to give a quick look at the top players who emerged as waiver wire options based on recent developments. There are other players listed below who are viable, if not excellent options, but not exactly based on what has recently transpired. We’ll update this list as the week progresses, and there are usually players who move up or appear on the list mid-week, once we know more on injuries. For waiver wire recommendations in podcast form, Staff writers Tom Brolley and Paul Kelly take you “Down to the Wire” with their weekly podcast, which comes out Tuesdays.
- Corey Davis (Ten)
- Tarik Cohen (Chi)
- Alvin Kamara (NO)
- Kenny Golladay (Det)
- Sam Bradford (Min)
- Chris Carson (Sea)
- Buck Allen (Bal)
- Coby Fleener (NO)
- Nelson Agholor (Phi)
- Cooper Kupp (LAR)
- Austin Hooper (Atl)
- Charles Clay (Buf)
- DeShone Kizer (Cle)
- Alex Smith (KC)
- Kerwynn Williams (Ari)
Final Note: You have to understand your expectations for these players, as we cannot rank them based on all factors. Some are better for this week; others have more upside for the long-term. We do our best to consider all factors.
Sam Bradford (Min) – We gave him a lot of love this summer, but he’s still available in 75% of the leagues on Yahoo! so we’re putting Sammy Sleeves on this report. Obviously, his matchup was very good and Bradford took full advantage. He was razor sharp, going 27-for-32 for 346 yards and 3 TDs, and he was sacked only once. The OL did look better and his receiving corps looks very, very nice right now led by Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, who really clicks well with Bradford. Throw in a top-10 TE in Kyle Rudolph and a quality 3-down back in Dalvin Cook, and Bradford is cooking with some gas. One of the things we liked about Bradford this summer was his schedule, which ranked as one of the best in the league for the pass per our projections. He’s off to a great start, and he’s in a very healthy environment right now, so he could sneak into the top-15 at QB this year. Updated: 9/12
Carson Wentz (Phi) – We figure he’s probably available in about 40% of fantasy leagues out there, so we’ll place him here for at least one week. Wentz was a top-3 performer through Sunday’s action completing 66.7% of his passes for 307/2. He didn’t do much with new #1 WR Alshon Jeffery, and he under-threw Torrey Smith on what could have been a 55-yard TD, but he clearly has a lot more to work with in his second season. They will take deep shots to Smith each week, and the duo look potentially-potent, plus Jeffery will get his. Most encouraging was the play of incumbents Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz, who each had big days. We think Agholor is for real this year, and Ertz has clicked with Wentz and looks to put together a complete season. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the talented Wentz surprises with a top-12 season, so he should be owned in most leagues.
DeShone Kizer (Cle) – It was rough at times, but we’d have to say that the rookie QB had a pretty impressive professional debut. He completed 20/30 passes for 222 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT in Week 1 against the Steelers, and he added 5/17/1 rushing. Kizer was consistently harassed by the Steelers all day long, absorbing 7 sacks, but he hung in there and got the Browns within one score late in the game. He’s bound to have some real clunkers this season because of his aggressive downfield approach, but he’s also going to put up some big games as well. He’s also clearly developing some chemistry with 2016 first-round pick Corey Coleman, who gives him a legit weapon in the passing game. Kizer has some appealing matchups coming up after this week’s showdown with the Ravens (at Bal, at Ind, vs. Cin, vs. NYJ), so he could be worth a shot as a streamer in the coming weeks.
Alex Smith (KC) – Was that Alex Smith or Superman out there in Week 1? After a somewhat slow first 27 minutes of the season opener, Smith and the Chiefs kicked it into high gear for the final 33 minutes against the Patriots. He looked like his normal self early in the game, patting the ball and dumping it down for a safe gain. But in the second half, he finally took what the Patriots were giving, uncorking some downfield passes to Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt for 75+-yard TDs. Smith finished completing 28/35 passes for 368 yards and 4 TDs. Hopefully he continues to push the ball downfield a little more often because he has arguably the two most athletic players in the league at their respective positions between TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill. The drafting of first-round QB Pat Mahomes has seemingly lit a fire under Smith’s butt to play a little more aggressively in 2017. And we’re optimistic about OC and play-caller Matt Nagy, who called a great game in Week 1. He doesn’t have the easiest slate coming up (vs Phi, at LAC, vs Was, at Hou), but he’s now squarely in the streaming conversation.
Jay Cutler (Mia) – Cutler is surrounded by offensive talent in Miami, easily the best talent he’s enjoyed since his days with Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte in Chicago. Cutler has two good deep threats in DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills, and Dolphins HC Adam Gase coaxed arguably the best season out of Cutler during his 11-year career. There’s some reasons to be optimistic about Cutler this season, and he’ll have some moments as a streaming option, potentially in the first couple weeks of the season (at LAC, at NYJ, vs. NO, vs. Ten).
Tyrod Taylor (Buf) – The Bills could turn to QB Nathan Peterman at some point this season, but Taylor bought himself extra time with his performance in Week 1. He completed 16/28 passes for 224 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT, and he added 8/38 rushing against the Jets. Taylor is trying to get on the same page with new WRs Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones, and he’s lost a little fantasy juice since they traded Sammy Watkins to the Rams. Taylor doesn’t have the easiest of matchups coming up (at Car, vs Den, at Atl, at Cin), so he’s going to be a low-end QB2 the next couple of weeks.
Deshaun Watson (Hou) – We knew Watson would be the starter at some point early in the season, and it took just two quarters for HC Bill O’Brien to lose faith in Tom Savage. Watson played the second half in their blowout loss to the Jaguars, and while he was mediocre and missed some throws, he did give this offense a little bit of life. He completed 12/23 passes for 102 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT and he added 2/16 rushing. The Texans had a revolving door at LT with Duane Brown holding out, but at least Watson can move around and extend plays compared to the statue-like Savage. Watson has shown flashes at times, but he hasn’t put together a completed performance since the preseason opener. He’s a work in progress at this point, but at least he gives this offense some upside compared to Savage, thanks in large part to his running. He fed the ball to DeAndre Hopkins as well, which was smart. On the downside, the two top TEs suffered concussions and their WR group is poor with Will Fuller out another 5-7 weeks.
Brian Hoyer (SF) – Hoyer couldn’t generate much offense in his 49ers debut, completing 24/35 passes for 193 yards and 1 INT against the Panthers. We think Hoyer will be better going forward playing in HC Kyle Shanahan’s offense, but the results weren’t there in Week 1 (but that was a tougher matchup). He did hit it off immediately with WR Pierre Garcon, but he’s going to need another receiver step up if he’s going to be a fantasy streamer. Hoyer has a tough slate of games (at Sea, vs LAR, at Ari, at Ind) coming up before he gets Indy in Week 5, so he can be left on benches or the Waiver Wire for the time being.
Joe Flacco (Bal) – The Ravens really eased Flacco back into action in Week 1 in his first action since missing all of the preseason with a back injury. The ineptitude of the Bengals offense let Flacco attempt just 17 passes, as he completed 9 of them for 121 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. He did connect with new WR Jeremy Maclin on his lone scoring throw for 48 yards. Flacco could be without receiving back Danny Woodhead (hamstring) for a chunk of time, which hurts his value going forward. He clearly has some rust to knock off, but he at least has some favorable matchups in the future (vs Cle, at Jax, vs Pit, at Oak).
Jared Goff (LAR) – It’s been mostly doom and gloom early in Goff’s career, so it was refreshing to see his 2017 get off to a strong start. He completed 21/29 passes for 306 yards and 1 TD against a weak Colts defense in Week 1, earning his first career victory in eight tries. He looked like a different player in the first game of his second season, spreading the ball around to his new weapons Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods. Goff provided some hope for a bounce-back campaign, and he does have improved weapons and better coaching and play-calling with Sean McVay. We’ll see if Goff can keep the positive momentum going forward in some tougher matchups ahead (vs Was, at SF, at Dal, vs. Sea) compared to his Week 1 opponent.
Mike Glennon (Chi) – Glennon’s dreadful cast of receivers didn’t help him much late in his Bears debut in Week 1, dropping multiple passes on a potential game-winning drive. The Bears came up just short with Glennon completing 26/40 passes for 213 yards and 1 TD. He’s a low-end fantasy option for as long as he’s in the lineup because he’s limited in talent and his receivers are some of the worst in the league. Glennon is just a seat warmer at this point too, as this job will be rookie Mitch Trubisky’s before long, but Glennon played well overall and almost led them on a shocking upset against the defending NFC champs, so he should get a few more starts (at TB, vs Pit, at GB, vs Min).
Blake Bortles (Jax) – Well, at least Bortles didn’t commit a turnover in Week 1! Thanks to the ineptitude of the Texans offense, Bortles needed to throw it only 21 times, completing 11 passes for 125 yards and a TD in the season opener. The Jaguars would ideally like to play this way every week if they could, but Bortles is going to have to cut it loose eventually. He also lost top WR Allen Robinson for the season to a knee injury, so he’s playing with less than a full deck now. Bortles is a shaky option every week, no matter the matchup, and he could be pulled at any point for Chad Henne, so use him at your own discretion.
Josh McCown (NYJ) – McCown is in charge of leading this dreadful Jets offense, and he’s a less than desirable fantasy option. McCown could muster only 187 yards and 2 INTs on 26/39 passing in Week 1 against the Bills. The Jets have some desirable matchups coming up (at Oak, vs. Mia, vs Jax, at Cle), but it’s not going to take long for McCown to either get hurt or for the Jets to turn to Bryce Petty (knee) once he’s completely healthy.
Tarik Cohen (Chi) – Cohen played 41% of the snaps in his first NFL game and threw his hat into the ring as an entrant into the Year of the Rookie RB competition. He posted 5/66 rushing and added 8/47/1 receiving on 12 targets in his first professional game, dazzling with several highlight reel plays. He scored his TD on a 19-yard wheel route out of the backfield. It looks Cohen will be a major complementary piece to Jordan Howard this season, working in passing situations and as a change-of-pace option and most likely as their hurry-up back. It doesn’t hurt that his main competition for snaps is Benny Cunningham, who left Week 1 with an ankle injury, but they really do need Cohen’s explosiveness. Cohen should see at least 8-10 opportunities (carries and targets), and he’s clearly dynamic enough to do damage when he gets his chances.
Alvin Kamara (NO) – We loved what we saw from Kamara this summer and ranked him as a top-40 back even though his ADP was much higher, and it already looks like those who drafted him got away with highway robbery. Kamara surprisingly played 50% of the snaps, and they wasted no time using him in the passing game (6 targets). Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson, who we hated, looked dead, so there’s a chance that Kamara settles in as a strong top-30 PPR back. He should not be free in 10-team league or larger after this week. If the Peterson situation gets ugly and he’s off the roster, then Kamara could be a league winner. Updated: 9/12
Chris Carson (Sea) – With RB Eddie Lacy looking lethargic and Thomas Rawls (ankle) always battling injuries, Carson could lead this Seahawks backfield soon. In fact, he led it in Week 1 with 53% of the snaps. He was also the best Seahawk RB in Week 1 against the Packers, posting 6/39 rushing and adding a 10-yard catch (he’s shown a lot as a receiver this year). The Seahawks need their backs to be able to create on their own behind this bad O-line, and Carson and C.J. Prosise bring the most juice to this backfield. You can’t use Carson just yet, but he’s worth stashing away in case he can wrestle this starting job away from Rawls and Lacy. Over the long haul, he has the upside to lead this backfield in touches.
Buck Allen (Bal) – RB Danny Woodhead aggravated a hamstring injury early in Week 1 – he did not initially disclose if it was the same hammy that knocked him out for much of August – opening the door for Allen to play 50% of the snaps behind Terrance West. With the Ravens protecting rusty QB Joe Flacco, Allen posted 21/71 rushing, and he failed to catch his lone target. Depending on the severity of Woodhead’s injury, Allen could have a sizeable role for the next couple of weeks (or more) playing as the passing back and change-of-pace back next to West. He also gets a favorable matchup against the Browns next week. They do have Jeremy Langford and Alex Collins on the practice squad and will likely sign one of them to the active roster if Woodhead misses time, but Allen had a positive preseason and is locked into a large role for now as long as Woodhead is out.
James White (NE) – White has the most defined role in the Patriots backfield this season, working as the passing back and as the hurry-up back. He saw the highest snap share in the NE backfield in Week 1 with 53%, converting his time into 10/38 rushing and 3/30 receiving on 5 targets. The Patriots like the versatility of all four of their RBs this season, but White’s role looks to be a little larger than last season, making him an RB3/FLEX option.
Next Best Things
C.J. Prosise (Sea) – Prosise is the Seahawks’ passing back, but QB Russell Wilson couldn’t get him involved in Week 1. He didn’t see a single target and had just 4/11 rushing against the Packers. The Seahawks don’t have a lead back at this time, so there’s going to be opportunities for carries for Prosise, but he needs to get more involved as a receiver if he’s going to make a fantasy impact. He did play 33% of the snaps, so we’ll chalk Week 1 up to a bad day at the office for the whole offense. They do love Prosise, so we’re certainly not giving up on him after one poor week.
Giovani Bernard (Cin) – Nobody in the Bengals backfield can be used with any confidence right now, with Bernard, Jeremy Hill, and Joe Mixon locked in full-blown committee. Gio did the most with his opportunities in Week 1, posting 7/40 rushing and 1/39 receiving on 2 targets against the Raven. He played 44% of the snaps and was involved in a solid 14.8% of the plays he was on the field. With the Bengals trailing the entire game, Gio saw the most snaps with 29 followed by Hill (22) and Mixon (10). It’s probably only a matter of time before Mixon becomes the top option in this backfield, but Bernard should still get opportunities in passing situations and he and Mixon should form a nice 1-2 punch.
Darren Sproles (Phi) – Sproles led the Eagles backfield in snaps in Week 1 with 45% of the snaps, and he tied for the team lead in targets with 8. He finished with 5/43 receiving and added 2/2 rushing against the Redskins. RB LeGarrette Blount is going to get the lion’s share of carries as the early-down option, but Sproles is going to play in most passing situations. Wendell Smallwood is in the mix, but he played only 20% of the snaps and was involved in only 7.8% of the snaps when he was on the field. Sproles is obviously better for PPR formats, but he’s a weekly option as a potential FLEX play.
Kerwynn Williams (Ari) – Starting RB David Johnson (wrist) is expected to miss 2-3 months, but they signed Chris Johnson, so it’s not lock that Williams is the lead back. Williams scored a 3-yard TD filling in for Johnson in the third quarter of Week 1. Williams was out-snapped 20-to-9 by Andre Ellington, who would be very involved in an RBBC-type situation, but Ellington played in mostly passing situations and did not get a carry. If they opt not to sign CJ2K, then Williams should be upgraded on this list, since he’s the lead runner right now if Johnson is out. They did also sign DJ Foster off the Patriots’ practice squad on 9/11, but he’s more of a receiving specialist, so that’s more bad news for Ellington than Williams. But again, it’s going to be a committe and “hot hand” situation for the early-down work with Johnson and Williams, so it’s not a great situation at all. Updated: 9/12
Chris Thompson (Was) – Thompson is locked into a pretty sizable role as the passing back in Washington, playing next to early-down back Rob Kelley. Thompson played 47.5% of the snaps and was involved 13% of the time he was on the field. He posted 4/52/1 receiving and 3/4 receiving in Week 1 against the Eagles, scoring on a 29-yard play in which he bounced off a couple of defenders. Thompson is on the radar in PPR formats as a FLEX option most weeks, but he’s not going to give you a ton of upside with just 8 TDs the last two-plus years. Then again, they need his juice so he will likely continue to play 40-50% of the snaps.
Shane Vereen (NYG) – We don’t want to read too much into his strong Week 1 showing because most of his production came very late in garbage time. However, 10 targets and 9/51 in the passing game stands out no matter what, especially if you get credit for catches. It’s not like they have another strong option in the backfield in terms of catching the ball as Paul Perkins doesn’t look like a good hurry-up back. Vereen played 56% of the snaps and was involved in 18.9% of those plays, so he was quite active. For now, he can definitely offer PPR relief for those looking for it.
Marlon Mack (Ind) – The Colts are going to be pitiful if QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) doesn’t play any time soon. The Colts want to see what they’ve got in their rookie RB, so they are going to give Mack some chances to play if he proves that he’s up to the task. He’s clearly the most talented RB on their roster, and he could be the future of the position for the franchise. For RB-starved fantasy teams, the fact that he’s young and has a lot of juice is worth noting, as well as the fact that he played in 34% of their snaps and was actually involved in 23.4% of the plays while he was on the field (11 touches, 10 carries). He did fumble, but he scored and had a TD catch taken off the board. Frank Gore’s still the starter and Robert Turbin is still in the mix, but Mack’s clearly going to get snaps and touches.
Mike Tolbert (Buf) – Tolbert is apparently going to get a decent number of runs as the #2 RB behind LeSean McCoy. He was back to his vulturing ways, stealing a TD from Shady on his way to 12/42/1 rushing against the Jets in Week 1. Tolbert is the back to own in Buffalo if Shady misses any time, and he could be a pain in the butt for McCoy owners if he steals more TDs going forward, as we clearly saw several times in Week 1. Tolbert played only 27.9% of the snaps, but he was involved a healthy 19% of the he was out there.
Rex Burkhead (NE) – Burkhead got the start in Week 1, but he promptly rode the bench for most of the rest of the game, playing just 12% of the snaps and posting 3/15 rushing and 1/8 receiving. Mike Gillislee clearly claimed LeGarrette Blount’s old goal-line RB job by punching in three shorties against the Chiefs. Burkhead will be a factor at some point this season, but he’s clearly down the backfield pecking order as the #3 option at this point behind Gillislee and James White. As we know with a Bill Belichick backfield, situations are always fluid and game plans switch from week to week. However, Burkhead almost made two spectacular catches and almost scored, so we still think he’ll be very relevant at some point. We’re just going to have to be patient with him on fantasy benches.
Jamaal Charles (Den) – It does feel like you have to check to make sure he’s not headed to IR after every touch, but Charles has looked very decent this summer and in Week 1 he played a solid 30% of the snaps with 11 opportunities (10 carries, 1 target). If he can hold up, this is about a perfect role for the veteran behind CJ Anderson, and with 2-3 catches most weeks he’ll have a chance to help you with 8-10 points per game on average (PPR). Updated: 9/12
Andre Ellington (Ari) – Starting RB David Johnson will be out 2-3 months, so for now Kerwynn Williams should be the lead runner. But Ellington did out-snap him 20 to 9 and he played mainly in passing situations. If Johnson’s out, it’ll be a timeshare between Ellington and Williams, and we’d prefer the lead runner (Williams). But Ellington would have some legit PPR potential with a large role in the passing game. He had 2/35 receiving on 3 targets in Week 1, all of which came after DJ left. Of course, they Cards did sign DJ Foster off the Patriots’ practice squad on 9/11, and he’s more of a receiving specialist, so that’s worrisome for Ellington but not really Williams. Updated: 9/12
Kyle Juszczyk (SF) – The Niners paid “Juice,” a fullback, the biggest contract any RB got this off-season. He posted 2/17 receiving on 4 targets in his 49ers debut against the Panthers in Week 1. Juice isn’t going to carry the ball a ton, but he is the 49ers’ primary third-down back. In deeper PPR leagues, he could be a useful FLEX filling in for Carlos Hyde in passing situations. On the downside, he was involved only 9% of the time when he was on the field, which was 31.5% of the time.
Charcandrick West (KC) – Rookie RB Kareem Hunt left no doubt that he’s the team’s feature back going forward with his debut performance. Hunt left little for West to do, but West did play 35% of the snaps and he did score on a 21-yard run after Hunt needed a breather after a 58-yard run. West somehow managed just 2 touches (1/21 rushing, 1/4 receiving) while playing all those snaps, but he should carve out a small secondary role behind Hunt, and while he has little standalone fantasy value at this point as the #2 RB, he’d be the guy if Hunt got hurt.
DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard (Oak) – These Oakland second-year RBs are stuck in a timeshare as backups once again, this time behind Marshawn Lynch. Richard had 5/22 rushing and 1/6 receiving in Week 1 against the Titans, while Washington had 3/4 rushing and 2/18 receiving. Richard and Washington have no standalone value as the backups, and they likely split the workload pretty evenly if Marshawn missed action.
Robert Turbin (Ind) – Turbin is in a tough spot as the backup to Frank Gore, as they’re going to give rookie RB Marlon Mack chances to play if he shows he’s ready. Turbin did little in a blowout loss to the Rams in Week 1, posting just 2/7 rushing and 1/-4 receiving. He’s going to get opportunities in the passing game and as the goal-line back, but those roles don’t have the same luster if Andrew Luck isn’t in the lineup.
Note: These are good options to stash away for later in the season. Many of them could be one injury away from being very relevant. They are organized by talent, situation, and likelihood that they’ll get a chance to play.
Jamaal Williams (GB) – Williams is the top option behind Ty Montgomery, who did have a scare in Week 1 with an ankle issue. Williams would lead a committee in this Packers backfield if Montgomery missed time, with fellow rookies Aaron Jones and Devante Mays also mixing in. Montgomery saw a career-high 23 touches in Week 1, and Williams played only 7% of the snaps, but he’s a Montgomery injury away from starting.
James Conner (Pit) – Le’Veon Bell is the clear bell-cow back in Pittsburgh, so Conner is going to have little to do most weeks. He’s the top backup in case Bell misses any time. We would like to see Conner catch the ball better, and we doubt he’ll be a slam-dunk RB1 like DeAngelo Williams has been these last few years if Bell is ever out, but he’d at least be a RB2 as a fill-in starter.
Matt Breida (SF) – Few backs have as much lower-body explosion as Breida, which makes us think he can at least be a rotational player in the NFL despite his diminutive stature. The 49ers appear to agree. The 49ers cut Tim Hightower and placed Joe Williams (ankle) on the IR, opening the door for major playing time for Breida. He’d be the top back if (the injury-prone) Carlos Hyde misses time, with Kyle Juszczyk and Raheem Mostert mixing in as well. The rookie did play a healthy 21% of the snaps in Week 1.
Wendell Smallwood (Phi) – Smallwood is stuck behind LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles, and he’s just a stash option at this point. He would likely need Blount to miss time to become the top back in early-down situations. At least Blount hasn’t been too impressive yet with the Eagles.
D’Onta Foreman (Hou) – Foreman could eventually earn 8-10 carries per game behind Lamar Miller as a way to help preserve Miller for the entire season. He doesn’t have much of a role just yet, but we’re guessing he’d lead a committee with Alfred Blue and Tyler Ervin behind him if Miller misses time this season.
Damien Williams (Mia) – Second-year RB Kenyan Drake suffered a concussion in the middle of training camp, which solidified Williams’ standing as the #2 RB. Williams also played ahead of Drake during his rookie campaign. Williams and Drake are both better receivers than runners, and they both could chip into Jay Ajayi’s third-down snaps if he doesn’t show improvement as a receiver. It looks like Williams will be their top option behind Ajayi to start the season, but the Dolphins coaching staff has talked up their belief that Drake can be an every-down back. Williams and Drake would likely split up opportunities if Ajayi has more health issues.
Malcolm Brown (LAR) – The second-year back is the top backup to Todd Gurley, but he doesn’t have much of a role as the secondary option. The Rams have only UDFA Justin Davis behind him, so Brown would carry a big portion of the workload if Gurley goes down at any point.
Chris Ivory (Jax) – Ivory is the top backup behind workhorse RB Leonard Fournette, and he’d be thrust into a bigger role if the rookie misses time at any point this season. He’d lead the backfield in touches, with T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant behind him, if Fournette can’t play.
Obvious Choices/For Smaller Leagues
Corey Davis (Ten) – A number of rookies had impressive debut performances, and Davis’ opening act might get lost in the shuffle. He led the Titans in targets with 10 in Week 1, seeing a 24.4% target share despite missing a large chunk of the preseason with a hamstring injury. He finished with 6/69 receiving against the Raiders, which included a couple of impressive catches. Davis is the complete package as an all-around receiver, and he’ll likely be Marcus Mariota’s top target in 2017 when all is said and done. If Davis can stay healthy, he’s going to be in the WR3 conversation all season long. Davis looks like the real deal, and he showed why he was the #5 overall draft pick.
Kenny Golladay (Det) – The training camp buzz surrounding rookie Golladay is legitimate. The third-round pick burst onto the scene with a 2-TD performance in his professional debut (and he almost had another TD before his first score). He finished with 4/69/2 receiving on 7 targets against the Cardinals, scoring on a 10-yard corner route and a diving 45-yard catch. He did split reps with T.J. Jones as the #3 WR behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, but he played 68% of the snaps to Jones’ 12.9 and is clearly the better option on the outside over Jones. He scored 2 TDs in his first preseason action with the backups. Detroit ran three-receiver sets on 75% of their plays last year (fourth-highest rate). There’s a sizable role to be had for Golladay in Detroit, especially down in the red zone and he’s tough for defenses to handle because he’s tall and he can run. The Lions need to replace the 26 red-zone targets left behind by Anquan Boldin, and Golladay is huge target at 6’4″, 213 pounds. He needs to be owned in every format.
Nelson Agholor (Phi) – QB Carson Wentz made arguably the play of the week in Week 1, and Agholor was on the receiving end of the 58-yard score. The long TD highlighted a strong performance from Agholor, who finished with 6/86/1 receiving on a team-high 8 targets against the Redskins. He played out of the slot in 3-WR sets and rotated with Torrey Smith in 2-WR sets. He wound up playing 62.5% of the snaps and was involved in 12.5% of his snaps, the same as Alshon Jeffery. Agholor was a first-round pick back in 2015, so the talent is obviously in him, and it now looks like he has the confidence to go with it. Depending on the matchup, he’ll be on the WR3/4 radar going forward, especially if Alshon Jeffery gets a tough matchup on the outside. His emergence is real.
Cooper Kupp (LAR) – Kupp had an impressive debut performance, with the Rams firing on all cylinders against the Colts. Kupp posted 4/76/1 receiving on 6 targets in Week 1, scoring an 18-yard pass from Jared Goff. He also had a bad drop, but it was still a strong first showing overall. It’s still early, but based on what we’ve seen, it looks like Kupp could be Goff’s go-to receiver in a pinch. He played a solid 57% of the snaps, but he led all Ram receivers by being involved in 9.5% of his snaps. Kupp has some upside in PPR formats as the Rams slot receiver, especially if Goff can build on his performance in the season opener. He actually has good chance to lead the Rams in targets and catches.
Marqise Lee (Jax) – Jaguars top WR Allen Robinson suffered a torn left ACL, which ended his season. That will move Lee and Allen Hurns into the top roles at WR because the Jags just lost rookie WR Dede Westbrook (core) for the season, as well. Lee failed to catch any of his 4 targets from the shaky Blake Bortles in the season opener against the Texans. We have more faith in Lee going forward, and he’s our best bet to lead the team in receiving with A-Rob out of the lineup. Of course, Lee could be volatile from week-to-week because of his quarterback, so he’s not a lock to put up production every week. He was involved in only 7% of his snaps, but he did play a very healthy 82.5% of the snaps, and his involvement should grow considerably now. He did click pretty well with Bortles last year.
Next Best Things
Danny Amendola (NE) – It didn’t take Amendola long to suffer an injury replacing Julian Edelman out of the slot. He suffered a concussion in the second half after posting 6/100 receiving on 7 targets while playing 40% of the snaps in Week 1. He does at least have 10 days to pass concussion protocol for Week 2, but he does have past concussions to complicate his recovery. He’s tough to trust, but if you’re looking for depth, he did look great in Week 1 and Amendola will be active whenever he’s healthy and working out of the slot.
Marquise Goodwin (SF) – Goodwin is an interesting project for Kyle Shanahan, who will look to turn Goodwin into a gadget player and vertical threat in his offense. He had a quiet start to his 49ers career, posting just 3/21 receiving on 6 targets against the Panthers, but he just missed 2 big plays and 1 TD. He’s going to see regular snaps along with Pierre Garcon at WR and in fact they both played 88.9% of the snaps in Week 1, so Goodwin was on the field a lot. He’s unlikely to ever be high-volume receiver, but there’s a chance he could develop into a fantasy-relevant option in non-PPR formats, if he can find a way to make a big play or two a game. Kyle Shanahan loves him, and Shanahan is a great OC to take advantage of his speed.
Paul Richardson (Sea) – Richardson has worked his way up the depth chart since Tyler Lockett broke his leg at the end of last year, and he’s now locked in as the #2 WR across from Doug Baldwin. Richardson had a strong showing in Week 1, posting 4/59 receiving on 7 targets against the Packers. He has a flair for making highlight reel catches, and he’s got plenty of speed to be a deep threat for QB Russell Wilson. He played 81% of the snaps and was involved in a healthy 14.6% of those plays compared to only 52% and 6.3% for Lockett. He’s a fine option for the end of your bench in standard formats with some potential upside if he continues to improve.
Kendall Wright (Chi) – The Bears WR situation is a hot mess, and it got even messier after Kevin White left Week 1 early with a shoulder injury that will place him on IR. Based on just pure talent alone, Wright is the best option here working with new starter Mike Glennon. Wright didn’t do much in the season opener though, posting just 3/34 receiving on 4 targets. We really can’t advise playing any of these Bears WRs at this point, but Wright has the best chance of being relevant. He played a solid 59.7% of the snaps, but he did not start was involved in only 6.5% of their plays. That involvement percentage should go up now, even if Markus Wheaton is back. He definitely has the ability to help a passing game that needs a lot of it.
Allen Hurns (Jax) – Jaguars top WR Allen Robinson suffered a torn left ACL, which ended his season. That will move Marqise Lee and Hurns into the top roles at WR because the Jags just lost rookie WR Dede Westbrook (core) for the season, as well. Hurns finished with 3/42 receiving on 4 targets in Week 1 against the Texans, leading the team in receiving. We have more faith in Lee going forward, and he’s our best bet to lead the team in receiving with A-Rob out of the lineup. Hurns is going to be volatile from week-to-week because of Blake Bortles and because of his own shaky play, but he’s going to get plenty of snaps going forward.
Robby Anderson (NYJ) – The addition of Jermaine Kearse before the start of the season put a damper on whatever fantasy momentum Anderson had. Anderson still got his chances with 8 targets in Week 1, but he did little with them for just 4/22 receiving. He’s going to have to hit a deep ball if he’s going to have success in a given week, so he’s going to be a boom-or-bust option this season. And he’s most likely going to be a bust most weeks playing in this dreadful offense. At least the Jets could turn to Bryce Petty (knee) in the near future, and Anderson did have success with Petty last season.
Jermaine Kearse (NYJ) – The Jets traded for Kearse just before the start of the season, and he immediately became the #1 WR for the Jets. That’s the sad state of the Jets receiving corps. He finished his first game with 7/59 receiving on 9 targets against the Bills. Kearse doesn’t have a whole lot of ability, but he has the most experience in this group. Someone has to catch the ball here, and Kearse is likely to get chances every week. He played 94.3% of the snaps and was involved in a healthy 15.1% of their plays, so Josh McCown already seems to like him.
Mohamed Sanu (Atl) – Sanu is typically a chain-moving, possession receiver for this offense. He actually led the Falcons in targets (9) in Week 1, but he averaged just 7.8 YPR with 6/47 receiving. He’s a big-bodied receiver (6’2”, 210 pounds), which does help down in the red zone at times. Sanu could be a viable add off the Waiver Wire in deeper PPR formats once bye weeks start to kick in.
Going as Deep as Possible
Zay Jones (Buf) – Jones got the start with Jordan Matthews in Week 1, but he did little in his professional debut, posting just a 21-yard catch on 4 targets. The Bills are going to give Jones plenty of opportunities to develop, but it could take him a little time before he makes a significant impact. He was involved in only 5.9% of his snaps, but he did play a healthy 85% of their snaps. He’s just a stash-and-hope option at this point in the season, but they do really need him on the outside.
John Ross (Cin) – The #9 overall pick is week-to-week at this point with a knee injury, but the Bengals offense could use his speed to help their offense, which looked anemic in Week 1. The Bengals could ease Ross into the lineup once he’s ready to play, and he could have a few big weeks as one of the league’s better deep threats.
Markus Wheaton (Chi) – The Bears WR situation is a hot mess, and it got even messier after Kevin White left Week 1 early with a shoulder injury and is now on IR. It’s fortunate for Wheaton, who’s nearing a return from a broken finger he suffered at the start of training camp. He returned to practice last week and is targeting a Week 2 return. Wheaton will step into heavy snaps immediately. As we’ve seen in the past, Wheaton isn’t guaranteed to do anything with playing time, but he does have talent and speed, and they really need that, so he’s worth a shot if there’s nothing on the waiver wire.
Kenny Stills (Mia) – Third-year WR DeVante Parker has garnered all the attention for his potential upside playing with new QB Jay Cutler, but Stills is certainly a great fit as well. Stills has a little more upside playing with the more aggressive Cutler compared to Ryan Tannehill, but Stills is going to be hit-or-miss most weeks.
Breshad Perriman (Bal) – The Ravens attempted just 17 passes in Week 1, but Perriman did see 23.5% of them (4 targets). The problem is he hauled just a 5-yard pass in Week 1 against the Bengals. Perriman is clearly behind Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace in the passing game, but he should see plenty of playing time going forward if he can actually stay healthy for an extended period of time.
J.J. Nelson (Ari) – Nelson is the #4 WR on the Cardinals depth chart, but he brings more juice to the passing attack than Jaron Brown. With the Cardinals in catch-up mode, Nelson posted 5/43 receiving on 6 targets in Week 1 against the Lions. Starter John Brown has had plenty of health issues over the last year because of his sickle-cell issue, so Nelson could play a big role at some point this year.
Terrance William(Dal) – Williams was very quietly very effective and reliable in 2016, and they somewhat surprisingly re-signed the 2017 free agent. He’s got a chance here because Dak Prescott has had success when throwing to him, and he’s off to a solid start, catching 6-of-7 targets for 68 yards. Given the attention Dez Bryant gets, Williams is in a solid spot.
Tyler Lockett (Sea) – Lockett saw his first game action since breaking his leg late last season. He finished with just an 8-yard catch on 3 targets in Week 1 against the Packers. WR Paul Richardson has clearly vaulted ahead of Lockett for the time being, but at least Jermaine Kearse is now out of the picture in this passing game. Lockett will be a boom-or-bust option as primarily a deep threat in this Seahawks passing game. He did play a decent 52% of their snaps.
Robert Woods (LAR) – Woods could be the odd-man out in this Rams receiving corps, with Sammy Watkins as the top outside option and downfield threat and Cooper Kupp looking like Jared Goff’s possession receiver out of the slot. He finished with 3/53 receiving on 5 targets in Week 1 against the Colts. Woods will likely be involved every week, as he played a solid 66.7% of their snaps, but he’s unlikely to be a consistent fantasy threat as the #4 option in this weak Rams offense.
Taylor Gabriel (Atl) – We’re a little skeptical that new OC Steve Sarkisian will be able to utilize Gabriel like former OC Kyle Shanahan was able to do in 2016. Gabriel did little in Week 1, posting 3/36 receiving on 4 targets. He’ll likely go off for a couple big games this season, but he’s merely an end of the bench option in non-PPR leagues.
Phillip Dorsett (NE) – The Patriots traded for Dorsett just before the start of the season, and his role will likely grow as the season goes along. He played 18 snaps (22%) in the season opener, but he could see the field more with Danny Amendola landing in concussion protocol. Amendola has a long history of injury issues, and the more that he plays with Julian Edelman out of the lineup, the more likely it is that he’ll miss a chunk of time this season. Dorsett doesn’t need to be owned just yet, but he could make an impact as a deep threat in this offense at some point.
Chris Conley (KC) – Conley is going to play a ton just like he did in 2016, but HC Andy Reid doesn’t make it a priority to get him the ball. He played 94% of the snaps in Week 1, compiling 2/43 receiving on 4 targets. Conley averaged just 2.8 catches/game for 33.1 yards/game last season. We think those numbers will tick up slightly, but just not enough to be a consistent fantasy contributor unless something happens to Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce.
Ryan Grant (Was) – Grant is the #3 WR in Washington for at least the time being, with Josh Doctson coming along slowly after an injury-plagued preseason. He posted 4/61 receiving on 6 targets in Week 1 against the Eagles, getting a little extra love with Jamison Crowder playing through a hip issue. Grant is a low-end option for now, but he’s a player to watch if Crowder can’t get back to 100% and if Doctson can’t earn playing time.
Obvious Choices/For Smaller Leagues
Coby Fleener (NO) – The Fleen! It’s only one game but our preseason analysis on Fleener did hold true to form: he’s more comfortable in the offense and with Drew Brees in year two, and they have the worst receiving corps we’ve seen here in a decade. Fleener did look confident catching the ball in the opener, hauling in a nice 24-yard pass down the seam in a contested situation. He caught 5-of-6 targets, which was a positive step forward, and while his TD was in garbage time, it could start a trend, since they have next to nothing in the passing game after Michael Thomas. Fleener is well on his way toward finishing as a top-12 fantasy TE. Updated: 9/12
Austin Hooper (Atl) – The Hooper Scooper did the most with his limited targets in Week 1, scoring an 88-yard TD on a blown coverage by the Bears. He caught both of his targets for 2/128/1 receiving. There’s a chance Hooper develops into the #2 receiver in this offense as he gets more playing time with this season with Matt Ryan. Hooper has some upside to develop into a top-12 TE in 2017, and he’s off to a good start after the season opener.
Charles Clay (Buf) – QB Tyrod Taylor has the most confidence in Clay at this point, as he breaks in new WRs Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones. Clay came through in Week 1 for those who streamed him, recording 4/53/1 receiving on 9 targets against the Jets. He was actually involved in only 8.8% of his snaps, but he did play a healthy 88% of the snaps. Clay should see a healthy number of targets each week in this low-volume passing attack, so he’s on the radar in PPR leagues.
Next Best Things
Jared Cook (Oak) – Cook looked good in Week 1 and is in a position to succeed for the second straight year, trading in Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams for Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Cook, who played 70% of the snaps, had a strong debut, catching all 5 of his targets for 56 yards against the Titans in Week 1. He’s going to see light coverage in the middle of the field at times, but he could have an uphill battle scoring many TDs with Crabtree, Cooper, and Seth Roberts clearly ahead of him as red-zone weapons for Derek Carr.
Julius Thomas (Mia) – Thomas struggled mightily in Jacksonville, missing more games (11) than touchdowns scored (9) in two seasons. Of course, when he was healthy, Thomas was a TD machine with Peyton Manning at the controls and with Miami HC Adam Gase as the OC in Denver, scoring a remarkable 24 TDs in a 27-game stretch with the Broncos in 2013-14. He’s a good bet to be more TD dependent than most top TEs, but things could work out well for him in the red-zone this season.
Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard (TB) – Howard out-snapped Brate with the starters in the third preseason game (31 to 24), but it looks like Brate could be the more active receiver here. He looks like the better bet to be fantasy relevant, although they are likely to eat into each other’s production all season. Howard is likely to have more blocking responsibilities as an inline blocker, while Brate has more receiving opportunities as the move TE, and Jameis Winston has shown an affinity for throwing to Brate. We’ll get a better idea once the bullets start to fly in Week 2.
Evan Engram (NYG) – Rookie TEs usually have a tough time adapting to the NFL during their first seasons, but the Giants need him to step up early in his career. WR Odell Beckham (ankle) isn’t at 100% just yet, and veteran WR Brandon Marshall had a no-show in his first appearance with the Giants. Engram posted 4/44 receiving on 5 targets against the Cowboys in Week 1. Engram is a jack-of-all-trades for the position because of his athleticism. He can lineup as an inline TE, as an H-back, as a move TE, as a slot receiver, and as an outside receiver. HC Ben McAdoo will try to use him as a mismatch nightmare going forward, and he’s got some major upside even as a rookie.
George Kittle (SF) – The 49ers lack a lot of talent in the middle of the field, and it’s clear there’s opportunity for Kittle here. He finished with 5/27 receiving on 6 targets in his first professional game against the Panthers. Kittle is small (6’4”, 250 pounds) for the position, but he’s loaded with athleticism and he could become a playmaker in the middle of the field for the 49ers. He’s not useable for fantasy just yet, but he’s clearly on the radar as he gets more playing time under his belt.
Jesse James (Pit) – The Steelers traded for Vance McDonald before the season, which put James on notice that his job could be up for grabs. It looks like he took notice, posting 6/41/2 receiving on 8 targets in Week 1 against the Browns. He also out-snapped McDonald 53 to 19, so James cemented himself as the starter for now. James averaged just 8.7 YPR last season, and he had just 6.8 YPR in the opener, so he’s going to have to be a threat in the red zone to come through for fantasy.
Jermaine Gresham (Ari) – Gresham doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of athleticism, but he can be a chain-mover for Carson Palmer in the middle of the field. He did have a TD negated by an offensive holding call in Week 1, as he finished with just 3/15 receiving on 4 targets against the Lions. Gresham will likely be just a low-end TE2 option going forward. For what it’s worth, he had a TD taken off the board in Week 1.
Dwayne Allen (NE) – QB Tom Brady tried to get Allen going on the first play of the season, but Allen showed his questionable athleticism on a poor throw that should’ve still been caught by a wide-open Allen. He failed to catch either of his targets in Week 1 while playing just 33% of the snaps. Allen’s going to vulture a couple of TD passes this season, for sure, and they might actually need him more than initially anticipated after Julian Edelman’s season-ending injury. Still, Allen will be a dart throw most weeks in hopes of a cheap TD.
Giorgio Tavecchio (Oak) – Sebastian Janikowski was surprisingly placed on IR this past weekend, and this guy proceeded in Week 1 to book 4 FGs. He’s a must-add for those hoping to latch on to a PK they can keep all year, since he’s tied to what looks like one of the best offenses in the NFL.
Wil Lutz (NO) – Given their shaky receiving corps, Lutz could come through big time for fantasy this year, as evidenced by his 4-FG game in Week 1. Pick him up now and start him until he proves you wrong for doing it. Updated: 9/12
Graham Gano (Car) – He was quite solid in 2016, and he’s off to a good start this year after going 3-for-3 on FG attempts in Week 1.
Blair Walsh (Sea) – Walsh is a volatile asset, but he’s been solid so far for Seattle and he did go 3-for-3 on FG attempts in Week 1. If he can get on a roll, this is a good situation for him to be in.
Source: Fantasy Guru
As a non-profit entity, we do not have the staff to cover the NFL like other great websites. When we find great articles, we pass on the information and give credit where credit is due. The content on our website is provided for FREE and solely to assist the participants in the Fantasy Gives fantasy football fundraiser, where we utilize fantasy sports as a means to support non-profit groups.
This post was adapted from their premium service and WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND PAYING FOR A SUBSCRIPTION TO THEIR WEBSITE! Please visit Fantasy Guru for subscription details.