We made it through the rugged offseason without any football, but now week 1 has come and gone. As fantasy owners the waiver wire can be the place to find hidden jewels and lucky for you, I dive into some of the players to pick up for your team moving forward. Hopefully, week 1 was a win for your fantasy team, but these players could provide value no matter your team’s construction.
For our on-going waiver wire exclusive* we will be breaking skill players down into 3 categories and then conclude by recommending some likely free-agent Defenses:
*We will not frequently rehash previous players; we will link to previous articles to stay on top of all additions.
Bye week teams: No teams on bye
Ownership percentage is based on ESPN leagues
Tarik Cohen | Running Back | Chicago Bears | Ownership: 2.3%
Possibly the biggest surprise of Sunday, Cohen is currently second in RB scoring behind the fellow rookie, Kareem Hunt. 66 yards on only 5 carries shows great efficiency in the running game, but his biggest ability is receiving out of the backfield. Tarik Cohen led the team in rushing yards, receiving yards, receptions, and targets. Not bad for your first ever NFL game. While Jordan Howard continues to struggle with catching the ball, Cohen has shown this coaching staff he deserves more touches.
Kenny Golladay| Wide Receiver | Detroit Lions | Ownership: 4.6%
Detroit decided to go all in with their quarterback, Matthew Stafford, making him the highest paid player in the NFL. The Lions threw the ball 41 times compared to just 26 rushing attempts. In his first NFL game, Golladay was targeted 7 times, making 4 catches for 69 yards to go along with 2 touchdowns. The big worry for Golladay was the target share as he is competing with Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, but was only out-targeted by Tate in this game.
Chris Carson | Running Back | Seattle Seahawks | Ownership: 4.3%
Three running backs took carries for Seattle against Green Bay in week one. Of those 3 Carson led the way with 6 rushes and 39 yards. If Thomas Rawls continues to miss time due to an ankle injury, Carson has the opportunity to take the lead back job. It was presumed that Eddie Lacy would handle most of the rushing load, but behind the atrocious Seattle offensive line, it was Carson who was able to find some running room. Seattle plays host to the 49ers in week 2, giving whichever running back a positive matchup.
Kerwynn Williams | Running Back | Arizona Cardinals | Ownership: 0.9%
The consensus no.1 overall pick in fantasy drafts, this offseason was David Johnson. Unfortunately, Johnson suffered a wrist injury in the week 1 loss to Detroit. An MRI on Monday will determine the severity of the injury to Johnson, but in his absence, Williams will step in as the workhorse in the run game. Williams was the only player against Detroit to carry the ball multiple times aside from Johnson. In week 2 Arizona will travel to Indianapolis to face a team that was just embarrassed in Los Angeles.
Javorius “Buck” Allen | Running Back | Baltimore Ravens | Ownership: 0.4%
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, Danny Woodhead went down with an injury. As much as I hate to make light of a sad situation, Woodhead was having a good opening up until his hamstring injury but it seems like an every year occurrence. While Terrance West led the way with 80 yards rushing, Allen was the running back with the most carries when Baltimore was looking to put the game away. While both players only saw 1 target in the game, that may be due to the Ravens’ defense shutting Cincinnati down. Allen’s value may be capped if Woodhead is able to return but if you have anything invested in this Baltimore backfield, Allen is a must own.
Depth With Upside:
*QB Stream of the Week*
Tyrod Taylor | Quarterback | Buffalo Bills | Ownership: 29%
Although the Carolina Panthers are not an ideal matchup to stream a QB against, Tyrod’s ability to extend plays with his mobility and the threat of LeSean McCoy running the ball will have defenses guessing all game long. Taylor threw for 2 touchdowns to go along with his 224 yards, adding 38 rushing yards to the mix as well. While the skill players for Buffalo are a grab bag each week, I will gladly sign up for the Tyrod Taylor experience as a streaming QB. Carolina will also be traveling from San Francisco back east to Carolina, while Buffalo just finished a home game.
Allen Hurns | Wide Receiver | Jacksonville Jaguars | Ownership: 1.1%
The news coming out of Sunday is that the Jaguars fear Allen Robinson has a torn ACL, with more tests to come. If ARob is forced to miss time, the Jacksonville offense will look towards Hurns to be the WR1. Lucky for the Jaguars, their week 1 opponent didn’t put up much of a fight and the offense was able to control the ball and run the clock out. Next on the schedule is another division foe as they face Tennessee. A week of practices as the no. 1 option should see Hurns improve on his targets and receptions in week 1. Allen Hurns will be a hot commodity on waiver wires due to the ARob injury, but there is no need to rush if you aren’t the Robinson owner. Let’s not forget Blake Bortles is still the quarterback of this offense.
Charles Clay | Tight End | Buffalo Bills | Ownership: 4.2%
After the Sammy Watkins trade in the offseason, the question for Buffalo was: Who will be the no. 1 receiver? After week 1 it looks like Clay will be that option for this team. While LeSean McCoy will do most of the heavy lifting for this offense, when the ball is in the air most of the time it will be going towards Clay. While Charles Clay provides good value from the waiver wire, he is still a streaming candidate and a matchup based play each week.
Mohamed Sanu | Wide Receiver | Atlanta Falcons | Ownership: 17.1%
The team leader in targets for Atlanta was… You guessed it, Mohamed Sanu! Now this will not be an every week occurrence, but the second best receiver in this offense will have value week in and out. Matt Ryan proved why he was crowned MVP last season, carving Chicago through the air. With Kyle Shanahan gone most thought this offense would regress, it looks like this air attack is as lethal as ever.
Jared Cook | Tight End | Oakland Raiders | Ownership: 14.8%
I’m sure everyone is reading this thinking the same thing, “I can’t fall for Jared Cook again, and as a matter of fact I won’t do it!” I felt the same way heading into the season. After week 1 Cook appears to have carved out a role with this explosive Raiders offense. Cook saw 5 targets catching all of them for 56 yards and was the only player listed as a tight end to receive a target. The Jets will travel to Oakland in week 2 and we saw what Charles Clay was able to do and personally, I like Cook more in this matchup.
Jermaine Kearse | Wide Receiver | New York Jets | Ownership: 1.8%
The newest player for the Jets also happens to be their best player. After spending his career in Seattle, Kearse was traded to New York and in his first game in the green and white, he hauled in 7 receptions for 59 yards on 9 targets. This stat line will not blow anyone out of the water, but in PPR leagues Kearse can be a serviceable WR3 or FLEX play. Quincy Enunwa is on injured reserve and Austin Seferian-Jenkins is suspended leaving a massive amount of targets for Kearse.
Nelson Agholor | Wide Receiver | Philadelphia Eagles | Ownership: 2.8%
The star of the early games (until Tarik Cohen decided to explode) was the second year receiver. Agholor tied for the team lead in targets and was second on the team with 86 receiving yards. In his rookie season Agholor was plagued by drops, but in the first game of this season, he was able to catch 6 of 8 targets including a deep ball from Carson Wentz.
Defense and Special Teams:
Baltimore Ravens (Ownership: 13.1%) VS Cleveland Browns
A close game in Cleveland has fans believing that Kizer will take this team to the next step. The rookie looked good against a stout Steelers defense but will face another task as he will make his first road trip to another division foe. The Ravens are coming off a matchup with the Bengals where they forced 5 turnovers, 4 interceptions, and 1 fumble recovery, Baltimore will look to keep that momentum going. A rookie in his first road NFL start in a division matchup, advantage defense. Baltimore will be my go to streamer wherever available.
Oakland Raiders (Ownership: 4%) VS New York Jets
A tactic over the previous seasons for streaming defenses has been to start the defense that will be playing the Browns. With a roster lacking so much talent, the new team to target just might be the Jets. A Josh McCown led team is not known for ball security, and turnovers mean fantasy points. The Raiders are known as a more offensive team, but against such a woeful team I predict them to pitch a shutout.
Tennessee Titans (Ownership: 7.6%) AT Jacksonville Jaguars
While Jacksonville was the biggest surprise of week 1, it was mainly the defense that was impressive. Blake Bortles did just enough not to lose, Leonard Fournette reached 100 yards on 26 carries, and the Jaguars were able to play keep away from Houston to get the win. Mariota and the Titans offense are light years ahead of a Tom Savage led attack. With Allen Robinson’s status still up in the air (team fears a torn ACL) look for Tennessee to get out to an early lead and force Bortles to air it out hopefully leading to bad decisions and turnovers.