Opening weekend is in the books, and much like many teams in the NFL (looking at you Pittsburgh and Cleveland), many of you out there may be in need of some reinforcements. While it is not time to give up on your studs that mailed it in during week one, take a hard look at the bottom of your roster and build depth NOW.
As a brief reminder, we split up the column into four categories. The Smokin’ Hot listing is the grouping of the top players available this week. These are players that can have both an immediate and long term fantasy impact. The Solid Pickups are players that are on the cusp of moving into the top category. They might be only a week away from making headlines, so those of you buried at the bottom of the waiver wire can look here to get a jump on next week’s prime time players.
After that, the On the Radar types are those that are starting to make some noise. A shuffling of an NFL team’s depth chart might get them a mention in this listing. These are speculative adds to consider before they blow up and become consistent fantasy contributors. Finally, the Deep and/or Dynasty Only players are just that, only for those in leagues with deep rosters or dynasty leagues. The players listed here are weeks, if not an entire season away from making a fantasy impact.
As always, thanks for reading, best of luck and onto this week’s wonders!
TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit
Rare is the rookie tight end that makes a fantasy impact, even those that are selected near the top of the first round in the NFL draft. In the Lions opening game, Hockenson proved that he is a rare commodity that is worth owning in all fantasy formats. All he did against the Chargers was catch six passes for 131 and a score. Sky high numbers and a top ranking in this week’s story. He is worth it as we see him being an impact fantasy performer week in and week out.
WR Jamison Crowder, Jets
Keeping with the theme of “rare”, it has been a long time since we have had a New York Jet rated this highly. In the opening game against the Bills, Crowder was thrown to a whopping 17 times. He caught fourteen (14!) of those passes, good for 99 yards. Based on volume alone, Crowder is worth owning and getting into your starting lineup.
WR John Brown, Buffalo
Another player that popped in the Meadowlands (it’s still called that, right?), was John Brown. The Bills offense struggled at times, but when the game ended, Brown registered seven catches which was good for 123 yards. Included in that was the game winning touchdown as the Bills edged the Jets. The two young quarterbacks in this game had their ups and downs, more importantly to us, they both have a go to receiver that is worth owning and getting into a fantasy starting lineup.
QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit
Undrafted in many leagues, the fantasy glow on Stafford has worn off over the years. Preseason hype has led to him being drafted highly, then disappointing, causing owners to swear they would not select him again for their teams. Though he had the benefit of an overtime session, it was a solid offensive performance where the Lions went to the air early and often. Stafford ended the day with 385 yards and 3 touchdowns, well worth him landing in this week’s top category.
RB Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati
Starter Joe Mixon left the Bengals’ week one contest with an ankle injury, and his status is unknown for week two and beyond. Bernard would be the starter in his absence and is worth some waiver wire attention this week.
WR Michael Gallup, Dallas
The return of Ezekiel Elliot did wonders for the Cowboys, but where they did most of their damage against the Giants in the opening week was through the air. Dak Prescott was in mid-season form, connecting with Gallup seven times in the contest, good for 158 yards. Dallas has another division game upcoming, as they take on the weak secondary of the Redskins. Gallup is worth owning in all formats.
RB Malcolm Brown, Rams
Something does not quite look right with Todd Gurley. The Rams have been limiting his action in the preseason, and that has carried over to the regular season. Brown ended up rushing eleven times for 53 yards, but of significance to the fantasy owner is he was often the back used at the goal line. Brown hit paydirt from five yards and one yard out, further boosting what was a pretty good fantasy day. Though his fantasy output will be unpredictable on a week-to-week basis, Brown is worth a look on this week’s waiver wire as the Rams limit the touches for Gurley.
WR Marquise Brown, Baltimore
If only the Ravens could play Miami every week, wow is that a team that looks like it is mailing it in! Rolling for an absurd 59 points on opening day, the Ravens went wild in air against the hapless Dolphins. Brown ended the day with four catches good for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Normally those numbers would be enough to get him into our top category, but we have our doubts that Baltimore can sustain this high volume. Brown is worth a grab and hold to see if he can put up consistent fantasy points.
QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
The Bengals left the running game behind when Joe Mixon went to the locker room, and to say, “they enjoyed some success” would be an understatement. Dalton threw for 418 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks. That’s right, the Seattle Seahawks. For those in the market for a backup to their starter, Dalton is a good looking option right now.
QB John Ross, Cincinnati
One of the main beneficiaries of Dalton’s many throws, was John Ross. He caught seven passes from Dalton, good for 158 yards and a score. We are not ready to declare that the Bengals passing game is something fantasy owners need to be involved in, but after the first week, Ross is worth a roster spot to see if the first week can be repeated.
WR Phillip Dorsett, New England
Many of you might have heard that the Patriots have signed Antonio Brown, and yes, we have heard that as well. This is not a misprint, we see Dorsett as a solid fantasy pickup. The numbers from Week 1 are top notch, four catches good for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Antonio Brown is a great talent, but even the best wideouts in the NFL have had difficulty absorbing the Patriots playbook. They will surely simplify things for him to start, but look for some early on bumps as he gets acclimated. Josh Gordon needs to be handled with kid gloves, and though he came out of Week 1 smelling like a rose, the regular season can be a grind that eats people up. We see Dorsett as being a constant in the Patriots offense, not along the lines of Julian Edelman, but while the others get the defensive attention, Dorsett will be able to beat single coverage. Look for him to stay involved as a 4-6 catch player per game.