The NFL season is off and running! There are plenty of gems to be uncovered in this week’s story, players who will have significant fantasy value and can be used right away. Upgrade your roster wherever you can. Clear out that last roster spot with this week’s hot player and enjoy the benefits for as long as you can.
As a brief reminder, we split up the column into four categories. The “Smokin’ Hot” listing is the grouping of the top players of the week. These are players who can have both an immediate and long-term fantasy impact. The “Solid Pickups” are players who 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 who are starting to make some noise. A shuffling of an NFL team’s depth chart might get them a mention in this listing. 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, on to this week’s wonders!
WR James Jones, Green Bay
From street clothes to Aaron Rodgers’ top red-zone target in one short week, Jones will be one of the top waiver selections this week. There were some questions if he would see more action than Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis, and his two touchdown catches in the first week of the season answered those questions definitively. Look for Jones to continue to be a red-zone threat, while catching a handful of passes on a weekly basis.
RB Dion Lewis, New England
The New England Patriots have a way of pulling a running back out of nowhere and have them register one of the top fantasy performances of the week, then have them return to obscurity. With LeGarrette Blount suspended for the first week, New England turned to Dion Lewis as the primary back for both the ground and air game. The return of Blount will likely reduce the running load on Lewis, but look for him to be the primary pass catcher out of the backfield. Many a New England running back has been able to make fantasy hay in this role (see also Woodhead, Danny, and Vereen, Shane), so Lewis is worth an add in all formats.
RB David Johnson, Arizona
The Arizona Cardinals are using every excuse in the book to keep Johnson off the field, saying they do not want to rush the rookie into major action. The injury to Andre Ellington is going to force their hand as Arizona cannot rely on newly signed Chris Johnson carrying the load. One touch of the ball in Week 1, and by the way, he took that for a 55-yard touchdown romp. David Johnson is ready to play a bigger role in the offense.
TE Eric Ebron, Detroit
Only owned in about half of online leagues, Ebron did not have a spectacular opening week, but it was solid enough to warrant attention on this week’s waiver wire. The Detroit offense struggled in the opener, but Matthew Stafford looked in Ebron’s direction to the tune of four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. Look for these numbers to increase, and be the norm on a weekly basis.
QB Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills are handling Taylor with kid gloves, limiting the potential for mistakes but giving him enough of a leash to make some plays. Where Taylor is valuable as a fantasy quarterback is with his legs, rushing nine times for 41 yards in Buffalo’s opening week upset victory. No interceptions, a single touchdown pass and 195 yards passing. That’s not a bad scoring line for a guy who was projected to barely make the 53-man opening day roster. Taylor is worth a look as a backup fantasy quarterback.
WR Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis
With T.Y. Hilton hurting, Donte Moncrief will be in line for some increased playing time. The Indianapolis Colts struggled in Week 1, but we look for the offense to get on track in Week 2 with the passing game seeing a big spike in production.
WR John Brown, Arizona
A healthy Carson Palmer is very good news for the production of John Brown. Though not at the top of the Arizona depth chart, we see Brown as having the potential to be the top wideout for Arizona on a weekly basis. He opened the season with four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. We see these numbers increasing as the season continues.
TE Darren Fells, Arizona
Staying in the desert, we touch upon the tight end in Arizona, Darren Fells. Jumping in front of Jermaine Gresham on the depth chart, Fells caught four passes for 82 yards and a score as the clear top tight end target of Carson Palmer. He is worth a look on the waiver wire this week as a backup fantasy tight end.