While fantasy managers should not overreact to 1 week of football, that doesn’t mean that 1 week should be disregarded. It’s almost 6% of the season’s games that were just played, so it’s not nothing. Further, when it comes to opportunities for fantasy managers to upgrade their roster in a meaningful way — a way that might significantly alter the course of their season — post-Week 1 is one of the prime moments.
For the first time in months, coaching staffs had to show which players they want on the field, and which players they want to feature. Hearing words from the coaches, by this point, is tiring. We hear all sorts of high praise for various players in the offseason, many of whom end up cut before Week 1. It’s a minefield trying to figure out which words to trust and which ones to discard, though of course we do our best. But with real games that count, we get to see the truth about depth charts and coaching plans.
In this article, I’ll take a look at a handful of players you should consider adding now, before they are one of the top waiver adds of the week. I study the underlying data carefully – how many snaps players played, and how they were used on those snaps – to give us a glimpse into what players might pop in the next few weeks. If you can add a player for cheap off the wire, instead of paying big FAAB money to acquire him, you’ll give your team a leg up on other teams in your league.
As the offseason went by, it became clear that Hilliard would be the primary backup to Derrick Henry, with rookie Hassan Haskins less involved.
Hilliard was involved in Week 1, even if perhaps less than it would seem. While he only took 2 carries, he got 4 targets and went 3-61-2.
But be aware that he only played on 12 snaps. The Titans only ran 65 offensive plays, so that’s not nothing, but the fact that he only played on 18% of snaps is something to be mindful of.
It’s a bit risky to spend much to acquire him, since without the TDs he didn’t do much. But he showed that he can have value on passing downs, and if Henry gets injured he would likely be very valuable.
We recommend picking him up if you have space, but just don’t blow much of your budget to acquire him.
In the preseason, many felt certain Chris Evans would be the #2 RB for the Bengals, with Perine pushed to 3rd on the depth chart and therefore irrelevant for fantasy.
But again Perine was the clear #2 in Week 1, working in on 26% of snaps and getting 6 opportunities (1 carry, 5 targets). The Bengals also seem to still prefer him to Evans on passing downs for now, as Evans did not log a snap on offense.
Since RBs do get hurt often and this is a great offense, Perine is worth rostering in most leagues. Certainly his lack of overall production in Week 1 will keep him from being a top add, but I’d suggest adding him if you are hurting for RB help, particularly in leagues that roster 18 or more players.
Watson had a forgettable start, dropping a perfectly placed throw that what would have been an easy 75-yard TD.
But don’t miss that he ran a great route to get open on the play, and mistakes are just part of the deal for rookies. Further, he played on 66% of snaps, 2nd most among Packers receivers.
He saw only 4 targets and caught 2 of them, so no one will be rushing to pick him up if he’s on your wire. However, if he had caught that long TD, he would have been one of the touted pickups of the week.
He has some risk because QB Aaron Rodgers often likes to make rookies earn their opportunities, but Rodgers may not have much of a choice this season. He is worth a speculative add if available.
Phillips is a player we heard consistent positive reports about throughout the offseason.
Sometimes those reports turn out to be nothing, but in this case he showed what the buzz was about. Phillips simply earns targets. On only 31 snaps (48%), he got 9 targets, leading the team. He caught 6 for 66 yards, and Tannehill consistently looked for him on important plays.
Phillips could be a very useful option in deep PPR leagues, and even in shallower leagues he’s likely to be snapped up soon.
Duvernay has been generally panned by the fantasy community as the receiver most likely to be replaced in a starting lineup, as many have called for the Ravens to sign a free agent like Odell Beckham or Will Fuller.
But for now, Duvernay remains the #2 WR for the Ravens, and that was evident in Week 1. He played on 52% of snaps, 2nd among receivers (Rashod Bateman played on 66%) and ran a route on 18 of 30 passing snaps. He caught all 4 of his targets and scored twice.
Because of the TDs, he might well be one of the top waiver adds of the week, which will make him tougher to acquire unless you are willing to spend some of your FAAB on him. Still, the underlying data says he could be useful this season, so it might be a worthwhile spend.
Jennings played on 60% of snaps, any time the 49ers wanted 3 receivers on the field. He seems to have a nice rapport with Trey Lance, and was also doing a nice job earning targets last season with Jimmy Garoppolo under center.
As Trey Lance gets more comfortable, and does not face terrible conditions like he did Sunday, Jennings could be a great add for those in need of help at receiver. He is probably not going to be featured in the pass game with superior players on the roster, but will certainly have favorable matchups and should continue earning targets.
He is a great addition to the end of your roster, and would see additional targets with an injury to Samuel or Aiyuk.
It looks like Thomas bounced back quickly from his knee surgery, starting Week 1 and playing on 62% of snaps.
He’s a big, athletic TE who understands defenses and how to run routes as a former QB. He caught 3 of 6 targets for 45 yards in Week 1, and is a great option to add off your wire if he’s available and you need a TE.
At times it was a bit difficult to know whether Tyler Conklin or C.J. Uzomah was the better Jets TE to roster, particularly when the Jets signed both to similar contracts this offseason. It did become clear as the offseason moved along that the Jets liked Conklin as their receiving tight end, and we saw complete dominance in this battle in Week 1.
Conklin played on 77 of 84 offensive snaps (92%) and ran a route on almost every passing play (he only stayed in to block 5 times). Meanwhile, Uzomah only got on the field for 27% of snaps and did not receive a target.
Conklin has a lot of competition for targets, including 3 solid receivers and 2 solid backs. So don’t look for him to be a top TE. At the same time, the Jets will trail often this season and will throw a lot of passes as a result, and Conklin has the potential to be a pleasant surprise in deep and tight end-premium leagues.
Many, myself included, fell for some of the offseason hype surrounding Adam Trautman. He apparently looked great in camp, and of course he still might come into a big role at some point.
But it was Johnson who led the way at TE for the Saints in Week 1, and it wasn’t close. He played on 74% of snaps, while Trautman was down at 41%. More importantly, of the 34 passing snaps Johnson was in the game for, he ran a route on 32 of them. He received 5 targets, good enough for a 15% target share, and was targeted at least once in the end zone.
Since he didn’t score or go off for big numbers, he will probably be available for cheap this week. But he is a very nice addition if you’re hurting at TE.
Granson is an athletic player who could be a very successful “move” TE for the Colts if things fall right.
After 1 week, it looks like that could happen sooner than later. Granson played 1 more snap than Mo Alie-Cox, but it was the route participation that stuck out. Granson played on 31 passing downs and ran routes on 29 of them, only staying in to block twice. Mo Alie-Cox played on 27 passing downs and stayed in to block on 8 of them.
Alie-Cox is the size of an offensive lineman and likely a better blocker, so it makes sense. Both will likely be involved in the passing game at different times, but Granson has the potential to become a favorite of Matt Ryan, soaking up the short and intermediate targets. In Week 1, he received 7 targets (a 14% target share), catching 3 for 22 yards.
Most will not have him on their radar since he didn’t put up a ton of points, but he is a perfect player to stash if your team needs TE help.
Dissly is not as athletic as Noah Fant, and he will never be a huge force on offense.But if you are desperate for a TE and miss on the guys above in a very deep league, Dissly will occasionally have a nice game like he did on Monday night.
The Seahawks love heavy packages, so both Dissly and Fant will be in the game a lot. On Monday night he played on 67% of snaps (Fant was at 56%). If it wasn’t for the 38-yard score, he had 2 catches for 5 yards, so no this is not a high-priority add. But again, if you’re desperate, at least he will be on the field.
Kevin Scott is a fantasy pro who has been playing in high-stakes redraft and dynasty leagues for over 15 years. He has won over $100,000 playing fantasy football. He has written for Sports Illustrated, 4for4, Fansided, FFToday, and Chiefs Wire. You can follow him on Twitter @kevinscottff, or check out his podcast called Grinding the Data.