Note: The initial Waiver Wire article writeup will be posted every Monday night, followed by in-depth updates Tuesday, and continued additions Wednesday.
Here are this week’s top Waiver Wire players who are owned in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues. Our favorite players are broken down in Top Targets and the best secondary options are in our Going Deeper sections. We’ll also list any players at the top of each position who are above the 50% threshold — or are household names — and are still widely available for those who might be in smaller leagues.
Be sure to check out our weekly Waiver Wire podcast and our Waiver Wire Livestream for more analysis. We’ll also have Streaming articles every Tuesday that focus on the top quarterbacks, tight ends, and defenses for the upcoming week(s).
Gardner Minshew (Jax, 25%) — Minshew delivered a near-flawless performance in the season opener in leading the Jaguars to a stunning upset over the preseason AFC South favorites. The second-year pro completed 19/20 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns and he added 19 rushing yards against the Colts. The Jock Strap King completed passes to 10 different players in the season opener. He’s certainly a viable QB2 going forward, especially since he’ll face a favorable schedule over the next four weeks (@Ten, Mia, @Cin, @Hou).
Ryan Tannehill (Ten, 45%) — We hope you’re not digging too far into the QB waiver wire after just one week, but Tannehill could be a viable option. He attempted 43 passes against the Broncos in Week 1, which was more than he attempted in any game last season (postseason included). He turned those 43 attempts into 29 completions for 249 yards (5.8 YPA) and two touchdowns and he added 3/14 rushing in their comeback victory. The Titans could skew a little more toward the pass than they did last season since they have a more complete receiving corps if Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith continue to be viable secondary options behind A.J. Brown, who is out Week 2 and could also miss more time. Tannehill has a pair of juicy matchups for the next two weeks (Jax, @Min) before his schedule turns more difficult in Weeks 4-5 (Pit, Buf), but he’s definitely better off with Brown.
Philip Rivers (Ind, 27%) — Rivers did what he does best in Week 1 by losing yet another one-score game, thanks in large part to two interceptions. The Colts couldn’t get anything going on the ground against a putrid Jaguars defense as Rivers completed 36/46 passes for 363 yards and one touchdown to go along with his two INTs. The Colts could be forced to the air a little more going forward with Marlon Mack (Achilles) going down for the season, and at least young WR Parris Campbell had a promising showing to start his second season. Rivers has some juicy matchups coming up (Min, NYJ, @Chi, @Cle), and he could be a solid streaming option this week going against a Vikings defense that allowed 364/4 passing to Aaron Rodgers in Week 1.
Kirk Cousins (Min, 34%) — Cousins could be forced to throw it a little more than anticipated this season after a young Vikings secondary got roasted by Aaron Rodgers in Week 1. Cousins completed 19/25 passes for 259 yards, two TDs, and one INT in a lopsided loss to Green Bay in the season opener. If Cousins is going to be throwing it a little more than his 29.6 attempts per game from last season, he’s going to need one of his young receivers to step up alongside stud Adam Thielen. Cousins will remain a low-end QB2 against a solid upcoming schedule (@Ind, Ten, @Hou, @Sea).
Mitchell Trubisky (Chi, 3%) — Trubisky did his part to put the Bears in a 17-point hole heading into the fourth quarter against the Lions, but he turned it on late to help Chicago pull out a late victory in the season opener. He completed 20/36 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns and he added 26 rushing yards for 24.28 FPG. Trubisky is tough to trust, especially since HC Matt Nagy could pull him at any point for Nick Foles, but he’s got some appeal on the low end with some intriguing matchups coming up (NYG, @Atl, Ind, TB). This week’s matchup against the Giants is a good one, since they have a young secondary and played a ton of man-to-man last week, and Trubisky is way better off against man vs. zone. UPDATED: 9/16
Tyrod Taylor (LAC, 8%) — Taylor posted a dud in his first start with the Chargers, managing just 9.02 FP against a lowly Bengals defense. He completed 16/30 passes for 208 yards with a touchdown or an interception and, most disappointingly, he added just seven rushing yards on six carries. Taylor has some intriguing fantasy matchups the next two weeks (KC, Car) before his schedule gets a little tougher (@TB, @NO), but he’s not the easiest guy to trust as a floor QB2 after his shaky season-opening performance.
Teddy Bridgewater (Car, 18%) — Bridgewater is going to be slinging the rock plenty this season with the Panthers projected to be one of the league’s worst teams. He posted a solid 19.4 FP in his first game with the Panthers as Carolina played catch up for most of the second half against the Raiders in Week 1. He completed 22/34 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown, and he even added 26 rushing yards after running for 28 yards all of last season with the Saints — he started five games. Bridgewater has some difficult matchups the next two weeks (@TB, @LAC) before his schedule lightens up in Weeks 4-5 (Ari, @Atl)
Derek Carr (LV, 18%) — Carr has an improved cast around him, and he was busy getting all of his receivers involved in Week 1, with his 22 completions going to nine different receivers. Unfortunately, it amounted to just 239 yards and one touchdown pass in a game in which the Raiders hung 34 points on the Panthers. The Raiders have some tough matchups coming up in the upcoming weeks (vs. NO, @NE, vs. Buf, @KC) so Carr won’t be a great option even in two-QB leagues.
Drew Lock (Den, 18%) — Lock is in a tough spot in the early part of the season with both Courtland Sutton (shoulder) and K.J. Hamler (hamstring) currently out of the lineup. The Broncos mustered just 14 points in the season opener against the Titans as Lock completed 22/33 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown. Lock is a player to monitor for now unless you’re playing in a two-QB format. He has a couple tough spots in the next four weeks (@Pit, TB, @NYJ, @NE), but it wouldn’t be surprising if he hits his stride in the middle of October once his schedule eases up and once his receivers get healthier. Our Greg Cosell reviewed his Week 1 film and came away impressed, stating: “Lock played with poise and composure both in and out of the pocket, He was consistently accurate.” On the downside, Cosell said Lock still needs to work on his lower body mechanics with a tendency to open his hips and step in the bucket, and at times drift off the mid-line to his left. UPDATED: 9/16
Nyheim Hines (Ind, 27%) — The Colts’ three-man backfield turned into a two-man backfield for the rest of the season after Indy lost Marlon Mack for the year to a torn Achilles. Hines scored the Colts’ first two touchdowns of the season in Week 1 as he finished with 7/28/1 rushing and 8/45/1 receiving while playing 52.7% of the snaps against the Jaguars. He actually saw four red-zone carries and two RZ targets in the season opener Rookie Jonathan Taylor figures to handle the majority of the early-down work going forward with Hines mixing in as a change-of-pace option and in passing situations. Hines should be added in every format but especially in PPR formats since Philip Rivers was once again busy targeting his backs in the passing game — Colts RBs saw a 36.9% target share in Week 1. The Colts backfield has the potential to be among the league’s best fantasy RB units so there’s going to be plenty of production to go around to Taylor and Hines now that it is a two-man backfield.
Malcolm Brown (LAR, 28%) — HC Sean McVay stuck to his word by using all three of his backs in the season opener. Brown, in his sixth season, was the clear best option in the season opener against the Cowboys. McVay rode the hot hand by giving Browns 60% of the snaps, which he turned into 18/79/2 rushing and 3/31 receiving on four targets. Akers got the start but he failed to make an impression in his first professional action, finishing with 14/39 rushing while catching his only target for four yards on a 33% snap share. Darrell Henderson is currently a distant third option after playing just 7% of the snaps after a layoff from a hamstring injury. McVay is going to keep giving Akers a chance to emerge in this backfield, but he’s going to have to play significantly better if he wants to get more work in the future. McVay is going to go with the hot-hand approach unless one of these backs clearly distinguishes themselves above the pack. Brown could be the cream that rises to the top if he has another strong performance or two.
Adrian Peterson (Det, 47%) — The Lions snatched up Peterson right before the start of the season, and he immediately came in dominated touches in this backfield playing with his Vikings OC Darrell Bevell. The 35-year-old RB finished with 14/93 rushing and 3/21 receiving against the Bears while D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson combined for 13 touches and only 37 yards. Swift did lead the backfield in snap share (44%) but both AD (31%) and Johnson (26%) saw enough snaps to make this a gross three-man backfield.Swift did score a touchdown but he also dropped the game-winning score in the final second of the game. Peterson’s role may never be bigger than it was in Week 1 since the Lions should get Swift on the field more going forward so don’t expect more 100-yard performance to be coming down the road.
Benny Snell (Pit, 18%) — It didn’t take long for James Conner’s durability concerns to rear their ugly head in Pittsburgh’s season opener against the Giants. Conner left with a minor ankle injury in the second quarter and the Steelers decided to play it safe with the fourth-year back after he managed just 6/9 rushing before his injury. Snell stepped into Conner’s early-down role and he immediately had success by ripping off 113 rushing yards on 19 carries (5.9 YPC). It’s important to note that Snell is limited in the passing game and he didn’t take over in a bell-cow role as Jaylen Samuels saw 31% of the snaps as the passing back. The Steelers also lost the right side of their offensive line in Week 1 with RT Zach Banner (ACL) and backup RG Stephen Wisniewski (torn pec) each going down for the year. Snell is a second-year back who showed up to camp noticeably thinner and more explosive and it translated to the field in the season opener.
We wrote in the Market Report in late August that Snell could handle early-down work this season with Conner sliding more into a change-of-pace/passing back role this season if Snell continued to impress and if the Steelers had injury concerns with Conner. It didn’t take long for that to potentially become a reality. Conner’s injury is minor enough that he is ready to play this week, but his bell-cow role may no longer be waiting for him. Mike Tomlin has much preferred using a bell-cow back in the past, but current circumstances could be calling for a committee approach. Snell was/is a must-add for any Conner owners and he’s worth an add in every format in case Week 1 was the start of Snell’s ascension to the top of the Steelers’ depth chart.
Connor, though, is set to play Week 2 so Snell isn’t a lock to produce in a committee. UPDATED: 9/18
Jerick McKinnon (SF, 11%) — McKinnon took the field in Week 1 for the first time since 2017, and it looked like he still had plenty of life left in his legs after missing the last two years to knee injuries. McKinnon posted 3/20/1 receiving on five targets and he added 3/24 rushing playing in a two-man rotation with Tevin Coleman behind starter Raheem Mostert. Mostert owned the backfield with a 60% snap share compared to a 31% share for McKinnon and a 10% share for Coleman. We could easily see McKinnon getting more thrown onto his plate as he proves that he can still play at a high level so it makes sense to stash him if you’re looking for an upside option off the waiver wire.
Joshua Kelley (LAC, 12%) — We pushed Kelley up our summer rankings when we learned that the rookie had a real chance of playing ahead of Justin Jackson as the team’s top power back behind Austin Ekeler. Kelley didn’t disappoint in his professional debut as he posted 12/60/1 rushing on 24.3% of the snaps while Jackson had just 2/4 rushing on 14.9% of the snaps. He also served as the team’s goal-line back in the second half against the Bengals, scoring on a five-yard run while getting both of the team’s goal-line carries. As long as he can hold off Jackson, Kelley has some standalone value — especially in non-PPR formats — since he has the potential for 10-12 carries with goal-line work next to Ekeler. Kelley’s needle is pointing up for the rest of the season but beware about using him in Week 2 since the Chargers are likely to play in a negative game script against the Chiefs.
Myles Gaskin (Mia, 0%) — The Dolphins turned their two-man backfield with Jordan Howard and Matt Breida into a three-man committee with Myles Gaskin shockingly playing ahead of both Howard and Breida in the season opener. Gaskin was the most effective out of the three backs against the Patriots, posting 9/40 rushing and 4/26 receiving while seeing 25 more snaps than Breida and 30 more snaps than Howard (39 to 14 to 9). Breida finished with 5/22 rushing and Howard was ineffective with 8/7 rushing, but he did find the end zone. Gaskin appears to be the top back in Miami, which is a bit stunning since they gave Howard $4.75 million guaranteed and they traded for Breida. Gaskin also couldn’t beat out Patrick Laird for significant snaps at the end of last season, either. Gaskin improved over the off-season and he definitely generated buzz, and he did nothing to lose the job in Week 1. UPDATED: 9/16
Darrel Williams (KC, 26%) — Williams surprisingly played as the team’s third-down back in the season opener after speculation had him potentially splitting up the early-down work with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Williams mustered 2/7 receiving and 7/23 rushing against the Texans while playing 33% of the snaps behind CEH. HC Andy Reid must’ve felt better about Williams in pass protection for the season opener, but it’s a role we could see CEH taking over in relatively short order as Reid grows more confident in his rookie after an impressive professional debut. Williams could still have some fantasy moments as a secondary option in one of the league’s best offenses, but CEH’s first performance could move Williams into more of a handcuff role in the near future.
Chris Thompson (Jax, 42%) — The Jaguars figure to play in many negative game scripts this season as one of the league’s worst teams, but a negative game script didn’t materialize in the season opener with Jacksonville pulling off the biggest upset in Week 1. Thompson caught both of his targets for just six yards with the Jaguars riding UDFA RB James Robinson on the ground (16/62 rushing). Thompson figures to be more involved going forward, and he might be worth an add in deeper PPR formats if he’s dropped after Week 1.
Peyton Barber (Was, 3%) — The Football Team isn’t quite ready to hand the keys to this backfield to the likes of Antonio Gibson and Bryce Love, the latter of which was a healthy scratch in Week 1. Barber operated as the preferred early-down back and he grabbed both goal-line touchdowns against the Eagles in the season opener. Barber finished with 17/29/2 rushing and he owned an ugly 1.7 YPC average. Washington can do better than giving Barber 17 carries for fewer than 30 yards so we’d let someone else go out and grab Barber this week off his two-touchdown performance. It’s only a matter of time before Gibson and/or Love start taking playing time away from Barber.
Frank Gore (NYJ, 4%) — Le’Veon Bell dealt with hamstring tightness during training camp and it didn’t take long for the issue to come back in the regular season. Bell left Week 1 in the third quarter with a hamstring injury, which elevated Gore to the top spot with Josh Adams behind him — Gore managed just 6/24 rushing. Bell is on IR and is out three weeks. We’re not looking to grab Gore in a matchup with one of the league’s best run defenses in the 49ers unless desperate, however. But he is the starter while Bell is out, per Adam Gase. UPDATED: 9/16
Lamical Perine (NYJ, 4%) — The rookie hasn’t practiced since Aug. 30, but he’s certainly more appealing if he can get back to practice this week with Bell out three week. He’s still considered the next man up, if healthy, and he does have a three-down skill set and sneaky bell-cow potential. He has done some work leading up to Week 2, so he’s close to returning to the mix. UPDATED: 9/18
Duke Johnson (Hou, 40%) — Duke left Week 1 in the third quarter with an ankle injury and he never returned, but he is a good bet to play Week2. Johnson posted 5/14 rushing and he failed to catch his only target while playing 24% of the snaps in a blowout loss to the Chiefs. David Johnson actually showed some explosiveness in the season opener that we’ve seen in just short spurts since his breakout 2016 campaign. Duke still figures to be the preferred passing back if he’s healthy, but David Johnson could steal a few third-down snaps if he continues to look spry. Dookie lost some of his standalone appeal with David Johnson impressing in Week 1, but we’ll see if he can maintain it over a couple of weeks.
Royce Freeman (Den, 2%) — If desperate, he will be worked in behind Melvin Gordon as long as Phillip Lindsay is out (and he’s out Week 2), and Freeman is a good receiver, so he can play all three downs. He should get 8-10 touches while Lindsay is out. UPDATED: 9/16
Best Handcuff Stashes
Alexander Mattison (Min, 45%) — Mattison would take over the majority of work in the Vikings backfield with Mike Boone also mixing. Dalvin Cook missed two games to a shoulder injury last season after dealing with multiple hamstring injuries in 2018.
Chase Edmonds (Ari, 41%) — Edmonds is the top backup to Kenyan Drake, who has yet to put together a complete 16-game season as a true lead back. Edmonds exploded for 150 scrimmage yards and three TDs in the only start of his career against the Giants last season.
Tony Pollard (Dal, 36%) — Pollard ran for 455 yards on just 86 carries (5.3 YPC) as Ezekiel Elliott’s primary backup last season, and there’s a chance he could have more standalone value if he’s given a bigger role as a sophomore. Pollard would immediately be an RB1 if he’s thrust into a bell-cow role at any point this season.
Carlos Hyde (Sea, 19%) — Hyde is the guy to own for early-down work if Chris Carson misses time while Rashaad Penny continues to recover from his major knee injury. Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas would duke it out for passing-game work next to Hyde if Carson missed time.
Giovani Bernard (Cin, 5%) — If Joe Mixon goes down, Gio is one of the best handcuffs in all of fantasy football. Across Bernard's last four games without Mixon on the field, he averages 80% of the team's snaps, 13.0 carries, 5.3 targets, and 19.4 FPG. Those are hammer RB1 numbers.
Darrynton Evans (Ten, 4%) — The rookie Evans is the next man up behind King Henry, and he’ll work as a change-of-pace option as the lightning to Henry’s thunder this season.
Mike Davis (Car, 1%) — Davis landed in the doghouse under former HC Ron Rivera’s coaching staff, but Davis has reemerged as the #2 option after the Panthers released Reggie Bonnafon. Davis may not take over all of Christian McCaffrey’s workload if the top overall fantasy pick missed time, but he would at least lead this backfield in work.
Devontae Booker (LV, 0%) — The Raiders have built a large part of their offense around stud RB Josh Jacobs, and they also use Jalen Richard as a hurry-up and change-of-pace back, but for now, it will likely be Booker who steps in as the handcuff to Jacobs if Jacobs were to miss time. UPDATED: 9/18
Parris Campbell (Ind, 22%) — Campbell had an injury-plagued start to his pro career last season, but the second-year pro showed a strong connection in his first game with new QB Philip Rivers. Campbell finished with a team-high 71 receiving yards on six catches against the Jaguars, and he tied T.Y. Hilton for the most targets in Week 1 with nine. The Colts could go a little more pass-heavy than initially anticipated after the team lost Marlon Mack for the season to a torn Achilles. Campbell also worked exclusively out of the slot with 94.9% of his routes coming inside, which was where Keenan Allen made his hay with Rivers in Los Angeles. Campbell is an upside addition off the waiver wire as a WR3/4 option, and he could keep the momentum going next week against a Vikings defense that got torched by Aaron Rodgers for 364/4 passing.
Jalen Reagor (Phi, 39%) — Reagor surprised most by being able to play in Week 1 after suffering a slight tear in his labrum in the final days of August. He showed his first-round ability by tracking down a deep ball for a 55-yard gain against the Football Team in the season opener, but he failed to catch any of his other four targets in his professional debut. Reagor figures to be more involved going forward after losing practice time leading up to the season opener. Carson Wentz is likely going to need him since DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc) can’t be relied on to stay healthy for long. The Eagles O-line also figures to improve, which will give Wentz more time to attack downfield with Reagor. We’re bumping him up high on this list for his upside. In fact, Wentz missed him on a potential 50+ yard TD in Week 1. UPDATED: 9/18
Robby Anderson (Car, 31%) — Anderson started his Panthers’ career in impressive fashion by posting 25.5 FP against the Raiders. Anderson hung a snowman on Las Vegas with a 75-yard catch-and-run TD and a two-point reception after the score on his way to posting 6/115/1 receiving on eight targets. New QB Teddy Bridgewater was busy spreading the ball around to his top three WRs by targeting Anderson, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel one 27 of his 34 passes. Anderson is likely to remain a volatile WR3/4 option but there’s a chance he could be consistent in Carolina moving from Sam Darnold to Bridgewater.
Preston Williams (Mia, 38%) — DeVante Parker aggravated his hamstring injury and he left early in Week 1, elevating Williams to the #1 WR spot in this passing attack. Williams finished with a team-high seven targets against the Patriots (23.3% target share), but he could only muster 2/41 receiving as he contended with last year’s Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore. Williams gets another brutal matchup against Tre’Davious White and the Bills secondary in Week 2, but the second-year WR has been quite active when he’s been healthy and playing with Ryan Fitzpatrick in his first nine professional games.
Russell Gage (Atl, 1%) — Gage may have a bigger role in this passing attack than initially anticipated as he tied with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley for the team lead in target share in Week 1 with 22.2%. Gage joined Julio and Calvin with 12 targets and 100+ yards receiving against the Seahawks, and it’s important to note that he led the team in targets (7) and receptions (5) in the first half before Atlanta piled on the garbage-time production late. The Falcons vacated plenty of production from Austin Hooper and Mohamed Sanu from last season so Gage has some staying power especially while Hayden Hurst gets on the same page with his new QB early in the season. Just don’t get used to the Falcons throwing 54 times per game, but they did average a league-high 43.8 passes per game last season.
Laviska Shenault (Jax, 12%) — Shenault had a promising professional debut, which started when the Jaguars made Dede Westbrook a healthy scratch. Shenault started alongside D.J. Chark and Keelan Cole, and the rookie finished with 3/37/1 receiving on four targets. He even received two carries for 10 yards with the Jaguars featuring Shenault as the Wildcat QB. The Jaguars are going with a youth movement by playing Shenault and RB James Robinson plenty in the season opener, and second-round WR is a worthwhile add since his role could continue to grow.
Brandon Aiyuk (SF, 35%) — Aiyuk couldn’t get healthy enough to play in the season opener after suffering a hamstring injury at the end of training camp. He did get a couple of limited practices on Thursday and Friday before Week 1, which is a good sign he should be ready to play soon and he is now expected to go in Week 2. He has some juicy matchups coming up against the Jets, Giants, and Eagles and Deebo Samuel (foot) will miss at least through Week 3. Kendrick Bourne led the 49ers WRs in receiving with just 2/34 in Week 1 so Jimmy Garoppolo could use the extra help from Aiyuk. UPDATED: 9/18
Scotty Miller (TB, 5%) — Miller drew praise from QB Tom Brady and HC Bruce Arians during training camp, and he didn’t disappoint in his first game with the G.O.A.T. in Week 1. Miller finished second in targets (6) on his way to posting 5/73 receiving against the Saints with Mike Evans struggling through his hamstring injury. Miller could be a bit inconsistent playing with some studs in this passing attack, but we’ve seen Brady latch onto receivers he’s trusted in the past so Miller is worth a look in deeper PPR formats. Also, Chris Godwin is dealing with a concussion and was doubtful through Friday, so Miller’s role may be increasing. UPDATED: 9/18
Corey Davis (Ten, 5%) — Is Davis ready to pull a DeVante Parker as a first-round pick who breaks out in his fifth season? Davis tied with A.J. Brown for the team-lead in targets (8) in Week 1, and the former #5 overall pick easily paced this passing attack with 7/101 receiving against the Broncos. Davis also did it after getting some limited practice in before the game with a hamstring injury. We’ve seen Davis pop for some big games in the past so we’re going to need to see him play well for another game or two before we get too excited. Still, Davis is in search of a big second contract and he’s certainly talented enough to remain a close #2 option behind Brown. It doesn’t hurt that Davis also gets a pair of juicy matchups against the Jaguars and the Vikings the next two weeks. He is dealing with a hamstring injury this week, but he will go. Meantime, Brown is OUT Week 2. Davis has a solid matchup this week against the Jags. UPDATED: 9/18
Breshad Perriman (NYJ, 18%) — Perriman predictably did little in his first game with the Jets in a brutal matchup against the Bills and Tre’Davious White. Perriman managed just 3/17 receiving on five targets with Sam Darnold averaging just 6.1 YPA in Week 1. Perriman gets another tough matchup against the 49ers next week so he’s not a must-own player, but his schedule will lighten up starting in Week 3 against the Colts. Just keep in mind, his knee issue was fluky, he banged it with a teammate, and he’s been fantastic in practice all year. Jamison Crowder is also OUT this week, which should mean a larger role for Perriman. On the downside, Darnold missed him on a potential big play in Week 1, and while it’s early, it looks like Darnold is part of the problem with the Jets. UPDATED: 9/18
N’Keal Harry (NE, 32%) — The Patriots threw it only 19 times in Cam Newton’s first game with the Patriots, and Harry saw a promising 31.6% target share. The second-year WR turned his six targets into 5/39 receiving against the Dolphins, which included a lost fumble near the goal line. Harry had an inconsistent second training camp, which carried over to the season opener, but he’s clearly going to get chances for targets in a shallow receiving corps.
Allen Lazard (GB, 43%) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (GB, 6%) — Davante Adams is the clear top option in this passing attack after seeing an absurd 38.7% target share in the season opener, but third-year WRs Lazard and Valdes-Scantling look locked in as the top secondary option. MVS turned six targets into 4/96/1 receiving and Lazard caught all four of his targets for 4/63/1 receiving in Week 1 against the Vikings. Lazard is the safer option while MVS will be the boom-or-bust option between these two WRs. They have a chance to keep the momentum going in Week 2 against a shaky Lions secondary.
Curtis Samuel (Car, 30%) — Samuel managed just 9.3 FPG in his first game with Teddy Bridgewater, but he saw a promising 23.5% target share with eight targets against the Raiders in Week 1. He also saw a carry playing in Joe Brady’s offense for the first time so it appears that he’s in the Panthers’ weekly plans early in the season.
Darnell Mooney (Chi, 0%) — We’ve been telling readers about this kid all summer, and our Adam Caplan reported in his Insider column Sunday that he would play a lot, and he did, seeing 32% of the snaps with 14.3% target share. He caught all 3 of his targets for 38. The team is very high on him and have been blown away with his speed and how quickly he’s picking things up. His upside is capped, but he will certainly be making some big plays here.
Miles Boykin (Bal, 5%) — The Ravens pasted 38 points on the Browns in Week 1 and their offense mustered only 107 rushing yards. Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson threw for 275 yards on just 25 attempts (11.0 YPA), 37 of which went to Boykin on three receptions on four targets. Willie Snead did more with his four targets (4/64/1 receiving), but the second-year WR Boykin is the player to monitor if this Ravens’ offense leans a little more on the pass this season.
Quintez Cephus (Det, 0%) — Cephus, a fifth-round pick out of Wisconsin, led the Lions with a 23.8% target share in his professional debut with Kenny Golladay (hamstring) out of the lineup. Unfortunately, Cephus turned his 10 targets into just 3/43 receiving against the Bears. Cephus is a player to watch since he could eventually push Danny Amendola for his slot role, and Matthew Stafford certainly wasn’t shy about targeting him in his pro debut.
Logan Thomas (Was, 1%) — Thomas received rave reviews from Washington’s training camp, and he carried it over to the regular season with 4/37/1 receiving on a team-high eight targets (25.8% target share). It’s tough to get too excited about any of the receiving options behind Terry McLaurin in this limited passing offense, but Dwayne Haskins could be developing a connection with Thomas and the second-year QB could certainly use a viable #2 receiver. The Football Team will be in more negative game scripts going forward, and he gets a great matchup in Week 2 against a Cardinals defense that struggled to cover tight ends last season.
Drew Sample (Cin, %) — He’s not the greatest athlete around, but they like him, and more importantly, Joe Burrow clearly likes throwing to the TEs. Burrow threw 15 balls to the TE in Week 2, so with C.J. Uzomah on IR, Sample is a good add if you’re looking for catches. Even though he was the #2 TE for most of the game Week 2, Sample was second on the team with 9 targets in Week 2. UPDATED: 9/18
Jimmy Graham (Chi, 5%) — Our Adam Caplan told us this summer that the Bears felt like they could get more out of Graham this season after the Packers misused him as more of an inline player last season. Graham nearly just missed out on a two-touchdown day in Bears’ debut as he finished with 3/25/1 receiving on seven targets against the Lions. He’ll be competing for the second-most targets in this passing attack most weeks with Anthony Miller — behind Allen Robinson — and he did score 10 TDs with the Seahawks in 2017 before he went to Green Bay in 2018-19.
Jack Doyle (Ind, 27%) — Doyle saw just an 8.7% target share in his first game with Philip Rivers, turning four targets into 3/49 receiving. Doyle isn’t a sexy option but the Colts could be going with a little more passing going forward after losing Marlon Mack (Achilles) for the year in Week 1. Doyle is a floor play if you need a TE the next couple weeks while Trey Burton (calf, IR) is out of the lineup. He did just miss a TD in Week 1, though, and his target numbers could easily rise soon if healthy. He is out Week 2, however.
O.J. Howard (TB, 17%) — Rob Gronkowski had a quiet first game with the Buccaneers (2/11 receiving) while Howard finished second in targets (6) against the Saints in the season opener. The fourth-year TE finished with 4/36/1 receiving as Tom Brady needed Howard to play a bigger role with Mike Evans struggling through his hamstring injury. Gronk actually played on 77% of the snaps in Week 1 while Howard saw 53% as it looks like Gronk is being featured as an inline player while Howard is the move TD. Howard could struggle for consistent targets with ball hogs Chris Godwin and Evans commanding looks in this offense. Howard still put together a strong first showing this season and he could be worth a stash to see if he can build upon his first performance.
Greg Olsen (Sea, 18%) — Olsen had a successful debut with the Seahawks by catching all four of his targets for 24 yards, which included a seven-yard touchdown against the Falcons in Week 1. It’s going to be difficult to ever feel great about Olsen since the Seahawks have been judicious passing the rock in the past, but Russell Wilson at least threw it 35 times compared to just 16 RB carries in the season opener. Olsen will also have to contend with Will Dissly going forward, who figures to get more up to speed as the season goes along, but Olsen still had a promising first game in green and blue.
Jordan Akins (Hou, 1%) — We’ve had our eye on Akins since he started making splash plays daily during Texans’ training camp. He carried those big plays over to the regular season with an impressive 20-yard, run-after-the-catch play in the first half and with his 19-yard touchdown on a seam route in the second half. The problem is that those were the only two times Deshaun Watson targeted. Still, with Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb disappearing in the season opener, it wouldn’t be shocking if Watson gets Akins more involved going forward. Akins did play a promising 81% of the snaps and he ran 32 routes but it did take a perfect game script for him to see significantly more snaps (42%) and routes (10) than Darren Fells. The Texans could be playing from behind the next three weeks (vs. Bal, @Pit, vs. Min) so we could be seeing more of Akins going forward.
Zane Gonzalez (Ari, 63%) - The bad news first. Gonzalez missed on two of his three field goal attempts in Week 1. There is a silver lining here, though. His misses were from 49 and 52 yards while the field goal he made was a 56 yarder. Three extra points in Week 1 added to a big-time leg and you have the makings of a solid fantasy PK option.
Jason Myers (Sea, 39%) - Myers can be a streaky fantasy option. Yet, the Seahawks are starting the season hot and they play their next two games at home. Myers only had one field goal in Week 1, but it was from 42 yards and he added five extra points. This offense will score and when it stalls out, Myers will get more field goal opportunities.
Joey Slye (Car, 17%) - Slye tied PK Michael Badgely for the most field goals made in Week 1 with three total. Two of his three field goals were in the 40-49 yard range. He did miss an extra point attempt but it was offset this time but the field goals made. His next two opponents are division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Chargers on the road.
Nick Folk (NE, 2%) - Folk resided on the Patriots practice squad until Sunday when he was activated and handled the placekicking duties. New England can put points on the board and their PK should be a solid option for your lineup each week. We do have to point out Folk missed a 45-yard field goal attempt in Week 1. With rookie PK Justin Rohrwasser on the practice squad, Folk will have a short leash on mistakes going forward.
None of note.
Buccaneers (TB, 24%) — The Bucs had a better defense last season than it seemed. If Jameis Winston wouldn’t have led the galaxy in INTs, this defense would have been more valuable for fantasy. Last season, this unit still managed to finish in the top 10, with 47 sacks, 12 INTs, and 16 FR. Even with Tom Brady doing his own Winston impression in Week One (2 INTs, including a pick-six), they held Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints offense to 28 points allowed, and that was in New Orleans. Looking ahead, the Bucs will face Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Lock, Tyrod Taylor, and Mitchell Trubisky over the next four weeks. Let the hand-wringing begin.
Washington (Was, 6%) — We knew this D-line was gonna be good, but whoa. Rookie Chase Young manhandled Philly’s veteran OL Jason Peters all game, and that’s one of the six (yes, six) excellent pass-rushers who rotated and ate up one of the better (albeit banged up) offensive lines. And if the Football Team of Washington can put up 8 sacks, 15 QB hits, 2 INTs, and a fumble recovery against this Eagles team, just wait until they get to chew on the Browns, Giants (twice), and Lions in the next couple of months.
Chargers (LAC, 48%) — The Chargers made a few important changes to their stacked but leaky defense last season. Those additions were slot-specialist Chris Harris, Jr., and run-stuffer Linval Joseph. That helps plug a few holes that can allow Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III ample opportunity to eat. The Chargers threw a wet blanket over the Joe Burrow coming out party, holding the Bengals to 13 points and 295 total yards, while laying 3 sacks and an INT on the 1st overall pick. Now here’s the trick: they’ve got the Chiefs this week, but after that, they have some nice matchups. Over the next seven weeks, they’ll see the Panthers, Jets, Dolphins, and Jaguars.