Written by: Alexander Amir
Opening weekend of the NFL season was a doozy. Stars like Alvin Kamara, Tyreek Hill, Michael Thomas, and Drew Brees predictably put up huge numbers, while lesser fantasy commodities like Ryan Fitzpatrick, James Connor, Randall Cobb, and Jared Cook were right there with them.
Most importantly, however, is the abundance of players not on fantasy rosters that had big games. Anyone experienced at fantasy football will tell you that, unlike real football, fantasy is won through free agency, not the draft. As the season goes on there will be an increasingly few number of productive waiver-wire targets, so it’s important that you identify the players now before they get snatched up. Let’s take a look at some available guys that could become a key part of your roster for this week and beyond.
*Each of these players are owned in less than 30% of leagues. Their ownership percentage is noted.
Case Keenum, Denver Broncos (13.1% own)
The former Vikings QB has quietly been a solid fantasy asset, ranking 14th overall last season and scoring 19 points in week 1 against a still-good Seahawks defense. He threw 3 interceptions, which is uncharacteristic for him as he only threw 7 all of last season. Keenum will be playing a Raiders defense in week 2 that just gave up 33 points to the Rams. With Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as his weapons, Keenum is a fine streamer this week.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (4.2% own)
Yes, Flacco has been bad in recent years. He hasn’t finished inside the top 20 since 2014. But he had quite a nice game yesterday, albeit against the Buffalo Bills, in which he looked poised, relaxed, and comfortable with his new receivers. All 6 offensive touchdowns went to a different player, indicating a well rounded offense. Flacco plays the Bengals this week, and while they will be more of a test than the Bills, Andrew Luck had success in week 1 against them.
Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens (13.2% own)
Allen didn’t have many touches this weekend, but that should change this weekend for two reasons. First, Allen is more of a receiving back, and the Ravens had such a big lead on the Bills that there was no need for him. The game against the Bengals will be much more competitive. Second, Kenneth Dixon is injured, which means a bunch more touches will be available. Allen has always been a bit of a sneaky play, as he finished as the 25th running back in 0.5 PPR scoring in 2017. Expect mid-level flex production this week.
Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (11.3% own)
Melvin Gordon will be the undisputed lead back in LA. But since last season Ekeler has had excellent efficiency given his very limited volume. He accumulated 126 yards and a touchdown on 10 total touches against the Chiefs on Sunday and had a whopping 5.5 yards per carry average last season. His ceiling is severely capped, but you have to think that the Chargers will start to give him more responsibility if he keeps up this production. Even so, he will be a very good flex play against the Bills, as the Chargers will probably jump out to an early lead and just run out the game.
Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos (2.4% own)
First it was supposed to be Devontae Booker. Then Royce Freeman was named the starter. But lo and behold, it was Lindsay who was the most productive back. While he and Freeman equally split carries, Lindsay was on the field more in passing situations and, indeed, caught a touchdown. Against a relatively weak Oakland defense, I’d be content starting Lindsay this week.
Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys (12.5% own)
Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup were considered to be the top 2 receivers in Dallas, but Cole Beasley still by far had the most touches. He had 7 receptions and over 70 yards, despite the fact that Dallas’ offense was all but nonexistent. The Giants don’t have a good slot corner, so Beasley is in for a pretty good week in PPR leagues.
Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets (9.5% own)
Robby Anderson was Gang Green’s fantasy darling in 2017, finishing as the 16th best wide receiver in 0.5 PPR scoring. But Sam Darnold seems to have taken a liking to Enunwa, garnering 10 targets against the Lions despite the game being a blowout. This could be explained by Lions star cornerback Darius Slay blanketing Anderson, with Enunwa being the only open receiver. But young QBs like to rely on receivers underneath, and Anderson is more of a deep threat. Enunwa may have made a mark with Darnold.
Phillip Dorsett, New England Patriots (5.0% own)
The Pats only have 3 active receivers on their roster- Julian Edelman is suspended for 4 games, and Matthew Slater is on the PUP list. Dorsett made a mark in a big way against Houston, securing 7 catches for 66 yards and 1 touchdown. Simply do to a lack of receivers, Dorsett is worth a play this week, but temper your expectations since he’s playing Jacksonville.
Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders (28.4% own)
Where in the world did this come from? Cook had a whopping 9 catches for 180 yards against the Rams. His point total from this one week is about ¼ of his total points from last year. LA’s weak link on defense is the linebacking corps, so it was clearly in Oakland’s game plan to exploit that. Even so, while they won’t play the Rams every week, Cook seems to be firmly entrenched in the offensive plans.
Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts (16.8% own)
After 4 failed season in Detroit, Ebron seems to have made a bit of an impression in Indianapolis. Despite the presence of fellow tight end Jack Doyle, Ebron had 5 targets against the Bengals, and his name was called in the end zone. He has a role in the offense given the lack of playmakers on the Colts offense.
Atlanta Falcons (9.1% own)
While they did play against Nick Foles and not Carson Wentz in week 1, their defense generally looked pretty good. They have underrated playmakers scattered across the unit, especially in the front seven. The Panthers have a suspect offensive line that Atlanta can take advantage of this week.
New York Jets (1.0% own)
After a shocking blowout in which the Jets demolished the Lions 48-17, this defense secured 5 interceptions and scored 2 touchdowns. While it may have just been an off-week for Detroit, Miami’s offense is far less talented. The Jets have a good chance to have some repeat success.