The fantasy football season is finally here, and ideally, you shouldn’t need to get ahold of anyone to bolster your roster at this point. But, maybe you punted a tight end or quarterback, or went zeroRB, or pulled a reverse Matt Millen & plain forgot to draft a wide receiver. Or, maybe you accidentally took Rashaad Penny in the first round and you’re struggling to figure out what to do with your roster this week. No matter the reason, I gotcha. Just like every other week for the last half-decade, I am here to help you separate the wheat from the chaff to find some weekly sleepers.
To qualify for this article, a player must be unrostered in at least 50% of Yahoo! leagues. For you deep leaguers, as always, I have a player available in at least 90% of leagues. Let’s get started on week one!
Mac Jones versus Miami (19% rostered)
The Patriots had themselves an extremely weird first game of the season, throwing the ball 54 times while mustering only 20 points. Strangely enough, their throw fest resulted in only 3 snaps inside the ten and zero snaps inside the five. So, the offense wasn’t set up for rushing touchdowns, which explains why Mac Jones had 3 passing touchdowns, with Jones hitting Hunter Henry for a 9-yard score, and Kendrick Bourne for 11-yard and 19-yard touchdowns. While I don’t expect the Patriots to throw twice as much as they pass this week, I do expect them to need to play catchup as they take on the Miami Dolphins, who put the pedal all the way to the metal against the Chargers last week.
Baker Mayfield versus Chicago (13% rostered)
There’s one thing that’s abundantly clear after one week: the Chicago Bears are still bad. They traded their first overall pick for a bevy of lower picks and D.J. Moore, and it seems like nothing they acquired really makes any difference. The Bears let Jordan Love carve them up last week to the tune of 9.1 yards per pass attempt and three passing touchdowns, all while throwing to Romeo Doubs as his WR1. Baker will have Chris Godwin and Mike Evans to throw to and should build on his 173 passing yards, and two touchdowns in week one production.
C.J. Stroud versus Indianapolis (9% rostered)
It’s rough down below 10% right now. It’s a lot of quarterbacks with question marks, and the ones with answers are that they are flat-out bad so far in their careers (Zach Wilson & Joshua Dobbs). That leaves us with the C.J. Stroud mystery box. The Texans mostly protected Stroud last week against the Ravens, only letting him throw for about 6 air yards per pass attempt while dinking and dunking it to Nico Collins (11 targets) and Robert Woods (10 targets). While he isn’t Trevor Lawrence, Lawrence carved up this Colts defense last week, throwing for 241 passing yards and two touchdowns on just 32 pass attempts.
Zay Jones versus Kansas City (42% rostered)
There were two things that were abundantly clear last Sunday for the Jaguars as they took down the Colts 31-21. First, they are going to score a ton of points. The Calvin Ridley addition took this passing game to the next level, and a rising tide lifts all boats (except for the S.S. Christian Kirk). Second, they’re going go ride Calvin Ridley and Zay Jones as far as they can go. The Jaguars made Christian Kirk an afterthought, relegating him to #3 status, with Ridley dominating him in targets per route run, routes run, yards per route run, and overall production, with Jones notching a 5/55 day with a touchdown. This is because the Jaguars moved Christian Kirk to the slot, with Kirk running 90% of his routes from that alignment, and only two routes out wide.
Rashee Rice at Jacksonville (37% rostered)
Despite all the hullabaloo and hubbub surrounding rookie Puka Nacua and his 15 targets, he actually ranks second in targets per route run (among receivers with double-digit routes). His 44% target per route run rate sits just behind rookie Rashee Rice, whose 5 targets on 11 routes come out to a 45% target per route run rate. Rice, who the Chiefs took in the second round, was the forgotten man by fantasy analysts after the Lions took down the Chiefs last Thursday. They had all decided that various receivers (Kadarius Toney, Justin Watson, Justyn Ross, and Skyy Moore) were the only receivers worth worrying about on the Chiefs, despite KC spending a second-round pick on Rice with all these receivers already on the roster.
Rice played limited snaps but was not seen after the Lions blew up an early second-half trick play designed for Rice. Still, he was extremely productive in his limited sample size. Not only can you go out and get Rice, even if he is rostered, you can still buy low on him prior to taking on a Jags team that let the Colts’ Michael Pittman, who is not the most fleet-of-foot, to take a screen pass 39 yards to the house last week.
Allen Robinson versus Cleveland (7% rostered)
Diontae Johnson is on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Pat Freiermuth is banged up after Talanoa Hufanga tried to go through him via his sternum, and the Steelers’ passing game can’t rely on George Pickens catching highlight reel passes (that are only highlights because he can’t get open). Enter a forgotten old friend and Allen Robinson. Robinson played on 89% of snaps against the Niners and ran a route on 86.5% of Kenny Pickett’s dropbacks. He also led the Steelers in targets last week. On paper, this is a terrible matchup after holding Joe Burrow and the Bengals to double-digit passing yards. But, yesterday had more to do with Burrow missing the preseason and the rainy conditions than the Browns’ staunch passing game.
Zack Moss at Houston (18% rostered)
I don’t like it either, but the Colts gave Deon Jackson 13 carries and six targets last week, and Zack Moss already supplanted him for the de facto RB1 role in Indianapolis without playing a down. The Colts desperately need something from running back, and the 28 yards on 18 touches Jackson gave them won’t cut it. So, the Moss play is really a volume play, and understanding that he is a good bet to get you about ten fantasy points to plug into your lineup.
Tyjae Spears versus L.A. Chargers (15% rostered)
Derrick Henry played 48% of snaps last week, which was the first time since 4 of 2019 (when the Titans were still in their Dion Lewis phase) that he played fewer than 50% of snaps. That means something, after all, they were in a close game, and they had Tyjae Spears (54% of snaps), not The Yeti, on the field. Spears did a lot of blocking and running around, as he finished with only four touches on seven opportunities. The shape of those opportunities was interesting, as he had multiple legitimate downfield targets, not just dump offs to the position. That leads me to believe that his PPR role can only grow from here, as his day is a lot bigger if Ryan Tannehill isn’t out there throwing ducks.
Sean Tucker versus Chicago (4% rostered)
There are two things that are inherently evident after Tampa Bay’s week one victory. First, the Buccaneers aren’t going to be as bad as everybody thought. They took out the Vikings, and Baker Mayfield looked like an NFL quarterback, so the offense might actually be worth a fart. Second, it’s abundantly clear that Rachaad White just isn’t it. He got the starting role by default, beating out such running back luminaries as Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Chase Edmonds (to be honest with you, I could have just made up who was there and you wouldn’t know).
Tucker is the backup to White, but he also was a UDFA who wasn’t just going to be handed the role. White looked terrible in week one, but Tucker didn’t look that much better. That having been said, the Buccaneers have to start ceding snaps and touches to Tucker. This week against Chicago is as good a time as any. After Aaron Jones gashed them last week, it should make for a soft landing for the rookie. This is more of a stash than a pickup and play, but still, someone you want to get onto your roster, just in case you have to beat the waiver wire.
Hunter Henry v MIA (41% rostered)
Hunter Henry might just be the player that I hoped Mike Gesicki would be for the Patriots this season, a target monster who gets enough volume at a nice enough clip to give you consistent TE1 weeks. So far, so good, as even without the touchdown, Hunter Henry’s 5 catches for 56 yards would have been good enough to be TE5 last week, but his touchdown got him to the top of the heap. Yet, despite that type of volume, he still doesn’t have even a 50% roster rate. The Dolphins let the Chargers throw all over them, and this SNF matchup should see a healthy dose of Hunter Henry yet again, mostly because outside of Kendrick Bourne, he was the only competent NFL pass catcher on the field for the Pats last week.
Luke Musgrave at Atlanta (21% rostered)
Now, I’m not a huge proponent of using rookie tight ends this early in their careers, but Musgrave finished last week with 3 catches for 50 yards and was a stumble away from a touchdown on a deep pass from Jordan Love. This week, he gets a porous Atlanta Falcons defense that allowed Hayden Hurst the #2 tight end week last week, as he went for 5 catches and 41 yards on 7 targets. This is a matchup-based play, so don’t fall in love with Musgrave. But, for one week, he can be Mr. Right Now.
Zach Ertz versus N.Y. Giants (8% rostered)
The Arizona Cardinals are bereft of passing options outside of Marquise Brown. They also have a non-starter at quarterback in Joshua Dobbs, who took the easy pass whenever he could last week. That easy pass was, more often than not, Zach Ertz. Ertz leads the position with 10 targets through one game and ranks second with six catches. The downside? Those 6 catches went for 21 yards. Better things are ahead for Zach Ertz as he once again finds his way into The Blob after being left for dead in the offseason.