Week 1 for the NFL and fantasy football season is in the books, and plenty of fantasy owners are ready to cut bait on some of the players on their team. While history has shown us that there is always a player that excels in Week 1, fantasy owners race to pick him up off the waiver wire, and then he does nothing for the rest of the season, we can’t predict that. Instead, we can look at Week 1, the targets, the receptions, and the fantasy points. These are players that excelled in Week 1 or have an opportunity because of injuries ahead of them on the depth chart.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (26 percent owned)
Fantasy owners weren't high on Stafford on draft day. However, he was a solid QB1 in Week 1. Part of this was that Stafford did get an extra overtime period to acquire more points (he threw the ball 45 times), but the Lions always like to throw the ball. Stafford had a rapport with Danny Amendola and T.J. Hockenson. While every week won't have Stafford throwing for 385 yards and three touchdowns, he is a quarterback that is available in nearly 75 percent of leagues.
Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars (1 percent owned)
Nick Foles went down early in Week 1 with a fractured collarbone. He’s been placed on injured reserve and Minshew will be the quarterback for the Jags for the foreseeable future. The team acquired Josh Dobbs from Pittsburgh to back Minshew up, but the job is the rookie's for now. In relief of Foles, Minshew completed 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown. He only had one interception and looked competent against the Chiefs. For those that lost Foles or are still looking to replace Andrew Luck, Minshew is likely available in your league.
Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins (38 percent owned)
The Redskins had said they were going to keep Peterson inactive for Week 1, giving Derrius Guice an opportunity to show the team what he could do. Peterson also does not contribute on special teams. However, Guice suffered a knee injury (reported to be a meniscus injury) and the expectation is he will miss a few weeks, at minimum. Peterson is now bumped up to the No. 1 running back for the Redskins. Chris Thompson (13 percent owned) is also going to be in the mix, especially on passing downs. However, Peterson is one of the top running back adds this week.
Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28 percent owned)
Before Week 1, the running back situation in Tampa Bay was messy. Peyton Barber is in the picture, as is Dare Ogunbowale. However, Jones was the best running back in Week 1. He had 13 carries for 75 yards and one reception for 18 yards. It's not an amazing performance, and the other backs will still be in the picture, but for fantasy owners who may have just lost their running back to injury, Jones may be a decent fill-in.
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (14 percent owned)
Bernard should be owned as Joe Mixon's handcuff. Mixon went down in Week 1 with an ankle injury, and while the team is reporting that it's not serious, he will likely be questionable heading into Week 2. Odds are that he doesn't miss more than one week (if he even misses that) but if he is out for Week 2, Bernard would be a solid RB2. Mixon owners should try to grab him if he's still available.
Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams (13 percent owned)
The concern with Todd Gurley was that he would not be playing a full complement of snaps. Week 1 proved that with Gurley only seeing 15 snaps. Brown had 11. With those 11 carries, he had 53 yards and two touchdowns. It seems like the Rams are going to try to conserve Gurley as best as they can. In doing so, they will use Brown as much as possible. He's more than a Gurley handcuff; he's an RB3 on his own.
Raheem Mostert (1 percent owned)
Mostert now becomes relevant again as Tevin Coleman was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. Matt Breida will take over, but he isn't going to be an every-down back. Mostert will fill in and is a solid RB3 option for fantasy owners. In Week 1, he had nine carries for 40 yards. He should see more work in the coming weeks with Coleman out.
John Brown, Buffalo Bills (50 percent owned)
Brown was impressive in training camp and had plenty of buzz surrounding him. The question was how that would translate to the regular season. Well, in Week 1, he had 10 targets. He caught seven of those for 123 yards and a touchdown. Clearly, the Bills are going to look to use him as often as possible. He’s available in half of Yahoo! leagues and should be owned in nearly all of them.
Jamison Crowder, New York Jets (46 percent)
Crowder saw 17 targets in Week 1 – the most of any player this week. He caught 14 of those for 99 yards. In PPR formats, he’s a solid WR3. In non-PPR leagues, he's a WR4. The Jets are going to use him for short passes to move the ball downfield. He'll have games where he gives fantasy owners double-digit points just on receptions, and he'll also have games where he barely shows up in the box score.
John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals (11 percent owned)
With A.J. Green out, Ross succeeds. Green is still expected to miss at least one more game, so Ross is a WR4 for Week 2 with upside. In Week 1, he had seven receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns. He saw 12 targets, which was one more than Tyler Boyd. Boyd has struggled with being the No. 1 receiver, which has given Ross a chance to step up. The Bengals host San Francisco in Week 2 and Ross will be on the fantasy radar.
Rookie Wide Receivers
Week 1 was a solid day for many of the rookie wide receivers in the league. DK Metcalf (38 percent owned) had four receptions for 89 yards. He's a WR4 moving forward. The Seahawks haven't quite figured out how they are using their wide receivers just yet. Marquise Brown (32 percent owned) was a star for the Baltimore Ravens. He had four receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns. He's going to be a deep threat for Lamar Jackson, which makes him a bit of a boom-or-bust option, but certainly one worth looking at. Mecole Hardman (15 percent owned) will likely have a bit more of a role with Tyreek Hill sidelined for the foreseeable future, even though he didn’t make an impact in Week 1. Terry McLaurin (5 percent owned) had five catches in his debut with the Washington Redskins. He had 125 yards and a touchdown. The Redskins are going to continue to use him, and he should be grabbed in most formats. A.J. Brown (3 percent owned) only had three receptions for the Tennessee Titans, but they went for 100 yards. The targets need to improve before Brown is truly fantasy relevant, but he should be someone to keep an eye on.
Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins
Davis has been the handcuff (if you can consider tight end handcuffs) to Jordan Reed. Reed missed Week 1 due to a concussion. It's not clear if he'll be back for Week 2, but Reed is an injury risk. In his absence, Davis had seven targets. He caught four of them for 59 yards and a touchdown. Reed owners should try to roster Davis if possible.
Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams (1 percent owned)
While Higbee is only a TE2, some teams are desperately looking for a tight end. The Rams do use him; he had five targets in Week 1. He caught four of those for 20 yards, including a touchdown. He's the No. 1 tight end on the Rams depth chart, but isn’t going to have a lot of value week to week.
Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Buffalo Bills (45 percent owned)
The Bills face the New York Giants in Week 2, and this is a matchup to take advantage of. The Bills had four sacks in Week 1 against the New York Jets. While the Jets may not have put up a lot of offensive points, the Giants likely won’t either. Eli Manning is still at the helm, and he's been known to throw an interception or two.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
(Top photo courtesy of redskins.com)