Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire
Welcome to Week One, dear reader, I am Brennen Gorman and I will be in charge of our weekly Wax (increase in value) & Wane (decrease in value) column. These articles will focus on bubble and bench players that could make an impact this week, even if they might not make an impact every week, and on bubble and bench players that might not make an impact this week.
Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland Browns [ESPN Own: 42% / Start: 17%]: Tyrod Taylor is manning an offense stacked at skilled positions and will be facing a team that allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for over 400 yards and 5 touchdowns (4 passing, 1 rushing). While these are unreasonable expectations that Taylor will repeat Fitzpatrick’s numbers, they can be expectations in Week Two as Cleveland seeks to build on the momentum on the team’s best start since 2004. Expect a high scoring game.
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles [ESPN Own: 12% / Start: 5%]: On the flip side of the New Orleans/Tampa Bay matchup – Nick Foles will be at the helm against a Tampa Bay team that let up 439 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Foles is still without top receiver Alshon Jeffrey, but he still has Nelson Agholor and Zack Ertz to target and Foles should increase his 55% completion rate from Week One, positively regressing his fantasy value. As the year progresses, team-based matchups will become increasingly savory – enjoy either of these quarterbacks in Week Two.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers [ESPN Own: 20% / 1%]: As a forewarning, while Ryan Fitzpatrick put on a clinic in Week One – it was a career game for him and he may be without DeSean Jackson in Week Two (who was responsible for 146 of Fitzpatrick’s yardage. There is no doubt that stashing Fitzpatrick should be a priority for teams, but against a stout Philadelphia defense – there are much safer matchups to play than to chase Week One Fitzpatrick.
Start: Running Backs
Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos [ESPN Own: 97% / ]: Royce Freeman performed well in his debut, with 71 yards on 15 attempts. This week Freeman plays against a depleted Oakland defense and is a touchdown away from an RB2 performance. Freeman did split carries evenly with Phillip Lindsay, but should still work as the team’s top back moving forward. Stash Lindsay this week if he ends up as Denver’s breakout star – but in Week Two, the safer bet is to slot Freeman into the Flex.
Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins [ESPN Own: 90% / Start: 54%]: Despite an otherwise paltry 3.6 yards per carry, Adrian Peterson started 2018 with gusto, running for 96 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Chris Thompson will factor in somewhat, but Peterson was on the field for 42 offensive snaps, cementing Thompson’s role as a change of pace back. Peterson’s longest run of the game was 17 yards – indicating he worked for every yard of his 96 yards. Whether the 25+ carries will continue builds in some risk, but against a beatable Indianapolis defense – he is worthy of a play this week.
Sit: Running Backs
Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins [ESPN Ownership: 98%]: I’m doubling down again on Kenyan Drake having an unsuccessful week against a New York Jets defense that still left me with whiplash after the team’s handling of Detroit. Drake averaged a poor 3.4 yards per carry in Week One with three receptions for 18 yards. Frank Gore leads the team in rushing yards with 61 yards on nine carries (6.7 yards per carry). For now, Gore should be a high-end handcuff to Drake and one that will tank both of their fantasy values until one takes on a bigger bulk of the carries. While that will likely be Drake, for now, avoid Drake.
Start: Wide Receivers
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers [ESPN Own: 90% / Start: 31%]: Randall Cobb exploded as the Green Bay offense went off in the second half. He caught nine passes on 10 targets for 142 yards and a touchdown. Although his top-10 finish was a result of long, desperate passes, he does seem to have cemented a consistent top role in Green Bay’s pass-happy offense and should continue to see a high volume of targets. Cobb should be a WR2 most weeks and has upside even against a tough Minnesota defense.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks [ESPN Own: 60% / Start: 10%]: With Doug Baldwin out with a grade-2 sprain in his knee, Tyler Lockett will be thrust into the top receiving role ahead of a Brandon Marshall. Seattle will adapt by running the ball more, but Russell Wilson‘s 33+ targets per game will be thrown somewhere and Lockett should see the bulk of those targets making him Flex worthy in most leagues until Baldwin returns.
Sit: Wide Receivers
Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders [ESPN Own: 98% / Start: 68%]: Amari Cooper hauled in one reception on only three targets for nine yards in Week One. While that number has nowhere to go but up, it is unclear how utilized Cooper will be this season. Denver should pose a better matchup, but Coopers’s three targets on forty pass attempts is a discouraging sign. Stream elsewhere until his numbers correct, if they correct.
Start: Tight Ends
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts [ESPN Own: 88% / Start: 57%]: Despite an underwhelming final line, Jack Doyle had a great game. He was tied for the second-most targeted tight end (10) and brought in seven receptions for 60 yards. Although teammate Eric Ebron got the touchdown, he was only utilized a fraction of how often Doyle was in Week One. Doyle’s floor is incredibly high and a touchdown would put his value firmly in the Top-5 most weeks.
Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders [ESPN Own: 66% / Start: 14%]: The top targeted tight end in Week One was Jared Cook and actually tied for 9th as the most targeted player in Week One. Cook has long since had a high ceiling and Week One was evidence of how he could perform if utilized as a go-to receiving back. This was a career game for Cook – which makes starting him for those results a mistake, but given the high, consistent usage in Week One – he is worth a dice roll against Denver.
Sit: Tight Ends
Evan Engram, New York Giants [ESPN Ownership: 97% / Start: 76%]: Another player I will comfortably double down on in Week Two, Evan Engram only saw five targets, for which he brought in two for 18 yards. New York will not face a tougher defense than Jacksonville until Week Six against Philadelphia, but even against Dallas in Week 2, Engram is at risk of being entirely irrelevant as he finished behind even Saquon Barkley in targets. All it takes is a touchdown to be relevant each week and Engram is shaping up to be a touchdown or bust tight end.
Detroit Lions D/ST [ESPN Own: 35% / Start: 26%]: Yes, as my friend Cam said: “this was the Chernobyl of Detroit Lions’ meltdowns.” Still, with five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, it is hard to fault Detroit’s defense entirely. The unit is still a good bet to put up a top-10 week against San Francisco and the offense should correct enough to not keep the defense on the field for 33 minutes again.
Carolina Panthers D/ST [ESPN Own: 44% / Start: 30%]: The Panthers D/ST got by on applying pressure liberally against a watered down Dallas offensive line. They will not have the same opportunity in Week Two against a solid Atlanta unit. Even if Atlanta loses Devonta Freeman for the week, they are a good bet to make Carolina’s D/ST a wash in Week Two.
I’ll admit there is a bias here because I am a huge Vikings fan but Cobb is a little bit of a reach here. He has had 3 lackluster seasons after a breakout year in 2012 ( Is it a breakout if he does nothing thereafter?) and so lackluster that the Packers shopped him around during the off season. So, this is based on one game and a hunch. Plus he is facing a Mike Zimmer defense who has consistently frustrated Rodgers in the past. Consistently. Moreover, if Rodgers cannot move, with that front 4 and a blitzing Harrison Smith, uh-oh. I would rather go K. Allen or Hopkins here.
I’ll admit I’m not biased because I am a huge Lions fan lol. I disagree, in the past, Cobb was the third WR on the team and used mostly to stretch the field. Cobb’s targets came early in the game and not as a result of the Packers airing it out in the 4th (like Gerinomo Allison). If the targets stay high (and with Davante Adams receiving the top coverage) – Cobb could continue to feast. I also would go K. Allen or D. Hopkins, but this article isn’t about the set-it-and-forget-it spots. This article is about the bubble/bench players a team has that might slot in if there were an injury or to play at FLEX.