Maybe “streamers” isn’t the most fitting description for the players below since it’s only Week 1, but hopes are that this article will accomplish a few things this season:
- Identify players with 65%-or-less ownership (ESPN or Yahoo) who can potentially slot into your lineup right away.
- Find replacements for starters with injuries, bad matchups, bye weeks, or a recent demotion.
- Evaluate players who are trending up; discuss why and how long they could make an impact.
- Check-in on some of the top waiver-wire adds of the week.
Have fun, stay flexible this season, and embrace the chaos of Week 1. We’re all on this roller coaster together. Let’s go!
Chris Thompson (RB, Jacksonville Jaguars)
When it comes to streamers, rarely will you find a player that has talent, opportunity/ workload, and a consistent role in the offense. I’m not saying that Chris Thompson encompasses all three, but at worst, he has the talent and consistent role part covered. Thompson is likely to only get the occasional “keep the defense honest” carry as a runner due to his small frame, but his familiarity with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s playbook gives him a leg-up for playing time on the other candidates in the Jaguars’ patchwork RB corps. Of course, there are no guarantees, but there is a high probability that the Jaguars will be losing in the second half of many games this season. Staying healthy for 16 games has been a challenge for Thompson in his career, but the locked-in “receiving back” role and talent make him a Flex (PPR) or RB3/4 (Non-PPR) candidate when active in this playmaker-thirsty offense.
Darrel Williams (RB, Kansas City Chiefs)
Anyone ranked outside of RB3-territory during draft season wouldn’t normally be a Week 1 recommendation, but there are a few things that have me looking Darrel Williams’ way this week. Two big factors are Damien Williams opting out of the 2020 season and Clyde Edwards-Helaire facing the challenges of being a rookie in 2020 (see: fragmented training camp and no preseason). Darrel Williams knows this offense and was intermittently trusted to convert short-yardage situations last season (three touchdowns), so there is certainly a chance he sneaks into paydirt in Week 1. Hopefully, you have someone “safer” than Williams on your roster to put into your starting lineup, but I see him as one of the best stashes out there among the fringy RB3/RB4-level group. Since this is a nationally-televised, “spotlight” game, anything Williams does will be amplified. If he’s awful, just let him go; but if he’s successful, you now own a player that everyone saw perform well on national tv who plays for what should be an outstanding offense. I have a feeling that many other players in his range will still be available in Week 2, so my advice is to go for the upside and role Williams will have early on.
DeSean Jackson (WR, Philadelphia Eagles)
DeSean Jackson isn’t going to win any popularity contests this season, but he should be a popular addition to your roster if you need help at WR, either as an immediate starter this week or as a depth piece throughout the season. At 33-years-old, we can’t expect Jackson to be the high-octane, run-past-anyone deep threat he was in his peak, but he’s still got the wheels to compete at a high-level. More importantly, he checks all the boxes you want in a streamer: talent, opportunity/ consistent role (de facto #1 WR, ability to work out of multiple alignments), and the cherry-on-top matchup against Washington, a team he torched last season for over 150 yards and two scores. If Jackson is available in your league (64% ESPN, 51% Yahoo), you should feel good about slotting him in as a Flex/WR3 (PPR and Non-PPR) with big-play upside.
Sammy Watkins (WR, Kansas City Chiefs)
Hovering around 45%-ownership in ESPN and Yahoo leagues, there’s a decent chance Sammy Watkins is available to help your squad. It’s not too difficult to speculate why he may have gone undrafted: he’s consistently battling soft tissue ailments (has played all 16 games once in six NFL seasons), he’s exceeded 1,000 yards receiving just once, and the Chiefs seemingly always find new weapons to feed the ball to. The upside is that of a former 4th-overall draft pick who has proven the ability to light it up when healthy. Watkins received eight-or-more targets in seven-of-eight games to begin 2019, so I think the role is there for him as a talented veteran among a group of younger WRs. Similar to teammate Darrel Williams above, it would be ideal to have other options than Watkins for Week 1. However, he’s a good bet to produce a respectable floor against a Texans defense that has been generous to pass-catchers in recent years. Value him as a WR3 (PPR and Non-PPR) with boom potential.
Parris Campbell (WR, Indianapolis Colts)
Full disclosure: I am a Colts fan who also gravitates toward fast players, so feel free to call this “homer” pick, but I really think this could work in Week 1 and beyond. Basically, I am willing to be wrong on Parris Campbell in exchange for the possibility that he could be a consistent weekly contributor in a breakout year. The Colts wide receiver room got a little more crowded after drafting Michael Pittman, but I see Campbell’s role as a weapon out of the slot remaining intact as long as he’s healthy. Philip Rivers will occasionally take shots downfield, but his bread and butter has typically been hitting his trusted targets on short and intermediate routes (e.g. Keenan Allen during their time on the Chargers). I’m not saying Campbell is a 1:1 match to Allen at this point, but his talent, opportunity, and Week 1 matchup vs the Jaguars set him up for a nice landing spot to start the year. Don’t be late on this potential Flex/WR3 asset if you have the roster space to add him now.
Chris Herndon (TE, New York Jets)
Streaming tight ends is not an easy thing to do. You can look at target-share, opponent vs TE statistics, red zone targets, or any number of TE-relevant data out there. When it comes down to it, you’re essentially hoping for a handful of targets to achieve a safe floor and crossing your fingers for a touchdown. The Week 1 matchup for Chris Herndon is not great as the Bills bottled up opposing tight ends last year, but the talent and opportunity are there for Herndon. His 2019 was a start-and-stop series of suspension and injury-related absences, so I’m very interested to see how he builds on his past rapport with Sam Darnold in year three. Compared to other tight ends on the waiver wire, Herndon seems to have one of the safer floors out there. The Jets completely revamped their offensive line this offseason; whether that’s a good or bad thing remains to be seen, but if it goes south, Herndon will be there as Darnold’s safety blanket. Start him as a fringe-TE1, even in a difficult matchup this week.
I am probably the millionth person who has said this, but “I can’t believe the season is here already.” Make sure to come back next week to examine Week 2’s top RB/WR/TE streamers and check in on how this week’s picks performed. Good luck!
(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)