Whether your fantasy team is 1-0 or 0-1 (or you play in a league that has ties for some reason), one week does not a season make. We are not taking victory laps on players who did well in Week 1 and we are also not spite-dropping any players that did not meet expectations. Still, it is exciting to have some new data to work with as we try to get in as early as possible on this year’s breakout performers and potential league-winners. Although I would stop short of calling the featured players below anything in the realm of “league-winners”, I feel they are all worth a pickup if you lack depth at that particular position. Let’s go streaming!
* Players marked with an asterisk below can also be found in the priority waiver wire adds article referenced at the end. If anyone featured below is at risk of not playing or is relegated to a bench role late in the week, I will do my best to keep you all updated on Twitter (@BrandonMillerFB). All players below are under 65%-rostered as of 09/15/21.
* Mark Ingram (RB, Houston Texans)
If this is your first season reading this article, please know that I do not start my recommendations with a Texans RB every week. In fact, I would rather not, but finding viable RB streamers under 65%-rostered is not for the faint of heart. Things to value when looking for RB streamers include role, opportunity/ volume, and talent. Ingram, though past his NFL prime in the talent department, does come with what appears to be Houston’s RB1(a) role and the volume that comes along with it. Houston will not play the Jaguars every week, so do not expect many games to follow Ingram’s Week 1 line (26 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD). However, when there are early-down carries and goal-line opportunities to be had, Ingram looks to be the favorite so far. He is not the type of player who will win you a league or likely even a week, but is someone to pick up for the safe-but-boring floor if you are still in search of solutions at RB.
James White (RB, New England Patriots)
Last week I recommended Giovani Bernard in this space (yikes!) because I felt like he could be Tom Brady’s new “James White” in Tampa Bay. It turns out that I should have just recommended the actual James White because he continued to display the skills and role he is known for in Week 1. Operating as a check-down machine for rookie QB Mac Jones, White tallied six catches on seven targets for 49 yards along with four carries for 12 yards against the Dolphins. Furthermore, White was reliable with the ball in his hands while his young backfield counterparts struggled with fumbles. He is more of an asset in half or full-PPR leagues and has a tasty Week 2 matchup ahead against the Jets. If you ask your parents for James White and they tell you “We already have James White at home!” but it’s actually just Gio Bernard or J.D. McKissic, tell them it’s not the same, because White is the man among PPR RB streamers.
Other names to consider (in order): Latavius Murray, Carlos Hyde, Kenneth Gainwell, Tony Jones Jr, Tony Pollard, J.D. McKissic, Giovani Bernard, David Johnson, Ty Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, Michael Carter, Larry Rountree, Damien Williams, Cordarrelle Patterson, Zack Moss (check status).
* Sterling Shepard (WR, New York Giants)
As a recurring member of this article in recent years, Shepard is back at home on the streaming WR radar. The fact that he is a “recurring member” of a streamer article says it all regarding his fantasy production to date; he is not a reliable WR1 or WR2, but can be very solid in the right situations or matchups as a WR3/Flex with upside. One thing that has been consistent with the inconsistent Daniel Jones is his connection with Shepard, further evidenced by seven catches on nine targets for 117 yards and a TD in Week 1. With Saquon Barkley still not at 100%, Evan Engram battling a nagging calf, and newcomer Kenny Golladay still getting acclimated to the change of scenery, Shepard provides a familiar face for Jones on short-to-immediate throws and can thrive in a volume-based role. The Giants have a quick turnaround with a Thursday night game, so make sure he is in the WR slot and not your FLEX in case you need to make adjustments later in the week.
Jakobi Meyers (WR, New England Patriots)
If James White is Mac Jones’ security blanket out of the backfield, Jakobi Meyers is his security blanket at the next level of the field among Patriots pass-catchers. While Meyers’ average targeted air yards (6.4) and yards per catch (7.3) don’t jump off the page, his nine targets (six catches) in Week 1 make him worthy of a bench slot, at minimum, with the potential to be a reliable contributor in half or full-PPR if the volume sustains. Get him in your lineups as a WR3/Flex against the Jets this weekend and keep an eye on the target split moving forward to see whether his 2021 debut performance is legit.
Other names to consider (in order): Marquise Brown (65% Yahoo, top streamer if available), Marvin Jones Jr (62% Yahoo), Michael Pittman Jr (65% Yahoo), Cole Beasley (49% Yahoo), DeVante Parker, Jalen Reagor, Marquez Calloway (just over 65%-rostered), Sammy Watkins 18Y/20E, Tim Patrick, Nelson Agholor, Elijah Moore, Rondale Moore, Emmanuel Sanders, Zach Pascal, Terrace Marshall Jr, Bryan Edwards, Henry Ruggs III (36% Yahoo), Mecole Hardman, Christian Kirk, Darnell Mooney, Tyrell Williams (check status), Parris Campbell, KJ Osborn, Dyami Brown.
* Jared Cook (TE, Los Angeles Chargers)
While some speculated that Donald Parham would introduce himself to the fantasy world as the Chargers’ top receiving TE this season, the 34-year-old Cook put that talk to rest and showed that he still has some juice left in the tank with five catches on eight targets for 56 yards in Week 1. Just because I talk about the challenges of streaming TEs almost every week does not make it any less true, so whenever a glimmer of hope appears at the position, you have to act. Cook overcame a difficult matchup last week (Washington was seventh-best against opposing TEs in 2020), his eight targets were tied for the third-most among all TEs, and he has an emerging young gunslinger in Justin Herbert who can get him the ball anywhere on the field. Add now and ask questions later.
Other names to consider (in order): Gerald Everett, Cole Kmet, Austin Hooper, Evan Engram (stash), Hunter Henry, Tyler Conklin, Blake Jarwin, Zach Ertz, Adam Trautman, Anthony Firkser, Juwan Johnson, Eric Ebron.
Accountability is everything, so here’s a quick look back at last week’s recommendations
David Johnson (RB, Houston Texans): The Texans were able to get all three of their RBs into the end zone against the Jaguars last week, so whoever you may have started from that group, it was not all bad. Take your profit and understand that Houston will likely not be in such a positive game script most weeks. Although David Johnson is not an outright drop just yet (unless there is a hot name out there), the chances of him making a significant impact with Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay in the picture are limited. Prediction: He gets a few targets and a few carries each game and occasionally finds the end zone, but most weeks the production will be pretty “meh.”
Giovani Bernard (RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers): I will admit that I was just flat-out wrong on this one. Perhaps it was just convenient to assume that Bernard would be TB12’s new favorite safety valve out of the backfield because he held a steady “receiving back” role for the Bengals for so many years. What I overlooked was the fact that Leonard Fournette is just two years removed from a 2019 season that saw him snag 76 of 100(!) targets during his time as a do-everything player for the Jaguars. Bernard will likely have some solid weeks, but predicting when they will happen is not worth it when there are other names to speculate on. Move along.
Mecole Hardman (WR, Kansas City Chiefs): Mecole Hardman wishes he got the same amount of targets Leonard Fournette did (seven). Jokes aside, Hardman did catch all three of his targets for 19 yards. Now I wish I was joking. It was a disappointing start to the season for Hardman and I get it if you would rather chase others with a bigger piece of the pie in their team’s passing game.
Jalen Reagor (WR, Philadelphia Eagles): Yes, it is only one week and the Eagles played against an overmatched Falcons defense, but fantasy managers had to be happy to see the Philly offense humming for the first time in a while. Although rookie DeVonta Smith will likely continue to be the top dog among pass-catchers, Reagor appears to have earned the confidence of his coaching staff and QB after hauling in all six of his targets for 49 yards and a score. Somewhat surprisingly, he out-targeted TE Dallas Goedert (five targets), who many have pegged as the second option for the Eagles. Regardless of how the target distribution after Smith shakes out in weeks to come, Reagor figures to be a key part in Philly’s offensive attack. If Reagor is able to consistently collect six-or-seven-plus quality targets each week, he could profile as a steady WR3/Flex with the potential to hit on some big plays due to his open-field ability. Even if you do not start him right away, he is worth a stash to see if Week 1 is a sign of things to come.
Austin Hooper (TE, Cleveland Browns): Hooper caught all three of his targets (27 yards) on Cleveland’s first drive of the game and the potential for him to put up a top-10 TE week was looking well within grasp. Odell Beckham Jr was inactive and they were battling against Kansas City, so surely the opportunities would be there, right? Well, Hooper did not see another target all game while fellow TEs David Njoku (three catches, five targets, 76 yards) and Harrison Bryant (one catch, two targets, 17 yards) frustratingly siphoned away targets. I still maintain that Hooper possesses the skills to be an every-week starter in the right context, but the Browns’ run-first approach paired with an unpredictable target share will make Hooper difficult to trust most weeks. If there are better options out there, I do not think you will miss him unless this offense drastically changes from Week 1.
Make sure to check out AJ Passman’s priority waiver wire adds article every Tuesday for more insights on who you should be submitting claims for heading into each Wednesday. Good luck in Week 2!
(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)