The Must Stash: Week 1

Deep sleepers to stash before Week 1's games.

Every Friday I will list some players who I think, if things go their way, will wind up in those waiver articles the following Tuesday. You don’t have to stash all of them – it depends on who you have on your roster, the depth of your benches, the scoring system of your league, etc. But these are guys that should at least be on your radar. 

Stashing players is only something that can occur in deeper leagues with large benches, so to make this information worthwhile, I will only be recommending guys that are under 20% owned on both Yahoo and ESPN, and in many cases, you’ll see percentages in the single digits. If you’re in a league where guys like Parris Campbell (21% on Yahoo, 32% on ESPN), Preston Williams (41% on Yahoo, 71% on ESPN), or Jack Doyle (28% Yahoo, 39% on ESPN) are on the waiver wire, you’re either in a league too shallow for stashing, or you should go pick those guys up right away.

In addition, for those of you in really deep leagues (16+ teams) we will also include some deep cut players that are rostered in less than 3% of leagues on both Yahoo and ESPN in a section at the end to try and give you the best chance of winning your fantasy league. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

 

The Must Stash

 

Joshua Kelley, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (11% on Yahoo, 11% on ESPN)

 

Joshua Kelley is one of my favorite sleepers for this year. He’s a guy that has consistently slipped under the radar with all the rookie running back hype going to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Cam Akers, Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, and Zack Moss. While Austin Ekeler is the RB to own due to his pass-catching abilities, Anthony Lynn’s willingness to feed his running backs over the years means there could be value for another running back in the offense as well. Kelley’s already gotten some first-team reps in training camp and should have a role on the team right off the bat. There’s a good chance that his role could include some goal-line carries given his build. I don’t anticipate Kelley to be rostered in under 20% of fantasy leagues next week after people see his role and potential in this offense, so unless you want to burn a high waiver order next week you should roster him now.

 

Irv Smith Jr., TE, Minnesota Vikings (15% on Yahoo, 13% on ESPN)

 

Irv Smith Jr. has fallen under the radar. Many are worried about his upside with Kyle Rudolph also being a tight-end on the Vikings. But there’s a lot of positives working for Irv Smith Jr.

For starters, Irv Smith will be entering his second year in the league. Considering tight ends have one of the steepest learning curves, his 36 receptions on 47 targets for 311 receiving yard stat-line as a rookie is pretty impressive. Secondly, the Vikings have more targets up for grabs with star WR Stefon Diggs being traded to Buffalo. While the team envisions 1st round pick Justin Jefferson to fulfill that role eventually, the Vikings have also been experimenting with lining Irv Smith outside more often to give Smith more opportunities to share the field with Kyle Rudolph. Thirdly, Gary Kubiak historically has done a good job utilizing his tight ends, with his tight end room averaging 8.08 targets, 60.22 receiving yards, and 0.42 touchdowns per game, all of which are above average among offensive-minded coaches.

For all these reasons it’s likely that Irv Smith Jr. is a hot waiver wire pickup, especially if some of the other late-round tight end dart throws bust.

 

Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (11% on Yahoo, 6% on ESPN)

 

Laviska Shenault is one of the many intriguing wide-receivers from the 2020 NFL draft class. Once projected to go in the 1st round around where Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb in the NFL Draft, he struggled with injuries in his last collegiate season and saw his draft stock take a little tumble. Taken in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft (42nd overall), Shenault seems to have found a good fit in Jacksonville to succeed. His quarterback Gardner Minshew praised him this offseason stating, “Laviska’s a freak man…He’s really impressed me. He’s a better route runner and a lot better catching the ball than even I expected.” His wide receivers coach compared him to former star wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Andre Johnson with his ability to break tackles and get yards after the catch. His head coach, Doug Marrone, has talked about utilizing him in a variety of different ways. This could include having Shenault play a little bit of running back after the team cut Leonard Fournette and scoring some rushing touchdowns here and there. Shenault is going to get opportunities to shine in this offense, and it’s better to be too early in picking him up then too late.

 

Bryan Edwards, WR, Las Vegas Raiders (18% on Yahoo, 8% on ESPN)

 

Bryan Edwards is another great player from this rookie class that is worth your attention. He’s gotten praise from his quarterback Derek Carr. His coach, Jon Gruden, has praised his physicality and ability to learn quickly. And now he’s been named a starter on the Las Vegas Raiders first depth chart and is going to be the starting X receiver for the team. Bryan Edwards has been winning all offseason, but because he wasn’t a first-round pick like Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, or Henry Ruggs he’s been flying under the radar. But come week 1, Edwards won’t be able to hide his talent from the public any longer. If you want to ensure you get Edwards, now is the time to pick him up. Waiting too long will only result in you burning your waiver priority.

 

Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers (10% on Yahoo, 17% on ESPN)

 

Jerick McKinnon has had an interesting road in his career. He was once projected to be the 49ers lead back, signing a 4 year, $30 million contract back in March of 2018. But McKinnon tore his ACL prior to the 2018 season, causing him to miss the entire season. There was hope that he would be back for the 2019 season, but he suffered a setback in his recovery and ended up missing the season in its entirety. Now after two seasons he’s finally healthy and he’s looked good in training camp. While he will likely start the season off behind Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman on the depth chart, Kyle Shanahan’s ‘hot hand’ approach could lead to the SPARQ score master (Jerick McKinnon) earning a large role sooner rather than later. Considering the lack of depth at running back this year, Jerick McKinnon is worth keeping a close eye on.

 


Deep Cuts

(Less Than 3% owned in ESPN and Yahoo)

Mo Alie-Cox, TE, Indianapolis Colts (0% on Yahoo, 0.1% on ESPN): Mo Alie-Cox is one of my favorite targets in deep leagues. He’s in a great situation for tight ends, as Philip Rivers has targeted his TEs 36.3% of the time between 2014-19 and HC Frank Reich has historically given his TE Room 9.81 targets per game (over 96 games). Trey Burton is currently out with a calf injury, so the only thing standing in the way of Alie-Cox being a fantasy breakout is fellow tight end Jack Doyle.

Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints (2% on Yahoo, 0.5% on ESPN): It’s important to remember that Tre’Quan Smith is only in his third year as an NFL player. His head coach, Sean Payton, suggested that Smith could have a bigger role this season. His quarterback, Drew Brees, said Smith “is a guy who I think is ready to really blossom and just explode in this offense.” He dealt with ankle issues last year, and now that he’s healthy the former third-round pick could emerge as a solid FLEX play.

Auden Tate, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (3% on Yahoo, 0.5% on ESPN): Tate has gotten some great reviews in training camp. While he has a ton of competition at receiver with A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, and Tee Higgins, if he can emerge as a consistent starter for the team there should be FLEX appeal here.

Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team (1% on Yahoo, 0.4% on ESPN): Logan Thomas is projected to be the starting tight end of the Washington Football Team. Here is a great article diving into his fantasy potential this season by the QB List’s own Ben Brown.

Dante Pettis, WR, San Francisco 49ers (0% on Yahoo, 0.2% on ESPN): A lot of fantasy players got burned by him last year, but Pettis might be a good post-hype sleeper. Jalen Hurd is on IR. Deebo Samuel injured his foot and may be limited to start the year. Brandon Aiyuk is dealing with a hamstring injury and may be limited as well at the start of the year. The opportunity is there. If the former second-round pick can show the slightest bit of talent, he could have some value in deeper leagues.

Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears (3% on Yahoo, 2.2% on ESPN): Let me make this clear – Mitchell Trubisky is not a franchise quarterback in the NFL. But he has been announced as the starter for week 1 and he has pretty good rushing upside which is key for quarterbacks in fantasy leagues. He could be a good streamer in deep leagues.

Trey Burton, TE, Indianapolis Colts (1% on Yahoo, 0.2% on ESPN): Trey Burton is currently on the injured list with a calf injury, but much like I stated earlier with Mo Alie-Cox he’s worth monitoring because of how often quarterback Philip Rivers and head coach Frank Reich love to utilize their tight ends.

Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona Cardinals (1% on Yahoo, 0.5% on ESPN): While I think many others on this list are better options, Eno Benjamin is worth a stash in deep leagues on the off-chance that Drake can’t handle a full workload and he overtakes Chase Edmonds as a backup for the team.

Jalen Guyton, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (0% on Yahoo, 0.1% on ESPN): The Chargers WR Mike Williams is banged up. Guyton has been seeing some first-team reps in training camp due to the team’s need for speed, and while I don’t love his value long-term due to Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, and Hunter Henry still ahead of him in the pecking order, he’s worth keeping an eye on.

 

That’s it for week 1. Feel free to weigh in and mention any players you believe should be on this list.

 

Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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