Week 1 of the NFL was more important than ever for fantasy football managers. Typically, the preseason helps managers identify team decisions and trends, but with no preseason in 2020, we all had to wait until Week 1 for some of our questions to be answered.
Because of that, the waiver wire in Week 1 is more fruitful than in years prior. These are the players rostered in 50 percent or less of Yahoo leagues you should be trying to target in order of greatest priority to least.
RB Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers (18% rostered on Yahoo)
The oft-injured James Conner was ineffective prior to exiting Monday night’s contest against the New York Giants with an ankle injury. The four-year pro rushed for just nine yards on six carries, while also bringing in just two of his four targets for eight receiving yards.
Snell Jr. checked into the game and looked noticeably better than Conner.
— BlitzburghVideos (@BlitzVideos) September 15, 2020
He finished the night with 113 rushing yards on 19 carries with one fumble that was recovered by the Steelers. His performance may be enough to earn him some sort of consistent role within Pittsburgh’s offense at the very least. If Snell Jr. continues to perform like this and Conner misses time, he could potentially emerge as the team’s top RB and a weekly fantasy starter.
RB Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (13% rostered on Yahoo)
Nobody knew if it would be Justin Jackson or Joshua Kelley who would win the Chargers’ training camp battle for RB2 behind Austin Ekeler. We found out in the team’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals that Kelley would be the guy, and the fourth-round pick looked mighty impressive.
Joshua Kelley spins from three penetrators surrounding him in backfield and turns certain loss into 9 yards.
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 14, 2020
Kelley proved that he can hold standalone flex value in deeper leagues, as he ran well and was the preferred running back inside the red zone. If Ekeler were to ever miss time, Kelley could see an even bigger leap in fantasy value.
WR Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs (49% rostered on Yahoo)
Watkins just barely makes the percentage cut, but it’s definitely worth mentioning his performance against the Houston Texans on Thursday night. The worry with Watkins was whether or not second-year WR Mecole Hardman would make a leap and be more involved in the offense. If Thursday’s game was any indicator, Watkins should be fine.
Chiefs and Texans snaps (PFF)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 66%
Darrel Williams 34%
Mecole Hardman 28%
Demarcus Robinson 47%
Sammy Watkins 79%
Tyreek Hill 87%
David Johnson 80%
Duke Johnson 25% (left early with leg injury)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 11, 2020
Watkins led all Kansas City receivers with nine targets. Of course, there are durability issues associated with Watkins, but he seems to be clearly established as the No. 3 option in the Chiefs’ passing attack and that’s a good place to be for fantasy.
RB Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (22% rostered on Yahoo)
Even before Marlon Mack exited Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a torn Achilles, Hines was being used in the Colts offense. He finished the game with 73 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns on 15 touches. With Mack missing the remainder of the season, Hines should see consistent usage and be a high-end flex play this week against the Minnesota Vikings with Captain Checkdown Philip Rivers at the helm.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 13, 2020
WR Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts (23% rostered on Yahoo)
When he’s not checking down, Rivers also likes to target the middle of the field. Campbell, the Colts’ slot receiver, demonstrated early that he and Rivers are on the same page.
— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) September 13, 2020
Campbell corralled six receptions on nine targets for 71 yards. The second-year pro is a post-hype sleeper who’s off to a good start this season. He’s passable as a WR3 in 12-team fantasy formats and larger right now.
RB Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions (46% rostered on Yahoo)
For anyone who drafted Lions RB D’Andre Swift, it’s hard to view Peterson as anything but a pain. Credit has to be given for his performance, however, as he ran well and looked good against the Chicago Bears.
— Jonathan Deutsch (@JonathanD_TV) September 13, 2020
I’d expect Swift to become more involved as the season rolls along, but more efforts like this will earn Peterson a permanent role in the offence. He’ll likely be an uninspiring flex play against the Packers in Week 2.
WR Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers (32% rostered on Yahoo)
Anderson received the bulk of his fantasy points on this stunning play against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 13, 2020
The new Panthers receiver made the Raiders secondary look silly. While the play was nice, the most encouraging part of his performance was the eight targets he saw from QB Teddy Bridgewater. Carolina will likely be playing in a lot of high-scoring contests this year given how bad their defense is. Anderson is a low-end flex option for fantasy football managers.
RB Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams (28% rostered on Yahoo)
Brown unexpectedly was the Rams’ best-looking back in the team’s win against the Cowboys on Sunday night. He handled 18 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns while hauling in three receptions for 31 yards. His upside remains extremely limited as head coach Sean McVay will keep both Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers involved. Given the committee, Brown runs the risk of being buried in the pecking order any given week. He’s worth an add and bench stash in deeper leagues.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers (8% rostered on Yahoo)
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had been hyping up Valdes-Scantling during the offseason, and the two connected Sunday on a beautifully placed deep ball during the Packers’ rout of the Vikings.
Aaron Rodgers is on a mission. 45-yard TD to Marquez Valdes-Scantling with time running out in the first-half. That's two TD passes in a span of 24 seconds for Rodgers. pic.twitter.com/vrE7ajMXWq
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 13, 2020
Valdes-Scantling finished with the second-most targets amongst Green Bay wide receivers and is worth a speculative wait and see add for teams short on wide receivers.
WR Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons (2% rostered on Yahoo)
Gage finishing with 12 targets against the Seattle Seahawks this past weekend was certainly a surprise. He tied Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley for the team lead in that category. Gage’s state line of nine receptions for 114 yards was equally surprising. The Falcons, who were the pass-happiest team in the NFL a season ago, seem committed to doing the same this year. Entering the campaign, I was wondering whether TE Hayden Hurst or Gage would be the team’s No. 3 option in the passing game, and after one game, it seems like Gage has the edge. He could be a serviceable WR3 in really deep formats against the Cowboys this week.
DST Stream of the Week: Seattle Seahawks (30% rostered on Yahoo)
QB Cam Newton and the New England Patriots were in control against the Miami Dolphins at home. That kind of game script will be hard to replicate when they travel to the west coast and battle the Seahawks. Leading for most of the game, the Patriots were very conservative on offense. If Seattle jumps out to a quick start, New England’s offense may be forced out of its comfort zone.
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