Pickups of the Week: Bradford, Burkhead top fantasy adds for opening week

Sam Bradford has the friendliest possible matchup in the opener, as the Vikings host the Saints. He’s a gift for your league’s Andrew Luck owner. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Each week throughout the fantasy season, we identify six players to target on waiver wires, plus a lightly owned D/ST. All are available in a majority of Yahoo leagues and approved for use. Add as needed.

Sam Bradford, QB, Minnesota Vikings, 18% owned

Under normal circumstances, fantasy managers don’t need quarterback streaming recommendations in advance of Week 1. But every league has an Andrew Luck owner searching for help right now.

Sam Bradford is here for you, gamers. Or rather, the New Orleans Saints defense is here for you. Minnesota hosts the Saints on Sunday, and the matchups don’t get much friendlier. Last year, the Saints defense ranked dead-last in passing yards allowed (273.8) and next-to-last in yards per attempt (7.9). This is a gift, people. Bradford isn’t exactly the game’s most aggressive quarterback — he attempted just 3.6 deep balls per game last year — but he has a healthy receiving corps at the moment and an improved O-line. Bradford is entering his second season in an offense that he was forced to learn on the fly in 2016, following a September trade. His opening week setup should result in a top-10 positional finish. New Orleans allowed eleven different 20-plus fantasy point performances from opposing QBs last year.

Schedule, next three weeks: vs. NO, at Pit, vs. TB

FAAB bid: $8

Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots, 43%

Amendola should be an easy sell to fantasy owners following the season-ending injury to Julian Edelman. No single player is going to see all 150 of Edelman’s projected targets, but Amendola is one of several who will see a bump in value. Chris Hogan vaults into the WR2/WR3 conversation, but he’s long gone in any competitive fantasy format. Amendola is available in nearly 60 percent of Yahoo leagues, and he offers a low-cost option for those who simply want another share of an elite offense. He’s as healthy as he’s ever been during his time in New England and coming off a surgery-free offseason. It’s entirely realistic for Amendola to finish with 85-100 targets this season, and clearly these targets would be of the highest quality. He’s only a year removed from a 65-catch campaign.

Schedule, next three weeks: vs. KC, at NO, vs. Hou

FAAB bid: $8

New England’s backfield hierarchy is a mystery at the moment, but Rex Burkhead is a near-lock to play plenty of snaps. He needs to be owned in fantasy leagues of standard size. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots, 32%

Burkhead’s current ownership percentage suggests a complete failure on the part Yahoo’s fantasy analysts. This is on us. Somehow, we have not been successful at communicating the fact that Burkhead is very much in the mix for significant offensive touches. There have been zero indications that Mike Gillislee will dominate carries for New England in the way that LeGarrette Blount did last season. In fact, that seems like the least likely outcome. Yet somehow Gillislee has been selected nearly 50 full picks ahead of Burkhead in drafts around here (ADP 75.9). Both players impressed in preseason action for the Patriots and neither is on the injury report at the moment.

At the very least, Burkhead belongs on someone’s roster right now in any 10-team league, simply as a lottery ticket. He’s a phenomenal athlete and skilled receiver, capable of being used in a variety of ways in an inventive offense. If you don’t feel that you drafted enough upside at running back, go get him. We should learn a lot about the Pats’ backfield in Thursday night’s opener.

Schedule, next three weeks: vs. KC, at NO, vs. Hou

FAAB bid: $9

Shane Vereen, RB, New York Giants, 16%

Let’s transition from Patriots to ex-Patriots. Vereen is commonly overlooked by the fantasy community, but there’s little doubt he’s going to remain heavily involved in the Giants offense. Injuries have been an issue for Vereen over the years, not talent. He’s a perfect fit for his team’s short-range, high-percentage passing game. Vereen caught 59 balls on 81 targets in this offense back in 2015, and there’s no reason to think he won’t see similar volume in the year ahead. New York’s backfield depth chart is not overflowing with talent, in case you hadn’t noticed. If Vereen can simply manage to remain healthy for, say, 14 games this season, he has a shot at 800-plus scrimmage yards and serious PPR value. He gets Dallas in the opener, a matchup that shouldn’t scare you off.

Schedule, next three weeks: at Dal, vs. Det, at Phi

FAAB bid: $5

Kendall Wright is an obvious add in PPR formats. He’s not tied to an elite offense, but even the league’s lesser teams produce useful fantasy pieces. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Kendall Wright, WR, Chicago Bears, 11% owned

Here’s another PPR special. Wright is, without question, the best receiving option on Chicago’s roster at the moment, with Cameron Meredith (ACL) out for the season. Wright has a 90-catch, 1000-yard season on his resume already, and he has a shot at reproducing similar numbers in the year ahead. Because where else is Mike Glennon supposed to throw the ball? Kevin White’s next impressive highlight will be the first of his pro career.

Here’s a nice nugget on Wright’s preseason usage…

There’s little doubt he’ll serve as a target magnet for Chicago. Simply put, he cannot go unowned if your league uses any sort of PPR scoring. Game flow for the Bears should favor Wright throughout the season, beginning with the opener against Atlanta.

Schedule, next three weeks: vs. Atl, at TB, vs. Pit

FAAB bid: $5

George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers, 1%

Kittle is a deep league special for those of you who play in leagues requiring multiple tight ends. When the Niners dealt Vance McDonald to Pittsburgh a week ago, the move cleared a path for Kittle. He was a buzzy player throughout San Francisco’s offseason program, and the kid emerged as a playmaker in preseason action. Just look at this punishing score. He can play. Beyond Pierre Garcon, the competition for targets in San Francisco is wide open.

Schedule, next three weeks: vs. Car, at Sea, vs. LAR

FAAB bid: $2

Buffalo Bills, 34%

Our process for selecting the D/ST each week is fairly simple: Check to see who the Jets are facing, then check that team’s availability. Buffalo’s defense doesn’t project as an every-week fantasy asset, but it’s about to face Josh McCown and friends. New York has the league’s worst collection of quarterback options by far, and they’ll be throwing to a collegiate-quality receiving corps. If Buffalo can’t generate multiple takeaways on Sunday, the team should be immediately relegated to the CFL.

Schedule, next three weeks: vs. NYJ, at Car, vs. Den

FAAB bid: $2

Follow the Yahoo fantasy crew on Twitter: Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, Brad Evans, Liz Loza, Scott Pianowski and Tank Williams