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Mecole Hardman, WR, KC - Tyreek Hill *could* be back in 4-6 weeks, but his injury has an unpredictable recovery time, and that could stretch out well into the second half of the season. Hardman is raw and might not hit right away, but perhaps with all of the other weapons on the field and Patrick Mahomes II natural ability as a passer, all it will take is Hardman’s speed and semi-consistent hands to make him a consistent fantasy force.
LeSean McCoy, RB, KC - McCoy looked clearly superior to Damien Williams as a runner in Week 1, and in time he can be Williams’ equal as a receiver. McCoy also has a long track record of holding up under the punishment of a lead NFL back, while Williams has a spotty injury history. Williams is still the better back to play right now, but McCoy could be the more valuable Chiefs back come December.
Rex Burkhead, RB, NE - Burkhead looked like the best and most well-rounded running back in the Patriots backfield in Week 1. He’ll also be the most likely to get garbage time work in a first half schedule that could feature of a lot of blowouts. He is cheap or free on the waiver wire, but has talent and is in one of the most productive backfields in the league. Try to find room for him.
Curtis Samuel, WR, CAR - The Panthers passing game was not threatening downfield often in Week 1 and was not effective when they did, but Aaron Donald and company scared them into being conservative up front. The upcoming schedule of Tampa, Arizona, Houston, Jacksonville, and Tampa again should pave the way for Samuel to get hot as a deep target and playmaker.
Cole Beasley, WR, BUF - Beasley had a big mistake that led to a pick six and another that left a big play on the field, but he was targeted heavily and should be a high floor PPR play with room to grow as he and Josh Allen iron out the issues that come with being a new quarterback/wide receiver combination. Upcoming games against the Giants, Bengals and Patriots should feature a lot of passing and/or bad pass defenses.
Christian Kirk, WR, ARI - Kirk was blanketed by Darius Slay at times in Week 1 and Kyler Murray was much more successful looking elsewhere. That Kirk was given that respect should be a sign of where he is in his development and Arizona only has a few more #1 corners of Slay’s caliber on the schedule. Much like in Week 1, the Cardinals offense should get more explosive, and more efficient as the season goes on, and Kirk’s value should take off.
Dante Pettis, WR, SF - Pettis’s value can’t get much lower after barely being used in Week 1. Kyle Shanahan is playing motivation games, but it doesn’t change that Pettis is the most skilled receiver on the roster, and he is still very early in his development. If you were coveting him in dynasty leagues, the window is open to acquire him he has a big play or two to remind everyone why we were so excited about him a few months ago.
Joe Mixon, RB, CIN - Mixon may or may not play in Week 2, and the Week 1 box score makes it look like he was in a time share with Giovani Bernard. He’s still the lead back, getting most of the work before he left with an injury, and now we know he’s in a potent, aggressive passing offense that should create a lot of opportunities for him, especially as a receiver. Buy on the injury dip.
Travis Kelce, TE, KC - Patrick Mahomes II apologized to Travis Kelce for missing him on an easy touchdown pass. What are the chances Mahomes sets up Kelce for 2-3 touchdowns this week to make up for it. Kelce should also be a major beneficiary of the Tyreek Hill injury in terms of targets, and Mecole Hardman’s speed will still keep the middle of the field open for him with safeties trying to take away the deep ball. He should be the TE1 by a good margin soon.
James Conner, RB, PIT - Conner never got on track against the Patriots defense, but he still showed a lot of prowess as a receiver out of the backfield. The Steelers should leverage their superiority in the trenches to get Conner on track at his college and pro home stadium this week and the weak 49ers run defense is up next.
Cam Newton, QB, CAR - Newton looked off in Week 1 and there’s some risk here, but now that he has knocked the rust off and tried out his new throwing motion in a game, he should get better quickly against a soft run of the Tampa, Arizona, Houston, Jacksonville, and Tampa pass defenses the next five weeks.
Raheem Mostert, RB, SF - Mostert shouldn’t be regarded lightly, as he had at least 59 rushing yards in the three games that saw him get seven or more carries last year, and he was the most effective running back for the 49ers in Week 1. He also doesn’t have the injury history of Matt Breida, and will probably appear in more games than Breida by season’s end.
James Washington, WR, PIT - Washington’s deep catch was the only thing the Steelers had to write home about on offense in Week 1. Donte Moncrief should soon play his way off the field, and Ryan Switzer isn’t showing much in the slot, which paves the way for Juju Smith-Schuster to shift inside more often and open up opportunity on the outside, where Washington does his damage. The Seahawks allowed John Ross’s breakout game last week, this week could be Washington’s turn.
David Johnson, RB, ARI - Johnson is as talented as any running back in the league as a receiver and the Cardinals are going to give him a lot of chances to show it this year. The running game was also on track and as this offense gets better and the schedule gets easier, Johnson could be in for some 30+ point fantasy monster week winner performances. Get in while you can.
Danny Amendola, WR, DET - Amendola’s touchdown came on a busted coverage and the Cardinals matchup plus a five quarter game inflated passing totals across the board for Amendola.
Derrick Henry, RB, TEN - Henry’s 75-yard touchdown catch and run came on a complete defensive breakdown, and otherwise he wasn’t that effective as a runner despite an ideal game script. He’ll be an up and down fantasy commodity this year despite the great Week 1 line.
Austin Hooper, TE, ATL - When Matt Ryan struggles, Hooper racks up short targets and catches. Perhaps Week 1 will be closer to the norm for Ryan and the Falcons pass defense, but don’t count on it. Hooper is still a low ceiling player who needs volume to be relevant and adds little value to his targets.
Adrian Peterson, RB, WAS - Hopefully the news that Derrius Guice could miss half of more of the season and Peterson’s numbers last year will induce someone to pay anything of value for him. Washington’s running game may produce a few good games this year, but good luck guessing when they will come and when Peterson will be a zonk.
Derek Carr, QB, OAK - Carr has the Chiefs this week and he was nearly flawless against a lethargic Broncos defense in Week 1, but the Vikings are up next week and the Bears in Week 5. This week may make us forget that his targets are still underwhelming on the whole, making him unlikely to have sustained value, even in superflex/2QB leagues.
Sell High if...
Mark Andrews, TE, BAL, T.J. Hockenson, TE, DET - Andrews big numbers came in garbage time and Hockenson was aided by a poor Cardinals defense and pass happy game script. That’s not to say that they won’t be TE1 plays all season and fix a hole on many a fantasy team, but if you have them as a #2, it is time to see what you can wring out of the Hunter Henry team or anyone else who is hard up for a tight end option entering Week 2.
Marquise Brown, WR, BAL, John Ross, WR, CIN - Brown and Ross was afterthoughts in fantasy drafts that went off on benches. Brown took advantage of the Dolphins “defense” and Ross had a ton of targets against a Seahawks secondary that looked lost at times. Both could easily sustain their production enough to be boom/bust WR3/Flex options all year, but if you are deep at wide receiver, selling them for an upgrade at your weakest position is in order before they come back to earth.
Robby Anderson, WR, Le’Veon Bell, RB, NYJ - Good luck getting anything near what you expected out of this duo. After Gardner Minshew made hay against the Chiefs, maybe someone out there thinks this is a good buy low moment. Maybe they just really wanted one of this duo and will pay .60 on the dollar and think they are getting a good deal. Even after Sam Darnold comes back, this doesn’t look like the team or offense to maximize their values, and Bell’s shoulder isn’t going to get healthier as the season goes on.
Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL - Hopefully Freeman regains his pre-injury form and we look back at Week 1 as a product of the Vikings defense more than Freeman losing something the last two years that he won’t get back. The team didn’t rely on him as much as expected and Ito Smith was basically in a committee with him. If you can get .75 on the dollar for Freeman, it might be time to cash out.
Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, WR, TB - Better times have to be coming for this duo and it might be better to sell after the Giants game next week, but if Jameis Winston bombs against the Panthers, will you find a buyer? The 49ers aren’t exactly known for their pass defense and Winston failed to make big incursions against them. If you can get near original value from someone who was coveting them in drafts, get off the Jameis express. In dynasty, who knows who will be throwing this duo the ball next year.