Week 2 was plagued by injuries in one of the most painful Sundays I’ve seen. I personally lost Saquon Barkley, Courtland Sutton and Sterling Shepherd this week. These injuries make this weeks waiver wire picks even more important. Here is our list of waiver wire targets for week 2:
Mike Davis (CAR Panthers): Christian Mccaffrey was one of the few first round picks that got hurt this week. He is likely to be out 4-6 weeks, but he did say he would work hard and be back sooner than expected. So at least for the next three to four weeks expect Mike Davis to take the workhorse role. The next three games for the Panthers are the Chargers, the Cardinals and the Falcons. Other than the Chargers, the Cardinals and the Falcons both struggle against the run and Davis should have big games. Mike Davis should be the first player targeted this week.
Dion Lewis/ Wayne Gallman (NY Giants): Saquon Barkley was the other top pick to suffer an injury this week and sadly, he will be out all year. The next running back in the depth chart is Dion Lewis and then Wayne Gallman. I would expect a committee in the Giants backfield moving forward with Lewis handling third down work along with some early down work and Gallman to handle redzone work. I believe both should be rostered with Dion Lewis having a higher priority and Wayne Gallman being targeted right after.
Jordan Reed (SF 49ers): The Niners got the worst of the bunch this past Sunday, losing Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas. The Niners are also missing George Kittle and Deebo Samuel the top two receiving threats for the Niners in 2019. In week two’s matchup against the Jets, Jordan Reed had 8 targets from which he caught 7 passes for 50 yards and 2 TDs. If Kittle misses more time which is probable, Reed should be in for an expanded role in the depleted Niners receiver core.
Dalton Shultz (DAL Cowboys): Blake Jarwin went down in week one’s matchup against the Rams and he is expected to be out for the season. Backup tight end, Dalton Shultz, stepped up big in the Cowboys week 2 matchup. Dak Prescott has also already developed a connection with Shultz. Dak targeted Shultz 10 times from which Shultz caught 9 for 88 yards and 1 TD. Week 3, the Cowboys are up against a depleted Seahawks defense that lost another two starters this past Sunday. Dalton Shultz should be in for a big game along with Dak Prescott as Seahawks have allowed two 395+ yard QBs in both their matchups.
K’Neal Harry (NE Patriots): Cam Newton is looking better than his MVP season and we saw just a glimpse of that on Sunday night. The Patriots receiver core is very depleted as well, having no one outside of Julian Edelman. The only target Cam Newton has is second year WR, K’Neal Harry. After an underwhelming rookie season due to injuries, Harry cam out Sunday night with a mission. Harry had 12 targets from which he caught 8 passes for 72 yards and was inches away from a game winning TD. Edelman had 11 targets so it is promising to see that Harry had more targets and has a real connection with Cam Newton.
Other additions: Devonta Freeman (FA), Justin Herbert (LA Chargers), Drew Sample (CIN Bengals), Gardner Minshew (JAC Jaguars), Van Jefferson (LA Rams), Justin Jefferson (Min Vikings), Kendrick Bourne (SF 49ers)
We look at players to pick up and players to fade from your lineups after the week 1 games have passed!
Below is a list of players to add to your lineup and a few to drop. Week 1 waiver pickups can be the most valuable additions you make to your roster throughout the season. These choices should benefit you throughout the season, not necessarily for one or two weeks. Pick up one of these players before picking up a weekly defense!
WAIVER WIRE ADDS:
Malcolm Brown (LA Rams): ADD– Brown got 18 carries for 79 yards and 2 rushing TDs along with 3 receptions for 31 yards. He is the clear red zone back for the Rams giving him a high ceiling in the weeks to come. He dominated the snap percentages, playing 44 snaps compared to Cam Akers’ 24. With the Rams offensive line back to full health, Brown is a must add this week.
Sammy Watkins (KC Chiefs): ADD– It was Sammy Watkins that unexpectedly led the Chiefs stacked receiving core in the season opener. Watkins had 9 targets from Patrick Mahomes from which he caught 7 for 82 yards and 1 touchdown. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill both had 6 targets. Even though its unlikely we see a similar stat line from Watkins, given the offensive talent on that team, he is someone to add to your rosters this week as a high-risk high-reward flex.
Nyheim Hines (IND Colts): ADD– We were high on Marlon Mack all offseason and were sad to see him go down with an Achilles tear. Next in line is Hines, not rookie Jonathan Taylor. During the Colts week 1 matchup, Hines got 7 carries for 28 yards and 1 rushing TD as well as 8 receptions for 45 yards and 1 receiving TD. Phillip Rivers loves throwing to his backs more than any QB in the league (17 receptions to the RB week 1), and Hines is both the receiving back and the goal line back for the Colts. With Rivers under center and Mack out for the season, Hines is a weekly flex play.
James Robinson (JAC Jaguars): ADD– After Leonard Fournette’s departure there was no clear back in the Jaguars backfield all offseason. However, after the week 1 matchup against the Colts it seems like James Robinson has emerged as the true lead back. He had 16 carries for 62 yards, but was the only RB to take 100% of his team’s carries week 1. Even though his performance was unimpressive, the amount of carries alone and lack of competition in the backfield make him a weekly flex play.
Robby Anderson (CAR Panthers): ADD–Teddy Bridgewater showed up week 1 against the Raiders and threw for 270 yards and 1 TD. The surprising part however, was that Robby Anderson (115) led in yards, not DJ Moore (54). The targets were similar as Moore got 9 and Anderson had 8. Next week the Panthers are up against the Buccaneers who just shut down Michael Thomas. With Moore being the focal point for most defenses, I wouldn’t be surprised if Anderson has another big game.
Other additions: Joshua Kelley (LA Chargers), Myles Gaskin (MI Dolphins), Laviska Shenault (JAC WR), Dallas Goedert (PHI Eagles), Logan Thomas (WAS Football team), Parris Campbell (IND Colts), Dalton Shultz (DAL Cowboys).
Kerryon Johnson (DET Lions): Fade– There is a full on committee in the Lions backfield and Johnson is barely a part of it. It seems as if De’Andre Swift was the most trusted back in the bunch, as he played for the 4th quarter drive. Swift also took 3 goalline carries from which he got the Lions sole rushing TD. Adrian Peterson looked really good as well taking 14 carries for 93 yards and serving as an early down back with over 100 scrimmage yards. There is no room for Kerryon Johnson in the Lions backfield or on your roster.
Cooper Kupp (LA Rams): Fade– Cooper Kupp is not a player you should drop… yet. Instead he is someone to stash and wait how the season progresses or someone to trade away. The Rams appear intent on running 12 personnel this season, which reduces Kupp’s opportunities and touches. At best he is a flex play based on his weekly matchup until he proves otherwise.
Rob Gronkowski (TB Buccaneers): Fade– We said it earlier and now we are saying it again, “Gronk is not the same TE 1 he once was!” If you drafted him as your starting TE don’t worry there are many others you can target like Logan Thomas, who appeared to be the secondary pass-catching option from QB Dwayne Haskins. Gronkowski got a mere 3 targets from Tom Brady’s 36 attempts, catching 2 for 11 yards. OJ Howard on the other hand had the second most targets on the team, with 6. Howard hauled in 4 receptions for 36 yards. Cameron Brate also got 1 target but no catches. It seems like the Bucs are running a TE committee, and while it may change from week to week, Gronk doesn’t look like he will be a reliable fantasy option.
Other fades: Chris Thompson (JAC Jaguars), Baker Mayfield (CLE Browns), Hunter Renfrow (LV Raiders), Cam Akers (LA Rams)
This article goes into depth of some players you should start (plug em in) or bench (sit em out) during week 1. This doesn’t include the top 5 at every position as they are always must start and not dependent on matchups. As always comment any questions and what y’all think!
‘Plug em in’ Quarterbacks
Ben Roethlisberger: The Giants have arguably the worst defense in the NFL. They lost key pieces of their secondary over the last two seasons, including Landon Collins, Deandre Baker, Eli Apple and Janoris Jankens. Even with last week’s addition of Logan Ryan, the Giants will struggle to shut down opposing offenses. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off an injury but has been having a great training camp. In 2018, (the last time Big Ben played a full season), he led the league with 5129 yards. Expect a big game from Roethlisberger and the Steeler’s passing offense.
Matt Ryan: The Atlanta Falcons play the Seahawks this week in a game that should be a shootout due to both teams lackluster defenses and high powered offenses. The biggest weakness of the Seahawks defense is their defensive line. With the loss of Jadeveon Clowny and Frank Clark over the past two seasons their d-line lacks the ability to create QB pressure it once possessed. This will allow Matt Ryan to have an abundance of time in the pocket to read the defense and complete passes. Ryan also benefits from his WR duo that includes Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, along with the Falcon’s new offensive weapons, Todd Gurley and Hayden Hurst. The Falcons are also getting back their right guard, Chris Lindstorm, who was held out his rookie season in 2019 due to an injury. Sit back and watch Matt Ryan air out the Seattle defense.
Cam Newton: Dual-threat Quarterbacks are always valuable in fantasy football. Cam Newton is up against a developing Dolphins defense. Since he got signed, Cam has been on a mission to regain his spot as an elite NFL QB. Patriots coaches and players report that Newton practices nonstop, being the first one in and last one out. It’s been a while since Newton has seen the field. He was reinjured early in 2019 after initially injuring his shoulder in 2018. In 2018 Newton was averaging over 20 fantasy points a game before his injury. Now that he is healthy and has new offensive weapons in Julian Edelman, James White, K’Neal Harry and one of the greatest coaches in our generation in Bill Belicheck, Cam Newton should have a good game against the weak Dolphin’s front-seven.
Carson Wentz : The Washington Football team has a really good defensive line, but their defense has lots of missing pieces. Their secondary ranks at 30th overall according to PFF for 2020. With the loss of their star CB Quinten Dunbar, WAS’s secondary will be even weaker than last year. Offensively, Wentz will have Desean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery back as weapons. He will also have Zach Ertz, Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert in the passing game. In 2019 the two games against Washinton, Wentz had 25 and 19 fantasy points respectively. Carsen Wentz should be in for a big game on sunday.
Sneaky starts QBs: Daniel Jones, Jared Goff, Jimmy Garroppolo
‘Sit em out’ Quarterbacks
Aaron Rodgers: Aaron Rodgers is not the same since his injury and one of the biggest reasons for that is the lack of receiver talent for the Packers. Other than Devante Adams the Packers don’t have a clear WR2 rather they have two WR3s. Matt LeFluer also did not make any attempt during the draft to grab one, instead he drafted QB, Jordan Love in the first round. They also grabbed running back AJ Dillon in the draft. Matt Lefluer is also leaning towards running the ball a lot more in Green Bay. Finally looking at Aaron Rodgers’ two games against Minnesota in 2019 he scored 13 and 9 fantasy points respectively. There are lots of better options than Rodgers this week don’t settle.
Kirk Cousins: It’s very simple to dissect why Cousins is a bench player for this week. First of all the Packers defense is very good, especially their pass rush led by Za’darius Smith and Preston Smith. Cousins will be under pressure all game and will need to get that ball out quick. This results in a problem because Packers have Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos sitting in the secondary awaiting a bad throw. Secondly, the Vikings lack a receiver other than Adam Thielen. Thielen will be the primary target of the Green Bay defense. Justin Jefferson is a rookie and this will be his first NFL game (due to no preseason), in a tough matchup here it’s likely he struggles. Lastly in 2019 Cousins scored 8 and 7 fantasy points respectively against the Packers and ended as QB20 overall. Kirk Cousins will be a matchup dependent starter for 2020.
Phillip River: Phillip Rivers is coming into a run heavy offense with the Indianapolis Colts (in 2019 Colts ranked 4th with 29.4 rush attempts per game). In San Diego with Keenan Allen, Rivers ended as QB6 however, you should expect his numbers to drop without his star wideout and in Frank Reich’s offense. The Colts are also up against a very lacking Jaguars team in a game that is likely to be a blowout. Colts will be running out the clock with the dynamic duo of Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor. Finally the Colts receivers are still very underdeveloped outside of TY Hilton and Jack Doyle. Rivers will likely lean on the run game for week 1 as well as for the majority of the season.
Ryan Tannehill: There is no doubt that the Titans are a run heavy offense. In 2019 the Titans ran 48.79% of the time which was the third highest in the league. Week 1 the Titans are up against a very formidable Broncos defense. The biggest talents on this defense include their front seven as well as a solid corner in Bryce Calahan. This will make it very hard for Tannehill to get the ball into his star wideout, AJ Brown’s hands, as he is likely to be shadowed by Callahan or AJ Bouye. Outside of Brown this team lacks reliable receiving targets. Against this tough Broncos defense bench Ryan Tannehill.
Bust QBs: Drew Lock, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater
‘Plug em in’ Running backs
Marlon Mack: Marlon Mack has been getting the majority of the first team work throughout training camp. Mack has notably been excelling with passing work, catching everything Philip Rivers throws in his direction. His backup, Jonathan Taylor, has been struggling throughout camp with receiving work and pass blocking. Taylor is likely to get some of the first down work but expect the majority of it to go to the Colts star back who ran over a 1000 yards last season. The Colts are also up against a poor Jaguars defense that has lost its talented players over the past two seasons. Other than Josh Allen, the defensive line includes a few unproven no names who will have trouble stopping Mack and the Colts O-line. Colts are likely to go up in score early and just run out the clock with Mack and Taylor.
David Johnson: David Johnson is getting another shot in 2020 with the Houston Texans. Bill O’Brien traded potentially the best receiver in the league for Johnson in the offseason and has claimed he wants the Texans to start running more this season. The Texans offensive line (ranked 22) is also a moderate improvement over the Cardinals offensive line (ranked 29). David Johnson has proven himself as a receiving back for the Cardinals, so in a high scoring game against the Chiefs, Johnson should get his share of targets. The Chiefs also allowed 124.8 rush yards per game last season, which ranked 8th highest in the NFL. In his Texan’s debut, David Johnson should act as a workhorse back and gather a touchdown or two.
Todd Gurley: Gurley has a chance to be one of the biggest steals of 2020. As previously mentioned, the Falcons-Seahawks game is projected to be one of the highest scoring games of the week. In a game that is set to be an offensive battle, Gurley should run through Seattle’s defensive line that is devoid of talent. Todd Gurley is coming off a great training camp receiving praise from coaches and players like OT Jake Mathews and FB Keith Smith. The OC for the Falcons has also stated that Gurley will be given 15-25 carries a game, which could give him RB1 potential. Gurley has also said his knees feel much better from the past two seasons. The Falcons have spent numerous high-value draft picks on offensive lineman the past two seasons, and the signing of Todd Gurley makes their intent to run the football more obvious. Plug in Gurley in your lineups this week!
James Conner: James Conner and the Steelers are up against a weak Giants defense in week 1. The Steelers will be running the ball a lot to control the clock and keep the ball way from Saquon Barkley and the talented Giants offense. James Conner missed 6 games in 2019 due to assorted injuries saw his rushing numbers drop tremendously. Now fully healthy and with Ben Roethlisburger under center, James Conner can hopefully get back to his 2018 pro bowl form. This favorable matchup for the Steelers lead back is a great opportunity for fantasy owners to regain trust in him.
Sneaky start RBs: Jordan Howard, James White, Boston Scott
‘Sit em out’ Running Backs
David Montgomery: David Montgomery is returning from an injury he suffered at camp just a few weeks ago. It is likely he will need some time to fully recover before he cant get back to his 2019 form. The Bears are also up against a high scoring offense on the Lions. The Bears will have to pass the ball a lot more this game to keep up with Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense. The Lions front seven also added two new weapons in DT Nick Williams and LB Jamie Collins Sr. David Montgomery will have a tough time producing to start off 2020.
Lions backfield: The Lions backfield is a mess fantasy wise. With the addition of rookie, D’andre Swift, and veteran, Adrian Peterson, to the 1-2 punch of Kerryon Johnson and Ty Johnson, the Lions backfield is too crowded. D’andre Swift is a player to keep on your bench for now as he is the RB4 in the Lions depth chart currently. Swift is also returning from an injury he suffered at camp a few weeks back. Adrian Peterson will steal goal line work from Kerryon Johnson as well as some early down work. This would ideally lead to Kerryon Johnson as being a weak flex however, this week he is someone you should bench. This is because the Lions are up against a top 5 defensive line and both Johnson and Peterson are unlikely to produce. If you have any of the Lions running backs on your roster, just wait and see how the season progresses and who emerges as the lead back.
Miles Sanders: Miles Sanders is a stud and it will be very tough for you to bench him as he was likely an early round pick. However, I advise you to be wary of him and see if it’s possible to rely on him a little less in week 1. Washington’s defensive line is projected to be one of the best in 2020. With the addition of Chase Young to Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat and Daron Payne, this group will be very tough to run against. Not to mention that Miles Sanders is coming off an offseason injury and will be slow to start. Another reason to be wary is that the Eagles offensive line has lost three starters over the past couple of months. Running the ball may not be as easy with a group of lineman who haven’t had any game time to garner chemistry. More so I would expect the Eagles to go up early and run out the clock with backup RB, Boston Scott in order to keep Sanders healthy. Don’t expect Miles Sanders to put up RB1 numbers during his week 1 match up.
Melvin Gordon: Melvin Gordon is now in a full blown committee in Denver with Phillip Lindsey and Royce Freeman. What makes it worse is that Gordon is coming off a rib injury that kept him out of practice just last week. This led to Lindsey and Freeman cutting into Gordon’s first team reps. The Broncos are also up against a former playoff contender, the Titans. The Titans were also ranked 13th in 2019 in rush yards allowed per game. With the tough matchup and the limited reps it’s safe to say bench Gordon week one.
Bust RBs: Jags RBs, Bucs RBs, Cam Akers
‘Plug em in’ Wide Receivers
Jamison Crowder: Jamison Crowder looks to be the newest PPR darling in fantasy football. He doesn’t get a whole lot of YAC and doesn’t get many deep targets, but Darnold loves to hit him on short passes. Against Buffalo last season, Crowder scored 24.3 and 20 fantasy points in PPR leagues. Crowder should be able to avoid All-Pro CB Tre’davious White by moving into the slot, where he does most of his damage. With Darnold under center, Crowder is set to produce a consistent 15+ points, and should be considered a high-end flex or WR 2 every week.
DeSean Jackson: Jackson has been performing great in training camp and is set to explode this week. The Eagles are projected to blow WAS out this week in what should be a decently high scoring performance by PHI’s offense. With rookie WR Jalen Reagor expected to miss the first game, DeSean Jackson should slot in as the #1 option for QB Carson Wentz. WAS also traded away star CB Quentin Dunbar, who was the best coverage back in the NFL according to PFF. Last season, in week 1 against WAS, Jackson caught 8 targets for 154 yards and 2 TDs. While he likely won’t achieve that same level of production, Jackson is the #1 option for a quality quarterback and should see his fair share of targets. I would definitely start him as a high-end flex if you were able to draft him.
Michael Gallup: All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey will have the responsibility of shadowing WR Amari Cooper on Sunday Night Football. This means that both Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb should be inline for more targets than normal. The Rams-Cowboys game should be a high-scoring affair on both sides of the football and Dak Prescott should have a good game. While Cooper will likely get his fair share of targets, Gallup should see an increased workload with Ramsey on Cooper. I like his odds of ending as a WR 2 this week and I think he should be started in all leagues.
Sneaky Start WRs: Calvin Ridley, DK Metcalf, Dionte Johnson
‘Sit em out’ Wide Receivers
Devante Parker: While Devante Parker was able to get the better of Stephon Gilmore in their second matchup last season, I would stay wary of starting him. The reigning DPOY is still a tough matchup and Parker has been limited in practice with an injury. If you have other options to start over Parker I would definitely use them. I would consider Parker a low-end flex this week.
Terry Mclaurin: While the hype on McLaurin has been out of control this offseason, his week 1 matchup doesn’t look great. Newly acquired CB Darius Slay should shadow McLaurin for most of the game. With a ferocious Eagle’s pass rush, QB Dwayne Haskins will have to get rid of the ball quickly. This means McLaurin will have to win his matchups with Slay, which is no easy task. Whie he likely won’t be shut down, I don’t think McLaurin is a dependable WR 2 this week, and should be relegated to your bench.
AJ Green: A.J. Green faces CB Casey Hayward in his first game since 2018. While Green was dominant when healthy, he hasn’t played in almost 2 seasons. He comes back to face one of the top corners in football. To add onto that, rookie QB Joe Burrow will take the stage for the first time in his NFL career. With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram rushing Burrow, I don’t like the Bengal’s passing offense week 1. That being said, as Burrow acclimates to the NFL after the first few weeks (and Green stays healthy) I think Green can become a dependable WR 2 for the future. This week, I would try and find a better option.
Amari Cooper: Amari Cooper will be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey in week 1. As previously mentioned, Ramsey is one of the top corners in the NFL, and Cooper likely won’t be as effective as usual. Cooper, who tends to be a boom-bust receiver, is set up to bust in week 1. I personally wouldn’t start Cooper if I had better receivers with more favorable matchups, but if you are desperate then he is a high-risk, medium-reward level play.
Bust WRs: Allen Lazard, Tyler Boyd, Deebo Samuel
‘Plug em in’ Tight Ends
Hayden Hurst: The Falcons are playing the Seahawks in a high scoring matchup. Everyone on the field should have a nice outing, especially Falcons newest addition, Hayden Hurst. In 2019 Falcons TE, Austin Hooper, ranked seventh in PPR PPG with only thirteen games under his belt. It seemed like the Falcons finally utilized their TE under their new OC Dirk Koetter. Koetter specifically traded for Hurst for this high powered Falcons offense for 2020. Moreover Seattle is very weak against TEs, in 2019 they allowed 70.8 yards per game to TEs which was the third most in the league.
George Kittle: George Kittle is an absolute beast and is a must start most weeks, especially week one against the Cardinals. In 2019 Cardinals allowed the most points to opposing TEs with 13.1 fantasy points per game! Even with the addition of rookie Isiah Simmons, expect this number to stay relatively high mainly with Kittle, who is arguably the best TE in the league. Another reason to expect Kittle to produce this week is that this Niners versus the Cardinals game is a set to be a high scoring divisional game. Expect many targets to George Kittle as Deebo Samuel is likely to be shadowed by standout CB Patrick Peterson.
Austin Hooper: Austin Hooper finally broke out in 2019 with the Atlanta Falcons. In 2020 he finds a new home with the Browns. Throughout training camp it’s been reported that Hooper and Mayfield have a real connection on the field and that Mayfield has found him multiple times in the endzone. Expect this connection to carry over to the week one matchup against the Ravens. The Ravens were tough against TEs in 2019 allowing only an average of 5 PPG. However, they lost Tony Jefferson and Earl Thomas during the offseason so expect this number to rise. Especially against a stacked Browns offense because the main targets for the Ravens defense will be to stop Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt. Hooper is our high-risk high-reward starter of the week!
Sneaky start TEs: Tyler Higbee, Blake Jarwin, Will Dissly
‘Sit em out’ Tight ends
Mike Gesicki: Gesicki developed a ton of offseason hype over the past few months. However expect him to under-produce during the start of the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick has gotten the start over Tua which will lead to less receptions to the TE, as Fitzpatrick rarely targeted his TE in 2019. Rookie QBs tend to target TEs more due to them being a security blanket for dump offs. Until Tua gets the start I would be wary of Gesicki. Another reason to bench Mike Gesciki week one is because they are up against a tough Patriots defense that only allowed 6.6 fantasy points to opposing TE in 2019. The first game in 2019 against the Patriots, Gesicki only scored 2.10 fantasy points. It’s safe to say be wary of Mike Gesicki until Tua gets the start.
Chris Herndon: Chris Herndon will be a vital part of the Jets offense in 2020 however, it’ll have to wait till week two. The Jets are up against a tough Bills defense that only allowed 5.8 fantasy points per game to opposing TEs. In 2019 the Jets also had a tough time involving a TE into their offense. When Herndon went down due to an injury, Ryan Griffen stepped up and also played no role in that Jets offense. With no preseason this year it will take time for Herndon to learn to play a big role in this offense and this tough Bills defense doesn’t bode well for him.
Rob Gronkowksi: Rob Gronkowski has been reunited with QB, Tom Brady in Tampa Bay and expectations are high for this duo. However we are not on this hype train especially against the Saints who allowed only 7.1 fantasy points per game to opposing TEs in 2019. The Buccaneers offense includes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette and rookie Ke’shawn Vaughn. So Gronk will have to compete for targets with all these offensive weapons when he is on the field. Not only that but Gronk will have to compete for field time with Cameron Brate and OJ Howard as Bruce Arians has mentioned he wants a TE committee to keep all his TEs fresh.
Busts TEs: Dawson Knox, Packers TEs, Maxx Williams
‘Plug em in’ D/ST
Eagles D/ST: Eagles D/ST is up against a weak Washington offense that only has Terry Mclaurin as a weapon. Mclaurin will likely be shadowed by Darius Slay leading the offense to get shut out. Eagles defense also made many new additions during the offseason that include CB Darius Slay, DT Javon Hargrave, CB Nickel Robey-Coleman, LB Jatavius Brown as well as a rookie LB in the third round of the 2020 draft. The defensive line for the Eagles is fully healthy as well. Expect the Eagles D/ST to put up solid numbers against the Washington Football team.
Colts D/ST: Colts are up against the Jaguars in week one. Jaguars have one of the weakest offenses heading into the 2020 season. With the loss of Leonard Fournette and Nick Foles during the offseason this offense which ranked the 13th lowest in 2019 is expected to be worse heading into 2020. The Colts also made a big upgrade to their defensive line by adding a top 5 DT in Deforest Buckner. Expect Buckner to make an immediate impact on their defense. The Colts D/ST also has a very underrated secondary in Malik Hooker, Xavier Rhodes and Rock Ya-Sin who will make more plays now that the defensive line, led by Buckner, will be pressuring opposing QBs.
Chargers D/ST: The Chargers are up against a newly led offense, the Bengals. Without a preseason it’s hard to predict how Joe Burrow will perform in his first NFL game. To make matters worse for Joe Burrow, he is up against a top ten defense in the Chargers. With the loss of Derwin James during the offseason this defense will take a big hit but that impact will be limited due to the Chargers newest additions. The Chargers drafted Kenneth Murray, LB in the first round who is expected to be their starting LB. They also added a top 5 slot CB, Chris Harris Jr. in the free agency. Their standout LE, Joey Bosa is expected to be fully healthy heading into the 2020 season. The Chargers D/ST is a must start this week against the Bengals.
49ers D/ST: The Niners arguably had the strongest defense in 2019. However, they went all the way to the super bowl so it’s likely they show a slight regression. With the loss of Deforest Buckner and no new additions to their CBs, the Niners defense will struggle against a tough matchup against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. The Cardinals added Deandre Hopkins, arguably the best WR in the league during the offseason. Since Richard Sherman doesn’t follow and stays on only one side of the field, Hopkins will have a few favorable matchups against Emmanuel Mosely. Against the Niners as a rookie in 2019, Kyler Murray was able to amass 391 passing yards, 4 pass td’s, 0 interceptions, 101 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. It’s clear that even the 49’ers dominant defense wasn’t able to stop him. This is also a divisional game, expect it to be high scoring and controlled offensively.
Patriots D/ST: The Patriots D/ST in 2019 was absolutely insane, averaging a whopping 14.8 fantasy points a game. Expect this number to drop a lot heading into 2020. The New England Patriots had a league high covid-19 opt out with 8 players. Two of those players are linebackers Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung. The Patriots also arguably have a weaker offense than in 2019 due to the loss of Tom Brady and no sign of a clear running back. A weaker offense puts more pressure on the defense to finish games. There is also a trend of the Dolphins showing out against the Patriots every year. Devante Parker destroyed standout CB, Stephon Gilmore in their 2019 matchup getting 8 catches for 137 yards. I would avoid the Patriots D/ST this week.
First time drafting? Have had a series of bad drafts? Looking for a new strategy to make everyone fear you team? Or maybe just looking to change things up? Look no further! In this following article we will break down our drafting strategy that has made us successful for the last five years!
Few key words to know for a first year fantasy football player.
ADP: Average Draft Position
Sleeper or Dark Horse: Players with a late round ADP who have a good chance of finishing above their ADP.
RB: Running Back
TE: Tight ends
WR: Wide receivers
D/ST: Defense/ special team
Flex: Either a WR, RB or TE
Superflex: Either a QB, WR, RB, or TE
FPPG- Fantasy Points Per Game
Note: Rankings, sleepers and players to avoid are all linked throughout the strategy to provide you with the most optimal level of success.
Round 1: Draft a Running back. If you don’t know which RBs to target take a look at our RB rankings here. It’s simple, there are 32 teams in the NFL and each team has either one workhorse back or they are going with the committee approach. After looking into every team, there are truly only about 16 backs that have the sole role of being the workhorse on their team. Of those 16 backs about 10 to 12 of those are proven in both, the run and the pass game. Depending on how many people are in your draft (most leagues are 8-14) these running backs will be high in demand during round 1. The exceptions to drafting an RB is if you are targeting Michael Thomas towards the mid-first round or drafting Devante Adams with picks between 12-14 in round 1. This is because these receivers have proven to be consistent WR1s who put up points weekly against even the best corners in the NFL.
Round 2: If you have an early second round pick (first 3), draft as if you have a late first so use the same rules as above, choosing a running back or one of the receivers mentioned. As you get to the mid-second round (next 4) you should start looking at Julio Jones or Tyreek Hill as the WRs to draft. Other than them, you should continue to target an RB based on the rankings or their ADP. We push our new drafters to go with the RB-RB strategy, taking a running back in round 1 and round 2. During the late-second round target RBs because by this time there are only about 2-4 of those “sole role RBs” left.
Round 3: This round you can go either RB or WR, however, if you drafted one RB and one WR we strongly urge you to draft a RB here. This is because there are 2 consistent WRs per team compared to 1 RB as previously mentioned so there will be chances later to target a WR. Now if you went with RB-RB then here is where you’ll draft your first WR. If you don’t know which WRs to target look at our rankings here and go off on who is available. Workhorse (this means they are the sole backs on their team and will average more than 15 carries a game) running backs to target in this round include but aren’t limited to David Johnson, James Conner, Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley (respectively). One trend that we have been seeing is drafting a tight end here but it isn’t a huge priority since there are many TEs to target later.
Round 4 thru Round 6: Fill up on WRs and RBs here. Good place to draft a rookie RB that is due for a big season, if you don’t know much about rookie RBs click here. Also check out our tweets (here and here) on why to avoid Colts RB, Jonathan Taylor. I have seen people very high on him and drafting him at his current ADP which we believe is way too high. Towards rounds 5 and 6 it is also worth looking at a TE as well. TE rankings available here.
Round 6 thru 8: This is where we recommend looking to target a QB. Don’t know which QBs to target? Click here for our QB rankings. There is an excess of quality fantasy quarterbacks that can be drafted in this range. In these rounds, look to target a dual threat QB like; Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Carson Wentz or Josh Allen (Note: I did not mention Cam Newton or Tyrod Taylor because they have extremely late ADPs). If all these QBs are gone when it gets to your pick, do not panic, draft a flex player here. There are many other sleeper QBs that you will be able to target in the later rounds. During rounds 7 or 8 if you are drafting a flex ADP isn’t as important, and you should go for the high-upside players you feel confident in! This is also a good place to start looking at some rookie WRs (click here to see which ones to pursue). Also these rounds are a good place to target a sleeper TE if you don’t already have one. Click here to see our sleeper TEs, be vary of their ADP however, you might be able to get one of these TEs way later.
Round 9 to Round 10: These rounds have led us to a few victories over the years and here is why; we call it “handcuff season”. In these crucial rounds you should look to draft a handcuff RB to one of the major workhorse backs. Handcuff RBs are the backup running backs to starters like Ezekiel Elliot and Dalvin Cook who don’t see much time on the field unless the starter goes down. If the starter does however get traded or unfortunately suffers an injury this handcuff RB automatically becomes a first round pick that you got in the 10th round! Don’t know which RBs are good handcuffs? Go for Chase Edmunds (AZ), Tony Pollard (DAL), or Alexander Mattison (MIN)!
Late rounds: Here you target players that are low risk high reward at the running back and WR position. Click here for our WR sleepers and here for our RB sleepers. You might even target a QB if you haven’t grabbed one yet, Mathew Stafford and Jared Goff can give you great value out of this position. We advise holding off on kickers and defenses because of how unpredictable they are on a year-to-year basis. Our normal strategy is to draft some players who are doing great in training camp and see if they can make their way into a starting spot. If they don’t cut them before week 1, go for a kicker and defense. Jerick McKinnon (SF) is a good example of one of these players (explained in our Sleeper RB article).
Last Round: This where you can target a defense if you don’t want to worry about any picking one up before the season. Click here to see which defenses to target and which ones to avoid. For kickers, it’s simple unless your league settings force you to draft a kicker, do not draft one. Kickers are too hard to rank as no one knows which offense will be high scoring in terms of field goals and touchdowns combined. So what we advise is to pick up a kicker closer to when the season starts (literally the day before) by dropping a player who has been underperforming at training camp. To pick a kicker do it based on an easy matchup for week 1. After about week 3 you will see a trend of a team that’s getting to the red zone but struggling to score yet also keeping the games close and that is the kicker you want on your roster. In 2018 that was the Niners kicker, Phill Dawson, in 2019 it was Josh Lambo for the Jaguars and Zane Gonzalez for the Cardinals.
This concludes our strategies for your fantasy football drafts. As the season goes on and you are wondering if you should take a certain trade, our DMs are open (both instagram and twitter)! Also follow us or subscribe to our mailing list to get season updates on sits and starts for the week, as well as waiver wire targets. Finally just remember Fantasy Football is a fun way to stay engaged with the NFL so don’t stress too much and just enjoy football!
In this article, Eric examines three options for sleeper runningbacks for the 2020 season.
There’s no doubt that the running back has quickly become the most valued position in fantasy football, with 14 out of the first 20 picks in PPR leagues being starting running backs. Being able to find a “sleeper” running back outside of these first 14 runningbacks can prove to be an invaluable asset for depth or for trade purposes. In particular, there are three quality sleeper running backs I am attempting to target late in my drafts.
I think it’s important to understand why so many people are attempting to draft so many RBs so early. Last year, in 2019 PPR leagues, the “premium” RBs (Aaron Jones, Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliot, Austin Ekeler, Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry) averaged a little under 20 PPG (McCaffery averaged 30 which blows my mind). Mark Ingram and Nick Chubb were next up with approximately 16 PPG, which is nearly a 20% decrease in points. This leads you to the second tier of running backs (Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs, Joe Mixon, Le’veon Bell, Todd Gurley, etc), who were all around 14 PPG. Drafting one of those premium backs gives you a 30% point advantage over a tier 2 starter, which ends around RB 20. Wide receivers and quarterbacks have a way more stable core. For receivers, we don’t see a 30% fall off from the premium receivers until you exit the top 30. Quarterbacks have a quicker fall off, but most standard leagues only draft one quarterback so there are more than enough solid fantasy options.
The top RB 1 options(McCaffery, Zeke, Cook, Barkley, etc) are talented running backs who have the sole control of their backfield. Finding a runningback of their talent as a sleeper is always difficult, however finding options who are in position to take the bulk of snaps is not. One of the most important things I look at is the opportunity for success. This is why I believe David Johnson can finally return to his 2016 form, as he is the primary option for a Texans offense that will need to generate offense without DeAndre Hopkins. It is also why I believe David Montgomery will be able to out-perform his draft position by a large amount as the sole option on the Chicago Bears. Jerick McKinnon also has a chance to become a huge contributor to one of the leagues top rushing offenses.
David Johnson: Currently being drafted at RB 20 (according to FantasyFootballCalculator), David Johnson has a legitimate chance at finishing in the top-10 RBs. Finishing as RB1 in 2016 and RB10 in 2018, injuries have prevented him from succeeding in 2017 and 2019. I feel like most fantasy owners have been burned by him at least once in the past few years (I know I have), but I believe he is worth one more shot. Bell, Fournette, Carson, Gordon, and Gurley are all being drafted slightly ahead of David Johnson. However, unlike Carson and Gordon, Johnson represents the clear-cut starting RB in his backfield. Bell is forced to rush behind a nearly brand-new offensive line who get 14 padded practices to gain chemistry and face one of the hardest schedules in football. Fournette’s breakout season last year was fueled by his high volume of targets and receptions. However, the signing of new OC Jay Gruden’s favorite third down back, Chris Thompson, doesn’t bode well for his pass volume.
David Johnson comes to a team that just provided Carlos Hyde a 1,000 yard season behind a run-blocking offensive line that ranked slightly above average with the addition of Laremy Tunsil (per Football Outsiders). On the Cardinal’s offensive line that was ranked one spot below the Texans, Johnson was able to reach RB 7 through 6 weeks before his injury in 2019. He showed he could be a reliable pass catcher after his 2017 wrist injury, and continued to show his explosive running until he went down with an injury. By the time he recovered, HC Kliff Klingsbury was focused on seeing what the Cardinals had with RB Kenyan Drake, and benched Johnson for the season. Bill O’Brian made a career-deciding trade when he sent Hopkins to the Cardinals in exchange for David Johnson and draft picks. If David Johnson fails, Texans fans will be calling for O’Brian’s head. It is in his best interest to set Johnson up for success, and by trading that much, I feel like that is his intention. If David Johnson can avoid freak injuries, I believe he will easily surpass his RB 20 ADP and should give you that “premium” RB point advantage.
David Montgomery: Montgomery has an ADP of 42, putting him at RB 23. I completely understand if you want no part of the Bear’s offense (except for Allen Robinson of course). Trubisky essentially became a national joke with his terrible 2019 season. David Montgomery, who was drafted as a top-30 pick last year, largely disappointed with his RB 25 finish. The Bear’s offensive line was a large part of his struggle. Projected to finish as a top-10 unit, the line had the 28th worst run blocking metrics in the NFL (per Football Outsiders). David Montgomery was in the bottom 30 for yards before contact, as the line struggled to communicate and make the right blocks. The Bears offensive line made multiple improvements, signing two former top-50 picks and drafting a couple depth pieces. If they can exceed their atrocious finish last season, Montgomery should see a huge increase in rush yards.
There are many positives for Montgomery other than an improved line. In 2019, he gained 44% of his yards after contact. Montgomery, who was one of the best tackle-breakers in all of NCAA history, was 6th in the NFL with 28 broken tackles. Now, his rehab doctor reported he dropped 4% body fat and gained one pound, which means he put on a huge amount of muscle in the offseason. His new-found strength should prove a huge asset in the red zone as well. In fact, Montgomery led the NFL by taking 85% of his team’s red zone carries, the highest in the NFL. If Trubisky can fix some of his struggles (which Chicago beat writers are saying he has), Montgomery should see way more scoring opportunities to improve his 6 touchdowns in 2019. While Montgomery may not have the proven ceiling of David Johnson, he is the only lead back left on the draft board past the third round. A prolific college runner, Montgomery has the chance to explode and give you a massive advantage in your league. He faces a league average rushing strength of schedule (per FantasyPros). At the worst, he retains his RB 25 spot from last season, and you get what you drafted. But if you are able to grab a WR or two before this pick, I think he offers a safe floor with a high ceiling.
Jerick Mckinnon: McKinnon hasn’t been fantasy relevant since his Vikings days three years ago, but you wanted a sleeper right? With an ADP outside of the top-170, he is likely going undrafted in nearly all leagues. The 49ers seemed to have found their lead back in Raheem Mostert, but I wouldn’t be so sure. Remember, two seasons ago, Kyle Shanahan signed McKinnon and made him a top-5 paid back in the league. When he tore his ACL in the last practice of the preseason, Shanahan said he was worried because his whole playbook was designed around McKinnon. One of the highest scoring offenses in the league with a lead back sounds like fantasy football gold. It’s why people are so enticed by Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The 49ers beat reporters are saying McKinnon looks great in camp, and still appears to have his game-breaking speed and agility. He has been taking multiple passes and it appears like he will play a swiss army knife role in Shanahan’s offense this year, lining up all over the field.
For essentially a free pick, you get a handcuff with possible stand-alone value in an offense that dominated with the run last season. Mostert has struggled with injuries in the past and Tevin Coleman was wildly inefficient last year. If Jerick McKinnon looks like what Shanahan paid so much for years ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes in the top-30. We saw what Shanahan could do with UDFA Matt Brieda just based on his speed. If McKinnon is given similar opportunities, he should pull off big plays left and right. After not playing for two seasons and taking heavy heat from 49ers fans left and right, I wouldn’t be surprised if McKinnon plays with a chip on his shoulder this year.
With running backs all being drafted so early, it is difficult to find a supposed “sleeper”. I believe that David Johnson and David Montgomery will both outperform their ADP by a wide margin, and provide extreme value in one of fantasy football’s most desired positions. While McKinnon may not amount to anything this season, he has the potential to be the lead back for the 49ers. He is the one late dart throw I am taking in many of my leagues just to hold onto, solely because of what I perceive his ceiling to be. Of course, many others may disagree, and if you do let us know on Twitter!
I have been hearing lots of negative opinions about Jimmy Garoppolo all offseason. I am here to tell you that these statements are all but factual and how Jimmy Garoppolo could finally gain the respect he deserves and become a fantasy worthy QB.
In the beginning of the 2018 season, Jimmy Garoppolo suffered an ACL injury that kept him out from the remainder of the season. In 2019, when Jimmy Garoppolo returned, Shanahan wanted to ease him into the role and thus encouraged running the football. To his surprise the Niners running backs, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert made the most of it and averaged 4.0 and 5.6 yards a carry respectively. The success of running the football allowed Garoppolo to limit his passes and protect his leg while the Niners won games. There were some games where Garoppolo was forced to pass, including weeks 9 and 11 against the Cardinals, week 14 against the Saints, and week 17 against the Seahawks. In those 4 games he averaged a QBR of 125.7, 344 pass yards, and 24.6 PPG. These games also came at the tail end of the season, where Garoppolo stated he became more comfortable throwing with his knee brace. In a recent interview, he explained his knee felt miles ahead of last year. With a healthier leg, a revamped offense, and a defense set for regression, Garoppolo has a chance at finishing as a top 10 fantasy QB in 2020.
Kyle Shanahan is known around the league for his ingenuity and successful offenses. Shanahan was the OC for the Falcons in 2016, the year Matt Ryan won MVP. In 2016, Ryan threw for 4944 yards and averaged 9.3 yards a pass. After that season, Shanahan left the Falcons and Ryan fell off in his production. While Matt Ryan is a solid quarterback, Shanahan was able to elevate him to an MVP level. Shanahan traded for Garoppolo specifically and has been set on making him the franchise quarterback. Shanahan has designed his plays specifically for Garoppolo to succeed. Coming out of college, one of Garoppolo’s strengths was his quick release and ability to disguise the play action. In 2019 Jimmy Garoppolo ranked 9th in the league using play action passes with 10.1 YPA. The offense is also built around the hard-running Kittle and Deebo Samuels, who are known for their ability to gain YAC, further increasing the potential of huge passing plays. Shanahan’s scheme made Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard look like capable quarterbacks, and should set Jimmy up for success once more next season.
The Niners have arguably the best tight end in the league, George Kittle. Along with Kittle, the Niners receiver core is filled with young talent that includes Deebo Samuel (second year), Brandon Aiyuk (rookie) and Kendrick Bourne (fourth season). Along with the starters they have depth with Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd and Dante Pettis. Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t given great receiver talent in 2019 until the signing of Sanders late in the season when he started to break out. However, during this offseason Jimmy has been working continuously with Bourne and building up chemistry. Bourne had five touchdowns in 2019 and was the so-called “big receiver” for Garoppolo. Jalen Hurd had a great college career and a great preseason with the Niners in 2019 until his season-ending injury. Trent Taylor and Dante Pettis looked like the upcoming WR1s for the Niners in 2018 until Taylor was injured and Pettis was outed by Shanahan for “attitude issues”. With all these receivers returning healthy and the chemistry with Garoppolo being better than ever, expect their numbers to go up. The Niners also recently acquired Wes Welker as their receiver coach who was the Texans WR coach in 2018 and that year Deandre Hopkins hit career highs in receptions and yards.
Defense Primed for Regression
The Niner’s incredible defense last year is what helped catapult them to the Super Bowl. However, as history has proven it is nearly impossible to be historically good year after year. With the trade of DT Deforest Buckner and the increasing age of Richard Sherman, the Niner’s defense has a couple weak areas. With the offensive powerhouses they face, it is very likely that the team is forced to pass more than the 28.2 attempts per game last year (2nd lowest in the NFL). If the Niners are forced to pass amongst the league average, they would increase their pass attempts by 28% per game. If Garoppolo maintained a 28% increase in PPG, he would have finished at QB 6 last year. Obviously predicting that dramatic of an increase in points is unlikely, but it is very safe to say the Niners will be forced to pass more than last season, increasing Jimmy’s fantasy value.
Easy passing schedule
This one is simple. According to PFF Jimmy Garoppolo has one of the most favorable schedules for a QB. In the first 5 games, Garoppolo goes against the Cardinals (28th best pass defense), Giants (29th), Eagles (24th) and Dolphins (30th). He should get off to a very hot start, which could also give him good trade value leading up to the deadline. At the very least you should draft Garoppolo with a late round pick in hopes of adding him to a trade package to a team with a struggling QB early on.
Shootout divisional games
The NF-C West is the debatably the best division in the league. This division has the Niners, Seahawks, Rams and Cardinals, which all consist of top-12 offenses. I could see three teams making the playoffs from this division. This means that the six divisional games are going to be hard-fought, competitive shootouts. In 2019 Jimmy Garoppolo’s best games were against the Cardinals and Seahawks where he couldn’t rely on the run game to carry the offense. With the addition of DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals and the continued development of DK Metcalf on the Seahawks, the divisional games should be high scoring affairs, pushing Jimmy to a high fantasy finish.
With the combination of the Niner’s easy schedule, strong division, and Shanahan’s stacked offense, there are no obstacles to Garoppolo’s success. With a fully healed knee and his first year of starting complete, we can finally see his full potential. Whether you are looking for a cheap starting quarterback or a possible trade chip for the middle of the season, Jimmy is a solid option.
Have a different opinion? Let us know in the comments!